Think it’s impossible to enjoy an indulgent short-haul holiday without getting behind the wheel? Think again. Emma Stanfield has created a hotlist of fabulous boutique hotels and villas that let you say goodbye to the stresses and expenses of driving, so you can settle in for a relaxing break as soon as you’ve touched down.
Hotel Palacio Blanco gives couples a taste of luxury at an affordable price in their beautifully restored 18th-century palace. It’s a stylish base for you to unwind after a day of wandering the cobbled backstreets of Velez-Malaga or an evening sampling the local tapas. With a vast array of historic landmarks and architecture on your doorstep, take a walking tour to appreciate this Andalucian town’s rich culture. When you fancy a day on the beach, hop on a high-speed tram to the coastal town of Torre Del Mar. At just 30 minutes from the airport, it couldn’t be easier to jump in a taxi and start your holiday.
Soak up a spellbinding slice of French history by staying in Marie Antoinette’s 18th-century palace, La Baronnie Hotel & Spa. With La Rochelle airport a 30-minute taxi journey away, you’ll soon be transported to the medieval harbour town of St Martin, on picturesque Ile de Re. Hotel guests can hire a bike at a discounted price to explore the captivating island, or check out the local markets for a spot of shopping.
Designed with families in mind, Martinhal Cascais is a haven for those looking to ditch the staycation for sun, sea and a spa. From Lisbon airport, it’s an easy 40-minute taxi ride to the hotel, but the Metro and train services are reliable and cost effective, too. The stylish yet laidback resort not only caters to every child’s desire, from zip-wire playgrounds to lagoon-style swimming pools, it also allows parents to enjoy some much need quality time with a couples massage. If you fancy a change of scenery, play a round of golf at the course next door or take the 10-minute hotel shuttle to Guincho beach for watersports.
Situated on Mallora’s northwest coast, behind the dramatic Tramuntana Mountains, sits the grand Esplendido Hotel. With excellent train services running from Palma, families can arrive at the effortlessly stylish hotel with ease. If you fancy exploring the spectacular coast in style, there are a range of boat trips from the harbour. Parents can also take some much needed time out with a Swedish massage at the hotel’s spa.
With a cosmopolitan town and sandy beaches in abundance, the small island of Skiathos is perfect for those wanting slow days and colourful nights. Along the southern coast, Skiathos Holidays offers good-value beachside villas and apartments on the pine-scented Kalamaki Penisula. With a cool beach bar and varied watersports just steps away, it’s perfect for both families and couples seeking a beach break. At a mere 8 miles long and 6 miles wide, getting around Skiathos without a hire car is certainly not a task. There’s an excellent bus service to Skiathos town and all the best beaches, plus many people hire quad bikes to explore further inland.
Ammos Hotel is stylish mini-resort that sits perfectly on one of Crete’s peaceful beaches, just 15km from Chania airport. With unflappable, child-friendly staff and facilities suitable for toddlers to teenagers, parents can rest at ease knowing the family-run Ammos Hotel will cater to their every need and desire. Airport transfers can be arranged and regular buses provide efficient transport to the Chania’s Venetian harbour, so you can kick start your Grecian getaway as soon as possible.
Quinta da Cebola Vermelha is a rustic, Provence-inspired oasis in the Algarve where the peaceful ambience matches the rural landscape. The family-run restored farmhouse may be an hour’s taxi ride from Faro airport, but once you’ve arrived you will be more than content. Perfect for a low-effort minibreak, spend your days lazing by the pool with your better half and dining on delicious home-cooked dinners – we loved the juicy prawns with just-baked bread.
Palmizana, Croatia’s answer to the Garden of Eden, is an exclusive island hideaway resting amongst Sveti Klement’s haven of flora and fauna. A popular getaway for families seeking a bohemian break or couples pursuing romantic seclusion, prepare to leave the urban life behind on this near-deserted car-free islet. Arriving is simple – just catch a boat from Split to Hvar Town and the resort will then whisk you across the water to Sveti Klement. Thrill-seekers can charter a sailing boat to explore the Dalmatian Coast, or take a water taxi to see Hvar Town’s historic landmarks.
Nestled in the Italian Riviera cliffside, Villa Rosmarino is a tranquil B&B hideaway in enchanting Camogli. Being a simple train journey from Genoa airport, the village is easy to access and explore. Couples can soak up the romantic atmosphere as they saunter along the harbour with ice-creams in hand, followed by a quick dip in the clear-blue sea and an authentic Ligurian supper at one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Hotel by Beldi is a country club retreat within a botanical wonderland, offering a taste of rural Morocco whilst being a short taxi ride from Marrakech medina and airport. Sunshine, serenity, charm and palm trees – it’s perfect for a get-away-from-it-all break whether you are a family looking to spend some more time together, or a couple seeking exotic romance. Stroll amongst the groves, swim a few tranquil lengths in the pool, or head into the Atlas Mountains for a lakeside picnic at the hotel’s sister kasbah.