We love a hotel that delivers something unforgettable, so you can imagine our excitement when we stepped through the doors of these urban hideaways to discover pockets of unexpected alfresco tranquillity. These are our five favourite oases for escaping the city…
This dreamy ode to English elegance is tucked into one of London’s smartest residential quarters. It’s bright and contemporary but still retains its historic charm, including a beautiful tree-lined garden and an airy orangery – the perfect settings for a lengthy afternoon tea (or breakfast, for that matter).
This converted mill on the banks of the Arno river is the work of a talented architect who has created flagship stores for Dolce & Gabbana. But in breathing fresh life into this old building, Claudio Nardi didn’t neglect the ample space outside – a rarity in Florence. He’s created a green and groovy garden with an inviting slim-line pool – perfect for some post-Uffizi R&R.
Canalside properties tend to lack any remarkable outside space (see the Venice entry below), but sometimes there’s a surprise hiding behind unassuming doors. Located in Amsterdam’s Jordaan district, Canal House is one such surprise. Made up of three 17th-century merchant’s houses, it has a wonderfully peaceful garden which also happens to be one of the largest in central Amsterdam. In the warmer months there’s an outdoor bar behind the summer house; the rest of the year, it’s a lovely space to stroll around when the bustle of the city becomes too much.
The leafy Barcelona district of Tres Torres is already a chilled escape from the frenetic buzz of the city centre, but tranquil and contemporary Primero Primera delivers the next level of relaxation. It’s a stylish home-from-home, and the pretty garden with its small pool adds a further retreat where you can while away the hours over sangria.
The garden at Oltre Il Giardino would be a captivating discovery even if it was in a less contradictory location. In its place in Venice’s San Polo neighbourhood, it’s a rare find indeed – a taste of country villa life amongst the city canals. Hidden behind a diminutive green door you’ll find an urban oasis of bamboo, lavender and (inexplicably) gnomes, with ivy-covered red-brick walls, a small window to the canal outside, and little nooks for alfresco summer breakfasts.