The i-escape blog / The idea behind iescape+ / Michael Cullen headshot

By Michael Cullen, Co-founder

Did you know that we read every piece of guest feedback you submit? That’s a promise. We’re always heartened to know that our strict hotel selection process is delivering blissful holidays. And if it’s not, we investigate. Thankfully, with our handpicked portfolio of small, owner-run properties, that’s very rare.

So thank you for every bit of feedback this year. Honest reviews from real guests are so valuable, and they all count towards our end-of-year “10/10” prizes. In 2022, these top-rated hotels & villas got full marks.


1. Elies Hotel, Peloponnese, Greece

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Elies Hotel

The stylish studios (for 2-5) at Elies Hotel are a long-standing favourite, hidden in olive groves on an unspoiled beach near Kardamyli. 

One guest, returning for a sixth visit after a 3-year gap, writes: “It’s still hard to find anywhere that compares! We stayed in one of the shady studios, with views of the garden through trees laden with lemons, pomegranates and olives. After an early morning swim, we loved filling our basket with delicious bread, ham, cheese, fruit, yoghurt and cake to take back to our studio for breakfast”. Another was “blown away by Elies Hotel. The room was even better than we expected, and every detail is thought through.”


2. Le Mas des Oules, Provence, France

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Le Mas des Oules

Le Mas des Oules offers chic, affordable, family-friendly cottages (for 2-11) in Provence – a rare find. 

Guests rave about the “beautiful surroundings and relaxed atmosphere”, the “huge swimming pool, games in the garden, and lovely comfy beds too”. Christophe and Christine are “great hosts, always available but never intrusive”. And the location is close to “wonderful towns and villages”, with “great markets in Uzes and St Quentin”. The only problem? You’ll need to book early. That probably means now.


3. Boutique Apartments Porto, Portugal

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Boutique Apartments Porto

Cool and contemporary Boutique Apartments Porto combine the buzz of the city with the tranquillity of the coast.

These are “lovely apartments with amazing views of the ocean”. Foz is “an ideal neighbourhood” with “lots of restaurants, shops and cafes”; we could “cycle north along the esplanade or east along the river into central Porto”.  Our latest guest summed it up perfectly: “A wonderful place to stay. Beautifully designed, perfect service, delicious breakfasts and stunning ocean views.” What more do you need?


4. Little Agave, Cabo de Gata, Spain

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Little Agave

Little Agave is a super-welcoming, affordable, off-grid 4-bedroom guesthouse set amid dramatic desert- and seascapes.

Guests are full of praise for the “lovely room with really nice design touches”, the “pretty gardens with great views all around (including from the pool)”, and the “sublime breakfast hampers”; but above all for the “brilliant owners Neil and Ben” who are “super welcoming and always ready with a recommendation”. Says one: “The word ‘hospitality’ must have been invented in this casa. It is an absolute pleasure to stay here at this hidden gem”.


5. Domaine Malika, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Domaine Malika

Domaine Malika is an intimate 7-room mountain hotel, just an hour’s drive from Marrakech. 

It is both “very stylish and peaceful”, with “the best pool” and “beautiful 1930s period detail” – almost “as if “you’re on the set of a Poirot episode”. Guests laud the “delicious food (especially the generous breakfasts)” and the “excellent activities”, such as “hiking with a very knowledgeable guide (including lunch at his Berber family home)”, or the “perfect” massage in the on-site hammam. The last word? “Our stay was everything we could ask for”.


6. Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Madikwe Safari Lodge

Madikwe Safari Lodge offers some of the best malaria-free ‘Big Five’ safaris in South Africa. 

“Simply put, I’ve never stayed anywhere better than this!” High praise indeed, especially from someone who has booked i-escape hotels every year since 2014. “We were amazed by everything – the stunning location, the animals coming to the watering hole as we were having our lunch”, the “more than delicious” food, and the “brilliant and knowledgeable guides”, for whom “nothing was too much trouble”. And it’s family-friendly – to the point that “our 2 daughters (aged 12 and 10) want to live there!”


7. Look TO Suites, Turin, Italy

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Look To Suites

Look To Suites is an exquisite 4-bedroom B&B overlooking one of the best piazzas in central Turin.

This is a city full of “Baroque splendour” and yet “much less touristy than other Italian cities”. “The staff”, by all accounts, are “utterly charming, welcoming us as though into a grand private apartment.” There is “a library overlooking the piazza”, “supremely comfortable beds in the themed bedrooms”, “antiques and aromatherapy” and “generous breakfasts, even to the inclusion of vegan pastries”. Suffice to say, it has put Turin firmly on our (and our readers’) map.


8. The Black Shack, Sussex, UK

 the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / The Sussex Black Shack

The Sussex Black Shack is a high-spec, two-bedroom eco-house in the South Downs.

It comes with an indoor swimming pool, sauna, and a purple tennis court. But it’s not flashy: “it is very well thought out, beautifully built, well furnished, with lots of lovely touches”.  The setting is “quiet, tranquil, surrounded by rolling fields and wildlife.” And “the village is lovely too”, including “the nearby Bull pub, the tea rooms and Green Welly coffee shop”. Overall, “it is a wonderful place, and the photos don’t do it justice”. Sometimes that’s a good thing.


9.  Convento, Olhao, Portugal

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Convento

You may recognise Convento in the sub-radar town of Olhão: it won a top-rated award in both 2021 and 2019.  So it’s clearly a winning formula.

The “beautiful hotel is almost Zen-like in terms of its calmness”, Guillaume and Antje “are truly excellent hosts, and their team made everything look effortless”. Olhão is “a charming place, with plenty of restaurants on the doorstep, friendly locals and stunning beaches on nearby islands”. To quote Caroline: “Convento is pure perfection, from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.”


10. Demeter Cave House, Santorini, Greece

the i-escape blog / Your 10 top-rated hotels of 2022 / Demeter Cave House

Demeter Cave House is a beautiful, bijou bolthole for two, and deservedly another repeat winner from last year.

It has “everything you could possibly dream of”. “Hidden within winding streets, it’s pristinely clean and serviced to an exceptional standard”. Andrew is “the perfect host: always happy to assist with requests, nothing was too much trouble”. It has “the comfiest bed that I have ever slept in, a luxurious bathroom with divine toiletries, and the wonder of a private jacuzzi”. To quote Diane: “an amazing experience – just wow!”

How we chose our winners: scores are based on ratings from verified i-escape guests submitted during 2022. These may differ slightly from the scores shown on our hotel reviews’ feedback section, which draw from the previous two years, and are constantly updating.