Who doesn’t ache to visit Europe for some summer sun, staying by the beach or on a country estate?
A villa sounds blissful, allowing you to remain in bubbles of family and friends, but after months of cooking and being cooped up at home, you might prefer to combine it with all the facilities of a hotel. Here are some fabulous places where you can enjoy the best of both later this year.
Portugal’s little-known Alentejo region is already peaceful, but throw in a 1,930-acre estate of meadows, olive groves and wines near the Spanish border and you have the makings of a truly idyllic retreat. The whitewashed farmstead hotel of Sao Lourenco do Barrocal also has 16 cottages along a cobbled street. Simple yet elegant, they combine terracotta floors and muted colours with soaring vaulted ceilings and handcrafted furnishings.
The whitewashed farmstead hotel of Sao Lourenco do Barrocal in the Alentejo region of Portugal
Fresh bread is delivered on a daily basis, and guests can book a baking masterclass in their cottage plus the services of a chef should you prefer not to cook, or order from the farm-to-table restaurants. Explore the estate on foot, bicycle or on horseback, take pottery classes or archaeological walks, or try night-time stargazing with astronomers.
Book: A week in a two-bedroom cottage for four is from £1,600pp with flights and car hire (realholidays.co.uk).
A PGA golf course isn’t the only thing on your doorstep when you stay in one of the myriad apartments, villas and houses on the huge Aphrodite Hills resort between Paphos and Limassol in Cyprus – there is also a tennis academy, riding club, soccer school and a lovely spa.
There’s everything from a one-bedroom apartment to a five-bed villa with a private pool, all with self-catering facilities, though only a short walk or drive from the resort restaurants.
Book: A week in a one-bedroom apartment is from £399pp or from £809pp in a two-bed villa with private pool, both with flights in May, plus five hours in the kids’ club and a day at the beach club (ba.com).
It’s a symphony of whites and creams in the 29 villas at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Italy, built to replicate a Puglian fortified village with paved alleys, arches and arcades, plus plenty of stone cottages and suites. The three-bedroom villas are the ultimate in the accommodation stakes, beautifully designed on three levels, with patios, covered terraces and private pools.
There are 29 villas at Borgo Egnazia, pictured, in Puglia, Italy, which replicates a Puglian fortified village
You’ll be spoilt for choice with activities, which range from fitness and cookery classes to cocktail-mixing lessons. Send little ones to the kids’ club, hit the golf course, have a game of tennis or take the free shuttle to the coast for water sports.
Book: From £1,990pp for a week’s B&B in May, based on six sharing, with flights and transfers (elegantresorts.co.uk).
Between the honeypot Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini lies the less-visited island of Ios, with quiet coves and so many chapels they say there is one for each day of the year. Here, too, is a stylish boutique hotel with two self-catering villas that boast plenty of exposed stone and marble plus peaceful views of the Aegean. You can swim in your own pool and wallow in the hot tub, do longer lengths in the hotel pool or take a dip in the sea, just steps away.
Book: A week costs from £822pp based on six sharing the three-bed villa, including transfers from the port but not flights (agaliahotel.com).
Head to the Azores – islands in the Atlantic belonging to Portugal – and the White Suites and Villas in Sao Miguel, where you can hire a motorboat to explore the coast, walk the 15 minutes down to the beach or simply drink in the coastal views from this bright white coastal eyrie.
The White Suites and Villas in the Azores boasts this stunning four-bedroom villa, which has a private pool and great views
The ten hotel suites are pretty special, with muted colours, driftwood furniture and exposed stone. The sleek, four-bedroom villa just over the road is even better, with its open-plan living room and wood-burning fireplace, private pool, children’s play area and croquet course.
Hit the main hotel for yoga, wellness treatments and the restaurant, then retreat to relax in style.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B in the villa with flights and car hire costs from £1,393pp based on eight sharing (sunvil.co.uk).
If you’re looking for a romantic bolthole for two, the boutique hotel Royal Garden Villas in southern Tenerife is ideal.
There are 28 villas at the boutique hotel Royal Garden Villas, pictured, in southern Tenerife
Jasmine-perfumed pathways and trickling fountains separate the 28 villas sleeping from two to six people, which share the hotel services of an infinity pool, spa, restaurant and bar. Each has an Asian vibe and is opulently decorated with plenty of artefacts.
The coast is a five-minute drive away and there’s a golf course right on the doorstep, though you could just soak up the delicious surroundings instead.
Book: Book by April 30 and save ten per cent on a week’s B&B, which now costs from £1,595pp in a villa for two, with flights (elegantresorts.co.uk).
There’s nothing like a little cognac-tasting to liven up a short break, and at Chais Monnet you’re on the doorstep of many producers, including D’Usée, the brand founded by the rapper Jay-Z.
Inside one of the 13 contemporary apartments at Chais Monnet in Cognac, France. They all come with private entrances and cooking facilities
The 92-room hotel in Cognac, France, was created by giving a modern makeover to the former ageing cellars and barrel cooperage of the Monnet cognac house. It is also home to 13 contemporary apartments with private entrances and cooking facilities.
All the usual hotel services are on hand, including a pool and spa, and you can hire a 2CV to explore the vineyards by day, then return to try a tipple or three in the 1838 bar.
Book: From €190 a night for one room apartments to €350 for three room apartments (chaismonnethotel.com).
The six farmhouse cottages belonging to the French chateau hotel of Domaine des Etangs, are so well spaced out on the 2,500-acre estate that each comes with its own electric car and bicycles so guests can get around.
The pool at the French chateau hotel of Domaine des Etangs, where you can also stay in farmhouse cottages
The domaine, near Massignac, is beautifully bucolic, with forests to explore and lakes to row on, in the peaceful Charente, north of the better-known Dordogne.
With beams and stone walls, the rustic chic cottages are superbly done out, one with a large copper bath tub, another with its own private wine cellar. Call in a chef to cook over the open fire, order room service or visit the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Yoga, Pilates and wine-tastings are regularly organised.
Book: From €1,470 a night in a five-bedroom cottage (domainedesetangs.com).
The first of three new pool villas has opened in the 18th Century Spanish hacienda on an old olive-tree estate in Andalucia, between Seville and Jerez. Like the rest of the 14-room hotel, Hacienda de San Rafael is exquisitely eclectic within, with Chinese tall cabinets and mirrors from Rajasthan.
Hacienda de San Rafael is exquisitely eclectic within, with Chinese tall cabinets and mirrors from Rajasthan
Sleeping six in three bedrooms, it can be combined with another property to double its size. It has its own pool and is surrounded by bougainvillea-filled gardens.
The hotel can organise horse riding, hiking and private visits to sherry bodegas and the famous Alhambra in Granada.
Book: A week in May for six people costs from £2,195pp with flights (originaltravel.co.uk).
For that blow-out get-together with families and friends, the five Portuguese-style villas of the sprawling clifftop resort Vila Vita Parc on the Algarve tick all the right boxes. Smaller villas sleep four to five people each and can be hired together, or opt for Villa Trevo, sleeping 12.
Family friendly: Properties at clifftop Vila Vita Parc on the Algarve, above, can be booked together
It’s not cheap, but you get superb sea views. You’re unlikely to need the beautifully equipped kitchens – the hotel has ten restaurants, including one with two Michelin stars.
Also on hand is a Sisley Spa, studio classes including aerial yoga, the tennis courts, pitch and putt golf course, and kids’ club.
Book: Villas for five from €1,750 a night (vilavitaparc.com).
It’s adults-only at the new Thymari Hotel on Paxos, a collection of five beautifully decorated Greek stone houses, each with a private pool. Follow the pathways through the gardens to two pretty pebble beaches, or take the 20-minute stroll through olive groves to Lakka.
Each house at Thymari on Paxos has its own kitchenette, although two meals a day are included. Pictured is a cosy bedroom
Each house has its own kitchenette, although two meals a day are included.
In July and August you can book the whole set-up for 17, including children.
Book: A week from £1,077pp including flights and car hire (simpsontravel.com). In July, the entire hotel for a week costs £21,000 for 17, with the use of two jeeps.
- Unless stated otherwise, prices are for the lowest summer rate, from April 1 to September 30.