A soaring setting in the South Tyrolean Alps gives Forestis a secluded front-row view of the Dolomites from its dense forest perch on Plose mountain, 1,800m above sea level. Giving way to the astonishing scenery, serenely minimalistic interiors – all cool, natural tones, crisp lines and floor-to-ceiling glass – are used throughout, letting the encircling mountain range take center stage. Just as stunning when snow-capped in winter as when bright with blossom in spring and summer, the surroundings are an undeniable highlight, but this lofty hideaway offers so much more than beautiful panoramas (though guests in the Penthouse and Tower Suite will struggle to tear themselves away from the privileged vantage point of their spacious terraces). The spa maximizes on the area’s natural gifts and famed healing benefits of the Alpine location with an extensive treatment menu, a program of outdoor physical pursuits, and dream-worthy indoor and outdoor swimming pools for a peaceful, sky-skimming immersion.
Hotel Castello di Reschio, Umbria
Rising out of the bucolic border where Tuscany meets Umbria, Hotel Castello di Reschio is an ethereal, thousand-year-old castle residing in a sweeping, verdant estate. Matching the splendor of its scenery, the property has been exquisitely reimagined by its owners – architect and designer Count Benedikt and his wife Donna Nencia – to imbue the ancient walls with an artful aesthetic. The castle boasts individually adorned rooms and suites, while the estate is also home to 50 farmhouses – some of which have been restored as idyllic private residences and rentals for larger groups. Guests arriving at the hotel are welcomed into the vibrant oasis of Palm Court, in which live piano music accompanies cocktails shaken up with local ingredients. Below, in the cavernous former wine cellars, The Bathhouse is an enthrallingly unusual spa, complete with a candlelit subterranean salt-water pool, a vast private treatment room for two, a tepidarium, plus sauna and steam rooms. The outside pool is also a masterpiece, sunken into the lawn just beyond the castle walls. There are two restaurants: the formal fig-adorned terrace of Al Castello and the more low-key Alle Scuderie, which is set in the restored stables, a picturesque stroll from the castle. With creativity at its heart, Reschio also offers up Alle Scuderie next door, a cookery school where guests can learn the secrets of regional specialities after foraging in the resplendent grounds under expert guidance.
Palazzo Avino, Ravello
Positano might be the most famous jewel in the Amalfi Coast crown, but the nearby cliffside village of Ravello is similarly blessed with old-world charm and mountainous Mediterranean vistas – but, crucially, draws fewer crowds than its neighbor. Palazzo Avino, aptly dubbed the ‘pink palace’, is a sublime, pastel-hued property dating back to the 12th century, when it was a private villa for Italian nobility. Ancient Moorish arched windows frame the glittering sea 300m below, bringing the glorious Amalfi views and sunshine into the light-filled interiors, enhanced by a kaleidoscope of ceramic tiles that bedeck the floors and walls. A wander in the steep, water-facing gardens reveals the picturesque alfresco pool, surrounded by candy-striped parasols and loungers. And a venture to the rooftop will offer the most perfect sunset spot: cue an infinity hydropool practically perched in the clouds. For dining, there is the renowned Rossellini’s restaurant, or, for something more informal, the Terrazza Belvedere. If the cinematic vantage point of Ravello isn’t quite close enough to the Med, the hotel’s delightful Clubhouse by The Sea brings guests right to the shore and is a short drive away, in the small town of Marmorata.
Grand Hotel Timeo, a Belmond Hotel, Sicily
Rich in history and blessed with phenomenal scenery, Grand Hotel Timeo, a Belmond Hotel, basks against the imposing backdrop of Mount Etna, the bay of Taormina, and a third-century BC Greek amphitheater. Combining its setting’s storied past with warm Sicilian hospitality, timeless glamour and contemporary luxuries, the hotel is a decadent celebration of la dolce vita. The standout culinary experience is the Michelin-starred, 16-seat Otto Geleng Sicilian restaurant, which takes its name from the young German painter – one of many creatives to have found inspiration in the landscape here. Elsewhere, gardens fragrant with bougainvillea and orange blossom surround a perfect panoramic pool, and rooms enjoy the same stunning outlook across terracotta rooftops and the Ionian Sea. But it’s difficult to rival the views from Bar Timeo, where a refreshing Etna Spritz can be savored while you take in the majesty of its namesake.
Villa Làrio, Lake Como
As one of Italy’s most in-demand locales, Lake Como boasts beautiful hotels in abundance. However, removed from the glitzy bustle, Villa Làrio offers a more tranquil experience of the Italian lakes. Stretching over two acres of lush, private gardens leading directly onto the water, its 18 elegantly appointed suites are located across two villas and a standalone pavilion and garden room, all of which celebrate classical Italian architecture. Exclusive access to the lake is at the heart of a stay at Villa Làrio: from the infinity pool to the pontoon – where guests can take a boat tour with a gourmet picnic – guests are never far from world-famous waters.