MARBELLA CLUB Marbella
The Marbella Club is one of those hotels whose reputation precedes it, having been created by ‘the playboy prince’ Prince Alfonso in the ’60s as an exclusive hangout for the chic and famous on Marbella’s Golden Mile. The prince’s generous hospitality, charm and lavish style attracted European aristocracy, the Hollywood elite and high society, and while hedonistic cocktail parties have been replaced with ceviche nights and wine tastings, the club remains a bastion of luxury, despite the mass tourism invasion along the Costa del Sol. Palm-fringed gardens have matured into an exotic oasis of scented blooms that flourish in the balmy Mediterranean air between sea and mountain. The kids club is one of the best in the world with access (for children, teens and adults) to pro-tennis, an equestrian center, a couple of heated pools, gym, a yoga and Pilates studio, and a thalassotherapy spa. Grab a bike from the hotel and cycle along the beachfront to eat tapas in the Old Town, or take a day trip to Gibraltar or Ronda, both an hour’s drive away.
The Bosphorus, that great artery connecting East and West, defines the dramatic mood of this great city, with criss-crossing billionaires’ yachts and passenger ships blowing foghorns into the balmy air. The Ritz-Carlton is the best place to experience the drama, whether in the elegant Bosphorus View Suites, the city’s only open-air rooftop spa, or outdoors in the Bleu Lounge, cocktail in hand. Spend your days getting lost in the intoxicating sights, smells and sounds of the Grand Bazaar; one of the oldest markets in the world, this city-within-a-city houses over 4,000 shops, 61 covered streets and 18 ornate gates. Rest your feet at Pandeli restaurant, an Istanbul institution since 1901, serving fresh stuffed dolma (vine leaves) and lamb stew with roasted eggplant. If you’re looking to escape the metropolis for a while, head across the Galata Bridge and find a village-like atmosphere in Karaköy. In early summer, all life spills onto its Ottoman-era streets lined with grand mansions, small boutiques and art galleries. Join the locals queuing for buttery baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu, washed down with a shot of velvety Turkish coffee.
KENSHŌ PSAROU Mykonos
Mykonos has become known as the Mediterranean island to see, be seen and party on till dawn, but small boutique hotel Kenshō Psarou provides a platform for peace, quiet and privacy, too. Showcasing a pared-down Greek aesthetic and steeped in a sense of the island’s heritage, this seafront sanctuary opened last summer and blends classic Cycladic design with modern touches, from copper light fittings to bar stools made from tree trunks. Rooms are flooded in light with white-washed balconies and offer every luxury you can imagine, whether it’s an in-room jacuzzi or exhilarating ocean views. Breakfast is a spectacular spread of Grecian delicacies; in the evening, Mediterranean specialities with Japanese and Peruvian influences can be enjoyed around the olive-tree-lined pool. Kenshō is all about service: there is a helipad and dock, so you can arrive and depart by helicopter, speedboat or yacht, should you want to, while the heavenly spa offers indulgent massages and facials. You can even request a foot massage just meters away from the lapping sea.
THE CHARLES Boston
Boston, New York’s once more reticent cousin, has in recent years transformed into a vibrant cultural hotspot; an East Coast gem that comes alive in early summer when the temperature is just so, whale watching is at its best and locals laze about on the banks of the river, watching boat crews fly past. The Charles in Harvard, ten minutes from downtown Boston, is a stylish boutique hotel in a city of faded grande dames, where both old and new worlds converge. Students whizz past on motorized skateboards, on their way to class or visits to the farmers market, literally on the hotel’s doorstep. Henrietta’s Table, its award-winning restaurant, is laid-back, loud and vibrant; the produce is sourced from local New England farms and it’s packed to the rafters every night with gossiping professors. The airy rooms are streamlined and chic; a modern hub from which to explore the Ivy League cafes, museums and theaters nearby.
A key signifier to a remote stay is when arrival instructions include longitude and latitude coordinates. Driving down winding dirt roads, further into the depths of hilly countryside where sheep seem the only residents, then pulling up riverside to wait for the owner of a private island to greet you certainly builds anticipation too. Hakon, heir of Traustholtshólmi, is part of the experience; whisking guests off mainland Iceland in his fishing boat with loyal canine Shadow at his side. Accommodation is one of three luxury Mongolian yurts purchased from a recent film set, and, once you’re settled in, Hakon provides a tour of the island, hauling in passing wild river salmon for supper as you go. The brilliant luxury of Traustholtshólmi is not the individual components – as charming as they are – but the rare extravagance of total isolation. When the weather is bad, evenings are spent lounging as a group in a plush communal yurt; otherwise it is all about star-gazing, swapping stories in the tall grass until a dinner of island-grown produce is served under the midnight sun that never sets in June.