WHO SAYS YOU NEED TO GO LONG-HAUL TO GO LUXE? DITCH THE IN-FLIGHT DINING AND FORGET ABOUT JET LAG. YOUR HONEYMOON IS JUST A FEW HOURS AWAY…
THE ROMANOS, GREECE
Set on the Peloponnese peninsula, the eco-resort of Costa Navarino is built over 10,000 acres of lavender and rosemary 3 HRS fields, dotted with thousands of olive trees. With swathes of deserted beaches overlooking the shimmering Ionian Sea, the area is famed for its natural beauty. The Luxury Collection hotel group has made a palace here, all gleaming, pillared and marble. Discreetly built into the hillside, The Romanos is designed like a traditional Greek village, albeit one where all 321 rooms have sea views and 350-thread-count cotton sheets, while 280 have their own infinity pool (pictured). Although centred on a ‘village square’, the wide-spread design means that privacy reigns. There’s plenty to keep you entertained, from the adrenalin-pumping activities (biking, hiking and diving) to the 4,000sq m Anazoe Spa, as well as a spoiling of restaurants, from the slick Japanese cocktail bar to a beachside taverna, all without leaving the cosseted resort confines. WOW FACTOR The cycle to Voidokilia beach is worth every one of the eight miles it takes to get there. Set off early to get the crescent-shaped bays crystal-clear water and golden sand all to yourselves.
GO Elegant Resorts (eIegantresorts.co.uk) offers seven nights from £1,075 per person, B&B. Includes flights and transfers.
МЕНМЕТ ALIAGA MANSION, TURKEY
At the end of a dusty lane in the [ village of Resadiye, on the unspoilt Datca Peninsula (pictured), you’ll find a heavy wooden gate in an unassuming stone wall. Behind it lies a unique boutique hotel — a former governors mansion dating back to 1809, restored to all its Ottoman glory. Inside the two-storey main house are five richly decorated bedrooms, with 13 suites hidden in other stone buildings. Here you will tuck into a Turkish menemen breakfast (with spiced meats, onions, peppers, eggs and tomatoes), then laze in the garden or by the pool. Relax in the hammam or swim in the clear turquoise sea at the Nirva beach club 10 minutes away. Visit old Datca village (15 minutes away), where men play backgammon and women chat as they make lace on the cobbled streets. Come evening, dip into one of the twinkling waterfront restaurants for meze (don’t miss crispy courgette flowers or tender calamari) and grilled fresh fish, before heading back to the moonlit gardens of the Mansion.
WOW FACTOR The stunning lounge is open to views on three sides, but all you’ll be looking at are the colourful frescoes, richly patterned ceilings and wooden engravings.
GO Exclusive Escapes (exclusiveescapes.co.uk) offers seven nights from £950 per person, B&B. Includes flights, transfers and a Turkish bath.
AEGEAN SUITES, GREECE
Set back from one of more than 65 beaches on the small island of Skiathos, the Aegean Suites is an adults-only hideaway basking in the Mediterranean sun. The pretty, pine-covered isle has idyllic blue bays, golden beaches and sleepy villages in spades. Decor is a grown-up take on seaside chic, featuring a palette of soft sea blues and sandy beiges, terracotta tiles and coastal accessories, and the vibe is low-key with staff that are ever-ready to help. The hotel does a fine line in modern Greek at Pelagos (we loved the shrimp saganaki — sauteed with olives, feta and tomatoes), but the buzz in Skiathos Town (a 10-minute walk away) will draw you in most nights. Don’t miss dinner at The Windmill — settle yourselves at the ‘honeymoon table’ on the balcony and tuck into a meal with a view.
WOW FACTOR Check into the appropriately named Heaven Suite. You’ll want to jump straight into the Jacuzzi on the terrace and ,soak up those views over the Aegean Sea.
GO Thomas Cook Ultimate Style (thomascook.com) offers seven nights from £1,017 per person, B&B. Includes flights.
TOWNHOUSE 8, MILAN, ITALY
So you like your designer boutiques? How about sleeping above the Prada store, eating in a restaurant above Gucci, and window-shopping from the comfort of your hotel room? Townhouse 8 is virtually the epicentre of fashion, located inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world’s most exclusive shopping arcade. Expect caviar on arrival, your own butler, and a racing-green Bentley to drive you to a nearby spa. All 24 rooms at Townhouse 8 are designed as ‘bespoke1 duplex lofts, which you can have tailored according to your needs — a private gym, an office space or a play area for children. Stay in the Junior Suite (pictured) -the interior is elegant but personal, and it boasts a marble bathroom and butler service. The Michelin-starred restaurant (with a menu that changes daily) isn’t open to the public, which only adds to the exclusive feel. WOW FACTOR Having a butler who can get you anything, from a table at Nobu to a stylist to take you round Milan’s flea markets. GO Kiwi Collection (kiwicollection.com) offers double rooms from £280 while British Airways (ba.com) return flights start at £194 return.
BORGO SANTO PIETRO, ITALY
This restored 13th-century pilgrim’s lodge in southwest Tuscany blends 2 HRS ‘ high-end luxury with breezy informality. With only eight rooms in the Main House, it feels intimate and welcoming as well as decadent. For ultimate privacy, opt for the recently converted garden cottages. Accommodation is top-notch, of course, but the garden is the real star here, full of scented roses, cypress trees and stone fountains. Chandeliers hang from pergolas and cushion-scattered daybeds sit under trees inviting you to take time out with a book. After a dip in the infinity pool (pictured), head to the Terrace for peach Bellinis and antipasti. The spa uses natural oils and herbs from Florence’s iconic pharmacy, the Santa Maria Novella, so be sure to pre-book a treatment. Once you’ve dosed up on R&R, head to Florence (a scenic one-hour drive away) to add some cultural buzz to your bliss. WOW FACTOR Take a picnic and walk along the woodland path to the remains of the Cistercian abbey of San Galgano. GO Double rooms cost from £338, B&B (borgosantopietro.com) while British Airways (ba.com) return flights start at £101.