It’s August, and just about all of Europe is on holiday. Beaches are packed, bars are full and the best restaurant tables are hard to come by. But, happily, here comes September, when that all starts to change.
As locals — and many tourists — head back to the office, the hotspots of Europe start to empty out to a more comfortable level of bustle. The searing summer heat also comes off the boil, making September perhaps the finest time of year to sneak in a late-summer escape. And there is certainly no shortage of gorgeous places to stay, with a post-Covid hotel boom delivering big-name brands and boutique openings to some of Europe’s most lust-worthy corners. From the white sandy beaches of Mykonos to the hallowed streets of Whitehall, here are five glorious new addresses to call home.
Son Bunyola Hotel & Villas, Spain
Serial entrepreneur Richard Branson has expanded his collection of hotels and resorts with the opening in June of Son Bunyola Hotel & Villas on a private estate in Mallorca. Centred around a historic finca — a traditional country manor house — the hotel offers dramatic views from each of the 26 rooms and suites. There’s a modern farmhouse feel here, with tones of Mallorcan stone and wood offset by a bold island palette.
An extensive renovation incorporated no end of historic features into the new property, from the ancient tower to the bakery housed in the original olive press. Under chef Samuel G. Galdón the culinary adventure is key to the experience, with traditional tapas, fine dining dinners and on-site wine and cooking classes on offer. Or just kick back next to the dramatic hillside swimming pool.
Raffles London at the OWO, United Kingdom
It’s always a good idea to fly through London. Well, apart from that pricey visa, of course, but once you’ve cut the red tape the capital is yours to explore. With the pomp of the coronation now gone, you’re free to discover the remarkable transformation of the Battersea power station, or perhaps take in ‘A World in Common’, an exhibition of contemporary African photography at the Tate Modern until early-2024. And from late-September there’s only one address to call home in the capital, as Raffles London opens in the Old War Office. It’s the first London outpost for the brand, with décor by New York-based designer Thierry Despont. Most of the 120 rooms and suites are contemporary in style, with a handful of suites dishing out suitably Churchillian grandeur. Look out for signature dining experiences by Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco.
Vermelho Melides, Portugal
Portugal is something of a sleeper hit in the world of European travel, a little cheaper and less overrun than many parts of Europe. And while many flock to Lisbon or Porto, the village of Melides is the very definition of a hidden gem. Acclaimed designer Christian Louboutin certainly thought so and has long holidayed in this southern Alentejo region. So little surprise he chose to share it with the world, in opening his first-ever hotel. Created with Portuguese architect Madalena Caiado, it’s a neat combination of Louboutin’s maximalism with the understated charms of Portuguese tradition and culture. Expect a celebration of European craftsmanship throughout, from the wooden doors by Grenadian carpentry Los Tres Juanes to the frescoes by Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias. The tiles are local, the bar is by goldsmiths in Villareal and the beautiful façade was hand-sculpted by Italian Giuseppe Ducrot. It’s an intimate property of just 13 rooms, ideal for connecting with fellow travellers in the peaceful gardens, or opulent Indian Lounge. The beach at Praia de Melides is just minutes away, but honestly, why would you leave?
Myconian O, Mykonos
There is certainly no shortage of hotels on Mykonos, and in many ways the island can feel a little too crowded in the peak of summer. But just south of Mykonos town is where the new O by Myconian Collection sits with its feet in the golden sands of Ornos Bay, a quieter corner of the island that offers easy access to many of the most famous hotspots. O combines classic Greek architecture with a more contemporary flourish, with interior designer Antonis Kalogridis tapping into both local marble and the region’s respected artisans to create a bespoke look and feel. It’s an adults-only hotel, which makes the chic terrace area all the more inviting, with a remarkable infinity pool looking out over the bay. The spa below offers a range of thalassotherapy experiences, while Obar’s shakes up an impressive array of sunset cocktails.
The Carlton, Cannes
How deep are your pockets? If you’re in search of a little Mediterranean glamour, look no further than The Carlton, an icon of the French Riviera that recently wrapped up a major renovation. The Carlton dates back to 1913, the first luxury hotel in Cannes, and has reclaimed its crown as the most elegant destination in this neck of the Med. The revamp has added a Mediterranean garden, infinity pool, fitness centre and two new wings to the hotel. There are plenty of nods to the hotel’s heritage, from soaring marble columns to Murano chandeliers, while the 332 rooms and suites (but only 70 or so with a sea view) are really just somewhere to change before hitting the Carlton Beach Club.