16 Elevated European Summer Sojourns
The new adventures, properties and places to indulge across the continent this season.
An unsurpassed insight into what’s new and exciting on the continent this summer: exclusive Greek moments, gilded Paris experiences, Denmark’s cool charms, train travel dripping in Belle Époque splendour, and so much more.
From Europe, With Love
Whether you’re a James Bond fan or not, few would pass up the chance to live like the famed British spy for a day—or a couple of weeks. Now you can do just that thanks to a new partnership between EON Productions, makers of the James Bond empire, and upscale travel company Black Tomato—the first, and only, official 007 travel partner. It begins in March 2023 with 60 limited-edition private trips, each paying homage to Bond’s memorable adventures through a host of immersive experiences, beginning in London, Bond’s home base, before moving to Paris, Monaco, Lake Como and Venice. At each stop, expect high-octane experiences—whether in cars, yachts, helicopters or on trains.
Pull out your bow tie for VIP access to Monaco’s Casino de Monte-Carlo, which starred in Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and Never Say Never Again (1983). Get set to waterski along the shore of Moltrasio and soar in a seaplane over Bellagio at Lake Como (Daniel Craig did the same during 2006’s Casino Royale). Then, north of Paris, Château De Chantilly—the sumptuous lair of evil industrialist Max Zorin in A View to A Kill—becomes exclusively yours for an equestrian adventure through enchanting Chantilly Forest.
Denmark’s Capital Of Cool
Danes have long inspired design and architectural enthusiasts. Small wonder, then, that Copenhagen has been designated the UNESCO World Capital of Architecture in 2023. This year, the city will host a series of events exploring how architecture and urban planning can contribute to achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Case in point: the new Opera Park along Copenhagen’s waterfront, drawing inspiration from romantic 19th-century gardens and featuring systems that reuse rainwater and recyclable materials.
Lauded Danish chef René Redzepi also has his eye on sustainability at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant noma, with a culinary ethos dedicated to low food miles: don’t miss out before the restaurant closes for good in 2024. After eating, you don’t have to travel far to reach soon-to-open seaside resort, Gilleje Sø- og Havbad, just 50 kilometres from Copenhagen. The dreamy retreat occupies a restored heritage building on the Danish Riviera, transformed with 40 rooms, an outdoor pool, rooftop terrace and spa.
All Eyes On Evrima
Having sailed her maiden voyage in October 2022, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s inaugural ship, Evrima, is doing what every savvy traveller seeking sunshine does over the Northern Hemisphere’s warmer months—making a beeline for the Mediterranean.
You’re sharing the yacht with just 297 other guests (there are almost as many crew), checked in to suites that come with floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies—the Owner’s Suite’s alfresco whirlpool is a nice touch. More bubbles await on the pool deck and marina, the latter of which provides easy access to the ocean and water toys when the ship anchors.
On-board indulgence can be found at six restaurants and bars, including specialty dining room S.E.A, conceptualised by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg.
Greece Is The Word
The global jet-set have been visiting the Athenian Riviera for decades, drawn by aromatic pine forests that fringe thermal springs and opaline water. The glamorous Astir Palace Hotel has been an A-list favourite since the 1960s, with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga spending the night. More recently, Four Seasons gave the property a chic makeover, adding beach clubs, restaurants and a spa.
Its reputation will be elevated when the One&Only Aesthesis opens here this year, set over 21 waterside hectares. Design takes inspiration from local culture, heroing woven leather, muted tones and accent patterns. The Chenot Spa, courtesy of the Swiss wellness brand, will be a highlight.The hotel is within easy reach of the new Ellinikon Experience Park, built on the site of Athens’ former airport. It’s a stunning example of re-greening, and home to a Zen garden, interactive water maze, fitness equipment and forest playground.
Loving Lake Como
In Northern Italy’s Lombardy region, Lake Como has seduced painters, philosophers, musicians and poets for time immemorial. More recently, its dramatic beauty in the foothills of the Alps has drawn the fashionable and famous, who come here to explore atmospheric waterside resort towns by day, and sip spritz in seriously sexy hotels by night. Arguably the prettiest perch of them all is Villa Passalacqua.
The historic 1787 property seems made for romantic trysts, from its manicured garden nooks of olive trees and mimosa to the 24 deliciously detailed rooms, each individual in design and with heart-stopping lake views. The piece de resistance is the former music room with Giocondo Albertolli frescoes, now the Bellini Suite, where the maestro composed. The Casa Al Lago is a sleek private house, and there are additional accommodations in the Palazz, which also has an intimate spa. Order an Aperol spritz to be delivered poolside, where a 200-year-old greenhouse has been repurposed as a casual restaurant with JJ Martin-designed floral furnishings. Or in the dining room, snack on Italian sweets or discuss dinner with the chef.
Le Grand Tour
Whether murder mysteries or love affairs, there’s something about long-distance rail travel that inspires drama. The team behind historic French theme park Puy du Fou will add to the spectacle when they launch Le Grand Tour in June. This six-day, 4,000-kilometre journey traverses Champagne, Burgundy and Lake Annecy, pausing to visit Avignon’s Palace of the Popes and some of the 300 châteaux of the Loire Valley—while you’re here, sit under the stars for a performance of Puy du Fou’s famous show, the Cinéscénie. After days of exploring, meals and music are enjoyed in swanky dining carriages. And with space for just 36 passengers, every experience is sure to be exclusive.
Sir Richard Branson once famously quipped that he’s not a fan of hotels … unless they are his own. It’s perhaps understandable once you’ve glimpsed the British billionaire’s latest lodging on the Spanish isle of Mallorca. Son Bunyola will skyrocket Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition portfolio to new luxury heights when it reveals 26 new suites on August 1. Joining Branson’s three existing villas (Sa Punta de S’Aguila, Son Balagueret and Sa Terra Rotja) on a 325-hectare estate—the centre of which is an historic finca (manor house)—the new hotel includes two suites located in former defence towers, each with ravishing vineyard views.
While Mallorca and its Balearic sisters have traditionally enjoyed a wild party vibe, this pocket of the island—part of a World Heritage Site—exudes nothing but class, from the hotel’s drop-dead-gorgeous GRAS Reynés Architecture Studio-designed interiors to its two restaurants, each paying homage to this produce-blessed region of Europe.
If you tire of the pool, stroll through olive groves fringing the estate to reach pebbly Son Bunyola beach—it’s so off the beaten track, you may well have it all to yourself.
Ahpo For All Seasons
Don’t expect much change from $4.4 million when you charter new superyacht Ahpo for a week, exploring the Mediterranean. But for the price tag, you’re given access to a long list of indulgences, from a helipad to a beach club, pool and cinema, spread over the yacht’s 115 metres.
While there’s space for just 16 guests on board, Ahpo comes with a crew of 36 to manage your every whim, whether that’s dropping anchor to shop in Saint-Tropez or picnic in Portofino, or jumping in a tender for an afternoon of fishing. The owner’s requirement for the yacht was that it be refined yet family friendly, which means there’s room for water toys for kids of all ages—think WaveRunners, waterskis, seabobs, kayaks and windsurfers—as well as a dancefloor, best enjoyed when your crew fire up the yacht’s underwater lights and plug in the karaoke machine. After a night of partying, be sure to make the most of the spa, hammam and sauna, and huge fitness centre with floor-to-ceiling windows.
For all her style, Ahpo is also sustainable with high eco-credentials, including an innovative heat recovery system and dynamic positioning.
There’s a reason why the Loire Valley has been the chosen retreat of the French elite for centuries—it’s the perfect backdrop for aristocracy and royalty to erect fairy-tale châteaux. From Renaissance-era mansions to fortified castles, there are more than 300 sprinkled across the countryside. Check in to freshly minted Château Louise de La Vallière, an opulent 20-room Relais & Châteaux hotel where the staff dress in period wear, deer roam between centuries-old oak and cedar trees, and you can dine on dishes King Louis XIV once ordered.
The spirit of the King’s era has been brought back to life, with meticulous attention to detail at the hands of French designer Jacques Garcia. Rooms are named after historical figures, each individually designed with swathes of marble, textured wallpaper, wood panelling and antiques.
There’s another royal (and Relais & Châteaux) connection at nearby Fleur de Loire, a palace conceived by Gaston d’Orléans (son of King Henry IV), reimagined as an enchanting hotel mid-2022. There are plenty of reasons to linger, from the duplex suites with views of the Loire River to the Sisley Spa. Tasting menus are prepared at double-Michelin-starred Christopher Hay’s eponymous on-site restaurant, heroing wagyu from the estate’s own farm and black bass from Solonge.
Linger In Venice
For those here on an extended stay, the recent introduction of an entry fee of between three and 11 euros means you’ll likely glimpse a calmer side to Venice’s canals, cathedrals and architecturally significant buildings. And if visiting for the La Biennale di Venezia (11 February-26 November) you’ll definitely want to linger. This is one of the world’s oldest and largest creative celebrations, a whirlwind of events, performances and exhibitions.
Stay somewhere stylish—might we suggest The Langham, Venice. The brand’s first Italian property sits on the island of Murano with direct frontage to the Venetian Lagoon in the former Casino Mocenigo, an architectural grande dame from the 1600s.
Otherwise, there’s the Rosewood Venice, housed in the beautiful Palazzo Donà Giovannelli, a 15th-century building created by famed architect Filippo Calendario. The canal-side setting grants easy access to some of those sites you’ll (hopefully) no longer have to queue to visit.
Rail’s New Heights
Riding the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has always been a glamorous affair. In June, it will become even more exclusive with the unveiling of eight new suites on the Belmond-owned train. French craftsmen restored two original ’20s and ’30s carriages, accommodating four suites each.
Design is inspired by the dramatic landscapes unfolding outside the train’s windows, capturing four regions—la campagne (countryside), les montagnes (mountains), les lacs (lakes) and la forêt (forest). Book your journey from December 2023 to enjoy a new route into the French Alps, between Paris and three stations in the heart of the mountains: Albertville, Moûtiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
Tuscany’s Time To Shine
The walled hamlet of Magliano in Toscana dates to Etruscan times. Life here is slow, sweet and blissfully simple, particularly if you’re checked in to the town’s namesake 8,000-square-metre villa, set on a hillside estate surrounded by olive groves and historic vineyards.
Local Italian architects and artists were called in to transform the former monastery into this striking abode—a jaw-dropping union of stone, brick, glass and wood. Décor is pared-back yet polished, with no luxury spared across the seven bedrooms, formal dining room and professional kitchen.
This part of Tuscany, close to the Maremma coast, is known for its bountiful produce, and you can sample the wares without leaving the estate—the 80-hectare grounds come with an organic vegetable garden, lemon grove and orangery to explore and pluck at your leisure. The cellar, meanwhile, is stocked with wine and olive oils made by the villa’s own vintners and farmers. If you venture into town, atmospheric lanes are home to restaurants specialising in fish soup, wild boar pasta and (in season) truffled everything.
Draw up a list of 40 of your favourite people (and single malts) and ride the Scottish rails in style when chartering Belmond’s entire Royal Scotsman train. The stations you choose to pause at and activities you do on this journey through the bucolic Scottish Highlands is completely customisable, although the train’s concierge will likely have a few ideas. Perhaps an exclusive visit to the neo-gothic Mount Stuart mansion on the Isle of Bute? A private whisky tasting in your distillery of choice?
There’s plenty of liquid-gold inspiration in the train’s bar carriage, which has more than 60 whisky varieties. Across the train’s 10 vintage-inspired cars there’s also an open-air veranda and cabins designed in dark polished wood and brass, with Scottish wools, tartans and antique prints. There’s even a spa on board.
Red Marks The Spot
Arguably the world’s most famous shoe designer, Christian Louboutin’s distinctive red-soled stilettos are the stuff fashion dreams are made of. Now, the guru is turning his craftsmanship to hotels. When it opens in mid-2023, 13-room Vermelho will be “Simple outside; impactful inside,” says Louboutin modestly. The goal being, he adds, to let the surrounding countryside of Portugal’s seaside Alentejo region, 130 kilometres south of Lisbon, do the talking.
The bucolic setting attracts some of the country’s most applauded artisans, whom Louboutin intends to hero across Vermelho’s individually designed rooms and public spaces. He’s committed to hand-selecting the furniture, ceramics, fabrics and art that will star throughout; think feature walls of Portugal’s famed glazed blue ceramic tiles, delicate plates commissioned from local potters, and produce sourced from the fields that surround, to be served in on-site restaurant Xtain. And expect accents of Louboutin’s shade. Vermelho means “red” in Portuguese, after all.
The English capital has its fair share of hotels with landmark addresses. But The Peninsula London may well steal the scene when it welcomes guests in early 2023. In the heart of Belgravia, the 190 rooms here feature covetable views over Hyde Park Corner and the Wellington Arch, which means you’re mere steps from Buckingham Palace—and just a few more from the iconic River Thames.
The design throughout the restored former office building reflects this prestigious position, from the grand colonnaded courtyard to the luxe destination spa and no-expense-spared rooms, which come courtesy of architect and interiors whiz Peter Marino, who counts Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari among his clients. While the hotel is keeping quiet on the specifics of its forthcoming dining offerings, we’re told there will be four marquee restaurants to choose from, with an emphasis on British culinary traditions.
The 230 islands of the Greek archipelago host millions of tourists annually, most of them flocking to Santorini and Mykonos—for good reason. If you want to sidestep the crowds but still enjoy the colour of the Cyclades, set sail for dreamy Sifnos and set your sights on Villa Calder.
Wake up in this out-of-town aerie with just 13 of your closest friends, your horizon-bending outlook melting over a private infinity pool before carving through groves of fragrant olive and fig trees that tier to the sea. Everything feels remote, yet you’re just a short walk from village squares where grandmothers gossip on polished marble steps lined with geraniums, the aroma of orange-and-anise biscuits drifting down narrow lanes.
You may wish to call on the services of a private chef to prepare Sifniot specialties while you watch the day disappear. At other times, arrange for the Villa Calder concierge to host hikes through wind-chiselled valleys perfumed with sage and oregano; prepare beach chairs overlooking fishing boats bobbing far offshore like rainbow pelicans; plan for a photographer to guide you to the island’s most postcard-worthy sights, whether whitewashed, blue-domed churches or crumbling monasteries in the clouds. Time stands still here, in the best possible way.
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