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Aerial photograph of the garden at the Hotel Bristol in Paris

Hot hotels: five-star stunners

Putting the grand into the European grand tour, these star-studded hotels deliver levels of opulence that more than do justice to their historic locations. Sarah Jappy swoons her way from Santorini to Seville…

Doormen at Le Bristol hotel in Paris

Le Bristol Paris

Socrate, Le Bristol’s resident feline, lounges languorously across the polished concierge counter with an air of regal disregard. His face exudes carefree satisfaction, while his body – an impossibly fluffy fur cloud – positively radiates relaxation. The Oetker Collection has picked its fuzzy French mascot perfectly, his bright-eyed, laissez-faire attitude mirroring the laidback elegance of this highest of high-end Parisian hotels.

Stepping off the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, just north of the Élysée Palace, guests of Le Bristol have the red carpet literally rolled out for them. Inside, the rich textile cascades over marble floors, between stone columns and beneath dangling crystal chandeliers (a signature feature of MM Design’s interior look). It’s just the beginning of a distinctive cold-meets-warm aesthetic: tapestries cover every other wall and plumped, autumnal-hued seats soften dark wood furnishings and delicate mirrored tables. There’s a freshness to it, accentuated by flowers placed in rooms daily, bread made each morning in the hotel’s own mill (housed underground in one of the property’s many subterranean floors) and a light breeze that sweeps through from Le Jardin Français, a central courtyard bursting with more than 5,000 species of native plants.

And, while everything else is as perfectly ‘just so’ as you’d expect – the sumptuous spa, the top-notch eatery Epicure, the in-house macarons – it’s the unexpected that makes a stay here truly memorable, namely, the sixth-floor haven that is the rooftop pool. Imitating the interior of a galley ship (albeit one with views of both the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré-Cœur), it is ensconced by slanted, wood-framed windows, polished decking underfoot and portholes on every visible door. It’s a playful place that feels both escapist (sun-loungers lie outside on a terrace overlooking the courtyard) and family friendly; an area guests can bring their children to without worrying about disrupting the restorative quiet of other inhabitants – including our sleepy Socrate, of course.

Le Bristol was the first hotel in France to receive the ultra-prestigious ‘Distinction Palace’ status back in 2010 – only 24 others have achieved such an honour since – which should give an indication of just how parfait everything here is, including a good night’s sleep. 

There’s something gorgeously charming about Le Bristol’s decorous central elevator, complete with cushioned seat, floor-length mirrors and a classic corrugated iron gate closing. Instant Insta-fodder.

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A room at the Six Senses Ibiza hotel

Six Senses Ibiza, Spain

Perched pearl-like on pristine Xarraca Bay, on Ibiza’s bohemian northern tip, Six Senses Ibiza fuses spirituality, sustainability and Six Senses’ signature sparkle. Sensitively designed to blend in seamlessly with its rocky surroundings, the hotel’s architecture stars soothing natural materials, many of which were sourced locally. With 137 options to choose from, the stylish sleeping quarters include pool suites, beachfront caves and showstopper residences and mansions. Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani brings his passion for produce to the fleet of on-site dining options, from the Farmers’ Market to the Orchard, HaSalon Ibiza, Pharmacy Bar and Beach Caves bar, which hosts live music. Between meals, enjoy dips in the shimmering pool or stroll to Cala Xuclar, beloved for its fishy chiringuito. Special mention goes to the spa: a 1,200sqm wellness kingdom with a knack for biohacking, cryotherapy and compression boots. Roam free in the hotel’s 20-acre beachy playground, letting Mother Nature dictate the day’s adventures.

This holistic hideaway doesn’t stint on wellness wonders. In addition to its superstar spa, there’s a state-of-the-art fitness centre, cardio studio, outdoor boxing ring, yoga studio and seafront yoga deck. Six Senses Ibiza lures a starry cast of visiting practitioners and therapists, including boxing coaches and expert yogis.

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Staircase and chairs with a view at the Borgo Santandrea Amalfi hotel

Borgo Santandrea, Amalfi

If there are two words more redolent of sun-soaked glamour than ‘Amalfi coast’, we’re yet to clap eyes on them. Nestled 90m above sea level, Borgo Santandrea surveys the traditional fishing village of Conca dei Marini, whose whitewashed houses cling to the rocks like pearly barnacles, surrounded by scented lemon orchards and blooming lovely flora. Having started life as a 1960s hotel, Borgo Santandrea is fittingly decorated with the owners’ private collection of mid-century design pieces, alongside bespoke Italian furniture, lighting and fabrics. The leafy Mediterranean gardens showcase the horticulture history of the Amalfi Coast, and spacious terraces ensure the glinting sea is only ever a glance away. Designed to feel like an exclusive villa rather than a hotel, Borgo Santandrea has a bevy of dining and drinking options, including Alici, which serves classic Campania dishes presented with flair. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the hotel’s private beach…

Live out your Talented Mr Ripley fantasies (minus the bad bits) at this mid-century marvel in the heart of the Amalfi Coast. Sleepy Conca dei Marini is famous for its Grotta dello Smeraldo: a magnificent karst cavity with emerald waters and an astonishing underwater nativity scene (visible above water), featuring pottery statues bequeathed to the grotto by devout local fishermen in 1956.

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