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Thursday 17 April 2014

10 best: Boutique sun retreats

Perivolas, Santorini, Greece

James Lohan, of boutique gurus Mr & Mrs Smith, shares his favourite summer getaways

Memmo Baleeira

Ekies All Senses Resort, Greece

Algarve, Portugal

Perched high on a cliff top, Memmo Baleeira's whitewashed lines exude classic 1960s chic. Inside, the decor's more minimalist than 'Mad Men', with bright, contemporary rooms that make the most of the startling views of the Algarve coast.

Fazenda Nova, Algarve, Portugal

It's all about the sea at this family- friendly hideaway, with nearby beaches for exploring, strong breezes for sailing and crashing waves for surfing. If that all sounds a bit too high-octane, there's a striking bay-view infinity pool for lounging, too.

Details: 144 rooms, including 39 suites. Doubles from €140 with a sea view, including breakfast.

Perivolas

Santorini, Greece

Rooms at Perivolas are built into 300-year-old caves, but dark and airless these are not – the 17 converted private houses boast secluded terraces, Gaudi-inspired design and bold splashes of colour.

An infinity pool, spa and spacious white bedrooms make for serious relaxation; just add some Santorini sun, arresting views of the Aegean sea and a candlelit dinner for some serious romance.

Details: 19 rooms. Doubles from €420, including breakfast.

Torralbenc Hotel

Menorca, Spain

A far cry from its bigger, brasher sisters, Menorca retains the charms of the Balearic isles. A cluster of whitewashed farmhouse buildings, Torralbenc has been sensitively renovated by its design-conscious owners.

Set in sun-kissed olive groves and rosemary-scented gardens, the rooms are chic, warm and unpretentious. The long, rectangular pool has views all the way to the coast – a short 20-minute bike ride away, if you can tear yourself away from the sunloungers.

Details: 27 rooms. Doubles from €181.50, including breakfast.

Domaine des Andeols

Provence, France

This stylish hillside hamlet of 10 houses nestles in a sun-drenched pocket of Luberon. It may look at first glance like a cluster of typical Provencal stone buildings, but a closer inspection reveals a collection of contemporary art, inspired furnishings and acres of lavender-scented, sculpture-dotted grounds.

Food doesn't come much fresher – the estate produces its own olive oil – and the chef puts a welcome Italian spin on locally sourced ingredients.

The dry-stone infinity pool is flanked by generous day beds, and there's a spa and hammam for the world-weary, too.

Details: 20 rooms in 10 houses. Doubles from €230, excluding breakfast.

U Palazzu Serenu

Corsica, France

Perched in the hills above the Corsican coast, this Florentine-inspired palace is a slick and tranquil retreat. There's much to enjoy here: peaceful rooms in shades of white and grey, views of the juniper-dotted hills, deep freestanding tubs and an infinity pool.

Locals flock to the nameless restaurant for the shifting seasonal menu. Chef Gilles Escaffre trained with Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse, and has a way with swordfish and truffles. U Palazzu's terrace is the perfect setting to savour the finer things in life.

Details: Eight rooms, including two suites. Doubles from €190, including breakfast.

Monastero Santa Rosa

Amalfi Coast, Italy

The 17th-century walls of Monastero Santa Rosa rise from a rugged cliff face jutting out over the Bay of Salerno. Inside, it's all vaulted ceilings, lavish bathrooms and windows opening to heart-stirring sea views. Outside, surrounded by glorious-scented tiered gardens, the infinity pool seems to melt into the azure Amalfi Sea below.

Make sure you wander to the spa – the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella balms and unguents are sure to leave you buffed, soothed and smoothed.

Details: 20 rooms, including eight suites. Doubles from €605, including breakfast.

Ekies All Senses Resort

Greece

Bleach-white sands, an open-air spa, a hammock strung out over aquamarine seas ... with contemporary suites and tree trunks sprouting through the floors, Ekies is an eco-enthusiastic design-lover's dream, and does barefoot luxury very well indeed.

You'll need little more than crisp cottons and a sarong to show off your tan by the pool, or to lounge at the bar stools set into the sand at the water's edge. Put down the iPad, commandeer a fishing boat and set sail with a picnic for two to a deserted cove.

Details: 64 rooms, including 32 suites. Doubles from €104, including breakfast.

Puro Hotel

Palma, Mallorca

Shed any thoughts of sun-and-sangria package deals – with hints of Balinese opulence, the Puro Hotel is an urban oasis just steps from the sun-baked streets of Palma.

Sheltered in a converted 14th-century palace, rooms are set around a central courtyard of natural white stone decorated with palms and fountains. Guests have access to nearby Puro Beach Club's seawater pool, spa treatments and live DJs – a far cry from the high-rises the Balearics are known for.

Details: 51 rooms, including 14 suites. Doubles from €154, including breakfast.

Villa Armena

Tuscany, Italy

Sitting in the gentle hills of Tuscany, just a half-hour drive from Siena, baroque-inspired Villa Armena is sun-baked Italy at its very best. There's a quirky pool for lazy days, bedrooms swathed in velvets and golds, and two talented young chefs in the kitchen.

Expect a larger-than-life welcome from the genial hosts. Franco, the 40kg resident dog, is the star of this show, and a true mark of his owners' warmth and conviviality.

Details: 10 rooms, including five suites. Doubles from €295, including breakfast.

Fazenda Nova

Algarve, Portugal

This 19th-century farmhouse, set among herb gardens and olive trees, has bagfuls of rustic charm. There's a stylish country-house ambience around the hotel's crystalline saltwater pool, with flea-market finds, a well-stocked library, in-room spa treatments and terraces for basking with countryside views.

Sandy beaches, quaint markets and islands are just a hop and a skip away.

Details: 10 rooms, including seven suites. Doubles from €170, including breakfast.

For bookings, visit MrandMrsSmith.com or call 1800 812 925

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