ONLY YOU HOTEL & LOUNGE MADRID
The elegant, 70-bedroom Only You Hotel & Lounge is in Chueca, Madrid’s hippest district, with its independent shops and distinctly metropolitan, gay-friendly vibe. Everything you want in central Madrid – Plaza Mayor, the Prado, Parque del Retiro, the posh shops of Salamanca – is within walking distance, but the area feels reassuringly residential and human in scale, a neighbourhood in the best sense.
The 19th-century townhouse was a run-down apartment building until the Palladium Hotel Group spent about £15 million turning it into a beautiful boutique property, opening just over a year ago. The vibrant interior design is by Barcelona-based Lázaro Rosa Violán, who has mixed straight elements – hand-painted tiles, wing-back chairs, vintage prints and maps – with a slightly kooky blue, white and orange colour scheme and an unabashed passion for mirrors (the central atrium and restaurant twinkle like a matador’s bejewelled costume).
The ground-floor bar has given the carcass of the old Padrino Librería bookshop new life (although the wooden façade remains exactly as it was), and it’s filled to the brim with locals and visitors of all ages and persuasions knocking back Whisky Sours and La Virgen beers. There’s a short tapas menu in the sitting room, but the talented 30-year-old chef Carlos Martín really rocks the culinary boat in the restaurant with a tasting menu of succulent surprises, including miniature helpings of marinated Iberian pork shoulder blade and tuna tataki. This place is both accomplished and handsome – a real city slicker. www.onlyyouhotels.com. Doubles from EUR 167.
MAMA SHELTER, PARIS
The 172-bedroom Mama Shelter introduced Philippe Starck design to the inexpensive end on the market with plenty of streetwise ram concrete, graffitied ceilings and rustic wooden an ‘off-the-beaten track’, north-east Paris location.
The brilliant downstairs restaurant and bar is a hit with party people, providing somewhere to hangout, have a cocktail or meal, listen to live music or simply browse through the piles of crime novels and cult art catalogues. The staff are young and enthusiastic and there’s plenty of guest participation for the Instagram generation: an i-Photo booth in the bar, weird mixed maxims to read in the lifts (of which, it must be said, there are only two) and suggestions for exhibitions and concerts to attend. The day’s weather forecast is scrawled on a mirror on each morning. Monochrome bedrooms (grey concrete walls, white linen, black-and-white-script carpets) are packed with facilities, including i-Mac multimedia stations and microwaves. Bathrooms are compact and shower-only.
Room to book Basic Mama rooms are small, and lower floors can suffer from noise from the bar; so if you get a good internet rate (tariffs work on the first-come, first-served basis) go for a larger Mama Deluxe or a top-floor Mama Terrance with balcony.
Rates start from EUR 99 this February.
SP34 HOTEL, COPENHAGEN
This stylish place virtually defines the hip Copenhagen aesthetic, with its polished concrete, bicycle recruited as artwork and lofty ceilings. The smart, grey-walled bedrooms are furnished with mid-century wood-and-leather headboards and modish brass lamps, and the white bathrooms are on-trend utilitarian. It’s all a far cry from the building’s previous incarnation as the dated Hotel Fox.
The place has more than doubled in size, expanding into an adjoining property, and now has 118 bedrooms. Despite its style credentials, SP34 is friendly and unpretentious, with free Wi-Fi, a check-in desk that doubles as a bar (coffee by day, free wine in the evening) and a little library stocked with books about Nordic food and architecture. The guests, drawn by the moderate prices and Latin Quarter location (a 10-minute walk from the city centre) range from young American backpackers to families with toddlers and middle-aged couples on weekend breaks.
www.brochner-hotels.dk. In February, doubles start from EUR 160.
THE HOUSE HOTEL GALATASARAY, ISTANBUL
Located in the artistic enclave of Çukurcuma famed for its galleries and boutiques, the House Hotel Galatasaray is the ideal location to explore Beyoğlu’s bohemian culture and vibrant nightlife.
Housed in the historic 1890s Zenovitch Apartment, the hotel opened in April 2010. Renovated by our signature Turkish design collaborator – international award-winning Autoban Design firm – the building retains its original shuttered façade, marble staircase and ceramic tiled reception, while the 20 all-suite, all-double, high-ceilinged rooms are spacious, with striking freestanding showers. The lounge bar on the top floor offers outstanding views over Istanbul’s red roofs and the Galata Tower.
Just down the hill from Istiklal Avenue, the hotel is a convenient base to discover the city on foot or using the nearby tram, ferry and subway connections.
Located on the top floor of the hotel, the Attic Lounge Bar with its pitched wooden roof and large fireplace brings a warm and romantic feel to Istanbul. Mingle with fellow guests over buffet breakfast, or light snacks and drinks (prepared onsite, or catered from The House Café), served from 07.00am until 11:00pm, and enjoy the view of the Old City and the Galata Tower.
Doubles from EUR 79 per night.
FAZENDA NOVA ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
Fazenda Nova is a luxury ten suite boutique hideaway in the heart of the Eastern Algarve countryside near Tavira.
This is the authentic Algarve of rolling countryside, of salt pans, of small bustling towns and characterful fishing ports and a wide range of beaches that form part of the unesco-protected ria formosa coastline as it sweeps down to Spain.
The Fazenda is an original Portuguese country house that has been renovated to combine a modern style with traditional architecture and features. Formerly a family home and farm, it sits on ten hectares of land, with its own orchard, vegetable and herb gardens. In spring it is abundant with wild flowers growing among almond, carob and olive trees.
The cleverly-designed gardens were created by a noted local landscaper. Simple and romantic, they surround the house and annexes. A series of paths lead you to undiscovered, wilder areas where you can reflect and relax and study the bird life. Shady areas are perfect for settling down with a great book. The gardens are tranquil, calm and simply planted, and complement the house and its leisurely ambience. The Fazenda is welcoming all year round, with the prospect of blue skies even in winter.
Doubles start from EUR 150.
ROUGH LUXE HOTEL, LONDON
This is Rough Luxe. Half rough, half luxury. A little bit of luxury in a rough part of London. A little bit of rough in a luxurious London. Their Grade II listed home was transformed by internationally acclaimed designer Rabih Hage in 2008 and our philosophy is simple: You are staying with us in our home, so just ask us for anything you need.
Guests at a Rough Luxe hotel might have a small room or a small shower cubicle, but the luxury is in the choice of the wine, the bed linen, the art on the walls and the people looking after you.
Apart from a sumptuous breakfast, they don’t serve any food. London has some amazing restaurants – so why don’t you explore what’s just around the corner?
The rooms come with a luxurious en-suite bathroom and the finest hand-made toiletries. Several of the rooms on each floor can link together to make informal suites and each room contains artworks that are changed on a regular basis. All rooms have free WiFi access.
Doubles start from EUR 200.
BELLINTER HOUSE, IRELAND
Opened in 2006 just 30 minutes’ drive from Dublin, this restored Palladian mansion continues to enchant with its stripped-back Georgian bones and wonderfully quirky, handmade and antique furniture. Wow factors include massive fireplaces (given to a previous owner by the 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift) and exceptionally grand staircases. But it feels warm and relaxed, not least in Eden, the cellar restaurant, where locally caught fish, such as salmon from the nearby River Boyne, is among the highlights.
The plush quota includes goose-down pillows, Egyptian-cotton sheets and Villeroy & Boch baths. There’s an infinity pool, sauna and steam room in the spa (and a hot tub outside), where you can be wrapped from head to toe in hand-harvested Irish seaweed. Doubles from EUR 100.