From the peaks of the cliffs offering a bird’s eye view of historic villages to cave dwellings dating from the Stone Age, it is through natural landscapes that we can experience the journey most authentically. Add a dose of sophisticated luxury to age-old charm and the setting becomes even more utopian. Prepare to become intimately connected with the environment by staying at these idyllic properties that blend in with their landscapes.
Set your sights above the bay of Palma as you enter Cap Rocat, a former military fortress dating from the 19th century. Declared a heritage asset and classified as a national monument, meticulous care has been taken to preserve the exceptional architecture of this ancient limestone complex. Maintaining the harmony of Mallorca without disturbing the biodiversity of the Spanish island was also part of the plans. This award-winning project by Antonio Obrador’s studio has resulted in a unique and secluded hotel, secluded from the mainland and the sea. In the 28 sumptuous rooms and suites, four-poster beds gently sway against the delicate decor. Signs of a historic past include bullets used as doorknobs and gun stands as coffee tables. The drawbridges, bunkers, trenches and arches excavated for armament are still intact. Former lookout points transformed into luxurious suites, the Sentinels feature private terraces with plunge pools and stunning sea views. La Fortaleza restaurant creates a romantic ambience in the courtyard with a rooftop aperitif scheduled at sunset, while that the more relaxed Sea Club has a taste of tradition. The sensory journey in this fortified citadel continues 12 meters underground when you step into the spa.
Carved into the caldera wall along the edge of Santorini’s volcanic cliffs, the rooms at Iconic Santorini once housed residents of Imerovigli. The village bakery once occupied the place of the Iconic suite, the most sumptuous of the 19 suites with a generous terrace and plunge pool. Decades later, this landscape is graced by architecture and design firm A&T Kontodimas, with cave dwellings offering a glimpse of history, while providing the comforts of the present. Natural wood details paired with lush beds decorate the elegant whitewashed rooms, spread over five levels. The generous terraces are complemented by Jacuzzis and lounge chairs. Secluded from the donkey crowds of Oia and the neighboring party scene in Fira, Iconic Santorini allows the mind to meditate on the rugged landscape while breathing in the glow of the turquoise sea – when not standing still. Refresh in the infinity pool or dine at the hotel terrace restaurant, ie.
Follow the scents of oranges and lemons along the Amalfi Coast to Santa Caterina, overlooking the azure Bay of Naples. This 19th-century family-run hotel next to the town of Amalfi perfectly showcases the beauty of the terraced landscape while preserving what makes it such a popular destination. The newly refurbished Villas della Marchesa offer an inviting addition to the 67 spacious, antique-infused rooms and suites spread throughout the property – independent Chalet Giulietta & Romeo included. The hand-painted earthenware tiles in the bathrooms and living rooms are reminiscent of a more artisanal era, omnipresent if you look closely enough. Take the cliffside elevator to the private beach club or relax by the pool for a good dose of The good life. Run by chef Giuseppe Stanzione, Michelin-starred restaurant Glicine serves innovative regional cuisine ranging from seafood tagliatelle to Amalfi-style lemon soufflé. Lemons, flowers and local plants are also part of the spa’s wellness program.
Dating from the 18th century, the perched jewel of Airelles Gordes, La Bastide, blends into the Provençal landscape, rich with olive trees and cypresses. This perfect perch overlooks the historic village of Gordes, where artists Marc Chagall, Victor Vasarely, André Lhote and Pol Mara found their inspiration. The echoes of the illustrious inhabitants of this old house can be found in the more than 2,000 paintings, objects, period furniture in cherry wood and leather-bound books that fill the interior. Each of the 40 brightly colored rooms and suites tells its own story thanks to the meticulous renovations carried out by interior designer Christophe Tollemer. For deeper seclusion, escape to Constance’s private five-bedroom home. Prepare for hours of stargazing after meals at the recently launched Clover Gordes restaurant, the creation of two Michelin star chef, Jean-François Trap. Other options include L’Orangerie, La Citadelle and La Bastide de Pierres-style trattoria in the village. The views are as remarkable as the menu at the new restaurant Le Tigrr, whose cuisine is inspired by Asia. Meanwhile, enter what appears to be Sénanque Abbey for a sacred spa treatment, monks not included.
Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, is world famous for its cave dwellings, or sassi, as they are known locally. This UNESCO World Heritage Site remained well preserved and restored when Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita converted these 9,000-year-old stone dwellings into 18 enchanting dwellings. Local and recycled materials equip the minimalist interiors with linen bedding and wooden wardrobes, chairs and desks. Form unites with function, hiding almost all traces of the modern world. Located in the oldest part of the sassi neighborhoods – la Civita – the hotel includes the Cripta della Civita, an old church and a common area. We think of the Middle Ages when we settle in this ancient monastic community where the original elements can be read like a history book. The candlelight sets the mood in the cavernous spaces, up to the stone terraces facing the Murgia National Park. Notes of classical music add to the serene atmosphere, where everything is done to preserve the fabric of the building and the soul of the sassi.
Originally appeared on Architectural Digest