Roman sites. Park at Wimbledon, 40 minutes away, for the short train ride to London, and return nightly to Woodstock House for more country coddling. More: www.woodstockhousehotel.co.uk. Leonie Coombes Casa de Madrid, Madrid: You’d never know there’s a hotel hidden on the second floor of this handsome 18thcentury building in central Madrid.
That’s the beauty of Casa de Madrid: it has all the cachet of a private apartment but none of the privations, with smartly uniformed staff at hand to cater to all your needs. (Maria, the governess, even dispenses muscle massages to weary guests.)
Each of the seven rooms is a lavish memento to the travels of its aristocratic owner, interior designer and art historian Marta Medina. The Greek suite, for example, features Grecian columns, a mural of a ruined seaside amphitheatre and the insignia of Alexander the Great. Other rooms draw their design inspiration from India, Syria and Italy.
There is a small reception area outside the lift, a charming library and a sumptuous but comfortable sitting room decked in antiques and Persian carpets, where guests may gather in the evenings for aperitifs while gazing out the french windows to the Opera House across the road. The Royal Palace is a short stroll across the Plaza de Oriente and the bustling theatre and retail boulevards of Gran Via and Alcala are also in easy walking distance. More: www.casademadrid.com. Kendall Hill Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como, Italy: One of the best vantage points from which to take in the majestic panorama of one of the world’s most beautiful waterways is Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio’s grandest hotel.
Once an opulent home for an extremely fortunate Italian family, Serbelloni is an 81-room escape for equally lucky holidaymakers. It is set on a jutting promontory with unrivalled views of the lake and distant islands. Prime position is Serbelloni’s opulent lounge — old-fashioned and over the top, but in a good way — with ornate ceilings and parquetry floors and adjoining sun-trap terrace, where breakfast is taken each day.
John F. Kennedy and Prince Rainier of Monaco are just two of the dignitaries who chose Serbelloni as their home away from home in the past, perhaps for its 18km of avenues and gardens or maybe because the rooms are so comfy they’re the perfect bolthole from which to escape prying eyes. I love my two-chamber room with its light and bright soft furnishings and of course those stunning water views. That there’s a Michelin-starred chef in the hotel kitchen is simply the icing on the cake. More: www.villaserbelloni.com. Michelle Rowe Tralala Hotel, Montreux, Switzerland: Set on the shore of Lake Geneva, the so-called Swiss Riviera, Montreux is surrounded by alps. Tralala Hotel, in the steep streets of Montreux’s Old Town, is a 1616-built former inn that retains its original quaint exterior but inside is ultra modern, its black, white and red interior decorated with life-size images of music heroes.
Hole up in one of three fourth-floor (rooftop) suites; one has a fireplace, another a terrace opening out of the mansard roof. All three are the size of a snug attic studio with angled, heavy-beamed ceilings, comfy beds and eagle-eye views over city and lake. Other rooms are stylish, small and budget-savvy, each dedicated to a
This is Richard Branson’s mountain retreat, but don’t let that put you off. This exclusive chalet in the Swiss Alps is mercifully free of Branson bling and the staff (chef, butler, chauffeur) displays none of the perpetual perkiness of Virgin Blue flight crews.
Surrounded by ice-tipped pine trees, its roof duvetdeep with snow, this nine-room chalet is the perfect winter retreat. Outside it looks so alpine you want to yodel, but indoors is more design than pine, with deep chocolate-brown sofas and beds with plum or rustcoloured covers and pillows as soft as snow drifts. Huge bathtubs are perfect for soaking ski-sore limbs.
In winter, Lodge Verbier rents to exclusive groups; in summer you can book by room. The all-inclusive tariff means you can indulge in one gluhwein too many in front of an open fire without leaving your chalet and eat souffle dished up by head chef Gerwin, who arrived via a stint at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire, England.
This wouldn’t be a Virgin Limited Edition property without a hint of fun and you’ll find it in the rubber ducks around the bath and the toy St Bernards on the beds. More: www.thelodge.virgin.com. Hilary Doling
Mayfair decadence: London’s Athenaeum Hotel
Highland fling: Cromlix House in Dunblane
Under the eaves: Tralala Hotel in Montreux