Cold com­fort

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

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

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