CHARM­ING HO­TELS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION EUROPE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

HO­TEL CIPRIANI, ITALY It is im­pos­si­ble not to fall in love with a ho­tel at which you ar­rive by mo­tor launch and a waiter who looks like an Ar­mani model ar­rives un­sum­moned to present you with a bellini, made from fresh white peaches, and a thin slice of margherita pizza. On its own Vene­tian is­land, Isola della Guidecca, Ho­tel Cipriani me­an­ders through a con­gre­ga­tion of mostly Re­nais­sance-era build­ings and of­fers 95 gue­strooms and suites plus pala­tial an­nexes and the shad­owy Casanova’s Gar­dens, where the fa­mous se­ducer con­ducted his trysts. Dine at Cip’s Club on a canopied pa­tio by the Guidecca Canal (try the baby shrimps from Lake Garda, sim­ply dressed with olive oil and pars­ley) and keep an eye out for reg­u­lar guest Ge­orge Clooney sip­ping on head bar­man Wal­ter Bol­zonella’s spe­cial cock­tail, Good­night Ami­gos, made with Casamigo tequila from Clooney and Rande Ger­ber’s Mex­i­can dis­tillery. More: belmond.com.

LAWRENCE’S HO­TEL, POR­TU­GAL Tiled Ibe­rian vil­las, tiny shops stacked with linen and lace, cafes, wine bars serv­ing crisp and green vinho verde, pretty squares and clear, cool air … UNESCO-pre­served Sin­tra, 28km north­west of Lisbon, is the most en­dear­ing hill-town imag­in­able. Once the sum­mer cap­i­tal of Por­tuguese roy­alty, Sin­tra has also been a mag­net for writ­ers and wan­der­ers, in­clud­ing Lord By­ron, who re­fused to stay any­where but the rose-painted Lawrence’s Ho­tel, perched like a belvedere, with flower-filled ter­races, vaulted cor­ri­dors and a wood-pan­elled bar. Built in 1764, Lawrence’s has 11 gue­strooms, most with blue-and-white azule­jos, and six suites with deep views, one of which is named for that lit­er­ary lord. But By­ron wouldn’t like the day-trip­pers nor, per­haps, the de­light­ful ho­tel’s shame­less trad­ing on his name. More: lawrenceshotel.com.

HO­TEL LA VOILE D’OR, FRANCE At Saint-Jean-Cap-Fer­rat, on a promon­tory near Nice on the Cote d’Azur, this ho­tel (The Golden Veil) is all about lo­ca­tion, with blue-and-white views in three di­rec­tions, in­clud­ing of the lit­tle port, with its bil­lion­aire yachts and cabin cruis­ers; even the worka­day fish­ing craft look gussied-up for per­fect pic­ture ops. The best of the 45 shut­tered cham­bers have bal­conies, mar­ble floors, carved bed­heads and ar­moires, and writ­ing desks, hark­ing back to the days when one penned let­ters home full of the “sea­son’s” best gos­sip. It was for such so­cialite guests and their en­tourages that an English­man, Cap­tain TW Pow­ell, opened the es­tab­lish­ment in 1925, then known as Ho­tel du Parc, with a pri­vate beach and fine food and soon a mag­net for the likes of W Som­er­set Maugham, David Niven and Pe­ter Sell­ers. When Pow­ell died, the lo­cal Lorenzi fam­ily took over and added a sec­ond sea­wa­ter pool, olive trees and beach­side restau­rant. More: lavoile­dor.fr. On the water­front at St Mawes, on south­ern Corn­wall’s Rose­land penin­sula, this lovely re­doubt is owned by Olga Polizzi, sis­ter of famed hote­lier Rocco Forte and mother of Alex Polizzi of re­al­ity telly fame. Alex, also a hote­lier, is the un­flinch­ing fixer-up­per on The Ho­tel In­spec­tor; she sorts out B & B and guest­house hor­rors across Bri­tain, smarten­ing up the staff and junk­ing the or­na­ments and bath­room car­pets. Tre­san­ton Ho­tel, in a clus­ter of build­ings that once served as a yacht club, needs no such makeover, its decor a mix of nau­ti­cal touches, bowls of hy­drangeas and a pal­ette that echoes sea and sand. Even the cheap­est cham­bers have style; mine, No 21, is folded un­der the eaves, with slop­ing walls and navy-and-white striped flour­ishes, like an old-fash­ioned bathing box. It feels snug and se­cre­tive, with a seag­ull’s-eye of the fish­ing vil­lage. A plate of fish and chips with crushed peas and house-made tartare sauce, served in the mo­saic-floored din­ing room, is di­vine. More: tre­san­ton.com.

Clock­wise from above, Ho­tel Cipriani; Ho­tel La Voile D’Or; Tre­san­ton Ho­tel; Lawrence’s Ho­tel

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