Where would you rather be right now? It’s a question many of are asking ourselves, our friends and our families on loop. I’m currently living in an alternative universe: this weekend, I was supposed to be scooting around the streets of San Francisco with a friend before driving to Napa Valley. When I’m not lamenting that trip, I’m daydreaming about past memories, like sunbathing in secret coves in Menorca or Greece, or driving, windows down, around the back lanes of Cornwall on a summer’s evening. My reality, as is everyone’s at the moment, is much different.
So, in a bid to pick myself up, I decided to write a list – not of the destinations I want to go when this is over – but, instead, the hotels. It’s hardly surprising, given my role for this newspaper, that I love everything about hotels. I often pick hotels before I pick a destination. The ritual of the arrival, the pool-side culture, the people, and the many stories – it’s all magic to me.
Some on my following list are new openings, seen on Instagram or elsewhere; some are places I hadn’t quite got around to visiting. Others are places I have had to postpone. A few are truly ‘bucket list’ destinations, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to get there. Or if some places will still exist in their current incarnations. But the simple of act of making a list for an unknown future does help with the rigmarole and fear of daily life at the moment - and I encourage you to do the same.
Hotel Les Cabanettes, France
I can’t remember how this hotel came to be on my radar, but at some point I started following them on Instagram. This mid-century motel, designed by Armand Pellier in 1967, has the feel of mid-century Palm Springs about it, but is actually in the south of France, on the edge of the Camargue near Arles. It was taken over last summer by a family from New York – their quarantine content (a family in an empty hotel) makes for fun watching, too (see their latest recreation of The Shining).
Hotel Amour, Nice
Another spot in the south of France. Thierry Costes, Emmanuel Delavenne and artist André Saraiva, the hoteliers behind the popular Hotel Grand Amour and Hotel Amour in Paris, opened their first outside of the city last year in Nice. I’d go for a bubblegum pink room. There’s a candy-striped, umbrella-adorned beach club, too – a hot ticket in this city.
Hotel Tresanton, Cornwall
Hotel Endsleigh in Devon is my favourite hotel in Britain. It’s a cute country house, more chic than chintzy, with the most beautiful garden (especially in spring) and peaceful views of rolling hills down to the Tamar river. I often go there with my parents, so it reminds me of them. I have been meaning to visit Endsleigh’s sister property, Hotel Tresanton, over the border in Cornwall, for some time. It has beachside terraces and its own boat.
Dá Licença, Alentejo, Portugal
I went to the Alentejo for the first time last year and loved it – the quiet countryside and the feeling of time suspended. This design hotel popped up on my radar from one of our travel writers, and as soon as I saw the photos of it I knew I had to add it to my list.
Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall
Cornwall, again – but this time inland. This was a really exciting opening back in 2016. Tom Adams, of London’s Pitt Cue Co. restaurant, decided to up sticks and open this farm-to-table hotel with his wife Lottie (and in conjunction with April Bloomfield, of New York’s Spotted Pig fame). In the past year I kept trying to book a weekend, but every time I tried it was full (all testament to them). It will be one of the first places I intend to go when this is all over.
Hotel San Cristobal, Todos Santos, Mexico
A 1970s-style boutique hotel in the surfer’s paradise of Todos Santos in Baja California, by famed US hotelier Liz Lambert. I can almost taste the margaritas just by looking at their Instagram feed.
Hotel Mezzatorre, Ischia, Italy
Oh, to be eating a plate of spaghetti a la vongole on the poolside terrace of this dreamy hotel on the island of Ischia. Oh, to be descending a ladder straight into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Nay Palad, Siargao, Philippines
I was planning a trip to the Philippines this year to see family. This private island retreat, previously home to the Dedon furniture manufacturers, has been on my list longer than I can remember.
Il Palazzo Experimental, Venice, Italy
This is one of the most exciting boutique hotel groups around at the moment, by the French cocktail bar and hotels outfit. I love their hotel outposts in both Menorca and London. Their recent opening in Venice looks similarly spectacular. Dorothee Meilichzon, interior designer of the group, has a knack for trend-setting and styling that makes you want to re-evaluate the interior choices you’ve made in your own home. There’s something particularly Wes Anderson-esque about the Venetian property, too.
Hotel Puntagrande, El Hierro, Canary Islands
Ever since I edited the review of this tiny hotel on El Hierro, the lesser-known of the Canary Islands, I have wanted to visit. It looks like it is at the end of the earth. César Manrique also built the municipal swimming pool in the same village, which I’d love to see.
Sunset Tower, Los Angeles
I had to cut a trip short in Los Angeles because of Covid-19, and thus had to cancel a night booked at the lauded Sunset Tower. Technically I say cancel, but I really mean postpone, as I will be back as soon as I get a chance to visit this pink beauty.
SUJÁN Rajmahal Palace, Jaipur, India
This palace is still owned by Jaipur’s royal family. The colours, the patterns, the history – it looks like something out of fiction.
Nick’s Cove, Marin County, California
Another should-have-been trip this year: one that included a stay at Nick’s Cove, set on Highway 1 in Marin County, north of San Francisco. A colleague went recently and it sounded like peace on earth: stilted cottages in the water, fresh oysters and roaring fires.
Rae’s on Wategos, Byron Bay, Australia
The location is dreamy, steps from Wategos Beach (you can spot dolphins and whales when they are are out and about) and the garden is said to have been designed by Salvador Dalí. If that wasn’t enough, Australian designer Lucy Folk has taken care of the inside, designing everything from the fabrics and towels to the uniforms of staff. I have a friend in Sydney who loves it here and I don’t know when I’ll see her again.
Riad El Fenn, Marrakech
I’ve only ever had drinks on the beautiful rooftop of this boutique jewel box of a riad in the Marrakech medina. Plans are afoot to extend the hotel into two neighbouring properties next door, so when that happens, I’ll be back (to stay this time).
Which hotels are on your travel wishlist when this is all over? Share yours in the comments below.