7 design-led European hotels to escape to this winter

Minimalist Cycladic stays and Italian villas that offer a dose of architecture – and vitamin D

Winter may be milder than usual, but we’re still pining for sunshine.

Air traffic hit about 70% of pre-pandemic levels globally last year. Those figures will only grow this year, with data suggesting the cost of living crisis is unlikely to deter people from travelling. Booking.com found that 49% of people plan to make up for lost time, while 43% stated they are willing to go all out in terms of costs.

With that said, more mindful travellers are conscious of their carbon footprint and are considering the climate costs of frequent flying. ‘Lisness’ – a portmanteau of leisure and business – is a growing trend that sees travellers tapping into flexible, fully-remote office hours instead of tacking on a few days of relaxation at the end of a business trip. They’re seeking out city breaks and working from pool-side lounges while getting their fix of winter sunshine from these cool-but-bright European spots.

Parilio Hotel, Paros, Greece

Photography: Parilio Hotel

17°C – cool but sunny
Typically Greek architecture is fused with contemporary touches at Parilio, found on the low-key island of Paros. A slow-paced Cycladic lifestyle is evidenced through its subdued, tonal colour palette and European design elements, along with ceramics from the Marrakech-based studio, LRNCE. Paros’ timeless simplicity imbues the 33-suite retreat: expect amber-hued fields, araucaria trees and the oh-so-blue Aegean Sea.

Casa Modesta, Algarve, Portugal

Photography: Casa Modesta

18 °C – mild temperatures with lots of sunshine
Rustic and rural, Casa Modesta is located on the edge of the Ria Formosa lagoon. It’s a family affair: owner Carlos Fernandes’s grandfather built the original house in the 1940s, and his mother, Modesta Maria, who grew up there, inspired the name. Fernandes’s sister also refurbished the space into a nine-room hotel with minimalist interiors accented by brick ceilings and traditional terracotta floor tiles.

Ibiza Gran Hotel, Ibiza, Spain

Photography: Ibiza Gran Hotel

18 °C – sunny with occasional rain showers
Stunning rooftop views of the Mediterranean Sea make Ibiza Gran Hotel a worthy contender on the White Isle. Temperatures are said to reach up to 18 °c this month on the island — not quite t-shirt weather but definitely warm enough to ditch the heavy coats, especially if you’re travelling from the UK. Designed by Esteva Architects, the tactile resort boasts refined materials, such as natural stone from Marbella supplier TINO and handcrafted rattan lighting by Bangkok’s Ango.

MAP Hotel, Nicosia, Cyprus

Photography: MAP Hotel

20 °C – jacket weather
Local architects, EKKY Studio, transformed the building from a nightclub into the modernist and monochromatic MAP Hotel in Cyprus’ capital of Nicosia (where temperatures can reach 20 °C this time of year). Owner Marios Polycarpou’s passion project is located just outside the Venetian Walls. It overlooks the Old City — as well as street art-covered walls, traditional pottery studios and cafés the historic neighbourhood has to offer.

Casa Angelina, Amalfi, Italy

Photography: Casa Angelina

16 °C – off-season from the tourists
Located high on a cliff that overlooks the Amalfi coast, Casa Angelina is a design-led hideaway that appeals to discerning minimalists. Local designer Marco de Luca’s vision offers a white-on-white aesthetic, punctuated with Murano glass sculptures by Cuban artist Alfredo Sisabravo and oil paintings by Argentinian Patricia Valencia Carstens.

Menorca Experimental, Menorca, Spain

Photography: Menorca Experimental

17 °C – a creative recharge
Originally a 19th-century finca, Menorca Experimental taps into the spirit of an artist’s cottage retreat. Interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon restored the whitewashed compound, calling upon local craftsmen for the project, utilising rustic drystone, waxed concrete rough-hewn wood — offset by hand-glazed terra cotta tile.

Neoma Hotel, Athens, Greece

Photography: Neoma Hotel

16 °C – city-stay weather
Launched last summer, the Neoma Hotel is located in the cool, creative Athenian neighbourhood of Koukaki. Its elegant yet laid-back rooftop offers striking 360 views of the Acropolis, while both the rooms and suites feature modern marble accents against the muted tones and sleek lines found throughout. Think chic, contemporary comfort.

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