The year 2020 was not the best for the beloved beach hotel. The prospect of sun, sea and sand, though, never lost its shine – if anything, that first post-lockdown holiday will feel all the more precious for its temporary hiatus. Better make it a good one then, we say. From Croatia to Crete, these new beach hotels have style in (bucket and) spades...
Ibiza is increasingly a tale of two islands. While many still make the pilgrimage for the promise of sun-kissed hedonism, a growing faction is far more concerned with farm-to-table cooking than anything that resembles clubbing. Set on a stretch of Cala Gracio bay, this first hotel under the new OKU name might just win over both camps – with 189 rooms and suites, it’s big enough to be buzzy, but is striving for something altogether more soulful. Spaces inside and out offer a contemporary take on Balearic bohemia, with plaster walls and plenty of dark wood alongside artisanal woven furniture from Papua New Guinea. Expect the palm-dotted pool area to be a magnet for much of the action. Opens April, from approx £323 per night, okuhotels.com/oku-ibiza
Ekies All Senses Resort, Greece
By the time Greece had become a beacon for new design hotels, Ekies had already won over those-in-the-know with its considered boho flair, family friendly hospitality and sustainable ethos. Set on an idyllic strip of sandy beach on Sithonia, Halkidiki’s prettiest peninsula, it’s steadily built on this well-earned reputation. Last season saw the addition of 10 new suites and five renovated rooms, and this summer a new villa is set to be the jewel in its crown. All are a joint effort from owner Alexandra Efstathiadou and Agarch+ Architects, who found inspiration in the ascetical tranquillity of local monasteries on a trek in the foothills of Mount Athos. Sleek furniture from Driade, Magis and Muller Van Severen adds design heft, while handmade ceramic floors encourage barefoot living. There’s also a new-look pool area, lobby and shop. From £128 per night, ekies.gr
Strandhotel Zoomers, Netherlands
Purists might balk at the prospect of a beach holiday in the Netherlands, but those who strike it off the shortlist could be missing a trick. New Strandhotel Zoomers is set directly on the golden coastline of Castricum beach, among the undulating dunes of a nature reserve certified under the protective Natura 2000 scheme. Conceived by creative studio The Other Season, its 12 rooms pay tribute to the tones of the surrounding sands and grasses, with a warm palette that makes generous use of wood, linen and bamboo. Illustrative details and the odd pop of pastel add pep. From approx £113 per night, strandhotelzoomers.nl
The Royal Senses, Crete
As arguably the best-loved Greek island, new ventures on Crete have something of a captive audience – though plenty of competition, too. The Royal Senses has made a strong start with its 74 private infinity pools, but it’s an earnest desire to draw on Cretian resources that really separates the hotel from similar resorts. ‘I found a wealth of excellent craftsmanship and local techniques that informed the design as we went along,’ says creative director Constantina Tsoutsikou, who launched London-based practice Studio Lost last year. Rooms feature furniture handcrafted by makers more familiar with building traditional fishing boats, and an on-site ‘marketplace’ will proffer products from regional farmers and artisans. Opens April, from £189 per night, theroyalsenses.troulisroyalcollection.com
It takes a certain kind of creative mind to spot a dilapidated former post office and roadside store, left to decay for some 30 years, and see a guesthouse. Hospedaria owners Rui Liberato de Sousa and Nuno Ramos, who run the nearby and now-cult hotel Pensão Agrícola, seized on its potential as a sister property, reenlisting Portuguese practice Atelier RUA to coax the crumbling building into a boutique hotel. Interiors suggest the same surefooted simplicity as the name – Hospedaria means ‘guesthouse’ in Portuguese – with whitewashed walls, natural materials and a smattering of eclectic art. Each of the five bedrooms has its own private patio, and there’s a bijou plunge pool for respite from the heat. Unusually for the Algarve, it’s open year-round. From approx £155 per night, hospedaria.com.pt
Panoptis Escape, Mykonos
Swift passage to the shore is naturally the big draw for beachfront hotels, but you’ll often find the most exclusive hideouts nestled among hills nearby. Such is the case for new Mykonos retreat Panoptis Escape, with its cluster of 19 boutique villas perched on the cliffs above the island’s expansive Elia Beach. Though stays include access to a private section of the sands below, the sweeping sea views from the terraces and personal pools might just trump a daily descent. Opens May, from £585 per night, panoptisescapemykonos.com
Maslina Resort, Croatia
Settled just along the shore from the cobbled streets of Hvar island’s sleepy Stari Grad, Maslina’s series of wood-fronted pavilions are designed to create ‘a vertical rhythm’ with the surrounding trees. And it’s here that Léonie Alma Mason sought inspiration for the interior, too, layering the subtler shades of blue and dark grey found in the pines with Iroko wood and stone from neighbouring Brač. The holistic, natural approach is heartfelt – think restorative spa treatments powered by herbal goodness from the organic garden – earning Maslina a Green Pearls eco stamp of approval. While the low-slung, landscaped approach minimises intrusion, its happy byproduct is maximised views of the crystalline Adriatic, which stretches out from every room. From approx £270 per night, maslinaresort.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration March 2021
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