What do Ibiza, Cannes and Kent all have in common? Seaside escapes like no other...
SIX SENSES, IBIZA, SPAIN
This blissful escape now offers a wellness retreat for the upper-upper echelons. If you have the cash, Six Senses’ Alma Festival is a bona fide The White Lotus experience, with the same (even better) characters. Arrive at the sprawling hotel on the northern tip of rocky Ibiza to a world of Cartier and chakra. At the Xarraca Bay haven you’ll embrace three days of sunset yoga, bio-hacking debates, HIIT hikes and boozy dinners. Don’t fear going solo — within three hours, our 100-strong group was stalking the reception room ‘looking at each other with eyes of love’, before ‘releasing our inhibitions’ and hurling screams at each other. Quite the ice breaker. Expect moments of ironic excess, too. LA fitness legend Taryn Toomey was jetted in to host The Class (a workout that broke me) and asked us to leave in reflective silence. At this point a middle-aged man hauled himself off his mat, decanting €200 into the wind. I’ll admit, I left relaxed, rejuvenated if not a little hungover, and came away wiser, too. As the fellow who sent his money off the cliff told me: ‘Ibiza is the Hamptons of Palma d’Mallorca, son. Same distance, same climate.’ And, as I found, the same restorative luxuries.
Alma Festival, £2,470 for two sharing (sixsenses.com)
FORT ROAD HOTEL, MARGATE, KENT
The bright sunlight refracted from the sea illuminates the smart, white block of the Ford Road Hotel as it stands tall and proud overlooking the bay of Margate. It’s one of the oldest (and most distinct) buildings in the seaside town’s skyline, but after standing derelict for 30 years the building was in such a bad condition that it was too dangerous to enter by the three owners Matthew Slotover, Gabriel Chipperfield, and artist Tom Gidley when they bought it at auction in 2018. Not so after its big reopening last year, spanning five floors and 14 perfectly sized bedrooms for a weekend escape. The interiors are a highlight: adorable collections of found old photos hang in the corridors upstairs as homage to an old-fashioned boarding house alongside an impressive collection of works by local artists including Tracey Emin and hotel co-owner Gidley (‘The Pink Lady’, pictured). Art buffs will find the hotel’s proximity to the Turner Contemporary pleasing, as well as the vast number of places to eat. We loved Dory’s, a bistro style restaurant where we sat up at the bar and devoured the most exquisite local fish. Having lived in Hackney for 16 years, I was ashamed to admit this was my first outing to one of east Londoners’ best-loved British seaside spots. It certainly won’t be my last.
Rooms from £140 (fortroadhotel.com)
VILLA BELLE PLAGE, CANNES, FRANCE
For obvious reasons, Cannes is not short of star-worthy places to stay, but very few of them can match the relatively new Villa Belle Plage in the wellness stakes. From a dizzying array of treatments great and small (not least the Watsu, performed in a pool) to a holistic — and quite indecently delicious — menu conceived by Martine Fallon, it is the kind of restorative Mecca that will easily see off the effects of a stressful week at the office, beach or world premiere. At the other end of the scale, there’s the Rooftop restaurant where the meals are of the more substantial variety (go for the octopus if you have but one night, the lamb if you have two). The rooms are luxe enough, but for those wishing to further push the superyacht out, there are eight gargantuan apartments where you can stretch out. The views, obviously, are stunning, the beach below enticing… oh, and Morrisons Irish pub is but a 10-minute stroll away, if you need a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency change of pace.
Rooms from £176 (hotelbelleplage.fr)