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Small is beautiful: 11 of our favourite boutique properties across the globe

By Phoebe Hughes on 1st March 2021

When travel is back on the agenda, the demand for authenticity and personalised service will be stronger than ever. These beautiful boutique properties offer everything from complete privacy to small intimacy and provide guests with that home from home feeling – perfect for a long overdue reunion with friends and family.

Europe

Vico Milano – opening spring 2021

A seven-room hidden gem in the heart of Italy’s most fashion forward city.

A hidden gem will be unveiled in Milan this spring – an ultra-chic seven-bedroom boutique guesthouse. Neri Baccheschi Berti, whose family is behind the award-winning renowned Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany, is realising his vision to create a fashionable under-the-radar hangout from which to explore Milan. Completely discrete and intimate, Vico Milano will be unlike anything else in the city, and a totally new experience for travellers. 

Overseeing every aspect of the design, Neri has drawn on influences that have inspired him throughout his life and travels. He has personally sourced an extraordinary collection of antiques – primarily Italian yet complemented by carefully selected pieces from around the world, including Iran and Morocco. There will also be an eclectic collection of art on display, resulting in an utterly charming and stylish home from home. Guests will have exclusive access to a curated library, comfortable sitting room and a speakeasy-style bar, serving their family owned wine and curated cocktails alongside classic Italian snacks.

Located in one of the city’s most sought-after locations, Corso Genova 11, Vico Milano is just a short walk to the Duomo and the fashionable district of Via Tortona, home to designer showrooms and a Milan Fashion Week hotspot. A little piece of Milanese history, the site of the guesthouse was once a factory which designed and produced the legendary Legnano racing bikes, before becoming the studio and showroom for the Baccheschi Berti family’s fashion brand, Bungai. 

Creativity has always been part of its DNA, so it is a fitting location for such an innovative hideaway. Guests will be welcomed to Vico Milano as the Baccheschi Berti family would welcome a personal friend into their own home. Throughout their stay, bespoke experiences will be available and the aim is for a guest to depart feeling like a local and having uncovered the authentic side of Milan.

Prices at Vico Milano will start from approx. €280 (currently approx. £250) inclusive of breakfast. Website coming soon.

Castello di Vicarello, Italy

A castle of one’s own in the Tuscan hills, perfect for a reunion with friends or family.

Castello di Vicarello is a 12th century castle in the rolling Tuscan hills, complete with nine beautifully designed suites, two outdoor swimming pools, its very own vineyard and olive oil production and an open kitchen for authentic Italian dining. Owned by the Baccheschi Berti family, the property is available for private use, playing host to up to 22 guests, families and groups of friends will have the run of the sprawling estate, which is located in the picturesque region of Maremma.

Lazy days can be spent by the pool, enjoying spa treatments at the outdoor sala overlooking the olive groves, tasting the estate’s very own red wine and rosé and enjoying the delicious food the Italian way, over long languid lunches and suppers served in the rustic open kitchen. A wide range of experiences can be arranged by the estate include horse-riding, a leather making workshop, Italian cookery classes and learning about the grape and olive harvest.

Those feeling energetic can hike or cycle the trails that surround the castle or visit some of the charming villages and towns of Tuscany, whilst the historic city of Siena is just an hours’ drive and the Tuscan coast can be easily reached for a day spent by the sea. A highlight of the stay for animal lovers will undoubtedly be the Castello’s resident golden Labrador-Maremma cross, Uva, a gentle-natured dog who makes it her job to befriend every guest.

Exclusive hire of Castello di Vicarello starts from €12,000 per night (currently approx. £10,842) on a bed and breakfast basis, inclusive of nine suites (sleeping 18 guests) with a supplement of €150 (currently approx. £135) per night for an extra guest per room. A minimum stay of two nights is required from November to April and three nights from May to October. Fly to Florence or Pisa (two-hour drive to the estate) or Rome (three-hour drive). castellodivicarello.com

62°nord’s ‘owners cabin’

The ultimate coastal hideaway on the remote island of Giske, north Norway.

Leading experiential travel company 62°NORD offers an interesting collection of boutique accommodation including the much-loved ‘owner’s cabin’ in Staurneset, located on the remote island of Giske, just off the north-west coast of Norway. Perfect for travellers looking to get away from it all, and enjoy ‘hytte kultur’ (cabin lifestyle) the owner’s cabin is a small cottage surrounded by untouched land with direct access to the sea.

Home to three double bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, spacious dining room and living room with an open fire, the house is perfect for small groups looking for some solitude and beauty. When it comes to dining, guests can either have the team pre-stock the fridge or choose to simplify life further by enlisting the services of a private chef who will cook local Norwegian delights.

The cabin is located just steps away from the Nordic sea where guests will find a white sandy beach on the right and charming rocky tide pools to the left. Giske island’s small size and comparatively gentle landscape does not betray the unique part it has played in the history of Norway, as home to noble Viking families. It is perfect for outings – bike to see the curious mix of well-tended farms and swathes of wild forest and kayak to experience the uniqueness of the North Sea – home to colonies of seals and passing orcas.

Rates in the owner’s cabin start from NOK 6,000 (currently approx. £517) per night, excluding food and drink. 62.no/en

Lopud 1483, Dubrovnik, Croatia

A unique 15th century monastery, available to rent exclusively.

Lopud 1483 is located on the northern tip of Lopud, Dubrovnik, in a Franciscan monastery that has been overlooking the island for centuries. The property has been lovingly restored over the past 20 years by creative director Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza and her family. She worked with the Arhitektri studio in Zagreb to ensure that every aspect was carefully designed in order to preserve the incredible history of the building. 

Lopud 1483, which is a living art gallery, opened its doors to guests in July 2020 for the very first time, as an exclusive use property. The 13 original cells of the 5,000 square metre monastery have been transformed into five exquisite suites, with wooden ceilings, windows and floors and views onto the sea or medicinal garden. Each room features a unique combination of renaissance furniture, from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection as well as bespoke new pieces by Italian designer Paola Lenti and contemporary art from the TBA21 collection.

Intimate meals can be enjoyed outside or in the Old Kitchen – a charming space with an open fire and functional bread oven, used to make delicious fresh pizzas, while guests can indulge with cocktails and canapes on the Sunset Terrace, located on the top of the fortress, offering exceptional views of Lopud and The Elaphiti Islands.

Wellness offerings include locally inspired spa treatments, alchemy bars, in-house meditation experts and visiting practitioners can be arranged upon request. This undiscovered island sanctuary has been designed as a place where history, art and botanical exploration ignite the senses. The property is also home to a Sacred Garden, complete with nine stations designed for meditation and contemplation, a traditional Franciscan Pharmacy.

LOPUD 1483 is available for exclusive hire during April to October. The rate for all five suites, sleeping 10 guests, is €10,000 (currently approx. £8,825) per night on a half board basis. In April and October, individual suites may be available to book from €2,000 (currently approx. £1,765) per night on a B&B basis. For more information, contact booking@lopud1483.com.

Deplar Farm, Iceland

A unique Icelandic lodge on the remote Troll peninsula.

One of Eleven Experience’s most unique properties, the iconic, 13-room Deplar Farm has been transformed from a working sheep farm into the ultimate Nordic-inspired boutique retreat. The lodge is located on the stunning Troll Peninsula and surrounded by 3,000 ft snow-dusted mountains, allowing guests to have unrivalled access to over 1,500 square miles of untouched mountain terrain.

The Nordic interiors are cosy and stylish and guests can come together in the evening to enjoy cocktails mixed by the resident mixologist and feast on local Icelandic delicacies cooked by the chef. Guests will delight in the extensive wellness area which comprises a steam room, indoor and outdoor saunas, hot tubs, flotation tanks, three treatments rooms and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, heated to 38 degrees from thermal springs, with a built-in sound system and a bar. Deplar Farm also offers a library, entertainment room, terrace, built in pizza oven and a full band set up for late night jamming sessions as well as two helicopter pads.

Thanks to its unparalleled location, the unique lodge serves as a fantastic base to explore the surrounding area and embark on adventures led by the expert Eleven Experience guides. The thrilling menu of outdoor pursuits include heli-skiing, sea kayaking, whale watching in the surrounding fjords, astro-touring and fat biking special trails around the valley.

Due to limited light-pollution in Iceland, Deplar Farm’s impressive geo-thermally heated outdoor pool is the perfect spot from which guests can stargaze across the clear Icelandic night-sky and catch a glimpse of the elusive northern lights from October to March – the ultimate bucket list trip to tick off.

Rates at Deplar Farm start at £1,370 per person per night (based on double occupancy). This includes customised adventure itineraries, all gear necessary for activities, pre-arrival planning with an experience manager, all in-house meals, house alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, daily housekeeping and airport transfers to/from Akureyri. elevenexperience.com

La Bastide de Marie, Provence

A magical 18th century hideaway in the heart of Provence with just 15 suites and complete with its very own vineyard and winery.

Nestled among 57 acres of vineyards and gardens, in the heart of Luberon Natural Park, La Bastide de Marie is a fully restored 18th century farmhouse estate, with just 15 suites. The owner, Jocelyne Sibuet, has lovingly restored each room with its own style and sense of décor. The result is elegant and understated, featuring ceilings with exposed beams, antique and wrought iron furniture and furnishings in calming pastel colours.

The stylish Provencal retreat has an old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen, library and expansive terrace restaurant, overlooking the Mediterranean gardens and adjoining the Domaine de Marie vineyard. For a more unusual and romantic stay, guests can stay overnight in the bohemian Roulotte, a gypsy-chic style caravan in the grounds. Maisons and Hotels Sibuet’s Pure Altitude Spa offers massages using lavender and neroli oil and runs yoga classes with views overlooking the Luberon National Park.

The Bastide’s head winemaker welcomes guests for a tour of the wine cellar, followed by a tasting of the reds, whites and rosés and for fine wine lovers, the Domaine de Marie is the perfect stopover to discover the different grape varieties of the region.

Those looking to explore the region are well placed to do so: the villa is a short drive from the Provençal villages of Opio and Valbonne whilst beach-lovers won’t have to venture far. The nearest can be found at Cagnes sur Mer, just 10km away, or St Paul de Vence, just a 30-minute drive.

Rates at Bastide de Marie start from €330 (currently approx. £292) per room per night on a bed and breakfast basis. en.labastidedemarie.com

Africa

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger’s best kept safari secret, tucked in the banks of the Sweni River.

Tucked into the banks of the Sweni River, Singita Sweni Lodge located in Singita’s private 33,000-acre concession in South Africa is the ultimate ultra-boutique safari retreat. With just seven intimate suites, the property sleeps 14 at a maximum.

The suites themselves are hidden in the trees – each featuring open-plan interiors, a generously stocked minibar, two bathrooms and an outdoor shower overlooking the river – adding to the feeling of being enveloped by an ancient forest. The cosy but stylish lodge is a hidden jewel entwined in nature that provides a bold, new African context for contemporary design, architecture and safari dining.

Guests have private access to 33,000 acres of pristine wilderness in the world-renowned Kruger National Park, ensuring unforgettable game-viewing experiences. With the lodge’s proximity to the river, guests are also treated to up-close sightings of numerous animals and birds frequenting the area to drink or wallow in the water.

Rates for Singita Sweni Lodge start from £1,422 per person per night. This includes all meals, drinks (excluding French Champagne), twice-daily open Land Rover safaris, walking safaris with accompanied guides and trackers, and return road transfers between Singita’s airstrip and the lodge. singita.com/lodge/sweni-lodge/

Sala’s Camp, Kenya

Experience the famed migration in intimate surroundings.

Made up of seven tents, Sala’s Camp combines tradition with comfort, offering a model of understated luxury. Situated in the southern, wilder corner of the Masai Mara game reserve, Sala’s Camp is close to the confluence of the Sand and Keekorok Rivers – an idyllic geographical feature that attracts teeming wildlife. 

The location of Sala’s Camp is a big draw – close to Tanzania with wonderful views of the Serengeti National Park, it is one of the first camps in the Mara to witness the legendary annual migration of wildebeest, which thunders by from June to September each year. Sala’s Camp also offers the best of the Masai Mara’s wildlife and birdlife year round.

A typical day at Sala’s would include exhilarating game drives with an abundance of wildlife viewings before returning to the tent to relax on the deck or taking a dip in the plunge pool before heading for sundowners and dinner under the stars. 

Rates start from US$950 (currently approx. £692) per person on a fully inclusive basis. thesafaricollection.com/properties/salas-camp/

Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana

Unparalleled privacy and exclusivity.

Situated in Botswana’s unspoilt wilderness on the western side of the Moremi Game Reserve, Xigera (‘Kee-jera’) is a boutique safari lodge whose inspired hospitality and design reinvent what it means to experience the African bush.

Heralding a new design direction for Red Carnation Hotels, Xigera Safari Lodge opened this January and is the first purpose-built safari lodge developed by the Tollman family, the renowned South African born hoteliers. Guided by their deep love of the Delta and its wildlife, Xigera will offer just 24 guests an extraordinary opportunity to explore the richness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to the tune of their own individual imagining. 

Touching the earth lightly, the lodge’s 12 individually designed air-conditioned suites, including one two-bedroom family suite, extend over two islands. Architect Anton de Kock designed the buildings in complete synergy with their surroundings, using torched timber cladding and softly undulating rooves inspired by the wingspan of the region’s rare Pel’s Fishing Owl.

The lodge’s interiors have been conceptualised by Toni Tollman and Philip Fourie, who collaborated with Southern Guild gallery in a ground-breaking project that spanned over two years. They commissioned work from more than 80 artists and artisans from Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Mali and Eswatini, including Andile Dyalvane, Peter Mabeo, Cheick Diallo, Dokter and Misses, Dylan Lewis, Porky Hefer, Ardmore Ceramics and others. 

Those seeking an even closer encounter with nature can experience a life-changing sleep-out under the stars in a three-story steel baobab tree located 1km from the camp.

Rates at Xigera Safari Lodge start from $2,320 (currently approx. £1,695) per adult per night sharing. This includes accommodation on a fully inclusive basis, park fees and all activities. Spa treatments are additional. The baobab experience is bookable at the camp for an added cost of $250 (currently approx. £183) per nightxigera.com

Indonesia 

Bawah reserve to launch Elang private residence in 2021

An adults only private island playground in the remote Anambas Islands, Indonesia.

Situated in the remote Anambas Islands, Indonesia, 160 nautical miles from the closest city Singapore, Bawah Reserve is made up of six tropical islands, 13 white sand beaches and three crystal clear lagoons and is only accessible by private seaplane. In addition to its current 36 lodges, Bawah is launching six brand new cliffside lodges on a previously untouched island named Elang this year. Further enhancing the reserve’s private island experience, guests over 18 can opt to book the entire island for them and up to 14 guests – the perfect escape for those looking to reconnect with family or close friends.

They will have exclusive access to the islands own clubhouse which has been carefully designed around a rock formation and inspired by tribal communal houses in Indonesia as well as a beachside restaurant and bar, spa, private beach and salt water infinity pool, created from a natural hollow and refreshed with every tidal change, complete with a water slide. Guests of Elang can take part in the plethora of activities included in the all-inclusive rate, in addition to full board dining experiences and daily spa treatments.

Elang Private Residence is set to open in Spring 2021. Rates to hire the island of Elang start from $21,000 USD (currently approx. £17,478) per night and can host up to 14 guests. Rates include full board, daily spa treatments, laundry, in-room minibar and a host of land and water-based activitiesbawahreserve.com

New Zealand 

Cedar Lodge, New Zealand

A four-bedroom exclusive hideaway – providing the perfect base for epic heli-fishing and heli-hiking adventures.

Eleven Experience, the renowned creator of bespoke, boundary-pushing adventures, offers up its latest fly-fishing and adventure retreat on the South Island of New Zealand, Cedar Lodge – reopening for the 2021 fishing season in December. Sleeping eight across four rooms, and available by room or for exclusive buyout, Cedar Lodge offers incredible views of the majestic scenery New Zealand has to offer.

The lodge has an expert team of in-house chefs preparing delicious meals for guests to enjoy every evening – using the best ‘clean and green’ produce from the area alongside the region’s world-class lamb, fresh seafood and award-winning New Zealand wines.

Well off the beaten path and set in beautiful surroundings on a five-acre plot – in the rural valley of Makarora, otherwise known as the ‘timeless land’ and considered a special place to the locals – guests are only minutes away from some of New Zealand’s most remote streams from which to fish rainbow and brown trout. Fly fishers in the know consider New Zealand the trophy trout capital of the world for good reason.

The lodge has, for over 30 years, been renowned for its exclusive helicopter fly-out angling programme – now sitting within Eleven’s collection of world-class angling focused properties, to carry on the legendary tradition of Cedar Lodge. Ideal for anglers and non-anglers alike, guests can embark on intimate tours of New Zealand’s most renowned wineries, heli-hiking, and world-class heli-fishing led by highly knowledgeable local guides.

Rates for Cedar Lodge start at £7,370 per person for seven nights and six days of fishing (December 2021 to March 2022), based on double occupancy and two anglers per guide, as well as meals, drinks and daily helicopter fly-out. Cedar Lodge is a six hour drive from Christchurch Airport and three hours north of Queenstownelevenexperience.com