From millennium-old castles to a monastery with a façade attributed to Michelangelo himself, Belmond offers some of the world’s most iconic hotels. Painters are employed full time to touch up whitewash, complimentary luxury boat launches explore Venetian canals and former guests include the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Humphrey Bogart. With so much to choose from, Wexas specialist Tim Tan picks out his favourites in Europe.
With its very own private stretch of golden beach, this 19th-century aristocratic villa in Taormina is a rare delight. And, when you’ve relaxed with the exclusive cabanas and beach bar, you’ll return to gorgeous ocean views, showcased everywhere from the marbled rooms and pool terrace to the spa and fine-dining restaurant. There’s also a complimentary shuttle to its sister hotel – the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo – which looks right out over Mt. Etna.
Poised on a hill overlooking Florence, this historic monastery invites in all the city’s Renaissance charm. Its façade is attributed to Michelangelo, there are frescoes of the Last Supper, and the Montececeri Park, just above the hotel, once hosted da Vinci’s test flights. In among it all, there’s everything from cloister rooms, with bathrooms dressed in Carrara marble, to a superb restaurant and a pool with panoramic views over the Arno Valley. And, the delights of Florence are just a complimentary shuttle away.
Tucked away among the Tramuntana Mountains, this pair of manor houses dates to the 16th century, each bedecked in local artworks, antiques and, in many cases, four- poster beds. It’s home to everything from tennis courts and a cocktail terrace to an award-winning spa and one of Mallorca’s finest restaurants. However, with two resident artists, the painting and sculpting lessons are a particular favourite. The surrounding olive groves and complimentary boat rides are special inspiration.
First built by the man behind Venice’s famed Harry’s Bar, this island jewel has been welcoming French nobles, English aristocrats and Hollywood film stars for over half a century. Guests such as Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy have all been impressed by the hotel’s impeccable standard of service, which is joined by the likes of a Michelin-starred restaurant, an Olympic-sized pool and a superb spa. It’s easy to forget that St. Mark’s Square is just a five-minute ride away by complimentary private launch.
This century-old grand dame is perched high on a clifftop above the Atlantic, with gorgeous views taken in from cocktail bars, expansive pools and the balconies of its marbled rooms. It’s well worth upgrading for a sea view, although the sea-level terrace offers plenty of private nooks to relax in. Be sure to cap it all off with a spa treatment, set of tennis or afternoon tea. In short, this is the chance to step back to the indulgences of a bygone era.
Found among rolling hills, this 10th-century estate is one of the largest private landholdings in all of Italy. Cypress-lined lanes ascend through the vineyards to a manor-house collection of exposed-timber rooms, spa facilities and a restaurant that showcases the very best of fresh, local ingredients. The surrounding olive groves and orchards are also taken in from the pool terrace, and there’s a lovely collection of biking and hiking routes, making the most of the countryside surrounds.