Travel Diary: Luxury classics

Travel Diary: Luxury classics
Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Cambodia is an iconic stopover on your way to Angkor Wat

Our travel diary for the months ahead includes a revitalised Cambodian icon, a glamorous new floating hotel by Edinburgh’s waterside at Leith and a classic beachfront hangout near Barcelona

Travel Diary: Luxury Classics
Carpe Diem is an elegant retreat located in Santorini’s highest village, with stunning views as standard

Island eyrie

Carpe Diem is located in medieval Pyrgos, Santorini’s highest village, and guests have a stunning 270-degree view over what is arguably Greece’s most romantic island. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and very private, the hotel has a discreet and minimal aesthetic – pure white buildings dressed with black lava rock, streamlined and luxurious in-room décor and sophisticated tech. There’s a private butler service for every one of the ten lavish suites, each of which has a private plunge pool. For those in the know, the Astra suite is the one to choose – it was purpose designed for honeymooners The fine-dining restaurant is only open to guests and there’s a further meze and wine restaurant for local flavours and signature cocktails.

Travel Diary: Luxury Classics
Classic hotel Saunton Sands has a new Source Spa and Wellness for year-round pampering

Destination Devon

One of North Devon’s classic hotels, Saunton Sands, has opened Source Spa and Wellness, designed to make the very most of this Art Deco gem’s peerless location overlooking Saunton Beach. This has inspired the décor of the spa, which features clean lines and superb views over the Atlantic. It spans three floors and features indoor swimming pool, thermal suite and infinity vitality salt pool with views to the beach on level one. Level two offers six treatment rooms – including one for couples with panoramic sea views. The top floor comprises rooftop terrace and sun room. Signature treaments include Calming Waters, a facial designed to replicate soothing waves. Beyond the spa, the hotel offers boundless nature with horseriding and watersports among the attractions. It is open all year round.

Travel Diary: Classic retreats
A 1930s gem, ME Sitges is on the palm-fringed Costa Barcelona close to Garraf National Park

Costa cool

Barcelona is on everyone’s hitlist for short breaks, but Sitges on the palm-fringed Costa Barcelona is well worth a visit either independently or in combination with the Catalan capital. ME Sitges, from Meliá, was formerly the Terramar Palace, a 1930s gem right on the beach. Interiors are contemporary and chic and it has a beach bar offering Bali Beds as well as sunbeds for beachside lounging. There’s also an oyster bar, pool bar and the Radio Rooftop, an eighth-floor space offering panoramic views. With the mountainous Parc Natural de Garraf lying beyond the town, there is plenty of opportunity to explore wild Catalan scenery while the old town of Sitges is a jumble of lovely cobbled streets, great shopping and historic buildings. There is a lively nightclub and straight and gay bar scene, and it hosts a variety of annual festivals – including one dedicated to tango.

Travel Diary: Classic Retreats
Fingal is moored at Leith, Edinburgh and is the perfect spot for a wedding or weekend retreat

All aboard

Fingal is a new luxury floating hotel permanently moored in Edinburgh’s buzzy waterfront quarter Leith. From the team behind Royal Yacht Britannia, it has a fascinating history as a former lighthouse tender, helping to transport keepers and kit around some of the UK’s most treacherous waters. With 23 luxury cabins, classic bar, outdoor deck for cocktails and a superb ballroom that seats up to 60 people, we think it’s the Scottish capital’s new hot-ticket for both luxury minimoons and elegant on-board weddings.

Travel Diary: Classic Retreats
The Alex sits in the port city of Piraeus, with stunning views to Athens

Athens retreat

No one can deny Athens’ beauty, but it can be quite oppressive in the heat of summer. Now Santikos Collections has opened its first city hotel The Alex in the port city of Piraeus on the Athens Riviera. It’s close to the capital –  just 15 minutes’ drive – and makes a perfect retreat from city heat. Located on top of Kastella’s Hill, the 34-room hotel overlooks the small harbour of Microlimano, lined with fishing boats, yachts and a host of bars. Its elegant rooftop restaurant and bar, The Nest, offers distant views of Athens’ treasures, including The Acropolis. Piraeus was once a favourite spot for Greek shipping tycoons, including Stavros Niarchos and Aristottle Onassis. It was Onassis’ dream to create an international business and tourism centre here, and his dream may yet come true.

Travel Diary: Luxury Classics
The famous Elephant Bar at the newly restored Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap

Cambodian gem

Following extensive renovation, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia has reopened its doors. The hotel is known as gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. Opened in 1932, it has played host to, among others, Charlie Chaplin and Jacqueline Kennedy, and is famous for its landmark Elephant Bar as well as its fantastic swimming pool – a popular spot in Siem Reap for light lunches and cocktails alfresco. Fine Deco architectural features include its wonderful traditional cage lift in the lobby. It’s the perfect Cambodian experience in combination with sister Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, also recently renovated and celebrating its 90th birthday this year.


A Maltese gem in the heart of Valletta, read our review of The Phoenicia