Hotel junkie Ianthe Butt rounds up the hottest new properties
From a futuristic glampsite in Bolivia’s salt flats to a clutch of heritage buildings reopening as luxe hotels – including a French chateau in the Loire Valley – these are the best hotel openings in June.
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Nature lovers will already be familiar with Buckinghamshire’s Langley Park, a woody haven where towering oak and chestnut trees sit alongside gardens where rhododendrons burst into bloom each spring. Now there’s another reason to visit, as the former country estate of the third Duke of Marlborough opens its doors after a six-year closure and multi-million pound refurbishment. Forty-one rooms are split between a grand Palladian mansion surrounded by Capability Brown-designed gardens and an adjacent 18th-century Brew House. The most swish rooms, with dusky pink walls and marble touches, are in the mansion house, where there’s also a vast three-bedroom suite centred around an octagonal room with four-tiered Murano glass chandelier.
Designer Dennis Irvine Studio has preserved historic features such as an 18th-century mosaic floor, cast bronze Venetian doors and historic stone brewing vessels. Wellington boots are available for horticultural nuts to tramp through the gardens, and there’s a private outdoor pool at the banks of Langley Lake to splash in. Indoors there’s a 16m indoor pool in a huge underground spa, Matt Roberts gym, amethyst steam room and Himalayan-salt-walled sauna too. At Cedar restaurant, seasonal Brit cuisine – a mix of Josper-grilled meats and veggie-focussed small plates – is served alongside delicate desserts such as millefeuille with macadamia mousse. The restaurant’s hottest tables are al fresco, found on the full-house wraparound terrace.
Rooms from £425 a night on a B&B basis
Hotel Chateau du Grand-Lucé, Loire Valley, France
Another exclusive country home with a new look is Chateau du Grand-Lucé, just under an hour’s train ride from Paris in the Loire Valley. In its heyday, the rural retreat of Baron Jacques Pineau de Viennay was a magnet for the Age of Enlightenment’s greatest minds, the likes of Voltaire, Mozart and Rousseau checking in for months at a time. Now elegantly restored, it's as razzle-dazzle-impressive as it was in the 18th century. A French neoclassical icon set in 80 acres of manicured gardens, the hotel houses 17 rooms with original wooden panelling, crystal chandeliers and plush Persian rugs.
The ultra-luxe Baron’s Salon Chinois suite has mural-covered walls by Jean-Baptiste Pillement (it’s the only place you’ll find his extraordinary painted walls, other than in Marie Antoinette’s private gardens in the Versailles Palace). There’s a small spa, heated outdoor pool, private lake and rowboats, as well as a bocce ball court. French fare with a heavy focus on Loire Valley produce (think pissaladiere with green asparagus, and morel crumble with cream and apple tart with rosemary) is served at Le Lucé restaurant in a former chapel. Countryside lounging can be broken up with day trips to sample sancerre at nearby vineyards, horseback rides through the Bercé Forest and antiques shopping in Le Chartre-sur-le-Loir.
Rooms from £300 on a room only basis
Plaza 18, Vejer de la Frontera, Andalusia
It’s a real bumper month for restorations. Over in Andalusia, interior architect and designer Nicky Dobree has transformed a 19th-century merchant’s house into a six-room property in the pretty Pueblos Blancos (white town) of Vejer. The designer, renowned for her restoration of high-end chalets, has worked with local craftspeople to sensitively restore details including wrought iron gates, a glass ceiling and sweeping staircases. Rooms each sport a unique look, and are kitted out with marble, black and white Andalusian tiles, comfy Italian bedlinen and Pierre Frey fabrics.
Traditional Andalusian breakfast spreads will be served on the roof terrace, where, on clear days the Tangiers coast of Morocco can be glimpsed. Run in collaboration with the La Casa del Califa hotel next door, guests can dine at their palm-filled courtyard restaurant El Jardin del Califa after time spent beach hopping (El Palmar and Los Caños de Meca are both a 20-minute drive away), exploring the Los Alcornocales National Park or meandering through the town’s medieval quarter.
Rooms from £172 on a B&B basis
Elewana Lodo Springs, Kenya
Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy hit the headlines earlier this year when the rare black leopard was captured on camera by big cat researchers. It was the first scientifically documented sighting of the elusive creature in Africa in nearly 100 years. This month, Elewana Collection, the folks behind both the Loisaba Tented Camp and the Loisaba Star Beds (where four poster beds can be wheeled out of rooms to sleep under the stars), opens a third property inside the 57,000-hectare conservancy. Each of Elewana Lodo Springs' eight luxe tents has astonishing views of the scrubby northern Kenyan wilderness and Mount Kenya, and is decked out with an eclectic mix of upcycled furniture – from 17th-century French walnut wardrobes to 1950s American ice cream parlour barstools. Each room has its own dedicated safari field guide and driver who lead private game drives to spot elephants, lions, Grevy’s zebra, wild dogs and cheetah. Also on offer are horse riding, bushwalking and gin sundowners in the wild.
Rooms from £770 a night on a full-board basis, including game drives, airstrip transfers and activities
Kachi Lodge, Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Set on one of the planet’s most curious and wild landscapes – Bolivia’s salt flats – Kachi Lodge is a bonkers new dome camp from Amazing Escapes, which has six sci-fi look pods sitting at an altitude of 3,600m. At the top or front of each dome a transparent panel offers views of the Salar, or the star-streaked sky come night. Inside, domes are minimal but cosy, with private bathrooms, wooden trunks topped with lanterns, and a wood-burning stove. Dining, courtesy of the team behind acclaimed Gustu restaurant in La Paz, takes place in the central souk-feel motherdome dining area, where Moroccan lanterns hang above a long wooden table and seats are strewn with oversized hemp cushions. The most astonishing time of day is around lunchtime, when the area’s famed mirage effect causes the entire dome-filled scene to appear duplicated in the terrain. Days can be spent scooting around the camp by mountain bike, hiking to see cave mummies in nearby village Coquesa, visiting the pre-Colombian city Alcaya, or venturing to the lower lip of the Tunupa volcano crater.
A dome stay is from £1,500 per person per night, based on two sharing, with a minimum two-night stay, on a full board basis including transfers and some activities
Greek luxury hotel group Katikies already has five successful hotels on Santorini (plus one in Mykonos), and is opening a newbie property in central Fira. Katikies Garden has 40 suites housed in a former monastery; some with private gardens others with pools and Aegean Sea views. Decor is bright with floral fabrics and green colour-pop furnishings reflecting the lush gardens outside, which are full of tinkling fountains and leafy alleyways. A showstopper pool has panoramic views of Santorini’s caldera and a petite spa offers Mediterranean-inspired massages and facials. Food at courtyard restaurant De Paul, is traditional Greek with a contemporary twist, with dishes such as tomatoes with caper and peach, and lamb kleftiko with Galeni Cretan cheese and vanilla jus to choose from. After dinner, guests can retreat to one of three subterranean wine caves to sip on some of the isle’s local wines; the volcanic soil is said to make it some of Greece’s finest.
Rooms from £310 a night on a B&B basis