The world’s best home-from-home hotels
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This red ochre farmhouse used to be home to renowned interior designer Jamie Parladé and his wife Janetta. Now a boutique hotel run by Parladé’s nephew, Andrés, the art- and antique-filled finca still bears the imprint of its former inhabitants, from the well-stocked library to the tapestries hanging in the six double bedrooms and cottage.
All the rooms are grand, but perhaps most charming is the former chapel, La Capilla, with its high-domed ceilings and arched doors. Beyond the terracotta-tiled terraces and wisteria-covered pergolas, you will find a saltwater pool screened by olive trees. Further still, the estate’s lush tropical gardens and views of the Costa del Sol. There is fresh cake for tea, a courtesy bar for mixing your own drinks and a Moroccan-influenced Mediterranean restaurant for dinner at Alcuzcuz Gallery next door. From €195, alcuzcuz.es Ajesh Patalay
Muxima, Aljezur, Portugal
I’m not sure I had ever actually seen frogs perched on lilypads outside a Beatrix Potter illustration, but you’ll come eyeball to eyeball with them in Muxima’s bio-pool. Their gentle croaking (a real-life meditation-app chorus) adds to the calm at this guesthouse, which is set amid twisted cork and slender eucalyptus trees that scent the air with their woody, minty tang.
Muxima has just seven rooms, each with north African-inspired decor. The breakfast is probably one of the best around: homemade bread, eggs, buttery vegetable quiches, jewel-like platters of fruit and traditional Portuguese cake. From €130, muxima-aljezur.com Carola Long
Japanophiles all have their own favourite ryokan: 19th-century Hiiragiya is often in the top five. Every aspect of its design points to a Japan of the past, from the umbrella-pine soaking tubs and lacquered writing boxes to the beautiful textiles (even the TVs are covered in silk). Charlie Chaplin and Liz Taylor are reputed to be among those who have stayed here, but you’re unlikely to see another guest during your stay: privacy is everything. From ¥53,000pp (about £310), including dinner and breakfast, hiiragiya.co.jp Mark C O’Flaherty
The Point, Adirondack Mountains, New York
Originally a sprawling lakeside camp for the Rockefellers, The Point has 11 bedrooms, each individually styled but all with king- or queen-sized beds. Most are in the private detached cottages that circle the main log-cabin building, which has a vast central lounge festooned with plaid upholstery and deer heads. There’s a huge stone fireplace and guests dine en famille, with black tie requested twice a week. New York elites come for a slice of ’30s fantasy in which cocktails are served on sunset cruises and bottles of champagne are hidden in fairytale chalets at the end of hikes. The staff treat you like family, and the all-inclusive nature manifests in what feels like a lavish meal every couple of hours. Swim in the lake in summer, snow-shoe over it in winter, put a tune on the jukebox or play pool in the pub. The whole thing is a Bruce Weber meets Ralph Lauren fantasia of luxury Americana. From $2,250, thepointresort.com MCO’F
Artist Residence, Brighton
When Justin Salisbury’s mother was injured in an accident, he stepped in to run her seaside hotel. It was the middle of the 2008 financial crisis and Salisbury was just 20: the former townhouse needed a complete renovation. His solution? To invite a group of artists to do it up for him. More than 15 years later – and with a little help from Alex Polizzi (aka The Hotel Inspector) – Artist Residence has 25 rooms featuring original artworks, locally sourced furniture and chirping Roberts Radios. Curling up, cocktail in hand, on the enormous red sofa always feels like a homecoming. From £145, artistresidence.co.uk Rosanna Dodds
Taubenkobel, Burgenland, Austria
Barbara Eselböck and her Michelin-starred-chef husband Alain Weissgerber took over Taubenkobel in 2014 from Eselböck’s parents, reinvigorating the hotel with fresh eyes and raising their family on the premises. The seasonal tasting menu features locally sourced fish, woodland mushrooms, herbs and edible flowers, all served on stoneware plates; biodynamic wines are poured into handblown glassware.
Tastes seem both ancient and of the now, and Weissgerber infuses the presentation with playful storytelling. One long dinner can happily segue into an idyllic night in one of the former farm buildings, many with beds raised on mezzanine levels in the eaves. There are stone bathtubs, vintage furniture and record players with vinyl to entertain. In the summer, meandering gardens, hammocks and a natural swimming pool seduce. From €360, taubenkobel.com Harriet Quick
JK Place, Paris
The sole French outpost of a very Italian independent hotel group. The ground floor feels like an endless living room, with a lot of communal space for a hotel of only 29 rooms. The staff is informal, but remembers your quirks. No need to tell them twice that you want ridiculous amounts of water at breakfast – or a half-order of cacio e pepe as a starter (it’s the best in Paris).
The gym looks like somebody’s posh dad’s study; the sauna is, for once, hot enough, and, very importantly, the full-sized bottle of conditioner in the room actually detangles your hair. “Welcome home,” they greet when you come to check in. They mean it. From €900, jkplace.paris Alexandra Marshall
A fastidious restoration project started in 2015 transformed this crumbling townhouse in the middle of old-town Havana into a serene four-bedroom hotel. You can book out either a floor comprising two bedrooms or take the entire space, all fitted out with handmade wooden beds canopied in swathes of white cotton, locally made tiles in the bathrooms and Marshall radios dotted throughout.
Breakfast is served in your room or the palm-shaded, sofa-strewn courtyard, and there’s a chef on hand should you desire to host a dinner party one night, or to sip a perfect mojito on the balcony overlooking the colonial-era street below before you step out for the evening. Alternatively, mix one to your own taste from the honesty bar. From £250 for a pair of rooms, gardenshavana.com Baya Simons
The Lowell, New York
It’s a real hotel, with 17 floors, 74 rooms and suites, and the patrician pre-war mien of the prime Upper East Side location it occupies. But the homey welcome The Lowell offers is down to something more intangible than dimensions. Possibly because many rooms are cozy and fireplace-lit. Or because the suites feel like single-girl or -guy apartments, thanks to the layouts and the unfussy but coddling decor (courtesy of Michael S Smith, the designer whom the Obamas chose to make the White House feel like a home). And then, of course, they have all the important connective moments covered – from knowing your drink to getting the shoe-repair guy on 64th and Lexington to stay late to fix your broken heel. From $945, lowellhotel.com Maria Shollenbarger
I’ve returned to the Cortiina, in the city where I was born and raised, each year for almost a decade. The rooms have a comfy style – think German functionality – and everything is of a high standard without screaming luxury. The location couldn’t be more central, and the hotel provides bikes – a perfect way to explore the English Garden nearby. But my favourite Cortiina feature (and a beloved German tradition) is the brunch buffet with its great selection of bread, including bretzels (we Münchner pride ourselves on having the best). It’s truly my home away from home. From €151, cortiina.com Isabelle Kountoure
3Rooms at 10 Corso Como, Milan
Stepping into this oasis of midcentury elegance during frantic fashion week always feels like a sanctuary: 3Rooms is my favourite thing about staying in Milan. Located in the busy concept space at 10 Corso Como, 3Rooms is precisely that – three spacious apartments decorated in a tastefully sludgy palette of ’70s oranges and browns.
The suites vary, but all are 50sq m with courtyard entrances, and furnished with pieces by – or at least inspired by – Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Joe Colombo, Isamu Noguchi, Charles and Ray Eames et al.
Each apartment has a substantial living room, fitted with a coffee machine, a kettle and a fridge, which can be stocked up with produce from nearby Eataly for that extra home-from-home élan. Food can be ordered from the restaurant downstairs, or you can eat in 10 Corso Como’s famously convivial dining rooms. From €550, 10corsocomo.com Jo Ellison
The Gurnard’s Head, Cornwall
Perched majestically on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean on Cornwall’s north coast, The Gurnard’s Head is a welcome refuge from the oncoming sea winds and wild Penwith moors. This is where I like to come after a visit to Tate St Ives, and where I send friends looking for places to stay in Cornwall.
Painted in distinctive Cornish saffron yellow, the cosy pub-with-rooms is replete with roaring fires and simple seasonal food, and a bar full of local characters who often have wonderful stories to tell. Its eight guest rooms each have Welsh blankets and shelves crammed with an excellent selection of books (the nearby village, Zennor, boasts DH Lawrence and Michael Morpurgo as former residents). Book tickets for a summer production at the Minack Theatre, a famous amphitheatre built into the rocks near Land’s End. From £155, gurnardshead.co.uk Fiona Golfar
The Red Tree House, Mexico City
La Condesa in Mexico City was named after the Countess de Miravalle, a Mexican colonial-era noblewoman said to be so wealthy that her parties would last an entire month. The area remains true to that spirit, alive at all hours with the thrum of restaurants, wine bars and rumba clubs. The Red Tree House, located in a mud-red ’30s mansion – once lived in by the actress who played Frida Kahlo in the 1983 biopic – around the corner from one of La Condesa’s wide, jacaranda-lined avenues, gives a flavour of what it might be like to reside in this lively corner of the city. Passing through the warm orange-and-brown maze of reception, living and dining rooms brings you out into a huge courtyard shaded by a grand old tree. It’s here that breakfast is served each morning – churros, fresh fruits, melting molletes with fresh pico de gallo – and where wine and beer flows in the evening, courtesy of the hotel, resulting in a happy conviviality among guests. From $135, theredtreehouse.com BS
The Efendi Hotel, Akko, Israel
Uri Jeremias – known to foodies the world over as Uri Buri – is one of Israel’s most beloved chefs. Besides turning out honest, delicious seafood, his eponymous restaurant in Akko has always had a staff that’s equal parts Arab and Jewish, who put the abstract rhetoric of co-existence into practice every day. His accompanying hotel Efendi, opened 10 years ago in two Ottoman-era mansions, is a place I would, truly, live if I could (for a few months a year, anyway).
The suites, 12 in total, have standalone baths, and some come with hand-stencilled designs on the ceilings. Old stone floors encourage bare feet (Jeremias is fine with them, too). The long, low white sofa in the living room, where light pours in through monumental arched windows, begs you to stretch out for hours with a book. And the terrace: wide, scattered with low, sky-blue sofas and wood tables, with a view of the sea and a sunrise-to-sunset soundtrack of prayer calls and village life. From €360, efendi-hotel.co.il MS
Ett Hem, Stockholm
This Stockholm hotel’s name translates to “a home”. Across its three red-brick townhouses – in the airy bedrooms and calming communal spaces that reveal the combined imaginations of owner Jeanette Mix and designer Ilse Crawford – Ett Hem declares itself a haven.
Staying here, where the hotel touchpoints are almost invisible, is like being the guest of a peerlessly chic and thoughtful friend, who furnishes their home with the best of midcentury design – Kaare Klint, Hans Wegner, Eero Saarinen – but creates a delicious sense of informality in all aspects of your stay, from the “help yourself” biscuit jars to the communal kitchen table. From SKr3,995 (about £310), etthem.se Charlotte Sinclair
Santa Clara 1728, Lisbon
At Santa Clara 1728, as in any welcoming home, things happen at a communal table. If you take a seat in the garden, a host asks if you’d like a glass or nibble, and perhaps stays to chat for a moment. João Rodrigues – investor, commercial pilot and founder of the exquisitely tasteful Portuguese hotel collection Silent Living – opened this Lisbon gem in 2017, at the edge of Alfama, the real Lisbon, with views over the church of Santa Engrácia to the Tagus river.
There are just six suites; full of light, spare of furnishings, their slightly monastic feel softened by tiles and stone and huge beds wrapped in soft, white cotton. It is a deeply comfortable place, above all other things, and one loved by those who work there – evidenced by myriad small details (my favourite: the wildflower arrangements). From €1,000, silentliving.pt MS
The Boatshed, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Who doesn’t want a sweet house on Waiheke Island, that verdant happy place of both aged hippies and Google c-suiters, off the coast of Auckland in New Zealand? The more pressing question these days: who can afford one? Until you’ve amassed the cash, look to David Scott and his son Jonathan, who turned a holiday cottage overlooking Little Oneroa Beach that had been in the family for 35 years into The Boatshed, a divine retreat that is still, essentially, a collection of beach cottages. The living room, its books, magazines and music, are yours for the perusing/borrowing/playing. The open kitchen is open all day, you can grab yourself a towel for the beach, and hire Jeeps to go into town, or east to Onetangi Beach for a sundowner. From NZ$810 (about £400), boatshed.co.nz MS
The Happy House, Solukhumbu, Nepal
Owned by an elegant Sherpa family, The Happy House in Nepal’s Solukhumbu was originally the haunt of mountaineers, including Edmund Hillary, one of the first to summit Everest, who gave the refuge its nickname. The hotel – bookable by the room, but often rented out exclusively for up to 20 guests – underwent a renovation in 2018: walls painted by a Sherpa master of Buddhist thangkas; deep leather chairs draped with handspun cashmere blankets; the smell of curried pumpkin and baked Himalayan river trout drifting in from the kitchen. Walk a couple of hours uphill from the hotel and you’ve got a view of the entire eastern Himalayas, including Everest. $600, happyhousenepal.com Sophy Roberts
Beit Trad, Kfour, Lebanon
If there is one place in Lebanon that embodies Levantine hospitality, it is indisputably Beit Trad. In the 1980s, this traditional house was the summer getaway of Sarah Trad’s family, a place her mum loved to fill with friends. Following in these footsteps, Trad has turned it into a proper guesthouse where every detail is a treat.
Meals are served in a lavish yet eclectic dining room and are the epitome of homemade Lebanese cuisine, from the kibbeh (stuffed croquettes) to the freshly baked cakes. Each of the rooms is an escape in itself, and Trad makes you feel at home in your little nest in Lebanon. From $320, beittrad.com Gilles Khoury
Batty Langley’s, London
With an honesty bar, bowls of fresh fruit and a collection of more than 3,000 books, this former townhouse is about as homely as you can get – with one catch. Everything in it is designed to reflect its Georgian roots. The result is a playful mishmash of heavy drapes, grand portraits and four-poster beds, topped off with the odd (hidden) modern comfort (there are TVs, you just can’t see them). Many rooms have freestanding bathtubs, and sofas can double as beds for small guests (children are most welcome). There’s no restaurant here; the team prefers to serve breakfast in bed. From £325, battylangleys.com RD
Jeakes House, Rye, Sussex
Built in 1689 as a wool store for a wealthy merchant, the brick building has housed a school, a chapel, a meeting house for the Rye Quakers and the Baptist minister’s residence at various points. It is now happily run as a hotel, but the listed building still holds its original shape, with slanting floors, winding staircases and ceilings propped up by oak beams.
Breakfast transports guests to the Victorian era, and it’s not for the faint of heart: devilled kidneys on buttered toast and heady oak-smoked haddock with poached eggs (there is also a full English). Its eccentricities have made it something of a cult destination. When I stayed last December, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Martin McDonagh came down to breakfast in the morning. From £105, jeakeshouse.com BS
Hôtel de l’Abbaye, Paris
This Saint-Germain-des-Prés stalwart is on the larger side of homely – 43 rooms and counting – but the quiet setting makes up for it. Set back from the street behind a private courtyard, the hotel has welcomed guests since 1973. Inside, the individually designed rooms mimic those of a classic French house, with floral wallpapers, living spaces and private terraces.
But the most homely touch is the staff, some of whom have been there since the late ’80s: regular visitors will be familiar with Mimi, who has headed up the bar and restaurant for more than 12 years. Grab a seat by the fireplace in the lounge – an address only promoted by word of mouth – for an evening meal. Some call it the most genuine spot in the city. From €355, hotelabbayeparis.com RD
D’une île, Rémalard
Bertrand Grébault and Théophile Pourriat, founders of Michelin-starred Septime in Paris, have a 10-bedroom guest house in north-west France, where one can indulge in more of their pared-back tastes. D’une île (“From an island”) is true to its name: the 17th-century buildings look as though they’re floating above the Perche natural park. Indeed, nature seems to dictate everything here. The restaurant makes use of local produce, much of it sourced from the surrounding vegetable garden. And although simply decorated, the house seems to morph with the changing of the seasons, making a trip here special and different every time. From €85, duneile.com GK
Riad Mena, Marrakech
Entering Riad Mena’s lush courtyard immediately instils a sense of calm. Citrus trees heavy with fruit and blooming bougainvillea cascade along the walls, while a soundtrack of birdsong and water fountains plays in the background. Just seven rooms are arrayed with an artful mix of midcentury minimalism (Panton chairs and Saarinen tables) and artisanal Moroccan pieces (rattan lanterns and hand-woven Berber rugs), while Riad Mena’s hostess, the highly connected Philomena Schurer Merckoll, can oversee everything from shopping tours to an excellent in-house massage. When in residence, her friends – Laurence Leenaert of LRNCE or designer Louis Barthélemy – might pop by, which makes one feel immediately part of the city’s vibrant scene. From €150, riadmenaandbeyond.com Gisela Williams
El Cosmico, Marfa, Texas
The grande dame of Texas hospitality, Liz Lambert, launched this nomadic hotel in Marfa, the small west Texas town with an outsized art scene, in late 2009, and it has thoughtfully expanded over the years. The 21-acre site is now home to a host of unique spaces, each thoughtfully outfitted with home comforts: the little casita boasts a midcentury birch kitchen and the space-age silver trailers have cosy beds and cedarwood decks from which to stargaze.
An outdoor kitchen, hammock grove and reading room, along with Liz’s warm southern hospitality, quickly make you feel at ease in the expansive high plains of the Chihuahuan desert — just don’t forget your flashlight. From $114, elcosmico.com Cherish Rufus
San Domenico House, London
Four floors up on the pot-plant-lined roof terrace of San Domenico House hotel, the red-brick rooves of the surrounding Chelsea mansion blocks fill the horizon, with the clamour of nearby King’s Road reduced to a faint hum. It’s this decidedly residential air that keeps guests returning to San Domenico House’s 19 supremely comfortable rooms. Guests ring a doorbell to enter, afternoon tea is served in a plush living room and rooms are decked out in trad old English style with four-poster beds, oil portraits and expansive writing desks. From £320, sandomenicohouse.com BS
Which hotels do you check into when you’re looking for that home-from-home experience? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll feature a selection in an upcoming article.