Open doors | Monocle

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Palazzo Ventidue

Berlin residents Manuel Strebinger and Stefan Davids fell for Nardò after chancing upon the town during a trip to the southern Italian region of Puglia. Despite being just a 10-minute drive from pristine turquoise waters, the town feels less undermined by the waves of tourism than many places closer to the coast. “For me, it was one of the most authentic towns in Puglia,” says Strebinger. “It’s still very chilled and there’s a nice international crowd.”


The couple invested in a 300 sq m property called Palazzo Ventidue, restoring it and filling it with art and vintage furniture. Sleeping up to eight in three bedrooms, the rental property opened to the public last year (on dates the couple aren’t in town, that is). Working with architect Luigi Albano, Strebinger and Davids had the original paintwork on the vaulted ceilings exposed and installed a stunning marble table made by local artisans. There is a rotating collection of paintings by the likes of Angola’s Ál Varo Tavares D’Guilherme and Lisa Vogel from Germany too, plus a terrace from which to take it all in. “All in all, it’s quite minimal,” says Strebinger. “But also respecting the place and the surroundings.”


This laidback bolthole – perched amid a rugged pine forest on the smallest and wildest of the Balearic islands – is accessible only by boat. There are 35 guest rooms and suites spread across three stone-hewn buildings, Mar (sea), Tierra (earth) and Cielo (sky), each with art-filled interiors and an abundance of natural light. In between wild swimming and hiking through fig and pine trees, guests can sign up for activities including meditation, yoga and pilates classes. As the sun sets, the hotel’s rooftop becomes the preferred spot for sundowners, tapas and seasonal crudo, before guests wander down to the terrace for the best in fresh island fare, which often means grilled pulpo, fat prawns and sizzling Iberian pork.


Lilou Hotel

This hotel in Hyères is an homage to the glory days of the French seaside hideaway. Formerly the Hôtel du Parc, this Haussmann-style gem from the 1890s opened its doors in April 2024, following a three-year transformation by hoteliers Lisa and David Pirone (pictured). Despite its grand setting, there is a warmth and conviviality here. “Lilou is just like its name: easygoing and global,” David tells Monocle. “We wanted to create a place where people love to gather.” The lounge has seagrass wallpaper and white trellises, comfy rattan sofas upholstered in textured fabrics and a long palatial bar made in burr poplar veneer. There’s no reception per se; guests are instead greeted by a charming front-of-house team and encouraged to make themselves at home. The restaurant and kitchen lead out to a terrace adorned with Palladian columns and trailing vines. The 37 guest rooms feature works by 14 emerging and established artists from the region.


The Fifth Avenue Hotel
New York

On a busy corner in Manhattan’s NoMad, The Fifth Avenue  Hotel straddles a 19th-century mansion and a contemporary 24-storey glass tower. Designed by Martin Brudnizki, the Swedish architect also responsible for the riotously colourful Broadwick in London, this property is anything but dull. Its 153 guest rooms feature emerald-green walls, bubblegum-pink couches and mustard-yellow curtains. At restaurant Café Carmellini, diners are taken to old-world New York via velvet booths and mirrored walls. Dishes such as rabbit primavera and duck tortellini have been dreamed up by US chef Andrew Carmellini. In the Portrait Bar, guests can sip punchy cocktails containing unlikely combinations, from sesame-oil washed whisky to cherry bark vanilla bitters. Everything here is amped up and all the better for it.


Hotel Bella Grande

The new Bella Grande sits in a building close to Copenhagen City Hall and has been a hotel since 1899. Alongside its 108 guest rooms and suites, it features an Italian-style interior courtyard and a buzzing Italian restaurant, Donna. “For inspiration, we went to Italy and found a Venetian palazzo with an atrium, with natural lighting, gorgeous arrangements of flowers and peach-coloured walls,” says Malene Bech-Pedersen, who revamped the interiors along with Mette Bonavent of design agency Tonen. For those who want to spread out, there are family rooms and junior suites, plus two larger suites with private roof terraces.


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