EUROPEAN BOLTHOLES

Tom Barber is one of the founders of award-winning Original Travel, and Travel Editor of Esqure Magazine. He has written his 5 top destinations to visit this summer with your EH travel bags….

As the founder of a travel company I tend to see travel trends emerging earlier than most, and this year it’s all about one undeniable fact – Europe is back with a bang.

Even better, there are also some cracking new boutique hotels to cater for the renewed demand to explore our continental neighbours. Some are even in countries where the temperature gets above a paltry 15 or so degrees.

So where are these fabulous places, just waiting to be made even more fabulous by the arrival of you, plus one, plus your new favourite ‘hand luggage only’-friendly Eddie Harrop bag?

(Tom at the Original Travel office with the brown Weekender)

1)    Macakizi, near Bodrum, Turkey
Turkey is riding the wave at present, and all those wealthy young Turks need somewhere hip to hangout of a weekend from Istanbul. Enter stage left Tukbuku near Bodrum, Turkey’s answer to St Tropez. The jewel in the regional crown is Macakizi, an exercise in understated sophistication overlooking the water. Take up position on the jetty to watch the Turkish jet-set strutting its stuff.

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2)    Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast, Italy
Is it just me or is there something even naughtier about a dirty weekend when it’s in a former monastery? If you’re with me (not on the dirty weekend, you understand – I’m a happily married man) then look no further than Monastero Santa Rosa on Italy’s glorious Amalfi Coast. The hotel is within easy reach (by boat) of Positano but you may never want to move further than the outdoor treatment rooms or what is one of the best infinity pools in the Med.

3)    Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
A triumph of determination, Aman Sveti Stefan is the result of years of painstaking – and faithful – restoration of what was once a medieval fishing village on a small island of the beautiful coast of Montenegro. The country itself is definitely one to watch and now that all the pools and additional restaurants have been completed the Aman is without question the place to stay. Oh, a word of warning: you will need a second, and possibly third, mortgage if you consider staying here, but it’s well worth the splurge.

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4)    Kinsterna, The Peloponnese, Greece
Our new favourite place, the Peloponnese in Greece is wild and woolly and completely romantic. There are four or five killer hotels for everyone from honeymooners to families, but in our humble opinion the Kinsterna is best in show. The building is, to plagiarise Monty Python, what historians call ‘very, very old’ but the exposed medieval brickwork look is balanced beautifully with cutting edge Perspex furniture and all the mod-est of cons in the rooms.

5)    Aquapura, Douro Valley, Portugal
Porto is one of the great underrated cities of Europe, sitting at the mouth of the Douro River where the city’s namesake wine – port – is stored before shipping abroad. A few of the lovely manor houses along the valley itself have also been converted into hotels, the best of which is the sleek and sophisticated Aquapura, complete with stunning views of vineyard covered hillsides and the river running below. When in Rome and all that, so it would be rude not to sample some of the local wines (excellent reds and whites as well as port) on offer. Fortunately the hotel restaurant stocks over 200 of the best.

Tom Barber is one of the founders of award-winning Original Travel, and Travel Editor of Esquire Magazine.

All destinations can be booked through www.originaltravel.co.uk

James Harrop