Travel

Villa La Massa, Firenze, Italy

Villa La massa

Villa La Massa, Firenze 2019

 

Villa La Massa is a rural oasis close to the Chianti region, with a magnifcent location on the banks of the Arno just 7 km from Florence. A 16th century architectural gem that has been lovingly restored by its iconic sister property, Villa d’Este, to emulate the splendour of the great Tuscan villas. I have often stayed in beautiful properties in Florence but to me Villa La Massa, being so close to the centre of the city, is defnitely the place to enjoy the best of both worlds. Especially as it offers a complimentary shuttle with a journey time of only 15 minutes. Apart from its unique river-side position and spectacular views of the Tuscan hills, cypresses and olive groves, I was struck most by the impeccable, sincere and friendly service; there are plenty of fve-star properties where you experience good, professional service but here it’s absolutely genuine in the true sense of the word. I had a wonderful conversation with General Manager, Stefano Venturi, who explained that the most important duty of the staff is to make sure that every guest enjoys excellent service and feels at home away from home but also that every guest can relax in a perfect, private way. It’s no surprise that this unique treasure, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, has regular guests who come back every year to take a break from the hustle and bustle of day-to- day life. And I can’t wait to join them.

 

 

 

Lounge Villa Massa

 

The lounge, Villa La Massa, 2019

 

Morning view

 

Morning view from my room, Villa La Massa 2019

Bardenas Reales – HOTEL AIRE DE BARDENAS, NAVARRA

Cabezo Castildetierra Bardenas Reales

 

Cabezo Castildetierra, Bardenas Reales 2019

 

I learned about the Bardenas Reales from an article in a travel magazine some years ago. As I’m a frequent visitor to Biarritz in the Basque country, I immediately put it on my list of things to do (it’s only ninety minutes drive from Biarritz) but I only managed to get there last month. A landscape of red sandstone mountains and canyons and sun-baked clay, Bardenas Reales is Europe’s Monument Valley and formed the perfect setting for Games of Thrones and Terry Gilliam’s movie ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’. The Bardenas Reales is Europe’s largest single expanse of desert, on the border of Navarre and Aragon just outside the town of Tudela. This vast natural region of 42,000 hectares is divided roughly into three areas: in the north, the El Plano plateau; in the centre, La Bardena Blanca; and in the south, the highest part, La Negra, which rises to nearly 650 metres. You have a slightly uneasy feeling as you drive along the dirt road leading to the parque natural. The facilities you expect are just a bit further out of reach than normal. What happens if you run short of fuel? The nearest petrol station could easily be an hour’s drive away and I defnitely advise taking bottles of water with you because you won’t fnd a store and that’s quite disturbing with temperatures above 40 Celsius. But you forget the unease when you experience the breathtaking views across this stunning landscape of towers of sandstone that remained after the clay surrounding them was worn away. The Hotel Aire de Bardenas, Tudela, is the place to stay. The work of Barcelona-based architects Mónica Rivera and Emiliano López, the Aire has won many awards. You can stay in one of its comfort- able, minimalist box-like rooms in the cubist blocks. Or you can sleep in one of the hotel’s amazing other-worldly see-through bubbles which offer the surreal experience of observing thousands of stars on a clear night.

 

Navarre

 

Bardenas Reales, Navarre 2019

 

Bubbles at Night

 

Bubbles at night, Hotel Aire de Bardenas, 2019

L’ARLATAN ARLES, FRANCE

Interior by Jorge Pardo, L’Arlatan Arles, France
 

Interior by Jorge Pardo, L’Arlatan Arles, France

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THE JAMES – SOHO NEW YORK

Pool by night, The James, New York
 

Pool by night, The James, New York

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LO SCOGLIO DA TOMMASO, AMALFI COAST, ITALY

Peppino on his fishing boat, Marina del Cantone, Italy
 

Peppino on his fishing boat, Marina del Cantone, Italy

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HOTEL LUTETIA, RIVE GAUCHE, PARIS

Bar Josephine, Hotel Lutetia, Paris
 

Bar Josephine, Hotel Lutetia, Paris

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The Fontenay Hamburg

The Fontenay, Hamburg
 

The Fontenay, Hamburg

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Badrutt’s Palace St. Moritz

Badrutt's Palace, St. Moritz
 

Badrutt’s Palace, St. Moritz

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Belmond Hotel Caruso Ravello

Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello
 

Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello

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Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon

Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon
 

Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon

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Hotel FRANQ, Antwerp

Hotel FRANQ, Antwerp
 

Hotel FRANQ, Antwerp

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The Biltmore Hotel, Miami

The Biltmore Hotel, Miami
 

The Biltmore Hotel, Miami

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La Longue Route d’Italie

La Longue Route d’Italie
 

View of Florence from Belmond Villa San Michele, 2017

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La Colombe d’Or,
Saint-Paul-de-Vence

La Colombe
 

Pool with, in the background, a mobile by Alexander Calder,
La Colombe d’Or, Saint-Paul-de-Vence 2017

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