Verdura Golf & Spa Resort
What’s so special?
Verdura is the sort of resort you go to if you don’t plan to do much sight-seeing: great facilities and A-list luxury mean you won’t need or want to leave the resort at all during your stay. It boasts two 18-hole golf courses, Sicily’s best spa and four restaurants.
How they rate it
The hotel’s interiors have a “suave, contemporary, ethno-chic style”, says Lee Marshall in The Daily Telegraph. Book a Grand Landscape suite for a “spacious beach-facing apartment… with central courtyards reminiscent of Roman villas”.
The rooms are decorated in a “warm contemporary Sicilian style, with rich earthy colours and much use of natural materials – stone bathroom fixtures, wooden four-poster beds and Caltagirone ceramic tiles”.
And if you do manage to drag yourself away from the comforts of the resort, it’s ideally located “for visiting two of Sicily’s most impressive Greek temple complexes, Agrigento and Selinunte”.
The four restaurants include a Sicilian trattoria and a beachside grill.
Doubles from €340, including breakfast. Grand Landscape suites start from €799. For more information visit www.roccofortehotels.com or call 00 39 0925 998001.
Monaci delle Terre Nere
What’s so special?
This small boutique hotel – a former farmhouse – will suit those looking for a taste of rural Sicily. It’s located in the middle of an organic farm, on a hillside at the base of Mount Etna.
How they rate it
“The meticulous updating of the farmhouse has been done with sympathy for the original building, the walls and beams of which are exposed throughout,” says Condé Nast Traveller magazine. That said, comfort and style haven’t been sacrificed in the name of authenticity. “Polished wooden floors, cool Italian furnishings, standalone baths, and refurbished original fireplaces give the farmhouse a refined rural elegance.”
There is plenty to do in the area – there are sandy beaches nearby, or wine-tasting trips, or you can even tour Etna by donkey. “But relaxation is the key here, and with a multitude of carefully designed chill-out spots around the grounds, there’s no shortage of places to unwind.”
Breakfast is a “selection of goodies from the farm” including homemade jams, bread rolls, prosciutto, cheese and coffee. “If that doesn’t wake you up, then a rumble from Etna, day or night, is bound to keep you on your toes.”
Doubles from €150 per night (www.monacidelleterrenere.it; 00 39 0957 083638).
The best city swimming spots
Some of the best places to swim in the world are to be found in the biggest cities, says Amanda Hyde in Sunday Times Travel. “Tiny bikinis and huge sunglasses are the order of the day” at the The Altitude Pool Deck in the SLS Beverly Hills (Slshotels.com) in Los Angeles.
The pool bar offers a “glittering view of the city’s skyscrapered sprawl” and there are slate-grey cabanas to relax in. Non-guests can enjoy the water during the week, as long as they book a cabana for the day and spend at least £240 on food and drink between up to six people. “Gliding along, length after length, you can watch actors and agents schmoozing over Mimosas.”
In London, head to Brockwell Lido, the city’s “most atmospheric” outdoor pool. “Fun-seeking families and serious swimmers decamp here on sweltering British summer days… apart from a brief closure in the 1990s, it’s been this way since 1937, and the perfectly preserved buildings that surround the pool are now Grade II-listed.”
The Lido Cafe serves an “excellent brunch” at poolside tables. Entry costs from £5.90 (Fusion-lifestyle.com).
Escape the heat of Vienna by taking the Metro from the city centre to the Old Danube. This “bucolic stretch of river” is “bordered by rustling reeds, forested paths and a handful of relaxed restaurants”.
Locals jump “into the surprisingly warm water from rickety old pontoons”. It gets busy at weekends but there’s space for everyone. After a dip, grab a table at Zur Alten Kaisermühle (Kaisermuehle.at) for fresh grilled fish by lantern-light.