We asked Melissa Burfitt, Assistant Editor at stylish hideaway specialists i-escape, for her hot tips on the most exciting, chic and unusual places to stay this year.
This summer I’m dreaming of far-flung under-radar-islands and easy Mediterranean breaks combining fascinating culture and with seriously cool design. Here are my current favourites, all at the top of my summer 2016 getaway list…
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Stay: Slow Gili Air
Perfect for a chilled-out desert-island experience, the Gili Islands are sprinkled with cool beach cafes, snorkelling hot spots and sun-drenched beaches. Despite being an easy fast-boat ride from Bali, they are much more laid-back than the mainland. We soon fell into an easy rhythm of lazy breakfasts, turtle-spotting in the turquoise waters, dreamy sunset cocktails and suppers by the sea.
Slow Gili Air is fast earning a reputation as the island’s most fabulous hideaway. Its 10 enchanting villas have palm-shaded plunge pools, cool outdoor bathrooms and airy interiors showcasing locally crafted furniture and snowy white linens. Best of all, the spa’s indulgent aloe vera massage left my sun-dried skin totally refreshed. Heavenly.
Don’t miss: Stroll to the eastern beaches for dinner, where many restaurants set up candlelit tables on the sand. We spent a great evening at Chill Out, feasting on barbecued fresh fish skewers and minty mojitos.
Stay: Valletta Vintage
Surrounded by twinkling Mediterranean seas, Malta has an enormous amount to discover. Despite its small size, the island’s fascinating history ranges from fortified towns and citadels (built by knights) to amazing prehistoric archaeological sites. There are plenty of pretty little coves and natural sea pools to cool off in, too.
In the heart of Unesco-listed capital Valletta, this architect-designed romantic retreat is ideal for couples who appreciate beautiful interiors with a vintage twist. Rooms exhibit a revolving collection of local art and are styled with original tiles and salvaged furniture. All but one has a slice of terrace with deckchairs for sunbathing.
Don’t miss: Daytrip to sleepy Gozo Island. It’s small enough to explore on a scooter or quad bike, and Ramla Beach has gorgeous golden sands. Valletta makes a great overall base, as everything is so close that so you can easily see city, beach and bars all in one day.
Andaman Islands, India
Havelock, one of the few inhabited Andaman Islands, is a coral-ringed beauty with crystalline waters and pristine jungle teeming with spectacular wildlife - you’ll even have the chance to meet beach-dwelling elephants. Beaches are white-sand, near deserted and fringed with palms, perfect for back-to-nature escapes.
Jalakara is a sublime hideaway carved into virgin rainforest with 6 stylish suites and a private villa. Rooms are arranged over staggered levels, leading down to an expansive decked platform and 16m ozone infinity pool (the only one on the island). Book island hopping excursions, private beachside picnics and jungle foraging walks, then return in time for a sundowner overlooking some of the best views on the island.
Don’t miss: Radhanagar (aka Number 7) is the island's most stunning beach (the famous elephant bathes here). When you arrive, head to the far left or far right for complete seclusion.
Stay: Sublime Comporta
The sleepy fishing village of Comporta, in Portugal’s rustic Alentejo region, has recently become the getaway spot of choice for in-the-know fashion designers, artists and royals drawn to its understated chic vibe, unspoilt beaches and fantastic restaurants.
A few km outside town, this contemporary country retreat has 14 romantic all-white rooms, each with a swish bathroom and private terrace nestled amid the pine forest. Evening drinks are taken around the poolside fire-pit, spa treatments feature fresh herbs, and the elegant restaurant serves innovative Portuguese creations. Staying here feels like you’ve been let in on a fabulous secret, yet it’s just an hour’s drive south of Lisbon.
Don’t miss: Head to Praia do Pego for a walk along the sand dunes, stopping for a lunch of fresh, local fish at the excellent Sal restaurant.
Menorca is much more relaxed than its Balearic siblings. At just 50km long, it’s criss-crossed with rural walking trails and dotted with white-washed villages where traditional bars serve up tasty tapas. What’s more, the coastline is filled with beautiful beaches backed by fragrant woodlands and rolling dunes.
Originally a traditional Menorcan farmhouse, this peaceful resort now exudes luxury. The soothing scent of lavender and rosemary filled the air as we strolled from our gorgeous suite to the sea-view spa and shimmering pool. Dining at the alfresco restaurant amid twinkling lights was a highlight of our trip.
Don’t miss: Menorca is a bitesize island so you’ll be within easy reach of all the sights, but Torralbenc is particularly well placed for the famous Cova d’en Xoroi bar and club. Built into the cliff face, it’s a stunning setting for sunset cocktails and summer DJ sets.