Greek legends

The village of Kardamyli on Greece’s Mani Peninsula is perhaps best known for longtime residents Patrick and Joan Leigh Fermor, who built a gorgeous home here that’s now a museum (and for a select few weeks of the year, a very sought-after holiday villa). In 2021, current Kardamyli residents James and Charlotte Heneage had the brilliant idea to leverage both the area’s ruggedly gorgeous coast and its literary and cultural history: this October, they’ll host the second annual Kardamyli Festival, a four-day programme that will feature authors and historians convening for panels, talks and debates.

Inside James and Charlotte Heneage’s home, Ilias, in the Mani, Greece
Inside James and Charlotte Heneage’s home, Ilias, in the Mani, Greece © Louisa Nikolaidou
The view from Ilias in the Mani towards the Taygetos Mountains
The view from Ilias in the Mani towards the Taygetos Mountains © Louisa Nikolaidou

Participants include William Dalrymple, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum and Natalie Haynes, hilarious polymath and author of A Thousand Ships. Things kick off with a drinks party at the Fermor house; the rest of the schedule features morning talks and evening social events, leaving hours of each day free to explore; the Heneages are working with The Slow Cyclist on a package including ebike excursions. Attendance will be limited to 250 people, so book soon. Alice Daunt, of Daunt Travel, has information on a fine selection of local houses; there are more, of all prices, on the festival website. From 7 to 10 October; kardamylifestival.com; daunt-travel.com


Corsica’s ferme favourite

Domaine de Murtoli’s private beach
Domaine de Murtoli’s private beach © Camille Moirenc

Domaine de Murtoli, founded over 25 years ago in Corsica’s far south, is one of the places about which people in my line of work tend to wax rhapsodic. With its rough, rolling acres of seaside land and working farm – with everything from olives to immortelle flowers – it expressed the best elements of slow travel long before many of us were even talking about the phenomenon. So it’s welcome news that Murtoli has quietly opened a small hotel along the same tenets. Situated between the olive groves and the vegetable garden, Hotel de La Ferme’s nine rooms and suites extend off the La Table de la Ferme restaurant.

The Hotel de la Ferme’s restaurant in Corsica
The Hotel de la Ferme’s restaurant in Corsica © Camille Moirenc
The hotel’s Toia suite
The hotel’s Toia suite © Camille Moirenc

The country design of the farmhouses is upscaled here with a few extras befitting hotel life, from air conditioning to antique chandeliers. The sea is never far away, and the stories the landscape has to tell are expertly leveraged within a vast catalogue of experiences, from tailored retreats to hiking and an open-air spa by the beach. Rooms from €260, hut and farmhouse rentals from €530; murtoli.com


Cala scene

Cala Molins beach seen from the terrace of the Junior Suite at El Vicenç de la Mar, Mallorca
Cala Molins beach seen from the terrace of the Junior Suite at El Vicenç de la Mar, Mallorca © Courtesy of Design Hotels

Cala Sant Vicenç, right at the crown of Mallorca, is a somewhat less trod corner of a very trod island, known as much for its Alzinaret caves – hewn into steep cliffs, probably a necropolis, and dating back to the Bronze Age – as for limpid waters or any kind of scene. But apparently a bit of a scene it was, in the ’50s and ’60s; and that’s the vibe that El Vicenç de la Mar, which opens in May, hopes to reprise. Built into one side of tiny Cala Molins, El Vicenç’s expanses of natural stone recall something vaguely brutalist, while the furniture and finishes in its 34 rooms and suites play in a lighter and more colourful space.

The exterior of the Vicenç del Mar
The exterior of the Vicenç del Mar © Courtesy of Design Hotels

The broad rooftop holds a bar and restaurant, which benefit from what might be the biggest sell here: the view – equal parts jagged Serra de Tramuntana peaks and a wide green-blue mottle of sea. From €400; designhotels.com


A degree of privacy

Cloisters at Greyfriars Hideaway, Oxford
Cloisters at Greyfriars Hideaway, Oxford

Here’s one to consider for your next visit to Oxford: the just-opened Greyfriars Hideaway, consisting of two 17th-century houses in their own private walled garden, right in the centre of town – two minutes from Oxford Castle and a kilometre from Christ Church Meadow. The Masters Lodgings has two full suites on separate floors, each with its own small study and dressing room, with the original wood staircase connecting both to a full kitchen and sitting room downstairs.

The Masters Lodgings at Greyfriars Hideaway
The Masters Lodgings at Greyfriars Hideaway

Across the sunny, neatly planted courtyard is Cloisters, with four more suites – one with its original listed 17th-century plaster ceiling carefully restored – along with its own massive open-plan reception room, cloakroom and kitchen on the ground floor. The decor skews trad where it matters, while the kitchens and baths go full mod con. You can take over one, or both; a team of concierges will stock bar and pantries and treatments to your liking. From £2,800 for three nights accommodating four; greyfriarshideawayoxford.com

@mariashollenbarger

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