Escape to these undiscovered gems for some much-needed R&R
Words: Alessandro Ferrara
Majorca, Santorini, Nice... Been there, done that! The desire to travel has never been so strong, and there’s a wonderful world out there full of beautiful places which are still largely unknown. Get your passport ready and scroll through our shortlist of marvellous Mediterranean destinations you probably haven’t seen on the ‘gram just yet.
BARBAGIA, SARDINIA, ITALY
Sardinia is far from unknown – but aside from the ultra-popular Emerald Coast, the Mediterranean island is home to a stunning region rich with breath-taking, untainted nature and the most fascinating culture. Get ready to discover Barbagia, a vast mountainous region of central Sardinia (in the province of Nuoro), extending alongside the Gennargentu massif and other lower peaks – also known as ‘the heart and soul of the island’. Picturesque small towns with their historic centres and granite houses, warm hospitality, wholesome food such as Pecorino Sardo cheese, cured meats, traditional types of pasta and the carasau bread, along with a timeless culture, make Barbagia a wonderful, authentic alternative to the usual Sardinian hotspots. Fly to Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport with Alitalia or British Airways.
Stay at Su Gologone Experience Hotel (Oliena, Sardinia, Italy)
Located in the small town of Oliena, an hour’s drive away from Olbia Airport, Su Gologone Experience Hotel is a masterpiece created by artist and owner Giovanna Palimodde. Expect to find stunning terraces (one of which is entirely dedicated to sparkling wines) overlooking the surrounding nature, four restaurants including The Bread’s Nest where local women handcraft carasau bread and focaccias of all kinds in an open-air wooden oven, uniquely designed suites (‘Experience Suite’ pictured) and luxurious experiences linked to the destination available to guests. This hotel is a lavish wonderland in itself, as well as a great base from which you can make the most of the Barbagia region.
Rates start from £175 per night, double occupancy, breakfast included, in a Classic Room. Su Gologone Experience Hotel.
PORQUEROLLES, ÎLES D'HYÈRES, FRANCE
Just a 10-minute boat ride from the glitzy Côte d'Azur lies Porquerolles, the biggest island of the four Îles d’Hyères in France and one of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets. Known by the French as a ‘floating forest’, it was bought by the government in the 70s to protect its natural territory and untainted ecosystem, with stunning fine sand beaches lapped by the most turquoise waters. The most famous one is the Notre-Dame beach, crowned the most beautiful beach in Europe by European Best Destinations thanks to its shallow crystal-clear waters and soft sand, surrounded by a vast pine forest. Cars are not allowed on Porquerolles, but being only 7 kilometres wide, it is ideal to explore by bike. The dream low-key holiday, if you ask us. Fly to Toulon Hyères Airport with easyJet or to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport with British Airways.
Stay at Le Mas Du Langoustier (Porquerolles, Îles d'Hyères, France)
Secluded from the village, Le Mas Du Langoustier is the only luxury hotel in Porquerolles, perfectly matching its setting with beautiful gardens, a vast courtyard and a forest rich with pines, eucalyptus and herbs. Leisure time is covered with a large pool and tennis courts, but it’s the beach that takes the spotlight – it’s not private, but it’s so quiet that it might as well be. Le Mas boasts 50 rooms, some with a private terrace, all recently renovated yet with a charming retro look that fits the untainted location. The Olivier Restaurant gained a Michelin star for its innovative take on Mediterranean cuisine, offering menus from €95.
Rates start from £173 per night. Le Mas Du Langoustier.
Referred to by many as ‘The Jewel of the Mediterranean Sea’, the wonderful Procida is one of the Flegrean Islands off the coast of Naples, a stone’s throw from its better-known siblings Capri and Ischia. Ideal to explore on foot, the island’s best areas are Marina Grande, Marina Corricella and Marina di Chiaiolella, where you will find buzzy hotels, bars and restaurants. Apart from in August – the month when most Italians take their annual leave – Procida’s beautiful beaches aren’t crowded and have plenty of space, making for a secluded Mediterranean paradise. Fly to Naples International Airport with British Airways.
Stay at San Michele Boutique Hotel (Procida, Italy)
This boutique hotel is a gem within a gem. Presenting itself as ‘a bohemian luxury experience’, San Michele Boutique Hotel is the best accommodation to enjoy an authentic yet premium holiday on this hidden Mediterranean island. The 12 rooms are each different from one another, and there’s an elegant yet laid-back atmosphere that recalls the island’s picturesque pastel-painted fishermen’s houses with raw wood chairs, traditional local woven stools and other artisanal features. Guests can enjoy delicious, organic seafood dishes with fresh catch of the day at Il Pescatore restaurant; Il Bistrot restaurant, serving relaxed tasty delights, is set to open soon.
Rates start from €200 per night, double occupancy, breakfast included, in Basico Suite. San Michele Boutique Hotel.