Winter has arrived and the frost has well and truly settled in the Cotswolds. So here at The Lucky Onion we’ve handpicked a few places we think you’d love to escape to that could give you that much needed winter sun…
In a part of the Caribbean dominated by some of the most glorious villas in the world, the Cotton House hotel often gets overlooked. But if you’re not travelling with an entourage and want to dip into the Mustique scene without committing to knocking around in a contemporary three-bed cottage or Balinese pavilion, then this plantation-style hideaway on the north western tip of the private island is a very smart bet. And now even more so, following a timely refurb at the hands of designer Tristan Auer (Paris’s Hotel de Crillon and Hotel les Bains), a shake up of the food (bringing in another Tristan, chef Tristan Walsh from London’s Launceston Place) and a sensitive, sophisticated tweak to the interiors. The once gloomy Great Room, host to the surprisingly buzzing Tuesday night cocktail gatherings, is now zingy and elegant, and the terrace of the Verandah restaurant sings with sun-faded loveliness, peachy cushions and geometric printed fabrics. The colonial charming garden cottages have also been updated but it’s the sea-facing suites that deliver the view you’d be potty not to pay extra for. The fresh new vibe here is sure to give perennial villa-bookers pause for thought.
There are bigger fish on this little Malay island – the family friendly fabulous Datai; a very good Four Seasons; The Andaman, part of the Luxury Collection portfolio; and a just-opened Shangri La – but eight room Bon Ton is not to be overlooked. This is Australian owner and manager Narelle McMurtrie’s idyllic vision of a historic Malay village. A cluster of antique kampung houses have been rescued and reconstructed around the inky lap pool, against a backdrop of coconut groves. Inside there are muslin-curtained four posters and deep wooden bath tubs. Grab Laguna for eye-popping sunsets from your deck and a shower with unobstructed views across the lush wetlands. It’s small in size but the service is still big and bold.
Everything is brought out moments before you need it; tall glasses of iced water, deliciously cold flannels, plates of skewered fruit at three o’clock on the dot, followed by a late afternoon nibble of chicken satay and prawn cakes. And that’s just a taster. A seriously good restaurant, Nam, completes the simple set up, serving prawn and pineapple curries, char grilled rock lobster tails dripping with chervil butter, lemongrass and guava salad and crunchy ladies fingers. This is a barefoot, blissed out trip without the fuss (or cost) of five-star facilities.
The setting is knockout: a shell-strewn beach and that kind of minty pale water that is a deal-breaker in this part of the world. It also feels cleverly off the beaten track but you’re not far from the fun and frolics around Jolly Harbour and Bolands. The freestanding rooms, constructed from rich dark South American hardwood, are booked up year round. Guests are young couples from the UK and America, honeymooners and those that don’t blink at ordering a Piña Colada at midday. They hole up in their villas – ten of which are right on the sand, with soaring rafters, louvred doors that slide wide open, plantation chairs and day beds on the deep balconies.
The 17 hillside ones have pools of their own, sheer curtains that billow in the warm breeze, and cushioned sofas facing out to views of distant Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis. Some venture out to visit the spa’s three wooden treatment rooms for chakra-led treatments. Or for a spot of shopping – gorgeous coral printed kaftans in the boutique sit alongside Vilebrequin trunks and jewellery made by sisters Margo and Marcella who take yoga classes in the open sided pavilion. But really everyone keeps themselves to themselves. At dusk the almond trees are lit up by fairy lights and everything is blissfully quiet.