Armani Hotel, Milan
Some designers’ hotels are rural retreats from the pressures of their professional lives, but recently the trend has been for statement properties that allow customers to “live the brand”. The Armani Hotel opened in Milan late last year as, in Giorgio Armani’s words, “an act of love for my city”. In a white-walled 1930s building, the 95-room hotel sits above an Armani store. The slick, modern rooms are in the designer’s trademark neutral tones, with televisions that pop up at the foot of the bed. The seventh-floor bar has marble walls and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the city; visit at aperitivo time and you feel at the heart of the fashion world.
Doubles from €550; www.armanihotels.com
Il Borro, Tuscany
Not a hotel or villa, but an entire medieval Tuscan village, restored by the Ferragamo family. According to Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the founder of the luxury goods empire, it is “like a renaissance painting come to life”. There are 18 apartments, three villas and four farmhouses, sleeping between two and 16, dotted throughout the hamlet that clings to a hill between Arezzo and Montevarchi. The café and osteria use ingredients from the estate, while the spa specialises in vinotherapy, using grapes from the estate’s vineyards. Some may find the stage-managed perfection strange, but it is impossibly pretty, and a perfect wedding venue.
Apartments for two from €300; www.ilborro.com
Palazzo Viviani Castello di Montegridolfo, Emilia-Romagna
A couple of miles from the Adriatic, and 23 miles from Rimini, the castle of Montegridolfo was rebuilt in 1337 and fought over by noble families for three centuries. Abandoned in the 19th century, it has been turned into a hotel by a team including the part-owner, designer Alberta Ferretti. The 53 bedrooms are spread throughout different buildings within the castle walls, many with flagstone floors and antique furnishings. The atmosphere is more laid-back village than fashion-scene hangout, though there is an undeniable glamour in sipping a beer as the sun sets over the hills.
Double rooms from €100; www.montegridolfo.com
San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge, Südtirol
A former hunting lodge dating back to the 16th century, this rustic chalet in the Dolomites was bought in 2005 by Stefano and Giorgia Barbini, then general manager and retail director, respectively, for Escada. They embarked on a lengthy restoration project to create an idyllic escape from their busy city lives, then eventually decided to downshift, leave their fashion careers and run the lodge as an exclusive retreat; the first paying guests arrived in early 2010. Surrounded by meadows and forests at an altitude of 1,200m, the house sleeps up to 10 in four bedrooms, has a wine cellar, sauna, mini-spa and swimming pool. The views extend over the Pusteria and Badia valleys and to the snow-capped mountains of the Kronplatz. A choice of ski resorts is in easy reach in winter, as are golf courses in summer (in the grounds there is a miniature recreation of St Andrew’s 18th hole).
From €2,400 per day for the lodge; www.sanlorenzomountainlodge.com
Villa Elia, Puglia
A sprawling masseria, or fortified farmhouse, in the Salento region of Puglia, Elia was built in 1792, but renovation has seen the rooms redesigned by Milanese couturier Raffaella Curiel (whose son is the owner). There are eight bedrooms (sleeping up to 17), nine bathrooms and several white-washed living areas with vaulted ceilings and eclectic objets d’art. In the walled gardens is a pool and gazebo among fruit trees. The house is five miles from the coast and Gallipoli, and 40 minutes drive from the baroque town of Lecce.
A week from €5,460 for up to 10 guests or €7,220 for up to 17; www.thinkpuglia.com