Unwind in Luxury: Discover the Best Villa Destinations Around the Globe

Truly memorable holidays start with the best villa destinations. A villa holiday is about travelling with luxury, privacy, and relaxation; your chosen destination plays a pivotal role in completing this experience.

Villa holiday destinations should offer scenic beauty, exclusive privacy, cultural experiences, and modern amenities. The essence of the best villa destinations is a harmonious blend of all these elements. Think of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) community, a collection of independently-spirited hotels worldwide. Each SLH property prides itself on being anti-chain and anti-same. With about 50 rooms on average, you can expect secluded and discrete luxury hotels with exceptional gastronomy options and holistic well-being services for their guests. No two stays are the same in this charming collection of intimate spaces in unusual spaces.

Here we look at  7 SLH properties. Whether you seek adventure or tranquillity, consider each location to find one that aligns with your preferences and desires.

7 Best Villa Destinations Around the World

Best Villa Destinations: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo’s architecture is a fascinating blend of ancient temples, modern skyscrapers, and innovative designs. Some luxury villas, such as Hotel Gajoen Tokyo, are designed with a fusion of traditional Japanese aesthetics and contemporary comforts. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Tokyo, Japan

Despite its reputation as a bustling metropolis, Tokyo has tremendous beauty and tranquillity that can be appreciated from the comfort of a luxurious villa. Here, villas are usually serene and picturesque, offering breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, lush gardens, or Mount Fuji. Furthermore, Tokyo is home to exquisite Japanese gardens such as Rikugien, Koishikawa Korakuen, and Shinjuku Gyoen. These traditional gardens offer a peaceful place to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Staying in a villa allows you to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. You can learn about the art of tea ceremonies, practice calligraphy, or participate in traditional activities like wearing a kimono or attending a sumo wrestling match.

Best Villa Destinations: Hotel Gajoen
Hotel Gajoen Tokyo has enchanting galleries filled with Japanese pre-war art. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Hotel Gajoen Tokyo

Think of a fairy tale retreat that mixes 1930s glamour with contemporary cool. Hotel Gajoen Tokyo is known as the ‘Palace of the Dragon God’ and is filled with antique features such as ornately carved wooden panels, carvings, sliding doors, Japanese lacquer work and beautiful artwork. Its historical charm has been preserved along with modern amenities and comforts. The hotel’s location in Meguro, Tokyo, offers convenient access to tourist attractions and neighbourhoods. Guests can easily explore popular spots like Shibuya, Roppongi, and Shinjuku and experience the more laid-back atmosphere of Meguro with its scenic river and charming streets.

If you are looking for a luxurious and unique hotel in Tokyo, Hotel Gajoen Tokyo is a great option. It is a blend of old and new, and it offers a truly unforgettable experience.

Best Villa Destinations: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a city steeped in history and culture. It boasts numerous museums, art galleries, theatres, and cultural centres that showcase the region’s artistic heritage and contemporary creations. Staying in a villa in the city allows you to explore these cultural gems. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the enchanting capital of Catalonia in Spain, is a splendid destination for a villa holiday. This vibrant city is renowned for its unique blend of rich history, stunning architecture, lively culture, and beautiful Mediterranean coastline. Villas in Barcelona are architectural delights that offer amazing gastronomical treats. Those on the city’s outskirts will allow you to see the great outdoors and panoramic views of the sea and city.

Best Villa Destinations: Grand Hotel Central
Each dish offers Mediterranean flavours with cosmopolitan touches at Bistro Helena in the Grand Hotel Central, Barcelona. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Grand Hotel Central

The Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona, Spain, will make you feel like you have returned to the glamorous roaring twenties. Historic sites can be spotted from almost every window – but no view compares to the rooftop terrace. You can drift into an infinity pool while gazing over the Barcelona skyline. Strategically positioned between El Born and the Gothic Quarter, Grand Hotel Central is next to twisting streets, secret squares and ancient churches. Use one of the ‘local view’ guidebooks or go on a happy adventure without a map.

Best Villa Destinations: Pietrasanta, Italy
In the transformation of Albergo, a small luxury hotel in Pietrasanta, into a hotel, particular attention was paid to preserving the original decoration, particularly the frescoes on the ceilings of the rooms and common areas. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Pietrasanta, Italy

Pietrasanta is a charming town in Tuscany, Italy. This medieval town is renowned as an international centre for marble sculpting. It is a hidden gem that offers a delightful and unique experience for a villa holiday. Nestled between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Pietrasanta is known for its artistic heritage, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural atmosphere.

A haven for artists and sculptors, Pietrasanta is dotted with art studios, galleries, and bronze foundries. Witness sculptors at work and admire their creations throughout the town’s squares and streets.

Best Villa Destinations: Albergo
Pietrasanta’s historic centre boasts beautiful Renaissance architecture, charming piazzas, narrow cobblestone streets, and ancient buildings. Staying in a villa within this historical context immerses you in the authentic Tuscan lifestyle. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Albergo

Albergo Pietrasanta comprises two magnificent buildings with a beautiful sunlit courtyard, a pretty breakfast conservatory and a gymnasium. This is a striking 17th-century palazzo with a superb collection of modern art. Each bedroom is different, classically furnished with extra touches such as vases of fresh flowers, bowls of fruit and books. You can spend some time in the romantic courtyard under ancient palm trees or visit Pietrasanta’s monuments, sculptures and cafés or bike to the nearby beaches.

Best Villa Destinations: Portugal
Portugal offers a wide range of outdoor activities, such as surfing, hiking, golfing, and boat tours. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Portugal

From its stunning coastline to charming historic cities and picturesque countryside, Portugal has something to offer every type of villa holiday seeker. There are beautiful beaches, charming coastal towns, excellent wine and gastronomy and a rich history and culture. Portugal enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate. With over 300 days of sunshine annually, it is a pleasant destination for villa holidays.

Best Villa Destinations: Palacio Estoril Hotel
21st-century comforts have been added to the Palacio Estoril Hotel, but its antique furniture and décor capture the essence of 1930s glamour as reflected in the gleaming black-and-white, marble, chequerboard floors. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Palacio Estoril Hotel, Golf & Wellness

The Palacio Estoril Hotel is, located on the Lisbon Coast, close to Cascais and within easy reach of Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site. There are 156 rooms, including 32 Suites, where famous guests have stayed, including numerous members of European royalty.  Palacio Estoril Hotel was favoured by British and German spies, who could often be found in the bar. Later, these stories of intrigue and espionage inspired famous novelists and filmmakers and this hotel was featured in the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.

Massage and beauty sessions are available at the Banyan Tree Spa and Estoril Wellness Center. Guests enjoy complimentary access to the Banyan Tree Spa’s indoor pool, hot tub and Turkish Bath.

Best Villa Destinations: Iceland
Iceland is renowned for its awe-inspiring natural wonders, including glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, and waterfalls. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Iceland

Iceland is a unique and extraordinary destination for a villa holiday, offering a breathtakingly different experience from the typical beach or countryside villas. Known as the “Land of Fire and Ice”, Iceland has stunning natural landscapes, geothermal wonders, and otherworldly beauty.

During the summer, Iceland experiences the “Midnight Sun,” where the sun never fully sets, providing extended daylight hours. This unique phenomenon allows you to make the most of your villa holiday with ample time for exploration and adventure.

Best Villa Destinations: Hotel Ranga
Located in south Iceland, Hotel Ranga features gourmet dining, unique artwork and incredible hospitality. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Hotel Rangá

Every inch of Hotel Rangá celebrates its awe-inspiring setting. The gourmet restaurant’s outdoor geothermal hot tubs and wraparound glass windows offer volcano views. The observatory is available for star spotting and Northern Lights hunting. Hotel Rangá is a cross between a hunting lodge and a (palatial) log cabin. Bedrooms or suites will be snug yet spacious hideaways crafted from wood with staggering views. There’s a lounge and bar for hot chocolates or hot toddies. The games room, with its stag horn ‘chandelier’, pool table and puzzles, is all set up for cosy (or competitive) nights.

Hotel Rangá also takes guests to the sites where the famous Njáls Saga, a cornerstone of Icelandic folklore, is thought to have occurred. The hotel is also passionate about highlighting Icelandic artwork and has collected over 200 original pieces from local painters and artisans for over a decade. For example, the bed in the Icelandic Master Suite features wood carvings by local artist Sigríður Jóna Kristjánsdóttir. It is dressed in what could be the most enormous hand-knitted Icelandic wool sweater ever made.

Best Villa Destinations: France
From the stunning beaches of the French Riviera to the picturesque countryside of Provence and the majestic Alps, France offers a diverse range of landscapes to explore during your villa holiday. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: France

France is a dream destination for a villa holiday, with its perfect blend of history, culture, stunning landscapes, and world-class cuisine. With its diverse regions and charming countryside, you can pick from various villa options. You can opt for a villa in the country, by the sea, or close to a cultural hub.

During a villa holiday in France, you can visit local markets, buy fresh produce, and try cooking traditional French dishes. Alternatively, you can hire a private chef to prepare gourmet meals in the comfort of your villa. This is one of the many reasons why a villa holiday in France promises an unforgettable and enriching experience in one of the world’s most alluring destinations.

Best Villa Destinations: Auberge de Cassagne
The restaurant in Auberge de Cassagne & Spa in France was awarded a Michelin star in 1985. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Auberge de Cassagne & Spa

Beautiful gardens surround Auberge de Cassagne & Spa, a classic French country house near Avignon—a pool, spa and an internationally-renowned restaurant grace this beautiful former family home. In summer, Auberge de Cassagne’s garden terrace is the best place for relaxing, wining and dining, surrounded by climbing vines, sun-dappled stone and filigree. In winter, a blazing fire in the bar keeps guests warm and cosy before dining in the restaurant.  Be sure to discover Avignon or try a wine-tasting trip in the cellars of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Best Villa Destinations: Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers a wide range of luxurious villas with private pools, spacious outdoor areas, and stunning views. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Destination: Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a stunning and enticing destination for a villa holiday, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, Caribbean charm, and rich culture. With its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and a wide range of activities, the Dominican Republic provides an ideal setting for a luxurious and relaxing vacation.

This is home to some of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking beaches, with powdery white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Staying in a beachfront villa provides direct access to these idyllic shores. It is also a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. From snorkelling and scuba diving to windsurfing and sailing, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Caribbean Sea.

Best villa destinations: Sublime Samana
The Sublime Samana has the feel of a remote getaway where tall leaning palms encircle a white, powder sand beach and turquoise waters. | Credit: 2023 Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Villa Holiday: Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences

Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences is an exclusive selection of casitas and suites facing a pristine sandy beach. Surrounded by green mountains and turquoise waters, guests enjoy delightful seclusion, a beach club, pools, a gym, gastronomic cuisine, the acclaimed Coconut Whispers Spa, and an extensive programme of excursions. Accommodation options have large floor-to-ceiling windows that make the most of the fantastic ocean and mountain views. Choose from one or two-bedroom apartments or one, two and three-bedroom villas. All are beautifully furnished and have a fully-equipped kitchen, dining room and a balcony or terrace.

Between January and March, you take a whale-watching boat trip to see the humpbacks who arrive in Samanà to mate, give birth and nurse their young. Or, go on an excursion to the National Park Los Haitises with its calcified hills, caves, mangroves, numerous bird species and sea turtles.

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