Pure Pods, Canterbury/Kaikoura, New Zealand
Made completely of glass from roof to floor, guests can sleep under the dazzling stars of the Southern Cross and awake to pure New Zealand native bush. With sliding glass sides for hot weather and bio-fuel fires for winter months, the Pure Pod offers unique year-round nature experiences, reached only by a walk through the bush land into a completely private haven, with 360-degree views of the valley and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Pure Pods offers three pods – one in Little River, Canterbury, and two that recently opened in Kaikoura.
Beach House, The Island, Copperfield Bay, Musha Cay, Bahamas
The illusionist David Copperfield created the Islands Of Copperfield in Musha Cay … but they are real, if you can pull the appropriate dosh out of the hat. Hidden among the out-islands of the Exumas, you will find 700 acres of lush natural beauty – and the only other guests are selected by you. Privacy is key at Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay; private sun warms your face and private waves lap onto your very private beach. If you are looking for the ultimate getaway then perhaps this may be it. Quite possibly one of the most secluded spots on earth and yet everything you want is provided, then quietly and unobtrusively replenished. There are various accommodation options for you to choose from when staying on the island but for a romantic thatched island dream we suggest The Beach House. Only a charming little gate separates you from your private crescent shaped beach. Both the living room and bathroom are without walls so nothing prevents you from gazing up at the star-strewn sky. Enjoy as many of the experiences on land or water that Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay have to offer, or choose to do absolutely nothing at all. Private picnics, jet skis or snorkelling, you’ll find a host of activities right at your fingertips.
Rock Lodge, Ulusaba, South Africa
Who says romance is dead? At Ulusaba (Sir Richard Branson’s Private Game Reserve) they see it every day, and not just from their human guests. The elephants who roam the Sabi Sand Reserve are often spotted cuddling each other, and when something the size of an elephant gets amorous, you’re advised to keep your distance! A stay at Ulusaba can you give you the space you and your partner need to ignite (or re-ignite!) the magic. Whether you’re on honeymoon or just fancy a romantic break, there are only 21 rooms and suites at Ulusaba split over two lodges, so finding some time alone won’t be a problem. Ok so this is not a completely private rental but we just couldn’t help but include it as it is a romantic private retreat and if funds allow, you could book out all of the rooms. Our personal favourite here at H&L is Rock Lodge. Perched up high, survey miles of game rich bush as you stand 800 feet above the wilderness. The view is king and it provides endless opportunities to spot roaming wildlife, all set against a backdrop of the Drakensberg Mountains way off in the distance. The view inside is just as spectacular and the granite rock of the koppie is a key feature of the main house’s design and each room has a different design reflecting African tribal influences and style.
Nothing gets past their experienced Rangers and Trackers on the twice daily game drives (well, mostly!). There are 13,500 hectares of space to cover, but the Trackers are experts at reading animal tracks, noticing disturbed areas of the bush, and using their sixth sense to take you right to the action. While you’re busy snapping away with your camera, the Rangers will be on hand with interesting facts and stories.
Thanda Island, Tanzania, Marine Reserve
Thanda Island is the magnificent Indian Ocean beach residence of the Swedish entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan Olofsson. Situated within southern Tanzania’s Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, this private island offers absolute exclusivity for families and friends to enjoy on a sole-use basis. Off-grid and solar-powered, Thanda Island offers guests an environmentally sensitive, fun and restorative Indian Ocean experience in total seclusion. Accessible by helicopter and surrounded also by its own private coral reef which guests can snorkel straight from the beach, it features a 5 suite villa with a vast indoor aquarium, Steinway grand piano, wine collection, glass rim-flow swimming pool and wrap-around dining area with 180-degree view of the ocean. There is also a boat house offering an extensive range of water activities and an al fresco/outdoor BBQ, cocktail bar and pizza oven. Eight hectares in size, 1.1 kilometres in circumference and 350m wide, the Island is surrounded by its own private coral reef, with a 1km exclusive-use zone, which can be explored with a snorkel and mask straight from the beach. The more adventurous can catch sight of whale sharks that congregate just south of the Island from October to February or spot endangered dugong while scuba diving with qualified instructors. Furthermore, a powerboat zone outside the Marine Park to the south of the Island allows for water skiing, jet-skiing, wake-boarding and tubing. Depending on the season, guests can watch turtles nesting and their eggs hatching. Five species of marine turtles inhabit Tanzania’s waters, two of which – green and hawksbill, categorised as endangered by the IUCN – have recently returned to nest on the Island. Guests will also be able to learn about the local Swahili sea-faring culture on nearby Mafia Island and picnic on a neighbouring atoll.
The Flour Mill, Boston, Lincolnshire
Book a weekend away with your partner within a charming working flour mill. This early 19th century windmill is situated on the canal within easy walking distance of the historical market town of Boston. Boston offering a range of shops, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, is well placed for touring, walking and close-by there is one of the best markets in Lincolnshire. Local delicacies are plentiful but the Boston sausage is a must. For days out, the Lincolnshire Wolds provide an ideal place for exploring and the market towns of Horncastle and Louth are within easy reach. The picturesque city of Lincoln is only a short drive away. Within an hour’s drive, there’s North Norfolk, Hemswell and the seaside town of Skegness, with its sandy beaches and family attractions. The popular RPSB bird sanctuaries at Freiston Shore and Frampton Marsh are just a 10 minute drive. The first floor apartment offers one king-size bedroom, bathroom with a roll-top tub, Lounge/diner and kitchen; everything you could possibly need for a mini UK break.
The Watchtower, North Devon
This fantastic Grade II listed watchtower, with fabulous views over the River Taw, has been refurbished and equipped to provide excellent accommodation. An ideal hideaway for those who do not want to cook, you will be within a short drive of the many popular beaches and attractions including Westward Ho!, Saunton and Croyde. The regional centre of Barnstaple being less than 1 mile away offers pubs, shops, restaurants, cinema and theatre. The open-plan accommodation offers one cosy bedroom/lounge with views over the river. Outside the property are lovely enclosed shared lawn gardens with seating and BBQ if the British weather allows.
Traditional Trulli Rental- Masseria Apulia, Puglia, Italy
Perched on a hillside in the Valle d’Itria region of Puglia, surrounded by rolling hills, meadows, ancient olive groves and sweeping views over valleys to the hilltop towns of Cisternino and Locorotondo, sits Masseria Apulia; a traditional farmhouse that encompasses two trulli-a building (built by Austro-Italian architects Bricchi Marksteiner) that wouldn’t be out of place in a fairytale. Its two acre grounds include olive, almond, apricot, fig, pear and pomegranate trees as well as a smattering of lavender shrubs and a small vineyard of heritage grapes. Plus, below the outdoor dining area, a large lake-style pool. Interiors are fresh and contemporary with clean lines, neutral decor and large French windows that allow light to flood in. Groups or families can easily spend all day lazing at the villa, but activities such as wine tasting, horse-riding and windsurfing are all available nearby. Guests can also visit quaint villages, shop at local markets and arrange a massage or yoga class in the privacy of the villa.
Whole house rental (4 bedrooms, sleeping 10) from £436 per room per night on an accommodation-only basis, including bi-weekly maid services. 7 night minimum stay applies.
To book visit www.i-escape.com/masseria-
Villa Chaweng Noi – Koh Samui
On the eastern coast of Ko Samui, Villa Chaweng Noi sits on top of coastline of the Gulf of Thailand. Perched above a luxurious, rocky projection, the villa dominates the coastal villages and the paradisiacal beaches of the “Coral Cove”, the name given to this part of the island with the white sand stretch and green palm trees between Chaweng and Lamai. Unusual bulbous domed pods, the unusual modern property not only boasts outstanding views and a stunning infinity swimming pool but is fully equipped with everything you could possibly need for a romantic getaway. Airport transfers, housekeeping and daily breakfast are included in the property rental.
Villa De Lanfranchi- Pisa, Italy
Villa De Lanfranchi is a flamboyant 18th century villa set in private grounds between Lucca and Pisa. The villa is packed with curiosities and art unlike anything else, as well as a conservatory with an array of botanical and tropical rarities, while the neighbouring botanical park has trees and various species some of which are over 400 hundred years old. It is also home to peacocks, cockatoos, parrots, owls and chickens who lay eggs for breakfast. Large rooms with high frescoed ceilings set the tone to this wonderful eclectic blend of styles, the owner being a passionate collector of sculpture, music, books and various other treasures. It also possesses an extensive library and film collection with over 6,000 titles of which the owner can arrange open-air, midnight screenings. Guests are also greeted on arrival with the sound of angelic opera music which can be played throughout their stay.
This 7 bedroom property sleeps up to 14 people and costs from £3,778 per week.
Visit www.tuscanynowandmore.com or call 020 7684 8888
Windmill Lilac, Santorini, Greece
This very special two-bedroom holiday villa is a converted windmill, situated in the countryside in Santorini. A pergola covered dining area is perfect for dining al fresco and fresh produce can be picked from the Windmill’s garden. It is close to two other windmills, Windmill Green and Windmill Blue, which are also available to rent. Two or three windmills can be rented together for larger groups. The nearest beach is just a short stroll away. Access to restaurants, supermarkets and the famous caldera view are only 10 minutes’ drive away. The windmill benefits from a panoramic view of the Aegean Sea and the islands Ios, Naxos, Koufonissi, Amorgos and Anafi.
Rates for a week self-catered start from €1,680