From an idyllic port town off the coast of France to a medieval village in Spain, T+L has your next dream European vacation planned.
Dream European Vacations
This sleepy village on the Çeşme Peninsula is the latest playground for Istanbul’s creative set. After a day spent lounging in the open-air cafés or browsing the recherché and vintage design boutiques of Old Town, head to the walled garden of the family-run restaurant Asma Yapraği ($$), where you order by picking from the home-style dishes on the kitchen table (fried zucchini flowers filled with goat-milk cheese; rosemary-rubbed lamb). While simply made Turkish staples are the draw, Alaçati also has a culinary talent of the highest order: former windsurfing champion Kemal Demirasal, whose ambition is to turn the glass-walled Alancha ($$) into nothing less than the Turkish answer to Copenhagen’s Noma. He’s on the right path. Book a table on the patio overlooking the town’s terra-cotta rooftops and order from the 12-course tasting menu, which may include specials such as tahini with dehydrated Black Sea anchovies.
For decades, Alaçati lacked a decent place to stay. That all changed when Zeynep Özis opened the first boutique property, Taş Otel ($), in 2001. Scores of handsome Ottoman-era stone houses have now been turned into “butik otels,” though many pale in comparison to Taş’s rustic-chic aesthetic. Most impressive of the newcomers is the 25-room Alavya ($$$), which spreads out over six restored stone houses in the center of town: expect white-on-white bedding, thick woven rugs, and sundowners by the mosaic-lined pool. —Sarah Miller
It doesn’t take long to be swayed by the drowsy rhythm of the Île de Ré, off the western coast of France. Before you know it, you’ll be getting around by bike, stopping to sample fresh oysters at the market or to admire historic town houses by the old port.
This colorful seaside hideaway is at its most charming in early summer, when crowds are thin and a gentle breeze stirs the bougainvillea. And like our favorite Old World escapes, a trip to the Île de Ré encourages you to relax your pace and bask in life’s finer pleasures, as the Europeans do oh so well.
If your European daydream is set among white-sand beaches and ancient ruins, look no further than the Greek island of Cephalonia. Check in to the affordable Emelisse Hotel, which offers a pool, a spa, and proximity to Gentilini Winery & Vineyards.
Other travelers will gravitate to the artisanal pub food and country retreats of the Cotswolds, where a string of new openings has attracted discerning Londoners like designer Stella McCartney.
Across Europe, there are similar signs of revitalization. While the waterfront city of Palma, Spain, has its share of medieval mazelike streets, don’t be surprised to find a thriving contemporary art scene.
In the village of Alaçati, Turkey, meanwhile, ambitious chef Kemal Demirasal wants his restaurant to reach the culinary heights of Copenhagen’s Noma. Size up his progress over a 12-course tasting menu on the patio above the terracotta rooftops—and raise a glass to your dream vacation come true.