8 Dreamy Private-Island Hotels in Europe (Yes, They Exist!)
Private-island hotels aren’t just limited to the Caribbean or the Maldives. Europe’s 41,000-mile coastline, which stretches along the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Baltic and Black Seas, has a few glamorous retreats to call its own. You just have to know where to look. But don’t worry—we did that work for you. Here, eight getaways that occupy their own slices of European paradise.
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, Italy
The magical floating city of Venice counts an astounding 118 islands within its shallow lagoon waters, many connected by arching footbridges and some separated only by tiny winding canals accessible by gondola. Not so for Isola delle Rome, a 40-acre escape halfway between the lagoon and the sea so named because of the rose beds that flourish here—along with vegetable patches and even an olive grove. This is the home of the JW Marriott Venice, a modern resort by acclaimed Italian architect Matteo Thun with 250 rooms, four restaurants, a rooftop pool, the city’s largest spa, and an onsite cooking academy where guests can take classes. Just don’t think you’re too isolated: a complimentary boat shuttle drops you right by St. Mark’s Square.
San Clemente Palace Kempinski, Venice
It’s takes only a 10-minute boat ride from St. Mark’s Square to reach San Clemente Island, where, despite what the address might have you believe, its only hotel is deceivingly spacious. Inside a former 18th-century monastery, 150 guest rooms are atmospheric and sumptuous, many with terrazzo floors, Murano chandeliers, tasseled drapes, and views of the lagoon—though we don’t think you’ll spend much time in them. Where you want to be is strolling the grounds, which are tranquil and lush, home to landscaped gardens, tennis courts, a golf course, and a network of trails that cross the island in every direction. There’s even an outdoor heated swimming pool—the perfect mid-afternoon prelude to dinner at one of the three restaurants.
Waterford Castle, Ireland
It may not be the most famous castle hotel in Ireland (Ashford and Dromoland share that title), but the ivy-covered Waterford Castle is as beautiful, as historic, and all that more private, thanks to its perch on a private island in the middle of the River Suir that’s accessible only by boat. Originally built in 1895, its interiors are full of living history: Jacobian-style antiques, original tapestries, and oil paintings decorate the halls and corridors, while its 19 guest rooms and satellite lodges were recently refreshed with canopied beds and claw-foot bathtubs. Cap off an afternoon on the island’s 200-acre golf course or archery lessons with Irish-inspired dishes like smoked haddock or duck breast at the Michelin-starred Munster Room.
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Scotland
A rickety bridge is all that connects Eriska, a private island off Scotland’s west coast, to the mainland. The two-and-half-hour drive from Glasgow (or more leisurely journey by sleeper train) is worth the journey here, though, if only for the chance to sleep inside this baronial-style 19th-century mansion. It’s certainly worthy of a cameo in Skyfall: the dramatic west highlands and Loch Creran make for a beautiful backdrop to its 350-acre grounds, where archery, clay pigeon shooting, and croquet fill the hours. Inside, it’s very country-house hotel—all deep sofas, wood-burning fireplaces, stocked bookshelves, and quaint guest rooms. (The ones to book are the spa suites, which come with their own outdoor hot tubs.) While you're up here, don’t miss the cheese trolley during dinner, the award-winning spa (which features ESPA products and a swimming pool), or a trip to Oban, 12 miles south—home to an ancient castle and a well-known whisky distillery.
Island Lodge, Sweden
Glamping in Sweden doesn’t get much more luxurious than Island Lodge, a tented camp on the private island of Bergholmen in the Stockholm archipelago reachable via boat or private helicopter. This sleep is like safari lodge meets upscale campsite: the nearly 200-square-feet tents are tricked out with wood floors, wood-burning stoves, and mosquito net-draped beds along with reindeer skins (great for combating the winter chill) and removable windows (great for letting in that summer breeze). Best of all? The all-inclusive property is for exclusive use, meaning once you’re there, you’ll have the island’s two beaches, show kitchen, and wine cellar—yes, you read that right—all to yourself.
Monkey Island Estate, England
YTL Hotels, the same brand behind the renovation of England’s Gainsborough Bath Spa, breathed new life into Monkey Island—a storied, centuries-old estate on a private island in the River Thames that was formerly a haunt for royalty and artists. Champalimaud Design was tapped for the interior makeover; expect 30 country-chic rooms and suites and a floating spa built inside a moored canal boat. The Brasserie and Monkey Bar are both excellent spots to dine and drink (the latter especially for its cheeky 1730s frescoes depicting monkeys), but foodies will definitely want to make the journey to Bray, a nearby Berkshire village home to multiple Michelin-starred restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s foodie mecca, The Fat Duck.
Valamar Isabella Island Resort, Croatia
This private-island hotel in the glittering Adriatic Sea, off the coast of medieval Poreč in Istria, was made for whiling away the summer heat. All 36 modern rooms come with balconies overlooking the water—where paying guests take to windsurfing, diving, and paddle-boarding—or the grounds, where pétanque and ping pong add a little old-school fun to the mix of seemingly endless options. (In addition to five restaurants, several bars, and a pool, there’s a teen’s club, a spa that hosts pilates classes, a salon, and private beaches to spread your towel out on.) Interested in exploring off-property? Hop on the free shuttle boat to Poreč, or ask the concierge to arrange a free tour of the island and its 14th-century lighthouse.
Silver Island Yoga Retreat, Greece
In search of the ultimate digital detox? It doesn’t get more off the grid than Silver Island, a 60-acre spit of land in the Aegean Sea inherited by two sisters that share a love for the earth. The island’s original run-down villa is now a five-bedroom yoga retreat, where electricity and Internet is traded for limited solar power, biodegradable toiletries, candle-lit meals, and glorious peace and quiet that can only be found this far from civilization. When not occupied by the week’s hours-long classes (which focus on everything from meditation to vinyasa and are held in an open-air shala overlooking the sea), take a hike to the lighthouse, go for a dip at Pebble Beach, or simply nap in your blue-shuttered room, whose balcony is lined with flowers and overlooks the shimmering glint of native olive trees—where the island gets its name.
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