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by Norah Lawlor

Old World Luxe Meets 21st Century Charm


hen it comes to traveling, who doesn’t want to indulge … pourquoi pas? The Grand Tour was a form of Old World education where young, well-to-do travelers would traverse Europe’s history. Read on for your insider’s guide to a 21st Century alternative Grand Tour, where you can enter the world of unparalleled luxury and discover Europe’s most opulent places.


France: the château château de Bagnols
Standing amongst vineyards, lush forests and green hills in the heart of Southeast France—seventeen miles from Lyon—is the finest five-star deluxe château hotel in France, the Château de Bagnols. Featuring impressive towers, a moat and the dramatic entryway across a drawbridge, the Château de Bagnols is not only one of the most luxurious hotels in the world but also one of France’s major historic monuments, dating back to the 13th Century. Perfect for a scenic getaway, walk through the Gardens of the Castle, experience Michelin dining at the Salles des Gardes restaurants and unwind under the lime trees. The hotel’s twenty-one guestrooms have been decorated with exceptional detail and careful thought. Soft velvets and shimmering silks are complemented by rare and beautiful antiques. The influence of Italian Renaissance decoration is evident in the work of the 17th Century painters, who included landscape panels and bold ceiling arabesques in the designs. Suites offer sweeping views over the Renaissance courtyard, the Beaujolais valley or the village. For those seeking the ultimate, luxurious visit, The Apartment is a stunning private duplex, furnished with antique furniture belonging to the private collection of Lady Hamlyn, previous owner of the château. The Apartment features a dining room, a separate lounge with an open fireplace, an office and a terrace overlooking the valley with private access to the gardens. Château de Bagnols, 69620 Bangols, France +33 (0) 4 74 71 40 00,
Social Life, vol. V II issue 1

Italy: the VIlla Villa Mangiacane
Escape to a world of renaissance beauty at Villa Mangiacane in Firenze, Italy. Former home to the powerful Machiavelli family and famed author of The Prince, Villa Mangiacane is a gem nestled amongst the Chianti Classico and overlooking the Arno Valley. Built over half a millenia ago and located near the Dome of the Cathedral and Astronomer Giotto’s Bell Tower, Villa Mangiacane is a piece of Italian history with the standard of modern style and class. Owner, Glynn Cohen made sure that the hotel embodied the spirit and style of a private Italian estate—surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and forests. The twenty-eight luxurious guestrooms and suites are elegantly designed in the Tuscan style, reflecting the serenity of the property’s surroundings. Guests may enjoy the romantic setting of the infinity pool or on the chillier winter days, the indoor heated pool. For the wine connoisseurs, Villa Mangiacane is a full-scale premium wine and olive oil producing estate. Villa Mangiacane, Via Faltignano 4, San Casciano, 50026 Firenze +39 (0) 55 8290123, www.mangiacane.iti

Villa Mangiacane, italy

 all of the modern comforts of a five-star-hotel. For foodies, Ashford Castle’s chef, Stefan Matz, is reason alone to trek to Ireland—he offers four unique dining experiences, each suiting diners’ different styles and preferences. Overlooking the magnificent Lough Corrib Lake, diners may enjoy afternoon tea and casual meals at the resort’s Drawing Room. For those preferring a more formal dining experience, the George V Dining Room offers breathtaking views and traditional elegant dining in Ashford’s main dining room. The restaurant offers a Table d’Hote menu seven days a week and discreet, efficient service. The Connaught Room is regarded as one of Ashford Castle’s most celebrated rooms. Adorned with delicate and intricate wood carvings and a handcarved Inglenook fireplace, the room radiates with a warm and embracing ambiance. Ashford Castle, Cong, Co Mayo, Ireland 1-800-346-7007,

château de Bagnols, france

SwItzerland: the Palace Badrutt’s Palace hotel
A long-standing landmark in the heart of St. Moritz, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has been a hotspot for celebrities and royalty since its opening in 1896. The ultimate property of the Swiss Alps, the hotel is surrounded by unspoiled scenery, offering extraordinary views of Lake St. Moritz and the Swiss Alps. An ideal destination during the winter and summer seasons, the hotel is host to visitors who want to experience world-class ski resorts and home to summer Alpine activities. Tucked away in the basement of the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is the aptly named King’s Club, ruling the nightlife scene in St. Moritz. The hot nightclub is filled with jetsetters dancing away until the sun comes up. Known for its no-curfew vibe and star-studded guest list, this see-and-be-seen spot is truly exhilarating. Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, Via Serlas 27, 7500 St. Moritz +41 (0) 81 837 1100

VenIce: the SuIte hotel ciPriani
Follow in the footsteps of Sophia Loren, Princess Diana, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie, George Clooney and Sir Paul McCartney—take a boat ride (the island is only accessible via boat) to Venice’s Giudecca Island and discover Hotel Cipriani. Fun fact: in Casino Royale, James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) moors his yacht at the Hotel Cipriani dock. The hotel has 101 rooms and suites, featuring Murano glass chandeliers, Fortuny fabric curtains, Italian marble, and cashmere and silk blankets. Unique offerings include an Olympic-sized, filtered salt-water pool, a private red clay tennis court in a garden with a lagoon and access to the only golf club in Venice. For the ultimate luxury experience Hotel Cipriani has to offer, stay in the Palladio Suite, with glass walls offering a 180-degree view of the Venetian lagoon, a balcony, a private terrace with a pool and Jacuzzi, a dining room and a private boat dock. Also, linked by an ancient courtyard to the hotel is a 15th Century palace, the Palazzo Vendramin. Enjoy sweeping views of the lush private gardens, fountains and sculptures. Hotel Cipriani, 10 Giudecca Fondamenta San Giovanni, Venice, Italy 1-800-223-6800,
Badrutt’s Palace hotel, switzerland

Ireland: the caStle ashford castle
Poised deep inside the heart of County Mayo, Ireland, amidst sweeping green forests, rugged mountains and massive lakes, a destination of untainted beauty exists. Ashford Castle, dating back to 1228 and now one of the world’s most exclusive luxury hotels seems as though untouched by time—however, inside this 13th Century Castle, history meets luxury. Ashford Castle guests experience stylishly-designed antique rooms while having access to

ashford castle, ireland