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If you’re itching to get abroad for a first taste of freedom, let us direct your holiday hunting towards our latest additions in France and Germany. From a cluster of characterful 16th century cottages in Normandy to a city-centre sanctuary in the heart of Düsseldorf’s charming old town, these European escapes should be top of your post-lockdown list…

Le Domaine d’Ablon, Normandy – France

Inside the iron gates of the romantically rambling estate of Le Domaine d’Ablon, a classical 16th century Norman hamlet with half-timbered architecture and verdant gardens awaits. Charismatic owner Christophe Delaune is on hand to welcome guests, ensuring personalised service is met with an unparalleled degree of privacy during each and every stay. The former president of a major print marketing company gave up his Parisian penthouse to create the 5-acre luxury rural retreat in the heart of Lower Normandy’s beautiful Auge region near to Le Havre and the artistic coastal town of Honfleur.

Dairies and apple orchards anchor the region’s home-grown and unpretentious air, and the hotel prides itself on growing some of the best produce. Normandy’s famous regional produce is complemented with seasonal fruit and vegetables from the estate grounds. Inside the little thatched cottages, suites are comfortable with a delightfully rustic feel. The unique décor, designed by Laureen de Rouvre, incorporates antique furniture, artworks and beautiful wall hangings, brought together to create the ambience of a family home. Service is impressively intimate, from dial-up apple tarts to a pick-your-own vegetable garden.

SLH Insider Tip: There’s nothing more exhilarating than experiencing the wild beauty of the Normandy coastline from a horse-drawn sulky – at top speed. Fans of a slower pace can immerse themselves in another Normandy tradition at the Haras stud farm – an exclusive behind-the-scenes introduction to its horse racing heritage. Just say the word and Le Domaine d’Ablon can tailor-make trips to help you discover the beauty and history of the Pays d’Auge. Visit magical Mont-Saint-Michel, explore the charming streets of artists’ favourite Honfleur, or just soak up the charm of the estate.

Hotel La Roya, Corsica – France

Breath-taking beauty meets total tranquillity at this northern Corsican beachfront retreat with stunning coastal views spanning the Cap Corse peninsula and the Agriates desert. A small charming path shaded by palm trees and umbrella pines leads you to Hotel La Roya’s own private beach on Plage La Roya, offering panoramic views of the idyllic village of Saint Florent, a bustling harbour town only moments away from some of Corsica’s most beautiful stretches of sand.

Inside, elegance and sophistication are the hallmarks of refined luxury, accentuated with warm, welcoming colours and quirky touches. Each of Hotel La Roya’s rooms come with a private balcony or terrace with either a view of the rugged mountains or Saint Florent. Enjoy a dinner under the stars at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant – a celebration of authentic Corsican cuisine and local produce, accompanied by the scents of roses and lavender from the hotel’s Garden of Eden.

SLH Insider Tip: Blessed with such a biodiverse landscape, Hotel La Roya is the ideal base for exploring Saint Florent’s many attractions and enjoying some of the finest food that the island has to offer. Venture into the sun-scorched desert of Agriates, or visit one of the region’s ancient churches such as San Michele de Murato – one of the finest examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture, built in 1280. Round off a day of sightseeing with a wine-tasting at the Patrimonio estate, just a few minutes from the hotel.

Hotel Raphael, Paris – France

Situated in the heart of the 16th arrondissement, mere moments away from Parisian icons such as the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Élysées, Hotel Raphael is a landmark in its own right. Run by the same family for over four generations, Hotel Raphael an example of quintessentially French elegance. The hotel boasts impressive freestone architecture, intricate sculpture work in Art Deco and Belle Epoque splendour. From the beautifully restored antique furniture in the Louis XV or Louis XVI style and luxurious fabrics by Rubelli and Lelièvre, to hand-painted wall murals in the rooms, impeccable attention to detail delivers an authentic Parisian experience.

Meanwhile, floor-to-ceiling windows and deluxe bedding add a touch of modern-day luxury – the perfect blend of classic and contemporary comfort. The building is also completely soundproof so guests can sleep soundly without any intrusions from the infamous Parisian traffic.

SLH Insider Tip: Affectionately referred to as ‘a garden in the sky’, the rooftop terrace is a horticultural haven with more than 100 varieties of flowers and plants. Treat yourself to a glass of champagne (or two) or lunch as you savour an uninterrupted 360-degree view over main historical buildings of Paris from above in the summer.

Breidenbacher Hof, Düsseldorf – Germany

Perfectly positioned in the midst of the famous Königsallee, Düsseldorf’s premiere shopping street and the historic heart of the Old Town, Breidenbacher Hof sums up the very best of Düsseldorf with its turn-of-the-century architecture and contemporary take on comfort. Opulent interiors crafted with the finest woods and furnishings recall the hotel’s glamorous 19th-century heritage, while modern-day amenities and personal assistants are on hand to ensure everything is in place for a memorable stay. The rooms and suites are light, airy and spacious, with views over the rooftops or the landscaped courtyard, featuring rich linens and bespoke furniture, as well as Italian marble bathrooms for added indulgence.

For complete and utter privacy, the Royal Floor, a newly-created space with 11 separate rooms, can easily be connected into one massive suite. Breidenbacher Hof’s prime location also puts you within easy distance of the city’s art galleries, museums, and famous shopping streets. Throw in a chic brasserie-style restaurant and spectacular old town views, and you’ve got everything you need for the ultimate city break.

SLH Insider Tip: Escape to the country with a trip to Breidenbacher Hof’s own ‘Gut Diepensiepen’ farm where the hotel grows their own produce, before joining Executive Chef Philipp Ferber in the Molteni Show Kitchen at the hotel for a private cooking class to make one of the most famous local dishes called “Heaven and Earth”, made from black pudding, onions, mashed potatoes and apple sauce. For those looking to take some memories home with them, the hotel has an exclusive photo tour of Instagrammable spots with a local photographer.