Islands in the Scene

Even the most happening Mediterranean isles have hotels that offer a break from the buzz



Hotel Le Dune

On the southwestern tip of Sardinia, the opposite end to Porto Cervo, this part of Italy’s largest island is another world entirely: superyachts are few and far between, the coast is wild and weather-beaten, and Africa winks on the horizon. Amid this primordial splendor sits the legendary HOTEL LE DUNE, a timeless gem framed by pristine white sands. The surrounding Piscinas dunes rank among Europe’s tallest, while the crystalline turquoise waters vie for the title of its clearest.


The surrounding Piscinas dunes rank among Europe’s tallest


After a meticulous three-year renovation, the hotel is set to reopen its doors this summer. The upgrades extend to its 28 rooms and suites — some now featuring private plunge pools or sandy terraces — yet the original warmth and simplicity remain, right down to the enduring stone floors. Whether visitors opt to sip cocktails in the indoor-outdoor American Bar, lounge poolside, or retreat to the library for a brush-up on Dante, the leisurely options abound. For adventurous types for whom all this serenity might sound a little much, there is quad biking, horseback riding, dune trekking to see the Sardinian deer, and dives guided by marine biologists.


Aguamadera, Ibiza, one of the most beautiful Mediterranean island hotels.

Up a windy dirt road close to Cala Llonga beach sits AGUAMADERA, an agroturismo offering a haven of tranquility on the eastern side of the island, famed for its nightclubs and superstar DJs. Built in 1888, this boutique seven-room hotel boasts 360-degree views of undulating pine forests. The former farmhouse and its outbuildings exude a monastic serenity, with exposed beams, earth-toned furnishings, and rustic textures. Natural materials like jute carpets grace the floors, and the clay plaster walls showcase rotating artworks by local artists.


The former farmhouse and outbuildings exude a monastic serenity


Aguamadera Hotel, Ibiza, Spain. Luxury Mediterranean Island Hotels

The hotel’s larger suites, (once livestock corrals) and bedrooms (formerly stables) seamlessly blend the property’s history with contemporary design. Across the 27 acres of terraces and gardens grow lemon and fig trees, vegetables, and medicinal plants that serve the open kitchen, where dishes are cooked over an open wood-burning fire. As dusk approaches, guests can savor sunset views beneath a majestic carob tree, one of many serene spots perfect for unwinding with a chilled glass of natural wine. During peak season, acoustic guitar and dance performances beckon visitors from neighboring towns, all eager to experience the magic firsthand.

Son Bunyola

 Son Bunyola in Mallorca, Spain. A spectacular Mediterranean island hotels

Straddling Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountain range is SON BUNYOLA, a 16th-century property brought back to life by Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson, whose love for the largest of Spain’s Balearic islands goes back decades. Branson acquired the 1,300-acre estate in 1994 and sold it in 2002, frustrated by the redevelopment constraints, only to buy it back in 2015 and finally realize his dream of turning it into the island’s most enchanting hotel.


The estate’s grounds unfurl with verdant gardens, olive groves, scenic trails, and an infinity pool


The sand-colored building is UNESCO protected, so the painstaking restoration took until this year to complete. The result is a 27-room property with three private villas (with pools), flanked by breathtaking views of the mountains and the Mediterranean. The estate’s grounds unfurl with verdant gardens, olive groves, hiking trails, and an infinity pool that stretches 92 feet. Branson is launching his own Malvasia-grape wine, which will further elevate the allure.


On the tranquil island of Patmos, Maria Lemos — founder of London’s esteemed Mouki Mou on Chiltern Street and the fashion wholesale agency Rainbowwave — has unveiled PAGOSTAS, a guesthouse that’s quickly become the pied-à-terre of choice for the fashion and design cognoscenti who frequent the island. Dating to 1597, the abode houses just three airy guest rooms ensconced within a jasmine-fringed courtyard and walled garden, where lemon and plumbago trees flourish. (The name pays homage to its original owner, an abbot, also its architect.)


It has become the pied-à-terre of choice for the fashion cognoscenti


The residence radiates an ecclesiastical allure, emblematic of Greek architecture, and each room is spacious and thoughtfully curated. An inviting rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the famed Chora, making it an ideal perch for sundowners before venturing into the town’s labyrinthine alleys for a feast of grilled octopus paired with ouzo.


This story originally appeared in the Summer 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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