If we live by Winston Churchill’s philosophy on architecture—that we don’t just shape our buildings, they shape us too—then similarly, travel should transform us through the places we go and where we choose to stay. And if these walls of these six beautifully designed homes could talk, they’d tell a tale or two. Take a closer look to see how each one might shape your own story.
Masseria Pettolecchia, La Residenza, Puglia, Italy
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and same goes for this gem in Puglia. A crew of local craftsmen and stonecutters worked for five months to restore the 19th-century masseria (a traditional fortified farmhouse) situated on almost 20 acres of pastoral land. They studied old books about the region’s architecture to ensure their restoration honored its history. They used old stone cutting techniques and materials. They even worked through nights with a spotlight. “We wanted to restore and bring back the original beauty,” says Giovanni DeBlasio, the property’s Fasano, Italy-born managing director. “There is something unique, a harmony with nature, in Puglia.” And indeed, Masseria Pettolecchia is surrounded by olive groves and vegetable gardens thriving old farmland. A rooftop terrace provides stunning views of the countryside and the Adriatic Sea. Inside, the villa’s stone walls and arched doorways set the tone for palatial interiors that include an old stone kitchen with sleek cabinetry and light gray Chianca floor slabs, the same quarried stone used in the area for centuries. And back outside, a large L-shaped pool invites guests to (literally) soak in the surroundings for hours. Plus, a butler, waiter, and housekeeper work on the grounds to ensure your stay is as magical as the masseria itself.
Malaiwana Duplex, Phuket, Thailand
From a distance, Malaiwana Duplex practically blends into its lush, hillside Phuket surroundings. Its green rooftop matches the trees and lawns that hug the villa and its airy, open terraces, sliding glass doors, and floor-to-ceiling windows reveal stunning views of the Andaman Sea and blur the line between indoors and out. The infinity-edge swimming pool also faces the water and seems to spill into the sea from above. Private balconies accessed through each bedroom hang over the pool to provide an elevated vantage point. And though there are neighboring properties, and Nai Thon Beach just steps away, down the hill from the property, Malaiwana’s thoughtful design that includes hidden outdoor living spaces makes it feel like a completely private escape.
Beyond being a beautifully built estate, Malaiwana is also designed to offer a luxurious stay. All four bedrooms are worthy of the title master, each with a king size bed, ensuite bathroom, and direct terrace access. Extra indulgences include an espresso machine, a wine fridge, and a barbecue, and daily breakfast is included with your stay.
Villa Dominus, Split Riviera, Croatia
The gated property of Villa Dominus was built to impress—and architecture-lovers especially will love its mid-century inspired spaces and surroundings. Located on the elevated (at 778 m, it is the highest of the Adriatic islands) island of Brač, just outside the small town center of Sutivan, the home’s thoughtful outdoor spaces provide views of traditional stone buildings, including the votive church of St. Rocchus and several fortified Venetian-style seaside homes. Dominus adds some contemporary chic to the landscape with a clean levelled-off shape and fresh outdoor living spaces. The front terrace, beset with comfy lounge chairs, and its back terrace (with a hot tub, wood fire grill, and al fresco dining) are connected by a large, heated swimming pool that splits the 4,000-square foot home in two. From the hot tub, you can actually see all the way through the open-concept living area thanks to large windows on either side. A small pebble beach is just a short walk away and Irante Beach is less than two miles from the home.
On the Rocks, Palm Springs, California, United States
Hugh Kaptur is one of the pioneers of Palm Springs’ famed mid-century modern architecture style. Among the best architects in Palm Springs during his 50-year practice, Kaptur took influence from the legendary architectural duo of Palmer & Krisel, who put Palm Springs on the map as the mid-century modern hub that it became, to build many of the city’s post-and-beam houses in the late 1950s. On the Rocks, a hillside home in Palm Springs’ vibrant Mesa neighborhood at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, showcases Kaptur’s (and the MCM movement’s) signature styles. For instance, clean lines are prominent from the home’s streamlined kitchen to its large, uncrowded master bedroom. Tall windows in living areas and bedrooms encourage guests to feel one with their desert surroundings. Guests can entertain inside thanks to a bar, sound system, and fully-equipped kitchen, or outside where an alfresco dining set, barbecue, and fire pit center around a saltwater pool and built-in hot tub. And all this is in a stunning desert setting, with 200-degree views of three mountain ranges.
Champagne Shores, Anguilla, Caribbean
A white exterior frame, large windows, clean lines, and an effortless flow between the indoors and outdoors are all elements that make Champagne Shores reminiscent of mid-century modern homes like On the Rocks. But this contemporary five-bedroom villa is not in the desert—instead it’s on the Anguilla oceanfront at secluded Blowing Point, across the Anguilla Channel from St. Martin. The villa’s design takes full advantage of its natural surroundings, allowing the sun to pour in through floor-to-ceiling glass doors, plus private balcony access in two bedrooms invites in a gentle breeze in while you rest. Meanwhile, classy al fresco living spaces encourage guests to spend their time outside by the pool, playing ping pong, or eating home-cooked meals. The backyard has vast green spaces for wandering, all while enjoying the ocean views. And just a few steps away, a path from the property leads to a small beach where lounge chairs await. The views are great no matter which way you’re seated: gazing out over the water, or back toward Champagne Shores.
Chantilly Lace, Los Angeles, United States
Chantilly Lace has a wow factor perfect for Hollywood. Baked into the hills in the glam Bel Air neighborhood, the property is designed to give its guests ample space to stretch out and unwind in an extremely private setting. And this villa has something to get excited about at every turn. Hang out in the circular sitting area surrounding a fire pit and built into the infinity swimming pool. Next to the spillover edge of the pool, there’s a practice putting green where you can warm up your stroke or just engage in a friendly competition. The property’s proximity to lush gardens makes for not only a private stay but a refreshing setting in which to relax in open air—which you’d want to do all day if not for the home’s spectacular 10,000 square foot interior. Flowing brilliantly from the poolside terrace into the ground floor, the home’s interiors are lavish and spacious. Glass floors on the top level, massive windows, and skylights open up the space even more. We’d be remiss not to mention some of the eye-popping artwork adorning the home’s walls. Spoiler alert: Keep an eye open for Nelson Mandela quotes and life-sized Barack Obama.