Five Best: Cliff-top retreats

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The Independent Travel

For easy access to a beautiful private beach or the best views, check in to a hotel on the coast

Post Ranch Inn, California

The Post Ranch Inn is so close to the edge of the Big Sur coastline that you can almost feel the surf without getting out of bed. The cosy rooms in contemporary log cabins and treehouses are strung along the clifftop, and guests are encouraged to explore the coastal environment with guided nature walks through the surrounding redwood forest. Relaxing activities and treatments come in the form of massages, morning yoga classes and two pools, one of which offers spectacular views.

The Post Ranch Inn, Highway 1, Big Sur, California, US (001 831 667 2200; Doubles start at $550 (£393), room only. Bookings can also be made through Small Luxury Hotels in the UK (00 800 525 48000;

Can Simoneta, Mallorca

Converted in 2004, this 20-room cliff-top hotel is on the island's north-east coast. It is surrounded by the Llevant nature reserve and overlooks Canyamel bay, which takes its name from the fields of sugarcane that have been grown here since the 15th century. Much of what is served in the hotel restaurant comes from the neighbouring farm. Other attractions include a large, traditional garden, a cliff-top walk and direct access to the sea via a staircase carved into the rock. At the bottom there's a small beach and a natural seawater pool, while there's also a chic freshwater pool up by the hotel.

Hotel Can Simoneta, Finca Torre de Canyamel, Mallorca (00 34 971 816 110; Doubles start at €245 (£167), including breakfast.

Amankila, Bali

Overlooking the Lombok Strait on Bali's east coast, Amankila is close to traditional temples, picturesque villages, steamy forests and neat rice terraces. However, with glamorous free-standing suites designed to take advantage of the views, a signature three-tier pool set into the rock and access to the neighbouring Beach Club, there are so many distractions that it would be easy never to venture out. If you really want to impress, book the sky-scraping Kilasari Suite, which has some of the best ocean views and a 12-metre infinity pool.

Amankila, Manggis, Bali, Indonesia (00 65 6887 3337; Suites start at US$675 (£365), room only.

Driftwood Hotel, Cornwall

It might only have been open for a few years but the Driftwood already has the feel of a classic English hotel, possibly because it's owned by the hotelier's dream team - a former finance director and an interior designer. With a vast expanse of well-tended grass stretching out above a private beach and cove, this is real Camomile Lawn territory. It's equally elegant inside, with 14 chic New England-style bedrooms, a restaurant specialising in fresh Cornish produce as well as a restored clapboard cottage that can be rented out by honeymooners, families or those in need of a bit of extra privacy.

Driftwood Hotel, near Portscatho, Cornwall (01872 580644; Doubles start at £190, including breakfast.

Hotel Luna, Capri

The Luna's bright, clean bedrooms have traditional furnishings, tiled floors and - if you're lucky - a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. The downside? If you're particular about design, check in elsewhere. Some nasty plastic garden furniture lowers the otherwise glamorous tone. You might just forgive the odd style slip-up with a setting like this, though. Literally right on the edge of Capri, surrounded by gardens and close to the historic San Giacomo charterhouse, the hotel sits high above the water - the ideal place to soak up the last of the afternoon sunshine, or to toast the moonlight.

Hotel Luna, 3 Viale Matteotti, Capri, Italy (00 39 081 837 0433; Doubles start at €180 (£123), including breakfast.