Five Best: Modern seaside hotels

Where to find the most stylish rooms with a sea view, across Europe and beyond


Hotel J Sweden

Hotel J Sweden

Hotel J avoids gimmicks and sticks to providing simple comfort. The nautical decor is unfussy, with pretty woodwork, sailcloth curtains and fresh blue and white paint. The setting - surrounded by water and birch trees, and just 15 minutes by boat from Stockholm - is wonderfully soothing. And the emphasis is on relaxation, with comfy armchairs to sink into, a well-stocked honesty bar and a stash of rugs to help yourself to if you want to sprawl on the lawn. Don't be fooled, though; the laid-back vibe has been built along efficient Scandinavian lines.

Hotel J, 1 Ellensviksvagen, Nacka Strand, Stockholm (00 46 8601 3000; www.hotelj.com). Double rooms start from Skr950 (£69), including breakfast

Hotel Budir Iceland

More glacier-side than seaside, although the great swirl of sand outside Hotel Budir leads straight to the sea, this is the part of Iceland where Jules Verne set Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The hotel began as a small fish restaurant and guesthouse (Nobel prize-winning author Halldor Laxness used to write there), but burnt down a couple of years ago. Recently re-opened, the new hotel is an improved take on the old version, with 19th-century photographs and glass lamps salvaged from the flames cleverly combined with the hotel's chic, modern furniture. And, if that still doesn't tempt you, how about the chance to trot over the lava with a company called Gobbedi Gob ("clackety-clack")?

Hotel Budir, Snaefellsnes, Iceland (00 354 435 6700; www.budir.is). Double rooms start at 16,900 Iceland kronur (£129), including breakfast

The Caves Jamaica

Jake's has long been the place to stay in Jamaica, but The Caves now offers a serious alternative. Set in Negril, this collection of 10 colourful cottages and gardens is built into and around a rocky cove. If you get tired of jumping into the ocean or having anything from a watermelon cocktail to a packet of Oreo cookies delivered on demand, there's also an Aveda mini-spa to try.

The Caves, Light House Road, Negril, Jamaica (00 1 876 957 0270; www.islandoutpost.com). Cottages start from $445 (£262) per night, all-inclusive

Portixol Mallorca

With its own harbour, tiny beach and some of the island's hippest restaurants, the small bay of Portixol, 10 minutes' drive east of Mallorca's capital, Palma, is the ideal place to laze away a sunny weekend - especially if you've checked into Hotel Portixol. Another nautical, Scandinavian-style hotel, the surprise is that it's in the Mediterranean rather than Sweden. With its cute pool and a breezy, open-sided restaurant, it has long been a weekenders' favourite. But despite the clean, white-wood-and-navy decor, this is slightly racier than Hotel J, appealing more to holidaying boys from Barcelona and Brazilian models in kaftans than young Nordic media types.

Hotel Portixol, 27 Calle Sirena, Portixol, Mallorca (00 34 971 27 18 00; www.portixol.com). Double rooms start from €185 (£123), including breakfast

Deseo Mexico

Deseo ("desire" in Spanish) is sister hotel to Mexico City's trendy Habitais. Its seaside equivalent is equally hip, but just a bit more fun, as if Habita has packed up, slipped on its tiniest shorts and gone on holiday. Not the place for a quiet getaway, this pastel-coloured (mainly soft turquoise and white) den is set in Playa del Carmen, the tequila-soaked heart of the newly fashionable Riviera Maya. And, with rooms surrounding a central bar/lounge area that goes all club-like after dark, sleeping isn't usually high on the agenda. Not that most guests mind. Partying is what they come for - that and the ocean views.

Deseo, 5a Avenue y Calle 12, Playa del Carmen, Mexico (00 52 984 879 3620; www.hoteldeseo.com). Doubles from $138 (£81), including breakfast

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