Luxury retreats - with a bit of a twist

Dammusi Santa Teresa, Italy

Dammusi Santa Teresa, Italy

A happy marriage of style and substance, the diminutive dammusi on the Italian island of Pantelleria were originally designed to withstand the fervour of the Mediterranean climate. The name comes from the Arabic for "roofed house" and that's essentially what they are - little stone cubes with thick volcanic walls, small windows and round roofs. If you want to rent your own, the island's Santa Teresa farm has several renovated dammusi available, all with shared use of a swimming-pool and surrounded by fruit trees and olive groves.

Santa Teresa, Siba, Pantelleria, Italy (00 39 0923 916389; One week's rental for two people starts from €1,000 (£714)

The Pineapple, Scotland

One of the most exotic properties on the Landmark Trust's books, the Pineapple was built as a summerhouse for the Fourth Earl of Dunmore in the late 18th century. The earl served as the Governor of Virginia, where it was tradition for sailors to put pineapples on their gateposts to announce they had arrived home safely. When he returned to Scotland he decided to go one better: outside Falkirk he constructed a permanent architectural memento. While the ground floor of the building is conventional, the roof sprouts its prickly hat as a lasting tribute to the masons who worked on it.

The Pineapple, Dunmore, Scotland (01628 825925; Four-night mid-week rentals for four people start from £178

Dodo's Tower, Kenya

This gorgeous, pagoda-like structure was built as a folly-cum-lookout on the shore of Lake Naivasha. The romantic eight-storey tower has three bedrooms, a first-floor veranda for wildlife viewing and a top-floor meditation room. It is set on a 500-acre private estate known as Hippo Point. The estate also has an eight-bedroom lodge, Hippo Point House, that boasts a swimming-pool as well as a traditional English garden.

Hippo Point, Oloidien Bay, Kenya (0845 0700618; Weekly rental of Dodo's Tower for six people starts from £8,855

Casa Infinito, Mexico

Overlooking a beach on Mexico's Pacific coast, Casa Infinito has a touch of the artist Frida Kahlo about it - offering a cool blue lookout, a host of modern Mexican artwork and an artist's tower. Guests can chill out in the open-air living area, infinity pool and dramatic tropical gardens, and if you've ever fancied a chukka or two, now's your chance. The local polo club is open from November to April and offers beginners' lessons, while proficient riders can also borrow one of the club's 40-odd ponies. The villa comes fully staffed, although prices do not include meals.

Casa Infinito, Costa Careyes, Mexico (00 52 315 351 0240; Minimum three-night rentals for up to six people start from $3,600 (£2,000)

Casa Moinho Da Porto, Portugal

This creaking old mill is in a beautiful setting in northern Portugal, on the banks of a tributary of the river Ave. It has been sensitively converted using original materials, including 18th-century iron lattice from a nearby monastery. There is one very striking modern addition to the building - the living area boasts an unusual glass floor section, allowing guests to watch the water running beneath them. If this has you yearning to take a dip, the villa also has a pool.

Casa Moinho Da Porta, Costa Verde, Portugal (01244 355580; Seven-night rentals for four people start at £1,000 per week