What makes a holiday home luxurious? It doesn't have to be a showy mansion in the South of France, or on a desert island. For many it is a more thoughtful concept: somewhere special, spoiling and exclusive.
LUXURY WITH CULTURE: FLORENCE
Exquisite, restored Palazzo Tornabuoni in Via Tornabuoni, Florence's best shopping street, offers 15th-century frescoes, cashmere-covered sofas, a full concierge management by the fivestar Four Seasons Hotel and the world's finest architecture and Renaissance art on its doorstep.
Rupert Fawcett of agent Knight Frank, says: "The concierge service will deliver food or bring in a private chef and can arrange exclusive visits to museums and exhibitions not normally open to the public."
There are 38 apartments in total: 27 whole ownership and 11 in the Club Membership. The whole-ownership flats start from £720,440 for a studio on the Piano Nobile.
Club membership starts from £377,170 with only 10 per cent left for sale. Apartments range from studios of 527sq ft to three-bedroom units of 2,486sq ft. There are 21 apartments left for sale overall.
Where to stay as you house hunt: the four hotels in central Florence owned by the Ferragamo family range from the design-centric Continentale to the elegant Hotel Lungarno. From £145 a night.
* Knightfrank.com (020 7629 8171)
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LUXURY IN THE FAST LANE: THE BALKANS
Montenegro, below Croatia on the crisply clear Adriatic coastline, is upping its game. Kotor Bay is a Unesco Heritage Site of eye-popping natural beauty where small stone villages hug the waterside, and the resort of Porto Montenegro, with a sleek modern marina including 250 berths, buzzes with small boutiques, intimate restaurants and a cool Balearic-style PuroBeach Club.
More than 100 Porto Montenegro apartments are occupied with another 500 to be built over the next decade. Early buyers have seen prices double in three years. From £261,740 for a studio and £398,500 for a two-bedroom apartment. Other projects include Lustica Bay, with plans for an 18-hole golf course. Flats and villas start from £143,500.
Two- and three-bedroom villas overlooking the sea at Sea Breeze in Kavac start at £336,880 while Montenegro's newest project comes from billionaire Sol Kerzner, who has announced plans for Europe's first One & Only resort, with super-yacht marina, tennis academy, hotel and properties for sale.
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LUXURY BY DESIGN: BARCELONA
An airy apartment with high ceilings, classical mouldings and herringbone wooden floors in Eixample, central Barcelona, would provide a sleek living space in a city that's a design classic.
This Art Deco district of wide boulevards and elegant modernist buildings is also family-friendly, with easy access to the mountains and beaches. The international airport is a short drive away, there's a highspeed train network along the Costa Brava and on into France, and you are right on Passeig de Gràcia, one of Spain's premier shopping streets.
Two-bedroom flats in Eixample cost from £354,610. A newly renovated, 1,076sq ft three-bedroom flat close to Passeig de Gràcia with existing licence allowing it to be rented costs £371,500.
A similar-size duplex penthouse next to Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família cathedral is £414,500, both through Lucas Fox.
Where to stay as you house hunt: the Mandarin Oriental on Passeig de Gràcia, from £366 a night B&B.
* Lucasfox.com (00 34 933 562 989)
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