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Dylan, Dublin’s newest, funkiest boutique hotel, is all about innovation, technology, colour, texture and lighting.  Just outside the city, eighteenth-century Carton House, set in exquisite grounds has undergone a massive modern makeover, as has the smaller, Palladian villa, Bellinter House, here slick interior design meets stunning architecture.  Ehen in Belfast stay at the Merchant Hotel.

In Paris, the Hotel Fouquets Barriere, with brown, black and gold interiors sumptuously design by Jacques Garcia, opened last November.   Ed Tuttle (think Amanresorts) has worked wonders at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.  In gorgeous Brittany stay at the lovely Grande Hotel des Bains at Locquirec and on the lie de Re at Hotel de Toiras a restored seventeenth-century house in the harbour village of Saint Martin.  Heading south Chateaux du Domaine St Martin in the hills outside Vence is a classically beautiful French Hotel with all the trimmings, while near Nimes is the charming, four-bedroom Jardins Secrets.  Skiers will be interested to know that the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group has recently opened Cheval Blanc in Courchevel 1850.

In Majorca, in the pretty town of Soller the hotel L’Avenida is about to open.  Atzaro is the place to stay in Ibiza.  In Tenerife Abama is the latest all-singing, all dancing resort.

London’s hotel scene made design impact last year with the top-to-toe rejuvenation of Radisson Edwardian’s The May Fair and the opening of The Rockwell.  Talk of the town in 2007 will be The Haymarket, the latest creation from Kit Kemp.  Down south in Devon, lovely Gidlegh Park has had a complete refurbishment and in Scotland the excellent Hotel du Vin group has taken over the old one Devonshire Gardens.

Celebrated architect Frank Gehry has designed the eye-poppingly unusual Marques De rascal in Rioja and in Cordoba, the excellent Hospes group has opened the beautiful Palacio del Bailio.  Marbella has witnessed the launch of the young, fashionable ‘hippy-chic’ Purobeach.  Portugal’s Vila Joya in the Algarve has the country’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant.

The Grand Hotel in Stockholm has taken on a new lease of life after an extensive refurbishment.  In Finland the cool new Klaus K has put Helsinki firmly on the map if interesting destinations.  Reykjavik’s predominantly black-and-white 101 Hotel is pared down, arty and comfortable.

Watch out for the opening this summer of Rocco Forte’s Le Richemond in Geneva – and look early for next year’s ski season at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, where an incredible spa opened in 2006 and a glass funicular is scheduled for 2007.

Hotel de Rome in Berlin and Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt were Rocco Forte’s two big openings for 2006, under the watchful design eye of Olga Polizzi.  Prague saw the launch of the Mandarin Oriental, while in southern Bohemia in the medieval town of tabor, the Hotel nautilus won acclaim.  Visitors to Estonia’s capital Tallinn, should check into The three sisters hotel.

The Ferregamo fashion family, behind the successful Lungarno Hotels in Florence has recently launched the Portrait Suites in Rome; another Florence favourite, JK Place is about to open on the seafront in Capri, New to Milan is Town House Galleria, which promises seven-star service from its location inn the famous Vittorio Emmanuelle II Galleria.  In Venice, Giudecca island has seen the arrival of Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa in a resorted convent. 

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