On The Road
Party On: The Ultimate Houses To Rent For A Summer Bash
A Moroccan art house or a villa on the Côte d’Azur? Whatever your style, seven locations to host a stylish shindig
The living room at Octola, Lapland. Photograph courtesy of Octola
If you are going to throw a party, make sure the location is fabulous, unforgettable and unexpected. That is, without doubt, the most important rule of party-throwing. Everything else, apart from the alcohol perhaps, is negotiable. If your home doesn’t quite cut the mustard, there’s always someone else’s and at MR PORTER, we know some of the best houses, villas and even desert retreats to party in. If bringing people together is your thing and you want your next party to be talked about for decades to come, read on.
Al Faya Lodge, United Arab Emirates
The pool at Al Faya Lodge, UAE. Photograph by Mr Fernando Guerra, courtesy of Al Faya Lodge
For your own Burning Man, albeit on a far smaller scale, there’s the new Al Faya Lodge in Sharjah. Set in the heart of the Mleiha desert, there’s no need to worry about the neighbours here. The nearest are back in Dubai, an hour’s drive away. This immense desert has a cinematic beauty of undulating rust-red dunes offset by brilliant blue sky. The lodge is similarly dramatic. The Anarchitect studio took a couple of 1960s stone buildings and transformed them into a breathtaking eco-space designed to withstand the intense heat, sandstorms and freezing night temperatures. There are five guest rooms, a dining room, a library, outdoor terrace with fire pit and a roof terrace. Each bedroom features a skylight for stargazing and the superior room has the added bonus of a private roof terrace and dual aspect. If you want to invite more guests, there are glamping sites in the Mleiha. For the next day’s detox, there’s a saltwater spa complete with an open-air swimming pool. Desert bloom, indeed.
Àni Private Resorts, Anguilla
ÀNI North and South Villas, Anguilla. Photograph courtesy of ÀNI
Equal parts discreet and decadent, there’s a new high roller in the Caribbean. The hedonistic ÀNI Anguilla estate has chefs who can whip up gourmet feasts, mixologist-curated bars and a butler who will deliver cocktails to the beach. Perched high on the cliffs overlooking Little Bay Beach, the estate is set in a private corner of the island and comprises two villas with a total of 10 bedrooms. If you’re competitive, you can organise tennis matches, shoot basketball hoops and play table tennis. Otherwise, just while away the days sunbathing at one of the two infinity pools, relaxing in the cliff-top hot tub or go by golf cart to one of the three nearby beaches. Here, halcyon days melt seamlessly into heady nights. Start with cocktails by the pool, watch one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see, then head to the beach for a tiki torch-lit barbecue dinner before dancing the night away overlooking the Caribbean Sea. To clear your head the next day, head down to Little Bay, climb up the 15ft rock and jump off. It’s the best hangover cure we know.
Dar El Sadaka, Morocco
The dining room at Dar El Sadaka, Morocco. Photograph courtesy of Dar El Sadaka
In Marrakech’s Palmeraie, the cool palm-grove oasis 10 minutes outside the medina walls, you’ll find the Dar El Sadaka villa. Fittingly, for the purposes of a party, its name translates as the “house of friendship”. This fully staffed villa is the home of Mr Jean-François Fourtou, the French visual artist known for his quirky sculptures of animals. Set within Mr Fourtou’s invitation-only sculptural park, the property is surreal: part fabulous villa, part unconventional art gallery. One of the first encounters you’ll have is with the giant sheep by the swimming pool. Then there’s the giraffe in the dining room and the orangutans in the living room. In the evening, have sunset cocktails overlooking Mr Fourtou’s “Maison Tombée Du Ciel (House Fallen From The Sky)”, a full-size, upside-down house set in a field. The nine suites and rooms are all themed and, if we were hosting, we’d opt for the Donkey Suite with its private garden or the Giraffes Suite with its outdoor bathtub. Get the party started with a dinner under the “Tree of 1,001 Candles”. Given the backdrop, this has the makings of the most extraordinarily unforgettable night.
Kasiiya Papagayo, Costa Rica
Kasiiya Papagayo, Costa Rica. Photograph courtesy of Kasiiya
Luxury tented camps are springing up across the globe these days. Wild, magical and breathtakingly beautiful, the private resort of Kasiiya Papagayo is one of the hottest new openings of the year. Located among 123 acres of lush landscape overlooking the Pacific Ocean, guests stay in artfully designed tented suites amid the exotic wildlife. With just five suites (three overlook the ocean), it’s easy to hire this eco-retreat for a full house-party takeover, but one that’s more chill-out than rave. There are killer views, two private beaches, a spa, yoga and meditation, plus paddle boarding, tree climbing and canopy zip lining. Book a sunset catamaran sail, jump into the sea, carry on the party back at the beach cabana and dance like nobody’s watching – and, other than your best friends, there won’t be.
Villa La Vigie, Monaco
Villa La Vigie, Monaco. Photograph by Mr Pascal Pronnier, courtesy of Villa La Vigie
At the turn of the 20th century, this magnificent villa was considered the most beautiful on the Riviera. The garden was full of tropical rarities and eagles and condors lodged in an enormous birdhouse. The owner gave extraordinary parties and it was one of high society’s favourite playgrounds. Come the 1980s, Mr Karl Lagerfeld restored the villa and made it his home. No doubt it witnessed a few wild nights then, too. This is, naturally, where the best post-Grand Prix parties are thrown, and it is appropriately grand. There’s a monumental entrance hall with a superb staircase, which sets the tone: spacious, bright and prestigious. Think marble columns, fireplaces, parquet flooring and high ceilings. Most of your partying will probably take place on the vast terrace, which has spectacular views across the Mediterranean to Monte Carlo. The house has six bedrooms, but more people can be accommodated at the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel next door, which villa guests have access to throughout their stay. It’s also a good place to recover, the day after.
Octola Private Wilderness, Finland
Octola, Lapland. Photograph courtesy of Octola
You’ll need your guests to display unusual commitment to party here. Set in Lapland, on the border of the Finnish Arctic Circle, Octola is reached via one of the world’s most northerly airports, in Rovaniemi, and a helicopter transfer across a private 300-hectare wilderness reserve where wild reindeer roam. There are 10 bedrooms, so enough space for you and 19 of your closest friends. There’s an option of staying a night in the wilderness tepee camp, too. If you’re here in summer, there’s white-water rafting, canoeing, fat biking, fishing, wilderness hikes, survival camps and midnight-sun cruises. Octola guests have their own wilderness guide. Any party should start with Finland’s national drink, vodka, which is drunk as shots here and can be particularly strong. One of the locals’ favourites is tar flavoured. Octola is fully catered, so feast on a seasonal eight-course North Pole menu created by your own private chef. Start the first course when there is still enough daylight to enjoy the spectacular views from the dining room. Later, it transforms into a dance floor with a DJ, or have an ice disco built outside. If you want to party under the northern lights, come from mid-August to mid-April.
Palazzo Daniele, Italy
The courtyard at Palazzo Daniele, Italy. Photograph by Ms Serena Eller, courtesy of Palazzo Daniele
The majestic Palazzo Daniele brings together high art, minimal design and a whole lot of history. Earlier this year, the grand 19th-century pile reopened as an exquisite hotel with nine suites (12 bedrooms) and an art space. On arrival, a marble plaque reads “This is a place to be shared”, a motto for any party planner to abide by. Sister property of G-Rough in Rome, this is a haven for the discerning party-thrower. The minimalist bare walls emphasise the grandeur of the original frescoes, vaulted ceilings and mosaic flooring. Your guests’ rooms may be monastic in spirit and sparsely furnished, but they are framed by grand vaulted ceilings. At the back of the building, the bedrooms and common spaces look out onto an orangery, a swimming pool and a beautiful sprawling courtyard, in which aperitivo is served. Eat delicious small bites, sip classic negronis (far heavier in vermouth than the London ones) and take bets on who will be first in the pool fully clothed.