Chateau Gauthie is situated deep in the wine growing region of Perigord, surrounded by charming medieval villages. The Chateau which dates back in parts to 15th century is set in beautiful grounds of about twenty acres with mature trees and a lake. Here down a small path overlooking the lake is a treehouse nestled in the fork of an old oak tree. Although it may evoke memories of childhood this is not something put together over a couple of weekends of DIY. It combines all the romanticism of a treehouse with up to date modern facilities. The workmanship and quality of the interior is superb and includes an en suite shower room and a balcony overlooking the lake. It is accessed by a spiral staircase and sits eight metres off the ground. A scrumptious breakfast is delivered in a wicker basket and tied to a rope at the bottom which you then haul up on a winch. Visitors have free use of the nearby hot tub just up the lane and a swimming pool. The Chateau, which is also a B&B serves an evening meal should you want it but it is nice to experience eating in a local restaurants in one of the nearby villages. This is the perfect intimate getaway.
Prices from 120 euros.
Chateau Gauthie. Monmarves, 24560
Tel 0033 553273033
When doing a road trip on the South Island of New Zealand, plan a stopover at Pah Road - a self-catering straw bale studio only 5 minutes from Kaiteriteri - the gateway to Abel Tasman Park. At NZ$120 it's much more affordable than B&B's in Kaiteriteri itself and much closer to Abel Tasman than accommodation in Nelson. Included in the price is a delicious organic breakfast, anything you can eat from the organic veggie garden and orchard, a bottomless bowl of organic eggs, milk in the fridge, real fair trade coffee, but best of all: the unique New Zealand "fire bath" experience (don't ask - just go do it!). Pah Road also provides kayaks and bicycles. Close-by are numerous boutique wineries, a brewery, New Zealand's highest flying fox and a refreshing fresh water swimming spot. Do not miss this friendly and romantic place when next in New Zealand!
Coco Loco is nearly five years old and is one of the best backpacker hangouts in Canoa. Owned by a friendly Alaskan woman and her Mexican partner (and his georgeous son mini-Mao), this is the friendliest hostel we encountered in Ecuador.
With a happy hour every night, small snacks restaurant and palm-fringed hammock garden, the Coco is a communal, friendly place that seems to be the hub of activity in this otherwise quiet surfing beach 70 km south of the Equator.
Beds from US$5, awesome breakfast, 24 hour hot water, great staff, hammocks, book club, trip organisation including an awesome totally organic eco-farm/school nearby, happy hour and overall atmosphere make this the place to be!
Just gorgeous place to stay for a vacation: beautiful, romantic interior, all the amenities you may need, great grocery shop just around the corner, nice neighbours, and of course the magnificent city of Valletta around you! But note: it seems you often have to book it well in advance (and no kids or pets are allowed).
Asha is a family owned and run boutique hotel with a socially responsible heart in Diani Beach, Kenya. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, where you totally relax in an intimate setting (only five rooms), eat great food, read loads of books, and pamper yourself. But of course if you really must do something more active snorkelling, diving and safari are also very close at hand.
Mesmear is a farm with a number of barns which have been converted to the highest standard. It is tucked away down a little lane close to Polzeath, Rock and Padstow so an ideal location if you love walking, the sea and great food!
We stayed at The Barn and it truly was a home away from home. So much thought has gone into this property that every detail if not forgotten - the decor is very comtemporary and luxurious and here are some nice touches such as local produce waiting for you for your first breakfast, an honesty bar, yummy toiletries and underfloor heating.
Mesmear also runs cookery courses which you can do in your property which was a lot of fun!
My husband and I found it was the perfect couple retreat, whether it be in the winter when you can stay in and enjoy the wood burner, or in the summer when you can make the most of the location...but it would also be great for families or groups of friends. Try it!
Family owned and run - Madame Papillon is the stuff of legends - this little gem is situated in the tiny village of St Jean du Bruel about30km from Millau. It lies in the Dourbie valley with views of the surrounding hills. Come here if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy swimming, walking and cycling. It's a warm, friendly establishment but its real selling point is its fantastic restaurant (which is worth a visit regardless of whether you decide to stay here - try the trout). Remember to book in advance as it is extremely popular.
12230 Saint Jean de Bruel
Tél : 05 65 62 26 04
Fax : 05 65 62 12 97
The hotel has the most wonderful location, stunning views, and is in the middle of no where - the only traffic is sheep! Food locally sourced and all furnishings modern, natural and luxurious.
Monachyle Mhor Hotel :: Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8PQ :: Tel: 01877 384622 :: Email: monachyle @ mhor.net
This must be the best I have stayed in. I walked up from the nearby beach looking for a cheap lunch. I stumbled over this place with views over the bay to the front and an ancient greek ruined temple to athena on a mountain to the left. The owner - 'el capitan' - is the son of a converted oxthodox monk who escaped to mount athos after the death of his wife. El Capitan offered me a free lunch if I would transcribe the lyrics of his daughter's song so he could read them - his spoken English is not so good.
I went back to the beach and suggested to my friend that we might stay at El Capitan's that evening for dinner, some drinks and a bed. We could not afford his rooms so we slept in his small-holding, underneath an olive tree and surrounded by tomatoes on two double beds he keeps out there for such occasions. We showered in his outdoor shower - a hose head held aloft by wire and surrounded by vines for privacy.
That cost us €5.00 a piece.
A great guy with a fascinating mistress and wife. All three of whom are full of stories, anecdotes and souvenirs. His wife keeps a collection of ancient miscellany from the neighbouring temple that she finds on her walks.
Kali Art Inn is an idyllic rural retreat in Hungary, near Lake Balaton. Nestled between rolling poppy fields you could be in Tuscany, but for half the price. Activities aplenty are on offer and I divided my stay between painting in the art studio, horse riding, cycling, and lazing by the pool. The owners homemade truffles and garden-grown dinners rounded off each day to perfection. Although the hotel is completely secluded, it is a stones throw from the healing sulphuric waters of Lake Balaton, well worth a day trip.
Káli Art Inn
H-8274 Köveskál, Fö u. 8
phone: (36) 87 / 70 60 90
or: (36) 30 / 92 28 715
fax: (36) 87 / 46 84 12
The hotel is incredibly easy to get to from the ludcriously cheap low cost airport of Balton, which Ryanair flies to. Alternatively the hotel offers transfers from Budapest.
I fell in love with this place for the beach, the food, the hospitality and the location.
Calgary Hotel is 300m up the road from the beautiful white sands of Calgary Beach, in a small green valley banked with mature deciduous woodland. The hotel has been converted from farm steadings but still retains the friendly farmhouse atmosphere and character, while creating comfortable and attractive accommodation.
The owners are artists and put on fabulous exhitibitions by local crafts people.
Finally, the food is to die for - local produce cooked to perfection.
Calgary, by Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Scotland, PA75 6QW
Inset is a tiny hamlet in northern Norway, well inside the Arctic Circle, and when I say tiny, the central area has four buildings, and three of them belong to Regina and Bjorn who own and run the Husky Farm.
Go in December and as you touch down in Bardufoss, 60km or so from Inset, you will notice as you leave the plane that you are walking not on tarmac but on a solid sheet of gritted ice. The first thing you feel is the cold, as suddenly the reason so many brightly coloured Puffa jackets peppered the plane becomes clear. Ask a local what the temperature is, "15 C" they will reply - to have to say "minus" every time would just be a waste of breath.
When you turn off the two track road that leads all the way back to Oslo, you leave street lights and civilization behind you, and enter the astonishing black of the arctic night. One hour later and you pull into the Husky Farm, a warming glow permeating through the little windows in the wooden buildings whose roofs are covered with grass; a chorus is there to greet you as the 70 or so husky dogs howl to mark your arrival.
Bjorn and Regina have an amazing log cabin which you can rent by the week. It is entirely made of wood and has a wood burning stove which must be permanently lit as the flue travels through the bedroom and kitchen making sure the heat is distributed around the whole building. It is a picture of comforting isolation, nestled in a valley with hills becoming mountains on either side, snow drifts come up to the windows. There is no sound other than the dogs and the wind, and no light bleeds into the sky, so undisturbed views of the aurora borealis are possible. Indeed on the second night of our visit I opened the front door and saw beams of light coming from behind the mountains and flooding the sky with dancing hues of blue and green. The lights performed for me for 20 minutes and then disappeared, quite suddenly and quite mysteriously.
The few hours of twilight that the sun offers at these latitudes must be used to the full. If you book for the Husky Farm Holiday you will get to experience leading your own team of dogs as you sledge over the frozen lakes into the abyss of the arctic landscape. The sky is one hundred colours at the same time, the light is ethereal, and the seclusion is absolute. You come to trust and rely on your dogs as only they hold the key to unlocking some of the secrets of the scenery and beauty of this most remote of locations.
If you are looking for glorious isolation, and some private time with nature, look no further.
Inset, Bardu, Norway
This is a small family run hotel in the real wild of the Pindos Mountains. The people who run it are immensely kind and helpful. For example I had flu when I went there and they provided a constant supply of lemon and honey (local natch) without charge. Most vegetables are grown organically in their garden, but guests don't get to eat the sweet corn - the bears get it first - so now they just plant plenty of maize to keep the bears happy. Babis (Dad) is very knowledgeable about the area and knows where Lynx etc are to be seen. The hotel is very plain and simple, no frills, except kindness and helpfulness. Plus Mum's cooking, using local ingredients and recipes is wonderful. She probably makes the best cake in northern Greece.
Babis or Vassili (son) will take you on wonderful walking expeditions to see the mountains from right up close. The river (crystal clear and freezing cold ) repays exploration. The area is absolutely "undeveloped" so the only people you will meet in the mountains are shepherds. The hotel is near to the famous church of St Nikolaous (which uniquely has two domes, and also the most spectacularly sited bridge in Northern Greece. Babis will explain how to get to Spilaio as the gorge is called where you can see this marvel.
The main thing that makes this hotel stand out is that it is run by local people who love Mikrolivado and all its wildlife and who are just glad that you have come there and love it too. There are no asphalt roads except the one leading to the hotel, but there are tracks for motor vehicles and hire cars can negotiate these, they don't need to be 4X4.
Mikrolivado is authentic Greek wilderness.
www.mikrolivado.gr/ (website in Greek) phone 0030 24620-25688 (very remote sometimes doesnt work all that well) fax the same. You will speak to Vassili Nanios, who speaks English. There may a moment of panic if someone else picks up the phone, but then they will find Vassili and all will be well. The nearest the nearest town is Grevena, in the Pindos mountains in Epiros, Northern Greece. There are no trains there, but you can get buses from Thessaloniki (nearest airport) or taxi from or Grevena. Best with hirecar though.
The Pen Y Gwryd Hotel sits at the bottom of the Llanberis pass and the top of Nant Gwynant valley. It has been a family run business since 1947 and in mountaineering terms is practically the centre of the universe. To really appreciate this tiny place in it's awe-inspiring landscape visit in winter when menacing black clouds haunt the mountains and time seeps back into the hard local granite. Hide in the smoke room by the fire with a single malt and dream of Everest.
It's a small rural hotel.
Very isolated with fantastic views. The owners are very friendly, the food is great - home made bread every morning which is fantastic.
Golden eagles and vultures flying overhead, great area for walking, climbing, canoeing and rafting.
Located in the province of Lerida about 80km north of Lerida close to the market town of Tremp in the abandoned village of Tolo. The closest village is San Salvador de Tolo.
Closest Train Station is in Tremp, about 20km away.
It's a hostel for hiker and climbers near Soto de Sajambre in the Picos de Europa. You can only get there by foot - it's about an hour from the nearest village. Right in the heart of the Picos de Europa National Park with has some of the most stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It's set beside some mountain pastures and in between centuries old beech and oak woodland. The facilities are simple - shared dormitories and probably best to take your own food but definitely worth it as the views are out of this world.
For the location: maps.google.com/?q=43.166046,-5.005045
For the views: www.mallorcaweb.net/estebanmk/SantaCastilla/SantaCastilla002.jpg
This is not a rural hotel but a house for rent beautifully hidden in the green Umbrian hills. The closest you can drive is to the organic farm where you can pick organic vegetables and get fresh cheese and eggs, then you walk down a lane for five minutes till you reach a typical, old, stone, Italian house. A porch and a flowered garden for the nice weather, a fire place and a big bright room for painting when it's rainy. It doesn't have a pool and you're asked to be careful with the water, but it is really worth it. Sleeps two to a maximun four people. 300 Euros a week.
Nearest airport Perugia (Ryanair)
Nearest train station: Fossato di Vico or Perugia
The Swan Barracks were built in 1896, and this imposing stone structure is one of the oldest buildings in Northbridge. But you won’t find soldiers in the cavernous drill-hall – the historic building has been converted into a bright and breezy hostel, and the modern rooms have a laid-back vibe, with bar fridges and widescreen TVs. A stone’s throw from the bus and train station, and next door to the lively bars and clubs of Northridge, this hostel is a quirky mix of old and new, and even has its own ‘Barracks Bar’, complete with barrel bar stools.
Many minibuses wait at the train station for Sapa. They offer the service for 25-30,000D but the local price is 20,000D so bargain hard.
Arriving in Sapa
The minibus stops at the area where many hotels are clustered. This is not the center. Ask the driver to take you to the market or Royal Hotel, both are good starting points to look for a room. The entrance of the market is Cau May Street, where most budget accommodation can be found. All rooms tend to be equipped with hot water. Only expensive hotels have a/c. The view to the valley is the key to choosing a room.
Weekends are always busy due to the Sunday market at Bac Ha and most hotels put their prices up during the weekend.
The tourist peak and dry season runs from March to May and October to November but it is also a good season for trekking.
The rainy season runs from June to August and is cold at night (Sapa is 1500m above sea level)
There is no tourist office but you can get info at travel agents and there are many in town. They all deal with trekking tours.
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