Blackthorne Inn bed and breakfast is nestled in a wooded canyon near the charming village of Inverness, California, an hour from San Francisco and the Napa-Sonoma wine country. It provides intimate overnight accommodations in a beautiful rustic setting adjacent to the magnificent Point Reyes National Seashore wilderness park in northern California.
This unique structure resembles a giant elegant treehouse. Crafted from redwood, cedar and a 180-foot Douglas fir cut and milled on the site, the Inn rises through fragrant bay trees to sunny decks on four levels.
A generous buffet style breakfast is provided each morning. Guests may dine privately or together on the 3,500 square foot deck which surrounds the main level, or inside in the glass solarium.
Hot and cold tubs are sunk into an upper deck and one bedroom (The Crow's Nest) is in a tower reached by a spiral staircase. A firehouse pole connects the main deck to the ground.
The Red Vic is everything you'd hope for from a B&B located right in the heart of San Fran's vibrant Haight-Ashbury district.
A gorgeous deep red building from the outside, the Red Vic has a host of differently-themed rooms. My girlfriend and I stayed in the Sunshine Room, which was decorated in red, yellow and orange shades.
The Red Vic does a pretty convincing job of retaining the spirit of the Beatnik generation, and it plays host to an active local and travelling arts community in the restaurant and small shop downstairs. You'll almost certainly meet the hotel's spiritual and artistic centre Sami Sunchild as well, who helps make your stay even more memorable.
Downside? As ever in San Fran, you're at the mercy of the limited parking, and keep an eye on the changing parking conditions signposted on the streets nearby or you'll pick up a less than chilled out fine!
1665 Haight Street
This is quirky, class and comfy accommodation, situated in the heart of Valletta. The owner gives the house and your holiday a very personal touch and it was far better than any of the many hotels I have stayed in. Valletta has many fabulous attractions and great restaurants and is a must!
This is a funky little boutique hotel in the downtown area where each room has been decorated in eclectic style by a different artist and there are frequent exhibitions in the lobby. Facilties are basic and breakfast is pretty limited - a bagel or a muffin and some juice mainly. But it stands out for it's youthful vibe, fantastic value and brilliant location. Trams, buses and Metro are all a short walk away.
If you're goping in the warmer months I'd recommend requesting a room overlooking the back as the garbage truck and air con can get noisy.
447 Bush Street, San Francisco, California 94108
20 metres from Chinatown Gate and round the corner from Union Square area.
When I visited San Francisco a couple of years ago I stayed at a colourful victorian guest house, moments from the bars and shops of Castro and Market streets. With five tastefully themed rooms it had a friendly, laid back atmosphere and was a great starting point for exploring the city.
It's a quirky B&B in the heart of Castro - the gay and lesbian district in San Francisco. Everybody is welcome and the breakfasts are divine. Rooms are clean with beautiful views. Each decorated with a kind of funky 70s style.
The Red Victoria is a lovely hotel in the Haight (pronounced Hate) district of San Francisco - think Camden with more hippies and less pirates.
It is run by a septegenarian artist called Sami Sunchild who designed each room separately and occasionally joins guests for breakfast and discussion in the Peace Cafe. You can choose from Peacock, Butterfly, Sunshine and even Japanese tea garden rooms, but I found waking up in the Skylight room particularly relaxing.
Local curios include the Red Vic movie house where I squeezed in with the other punters on to old sofas and benches whilst eating popcorn 'n' yeast and watching The Big Lebowski.
Golden Gate Park is two blocks away, and the Castro district is a steep 20 minute walk (via Twin Peaks), or a 5 minute bus ride which connects with trams into the centre of town.
I was assured by a man whose eyes seemed to work independently that the burrito shop on the corner was the best in the area, and after only being there for a couple of days I met a gay man and a lesbian who had fallen in love. Only in San Francisco...
It's a bright red building on Haight and Ashbury, if you're on the street it's hard to miss.
Red Victorian Bed, Breakfast & Art
1665 Haight Street San Francisco,
Phone: (415) 864-1978
Fax: (415) 863-3293
I was supposed to meet my sister in San Francisco one year but the hotel I had booked was horrendous so I had to find a place to stay for a few nights before she arrived. The White Swan Inn saved my bacon. My room had a little fireplace in it and was the definition of cosy, which is weird considering it is quite near Union Square. So the bed part was great. Breakfast was served in a lush little parlour and was really good - scrambled eggs, bagels, muffins - I felt really fat! I felt really at home and was happy killing time with a book in the parlour. I haven't stayed in many places in San Francisco so I don't know if this kind of character in a place is normal but I had a super stay and would be happy recommending it - although if you expect it to be like and English B&B in price (i.e. £25 a head) you'll be disappointed. Even with a strong exchange rate it wasn't cheap.
Bush Street in the Nob Hill area
We found Trinidad to be casa heaven, and Casa Balbina Cadahia was our highlight.
Located a 4-5 minute walk from the main square, this casa contains a beautifully peaceful courtyard and large, spacious bedrooms. This was undoubtedly the most comfortable bed we stayed in on our trip.
Food was good and plentiful and our host was friendly (and English speaking for those that find that useful).
On a more general point, I would encourage you to do some casa research before leaving for Cuba. We found the Lonely Planet to be next to useless when trying to find accomodation: some places were no longer there; some, it seemed, had never been there. Use websites like this instead.
Also, despite warnings that Cuban banks will not accept debit cards, my Nationwide Visa card was happily accepted.
Anyhow, as I was saying: you'll love Trinidad, and you'll love this casa.
A Maceo No 355
entre Lino Perez y Colon
+53 0141 992585
Casa Carlita is a casa particular with the feel of a B&B - a set of three guest rooms with an immaculate shared bathroom.
The casa is located right next to Havana University and within a short walk of Havana Libre and The Nacional, two big hotels where you can change money, hire a car, book excursions or top up on food/drink.
The Casa offers good food whenever you want it, though it is located in the Vedado area, which also has a range of alternatives. Vedado is supposedly great for nightclubs, though we hit it while jetlagged on a Monday, so can't vouch for this.
It is a 30 minute walk (or $2-4 taxi ride) along the Malecon (sea wall) to Old Havana. We stayed in Old Havana later in our trip but would be happy to stay in Vedado again.
This was a great first stop on our tour of Cuba. It was also good value. I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
Avenida San Lazaro no 1207
entre Mazon y Basarrate
A beautiful Edwardian building in the Nob Hill area of town The Golden Gate Hotel ticks all the boxes. The hotel is wonderfully original with an amazing old fashioned lift to take you to the upper floors. Homely doesn't even begin to describe this small family run hotel, from the morning croissants and juice, to the complimentary tea and home baked cookies every afternoon, not to mention Pip the curious ginger cat and Cookie the aging Golden Retriever who lend their images to the hotel's logo. The Golden Gate Hotel is what all B and B's should aspire to be and John and Renate are kind and informative hosts. They were even nice enough to post me my dressing gown back to the UK after I left it behind post check out! Located right next to Chinatown and the main shopping districts of San Francisco and on the beautiful cable car line one could not wish for a better location.
775 Bush Street, San Francisco
Powell Street Station
An historic Inn 15 mins from downtown San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge with stunning views of the city and the Bay. Just a five minute walk to the ferry crossing through streets of funky boutiques, museums, eateries and scented gardens. Finely furnished historic Inn with wonderful touches of detail.
This is the absolutely ideal place - as originally recommended by the Guardian. Perfect and funky attention to detail, great and helpful service, the right balance of privacy and community if you want it, easy access to the best of both worlds - old and new city; stunning views, no traffic noise as it's in the middle of the UNESCO world heritage pedestrian zone of the Arab old city, the Albaicin. And it turns out to be the absolute cheapest option in town - if there are more than two of you travelling together, it even works out cheaper than a bunk in a backpackers dorm. So with the individual kitchen in each apartment this is an ideal budget location, too. Or use it as a hotel, don't even bother cooking, and dine out in style in the fab tapas bars and restaurants all around.
Fatima is a fantastic landlady. Very helpful, her breakfasts were the best I have ever tasted at a hostel and we even joined Fatima at the local Carnival Bloco. Due to another hostel canceling our booking at the last minute in carnival weekend, Fatima kindly found us a temporary room, for which we are eternally grateful.
Located in quiet, safe part of Leblon district and very close to banks , bars , supermarket , restaurants etc.. Cleanest beach in Rio only about five minutes walk away. Excellent transport links to rest of Rio.
I highly recommend this place.
Fatima Macintyre Guesthouse, Rua General Venancio Flores, 555 Ap. 101, Rio de Janeiro, 22441-090, Brazil
I took my kids camping during half term and we spent an afternoon catching crabs. And then put them back.
We stayed at the only campsite open in this part of the New Forest called solent view camping.
Andorra to snowboard or ski, it is very cheap and has fantastic resorts with good snow. The best thing after a day of full exercise snowboarding is a spa session in Caldea, it is another experience. Highly recommend to go there and have a go. You will go back.
Haight Street - legendary. The Red Victorian - legendary. So where else to stay in San Francsico? Great, quirky B&B, think peace and love people! The decor is weird to eclectic but I think it gives you that 'authentic, hippie feel' if that's not a contradiction in terms.
In the mornings you eat brekkie and have 'conversations' with other guests on a wide range of topics, you can drink coffee in the peace cafde or just chill out. Best thing is it's slap bang in the middle of Haight St (ignore the gap on the corner of Haight and Asbury - what a travesty.) Head to Amoeba Records for discount CD's or to trade yours for new albums. Seriously, it's the best store in the world.
Lovely B&B near Point Reyes which is a little way out of San Francsico (oh ok, about an hour's drive) but worth it for the absolutely stunning views.
The Inn looks like a giant treehouse and set in a forest it feels like one. Big open fire, huge windows and fantastic breakfasts. I stayed in the Lupine room which was beautiful - slanted ceilings, peaceful and the sort of place you felt the impulse to write a best-selling novel in!
No, not cheap - if you want that stay in a crusty motel. But a real experience.
Take a hike at the late season in Aviemore (Scotland rocks for snowboarding - don't listen to the fairweather types) and session a kicker. You never know, you may even see the sun and be able to session in a t-shirt!
Stay for the night in Aviemore and have a nice tip of whiskey at the end of the night.
Aviemore, Scotland. At the Cairngorm mountain resort
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