The dining room and gardens of Hotel Royal Victoria, Varenna on Lake Como. Arrive in the evening by rail and it’s a 10 minute walk into town. Check in and enjoy the magnificent style of a charming traditional hotel, sumptuous yet not overdone, as a hotel should be. But the treat is in the morning. Make sure you have a lakeside view. Varenna is situated at the confluence of the lake where it splits in two. Breakfast may then be enjoyed with the most magnificent view of the lake, with the low sun bouncing off the water and outlining the mountains in every direction. Below is an ornate garden and intricate Italian architecture. After breakfast take a walk down to the lake shore through the private walkways and enjoy the views, flowers and architecture. As a base, ferries go from here in every direction and there are lakeside walks. The train can also be used as a means of one-way walking.
Piazza San Giorgio,2, 23829 Varenna
+39 0341 815111
Google map: bit.ly/N7AJdp
Follow in the footsteps of Napoleon and Churchill and go and paint at the lush promontory of Punta San Vigilio. Park the car and walk down to the lake through the olive grove where you will be rewarded by a spectacular view. Or walk there along the lake from the town of Garda, on a trail edged with lemon and cypress trees.
If you really want to indulge your artistic, romantic side, you can stay at the hotel there, right on the edge of the lake.
Located in the national park at the base of the Cotentin Peninsula near Isigny sur Mer is the delightful Chateau de Monfreville.
The Chateau is home to Paul and Zoe and their family, who look after all visitors with an informal enthusiasm, kindness and unremitting good humour.
The grounds are populated by ducks, geese, hens, a variety of wildlife and chickens, plus the ever-hungry labrador Hector. The chateau gardens also provide organic vegetables for one and all.
You can stay in the chateau itself or in one of their gites or roulettes (gipsy caravans), or alternatively camp in the grounds overlooking the national park. All this is within easy reach of Bayeux, the D-Day beaches, Mont St Michel and the Normandy coast and countryside.
Staying at the chateau is a unique and totally relaxed experience – just how holidays used to be – families will love it.
Hotel Cannero is on the banks of Lake Maggiore. It was previously a monastery and has been owned by the same family since 1902. It's situated at the end of a pedestrianised area on the bank of the lake and the views of the surrounding mountains and lake are amazing.
From the moment you arrive the staff make you feel so welcome. It's easy to understand why so many guests return year after year.
Breakfasts consist of every fresh fruit imaginable, meats, assorted cheeses, ham, pannacotta, cereals and pastries. There is a superb choice of evening meals.You will not be interested in dining elsewhere.
The small ferry terminal outside the hotel is a huge bonus. Some passengers choose to arrive at the hotel by water taxi. You can catch the ferry boat to numerous destinations including The Three Lake Maggiore Island Wonders (Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Rocca Borromeo. The ferry to Locarno in Switzerland followed by train journey to Domodossola and Stressa is a must.
Back in 1990, when England were preparing to be beaten again by Argentina, my boss took me to Italy for a work trip. Since his wife was joining us, I was asked to find somewhere to stay on Lake Garda that was “not too shabby”. The Villa Cortine wasn't quite the exquisite mound of gleaming marble it is today, but its columns and oil paintings gave it a faded aristocratic gracefulness. What really made it, though, was its seclusion and the lush park in which it is still set. Through the palms and conifers, we found our way to the most elegant swimming pool I have ever seen. An occasional leaf, or a fragrant blossom from the overhanging branches, drifted onto the water, while crumbling statues stood sentry at either end. As we lolled in the shallow end with a glass of wine each, it seemed less and less necessary to attend any meetings.
Via Grotte, 6, 25010 Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/R11LYg
Stay in Bellagio and then you are in a prime position to explore the attractions of the lake by boats which go in all directions. Bellagio has plenty of nice restaurants and we have always found Hotel Florence very comfortable but you can also catch a small boat in the early evening and have supper in Varenna and watch the sun go down across the lake and then catch the last boat back to Bellagio. Magic!
The medieval village of Covarrubias is well worth a visit. Surrounded by stunning Castilian countryside, it’s a delightful place for a short stay or stop over where you are unlikely to bump into too many other tourists unless they are Spanish. Casa Galín in the main square serves delicious, copious and very reasonably priced menus and we stay with the delightful Carmen and Alberto in their charming small hotel Doña Sancha outside the centre, where a double room and breakfast costs 60 euros. The much more famous Santo Domingo de Silos with its wonderful carvings and chanting monks is an easy ride away, as is the Yecla Gorge and of course Burgos with its huge cathedral is just up the N234. This is real Spain. We really shouldn’t be sharing it with you!
Cannot recommend this hotel enough! After a mix-up with the B&B that we had booked for our honeymoon, my husband and I were left without a place to stay in Alghero on one of the busiest weekends of the high season. By chance, we walked past this place - the only hotel within the walls of Alghero old town. Luckily for us there had been a cancellation only half an hour before, and the lovely staff welcomed us in. Fantastic value (100 euros/night) considering its location in the heart of Alghero, the San Francesco is based in an old Catalan gothic monastery, abutting the church, with a spectacular cloister dating back to the 14th century where in the mornings breakfast is served. In the summer, the cloister courtyard is used for classical concerts and it's possible to sit and enjoy the music for free from the cloister balcony. The rooms are simple (much in the way the original monks' rooms would have been in fact) but it's a real gem of a hotel.
After enjoying the beaches and busy old town of Alghero, take the bus down the winding coastal road to Bosa and from there to Oristano. Make sure you sit on the righthand side for the best views and photos of the cliffs and beaches! Explore the alleyways and narrow cobbled streets between Bosa’s multicoloured buildings. Cross the river to gain a better perspective of the Havana-esque street next to the river. Oristano is a smart city with a stunning baroque cathedral and pleasant streets to wander around and have a coffee or gelato. The city is also a great base for visiting the famous Is Aruttas beach and the Roman site of Tharros. Bed and Breakfast Porta a Mari is a great budget option – it’s a traditional Sardinian house within walking distance of the city centre.
B&B Porta a Mari
Via Cagliari 308, 09170, Oristano
Google map: bit.ly/MAz3KG
Bus timetable for Alghero - Bosa
Bus timetable for Bosa - Oristano
Castelsardo is a picturesque historic town on the northern coast of Sardinia. Perched on a volcanic headland, the old town, fortified with a castle, is an interesting and enchanting place to visit. After visiting the citadel, explore the neatly packed and atmospheric streets of Castelsardo's medieval quarters. Better still stay over a night or two (any of the B&B's nestled within the castle walls would be ideal - Smorfiosa & Calarina next to the Cathedral was charming), and see the town at its best in the evening when restaurants and cafes set up tables among the stairways and doorways (the pick being La Cisterne Wine Bar - more than just a wine bar with the best food we ate in Sardinia.)
Avoid the usual celeb haunts and head out to the north western coast of Sardinia. We stayed in a gorgeous agriturismo set in the hills of the picturesque and unspoilt town of Bosa. Amazing beaches, beautiful town centre, great food and lovely friendly locals - it is everything you imagine Italy to be right down to the buildings the shades of ice-cream! Heaven!
One of Toronto’s most unique bed & breakfasts is Boatel: the city’s only bed & breakfast on a boat.
Open from May 18 to September 30, 2012, Boatel is a 65-foot custom trawler which stays docked in the harbour, allowing guests the experience of living on a boat and the convenience of being able to walk around the city. Located very close to the downtown core, you can book one, two, or all three guestrooms.
Boatel boasts a panoramic view of the Toronto Islands and harbour, giving one the impression of no longer being in the city. The cozy interior has a mahogany finish with Brazilian cherrywood floors and there are three decks to choose from to lounge the afternoon away.
Diane and Captain Greene are your hosts while on the vessel and they will happily accommodate your requests for meals. A gourmet breakfast is served and gluten free, vegan, weight watchers or healthy low-fat breakfasts are available upon request. Special dinners can also be arranged on board or reservations made elsewhere. Boatel does not offer charters or harbour tours, but those arrangements can be made for you as well. Kayak and bike rentals are also available during your stay.
375 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto, Canada
+1 647 403 2764
Google map: bit.ly/NBRly5
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
Has a great view, sits up a hill - it's the Cotwolds bar you were looking for and does an inclusive (with accommodation) English breakfast. I slept from midnight to 9.30am.
It's run by a couple trying to make a go of it who bought it eight months ago.)
This is a small family run hotel on the edge of the lake. The rooms are beautiful and most have lake and mountain views. Meals are served in the pretty garden with tables overlooking the lake and the food is amazing. The little port of Gargnano is a 10 minute lakeside walk away where you can get a boat to different towns around the lake and there are numerous restaurants and Trattorias. This summer there is a D H Lawrence exhibition in the town hall to celebrate the centenary of the author's stay in Gargnano and there are also guided walks and other events. You can go for mountain walks or just relax on the sunloungers in the garden and catch up with your holiday reading.
Superb intimate family run hotel. Run by Martin and Anne, the hotel is full of memorabilia of the past including hunting and horse racing.
Luxurious accommodation and superb dinners and breakfasts. The cooking combines the precision of nouvelle cuisine with the extravagance of Yorkshire hospitality.
A beautiful hotel situated on the south of the island, between Cagliari and Villasimius. Converted from a nineteenth-century monastery which was later adapted into a farm, the hotel still retains many of the original features, and even some wonderful old farm machines. There's a lovely pool you can relax by, if you don't fancy the 10 minute walk to the nearest beach. There's also a minature golf course, and the opportunity to go horse-riding in the nearby national park. The hotel is somewhat remote, and hiring a car is definitely recommended if you don't want to stay in the hotel for your whole stay - though, the settings are lovely enough to make you want to. We thoroughly enjoyed just sitting out with a glass of wine in the courtyard outside our room; would love to go back. If you're lucky, you may even be visited by the hotel cat, or some local kittens!
A really romantic converted hayloft tucked away gite-style in the garden of the owners' home. Full of character coupled with modern comforts and lots of lovely little touches like an iPod dock, plenty of films on DVD to watch after a hard days' sightseeing and complimentary dressing gowns. We got a bottle of wine when we arrived together with home made muffins, and fruit. Torquay is an ideal holiday spot with endless places to visit, but it wouldn't have been the same without retiring back to Windchimes afterwards. Lovely hosts. We couldn't have asked for more.
We had a superb two-week holiday with two teenage children. We flew to Zagreb and picked up a hire car. Drove to Pula, Beli on Cres (heaven, do walk to the lost villages), Rab, Zadar and finally dropped the car off at Split. We then took ferries to Korcula and on to Dubrovnik to fly home. Get to Krka National Park very early for the magic - it felt like Alton Towers on a bank holiday when we left at 11.30am. We recommend booking hostels - we stayed in them in Pula, Rab, Zadar and Split. Basic but really clean, friendly, central and cheap. Particularly liked the Old Town hostel in Zadar. You can spend hours jumping off the harbour wall listening to the sea organ and then return in the evening to the sun salutation to enjoy the Saturday Night Fever light display.
Easily accessible from Dubrovnik, but a world away from it, Kolocep Villas is a fantastic hotel on a brilliantly peaceful and relaxing island that you can walk across in an hour or kayak the whole way around in an afternoon. Blue seas, secluded coves, amazing fish restaurants, friendly and efficient staff at the hotel, and four ferries a day into Dubrovnik for only a few euros, it's the absolute perfect place to unwind!
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