Feature: Rustic retreats in the European countryside

Wednesday, 3 August 2011 3:04 PM

Now that the summer is here, the glorious sunshine is warming up the lands of Europe, making it high time for a fantastic, well deserved short break. With so much to do and so many countries to choose from, the hardest part is deciding where you want to go! Well that’s where we come in. Knowing that you only have a few days to relax, we’ve compiled a guide to some close, accessible and fantastic destinations for you to enjoy the good weather in style. But we’ve also gone one step further and found you some rustic retreats close to nature, meaning the relaxation will feel even better with no one else around!

Nespereira, Portugal
Nespereira is a privately owned estate set high in the unspoilt Alentejo region of Portugal; a stunning and dry National Ecological Reserve 15km away from the sea. The resort has been designed for all types of travellers from couples to families, but the main idea is to offer them a serene escape in an area of rugged mountain scenery and arid scrubland. Surrounded by 240 acres of cork forest, the site is made up of four private villas and four ‘Nature Hideaways’ – beautifully restored 1970s mobile homes. There’s also a swimming pool for soaking up the Portuguese sun and a clubhouse for drinking.

Locanda Rosa Rosae, Italy
For a very rustic retreat in a converted 16th century water mill, Locanda Rosa Rosae is a fantastic atmospheric retreat in the charming Italian countryside. With wooden floors, stone walls and a charming riverside setting, this is the place to dine on simple Italian food, sit in the flowery courtyard or just to soak up the delightful weather in this quaint region of the lush Venetian countryside. Spend your days cycling between villages or touring beautiful vineyards. Treviso and Venice are both nearby.

Tree Hotel, Sweden
Just 60km south of the Arctic Circle, Tree Hotel is located in the beautiful village of Harads in Northern Sweden. Set in a quaint river valley blanketed by wildflowers in summer and snow in winter, the area is also dominated by high-rise pine forests that reach into the sky. This is where Tree Hotel comes in. Created with the help of local architects, the resort features six very unique rooms built among the trees, sometimes sitting 30ft off the ground! The Mirrorcube is a glass construction held high up in the canopy while The Blue Cone is a red, conical shaped one-bedroomed cabin with stunning forest views. But our favourite by far is easily The Bird’s Nest, which looks just like a huge bird’s nest! Another strange one is the UFO, designed like a sci-fi horror flick aluminium flying saucer. The kids will love it!

Refugio Marnes, Spain
Holidaying in Refugio Marnes in Alicante is like heading back to the ancient history of Spanish farm life: a world of sun, peace, wild nature and great food. With a centuries old rural estate set on 50 acres of agricultural land, the site is 500 metres above sea level on the Sierra de Bernia mountain in Costa Blanca. The landscape is generally made up of carob, olive and almond trees while the structure of the land dates back to the time of the Phoenicians! Because of this the owners are determined to preserve their plot, so electricity is powered by a huge solar generator on the roof. While the old estate offers a great atmospheric stay, you can also choose from a huge Bedouin tent for a luxurious glamping experience.

Snowdonia Manor, Wales
Snowdonia Manor, also called Plas y Dduallt (literally, the house on the black hillside) is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Wales. Actually dating back to the 15th century, this fantastic farmhouse style, stone building is Grade II listed. Set high in the Snowdonia National Park and bordering the Ffestiniog Mountain Railway and the Maentwrog Nature Reserve, it’s a wild place with grand views. Until the 1960s the only way to reach the house was by foot or by train, but now you can climb 500ft through ancient woodlands over a tarmac road. But you can still arrive by train, which is generally preferred by most visitors. During the summer months, around eight steam trains pass by the house per day, so if you feel like doing some exploring, all you have to do is hold out your thumb for the train to stop! But if not, just watching the steam chugging away from the chimney as the train climbs the hill from Tan y Bwlch station is a treat...

We hope you have a great time in the rustic European countryside with these amazing holiday ideas.

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