When you want to get away from it all, few places satisfy like the countryside. Spend your days breathing in fresh air, living off the land, and taking in some of the best views nature has to offer. To inspire your search, I’ve highlighted a few irresistible country retreats in Europe and the U.S. From cottages and farm stays to elegant inns of historical note, these finds will allow you to truly let go and just be.
Holling Grange, Herefordshire, England
Back in 2007, I wrote about an amazing experience I had at a B&B in southern France. Years later, in a bittersweet sort of way, the owners Cedric and Dawn packed up and moved to England, but thankfully, opened Holling Grange, a 15th-century stone farmhouse with a group of self-catering cottages near the Welsh border. As before, Cedric, a French chef, cooks fabulous locally sourced meals and Dawn, an English florist, makes sure the grounds remain as exquisite as ever. Three-night breaks start at £400 (about $655), and weeklong stays start at £500 (about $819). Current offers include a full week for the price of a weekend, or 10 percent off last-minute weekend stays reserved within five weeks of arrival. A four-course set menu with a half-bottle of wine is available on select days for an additional Â£45 ($74).
The three cottages (Bleu-Gris, Cerise, and Chocolat) vary in size and price and include fully equipped kitchens, open-plan living areas, and French vintage fabrics. The TripAdvisor ratings for this B&B are almost all fives.
Holling Grange, Herefordshire, England
The Swallow’s Nest, Brandon, Vermont
You'll certainly want to swallow up this super adorable guesthouse in Brandon, Vermont. Located within a short drive of Middlebury and area ski slopes, The Swallow's Nest is set on 1,200 acres of Vermont countryside and meadows with views of the Green Mountains. The house is a true nest—with a host of creature comforts like a custom kitchen, private bedroom, loft, and tidy living room—that sleeps up to six people. The property is also an exceptional value, with rates of $149 per night for two (an additional $10 per night for each additional person) or $795 per week (an additional $50 per week per person). Even better, children under 12 stay free, and guests receive a $10 gift card to use at nearby CafÃ© Provence. Rental discounts are available for monthly stays; call for more details. When I checked, the property still had some availability at the end of September and for select dates in October, prime leaf-peeping time for Vermont.
Amenities include a pullout sofa, Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities. The Swallow's Nest has two reviews on TripAdvisor and both give a rating of five.
The Rustic Retreat, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, France
If you're obsessed with all things French-Country, like stone cottages (owned by a pair of artists, of course), free-range hens clucking about, and bountiful herb gardens, then The Rustic Retreat in southwest France, just over an hour from Toulouse, is just too much to pass up. Laze on the veranda and listen to birds chirping, or get cozy inside, where you'll find a country kitchen, shelves filled with books, and a couple of simple but comfortable bedrooms. If you're itching to go sooner rather than later (and who wouldn't want to?), there have been some last-minute cancellations and accompanying deals. The house is now available during the weeks of August 13 to 20 and August 20 to 27, with prices reduced from £1,000 (about $1,630) per week to £700 (about $1,146) per week. The week of September 3 to 10 is also available at a discounted price.
The Rustic Retreat sleeps four and comes stocked with complimentary organic produce upon arrival.
Stone House Bed & Breakfast, Hurley, New York
Sample a piece of colonial history at the Stone House Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of New York's Hudson Valley. Originally the Cornelis Kool House, this Dutch estate dates back to around 1700. While the house has been renovated, owners Nadia and Sam have kept its integrity with a tastefully decorated interior evocative of the period, and rooms named after paintings by Dutch artist Vermeer, such as The Girl With A Pearl Earring. During your stay, walk through the gardens and woods on the six-acre grounds and enjoy views of the Catskills. Room prices range from $129 per night during off-peak times to $275 during the most popular season. However, discounts are available for longer stays or group bookings; call for more details.
Rooms feature original beams, wide-plank flooring, four-poster canopy beds, and antiques. Modern amenities include Frette linens and widescreen TVs; some rooms have whirlpools. The TripAdvisor ratings for this property are mostly fives.
L’Auberge Provencale Bed & Breakfast, Boyce, Virginia
The words "country" and "French" seem to go together like wine and good food. And at L'Auberge Provencale located a stone's throw from Washington, D.C., in the Shenandoah Valley, you can have all four things, along with a good dose of northern Virginia hospitality. Guests can savor multicourse meals with ingredients from the garden and orchard at the on-site restaurant or head out and explore the surrounding wine country. Several rooms are available in both La Petite Auberge cottage and the main house that dates back to around 1753. The B&B is part of BedandBreakfast.com's Diamond Collection, and though it is upscale (rooms start at $170 per night), there are plenty of current deals. For instance, get three nights for the price of two with a dinner reservation through September 16. Fans who "like" the B&B's Facebook page are entitled to special coupons.
Amenities include Provencal fabrics, antiques, and a full gourmet breakfast; some rooms have fireplaces. The TripAdvisor ratings for this property are mostly fives, with a few fours.
La Locanda Del Del Borgo, Pietralunga, Umbria, Italy
Set in the Umbrian countryside on the outskirts of the medieval village of Pietralunga, La Locanda del Borgo is a restored 15th-century country house with all the charm you'd expect to find in Italy. Best of all, it's even more within reach with special deals. Responsibletravel.com currently lists an offer for stays in August and September for three nights for the price of two in a double room, including breakfast, tax, and daily cleaning, for €90 (about $128) per person. Pilgrims traveling on the Saint Francis Walk pay just 70€ (about $100). Other special offers and packages centered on farm tours and wine tastings are available. Lodging options include double rooms, suites, and apartments all furnished with antiques as well as modern conveniences. You can also rent a private farmhouse located about three miles from town.
Amenities include an on-site restaurant constructed from an old barn that serves locally sourced organic food and wines. The TripAdvisor ratings for this property are mostly fives.
The Gite At Monteillet Fromagerie, Dayton, Washington
One sure way to relax in the country is to stay a few nights right on the farm. At artisan cheese maker Monteillet Fromagerie in Dayton, Washington, roughly a half hour from Walla Walla, you can rent a gite, or French holiday home, and enjoy all the spoils of a 32-acre farm. The house itself has classic country appeal with a claw-foot tub, an antique stove, and a refrigerator stocked with fresh milk, eggs, and other sundries right from the grounds. Guests can also get involved by picking vegetables or taking a cheese-making class. Rent starts at $200 per night. For those on a budget, camping (with use of an outdoor kitchen and full bath) on the farm is an option for just $30 per night. Special packages are also available; call for more information.
Amenities at the gite include satellite TV and Wi-Fi. Monteillet also has a farm store and cheese tasting room open a few days per week.
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