Europe’s many bed and breakfasts have a lot to offer the traveler. More personal than a hotel and yet equally as comfortable, these nine spectacular B&Bs in Europe can only enhance your vacation.
The Linhay, Devon, UK
This quaint place, tucked away in a secluded spot in rural Devon, ticks a lot of boxes. The Linhay is housed in a quintessentially English thatched barn overlooking an orchard of plum and apple trees. Built over three hundred years ago as a grain store, it’s now the epitome of rustic chic – think oak floors and rocking chairs. On the attached smallholding, there’s a flock of rare sheep as well as chickens, pigs and an extensive veggie patch. If you can bear to drag yourself away from this idyllic setting, it lies between Exmoor and Dartmoor, perfectly situated for walking the Two Moors Way.
The Old Lady, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located canalside in a 400-year-old building, the Old Lady is one of Amsterdam’s most charming B&Bs. Owner Gijs lives upstairs and is on hand to offer personal recommendations and bicycle rentals alongside tasty breakfasts. Though it’s less than 500 meters from the main train station, you’ll find it peaceful and quiet, a retreat from the bustle of the city and yet right at the heart of the action. Tastefully decorated, elegant but simple, this is the perfect bolthole.
Röda Stugan, Sweden’s High Coast
Red houses are a common sight in Sweden, the shade originally a by-product of the mining industry. You’ll find Röda Stugan, one such cottage, up on the remote High Coast, a five-hour drive north of Arlanda Airport. Owners Karin and Hans, who reside in the farmhouse next door, are helpful and welcoming. This part of Sweden is well and truly off the beaten track for foreign visitors at least, but offers plenty of secluded beaches and woodland walks to occupy your days.
Le Petit Chateau De Sainte Colombe, France
Situated 250km south of Paris in the heart of the Loire Valley, this delightful B&B dates from the 15th century and once belonged to André de Chauvigny, a knight who served the English King Richard the First. Crammed full of antiques and beautiful textiles, the sumptuous rooms in this chateau are as romantic as they are comfortable. Stroll in the chateau’s lush grounds, picnic amid the trees and set out to explore the region’s many renowned markets.
Le Stanze di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy
The Italian city of Florence has no shortage of stylish B&Bs but this terratetto off the Piazza Santa Croce stands head and shoulders above the rest. Elegant rooms are effortlessly stylish and the balcony, bedecked with scented jasmine, is the perfect spot for breakfast. Host Mariangela can point you in the direction of the best of Florence’s hidden gems but her acclaimed Tuscan cookery courses are a reason to stay in.
Casa Zalama, northern Spain
From the modern architecture of the Guggenheim to the craggy mountains of the Picos de Europa, northern Spain has much to offer the traveler. This delightful rural lodging midway between Bilbao and Burgos makes a convenient and comfortable base from which to explore the region. Owners Graeme and Maria ensure a convivial atmosphere, while thick stone walls, wooden beams and balconies looking out over the surrounding countryside add character.
Casa Três Palmeiras, Algarve, Portugal
There is no shortage of visitors to Portugal’s scenic Algarve: the reliably hot and sunny weather takes care of that. But this is a gem among endless resort hotels, a 1960s villa built right by the cliff edge to maximize the sound of the waves below and the seagulls overhead. The whitewashed casa is simplicity itself, softened by the three palms which give the place its name. With just five bedrooms, guests are assured privacy and personal attention.
Ponden Hall, Yorkshire, UK
Built in 1634, this Yorkshire gem has strong ties to the Bronte family – Emily based parts of Wuthering Heights here. Three characterful rooms are tastefully decorated, each with its own style. The Earnshaw has an open fire, perfect for chilly autumn and winter mornings, while the Heaton boasts a four poster bed and beamed ceilings. The simpler Giddings has original stone flags on the floor – but underfloor heating ensures 21st century comfort. Make the obligatory pilgrimage to the Bronte home at nearby Haworth.
Tyrolean hospitality is legendary and the owners of the Bergwald in Alpbach have perfected the art. It’s traditional, tranquil and true to its roots. In summer, the Alpbachtal offers plenty of hiking and mountain biking. The balconies of the Bergwald are festooned with red geraniums and as a plus, there’s a huge terrace for sunbathing. Winter brings the snow and with it, snow shoeing, tobogganing and of course skiing. There’s a Finnish sauna and a masseuse on hand to soothe those aching muscles should you overdo it on the slopes.