No 21. Majorca off-grid near Deia[/caption]From a private island to a lakeside cabin, via a Majorcan mountaintop with a spring water fed hot shower. From Finland in the North to Corsica in the South – here are 21 options that will make a great break. We save the best to last.
1 Domaine de Murtoli Southwest Corsica
Set amid 5,000 acres (20 sq km) on a private estate in the southwest of Corsica, this is a collection of 16 restored shepherds’ dwellings. Each has 3ft-thick stone walls and its own garden and pool. There’s a two-mile (3km) stretch of private beach to cavort on, although a couple of the houses — sleeping between two and 13 people — have their own private bays and saunas. Breakfast is left on the doorstep in a wicker basket, and the guests are encouraged to help themselves to the fruit, vegetables and herbs from the kitchen garden to use in the well-appointed kitchens. Groceries are also delivered daily, but as back-up you can take advantage of the two restaurants on site.
Details Two-person villas are from £183 (00 33 495 71 69 24, murtoli.com). Fly to Ajaccio or Bastia
2 Cottage in Kyrokoski Ikaalinen Finland
About 30 miles (50km) from Tampere-Pirkkala airport (served by Ryanair) in the south of Finland is this picture-postcard cottage on the edge of Lake Kyrokoski, sleeping four people. It’s surrounded by woodland and the nearest village is eight miles away, but you’ll be anything but bored. The rent includes use of a rowing boat — from which you can try fishing for your supper — and a private sauna. The local woods teem with wild berries, if you should fancy making a pie, and the crystal-clear waters make for exhilarating swimming. Details From £379pp for a week based on four sharing, including car hire (020 7388 4158, guildtravel.com). Fly to Tampere-Pirkkala
3 Casa da Ermida de Santa Catarina AlenteJo, Portugal
On a peninsula jutting into the intricately etched Caia reservoir in the Alentejo, Portugal’s most sparsely populated region, sits Santa Catarina House. This long rectangular building, just 160ft (50m) from the water’s edge, was once a farmhouse, and has been remodelled by its architect owner Carlos Guedes de Amorim to create six rooms and one enormous suite. The W west-facing deck is perfect for watching the sun go down over the surrounding olive groves with a glass of vinho verde. Once you’ve recharged your batteries, ask housekeepers João and Isabel to prepare a picnic, and kayak to one of the islands for lunch.
Details B&B doubles are from £67 (00 351 917 214 380, i-escape.com). Lisbon is the nearest airport
4 Eremito Hotelito del Alma Umbria, Italy
If you’re travelling solo and looking for spiritual retuning with your escape — through yoga, meditation or Gregorian chanting, perhaps — this eco-retreat could be your ticket to Shangri-La. Constructed from 130,000 pieces of stone assembled over four years, it is surrounded by 7,400 acres (30 sq km) of woodland. The focus is on “old luxury” (“time, peace and contemplative spaces”), which means it’s heavy on the candlelight and vegetarianism, while TV and wi-fi don’t get a look-in. Still, there’s a spa with a heated pool and stone steam room, and while the 14 rooms are designed to sleep only one person, underfloor heating and antique, hand-embroidered duvet covers make them very cosy.
Details Full board single “cells” are from £99 (00 39 0763 891010, eremito.com). Fly to Rome or Perugia
5 The Rectory of San Miguel of Pineda Catalonia, Spain
This restored 12th-century rectory is a haven for walkers, foodies, cyclists and volcanologists. It sits on the western edge of La Garrotxa’s volcanic national park, where there are 28 walking routes between the 40 extinct volcanoes (the last eruption was 11,000 years ago), alongside the Ruta del Carrilet cycle path between the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava. The seven en suite double rooms are the epitome of rural chic with their wonky whitewashed walls, chunky oak beams and colourful tiles, while the kitchen serves a similarly delicate fusion of the rustic and the refined, with such dishes as squid stuffed with black pudding and lamb with samfaina sauce (a bit like ratatouille). Details B&B doubles are from £67 (00 34 691 35 31 11, larectoriadesantmiquel.com). Fly to Girona, Barcelona or Perpignan
6 Baby Bear Cottage Podlesok, Slovakia
Animal lovers staying at Baby Bear Cottage have a unique opportunity to combine their stay with a tour that includes bear-watching expeditions with researchers on Projekt Medved (Project Bear). Nestled in an enclave of Slovak Paradise National Park that is out of bounds to the public, the timber and brick hideaway, with simple but comfortable interior, sits by a babbling stream and has a garden filled with apple and cherry trees. There are 185 miles (300km) of trails through the park, which has an abundance of waterfalls and caves, and even the ruins of a monastery. However, you won’t have to stray far from the cottage, deep in the forest, to be in with a chance of spotting wild boar, red deer and roe deer.
Details From £146pp for a week based on two sharing. The cottage sleeps up to six people in two bedrooms (00 421 948 527246, slovakiacottage.com). Fly to Krakow in Poland
7 Hotel Bellevue des Alpes Bernese Alps, Switzerland
The only way to reach Hotel Bellevue des Alpes, improbably situated on a mountain pass at 2,070m (6,800ft), is by rail — unless you have your crampons, ice picks and ropes with you, and use the journey as a warm-up for an assault on the north face of the Eiger, which is close by. Dating back to 1840, the atmosphere and furnishings are distinctly old school, with chandeliers, wood panelling, patterned carpets, claw-footed baths and Toile fabric on the bedroom walls. Of course there is skiing, but this is also the perfect spot for clearing the mind with some pure alpine air in summer, as past visitors such as Tchaikovsky, Marx, Engels and Goethe would surely have attested.
Details Half-board doubles are from £277 (00 41 33 855 12 12, scheidegghotels.ch). Fly to Bern, Zurich or Geneva
8 Hotel Posada del Valle Asturias, Spain
Between the Picos de Europa and the rugged Asturian coastline, Nigel and Joanne Burch’s converted farmhouse is surrounded by 18 acres (73,000 sq m) of organic farmland, orchards and wildflower meadows. Whether you seek country lanes or mountain summits, this is a walker’s paradise — and Nigel has compiled a guide to 42 local routes. The kitchen has a slow-food ethos, with breakfasts boasting home-made bread, apple juice from the orchard, and yoghurt and cheese produced by local artisans. The 12 rooms are simple and colourful, with exposed stonework, shutters and beams.
Details B&B doubles are from £62 (00 34 985 84 11 57, posadadelvalle.com). Fly to Asturias
9 La Posada del Candil Andalusia, Spain
An hour and a half from the bright lights of Granada, La Posada del Candil sits in perfect stargazing country amid the pine-clad hills and valleys of Andalusia’s Sierra de los Filabres; the range’s highest peak, Calar Alto, is home to an important observatory. There are five elegant but simple apartments with one or two double rooms, their own kitchens, open fireplaces, and terraces with glorious views across the olive groves and orchards of the Almanzora Valley. There’s also a shared infinity pool and barbecue area, and if you can’t be bothered to cook, the restaurant serves Andalusian cuisine using local and organic produce.
Details Room-only apartments based on two sharing are from £37 a night (00 34 675 98 72 42, laposadadelcandil.com). Fly to Granada
10 Eliassen Rorbuer Lofoten Islands, Norway
The majority of this cluster of 35 traditional fishing cottages on the tiny island of Hamnoy date back to 1890, while a handful are modern additions. Most have been renovated within the past five years to create cosy, pine-clad interiors sleeping two to six people. About two thirds of them sit on the water’s edge, and spectacular jagged peaks rising up around them make for superb trekking excursions. Fishing and kayak trips also make for rewarding days out.
Details A one-bedroom cottage is from £158 for a minimum three-night stay (00 47 45 81 48 45, rorbuer.no). Fly to Svolvaer or Leknes via Oslo
11 Fabriken Furillen Gotland, Sweden
There’s a futuristic, Mad Max quality to Fabriken Furillen and its setting amid 1,250 untamed acres (5 sq km) of a peninsula in the north of Gotland. The hotel has evolved from the factory of a former limestone quarry, and has clean Scandinavian lines and muted grey and white tones. The 18 rooms have wood-burning stoves, the 40 chickens supply eggs for breakfast, and there are free bicycles to explore the surrounding windswept wilderness with its warped trees, craggy rock formations and empty pebble and sand beaches.
Details B&B doubles are from £155 (00 46 498 22 30 40, furillen.com). Fly to Visby via Stockholm
12 Tiseno Sweden
You’ll need to board a tiny private ferry to get to the car-free island of Tiseno on Lake Tisnaren, 125 miles (200km) southwest of Stockholm. Here you’ll find a 250-year-old farmhouse that sleeps up to 12 people, making it an ideal getaway for an extended family. There are cattle, sheep, horses and a handful of people on the farm; otherwise you’ll have the entire island — with its woodland walks, excellent swimming and, in August and September, the opportunity to go fishing for crayfish — all to yourselves.
Details The house for 12 costs from £825 per week (00 46 151 22054, tiseno.se). Fly to Stockholm
13 Hotel Glymur HvalfJordur, Iceland
Perched on a hillside overlooking the three-mile (5km) wide Whale fjord, this welcoming hotel with 22 split-level rooms, three suites and six cottages, feels as if it’s in the middle of nowhere rather than only 45 minutes from Reykjavik. The views alone, of big skies, rugged volcanic hillsides and deep blue ocean, are guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away. Savour them while relaxing in a geothermal hot tub, stride out on the two-hour hike to Glymur waterfall (at 196m, the highest in Iceland), play golf beneath the midnight sun, or take a kayak on to the fjord, where there’s a good chance of spotting dolphins and porpoises. The cosy, candlelit restaurant offers freshly smoked trout and perfectly prepared reindeer.
Details B&B doubles are from £168 (00 354 430 3100, hotelglymur.is). Fly to Reykjavik
14 Agriturismo Antico Borgo di Gallano Le Marche, Italy
Together with a small church and a Benedictine monastery, this cluster of lovingly restored medieval farm buildings forms the tiny hamlet of Gallano and is just the ticket for starry skies, cypress trees and sheer silence. It sits in Monti Sibillini National Park in the surprisingly untamed heart of Italy, where wolves, brown bears and golden eagles roam. The six simply furnished rooms and three apartments accommodate 40 people, making it ideal for a wedding or a party. The swimming pool has lovely views of the rolling hills; the bar and dining room, in an old cattle barn, serves home-made pasta and beef reared in the surrounding pastureland.
Details B&B doubles are from £73 (00 39 349 7560020, anticoborgodigallano.com). Fly to Perugia
15 The Goat House AlenteJo, Portugal With solar and wind-powered energy, a wood-fired stove and drinking water provided by a small stream, this former goat-milking parlour in Marvao is an authentically off-grid hideaway. Views stretch out towards Spain and there are no other inhabited houses within sight, with the nearest shop three miles away. It sleeps two — four if you don’t mind a squeeze — and guests receive 500ml of oil produced from the surrounding olive trees, with the option to order vegetable and meat boxes on arrival, too. A nearby stretch of river is a wonderful spot to cool off on blazing summer days.
Details From £31 per night based on a minimum three-night stay (01285 750713, oneoffplaces.co.uk).
Fly to Lisbon
16 Fisherman’s Cabin Dordogne, France
Sitting on the edge of a private lake, this idyllic wooden cabin surrounded by mature woodland is like something out of a fairytale, with only birds, butterflies, deer, frogs and fish for company. There are two cosy bedrooms with views over the lake, a log fire and a deck that overhangs the water. Alternative energy sources supply mod cons, but there is no TV or music system — try floating across the lake on the raft instead. Bike hire is also available.
Details From £80 per night based on a minimum three-night stay (0117 204 7830, canopyandstars.co.uk). Fly to Limoges
17 Melanya Mountain Retreat Kardzhali, Bulgaria
Walks through pine forest and broadleaf woodland lead directly from Melanya Mountain Retreat, deep in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The house is high on the crest of a mountain, with dazzling views, ideally surveyed when reclining on the terrace with a glass of the local wine. The accommodation comprises the whole of the top floor of the house, with two double bedrooms, a private entrance and a kitchenette (although the owners will also happily cook for you). Plus there’s complimentary use of mountain bikes, kayaks and fishing equipment.
Details From £56 a night for two people including breakfast (00 359 88 46 217 80, melanya.com). Fly to Plovdiv or Sofia
18 Treehotel Harads, Sweden
When the Scandinavians’ love of nature and passion for design collide, the results can be extraordinary. The Treehotel’s six living spaces and sauna, suspended 4-6m (13-20ft) up in the trees near the River Lule in the north of the country, are surrounded by miles of forest. Each unique creation was devised by a leading Swedish architect, and they include the Mirrorcube, with mirrored walls making it almost invisible amid the tree trunks, and the Bird’s Nest, camouflaged on the outside by a mass of interwoven branches. Accommodating up to four people, the cabins are just as stylish inside, and have underfloor heating and combustion toilets, although showers are housed in a separate building.
Details Cabins are from about £360 per night including breakfast (00 46 0928 10300, treehotel.se). Fly to Lulea via Stockholm
19 Tajgolka Tatra Mountains, Poland
While you drink in the alpine air and coo over the meadow, stream and mountain-filled vistas of Tatra National Park, your little ones can be trampolining, playing on the swings and in the sandpit, or making use of the “playground corner” in each of the five rustic log cabins at Tajgolka. There’s a spa and dining hall in the main building, where typical Polish dishes are served. The cosy cottages have colourful furnishings and lots of exposed wood.
Details Three-bedroom cottages are from £85 (0203 286 4643, secretplaces.com). Fly to Krakow
20 Crna Punta lighthouse, Istria, Croatia
Seafarers can look at their charts and find the newly restored 1873 lighthouse at Crna Punta at 44.95702 N, 14.14561 E. Landlubbers should borrow a jeep belonging to Slaven and Tijana Maretic to tackle the steep dirt track that leads to the most remote of their three lighthouses on the Istrian peninsula. There is a private beach just 10m (30ft) from the front door, and the lighthouse’s pristine location ensures that you will have miles of rocky shoreline, and the great swathe of forest that enfolds it, to yourself. Expect exposed beams, stone walls and painted floorboards in the four bedrooms.
Details From £204 per night for eight (00385 98 1820719, lighthouse-croatia.com). Fly to Pula
21. You have never seen anything like this place. High up in the mountains overlooking the blue mediterranean, surrounded by olive trees, in the World Heritage site of the Tramuntana mountains.
There is a 20 minute drive from the main road up a steep private road that is well maintained by the locals who live here or spend their weekends here picking olives and tending sheep.
Log fires and wood-burning stoves provide the heating. The kitchen fridge and hob is powered by Butane. There is also a BBQ.
Its in a national park so you will see all kinds of birds and flowers as you ascend the mountain. Fro the front door you can walk to Deia or Soller in 60-90 mins.
Most of the houses along the private road are owned by local Mallorcans who come up at weekends to tend their olive groves and their sheep. They are very friendly and welcoming but rarely here during the week.
the best times are sitting and cooking the local lamb in the outdoor kitchen by day or by night. Eating in the kitchen or for larger groups in the garden outside.
The well-signed routes from here to Deia or Soller are a delight – world class views and the smells of Orange, Lemon, Fig, Pine and Olive are like a heady perfume.
Details – From £50 per night – https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/2589762