8 Charming Country House Hotels in Europe
At these eight European country retreats, the high-design interiors are as swoon-worthy as the surrounding landscapes. #onecandream.
La Fiermontina, Italy
The region of Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, exudes romance with its dreamy olive groves, hilltop villages, and exclusive beaches and hidden coves. If you're hoping to reignite the fire, look no further than La Fiermontina in Lecce, the area’s unofficial capital town. The 16-room retreat, one of the most charming country house hotels in Europe, is a fashionable blend of old and new: the façade is a contemporary build by local architect Antonio Annicchiarico on what was once a 17th-century home. Inside, you'll find antique Italian furnishings and an impressive art collection with pieces from legendary artists like Le Corbusier.
Ashford Castle, Ireland
The people who've stayed at this sprawling 13th-century estate is impressive, to say the least: Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Fred Astaire, Barbra Streisand, John Travolta, and on and on. Its storied interiors were recently refreshed to the tune of $75 million and are filled with centuries-old antiques, opulent marble fireplaces, and world-famous artworks. But you'd be remiss not to center your stay around the great outdoors. Set on 350 verdant acres on the shores of western Ireland, the castle grounds offer endless activities for every type of traveler, from archery and clay pigeon shooting to golf, fishing and horseback riding.
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10 Castle Street, Dorset, England
Dorset’s Cranborne Chase, a former hunting ground for Britain's elite, is a handsome expanse of rolling hills, lush woodlands, charming villages, and grand estates that once housed a who’s who list of the English gentry. Visitors can channel their own inner lord or lady at 10 Castle Street, a magnificent Palladian-style, 18th-century mansion where nine individually styled bedrooms—very English garden party with their tufted headboards, paisley wallpaper, and floral drapes—evoke the feel of a private family home. The best part? Overnight guests have access to the member’s only club upstairs (including an exclusive restaurant and bar), where nights can be spent canoodling in utter privacy.
Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal
Portugal’s Douro Valley is the stuff of fairytales--a landscape of sun-drenched vineyards that blanket steep mountainsides, with the majestic Douro River as the centerpiece. Wine is at the heart of it all at the historic Six Senses, a 19th-century manor house restored for the 21st century by New York-based firm Clodagh Design. Guests can unwind with wine-focused treatments in the spa, attend wine tastings in the library, sample regional varietals at the on-site restaurant and bar, and, during harvest season, stomp grapes with the locals. What we love best, though, is the property's magnificent pool, which looks out over the winding river.
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Killiehuntly Farmhouse & Cottage, Kingussie, Scotland
At this 4,000-acre property in Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, the loudest noises you'll hear are the roar of the nearby river and rustle of wind moving through centuries-old trees. This is the home of Killiehuntly, an impeccably restored 1600s farmhouse turned "Scandi-Scot" retreat courtesy of Danish owner Anne Storm Pederson, who incorporated her Scandinavian-Scottish design aesthetic to beautiful effect (think faux fur throws, rough-hewn wood tables, and stone floors). Guests can bed down at the farmhouse, cottage, or hayloft overlooking the garden and come together at night for communal meals—River Spey salmon; local venison—sourced either from surrounding farmers or right on property.
Château St. Pierre de Serjac, France
Château St Pierre de Serjac, in France’s Languedoc wine region, epitomizes country-house luxury. The working wine estate, fresh off a two-year, $28 million renovation, sits on 200 rolling vineyards, with a fairytale-like turreted façade and equally dreamy interiors that feature elaborate chandeliers, cozy fireplaces, tufted sofas, and vintage claw foot tubs. Our favorite room in the house might be what was once the owner’s chapel, with its original hand-painted Art Nouveau wallpapers and friezes restored to perfection.
Palé Hall, Wales
What the tiny country of Wales lacks in landmass, it makes up for in culture and character. Case in point: the countless castles that dot the mountains and river valleys. Stately Palé Hall, a 19th-century Victorian estate adjacent to Snowdonia National Park, is exactly what you’d want in a quiet country escape—from the 18 cozy (and beautifully restored) bedrooms that have hosted the likes of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill to the surrounding Dee valley, an idyllic playground for outdoor pursuits like hiking, fishing, and hunting. Don't miss the classic Welsh dishes at the property's standout restaurant.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire, England
A bucolic 100-acre Cotswolds farm is the setting for Soho Farmhouse, the chic Soho House brand's first foray into the country. In addition to 40 cabins, a seven-bedroom farmhouse, and a four-bedroom cottage, there's a deli, a flower shop, a spa, and even a home goods shop where guests can pick up essentials. The vibe here is a luxurious take on country-house chic--you'll find reclaimed wood tables, brass chandeliers, plenty of whitewashed and clapboard, and bicycles and Wellington boots on loan at check-in.
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