Friday Fantasy Vacation: Honfleur, France


La Ferme Saint-Siméon

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and the beginning of summer-long events and remembrances marking this history-altering moment. I had the pleasure of visiting Normandy and some of the famous beaches a couple of summers ago and it was a wonderful experience, though trying to reconcile the museum images of the landings with modern children eating ice cream with their toes in the water of those same beaches was moving, to say the least. The OTHER thing about Normandy though, that doesn’t always get mentioned due to its important place in history, is just how gorgeous it is. Decidedly French but with ancient and strong ties to Britain, it’s an interesting mix of French and English influences and one of the few places in France where you might feel that everyone does speak English. Oh, and crepes! Glorious, beautiful crepes and galettes washed down with cider and maybe a bit of Calvados at your hotel for a nightcap. If your hotel is La Ferme Saint-Siméon in the ridiculously charming harbor townlet of Honfleur, all the better.

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All photos courtesy of Relais & Chateau

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Casa Oh, Sintra, Portugal

Portugal has been on my list of must-visit countries since I made two short visits there while living in Spain during college. I have fond memories of very friendly people and drop dead gorgeous scenery, although I doubt the charming wooden trains are still in action. Now, this adorable small hotel in the historic town of Sintra is officially on the list. Many people visit Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, but with all this medieval and Moorish architecture to see it only makes sense to spend a night, or two, or three. This hotel is centrally located but off the most busy street and includes breakfast. What’s even more amazing is that rates start at just about $100 per night.


All photos courtesy of Boutique Homes

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Bellevue Syrene Hotel, Sorrento


This is officially the home stretch of winter, even though most of us are still wearing our long-johns to bed at night. But what better time to fantasize about a few days (or weeks?) at a luxurious hotel in Sorrento, Italy? 

 Photos curtesy of Bellevue Syrene Hotel

Friday Fantasy Vacation: The Balmoral, Edinburgh


The expected high temp in Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend is a crisp 65 degrees, about 25 degrees cooler than what’s expected where I currently live, and maybe that’s why this destination seems so perfect to me for early Fall. Or it might be the newly opened Scotch, Balmoral’s new  bar offering the largest collection of whiskies available to the general public (read: not members of the Scotch Whisky Society, which why wouldn’t you be if you lived there?!). Both are actually perfect reasons to spend a fantasy vacation walking the old, twisty alley streets of Edinburgh, exploring the old castle and sipping some uisge beatha.

Originally opened in 1902 and, until a refurbishment in the 80’s, named The North British Hotel it was built as a railway hotel for the North British Railway and was conveniently located next to their Waverley Station. It’s recognizable clock tower has been traditionally set 2 minutes fast so that the guests could have a better chance of catching their train on time. Of course, the glory days of romantic and regular train travel are sadly ended but this glorious 5 star hotel still stands and if you’re looking for the perfect location, it’s a phenomenal place to stay.










Wine Trip: Monaci delle Terre Nere

While doing some research on a Sicilian winery at work, I came across this amazing hotel on the slopes of Mt. Etna, surrounded by orchards and vineyards and all around gorgeousness. There are currently 6 rooms, but 12 are planned in the future after restorations are complete on some outbuildings. As if I needed another reason to want to visit Sicily!

















Photos curtesy of Welcome Beyond

Hotel Highlight: Rough Luxe, London

I’ve been meaning to feature this hotel for a long time and have no idea why I haven’t until now. As much as I adore the regular version of “luxe”, I really adore the philosophy behind the Rough Luxe concept, that “luxury should be an enriching personal experience and not simply the ownership or utilisation of an expensive object”. You are entreated to act as a guest in this home. You will be served delicious breakfast, but there is no restaurant and no hip club attached. Your room may be small or larger and it is highly likely that whatever wallpaper may exist there will be peeling, but the “luxury” is in the details like high quality sheets and an artist in residence. It’s a concept that seems to have grown over the last few years as most places have struggled to find a way through a new economy, and it’s one that I think resonates well beyond your vacation time. Finding bits of luxury in your normal life can seem impossible until you realize that things like time and a good bottle of wine can add that bit of luxe to an ordinary life.

Photos curtesy of Rough Luxe Hotel

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Ca Maria Adele, Venice

Ahh, Venice. And, yes, I do take every opportunity I have to quote Indiana Jones, but the real point is that Venice is an amazing place. It really shouldn’t even exist given the lack of actual land and centuries of water lapping on to stone. But luckily for us, it does. There are many gorgeous places to stay in Venice, but this hotel really grabs me. I love that it’s almost over done. The fabrics, furnishings and baroque details are just piled on and the effect is fantastic. It seems like the sort of hotel you stay at when you want to pretend you are someone else. It’s a fantasy and that’s what the best hotels do for me: make me feel like I’m living in the fantasy.


Ca Maria Adele

– for photo credits, click on photo

Friday Fantasy Vacation: The Old Fox Cottage

There was one cottage that I didn’t squeeze in to my Thatched Cottage post last week. It was just too lovely to share the attention with other cottages. The Old Fox Cottage is in Worcestershire, England sleeps four and is perfect for a small family. It’s seriously adorable and what’s even better is that it is practically stumbling distance to the 13th century pub, The Fleece Inn which is owned by the National Trust. Perfect summer vacation? I’d say so!

Photos curtesy of Unique Home Stays +44 (0) 1637 881947

English Thatched Cottages

Olympic fever seems to be heating up in earnest and while everyone is (rightfully) focused on London at the moment, let’s not forget the unique sorts of places you can vacation outside of the city. As an American I’ve been conditioned to look at historic structures with a mixture of awe and disbelief, if only because they are so rare in my home country. The thing that actually amazes me, though, is that they still exist, like these thatched cottages in England. Did you know that over 250 roofs in Britain have base coats of thatch that are 500 years old? This blows my mind. What might blow your mind is a holiday in one of these amazing structures. The perfect way to experience the English countryside to its fullest would be in one of the following cottages.

Spring Cottage, Wroxton, Oxfordshire

Photos curtesy of Hideaways UK

Legers Cottage, Near Exeter, Devon

Photos curtesy of Classic Cottages

White Cottage, Iken, Suffolk

Photos curtesy of Best of Suffolk

Old Manor Cottage, Halford, Warickshire

Photos curtesy of Old Manor Cottage

Love Lane Cottage, Near Coverack, Cornwall

Photos curtesy of Unique Home Stays +44 (0) 1637 881947

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, Abruzzo

It’s hard to precisely describe what this place is. It’s a hotel, but it isn’t. There are 27 rooms and a restaurant but it’s spread out over various buildings in the tiny medieval fortress village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. It’s rustic but luxurious and about as uniquely beautiful as it could possibly be.  Lovingly restored using local materials it’s a really one of a kind experience. See for yourself.

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