Manor House Stay

It’s probably no coincidence that one of my favorite sites Remodelista is doing a whole Downton Abbey theme this week as the DVD of season two was just released. Of course they beat me to it as I just watched the last episodes last night and couldn’t wait to find a great manor house rental to post today. Well, it’s hard to find a more simply beautiful bolthole than this one:

Located in Berkshire on 25 acres of gardens and private park, this 10 bedroom manor house was built in 1609. I like the way it has been brought into the modern era with a more streamlined, clean look without losing the charm of period details. Yes, you can rent it and, yes, I’d be happy to meet you there.

Friday Fantasy Vacation: Todos Santos

So I’ve covered where I’d like to have my Friday evening cocktail over at Inside Bars and since I love a good theme, this week’s fantasy vacation spot is also going to be in the sunny surf town of Todos Santos on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. I’d like nothing better than to gather a group of friends and rent this little hacienda outside of town. It’s on 5 acres and surrounded by avocado, banana, mango, lemon, orange, and olive trees and a sugarcane grove. With four bedrooms and a lap pool, the only other thing we’d need is some tequila. Who’s in?

Spotlight: Race and Religious

With Mardi Gras parades going on in earnest this week and Fat Tuesday on the 21st, it seemed like a good time to look at one of the most unique places to stay in New Orleans. Few other cities have the power to make you feel like you’re walking through the past like New Orleans does. This city has a kind of magic that makes it seem like the past and present are existing all at once. Maybe it’s the unusual, and obviously aged, architecture or maybe it’s the existence of old traditions that make it feel like history is poking itself into your modern life. Whatever it is, if you stay at Race and Religious the past will be all around you. More of a vacation rental than anything else, this group of three buildings, including an old slave quarters, joined by the corner of Race and Religious streets date from 1836 and 1843. They have been lovingly restored over the past 30 years by owner Granville Semmes . If you want to learn about the fascinating history of these buildings I recommend reading this.  Otherwise, I just recommend taking a group of friends or family and stay here.

photos courtesy of Race and Religious

Scotland in Winter

I took a trip to Scotland almost two years ago and can’t wait to go back. We visited during the Summer and were very lucky with warm and sunny weather the whole time, but something tells me that to truly experience Scotland one needs to see it in Winter in what I can only assume is its more natural state, meteorologically speaking. If I were to go now, I’d retreat to one of these locations with a deck of cards and some local whisky.

Galbegno Castle, Fettercairn

A  six bedroom self-catering lodge located 45 minutes south of Aberdeen.

photos courtesy of Balbegno Castle

The Torridon, Highlands

A 19 bedroom luxury hotel located on 58 acres next to a loch. Not only do they offer guided Winter hikes into the nearby hills (and list a flask as part of your required equipment), but they have a Whisky bar offering tastings and over 350 whiskies to choose from. They run an inn close by if you’re looking for slightly more modest accommodations.

photos courtesy of the Torridon

Cameron House, Loch Lomond

The perfect family getaway. Not only are there amazing views, multiple restaurants, stylish bars, a spa and pools but three different “clubs” for kids divided by ages. Your littles ones can also go on guided hikes and bird watching excursions with their own Countryside Ranger. Oh, and there’s bunk beds in the family rooms. Everyone is now happy.

Dalhousie Castle, Near Edinburgh

This is the place to go if you have an interest in falconry and/or medieval fortresses, which this castle once was. You can take short falconry classes or sign up for the 5 day intensive course and there’s even classes for kids with owls. Of course there’s a spa, but there’s also a restaurant in the former dungeons.

photos courtesy of Dalhousie Castle

Beach Bay Cottage, Isle of Lewis

A romantic and private self-catering cottage in the outer Hebrides that was inspired by traditional black houses of the islands. While secluded enough for a cozy getaway, it’s also only 3 miles from the village and a few hundred yards from a restaurant.

photos courtesy of Beach Bay Cottage

Hobbit House of Montana

I don’t know anyone who isn’t at least a little bit charmed by the Hobbits of Tolkien’s books and with the new Hobbit movie coming soon (sort of) I imagine that Hobbit fever will only increase. Best you reserve your stay at the Hobbit House soon or you may have to build your own. If you, like me, are not that industrious then this is the place to go. Located in the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains it’s a great getaway, especially with children. Fall is likely the best season to visit as this is also Montana’s huckleberry epicenter. And I imagine that Hobbits love huckleberries.

The Shire

Main House

Bilbo's House in Winter

All photos curtesy of Hobbit House of Montana

Parisian Vacation Apartments

I’ve recently been planning a two week vacation to France for 5 people, including a child. The family is spending one week in Paris and after a brief discussion of hotels it became clear that an apartment rental is really the way to go. This is true for many places, but in Paris which can be notoriously expensive, renting an apartment can end up saving you money. And when families are traveling together, it’s a good idea to have a bit of space for everyone to move around and have a bit of privacy. Many apartment rentals do have a minimum stay requirement, especially during the high season, so read the fine print carefully. Now that I’ve looked at just about every apartment in Paris with a photo online, I can say that there’s an astonishing variety of options. There are many budget apartments and some truly luxurious spaces complete with full time butlers. I’ve chosen a few of my favorites, a couple from that elusive in-between category of apartments that are a step (or three) above the average but don’t cost an arm and a leg and then of course a couple that are probably a fantasy but too beautiful to omit.  If you are splitting the cost between two or three couples though, even the more costly ones can be a bargain compared to hotel rooms. Of course there’s no lobby bar, but you might just have to make do with a private balcony instead.

Canal Bohemia, 1oth Arrondissement. $625/week

Petit Pont, 5th Arrondissement. $2390/week

Our Home In Paris, 4th Arrondissement. $3250/week

Peony, 4th Arrondissement. $5250/week

Marais Penthouse, 3rd Arrondissement. $6000/week

George V Suite, 8th Arrondissement. $9000/week

Palais Royal, 1er Arrondissement. $10,000/week

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