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Escape to the Country: 6 European Retreats

Venturing into Europe is like stepping into a storybook, where every cobblestone street and picturesque landscape whispers tales of history — and while Europe boasts some fascinating cities, there’s plenty to uncover in the countryside. Read on to discover six enchanting historic retreats where you can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and immerse yourself in the charm of the past. We’ve also included ideas for day trips in each location. From the lush green landscapes of Ireland to the sun-kissed shores of Greece, these serene escapes are all about slowing down. So breathe in, and let the natural surroundings inspire your next move. 

Rathsallagh House, Ireland

Nestled amidst the emerald hills of County Wicklow, just an hour from Dublin, Rathsallagh House is a Georgian gem that dates back to 1798. This ivy-covered mansion exudes old-world charm and elegance. Its spacious rooms are adorned with antique furniture and period decor, transporting you back to the days of ball gowns and horse-drawn carriages. The extensive gardens, complete with a croquet lawn, invite you to unwind and connect with nature. After your walk, retire to the snooker room for a game or relax in the sauna and outdoor jacuzzi. And don’t miss the opportunity to taste traditional Irish cuisine at the award-winning restaurant, where farm-to-table ingredients are used to create culinary masterpieces. Canine friends are welcome here too and the hotel offers heated kennels on-site.

Perfect for a day trip: After relishing the historic charm of Rathsallagh House, take a short drive to Glendalough, a picturesque valley renowned for its medieval monastic settlement and serene lakes. Hike the trails and be captivated by the scenic beauty of the Wicklow Mountains.  Or why not try your hand a fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, archery or air rifle shooting at Rathcon Farm in the nearby village of Grangecon. 

Kyrimai, Greece

Perched on the rugged coast of the Mani Peninsula, Kyrimai is a stunning stone-built mansion that has been transformed into a boutique hotel. Dating back to the 19th century, this retreat offers breathtaking views of the azure Mediterranean Sea. The hotel’s rooms feature a blend of traditional Greek architecture and modern amenities. Explore the nearby fishing villages or simply bask in the Greek sun on one of the terraces. Looking for something a little more active? The hotel organises unique activities such as scuba diving, boat trips and sea kayak trips. Kyrimai is the perfect destination for those seeking an authentic Greek experience.

Perfect for a day trip: Discover the ancient town of Monemvasia, a scenic, coastal 2-hour drive away. This medieval fortress town, often called the “Gibraltar of Greece,” boasts narrow cobbled streets, Byzantine churches, and panoramic sea views. 

Manowce Palace, Poland

Situated on the banks of the Szczecin Lagoon, the five-star Manowce Palace is a neoclassical masterpiece that transports you to a world of aristocratic splendour. Built in the early 20th century, the palace offers luxurious suites, each with its own unique character and stunning lake views. The surrounding parkland and forests provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and birdwatching. You can reach the open waters of the Baltic Sea in half an hour by motorboat, so sailing and rod-fishing enthusiasts will love it here. The palace also hosts events, making it an ideal venue for weddings and celebrations. 

Perfect for a day trip: For nature enthusiasts, nearby Wolin National Park offers hiking and birdwatching opportunities in a pristine Baltic Sea environment. The park is known for its diverse flora and fauna.

Villa Bergzauber, Austria

Nestled in the heart of the Austrian Alps, Villa Bergzauber is a fairy-tale escape that dates back to the late 19th century. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush meadows, this charming villa offers cosy rooms with rustic yet elegant decor. In the winter, it’s a paradise for skiers, while summer visitors can explore the Alpine trails. Take a boat on the mirror-top Gleinkersee Lake or simply chill in the hotel’s relaxing spa and wellness areas, complete with a seasonal heated outdoor pool, sauna, and infrared cabin. 

Perfect for a day trip: Venture to the charming town of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the salt mines, take a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt, and stroll through the picturesque streets with pastel-coloured houses.

Chateau Liblice, Czech Republic

Chateau Liblice, Czech Republic

Step into a world of baroque grandeur at Chateau Liblice, located in the Czech Republic. This 18th-century chateau boasts opulent interiors with ornate stucco work, crystal chandeliers, and period furnishings. The surrounding gardens are perfect for leisurely strolls, and the chateau’s restaurant specialises in Czech cuisine. Wellness is central to the experience here so treat your body and soul to a day in the spa. Choose a rejuvenating treatment or just sit back and relax in the sauna, whirlpool and tepidarium.

Perfect for a day trip: You can’t miss a visit to Prague, the enchanting capital of the Czech Republic. Less than an hour’s drive from the hotel, this unforgettable city is known for its historic Old Town, Prague Castle and the iconic Charles Bridge. 

Villa Campestri, Italy

Tuscany, with its rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, has always been a magnet for those seeking beauty and tranquillity. Villa Campestri, a 13th-century villa turned luxury resort, embodies the essence of the Italian countryside. Olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see, and the villa itself boasts well-preserved frescoes and antique furnishings. Relax by the pool or become an oil sommelier and indulge in olive oil tastings straight from the estate’s own olive mill. Discover the secrets of Italian cuisine with a cooking class or spend time with the hotel’s hens. Book a ‘déjeuner sur l’herbe’ on the villa’s lawns and be treated to a wicker basket filled with delicious picnic fare. 

Perfect for a day trip: Explore the nearby medieval town of Florence, home to world-class art, architecture, and cuisine. Wander through the Uffizi Gallery, visit the iconic Duomo, and don’t miss tasting some authentic Italian gelato.

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