Forget Airbnb, *This* Is Europe’s Best Kept Secret for Luxe Vacation Rentals
After a long 15 months, restrictions are lifting and travel is opening up—and we are ready to explore. Top of our list? Europe. But after being holed up in our homes for more than a year, we don’t just want to stay in any old hotel or subpar vacation rental—we want our next vacation to make up for all trips we had to cancel or postpone due to the pandemic. And so we’re eyeing one of these unique holiday destinations from Welcome Beyond, a European accommodations website featuring beautiful boutique hotels, B&Bs, villas, beach houses, luxury holiday homes and vacation rentals. Here, 12 of our favorite stays in Europe—just try not to drool on your keyboard, OK?
Note: All countries listed below are currently welcoming vaccinated travelers and/or travelers with proof of a negative COVID-19 test, however, please check the country’s travel guidelines for more information before booking. And because Welcome Beyond is a European travel site, all prices are listed in Euros—please check conversion rates before booking.
1. Ana Ana Artistic Habitat in in Portimão, Algarve, Portugal
Cost: €650/night (approximately $770/night)
Just two and a half hours outside of Lisbon lies this house-atelier of a local artist and interior designer. Described as urban artistic living with a touch of boho, this five bedroom home oozes luxe vacation vibes (think: concrete floors, white-painted wooden ceiling beams, giant art canvases and a cushy sofa that looks like it could fit about 20 people). There’s also a studio property on site that is available for rent at an extra fee. As for Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region is known for its sandy beaches, picturesque fishing towns and incredible gastronomy. From freshly grilled sardines by the shore to Michelin star restaurants, travelers are sure to tantalize their tastebuds on a trip to Algarve.
2. Le Pavillon de Galon in Cucuron, Provence, France
Cost: From €290/night (approximately $344/night)
Want all the comforts of staying at a hotel but with the privacy of having your own place? This luxe B&B that was formerly an 18th century hunting pavilion has only three suites, giving you the best of both worlds. Surrounded by vineyards, orchards and with beautiful gardens, the property also boasts a heated infinity pool as well as natural pools, plus a small beach. Just a few hundred meters behind the property (that’s about 2,000 feet to you and me) lies the Luberon mountain—a majestic site that also features 60 percent of all European butterflies (if you’re into that kind of thing). This region of southeastern France is also known for its music and opera festivals, and is about two hours away from excellent skiing.
3. Alemanys 5 in Girona, Costa Brava, Spain
Cost: €300/night (approximately $355/night)
Old meets new in this beautifully restored house in the historic quarter of the medieval town of Girona (about 90 minutes by car from Barcelona). Available as a five-bedroom luxury villa rental or two individual apartment rentals, warm lighting and natural materials like stone and wood create an ambiance that is both modern yet inviting. Opt for the lower apartment (or the entire house) and enjoy the inner courtyard complete with a luscious green garden, a plunge pool and a seating area for alfresco dining. When you’re not kicking back with a glass of local wine (the sparkling varietals are particularly good) and enjoying the views of Plaça de Sant Domènec from the veranda, head out to explore Catalonia with its gorgeous beaches and exquisite cuisine (the area is known for its truffles and mushrooms).
4. Villa Bellagio in Civenna, Lake Como, Italy
Cost: From €786/night (approximately $930/night)
Do like the Clooneys do (that’s George and Amal, FYI) and vacation on glittering Lake Como this summer. In this stunning six-bedroom villa, you and 12 of your nearest and dearest will enjoy breathtaking views of the lake, an infinity swimming pool and a garden wellness center, featuring a spa and sauna. While you’ll have the villa to yourself, one of the property owners will be staying in the self-contained apartment on the bottom floor to ensure that your stay is perfectly dreamy (such as putting out cushions around the swimming pool every morning). If you really want to go all out, optional extra services include an on-site cook, a personal driver and a concierge. What else is there to do in Como besides gawk at the views and relax? There are many charming villas worth exploring and going boating on the lake is not to be missed.
5. Oia Villa I in Oia, Santorini, Greece
Cost: From €175/night (approximately $207/night)
Can you think of anything more romantic than cozying up with your S.O. to watch the sunset on the terrace of this cave house that was dug into the Caldera cliff several centuries ago? Go ahead, we’ll wait. Santorini is known for its cobbled marble streets, whitewashed homes and pristine beaches, and while relaxing is definitely on the agenda here, keep in mind that the many winding streets are quite the workout (but trust us—it’s worth the exercise). And while the local architectural style is very much present in this charming home, the Scandinavian influence (the owner and architect is Swedish) gives it a stylish and minimalist vibe that will make you forget all about the stresses of the modern world. (But don’t worry, there’s both Wi-Fi and air conditioning here.)
6. Woodhouse in Agger, Northern Jytland, Denmark
Cost: From €114/night (approximately $135/night)
Speaking of Scandinavia, this beach house is pure hygge. And by that we mean it’s the ideal spot to get away from it all and connect with Mother Nature (but, like, with comfortable beds and hot showers). Glass windows throughout the length of the house offer views of the beautiful forest but the clever designer made sure that there’s still total privacy—while you can see out, nobody can see in. Chic and clean Scandi design prevails (to not distract from the views) in this three-bedroom natural beauty where kids are also welcome. Believe it or not, this part of the Danish coastline is known as the “coast Hawaii” and renowned for its surf (just keep in mind that the water is pretty chilly). Other activities include bicycling around the nearby national park or exploring the water with a fishing boat. There are also many charming towns dotted along the west coast, with organic farms and fabulous restaurants. To really unwind, check out the luxury wellness center in nearby Hurup.
7. Botelet Cottages in Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Cost: From €92/night (approximately $109/night)
Remember Kate Winslet’s ultra-charming cottage in The Holiday? While that home doesn’t actually exist, you can definitely channel those Nancy Meyers vibes at this quaint abode (make that abodes—there are two cottages available to rent on this 300-acre property). In case you’re unfamiliar, Cornwall is located on a rocky peninsula at the southwest tip of England, and known for its sun, sand and Celtic vibes. Surrounded by wildflower meadows, a stay on this Cornish farm can only be described as cozy (think: thick stone walls, low beams and roaring fireplaces). Outside, take in the views of rolling hills leading down to the coast (don’t forget to pack your swimsuit), the glimmering sea and a verdant green valley. Bring the kids with you—they’ll love running around the property and feeding the chickens.
8. Re:hof Rutenberg in Lychen, Uckermark, Germany
Cost: From €110/night (approximately $130/night)
Go back to basics at this farmstead in Brandenburg (the region around Berlin) where visitors spend their days taking long walks, swimming in one of the many lakes and stopping by the little farm shop offering organic vegetables, homemade jams and German and Italian wines. There is also a small beach nearby and a sauna available for use. Choose from seven different holiday homes, including wooden garden houses with clay walls and a vicarage with high ceilings and big windows. All of the properties are simple yet modern, although visitors should know that this is not the place to stream Netflix and catch up on your work emails (the Wi-Fi is like the pace of life here—slow). But hey, who needs a TV when the views of wide-open fields and lush forests are right outside your window?
9. Maris Lodge in Botiza, Maramures, Romania
Cost: From €163/night (approximately $193/night)
OK, so when you think “vacation” maybe a trip to Romania isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But if you’re looking to get away from it all and try something totally unique, then this is the place. The owners took five traditional wooden houses ranging from 150 and 300 years old from local villages, deconstructed them and rebuilt them on their land—a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and mountain peaks (the property also faced a monastery, which is pretty cool). The interior is furnished with antiques (including famed travel British travel writer Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor’s writing desk) and Romanian art. As for things to do in the area, bicycles are provided for exploring but mostly, visitors come here to relax in solitude and nature.
10. Casa Morelli in Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Cost: From €358/night (approximately $424/night)
Picture this: You’re sitting on the terrace, watching the sun set and gazing out into the Tuscan vineyards, olive groves, forests and hills as you and your beloved share a bottle of the region’s finest Chianti. You can practically feel your worries melt away, no? In this gorgeous building (parts of which date back to the 16th century, NBD), you can truly live la dolce vita. Explore Italy’s most famous region in the morning (making sure to sample the many gastronomic delights, like crusty fettunta bread and pappardelle alla lepre) and then return to your homely digs in the afternoon for a dip in the pool and to relax in the chic yet comfortable interior. Evenings are for sitting on the expansive terrace and congratulating yourself on booking such a fabulous vacation.
11. Aufberg 1113 in Piesendorf, Salzburger Land, Austria
Cost: €275/night (approximately $325/night)
The Sound of Music was famously set in Salzburg and while the aesthetic of this thoroughly modern home couldn’t be more different than the Von Trapp family residence, you’ll definitely want to frolic through the valley with the Austrian Alps in the backdrop, much like Julie Andrews did. Don’t take it from us—here’s how the owner describes the property: “Here you’ll find what you’ve been searching for: a clear view of yourself and a new way of looking at life. It’s a little paradise.” Well, that’s us sold. But in case you need more convincing, perhaps the open fireplace, free-standing bathtub next to the bed and free-floating terrace will entice you.
12. Ad Austrum in La Capelle-et-Masmolène, Occitanie, France
Cost: From €257/night (approximately $304/night)
The only downside to this sophisticated yet rustic 17th century stone house in the south of France? You may never want to leave. Come in the summer to bask in the sun while reading a good book on the terrace, only stopping to take a dip in the plunge pool or sample some of the excellent local cuisine (like cassoulet bean and meat stew or Roquefort cheese). The interiors have been tastefully designed so that the home feels charming while giving visitors plenty of space to roam. Located in a small village, this destination offers the best of both worlds—peace and quiet as well as proximity to the south of France’s many cultural and historical sites. Bon voyage!