These enchanting countryside hotels in Europe are built of stories, set among dramatic natural backdrops, where yours days can be spent straying from state-of-art-spas to culinary wonders to endless grounds. Whether you’re craving the skies and greenery of Cork or Chianti, these are the places to go to completely and utterly escape reality.
1. L´Unicorno: Italy
The oldest house in the small village of Macesina and one of the quaintest countryside hotels in Europe, L’Unicorno was built in 1654 and has been carefully, beautifully restored. Your hosts, the Becchetti Binkerts, are passionate about providing a healthy, eco-friendly ambience among the fruit and olive groves of Valtenesi, so the entire house is entirely solar-powered.
2. Gregans Castle: Ireland
Just a half-hour drive from the Cliffs of Moher, the 18th-century Gregans Castle is a relaxed base for exploring. You’re in good hands with Simon and Freddie. Together with their staff (and Shelley the cat), the team provide a second-to-none service: multi-award-winning cooking, TV-free bedrooms, open fires, fresh flowers, candles, antiques and an eclectic art collection.
3. Roch Castle: Wales
We love our dramatic countryside hotels in Europe – and this one is no different. Roch Castle juts from ancient rocks like it’s been part of the Earth forever. In fairness, forever isn’t exactly gilding the lily – the historical landmark dates way back to 1195. Our favourite place to sleep is the Sun Room, with its floor-to-ceiling glass walls and alfresco platform overlooking extensive grounds and beyond: miles of National Park, Blue Flag beaches and wildlife-rich islands.
4. Relais Antico Monastero San Biagio: Italy
Relais Antico Monastero San Biagio is an ancient monastery with a difference. Even if you’re not religious, staying in the peaceful chambers where Monks once slept will speak to your soul. They’re kept simple – think exposed beams, arched windows, crisp white bed sheets and carved wooden headboards. You’ll wake up to views of the Natural Park of Mount Subasio – an intensely silent haven of forests and valleys that plunges you into a world as ancient as our traditions and history.
5. Fernhill House: Ireland
Cork’s countryside is renowned for its timeless romantic beauty and Fernhill House is the jewel in its crown. Cosied up to a hilltop overlooking seemingly boundless scenery, this 19th-century haven is within reach of Europe’s best whale-watching spots, garden trails, coastal drives and even kayaking among magical glow-in-the-dark plankton. Fernhill’s location is also historic: US president John F. Kennedy’s ancestors and Ireland’s greatest hero General Michael Collins were born here.
6. Kurhaus Bergün: Switzerland
The breathtaking rooms of this former wellness hotel are a real treat after a day exploring Albula valley. Kurhaus Bergün was built in 1906, complete with majestic ballroom, wood-clad lounges and award-winning Art Nouveau lighting fixtures. The renovations have been so gentle, guests from a century ago would feel like they were here just yesterday.
7. Schloss Wartegg: Switzerland
The certified organic dishes, fairytale spa and individually designed rooms at Schloss Wartegg reflect the surrounding countryside’s idyllic ambience. Outdoorsy types can roam lush greens dotted with sheep, playful streams and soft clearings, while luxe-lovers can plunge into the blissful turquoise bath – an oval-shaped tub built in 1928.
8. Dalen Hotel: Norway
One of the best-preserved buildings in ‘Dragon Style’ architecture, Dalen Hotel is a cultural landmark as well as an extraordinary countryside escape. Built in 1894, the sunny stay has played home-from-home to royalty over the centuries. Today, every guest is made to feel like a king or queen, with exquisite dining, roaring fires and charming bedrooms.
9. Twr y Felin Hotel: Wales
What could be lovelier than starting the evening with cocktails in your own mini art snug, followed by dinner in a two Rosette restaurant, finished off with a child-like sleep inside a windmill tower? Twr y Felin is one of the most unique countryside hotels in Europe, where days spent wandering the Pembrokeshire coast melt into cosy evenings at this contemporary art hotel.
10. Chateau Liblice: Czech Republic
Chateau Liblice houses all the elements you could ever want for a serene countryside escape. There are romantic rooms with whirlpools and hydro-massage showers. There are Bohemian meals prepared with local ingredients, using traditional recipes from the past. And there are regenerating spa procedures, including herbal wraps and chocolate massages. You’re worlds away from reality here.
11. Villa Le Barone: Italy
An escape to Villa Le Barone is like staying with your Italian relatives in their posh-yet-unstuffy Chianti home. Each of its 28 guest rooms are romantic and quiet, with views overlooking postcard-worthy vineyards and olive groves. Spend your days hiking, biking, wining and dining, and don’t miss a dip in the heated, saltwater infinity pool – the marble dream is set in a fairytale rose garden.
12. Villa Galini: Greece
Embraced by plush forests, sun-soaked vineyards and the handsome Mount Athos, Villa Galini was designed to resemble its surroundings. Previous guests to wander its courtyards and clink glasses over bay views include royalty, politicians, pianist Gina Bahauer, and artist Salvador Dali, who designed one of the villa’s bathrooms. Exclusive hire is possible if your party covers 48 people in separate rooms.
13. Sterkenburg Castle: Netherlands
We all dream of our own castle on an island. We never think we can actually spend the night in one. Sterkenburg Castle has had a quirky refurbishment but remains resolutely 13th century, in the best way ever. Blending unusual period furniture and antiques with modern updates, such as blue zebra print lamps, makes Sterkenburg a dream castle stay for those with discerning tastes. If you can drag yourself from your room, the picturesque Utrechtse Heuvelrug countryside – with its meadows and orchards, forests and waters – awaits.
14. Amot Country Villa & Opera Farm: Norway
Fresh-air luxury has never quite been captured as magically as Amot Country Villa & Opera Farm have done it. The Sunnfjord stay blends locally sourced dining with opera in 19th-century gardens, where whiffs of fresh roses and whispers of the river nearby add to the heavenly experience. Rustic and extravagant, it’s as natural to dress in silky gowns as it is to don wellington boots at this eclectic countryside hotel.
15. Gliffaes Country House Hotel: Wales
What came first – Brecon Beacons greenery or Gliffaes Country House Hotel? The family-run home melds with the wizened trees so harmoniously that it’s hard to tell. Inside the haven, you’re transported into a time-warp sanctuary of warmth, wellbeing and incomparable Welsh hospitality. Bedrooms come with iconic Roberts radios – some even have their own library.
16. Idala Gard: Sweden
Idala Gard is, in every sense of the word, pure. From its fresh, characterful bedrooms to its relaxed courtyard, the 17th-century farmhouse is an environment to be savoured slowly. You may be in the heart of Skåne Söderslätt, a Swedish district renowned for its top-quality soil, but unique Italian touches are everywhere. From Tuscan and Puglian ceramics in the old stable to a cellar full of Italian wines, it’s truly the best of both worlds. FYI – renting a bicycle, ordering a picnic basket and pedaling across the countryside makes for the sweetest day here.
17. Hotel Ängavallen: Sweden
A week of solitude is good for the soul, and Hotel Ängavallen – a 19-bedroomed rural treat nestled in the Vellinge countryside – provides the ideal location to escape the everyday hustle. Animals play a huge role in this Swedish stay and you can even buy your favourite produce in the farm shop to take home with you.
18. Sierakow Manor: Poland
Sierakow Manor is the epitome of country-house elegance. Close enough from Krakow for an effortless journey but far enough to settle deep into isolated bliss, the 19th-century oasis is one of the finest countryside hotels in Europe. Food is a combination of traditional and modern Polish cuisine – the old recipes with new-age twists are recommended by Slow Food Poland. The manor is also home to the largest wine collection in Lesser Poland and your hosts will be more than happy to find a complementary tipple for your tastebuds.