With restrictions continuing to lift around the world, it’s time to start thinking about your next European holiday. Whether you’ll be heading abroad or staying closer to home, these six summer retreats – each complete with a hefty dose of culture and variety of activities – are bound to inspire you…
1. Penrhiw Priory: St Davids, Wales
The quiet hills and soft valleys of Wales are a stellar setting in which to enjoy a serene summer, especially when you couple your days in the countryside with nights at Penrhiw Priory. Though this nineteenth-century building has been beautifully restored – giving guests all the amenities they may need including aromatherapy toiletries and tea and coffee-making facilities – it honours its heritage, balancing a historic atmosphere with present day comforts. Our definition of a perfect property.
Don’t miss: The Pembrokeshire Coast Path, located just a twenty-minute walk from Penrhiw at Whitesands Beach. The locals are friendly, the food is varied and the sights are spectacular. Including vast, sandy beaches and mesmerising cliffs, its diverse landscape is primed for exploring, and travellers are bound to be lured back time and time again throughout their European holiday. Isn’t Wales wonderful?
2. Villa Le Barone: Tuscany, Italy
Villa Le Barone captures the very spirit of summer itself. Between its colourful, aromatic rose garden, olive grove, infinity pool and surrounding views of the verdant Tuscan hills, it comes alive in the warmer seasons, morphing into a veritable paradise. You’ll want to spend every moment outside, soaking in the jewels of the Italian countryside while being treated like royalty by the villa’s world-class staff. It’s also an ideal base for exploring some of Italy’s best sights, with Florence, Siena and San Gimignano – along with a variety of historic hamlets – just a short drive away.
Don’t miss: Stay loyal to the villa theme with trips to the UNESCO World Heritage Medici Villas. The Medici Family is intertwined with the history of Tuscany, and has an impressive ancestry including patrons of the arts, politicians, and influential figureheads who fuelled the birth of the Italian Renaissance. The Medicis ruled the area for several centuries, and in that time built some ravishing rural homes: and from the ornate Palagio di Fiesole to aptly-named Castello Villa Medici, plenty are available to visit today. We highly recommend it.
3. Villa Astra: Croatia
On the cerulean waters of the Opatija Riviera you’ll find Villa Astra – a boutique hotel from which to explore Croatia’s many fruits in style. Within its sunflower-hued walls are seven intimate bedrooms, while just outside is a secluded outdoor swimming pool and range of emerald gardens, which look almost ethereal in summertime’s glow. The villa’s hoteliers and guests alike all swear by the property’s “magical” effects, too, claiming it has a unique energy that leaves you completely restored. Sounds like the perfect European holiday to us.
Don’t miss: Incredible activities are the bread and butter of Kvarner Bay, which is just a hop, skip and jump away from this Croatian property. Take your pick of activities from diverse gardens, castles, brightly-coloured cafes and even a yearly summertime ice cream festival – all within walking distance from the hotel’s front door.
4. Hotel Aigialos: Santorini, Greece
Anyone who experiences wanderlust has Santorini high on their list of dream destinations. There’s a good reason why. It’s one of Greece’s most gorgeous islands – and when you couple a visit there with an outstanding stay at Aigialos Hotel, you experience something pretty close to heaven. Voted the Most Romantic Historic Hotel in 2014, this jaw-dropping property sits in the quietest part of the island. With its traditional, cycladic architecture, spectacular views and modern luxuries like fine dining and fully-serviced bedrooms, its guests dwell in culture and comfort. Truly one of the most special summer retreats we can muster.
Don’t miss: A wander through the ruins of the Akrotiri settlement. This Bronze Age village was destroyed in the sixteenth century, prey to a huge volcanic eruption. Despite its destructive demise, the ash itself preserved some incredible frescoes, artworks and other objects that can still be seen now. It’s truly fascinating.
5. Renvyle House Hotel: Ireland
Built in 1927, Renvyle House Hotel is a historic property situated in sublime Connemara. Summer retreats here are ones to be remembered, as not only is this part of Ireland full of amazing activities, the hotel itself caters to your every need. Having won a prestigious award – Best Restaurant in Connacht – as well as being named one of the 100 best places to stay in Ireland, this impressive country house delivers fine dining, exceptional spa facilities, top rate service and gorgeous green grounds in which guests can make the most of the warmer seasons. Get yourself down there.
Don’t miss: Renvyle House Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from some of Ireland’s best things to do. Most notably, Connemara National Park is right next door, consisting of miles and miles of stunning parkland that’s free to explore. Elsewhere, the renowned Kylemore Abbey provides a dash of culture – thanks to its new exhibition centre and restored walled gardens – or, alternatively, tourists can go dolphin-spotting from the nearby Killary Fjord. Quite the exciting European holiday, wouldn’t you say?
6. Relais San Biagio: Italy
For spectacular summer retreats of a different kind, book yourself a stay at Relais San Biagio. This hotel is actually built within a converted monastery, with a winning location in a National Park. Keen to help you discover your inner harmony, this hotel offers a variety of truly restorative treatments – harking back to monastic cultures and traditions – along with other wellness packages. After a day of nurturing your spirit, you can also nourish your body at the property’s brewery, home of the first monastically-inspired handcrafted beer in the country. A unique European holiday that you’ll be tempted to repeat again and again.
Don’t miss: A trip to the historic town of Gubbio. Famous for its Gothic-style buildings built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, along with its medieval palaces, churches and cathedrals, there’s more than enough to scratch your cultural itch. Every year on May 15, the town hosts a folklore festival – Festa dei Ceri – too, which draws crowds from all over Perugia. Eccitante!
Which of these summer retreats meets your requirements this season? Let us know over on Instagram.