Fancy staying in a castle? If your travel is limited to annual leave, fantastic accommodation experiences can make a trip. We’re sharing our favourites around the world to give you ideas on where to stay.
When we travel we like to have fantastic accommodation experiences. Doing the 9 to 5 means our opportunities to travel are limited and precious. Having anything less than a fantastic accommodation experience is frustrating. We’re not saying that everywhere we stay has to be 5* luxury and cost a fortune (if only we were that rich!), but really loving where we’re sleeping is important to us. After all, staying somewhere great can so often turn an amazing trip into something even better.
Can you recommend a good place to stay? This is a question we hear a lot and sometimes its a very easy question to answer. In this article we’re sharing our favourite places to stay around the world to help you plan your own trip. With our help, you will hopefully have fantastic accommodation experiences of your own.
When we book travel accommodation we have two categories:
It doesn’t really matter where we stay because it’s just a place to rest our heads. So long as it’s clean and the bed is comfortable, we’re happy.
The accommodation is an integral part of the trip and whether it’s good or bad will make a big difference to us.
For us, the first category is more common if we’re going somewhere for a short period and we’re going to be out exploring for the whole time (city breaks are an excellent example of this). The second category usually applies when we’re going to be staying in one place for 4 nights or more (skiing holidays and beach holidays are good examples of this).
Irrespective of which category we’ve booked under, we’ve had some absolutely fantastic accommodation experiences. We’ve had some terrible ones too but why waste any more time and energy on those? This article focuses on our favourite stays around the world. We have no doubt that we’ll have more and more fantastic accommodation experiences to share and so this article will be updated each time we have a new one to write about.
When your travel experiences are limited to a few vacation days a year, the quality of your accommodation can make or break a trip. In this article we review our fantastic accommodation experiences from around the world to help you choose where to stay.
Countries Covered in the Post
To be included within this list of fantastic accommodation experiences the place we stayed has to meet the following criteria:
- We must have stayed at least one night there,
- In our opinion, it must have been fantastic. The sort of stay we’ll remember for years to come. Places that were so-so, fine, or meh are not included in this post.
Fantastic Accommodation Experiences Rating System
The accommodation is listed in alphabetical order based on the country it is located. There is, however, a rating system in place:
|😄😄||We’ll be holidaying here again just so we can stay in this place|
|😄😄😄||Unbeatable. Matchless. Peerless. Flawless. Exemplary. Perfect.|
The price rating is based on what we paid per night at the time we booked.
|££||£120 to £199|
|£££||£200 and over|
Our Fantastic Accommodation Experiences
Beach View, Paynes Bay, BARBADOS
Think staying on Barbados’s Platinum Coast is unaffordable because it’s all luxury hotels which will break the bank? Think again.
The Caribbean may be well-known for dreamy all-inclusive resorts, but there are alternatives. Our choice?
Forget the Gold Coast. Thanks to its upscale luxury hotels and silvery white sand beaches, Barbados’s famed West Coast is also known as the Platinum Coast. This is where the likes of the Sandy Lane Hotel is located. We never thought we’d be able stay on the West Coast…and then we found Beach View.
Beach View is a family run hotel on the West Coast. The beautiful white sand and turquoise waters of Paynes Bay is immediately across the road opposite the hotel. When we stayed here Paynes Bay was marketed as self-catering accommodation. It’s been renovated since then, however, and it is now classified as a hotel. The rooms are light and airy, furnished in the colours of the Caribbean, and there are new villa options.
When we stayed there were two swimming pools: a garden pool with a swim-up bar, and a children’s pool. Now there are four swimming pools, two infinity pools have been added. The hotel also has new fitness facilities and a spa.
|Where is it:||Beach View, Paynes Bay, St. James, Barbados|
|Booked with:||British Airways (as part of a flight/hotel package) |
If you’re thinking of planning a holiday to Barbados read When is the Best Time to Visit Barbados?
And then read Top 10 Tips for a Holiday in Barbados.
Black Lake Cabin, Quebec, CANADA
A unique property in a serene, picturesque lakeside setting. Fulfils your ‘cabin by a lake’ dreams, and then some!
When we were planning our road trip in Quebec we had a vision of relaxing in a cabin by a lake. We didn’t really think it was going to become a reality, but then we found the Black Lake Cabin in L’Ascension-de-Notre-Seigneur. This gorgeous hideaway is near Lac-St-Jean, a francophone area famous for its blueberries and cycling. The lake is one of the Saguenay region’s most iconic places, with villages dotted around a huge lake.
Black Lake Cabin makes this list because it is a unique property in a serene, picturesque lakeside setting. The top photo is the view of the lake from the cabin! The 1-bedroom property was built by hand by the owners who take great care of it. It is immaculately clean and its amenities include a kitchen, free parking, BBQ and a sheltered outdoor dining area. Dining al fresco under the stars was a magical experience!
You will definitely want to get on the lake and you can do so using the cabin’s kayak and pedalo. The sunsets across the lake are stunning, making it the perfect place to truly relax and feel closer to nature.
|Where is it:||L’Ascension-de-Notre-Seigneur, QC, Canada|
Chalet Panorama sur le Fleuve, Quebec, CANADA
An absolutely stunning glass-fronted property on the banks of the St Lawrence River. With unbeatable views, you can relax and spot the whales in the river from the chalet!
We splashed out a little on this property in Quebec, but it was totally worth it! After whale-watching in Tadoussac we wanted to stay somewhere where we could continue to drink in the views of the magnificent St. Lawrence River. Chalet Panorama sur la Fleuve smashed it out the park! The views were magnificent! We were even able to spot whales from the property!
This contemporary chalet sleeps up to 10 people and is complete with heated concrete floors, open-plan kitchen/living space, and a wood-burner.
|Where is it:||Saint-Siméon, QC, Canada|
|Booked with:||AirBnB |
Tremblant Elysium Suites sur Lac, Quebec, CANADA
Lovely self-catering apartments on the edge of Lac Supérieur, close to Mont Tremblant.
We stayed in one of these suites on our road trip around Quebec. Although it wasn’t ski season we wanted to visit Mont Tremblant and found this luxury accommodation in Tremblant, on the edge of Lake Supérieur.
Quebec’s autumn colours were starting to show but the weather was most definitely summer. We made the most of it by playing tennis on the clay courts on the edge of the lake, paddle boarding on the calm waters, wild swimming, and walking around the lake. And all whilst breathing in the fresh mountain air. Pure serenity! In the summer months you can also swim in the outdoor swimming pool and play beach volleyball.
|Where is it:||2122 Chemin du Lac-Supérieur, Lac-Supérieur, QC, J0T 1P0, Canada|
Holiday Home Medimurski Ceker, Grkaveščak, CROATIA
Truly escape from it all in this unforgettable getaway in the wine regions of northern Croatia.
When we were planning our road trip in Croatia, Slovenia & Italy, we had a yearning to stay somewhere idyllic, in the middle of nowhere, where we could escape from it all for a few days. We found Nina and Zlato’s house on AirBnB and it fit the bill perfectly.
Whilst Croatia is gaining more and more in popularity, the border between northern Croatia and Slovenia is relatively undiscovered. Grkaveščak is in the Medimurska region of Croatia, around 50 miles north of Zagreb and 30 miles east of Ptuj. We were enticed by the fact that it is well off the beaten track. It used to be part of Hungary and is known for its wine. And doesn’t it look beautiful in photographs?!
Nina and Zlato made us feel incredibly welcome. They have a house nearby and they produce their own wine (the welcome bottle was very much appreciated, as was the homemade liquor). The house has its own swimming pool and sauna and the views across the countryside are simply gorgeous!
|Where is it:||Grkaveščak, Međimurska županija, Croatia|
For ideas on how to include Croatia in a road trip with Slovenia and Italy read: Two Week Itinerary: Slovenia, Croatia & Italy.
Hotel Alpenhof Murnau, Bavaria, GERMANY
Pure luxury off the beaten track in Germany, surrounded by mountains and lakes.
Fed up of the dreary UK winter, we wanted to experience winter freshness for a few days in another country. Neither of us had heard of Murnau before until we stumbled across this hotel on the Small Luxury Hotels of the World website. A quick bit of research and we learned that we could get there by flying into Munich and taking an onwards train.
The reason the Hotel Alpenhof Murnau has made it onto this list is because of its stunning location and exceptional levels of customer service. Some luxury hotels can feel a bit intimidating if you’re not flashing the cash (or is it just us who feels this way?), but not this hotel. From the welcome drink on arrival, to the stunning fruit platter that was brought to our room as a gift, this hotel made us feel incredible relaxed and welcome.
The hotel is decorated stylishly and immaculately in what we would describe as ‘contemporary traditional Bavarian’. A new restaurant has opened since we stayed here, but we were extremely impressed with the high quality of the food when we were there. The spa was clean and well equipped, whilst the outdoor Finnish kelo-house sauna was an experience not to be missed! It was too cold to swim in the outdoor pool whilst we were there, but that did not stop us looking at it longingly!
|Where is it:||Alpenhof Murnau, Ramsachstraße 8|
82418 Murnau am Staffelsee, Bavaria, Germany
|Booked with:||Small Luxury Hotels of the World (NB. No longer on the SLH website)|
Frost & Fire Boutique Hotel, ICELAND
An intimate Icelandic escape complete with mountain and river views from outdoor hot tubs. Perfectly situated for exploring the Golden Circle and seeing the Aurora Borealis.
The rooms in the Frost & Fire Boutique Hotel are comfortable and smartly decorated. The hotel’s restaurant is wonderful. Dishes are prepared in hot springs, using the Icelandic geothermal cooking technique which was developed by early settlers. It’s the hotel’s location, however, and the features it has to make the most of its location which makes it one of our best accommodation experiences.
When we planned our road trip to Iceland our dream included being stunned by snowy landscapes, sitting outdoors in a hot tub drinking champagne whilst admiring the landscapes, and maybe, just maybe, seeing the Northern Lights. The Frost & Fire Boutique Hotel made our dreams come true.
The hotel is located around 30-40 minutes from Reykjavik, nestled in the geothermal foothills on the banks of the Varmá river above the village of Hveragerði village. It is conveniently situated for exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle landmarks and accessing the Ring Road.
|Where is it:||Hverhamar, 810 Hveragerdi, Iceland|
Hotel Maritim Resort & Spa, Balaclava, MAURITIUS
Stunning 5-star resort right on the beach, set within 25 hectares of lush tropical gardens with its own equestrian centre, golf course, tennis courts, giant tortoise park…the list goes on and on.
We confess that we’re not usually ‘resort people’. However, Mauritius was our first long haul trip with a baby (she was 7 months old at the time) and we wanted to make life as easy as possible for ourselves. We booked the Maritim Hotel when a ridiculously good deal came up on Voyage Privé, combining Mauritius with Dubai.
For more on combining Mauritius with other destinations for a holiday of a lifetime read Mauritius Multi Centre Holidays: 8 Incredible Ideas.
The Maritim is in the north-west of Mauritius, in the area of Balaclava. One of Mauritius’ national monuments is within the grounds of the hotel: the ‘Ruins of Balaclava’, the remains of an arsenal, iron foundry, and powder mill dating back to the 18th-century.
The hotel’s facilities are extensive. Tennis courts, water skiing, glass-bottom boat trips, windsurfing, kayaking, PADI diving, bicycles, a gym, full-service spa, horse riding, and pétanque are all available for guests to use. And that’s without mentioning the stunning swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. Oh, and there’s an Equestrian Centre, giant tortoise park, 6 restaurants, and a new entertaining space opening within some of the renovated ruins.
If you just wanted to go to Mauritius and stay within the resort you’d have more than enough to keep you occupied for a few weeks. If you want to explore the island (and we definitely think you should), the hotel can arrange excursions, although you will pay hotel prices. The one downside: the hotel is not on a public transport route which makes exploring under your own steam difficult.
|Where is it:||Balaclava/Turtle Bay, Terre Rouge, Mauritius|
|Booked with:||Voyage Privé|
Want to know more about when you should go to Mauritius? Read When is the Best Time to Visit Mauritius?
The Pearl Marrakech, Marrakech, MOROCCO
A luxury spa retreat with rooftop views of the medina and the Atlas Mountains.
Marrakech is a crazy, hectic, wonderful city that is a true multi-sensory experience. The sights, smells, and sounds will steamroller you, leaving you giddy with it all. It’s a city that is perfect for exploring, but also one that you need to retreat from. Our stay at The Pearl Marrakech provided the tranquil and luxurious base we didn’t know we were craving until we got there.
From the moment we stepped foot into the hotel, the sumptuous fabrics and marble decoration instantly refreshed and relaxed us. A true haven from the chaotic and noisy medina. The luxurious touches continue into the bedrooms where the decadent velvets and beautiful hardwood floors blend perfectly with the Moroccan lighting and artwork. Our Junior Suite was huge, the perfect size for two adults and a 1-year old sleeping in a cot.
The food at The Pearl Marrakech is hard to beat. First of all the breakfasts (included in our room rate) were a Moroccan feast. Everything was fresh and beautifully presented, Moroccan and western delicacies pairing deliciously. The hotel has an Italian, a Japanese, and a Moroccan restaurant (the Japanese was our favourite – such delicious food!), and a couple of bars, including one on the roof next to the rooftop swimming pool. Talking of the rooftop, the panoramic views across the city, including the medina, were spectacular.
The hotel’s health and wellbeing facilities are pretty much unbeatable. As well as the rooftop pool there’s another outdoor pool and an indoor pool that will have you feeling like you’re in an Arabian Nights dream. In fact, the whole spa will have you pinching yourself to see if you’re dreaming. Forget having a harman with the locals, it’s more suitable for A-list celebrities. In fact Cristiano Ronaldo has been a guest here! We’re guessing even one of the world’s greatest ever footballers was impressed with the gym facilities.
Rarely do we visit a place and find ourselves torn between exploring and staying in the hotel. The Pearl Marrakech made it hard to resist that temptation!
Thinking of planning a trip to Marrakech? You need to read: First Time in Marrakech? Learn From Our Mistakes.
|Where is it:||Hivernage, Marrakech, Morocco|
|Booked with:||Voyage Privé|
Bocas del Mar, Chiriqui, PANAMA
In an ‘escape from it all location’ with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Chiriqui National Park.
Bocas del Mar secures its place in this article because of its stunning location. In the Chiriqui region in the west of Panama, this hotel is an oasis of tranquility. It’s set right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, overlooking the Gulf of Chiriqui National Park. You can explore the Park on a boat trip and land on one of the many Robinson Crusoe-esque islands, complete with powder white sand and turquoise waters.
Back at the hotel, it’s impossible to resist diving into the pool. Swimming laps in the early morning against the ocean backdrop is invigorating. Or, if you had more of a relaxing break in mind, take it easy and soak in the view from a sunbed instead. Maybe have a massage in the hut looking out over the water, if you can tear yourself away from the sun lounger.
The bungalow style rooms of this boutique hotel are bright, airy, clean and comfortable. The food served in the kitchen of the on site restaurant is wonderful, especially the fresh seafood and regional specialities.
|Where is it:||Boca Chica, Chiriqui, Panama|
We visited Panama as part of a three week trip, including Miami and New York. Read about our itinerary in our article How to Combine Miami, Panama & New York in One Epic Trip.
If you’d like to know more about Panama City, read 10 Reasons Why You Must Visit Panama City.
Pousada Mosteiro Do Crato, PORTUGAL
If you’re looking for somewhere unusual to stay where you can truly escape from it all, this is the perfect hotel.
This luxury hotel was built in the 14th century and has previously been a palace, convent, and castle! It’s on the edge of the Alentejo region and definitely fits the category of ‘unique stay‘. If you have always dreamed of staying in a castle, this place is perfect! Just look at it. The hotel is set within beautiful grounds and it has a stunning outdoor swimming pool. The views across the Portuguese countryside are sublime. It’s a dignified and sophisticated stay, no swim-up bars or nightclubs on site.
There are 24 rooms in total and we’d booked a superior room. However, on check-in we were upgraded to the master suite (much to our surprise!). We have never stayed in a hotel room like it, and probably never will again. It was as if we were royalty in the 1500s! The room was enormous with thick stone walls, a fireplace, and a four-poster bed. We even had access to our own turret.
|Where is it:||Mosteiro de Flor da Rosa, Crato, Portugal|
|Booked with:||Small Luxury Hotels of the World (NB. No longer on the SLH website)|
Otočec Castle Hotel, SLOVENIA
A fairytale stay in a historical castle on an islet in the middle of a river.
If you have ever wanted to sleep in a castle, Hotel Otočec is a dream destination and a stay here feels as if you’re stepping into a fairy tale. Set in a unique position on an islet in the River Krka, the hotel provides the perfect opportunity for rest and relaxation. The building combines Gothic and Renaissance architecture but is modernised throughout. The bedrooms are gorgeous and the quality of the food in the restaurant is beyond excellent.
|Where is it:||Otočec, River Krka, Slovenia|
|Booked with:||Hotel’s website|
For more on our trip to Slovenia read Two Week Itinerary: Slovenia, Croatia & Italy.
Parador de Cadiz, Cadiz, SPAIN
Modern luxury with spectacular views across the historical city and the Atlantic Ocean.
Cadiz is an incredible city. Situated on Spain’s south-west coast, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on three sides, it’s a glorious sight to behold. The gorgeous historical architecture, the delicate scent of oranges, the vibrant yet laid back vibe…we’re ready to move there!
Spanish paradors are luxury hotels, usually in converted historic buildings. The Parador de Cadiz is something a bit different because it’s a hotel in a modern building. But it’s a very special building. The hotel is situated on the coast, with La Caleta beach on one side and Parque Genovés on the other. In most hotels you have to pay extra to get a sea view. Not in the Parador de Cadiz. Every room has floor to ceiling glass doors leading out to a private balcony with spectacular panoramic views over the city and out to sea! No doubt you’re starting to understand why the Parador de Cadiz is one of our fantastic accommodation experiences.
When we booked our stay at the Parador de Cadiz our daughter had just started to sleep through the night. After 10 months of broken sleep we weren’t taking any chances and we wanted her cot to be in its own space. We booked a junior suite (not something we usually do) and we couldn’t have been more impressed! The room was stunning. Immaculately decorated in calming shades of mint and cream, with plush fabrics and marble bathrooms. Yes, that pluralisation is correct…the room had two bathrooms!
The hotel has a gym, a spa, outdoor swimming pools, i’s own shops, and a restaurant. We didn’t use the spa because we have a rule that we never pay for using spa facilities (as distinct from spa treatments) when we’re hotel guests. This was one of the only disappointing things about the hotel – in our view such facilities should be free for hotel guests to use. We also didn’t get to use the swimming pools as they’re closed in winter. We guess this is understandable but hugely disappointing nevertheless. Especially when temperatures were in the 20s (Celsius).
We had a wonderful stay at the Parador de Cadiz and will definitely return to stay again. Although we’ll have to come up with a difference excuse to book a junior suite again!
|Where is it:||Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain|
To plan your own trip to Cadiz read 24 Hours in Cadiz – A Perfect Spanish City Break.
Little Polkerris, Cornwall, UK
A converted barn in a rural Cornish location with sea views…and it’s reasonably priced.
Our holiday in Cornwall was our daughter’s first ever holiday and we wanted the dream accommodation…rural location, gorgeous sea views, a unique property. There are so many places in Cornwall fitting this criteria, an overwhelming amount. However, they are also expensive (in our opinion at least). We thought we’d have to give up on the dream, and then we came across Little Polkerris on the Cornish Gems website.
Little Polkerris is a converted barn with contemporary open plan living space and a fully equipped kitchen. It’s in the middle of a beautiful meadow and feels remote, even though it’s actually very close to Polkerris Beach and Fowey. You can admire the sea views from the outdoor hot tub without fear of being observed by anyone else.
It’s marketed as a place for two people, although there is a second bedroom with twin beds. It’s in what we imagine was once a hay loft and the stairs/ladder up to it are steep. It doesn’t have wifi and this is possibly why it’s cheaper than so many other places in Cornwall, although the ability to disconnect is a plus point in our eyes (and there’s 4G connectivity in any event).
As with a lot of accommodation in Cornwall, dogs are allowed in the property. We don’t have a dog and so we usually avoid ‘pet-friendly’ places. In Cornwall, however, we found it difficult to find a place that was baby/child-friendly and not pet-friendly. Make up your own minds as to whether this is a coincidence or not!
|Where is it:||Little Polkerris, Fowey, Cornwall|
|Booked with:||Cornish Gems|
To help you plan a holiday in Cornwall, read A Guide to the Perfect Week in Cornwall.
Paris Las Vegal Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA
Parisian chic, complete with Eiffel Tower, on the Las Vegas Strip with fantastic views of the Bellagio fountains.
Choosing a hotel in Vegas is like choosing to stay in one of your favourite dreams! Howabout a romantic city break in Venice? Or pretending you’re one of King Arthur’s knights at Excalbur? What about being one of Danny Ocean’s gang at the Bellagio? There is so much choice that it can be as overwhelming as Sin City itself (which is a good thing, FYI!).
One of our favourite cities in the world is Paris (the other is Seville) and so we decided to stay in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. It has all of the things you’d expect from a Vegas hotel: casino, spa, nightclubs, shows, spectacular swimming pool, lots of restaurants…so far, so Las Vegas standard.
The Paris Hotel is one of our favourite accommodation experiences, however, because it has an unbeatable location right in the middle of the strip. It’s opposite the Bellagio hotel with fantastic views of the famous fountains. And setting it apart even further is its commitment to Paris detail. It actually has a half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, complete with viewing platform and light show! The hotel’s swimming pool is at the bottom of the tower and you can actually have a picnic underneath!
Other Parisian features include: the Arc de Triomphe, the façade of the Louvre museum, the gorgeous Opera Garnier, the Hotel de Ville, and the golden majesty of the Alexander III Bridge.
NB. The photo above is taken from the Bellagio, where we have also stayed and highly recommend.
If any of these places take your fancy, or you have a fantastic accommodation experience of your own to recommend, let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.