Where you spend your evenings and nights is just as important as where you spend your days. When visiting a country most travelers take a city tour to orient them to the historic sites and culture of the country. When you stay in a property like the ones listed below you are enhancing that experience. A riad, chateau, pousada, parador, trullo, villa, or castle all are architecturally interesting and uniquely fitting to the country. For those who say, “it doesn’t matter where we stay, we are only sleeping there.” I say, reconsider. Why cut your experience in half?
Riads in Morocco
When visiting Morocco you will certainly want to stay in a riad; a traditional house or palaces that have been turned into elegant hotels. The design of a riad is unique in that all of the rooms face inward to an open atrium. Originally this plan provided for privacy, protection, and reflection, and still does today. The word riad comes from the Arabian word for garden or “ryad” and originated in Volubilis (a must-see with fabulous Roman ruins.) When you walk into the Moroccan riads you notice immediately the center garden with lemon and orange trees, and almost always at least one fountain; it is a peaceful place. The walls are decorated with elaborate tiles and Arabic calligraphy—it is magical and mystical and grand.
Live like true royalty during your next visit to France. All chateaux bring guests a taste of the good life in old fashioned style and atmosphere. The rooms are like something right out of history books, with dated and delicate antique furniture and lovely linens. Each room has its own unique decor and atmosphere. Most chateaux are blessed with a fine location as a luxurious oasis. Whether it’s a chateau nestled in the midst of vineyards or just a few miles from a thriving city, staff can usually arrange activities such as bicycling, croquet or horseback riding in the nearby countryside.
Castle & Stately Homes
The United Kingdom is blessed with many castles, often in stunning locations, all full of history. Many of these national treasures now offer accommodations, from bed and breakfast to luxurious 4 or 5 star hotels. Some even offer self-catering so that you can be your own Lord and Lady of the Manor. While some of these stately homes lie in ruins following sieges and battles, many more have been lovingly restored, and so for a brief moment in time you can dine like a king and rest in a monarch’s bedchamber. These magnificent buildings are exquisite examples of an architectural style and the fabric of UK history.
Experience living in a trullo, a traditional dry stone hut with a conical roof, generally constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural laborers. A large number of trullo houses have been restored and converted into self-catering cottages and luxury hotels in the southeastern Puglia region of Italy.
Perhaps you would prefer a historic pousada situated in a historic monument, preserving pieces of history intact, while providing contemporary comfort in luxury accommodations. Or a nature pousada with luxurious accommodations while savoring the local culture in nature settings. Maybe a historically designed pousada that has been restored to represent and recover historic aspects of their time, while offering contemporary comfort in luxury accommodations within the thematic concepts of the era. Or choose a simple, however charming pousada located in a building that blends with the local architecture while maintaining the flavor of local folk and culture.
In Spain, staying in a parador means you will be in a type of luxury hotel, usually located in a historic building such as a lovingly restored monastery, castle, palace, fortress or convent. Each parador is different. Some are nestled within the walls of an old town, others sit on splendid countryside estates, others cling to cliffs, sit on hilltops or alongside the beach. Each experience is exclusively Spain. When compared to other lodging, rates are quite reasonable and are outfitted with modern amenities. There is even a parador culinary school which trains the majority of chefs where many ancient and local recipes are modernized for today’s tastes.
The best way to experience the tremendous beauty and culture of Tuscany is to rent an Italian villa in the countryside. You will have a home base from which to explore the surrounding area, while taking advantage of such amenities as a swimming pool and enchanting views.