One of my favorite types of accommodation is a good bed and breakfast. They’re affordable, you will most likely get to meet the owner (and pick their brain about the destination) and breakfast is included. This doesn’t mean I like all B&Bs. I can’t stand the kitchsy ones decorated with doilies, rocking chairs and porcelain dolls but recently I’ve stayed in five bed and breakfasts in different parts of Europe that have the sleek sense of a design hotel and even luxury amenities like designer bath products, mini refrigerators and rainfall showers. The owner of Maison Collongue in Provence, Guillaume Toutain, was a designer in Paris before moving to the Lourmarin to open his dream retreat and he had this to say about the 17th century farmhouse that now features a stark white interior and 20th century Scandinavian furnishings, “It’s a very personal place. It’s designed to please me.” If you book a stay here you will be very pleased as well.
Porto Vintage Guesthouse, Porto, Portugal
The year old Porto Vintage Guesthouse is a charming B&B in a historic townhouse in the beautiful Portuguese City of Porto. It has many of its original features like hardwood floors, crown molding and wood beam ceilings, but the designers wisely let these details shine by keeping the decor understated. They chose a neutral color palette of bright white, pale green and gray, chose modern fixtures for the bathrooms, and simple bedroom furnishings like a four poster bed with crisp white sheets. The guesthouse, located on Rua do Almada which is home to antique chops, cute cafes and design boutiques, also serves an excellent breakfast and offers a leafy back patio for guests to enjoy when the weather is better.
Snooz Inn, Ghent, Belgium
The three bedrooms at this bed and breakfast in a former printing press offer minimalist design, flatscreen TVs and even minibars. The property also has a garden and a modern wood cabana where owner Kurt Van Dan Abeele makes guests a breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt and toasted granola each morning. Van Dan Abeele is very knowledgeable about Ghent’s burgeoning food scene and can recommend restaurants and bars like Publiek, a restaurant serving innovative Flemish cuisine just down the street.
Maison Collongue, Lourmarin, France
This 10-acre property outside the village of Lourmarin has lime and cedar trees and a 40-foot swimming pool. Accomodations are in a 17th century farmhouse, an 18th century silkworm house and a 19th century Bastide, but inside the house is thoroughly modern and decorated with streamlined Scandinavian furniture and modern art. The owner even has organic bath products made just for the inn. An organic breakfast is served each morning and an al fresco dinner prepared by a local chef can be booked Tuesday nights.
Maison Noel, Lagnes, France
In a renovated stone village house in Lagnes, Brit Trish Michie is offering guests a stylish retreat with light-filled guest rooms that have modern bathrooms, hardwood floors and queen size beds. The walled back patio, where breakfast is served each morning, is lovely. Michie may invite you to join her for a glass of rosé in the evening and you should definitely accept. A stay here transports you to the pages of “A Year in Provence.”
Villa Vistarenni, Gaiole-in-Chianti, Italy
This 7 bedroom villa is furnished with an eclectic mix of family heirlooms and more modern pieces like iconic Barcelona chairs. Located on a 100-acre farm, the 17th century villa has a jaw dropping location at the top of a steep vineyard and impressive views of Chianti’s rolling hills. Breakfast each morning features home made cakes and jam.