Take Off On a Whim
Three outstanding holidays still booking for summer 2014:
An exquisitely stylish and peaceful escape from the stresses of life. Enjoy excellent food and wine in spectacular surroundings.
The Duoro Valley in Portugal is now recognized as one of Europe’s finest wine growing regions and Quinta do Vallado, established in 1716, is one of the oldest and most famous “Quintas” in the Douro Valley.
Over the past twenty years the Estate and vineyards have benefited from a visionary programme of investment and replanting. A new state of the art winery was built in 2009 and Quito do Vallado wines have achieved national and international acclaim.
Quinto do Vallado’s Wine Hotel boasts 5 rooms in the original manor house and five in the stunning, new build by celebrated architects, Arq. The truly new hotel is built from slate forming an echo to the predominantly slate soil in which the vines grow.
More info: Quinto do Vallado. Rates from £110 per room per night.
Escape to your own unique bolthole and live a life less ordinary.
If you’re a fan of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces then you’ll love La Maison Ronde, a fabulous piece of architectural whimsy that wears its quirks on its sleeve.
Tucked among the curves of a French country garden, La Maison Ronde was recently voted one of The Times fifteen best places for a wild time.
The walls of the roundhouse are dotted with coloured glass, sending shafts of red, blue and green light into its cosy, rustic interior. You have a simple, private kitchen, shower and loo down at the site and stunning views over the hills of the Dordogne to enjoy as you while away the lazy summer afternoons.
Ask Hester, your host, about the range of activities and sights nearby, or just relax into your corner of the South of France.
More info: Canopy and Stars. Sleeps 2. Rates from £60 per night.
Adventure and Scenery
In the summer the alpine region of Portes du Soliel transforms into a mountain biking mecca.
The French and Swiss mountains in the area are scattered with beautiful forests, and stunning scenery. There are 12 villages and 650 km of slopes to explore with the aid of 22 mountain lifts. If you’re only interested in descent you can ride the lifts all day without having to go uphill.
Using the same principles adopted for winter sports, the trails are graded for difficulty and all abilities are catered to. There are gnarly single-track forest trails and wide graded routes across lush alpine meadows complete with obligatory grazing cows.
The perfect destination for active couples, families and groups. There’s a massive choice of accommodation in the area for all budgets and all equipment can be hired in resort.
More info: Portes du Soliel Ski and Bike
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