Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Five Best: Village Hotels

Get to the heart of rural bliss in these idyllic countryside hideaways.

Hotel Portmeirion, UK

The fantasy of developing a community without harming the beauty of its environment led the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis to embark on the creation of Portmeirion in 1925. Today, the village, located on a peninsula off the coast of Snowdonia in North Wales, attracts 250,000 visitors a year - a lucky few of whom stay at the Hotel Portmeirion. As well as 14 guest rooms in the main building, the hotel also has a further 26 rooms and suites around the village.

Hotel Portmeirion, Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Wales ( www.portmeirion-village.com). Double cottage rooms start at £125.

The "hotel corridors" of Les Deux Abbesses consist of pebbled lanes crowded with hollyhocks. The hotel has 14 rooms in a dozen restored cottages alongside a 12th-century château in the picturesque hamlet of Saint Arcons d'Allier. It was in the 1970s that community chiefs began converting derelict buildings into rental homes before Les Deux Abbesses, a Relais and Châteaux property, opened seven years ago. The décor throughout is light, airy and stylish. La Grange has a striking antique stone bath in front of large bay windows and a four-poster bed fashioned from birch trunks. La Cabane, a former chicken and goat shelter, is a cosy cottage with warm red walls.

Les Deux Abbesses, Le Château, Le Bourg, Saint Arcons d'Allier, France ( www.lesdeuxabbesses.com). Doubles start at €422 (£301), half board. Closes annually for winter.

Kura Hulanda, Curaçao

Kura Hulanda has 65 historic buildings in a designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. The hotel is at the heart of a unique village complex that aims to preserve Dutch colonial heritage in Curaçao's capital, Willemstad. Spanning eight blocks, the "village" is home to 80 guest-rooms in restored properties dotted around several courtyards. Carved teak, indigenous antiques, local artwork, and linens set an elegant tone throughout. There is also the Curaçao Garden with herbs and fruits used daily by the chef as well as a Village Square and Sculpture Garden.

Hotel Kura Hulanda, Langestraat 8, Willemstad, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles ( www.kurahulanda.com). Doubles start at US$274 (£152), room only.

Taybet Zaman, Jordan

Located in the shadow of Petra, the 19th-century Ottoman village of Taybet was once home to a lively rural community. However, by the 1960s, a dwindling population prompted the mayor to begin to transform it into a village hotel. Cavernous Bedouin-style rooms adorned with the work of local artisans are found throughout the village today. There is also a Turkish bath, an Arab bakery and a souk where local crafts such as pottery and weaving are produced. The square is often the site for dancing.

Taybet Zaman, Petra, Jordan. Double rooms from £57, including breakfast, through Longwood Holidays ( www.longwoodholidays.co.uk).

Castello di Gargonza, Italy

With its own tower, fortified walls and a tiny 13th-century church, Castello di Gargonza is a postcard-perfect medieval village perched on a hill in southern Tuscany. Owned by an Italian count intent on injecting life into a shrinking community, Gargonza underwent the first steps of its transformation in the 1970s. Three decades later, the village has a seven-bedroom guest house and 23 "casa" apartments scattered throughout. Locally produced wine and olive oil is on sale while a restaurant just outside the walls serves Tuscan delicacies.

Castello di Gargonza, Monte San Savino, Tuscany, Italy ( www.gargonza.it). Doubles in the guest house start at €110 (£79) including breakfast; apartments start at €700 (£500) per week, self-catering.

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