Escape hectic city streets and the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience a luxurious country break in Europe's most sought after retreats dotted across France, Spain and Italy. With Christmas drawing ever so near, now is the perfect opportunity to think about festive travel for an adventure away before the stress of the holiday season takes it toll.
Cuddle up by the fireplace in the fairytale interiors of Europe's finest hotels, sample gourmet cuisine brought to you by world-class chefs and admire the peaceful rolling views from just outside your window. Enjoy a moment of peace and quiet in the tranquillity of nature’s surroundings. Whether lavish dreamy castle settings or cosy country cottages, a rural retreat is pure bliss and ideal for a weekend getaway.
CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL GALLERY
Chateau de Massillan, France
Nestled in the breathtaking countryside of Provence’s Cote du Rhone wine region, the Chateau de Massillan combines contemporary flair with traditional comforts. The cosmopolitan castle's original style remains on the inside and outside and the 12 elegant rooms are laiden with 18th century furniture but with an added modern touch.
With its vast Murano chandeliers, antique mirrors and fountains, the rustic yet highly luxurious chateau looks like a fairy-tale setting. Set in 24 acres of Parkland, the hotel boasts a 14-metre swimming pool, pine woods and a 19th century walled vegetable garden. Dating back to 1550, the hotel situated near Avignon and Orange was previously owned by Diane de Poitiers, the famous mistress of Henry II.
Villa Mangiacane, Italy
The stunning Villa Mangiacane sits in the heart of a Tuscan wine and olive estate and dating back to the 15th century the interior design was strongly influenced by the Renaissance era. Built by the Machiavelli family, the villa is located just outside of Florence so makes the perfect destination to rest and rejuvenate while also having the close proximity of a vibrant city to explore.
Sample fine wines and olive oil harvested from the 600 acres of vineyards and groves, wander around the never-ending manicured lawns or even take a short drive to visit the villa’s neighbouring city Florence.
Hotel ValdePalacios, Spain
Boasting its own private estate of over 1400 acres and a renowned Caroli Health club, the five star Hotel ValdePalacios is the hot spot for those looking to unwind and relax in a luxurious, stress-free environment. Located in the heart of Castilla’s countryside near Madrid, the hotel’s facilities stretch from an indoor swimming pool and sauna to a Turkish bath and massage treatments.
For those wanting to immerse themselves in the great outdoors of the Spanish coutryside, breath in the fresh air on a horse-riding trip or enjoy a round of golf in the vast grounds surrounding the secluded rustic cottage. What’s more, earning the impressive title 'chef of the year' in 2010, Juan Carlos serves the best of his gourmet delights to tickle the taste-buds of tourists wanting to experience Spanish cuisine in all its glory.
The hotel’s Tierra restaurant menu combines traditional Spanish food with the rich culture of the region and, thanks to the never-ending vineyards on the hotel’s doorstep, the wine menu is exceptional.
All the news as Duchess Kate's due date draws close...