9 Best Secret Hotels in the World
Each year, Budget Travel scouts out undiscovered hotels in popular destinations, from Italy to California wine country. Here, we pull the best of our picks from around the world, all for less than $210 a night.
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Mount Haven Hotel, Penzance, Cornwall, U.K.
Orange Trevillion was drawn to Penzance, at the end of Cornwall, because of the town's proximity to St. Michael's Mount, an ancient craggy island that looks a lot like a lopsided volcano. "It's a sacred place," says Trevillion, an eccentric with carrot-colored hair (of course) who believes that four of the Earth's energy lines come together here. Formerly the site of a Benedictine priory and rumored to have once been home to a giant, the island got its name when a fisherman claimed to have seen the Archangel Michael there many years ago. Trevillion and her partners bought Mount Haven in 2001. They knocked down walls and reconfigured the old coach house to maximize views of St. Michael's Mount and the ocean. Most of the 18 rooms look out on the water. They have a distinctly Asian feel, with silk bedspreads and throw pillows covered in embroidered fabrics from Trevillion's frequent trips to India. (Room 6 is the quietest, away from both the front desk and the terrace.) Even the restaurant, where many dishes are flavored with curry and lemongrass, has views of the Mount. But the best seats are on the terrace: You can see the island rising steeply out of the water, a medieval castle on its tippy-top. (Owned by the National Trust, the castle is open to the public.) At low tide, when people stroll across a granite causeway to visit, it appears as if they're walking on water. Beyond Mounts Bay and Penzance, the city made famous by Gilbert and Sullivanm is Land's End. 011-44/173-671-0249, mounthaven.co.uk, from $206, includes breakfast.
Tenuta di Roccadia, Carlentini, Sicily, Italy
In 1988, Pietro Vacirca gave up the family clothing business to buy an abandoned 19th-century farm built on the site of a thousand-year-old Cistercian convent. "Finding Roccadia was like finding a beautiful woman," Pietro says. "So I got married—for the second time. First my wife, then Roccadia." Five years later, Pietro opened Tenuta di Roccadia as an agriturismo with horseback riding and hiking trails. Arranged in long buildings draped in flowering vines, the 20 guest rooms are large, with sturdy wooden furnishings and wrought-iron bed frames; six of the rooms feature lofted sleeping areas built of rough timbers. A patio looks over citrus groves in a valley to the snowcapped peak of Mount Etna beyond. Roccadia's olive and citrus groves, almond trees, and sheep provide most of the ingredients for the preserves, liqueurs, honeys, cheeses, and whatever else smells so good in the kitchen. Four-course dinners (starting at $28) begin promptly at 8 P.M. in the dining room, where old farm implements hang under a high wood ceiling, or on the terrace in summer. 011-39/095-990-362, roccadia.com, from $98, including breakfast.
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