CHEAP CHIC EUROPE
Agatha Slept Here
Four top historic cottages are newly open to guests, thanks to the Royal Oak Foundation and Britain's National Trust.
Home Farm Drive, Warwickshire
In the 1930s, petroleum millionaire Viscount Bearsted converted his 18th-century stable into a three-bedroom cottage for his rabbi. The original wooden beds and tile fireplace are still in the stone house; period-style faucets and lighting were added this year. The cottage sits on the grounds of Bearsted's Upton House, where you can view his El Greco and Brueghel paintings. Upton House, Banbury, from $23 per person, sleeps five.
The Apartment at Greenway, Devon
Mystery lovers will recognize the woodland garden at Greenway, Agatha Christie's holiday home—it appears in three of her books, including Dead Man's Folly. After an $8.8 million restoration, you can now rent a 10-person apartment in the mansion and sleep amid Christie's collection of oil paintings. Greenway, Galmpton, from $18 per person, sleeps 10.
Wireless Cottage, Cornwall
In the early 1900s, the man who invented the radiotelegraph, Guglielmo Marconi, worked out of Wireless Cottage, on a cliff overlooking Housel Bay, near Britain's southernmost point. Marconi's three-room house has been renovated with maritime touches, including kitchen tiles imprinted with ocean fossils. Next door you can see replicas of his equipment in a small museum. The Lizard, Helston, from $44 per person, sleeps two.
Shedbush Farmhouse, Dorset
Like something out of a Thomas Hardy novel, this property has brick walls, a thatched roof, and windows looking out onto an apple orchard and grazing sheep. All three bedrooms have antique furnishings and ceilings with exposed wooden beams. Golden Cap, from $26 per person, sleeps six.
One-week minimum. To book, go to nationaltrustcottages.co.uk.