Alternative Country Escapes
Country escapes don’t have to be stuffy affairs – castaway on a private island or golf like Goldfinger with our travel tips.
Deplar Farm, Troll Peninsula, Iceland
Dodge Iceland’s crowds in the South and seek out the immeasurable quiet of the Troll Peninsula, where Deplar Farm appears to emerge from the landscape with grass-covered rooftops. Plan your trip around the seasons: in winter, there’s heli-skiing, black runs and some of the best views of the Northern Lights, and in summer, prepare yourself for breathtaking scenery and delight in fishing for salmon, trout and char (which you’ll see again at supper). Don’t miss the signature cocktail, The Artisan, at the horse-shoe shaped bar, crafted with hard Icelandic liquor.
Amanpulo, Palawan, Philippines
In 1996, Alex Garland wrote his best-selling novel The Beach, and set it in Thailand to put intrepid readers off his new-found secret: Palawan. The archipelago is like an outstretched finger off the west coast of the Philippines, pointing towards Brunei. Nowadays, Amanpulo’s private island resort is surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Sulu Sea, where you can scuba dive in a coral reef, kayak quietly around the island, snorkel and swim; or just sip cocktails at the floating bamboo bar as the sun goes down.
Castello di Casole, Tuscany, Italy
In the 1960s, Luchino Visconti was nominated for an Academy Award, and his brother Edoardo threw parties at Castello di Casole; invitations read like credits from a Hollywood movie and Luchino was a permanent guest. Both siblings had a flair for the theatrical, and unsurprisingly the property still resembles the most romantic of film sets. The carefully restored 10th century castle stands among 4200 acres of land where you can spend the days searching for truffles, hunting wild boar, hiking, biking and swimming. And after all that, allow yourself a well-earned glass (or bottle) of the estate’s own vintage Dodici at the aptly named Bar Visconti.
Battlesteads, Northumberland, UK
Battlesteads is the only hotel in the UK with an on-site observatory, arguably making it the only billion-star hotel, too. Star-gazing experiences, astronomy workshops, photography classes and luxury lodges all add to the charm of the space, which is just a few minutes walk from the River North Tyne. From Aurora Hunting to Night Sky Tours, the team will talk you through constellations, clusters and comets, and you can retire to your cosy bedroom to count your lucky stars.
Terre Blanche, France
Once owned by Sean Connery, Terre Blanche is a sprawling hotel in Tourrettes, a pretty pocket of Provence in the Côte d’Azur countryside. The James Bond actor wrote in his memoirs that since filming Goldfinger, he developed a love for the game of golf, which is high priority at Terre Blanche. The prestigious grounds are designed by architect Dave Thomas and spread over 300 acres, making the perfect place to lower your handicap. Just don’t be disappointed if Oddjob isn’t your caddy.