It’s that time of year when we pause (briefly) from persuading you to book your next holiday, and instead thank you for your custom – and your glowing feedback. It warms our hearts to read about all the hoteliers and hosts who have looked after you so outstandingly well.
So here are the 10 winners, based on your own feedback scores. No pompous panels or fancy ceremonies; just heartfelt word-of-mouth endorsements for magical places which slip below the travel radar. The crème de la crème of the world’s best hideaways. Exactly what we’re all about.
This great-value B&B in buzzing Falmouth has, in the words of our expert reviewer, “glorious sea views, a laid-back vibe and a dash of sophisticated Scandinavian style”. Guests clearly agree, adding raves for “the superb welcome from Freyja and her team”, “the magnificent rooms”, the “delicious breakfast, with choices for vegetarians and carnivores alike”, and “the perfect location, convenient for the beach and the town”. Sounds like a winner, then – and now it officially is.
When we discovered this gorgeous little barn rental tucked away in the Cranborne Chase AONB last March, we knew we were onto a good thing. With an amazing open-plan living space and 2 bedrooms, it’s “the perfect weekend escape for one or two couples, or for a family with small children”, says our Associate Editor Liz. Besides the “Instagram heaven of boho-chic furnishings”, guests heap praise on owner Clare (“really helpful both before we arrived and when we were there”) and the unsung local area (“we particularly liked Old Wardour castle”). All in all, it’s “another brilliant i-escape recommendation!”
This is one of those places that Grecophiles-in-the-know return to year after year – including an i-escape director. “Beautiful cottages, wonderful location, excellent food, brilliant service”, says a recent guest; “I’m not surprised that Elieshas guests coming back for 10+ years! We plan to join those ranks.” And another: “The first time I visited Elies in 2011, I was blown away by the tranquility and beauty. Seven years later, it still exceeds my expectations. Kardamyli is just as peaceful, the cottage spotlessly clean, the beach safe and spotless, the hikes well signposted with hidden gems and glorious views”. We couldn’t put it better.
This historic townhouse in one of the eastern Algarve’s prettiest whitewashed towns has a laid-back Moroccan riad feel, wallet-friendly prices, and some stunning island beaches nearby. It’s long been one of our bestsellers; now it also tops the feedback list. Guests cite the “fabulous hosts”, “fantastic breakfasts” (including gluten-free options), the tranquil “Moorish courtyards and top-floor pool deck (great for a chill out)”, and the “perfect location – extremely close to markets, great restaurants, shops and boat trip departure points”. All in all, it’s “one of the most beautiful and natural places I’ve ever stayed”.
Summer or winter, this superbly welcoming boutique spa hotel in the Salzburger Alps offers spectacular views, healthy mountain cuisine and inspirational guided activities – at no extra cost. This makes it a great option “if you don’t want to figure out what to do and eat each day”. Everyone has their own highlight. “The hiking and views are extraordinary” says one; “the massages were great!” another; and it’s “a great place for families”. Our favourite: “The perfect destination for me to reconnect with nature and to nourish my soul.” We all need a bit of that.
This “magical fort set in the hills” near Udaipur is a surefire winner – or, to quote a recent guest, a “unique re-generating experience in a fairytale hotel”. Splash in the green marble pool, dine in the pavilion restaurant, or “rent a motorbike for fun-filled trips into the countryside”. Staff are superb and leave no stone unturned: “Service amazing. Food fantastic. Location fabulous. Room and facilities excellent.” Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 10/10.
This chic staffed villa is set on one of Galle’s best sandy beaches, with lazy indoor-outdoor living areas, a pair of sea-view bedrooms and a sleek lap pool. It has all you need for a “fantastic holiday: perfect beach, lovely pool, gorgeous sunsets”. “The house staff make you feel at home”, “the garden is pristine”, and “Ruwan the cook is just the best: every meal we picked was very tasty and we could not wait until dinner to try another one”. Time to book to that trip to Sri Lanka?
This wonderfully unpretentious family-friendly hideaway in the Cretan foothills has cosy cottages for 2-6 from £100/night, not to mention a great taverna and a sociable pool. “This is our third time and it continues to be absolutely excellent”, says a recent guest, “particularly with young children – and even for families of 5, like ours”. Another calls it “simply a jewel of a place… the best international holiday we have ever experienced. It is that good”. Staff are “excellent and exemplary, so helpful and friendly”, while the location is “picturesque and easy to find, with options for car rental or airport transfers”.
We first visited Olmet in 2017 just as the painstaking top-to-toe rebuild came to an end, so we’re delighted to see it forge a loyal fanbase so rapidly. “This is really special” says a recent (and well-travelled) guest; “Eric and Steven are fabulous hosts, giving top class service in their beautiful guest house.” Another couple “honestly loved everything about the Chateau – especially our super king bed, fluffy towels and powerful rain shower.” Others appreciate the “gorgeous little villages and the beaches of Cap D’Agde”, and the mix of “great local restaurants, Eric’s delicious Assiette Campagnard” and “DIY suppers using the guest kitchen”. In fact, it’s so good, “it’s almost too good to share”. Shhh.
This is no ordinary glamping. You sleep on comfy beds in hand-stitched tents overlooking a lake awash with waterfowl; awake to the glint of sunrise and the sound of birdsong; and dine al fresco on home-cooked curries with aromatic rice, tamarind and aubergine, while logs glow in the firebowl and the scent of rose petals fills the air. Little wonder that those who make the journey can barely find words to describe the magic of it all. “Outstanding”, they muster, or “In a word – fantastic”. It is clearly “a privilege to stay at such a tranquil place with such exceptionally knowledgeable owners”.