OOO: Creative Escapes Across Europe

Enjoy a late season sabbatical or some old fashioned R&R on the other side of the pond

It happened to me: Summer has somehow flown by without actually taking that dreamy European getaway that I vowed to book back in January. The dog days may be nearly over, but I'm telling myself there's still time to sneak away from my desk before the decidedly autumnal spirit of Spirit Halloween descends upon vacant city storefronts across the country. To help myself and anyone else with a dream and PTO to spare, I've put together a short list of some design-forward B&Bs and creative residencies on the other side of the Atlantic to fulfill your endless summer dreams. Check them out, book now, and thank us later.

An ever-evolving project from husband-wife duo Carmen Atiyah de Baets and Joris ter Meulen Swijtink, Carmen brings together a shop, café, and guesthouse in a 17th-century canal house the couple inherited from his grandmother over a decade ago. With two private rooms each including en suite bathrooms, the guesthouse shows thoughtful attention to detail throughout: Tekla bathrobes, affectionately used books recommended by friends and former guests, and heirloom glassware from the founders themselves make every stay feel like home. Homewares sourced by Atiyah de Baets in collaboration with her friend, the journalist Gilles Khoury, include pottery, glassware, soaps, and slippers from their native Lebanon, available for purchase at the shop. At the adjacent Carmen Kitchen, Ter Meulen Swijtink, who trained at London’s St. John and also co-owns a local natural wine bar, offers a seasonally-changing menu of homestyle dishes inspired by his travels.

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Instagram: @casa.balandra

The ultimate home away from home awaits you at Casa Balandra, the convivial brainchild of sisters Isabella and Claudia del Olmo. Situated on the stunning island of Mallorca, Casa Balandra offers artistic residencies and guest rooms for those seeking thoughtfully prepared local cuisine and likeminded company, eager to indulge in “la buena vida.” The six double guest rooms are spacious, bright, and designed to evoke a sense of creativity, decorated with a blend of vintage statement pieces and donated works from previous artists in residence. Casa Balandra also offers guests the opportunity to come together for shared experiences including meals, creative workshops, and yoga. Leave the doors open, let the summer air pass through, and experience the true meaning of relaxation.

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Instagram: @casa.lawa

Perched among the tree-shrouded hills at the base of Mount Etna, Casa Lawa on Sicily’s eastern coast boasts awe-inspiring views of mountains on one side and the Ionian sea on the other. Named for the lava stones used to construct the house, the casa occupies a restored palmento originally built in 1812. Founder Lukas Lewandowski has made his love of cooking for others a core pillar of the Casa Lawa experience; there, guests can enjoy meals by chefs from around the world partaking in the culinary residency program, celebrating an abundance of locally sourced ingredients (including produce grown in the on-site orchards and garden) and learning age-old Sicilian culinary traditions.

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Instagram: @villamagnan

After laying in abandon for some eighty years on the outskirts of Biarritz, Villa Magnan has been restored to its original Art Deco glory by Anne and Jérôme Israël, and is now open to curious travelers looking for a historically rich and remarkably romantic place to stay. Guestrooms are located in three neo-Basque style outbuildings nestled across the estate’s three hectares of lush parkland, which is also home to a free-roaming donkey who frequently appears on the hotel’s Instagram. Each morning, guests enjoy an abundant breakfast of house made compotes, puddings, pancakes and more, with ingredients sourced from local farms and producers. De Puta Madre, the property’s explicitly named public restaurant with a kitchen housed in a converted greenhouse, offers an ever changing, always delicious set menu for lunch and dinner, prepared by rotating chefs in residence.

Book via Instagram: @villamagnan

Just a couple hours outside of Paris in the heart of the Loire Valley, Château de la Haute Borde reimagines a 19th century farmhouse as a guest house and artist’s residence, prioritizing projects by women and nonbinary creators who take an intersectional approach across a variety of media. Culinary residents feed the house for weeks or months at a time, and have full access to local producers, the on-site garden, and wild plants foraged on the property. Five simple yet elegantly designed guest rooms feature thoughtfully curated antique furniture, along with soft red and warm accent colors that compliment the surrounding outdoor greenery. After a day exploring the valley’s rich historical and cultural offerings, guests can enjoy a restorative dip in the river, then dry off next to a fire with a bottle of local wine.

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Instagram: @duneile

Surrounded by beech and oak forests in the heart of the Perche Regional Natural Park sits D’une île - much as the name suggests - an island-like B&B from the team behind cult-favorite Parisian culinary destination Septime. The property is comprised of three restored stone buildings from the seventeenth century, one of which houses eight guest rooms where you’re free to relax between exploring an abundance of local parks and flea markets. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant is the heart and soul of D’une île, with a hyper local, vegetable-forward menu directly inspired by the natural surroundings. All of the products come from producers and surrounding markets no farther away than Sarthe or Normandy, and whenever possible, vegetables are sourced directly from the property’s garden.

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Instagram: @lechaletolivet

Managed by Loire Valley-raised creatives Alice and Emile Moireau, Le Chalet Olivet sits at the edge of the Loiret River only an hour outside of Paris, yet the property feels worlds away from the bustling city of light. Built in 1862, the three-story, two-bedroom home is perfect for accommodating a smaller group of up to four guests, though the dining room easily accommodates eight, with vintage furniture sourced exclusively from local shops and markets. Stroll along the banks of the river, or better yet, take advantage of the property’s bikes and rowboat to immerse yourself in the idyllic nature just outside the door.

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For those in search of a farmhouse escape, consider traveling to Ostuni, a whitewashed town off the coast of Puglia, for a stay at Masseria Moroseta. Offering six individual bedrooms, the white stone farmhouse sits on a ridge surrounded by five hectares of centuries-old olive groves, with spectacular views of Ostuni and the Mediterranean in the distance. Masseria Moroseta is also a fully functioning farm, with regular tours of the vegetable gardens, providing a close up look at the olive oil production process. Acquaint yourself with the local ingredients more intimately in personalized cooking classes, offered exclusively to guests of the Masseria, where you’ll discover recipes inspired by the Apulian tradition with ample room for creativity.

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Instagram: @_numeroventi_

Renowned for its rich visual history, Florence continues to lure art aficionados from around the world with its abundance of museums and palazzi. Numeroventi, a boutique hotel and artist residency, provides space for local and visiting artists working across media (including culinary!) to glean inspiration from one another through the use of shared studios and communal spaces. Luckily for those who don’t self identify as as artistically inclined, all are welcome to stay at Numeroventi and soak up all of the creative energy the community has to offer. The impeccably curated six bedroom bed & breakfast is spread across three floors hidden behind the 500-year-old facade of Pallazo Galli Tassi, combining historic Renaissance and modern minimalist designs.

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Instagram: @shila_athens

In the heart of Kolonaki, one of Athens’ most elegant neighborhoods nestled into the slope of Lykavittos Hill, lies the Shila Hotel, a refurbished 1920s townhouse offering six unique suites. Blending modern elegance and the building’s original neoclassical details, each room features luxe antique furniture refinished with vintage fabrics contrasted by exposed plaster walls. A delightful breakfast is brought to your suite daily, but you’d be wise to explore common spaces including a verdant courtyard, a quiet rooftop terrace, and a library lounge with a piano, surrounded by original works from contemporary Greek and International artists. The vibe is eclectic, equal parts sexy and sophisticated, defying the traditional labels we use for lodgings.

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Instagram: @baffahouse

Ok, so this one is technically beyond Europe, but borders are a construct! The Mediterranean unites! Beirut’s charming and light-filled Baffa House is nestled next to the site of the historic Mar Mikhael Train Station, built by the eponymous Baffa family, who has owned the building since the 1940’s. Their former residence features four individually adorned rooms with private bathrooms, each decorated with vintage furniture and works by local artists curated in collaboration with neighborhood gallery and artisan publisher Plan BEY. In addition to a daily Lebanese breakfast, the on-site restaurant, Makan - meaning “place” in Arabic - offers a rotating menu of global family-style feasts, celebrating the cosmopolitan nature of Beirut’s culinary community.

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