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Readers' recommendations from 2005
Each week in Readers Recommend, the Travel section shares tips on hidden gems in the U.S. and abroad. Here is a roundup of the recommendations published in the last year. Although the information here was correct when it was published, some details may have changed, especially room rates abroad because of the dollar's fluctuations. Please contact the source to confirm prices and other information.
Timberline Bed & Breakfast, P.O. Box 126, Girdwood AK 99587; (907) 783-2404, www.timberlinedrivebnb.com. "In August, my husband and I spent a week at this wonderful B&B. Unlike the B&Bs we have in California, you have the 'apartment' to yourself. It has a full kitchen, bath and upstairs bedroom. The hosts, Gail and John, stock it with breakfast foods and beverages, so you fix it yourself when you are hungry. The scenery is beautiful, and the hot tub and balcony are the best." Double rooms from $125.
Carol and Al Coppock Downey
Grace and Bill's Freedom Hills B&B, P.O. Box 502, Freedom Hills, Talkeetna AK 99676; (907) 733-2455, home.att.net/tildegmgermain. "This bed and breakfast in the hills overlooking the Alaska Range, including Mt. McKinley, is absolutely wonderful. The rooms are spotless and newly constructed. Bill Germain, one of the owners, is a fantastic cook and a knowledgeable and charming host. On a clear day, there is no better view of the mountains. This stop was the highlight of staying in inns and other properties for two weeks throughout Alaska." Doubles from $99.
A Memorable Experience B&B, Rosewood Court, Homer AK 99603; (800) 720-9275, Ext. 7374, www.amemorableexperience.com. "We stayed at this wonderful bed and breakfast on the Kenai Peninsula. It overlooks Homer, with spectacular views of Kachemak Bay and the mountains and glaciers beyond. The two bedrooms are spacious, and there is a shared living area with cable TV and kitchen. Hosts Donna and Kevin Maltz made us feel right at home. Not only did they share their expertise on all the activities in Homer, but they also served an exceptional continental breakfast." Doubles from $125 per night (two-night minimum).
Linda and Bob Fleischman
Chena Ridge Rental, 2872 Rangifer Road, Fairbanks AK 99709; (907) 455-6687, www.chenaridgevacationrental.com. "This vacation rental house is like a home away from home, without the traffic, noise and police helicopters. This secluded, serene and comfortable cabin-style house is only a few minutes from the University of Alaska and downtown Fairbanks. The hosts, Duncan and Kristin, are friendly, charming and live close enough to be helpful when needed but far enough away to respect guests' privacy." House rental $99 a night with a two-night minimum, $600 per week.
Cruise West, 2301 5th Ave., Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98121; (888) 851-8133, www.cruisewest.com. "Just wanted to recommend a cruise to the wine country. We sailed around San Francisco Bay, and when we woke up in the morning, we were docked on the Napa River. Tour buses picked us up, and we were off to the wine country. Three wineries and a lovely lunch in a cavern of one of the wineries, then back to the ship. We awoke at Mare Island and did three more wineries in Sonoma. This was one of the most relaxing cruises because it was small and intimate." Prices from $1,149.
Bon Temps Creole Cafe, 1000 Olive St., San Luis Obispo 93405; (805) 544-2100, www.virtualslo.com/bontemps. "My husband and I had a great breakfast at the Bon Temps Creole Cafe. A delicious omelet with Bon Temps' own hot sauce, crispy-on-the-outside hash browns and an excellent cup of coffee. Informal but great food. I would go back there for dinner. They offer a credible selection of local wines." Breakfast, $4.50-$8.95; lunch, $5.50-$10.95; dinner, $5.95-$16.95.
Bissell House B&B, 201 Orange Grove Ave., South Pasadena; (626) 441-3535, www.bissellhouse.com. "The Bissell House is one of the few mansions left on Millionaires' Row and the only one open to guests. It is elegant and comfortable. The air-conditioned rooms are ample, and each has high-speed Internet access. We live in Colorado and use the Bissell House as our second home in Los Angeles." Doubles from $150.
Jerry and Kathy Craig
Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Cheetah Run Safari, San Diego Wild Animal Park, 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido; (760) 747-8702, www.sandiegozoo.org/wap. "In this amazing event, a full-grown cheetah runs at 60 to 70 mph. In addition, there is a fascinating presentation of the cheetah to the crowd — no fences — with questions and answers by informative handlers. And there's a beautiful buffet served on tablecloths in an African tent." Cost: $69 for the safari, including buffet, plus $28.50 park admission for adults, $17.50 for children up to 11. $8 parking. (Children younger than 8 are not allowed.)
Wine Valley Inn, 1564 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang 93463; (800) 824-6444, www.winevalleyinn.com. "Wine Valley Inn in Solvang offers old-world ambience, comfort and romance. Smell a wonderful nearby bakery and grapes from a vineyard. This inn is a must-stay if you visit lovely Solvang." Doubles from $89.
The Parsonage Bed & Breakfast, 198 Haight St., San Francisco; (415) 863-3699, (888) 763-7722, www.theparsonage.com. "This charming 1883 Victorian was an actual parsonage. It features five large rooms with goose-down comforters, fresh flowers and a breakfast of culinary delights. It's within walking distance of the War Memorial Opera House and the historic streetcar route on Market Street." Doubles from $140 (two-night minimum).
Senthong's, 5855 Dunsmuir Ave., Dunsmuir; (530) 235-4770. "We have stopped in this railroad town the past four years on our way to Seattle. We always have dinner at Senthong's, which serves wonderful, fresh Thai-Vietnamese cuisine. The owners are Don and Senthong Phelps. Senthong is the chef, and her husband takes care of business out front. The food is great and not too expensive." Entrees from about $15.
Bruce and Toni
The Victorian Rose Bed & Breakfast, 896 E. Main St., Ventura; (805) 641-1888, www.victorian-rose.com. "This B&B is in an old Methodist Church approximately six blocks from Old Town and a block from the Rubicon Theatre. It can only be described as a Gothic one-of-a-kind, and any visitor will have not only a comfortable stay but also a multitude of things to look at in the bedrooms and throughout the building." Double rooms from $99.
Dan and Alyce Schwab
Whoa Nellie Deli, 22 Vista Point, Lee Vining 93541; (760) 647-1088, www.thesierraweb.com/tiogagasmart. "Inside the Tioga Gas Mart is the Whoa Nellie Deli, an unlikely gourmet oasis on a remote stretch of highway, at the junction of Highway 395 and Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road), near Yosemite. Chef Matt Toomey serves up lobster taquitos, buffalo meatloaf and tenderloin in an apricot-brandy glaze. It's to die for. Open April through November, and the views of famous Mono Lake are as fabulous as the food." Entrees $10-$22.
Edgardo's Cafe Veracruz, 494 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (760) 320-3558. "This Mexican restaurant doesn't serve the usual tacos, beans and rice. Chef-owner Edgardo Pozos cooks such dishes as tamales sautéed in garlic oil, sauced with Huasteco red sauce and sour cream and dusted with sesame seeds." Lunch from $5.95; dinner from $9.95.
Culinary Trails, 31442 Holly Drive, Laguna Beach 92651; (949) 637-8253, www.culinarytrails.com. "I took the three-day getaway to the Central California coast offered by Culinary Trails. This is a new culinary vacation led by chef Lori Zappas. We toured a cheese-making operation, an organic farm and several wineries and then would reconvene at the beautiful ranch house where we were staying and Lori would lead us through class using the ingredients we had learned about in the day's travels. Scenic surroundings." The cost of $1,195 per person includes cooking classes, wine tours, meals and lodging.
Gemini Charters, P.O. Box 10846, Lahaina, HI 96761; (808) 669-0508, www.geminicharters.com. "Last January, we took a whale-watching trip to Maui. The whales were jumping all around us on the Gemini catamaran. This company also offers a combination snorkeling/whale-watching cruise that is amazing. I swam right next to giant sea turtles." Prices for adults begin at $55 (season Dec. 15-April 15).
Ken's Pancakes, 1730 Kamehameha Highway, Hilo HI 96720; (808) 935-8711. "Ken's is off the beaten path, but it serves great banana pancakes and egg dishes 24 hours a day. Also haupia, the Hawaiian dessert. Ken's has good coffee and is five minutes from the Hilo Airport near the hotels. It also has a great lunch menu." Breakfast and lunch prices start at $3.99, and a typical meal is about $7.50.
Hilo Bay Cafe, 315 Makaala St., No. 109, Hilo HI 96720; (808) 935-4939. "This is a well-priced, upscale eatery in a shopping center in Hilo. The food is divine, the service fantastic and the ambience superb. We were dazzled by the creations of the young chef Joshua Ketner. The menu offers delectable pastas, potato-crusted fresh catch of the day, vegetarian dishes and a phenomenal confit of duck." Entrees are $8 to $24.
Susan and John Fisher
Blue Harbor House, 67 Elm St., Camden ME 04843-1904; (207) 236-3196, www.blueharborhouse.com. "This delightful B&B is a short walk from downtown Camden. It features comfortably decorated rooms with private baths. The breakfasts are wonderful: blueberry pancakes with banana-blueberry butter." Doubles from $95.
Lynn and Harvey Shields
Sea Coast Inn, 33 Ocean Drive, Hyannis MA 02601; (800) 466-4100, www.seacoastcapecod.com. "My husband and I wanted to let readers know about a wonderful little place we found in Hyannis, Mass., called Sea Coast Inn. What makes this inn so special are the owners, Terri and Al Noyes, who make every guest feel as if they are staying at their own home. The inn is within walking distance to all Hyannis attractions, with the ferries to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket only a five-minute walk." Doubles from $48.
Playa del Rey
Barnaby Inn Bed & Breakfast, 36 Main St., Route 28, Box 625, West Harwich MA 02671; (800) 439-4764, www.barnabyinn.com. "The inn, at the center of Cape Cod, has six beautifully decorated rooms. A cottage that sleeps seven also is available. The personable, knowledgeable proprietor made our family reunion a wonderful occasion." Double rooms from $95; cottage from $200 per night.
Memphis Championship Barbecue, 2250 E. Warm Springs Road, Henderson NV; (702) 260-6909, www.memphis-bbq.com. "They offer pulled chicken, Memphis hot links and a Southern catfish sandwich. Their baby-back ribs are the only three-time world grand champion winners at the renowned Memphis in May barbecue competition." Lunch and dinner from $3.99.
Osteria Lupa Romano, 170 Thompson St., New York NY; (212) 982-5089, www.luparestaurant.com. "Just off Bleecker Street in the West Village, this restaurant is a gem. Cozy, not unlike restaurants one might find off a side street in Rome. Executive chef Mark Ladner offers a wonderfully varied menu of Italian fare. Best espresso we've ever had as well." Lunch and dinner entrees $16-$20.
Circle View Guest Ranch, 20055 E. Highway 44, Scenic SD 57780; (605) 433-5582, www.circleviewranch.com. "The house, with seven guest rooms, sits atop a butte with a 360-degree view — south to the White River and Pine Ridge Reservation, west to gorgeous sunsets, north and east to Badlands buttes and grasslands. It's a working ranch and a place to get in touch with the rugged beauty of the Badlands and the Black Hills." Doubles from $80.
Tres Amigos, 1801 S. Capital of Texas Highway, Austin TX; (512) 327-1776. "This is one of four Tres Amigos restaurants in the area. The cuisine is labeled Tex-Mex, but it's a little more upscale than that. They deep-fry a corn tortilla and when it puffs into a ball shape, they drain it and carefully cut it into delicate halves, filling one half with a taco mixture and turning the other half upside down and covering it with melted cheese and chiles." Dinner entrees are $4.50-$25.
Canyon Vista Bed and Breakfast, P.O. Box 351, Springdale UT 84767; (435) 772-3801, www.canyonvistabandb.com. "Wonderful B&B is next to Zion National Park. Excellent hosts provide you with a delicious breakfast, all the information you need, movies to watch, bikes to ride and dogs and cat to pet." Doubles start at $99.
Oyster Bay Inn, 4412 Kitsap Way, Bremerton WA 98312; (800) 393-3862, www.oysterbayinn.com. "On a recent trip on the Olympic Peninsula, we stopped at the Oyster Bay Inn in Bremerton. The room was reasonable, very clean and had a view of the bay. The best surprise was the restaurant with a lovely decor, excellent service, food well-presented and delicious. We recommend the inn to all travelers." Doubles from $80.
Orchard Inn, 1207 Pecks Canyon Road, Yakima WA; (509) 966-1283, www.orchardinnbb.com. "While enjoying the Yakima-area wineries, we discovered a wonderful B&B. Private baths, jetted tubs, down comforters and totally peaceful surroundings. A private entrance allows you to come and go as you wish. Small dogs are welcome, and the innkeeper speaks fluent German." Doubles from $89.
Don and Charlou Joy
Chinaberry Hill, 302 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma WA 98403; (253) 272-1282, www.chinaberryhill.com. "A great B&B in Tacoma with irresistible breakfasts, entertaining hosts, eclectic and casual ambience in a Victorian mansion, with views of Puget Sound. Easy to visit the stunning new Museum of Glass, the art museum and the history museum." Doubles from $135.
Hanericka Farmstay, McRorie's Road, Yerong Creek, New South Wales. 2642; 011-61-2-6920-3709, www.hanericka.com.au. "I took my 10-year-old son to stay on a real working farm, the Hanericka Farmstay, in Australia. We felt like part of the family. They cooked us fantastic breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went horseback riding, fed the animals, milked goats, rode motorbikes. They have more than 6,000 acres of beautiful countryside. We also had a bonfire with billy tea and damper. A unique Australian experience." Double rooms from $197.
Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort, Moreton Island, off Brisbane, Queensland; 011-61-7-3268-6333, www.tangalooma.com. "Off the coast of Brisbane, halfway down the western side of Moreton Island, lies a popular tourist resort at an old whaling station. Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort offers wild-dolphin feedings each evening. At sunset, eight or nine dolphins swim from the ocean and take fish from your hand. It has great rooms, holiday flats or houses, nice beaches and a coastal sand hill for sand tobogganing." Doubles from $295.
Anchlia Waterfront Cottage, 2 Murray St., Bicheno, Tasmania 7215; 011-3-6375-1225, anchlia.tripod.com. "We stayed in one of two units. Ours, the smaller of the two, was a newly renovated, very comfortable place with a bedroom, large living/dining room, kitchen, bath (with washing machine) and lovely gardens. It is on a rocky outcrop next to a beautiful beach. There is a bit of bush between the house and the rocks where fairy penguins roost." Doubles from $93.
Keith and Barbara Ansell
Beaches B&B, 34 Surf Road, North Curl Curl, Australia, 011-61-2-9905-3775, www.sydneybedandbreakfast.com. "Adjacent to a picturesque beach about 20 minutes north of the city. Easy access by bus and near places to golf, hike, swim, surf and more. Great restaurants within walking distance." Doubles from $115, with breakfast.
Fran Van Buggenhout Bed and Breakfast Holiday Home Apartment, 3 Straatje zonder einde, Mechelen 2800; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, 011-32-15-20-97-21. "Mechelen, 10 miles north of Brussels, is noted for its beautiful cathedral, St. Romboutskathedraal, the tower of which has Belgium's finest carillon. At Fran Van Buggenhout's B&B, we kept our windows open to not miss a sound; the church was only 100 yards away. Fran, fluent in several languages, paid attention to the smallest detail: The kitchen of the two-floor apartment was supplied with ham, cheeses, crackers, cookies yogurt, fruit and beverages. A hot breakfast arrived at the front door each morning, with warm, freshly made bread, plus an omelet, pancakes or daily special." Small studio, $62; larger apartment $78.
Diane P. Male
Bonne Esperance House, 20 Gower St., St. John's, Newfoundland; (888) 726-3835, www.bonneesperancehouse.ca. "I highly recommend this B&B, a restored Victorian home in the heart of St. John's. It has the feel and privacy of a small European hotel but the warmth of a B&B. Your stay includes wonderful breakfasts and lovely rooms or suites, all with private baths. Your hostess, a native Newfoundlander, is eager to recommend sights in her wonderful island." Doubles from $85.
Moeller's Lake View Cottage and Rooms, RR1, Orangedale, Nova Scotia, BOE 2KO; (902) 756-2865, www.capebretoncottage.com. "This bed and breakfast on Bras d'Or Lake has two modern rooms with bath and separate entrances. There is also a one-bedroom cottage for rent. This is a very quiet environment with a family atmosphere. There is swimming, fishing and canoes. The Moellers, a young German couple, live upstairs with their children. Moeller's is a find. A place for a walk in the woods or to watch the bald eagles fishing." Doubles from $63.
Parrsboro Mansion, 15/3916 Eastern Ave., Parrsboro, Nova Scotia B0M 1SO; (866) 354-2585, www.parrsboromansion.com. "Those planning to visit eastern Canada should visit Parrsboro on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy. This bed and breakfast is on the bay with its 57-foot tides. It has beautiful views, hiking trails and a lighthouse. Parrsboro dates to the 1700s with quaint shops and restaurants." Doubles from $83.
Bruce M. Stark
Truffle Pigs Cafe, 318 Stephen Ave., Field, British Columbia V0A 1G0; (250) 343-6462, www.trufflepigs.com. "This cafe and grocery store is at the base of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies, about 25 minutes from Lake Louise. You might think you were in a small town in Marin County. The cafe offers [Berkeley restaurant] Chez Panisse-level cooking, country ambience, friendly people, casual dress and the sense that people here are forged by eight months of winter." Lunches under $10. Dinner entrees $13-$28.
Greybeard's B&B, 201 Pelham St., Lunenburg, Nova Scotia B0J 1C0; (888) 532-9696, www.tallships.ca/greybeards. "We loved this B&B in the beautiful seaside village of Lunenburg, south of Halifax. It's in a historic house, and Rosanna and Bob 'Greybeard' Higgins are charming and interesting hosts. Greybeard is chief cook, serving a wonderful breakfast." Doubles from $48.
San Luis Obispo
Sooke Harbour House, 1528 Whiffen Spit Road, Sooke, British Columbia; (250) 642-3421, www.sookeharbourhouse.com. "What a delight this is, on the scenic shore of Vancouver Island. The romantic seaside inn has 28 luxurious rooms richly appointed with amenities, each with magnificent views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Mountains or the Pacific Ocean." Double rooms from $267 (includes breakfast and picnic lunch).
Earl Grey Lodge, 2069 Summit Drive, Panorama, British Columbia VOA 1TO; (250) 341-3641, www.earlgreylodge.com. "Excellent find for dinner in the small resort town of Panorama. Hosts Phil and Clare Marshall warmly welcome you to their home with a large great room and open kitchen for mingling with your fellow diners over cocktails and appetizers before being seated for dinner. B&B rooms also available at the lodge." One seating, 7 p.m. Set price for dinner $57 per person.
Lynne Gulizia and Matt Brown
Hotel Palazzo di Pietro, Agion Deka 13, Old Harbour, Chania, Crete, Greece; 011-30-282-102-0410, www.palazzodipietro.com. "The Bitzanakis family warmly welcomed us to their beautiful hotel in a restored Venetian building dating to 1200. The hotel is in the heart of the old town of Chania near the harbor, beaches, shopping and many tavernas. There are seven suites and rooms, all large with private bath, air conditioning, refrigerator. All rooms share a roof garden with scenic views." Doubles from $125.
A Propos, Platnerska 7, Prague; 011-420-2-22-31-45-73; e-mail: email@example.com. "We found this wonderful restaurant-café one short block from the Charles Bridge. A Propos offers fresh fish and meats, accompanied by crispy vegetables deliciously grilled in the main dining room right in front of you. The service was excellent and the prices very reasonable." Dinner from about $16.
Edna M. Tobias
Jugged Hare, 172 Vauxhall Bridge Road (at Rochester Row), Victoria, London SW1V 1DX; 011-44-20-7828-1543. "We found a great pub in the Victoria-Pimlico area of London: The Jugged Hare serves Fuller ales and beers and traditional pub fare that is exceptionally delicious. Steak and ale pie ($13.75) has a crisp pastry-like crust; fish and chips ($14) includes a lightly battered filet; there are vegetarian options. Desserts include steamed chocolate cake ($6.60) served with warm custard or ice cream."
The Monsal Head Hotel, Monsal Head, near Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1NL; 011-44-1-629-640-250. "In Britain, we stayed at this small country hotel (seven rooms) in the Peak District National Park of Derbyshire. The rooms overlooked the dale and were quite large by English standards. The owner, Philip Smith, had a delightful, if somewhat droll, sense of humor." Double rooms $135; dinner entrees $13-$25. www.monsalhead.com.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Celtic Horizons tours, 27 Locks Hill, Frome BA 11 1 NA, Somerset; 011-44-137-346-1784, www.celtichorizons.com. "A definite highlight of a recent trip through England was Celtic Horizons, a personal tour service. Alan Peters, the owner and our tour guide, was interesting. He had many surprises along the way that we would not have been able to see otherwise. He was reasonable in cost, and you can make arrangements by e-mail." Tours, by the day or the hour, run about $36 per hour.
Rancho Palos Verdes
Four Gables B&B, Oaks Lane, Boston Spa, Wethersby, West Yorkshire, LS23 6DS; 011-44-19-37-845-592, www.fourgables.co.uk. "Charming Victorian, with award-winning gourmet breakfasts. It has lovely grounds, a Zen garden and croquet lawn. Our stay exceeded expectations, and we left reluctantly." Doubles from $106.
Helen Jaskoski and Dan Brown
The Old George House, Leafield Village, Oxfordshire, OX29 9NP; 011-44-1993-878-632. "A very old home beautifully furnished overlooking a village green in this charming Cotswold village. Breakfast is served in the sunny conservatory looking onto the lovely landscaped garden full of rare plants and with stunning views. A gourmet village pub is a short walk away, and Oxford only 25 minutes. It's a one-hour train ride from London." Doubles from $130.
Le Clos des Lys, 28 Rue de Perpasse 37150 Chisseaux; 011-33-2-47-23-83-54, www.leclosdeslys.com. "We found a gem in the Loire Valley of France, a B&B at a delightful couple's home in the center of château country. We had a two-room suite with bath, with an absolutely delicious breakfast included. The owners, Andre and Catherine Bessou (she speaks English quite well), are charming and friendly." Doubles from $83.
Corona del Mar
Chez Gramond Restaurant, 5 Rue de Fleurus, 75006 Paris; 011-33-1-42-22-2889. "On my morning walks in Paris [in June], which took me from our hotel on Place San Placide ... to Luxembourg Gardens, I often passed a small restaurant, Chez Gramond, and exchanged 'bonjour' with the proprietor as he prepared for the day's business. The restaurant looked small and expensive, but on our last night in Paris we walked over for dinner. It was a good decision. The menu was country French, varied and handwritten, of course, in French, which proved not to be a problem as the proprietor's wife assisted us, and we ordered a lamb stew. The setting was warm and intimate, the service personal and perfect and the food excellent. The cost for the two of us was about $90."
William and Beverly Webster
Chateau de Roussan, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence; 011-33-490-92-1163, www.chateau-de-roussan.com. "My wife, Kris, and I spent four very restful and quiet days at the chateau. It's about a mile and a half from Saint Remy, an ideal location for touring Provence. We stayed in the Nostradamus room (in the 16th century, Nostradamus owned the land), and it was wonderful — large and clean, with a great view of the tree-lined drive. It was easy to imagine Nostradamus living there." Doubles from $79.
Hôtel du Poete, 84800 Fontaine de Vaucluse; 011-33-4-90-20-34-05, www.hoteldupoete.com. "The hotel is in a park-like setting in the small town of Fontaine de Vaucluse. It has a marvelous breakfast buffet, and guests can enjoy the meal out on a patio beside the river. The rooms are beautifully furnished and have satellite TV, mini-bar and more." Doubles from $85.
La Garenne, Meuvaines 14960; 011-2-31-21-86-84, www.nalandam.com/garenne. "For a few days of an authentic, small-town pastoral experience, consider this B&B. Spacious, newly decorated rooms, modern private bath and a view of the surrounding fields and orchards running to the beaches make for an unforgettable occasion. The historic town of about 150 residents in the heart of Normandy made us feel welcome." Doubles from $75.
Chez Sylvie Tavernier, 2 Rue de Chandai, 27580 Bourth, Normandy; 011-33-2-32-32-70-87, tavernier.bourth.free.fr (French only). "A delightful location from which to explore the sights of Normandy. Bedroom and loft for four people with kitchen, sitting room and continental breakfast. About one hour from the beach, Roun, Paris, Giverny and many sights." Doubles from $58.
Andrew A. Nielsen
Oak View, Calif.
A l'Ombre du Château, 6 Rue du Château, Nans Sous Ste. Anne 25330; 011-33-3-81-8654-72, www.frenchcountryretreat.com. "I recently enjoyed a delightful stay in this beautiful, restored 18th century stone house in the Franche-Comté region. The house has four very special bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. It is surrounded by hills, woods and water — an ideal spot to relax and recharge." Doubles from about $120 (includes breakfast).
The canal barge Elisabeth, Burgundy; (800) 880-0071,www.bargesinfrance.com/elisabeth.htm. "My wife, Marie, and I spent six lovely, idyllic days on the Canal de Bourgogne aboard the Elisabeth, a six-passenger, owner-operated canal barge. The beautiful vessel has three cabins, and the itinerary covers 40 miles of villages, châteaux and markets." Charter party of six, $17,325 (includes meals, wine, open bar and transportation from Paris).
Heatons Guesthouse, the Wood, Dingle, County Kerry; 011-353-66-915-2288, www.heatonsdingle.com. "No matter what kind of Irish weather we encountered — mist, broad sunshine or bracing rain — Heatons Guesthouse afforded an enchanting vantage point for enjoying Dingle. This lovely inn in the southwest of Ireland was built to accommodate travelers. It offers 16 comfortable rooms and suites, all with private bathrooms. The inn is a perfect hub for exploring Slea Head and the scenic Dingle Peninsula." Doubles from $109.
Barbara Baird and Jim Leavy
The Waterloo House, 8/10 Waterloo Road, Dublin 4; 011-353-1-660-1888, www.waterloohouse.ie. "This B&B in the beautiful, tree-lined Ballsbridge area of Dublin was an unexpected delight. The 17 bedrooms are in an 1830 Georgian town house complete with the bright red front door typical of Ireland. The high ceilings, warm colors, cozy furnishings and modern bathrooms made the stay very pleasant." Doubles from $157.
Jim and Jane Marmack
Ballaghtobin Country House, Callan, County Kilkenny 00353; 011-353-56-772-5227, www.ballaghtobin.com. "A lovely manor home on a 500-acre working farm makes an excellent base for visits to medieval Kilkenny, Waterford and the Rock of Cashel. Large, sumptuous bedrooms with modern bathrooms. Huge breakfast. Owner Catherine Gabbett is a welcoming hostess." Doubles from $108, breakfast included.
La Locanda di Montisi, Via Umberto I, 39, Localita Montisi, San Giovanni D'Asso; 011-39-0577-845-906, www.lalocandadimontisi.it. "Far from the maddening crowd of Venice or Rome, the centuries-old, medieval castle-enclosed city of Montisi overlooks the fields and vineyards of Tuscany. The English-speaking owner of this small, reasonably priced hotel just opened a restaurant 100 cobblestones away." Doubles from $73.
Hotel Orlanda, 76 Via Principe Amedeo, Rome; 011-39-06-488-0124, www.hotelorlanda.com. "This hotel has a very unprepossessing street entrance, and the lobby is on the third floor of a building that houses four hotels. Rooms are clean and contemporary. It is only two blocks from a train station that also offers the metro and buses. There are several good restaurants nearby." Doubles from $79.
Hotel Green Tower Chiba, 1-45 Tonya-cho, Chuo-ku, Chiba; 011-81-43-296-1122. "In covering the Tokyo Motor Show, we didn't want to stay in Tokyo because of an almost 90-minute train ride to the convention center. Hotel Green Tower Chiba, walking distance, turned out to be a winner. All front-desk employees speak English; it is a $6 cab ride from Chiba's train station. The hotel is closer to Tokyo Disney Resort than many Tokyo hotels." Doubles from $197.
Kasho-tei Hanaya Noboribetsu Onsen, 134 Onsen-cho Noboribetsu-shi Hokkaido 059-0551; 011-81-143-84-2521, www4.ocn.ne.jp/tildek-hanaya/page1.html. "This small inn at the southern tip of this hot-spring resort is immaculate and charming. It is on the southeast part of Hokkaido and is easily accessible from Sapporo Airport by train or bus. The meals are beautifully presented and delicious. The hot-spring tubs are clean and relaxing. Staff is very friendly and helpful. All local attractions are either a short walk away or a short hop on the shuttle bus." Rooms, including breakfast and dinner, start at $112 per night.
Casa Bentley, 38 Calle del Pilar, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur; www.casabentley.com. "I recently visited the tiny artists' and writers' community of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur. The village is very quaint, safe and, because it is fed by an underground water supply, surrounded by lush vegetation. I stayed at a guesthouse called the Casa Bentley. This beautiful 100-year-old home was built from stone and enhanced with semiprecious gemstones pressed into the concrete walls by owner Bob Bentley. This vacation was by far the most relaxing and reasonable of any I have ever taken with my children, and I have already made plans to return." Doubles from $140.
Alexander Restaurant, Plaza Bonita Mall at the Marina, Cabo San Lucas; 011-52-624-143-20-22, www.sdro.com/alexander. "The food is exquisite, the service both friendly and immaculate at this Cabo restaurant. If you have room after the meal, order a coffee drink from the dessert menu — the show when they serve it is nearly as good as the drink itself. If owner Alex Brulhart recommends the lobster fresh off the boat and a particular wine, take his advice." Entrees $14 to $24.
and David Dougela
Marina del Rey, Redondo Beach
Hotel Casa Campos, Francisco de Miranda 30A, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco; 011-52-33-3838-5296, www.hotelcasacampos.com. "We would like to recommend a charming hotel that we stayed at on a visit to Tlaquepaque, just outside Guadalajara. The Hotel Casa Campos is an old hacienda with a beautiful courtyard where you can visit monkeys, parrots and finches. The hotel also has an intimate lounge and a charming restaurant." Doubles from $78.
La Casa Encantada B&B, 15 Dr. Coss, Pátzcuaro, Michoacán; (619) 819-8398, www.lacasaencantada.com. We extended our stay at this beautifully restored Colonial mansion, which had a garden patio and a gourmet cook to take care of breakfast. Our room included a king-size bed and a loft with a second king, a completely furnished kitchen and a bathroom with tub and shower. The location is just steps away from the historic Plaza Don Vasco de Quiroga in the heart of Patzcuaro and also convenient to areas surrounding the town." Doubles from $90 (includes breakfast).
Canyon Travel, 900 Ridge Creek Lane, Bulverde, TX 78163; (800) 843-1060, www.canyontravel.com. "Our six-day trip to beautiful Copper Canyon in Mexico included wonderful accommodations and some of the best hosts we've ever encountered. Our train trip included overnight stays at inns along the route. It was a fantastic way to see the canyon." A six-night canyon tour is $1,519 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $330). Air transportation from LAX is not included.
Ann and Chuck Hains
La Fonda Hotel, La Misión, Baja California; 011-52-646-15-50-308, www.lafondamexico.com. "About 20 minutes beyond the border, this charming old Mexico hotel offers decorated and themed rooms with fireplaces and 180-degree ocean-front views. The new owners have invested in major upgrades, including a first-class European spa, with attention to detail and pampering. The Sunday brunch alone ($12) is worth the drive. The hotel's restaurant is on a cliff overlooking the ocean and has live music daily." Doubles from $75.
Casa Felipe Flores, 36 Calle Dr. J.F. Flores, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, 29230 Chiapas; 011-52-967-678-3996, www.felipeflores.com. "We had the good fortune to stay in Casa Felipe Flores on our recent trip to San Cristóbal, and we recommend it highly. The house is wonderful, a traditional Spanish home with a lovely interior courtyard, and the rooms are large, beautifully furnished, each with a modern and spacious bath. The best parts of the experience, however, are the owners and hosts, Nancy and David Orr. Charming, intelligent and knowledgeable, they make you feel like family. San Cristóbal is a wonderful city to visit too, and Nancy and David help you make the most of your stay." Doubles, with bath and fireplace, $80-$95.
Fairviews Bed & Breakfast, 8 Fairview Terrace, Taupo, New Zealand; 011-64-7-377-0773, www.reap.org.nz/fairviews. "Fairviews was our favorite spot in an entire month of traveling both islands of New Zealand. Mike and Brenda Hughes are wonderful hosts, offering immaculate, comfortable and charming accommodations in a quiet, beautiful setting with great views of Lake Taupo. They are open from October through May." Doubles from $102.
Laurie and Owen Guitteau
Amadeus Cafe & Patisserie, 284 Trafalgar St., Nelson; 011-64-3-545-7191. "We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at this small and inviting restaurant in Nelson's town center. The New Zealand green-lipped mussels were out of this world. The people are warm, friendly and helpful, and the service was great. Dinners $12-$25.
Palms Motel, 5 Paru Paru Road, Nelson; 011-64-3-546-7770, www.palmsnelson.co.nz. "This spotless motel is at the top of the South Island in Nelson, an arts-and-crafts town on the way to Abel Tasman National Park. Our room had a fully equipped kitchenette, and there were laundry facilities and a solar-heated pool. The second-floor rooms have balconies, and our room faced the mountains. Complimentary milk for tea was provided." Rates from about $85 a night.
Lynn M. Perry
Braemar on Parliament Street, 7 Parliament St., Auckland; 011-64-9-377-5463, www.parliamentstreet.co.nz. "This is a wonderful bed and breakfast in an Edwardian town house. There are three bedrooms recently renovated to their original look. The location is very central [in the heart of the central business district]. The owners' enthusiasm for helping their guests was unlimited. There is a choice of three rooms, which all come with goose-down duvets and pillows." Doubles from $92, including breakfast.
Sylvia and Robert Hartz
Tone's Bed & Breakfast, Peder Claussons gt 22, 4008 Stavanger; 011-47-51-52-42-07, www.tone.ms11.net/. "Of the five B&Bs my husband and I stayed at during our 16-day trip to Scandinavia in August, Tone's Bed & Breakfast in Stavanger, Norway, was the best. In a quaint city once known as the capital of canned sardines, the Swiss-style house that dates to 1894 has three bedrooms — two doubles at $68 each and one single at $45 — with a shared bathroom, which has a raised bathtub and private shower stall. Owner Tone Bourrec set out a wonderful breakfast of fresh bread, Jarlsberg cheese, two kinds of goat cheeses, Parma ham, a soft-boiled egg or yogurt, three kinds of jams and coffee or tea. Great way to start the day."
Mini Hotel, Zelenaya 15, Wroclaw-Karowice; 011-48-71-325-4924, www.minihotel.pl. "We had a lovely summer vacation in Poland. While in Wroclaw, we stayed at the Mini Hotel, run by a couple [the Jurdygas] who have opened up their home and hearts to those visiting this charming city. Bed and breakfast for two is included in the price. The owner will gladly prepare delicious home-cooked meals and serve them at whatever time of day you prefer. There is a nearby park, with a pleasant walkway along the riverbank for strolls as well. The couple who own this small place are attempting to learn some English, a new Polish trend." Doubles from $80.
Barbara and James
Caledonian Heritage Tours, 11 Mavis Bank, Newburgh Aberdeen AB41 6FB; 011-44-1-358-78-9513, www.caledonian-heritage-tours.co.uk. "Caledonian Heritage Tours provides a memorable visit to any area of Scotland, including the Highlands and Orkney Island. Owner-operator John Begg adds Celtic charm and wit to his extensive knowledge of the history and geography of the region and takes pleasure in arranging sightseeing opportunities of interest that may not be on the itinerary." Average daily rate, $35 per person.
Madame Zingara restaurant, 192 Loop St., Cape Town, South Africa; 011-27-21-426-2458, www.zingara.co.za. "We had the dinner of a lifetime. The restaurant is funky, cozy and reminiscent of the '60s, with nooks, crannies, wall hangings, rose petals on the tables and candles. Our waitress actually sat at the table with us in a chummy way to explain the dinner specials and take our order. We all ordered their signature dish: steak with chocolate chile sauce." Dinners from $6.50.
John and Kathy Broesamle
Ngare Sero Lodge, P.O. Box 425, Arusha; 011-255-0-27-255- 3638, www.ngare-sero-lodge.com. "Nestled at the base of Tanzania's Mt. Meru on a 100-acre Colobus monkey preserve is a newly remodeled, 13-room hotel operated by Tim and Stacia Leach. Ngare Sero Lodge is a luxurious hideaway just north of Arusha with first-class facilities, including horseback riding, fishing, swimming and yoga classes. Prepare to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, or relax after your game safari and enjoy the organic trout pate." Doubles from $180 with full board.
Escape Boutique B&B, 48 Church Walks, Llandudno; 011-441-492-877-776, www.escapebandb.co.uk. "Llandudno is a magical place, fairly undiscovered by tourists. It is an old Victorian beach resort with a beautiful crescent beach and pastel hotels lining the way across from the sea. Escape Boutique B&B is one of the best B&Bs I have ever been in, with crisp Egyptian cotton sheets, plasma TVs and welcoming hospitality of the owners. It is a not-to-be-missed experience." Doubles from $130.
Llanerch Vineyard Bed and Breakfast, Vale of Glamorgan CF72 8GG; 011-44-1443- 225-877, www.llanerch-vineyard.co.uk. "We had a very comfortable stay. The rooms are large and ultra-modern. The area is very beautiful, much more open with rolling hills than England. There are many sophisticated restaurants close by." Doubles from $129.