Udon Thani, Thailand
Cochin, Kerala, India
Esvres, Touraine, France
Athy, Kildare County, Ireland
Mexico, central America, and the Caribbean
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Lance Aux Epines, St. George’s, Grenada
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Dunnellon, Florida, USA
Cape San Blas, Florida, USA
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Price Range: INR 500-1000 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes Bluegrass Homestay so Darn Good? You stay with a country western singer who sings with his box guitar upon request!
Location: Great neighborhood.
Rooms: Simple, double rooms with lots of common area in the home of a country singer.
Price Range: 6,500 Baht (three meals included) # of Rooms: 3 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes Gecko Villa so Darn Good? We arrived after dark and when we were drive out to the property we thought (briefly!) we were about to get abducted! You do not expect to find a place like this in such an out of the way area, but it is a real oasis of green hidden away among the rice fields. The two things that made our stay: the superb food that is included, and the kindness and welcoming nature of the local host family and villagers. Having our own pool was a definite plus!
Location: Bang in the middle of Northeast Thailand's rice fields and sugar cane plantations, and near a large lotus lake.
Rooms: It's a villa with a private pool that you rent all for yourself! 3 bedrooms & a large living and dining room and separte kitchens.
Food: Excellent and very zingy Thai food: this is cooked for you 3 times daily by the owners who live in a small village a couple of kms away. Ask to try the local dishes - spicy beef salad and the wicked barbecured chicken with papaya salad..and tell them upfront what your chilli factor is!
Vibe: Away from the tourist trails and deep amongst the real provinces of Thailand. You could just chill by the pool and eat well, but definitely take the plunge and ask to get integrated: the locals are very friendly and definitely enjoy a good time!
Keep in Mind: Take any personal necessities with you: the nearest banks or major shopping areas are about 45 minutes away!
Price Range: 90 Euros (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly:
What makes La Guillotiere so Darn Good? The welcome, spectacular grounds, lovely decor, and great breakfast! This guesthouse was just amazing! From the arrival, when Anne welcomed us like old friends, then discovering our beautiful and spacious bedroom, jumping into the swimming pool and just lazing in the sun with a glass of local wine...It was so relaxing!
Location: Countryside in the Loire Valley near castles.
Rooms: Large, bright, and airy ensuites.
Food: Tasty breakfast with croissants, fresh fruit, homemade scones and jams, cheeses, and cereal. The breakfast in La Guillotiere is simply delicious with home made scones and lemon curd, an incredible diversity of french pastries, fresh fruit salad...
Vibe: Relaxed, welcoming, comfortable and plush.
Things to Keep in Mind: They have 2 gorgeous labrador dogs.
Price Range: 80-100 Euros # of Rooms: 1 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes The Pumphouse so Darn Good? The location, the animals and all the modern conveniences you wouldn't necessarily expect in a farm cottage.
Location: It's a small self-catering cottage on a farm with a very friendly donkey who likes to stick his head over the half door!
Rooms: Clean and cosy.
Food: As it's self catering there's no food but the owners kindly left some home-made scones and jam along with a bottle of wine for our arrival.
Vibe: Relaxed and peaceful.
Things to Keep in Mind: It's about a mile from the main village and if you're not fond of dogs, chickens or donkeys this may not be the place for you.
Website: The Pumphouse
Price Range: US$40-$145 (winter rates include two meals) # of Rooms: 22 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes Mansion del Bosque so Darn Good? Mansion del Bosque is a gorgeous bed & breakfast located in San Miguel, Mexico. With only a few rooms, it's a fabulously serene and relaxing place to unwind. Plus, it's an easy walk to the main part of town, so you can have quiet without sacrificing location.
Location: Mansion del Bosque is located a few blocks from the main square of San Miguel -- not too far to be inaccessible, but just far enough away so you're away from the hustle & bustle of things.
Rooms: From what I could see, each room is unique. When you enter through the main gate and pass under an archway, you are in an open area with different staircases leading up to different room/suites. Our room had a lovely sitting area outside where we could sunbathe and read. Beautiful plantings all around the rooms add to the tranquil aspect. The rooms themselves were simply and tastefully furnished, and each room seemed far enough away from the others that we were hardly aware of other guests.
Food: You can get a "Modified American Plan" with breakfast and dinner each day; we asked for (and got) a rate for just breakfast each day. There was a choice of several options, all quite yummy – including eggs made to order and fresh fruit.
Vibe: This is a very mellow, tranquil place. It was a great place to come back to in the afternoons for a chance to rest before heading out again in the evening. The rooms felt very private and the outdoor sitting area next to our room was a definite highlight. The owner, Ruth, was very helpful in terms of answering questions via email before we arrived, and she described the various rooms in detail so we could choose the option that suited us best.
Things to Keep in Mind: Mansion del Bosque does not accept credit cards. You can pay in cash or travelers' checks.
Price Range: US$885-$985 per week # of Rooms: 2 suites Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes the Spicetree Suites so Darn Good? The price, the location in charming Grenadian neighborhood, the fact that it's locally owned by a lovely Grenadian/American couple, the full kitchen facilities, the high speed internet, a/c in the bedrooms, etc. One of the suites has a private plunge pool, too. The decor is a nice mix of Caribbean/African.
Location: It's in a quiet Grenadian neighborhood known as Lanse Aux Epines. It's within a 5 minute walk of the nearest public beach and a short drive from the island's best beaches. Within walking distance of 4 restaurants.
Rooms: Each suite has two bedrooms with a double bed in each. Done up in bright colors, they also provide a/c in the bedrooms. Bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and porch comprise the rest of the space.
Food: You cook your own meals, but it's a full kitchen and the best Grenadian market is a short drive away. Owners will provision the suite for you at cost for your arrival. There are fruit trees in the yard that guests may pick from when in season.
Vibe: Comfortable, casual, bright, islandy.
Price Range: US$95 # of Rooms: 3 tree houses Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes the Tree Houses Hotel so Darn Good? The location is gorgeous. The surrounding land is amazing. The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful. The price is great, and the breakfasts are delicious.
Location: Tree Houses is approximately 20 minutes East of downtown La Fortuna directly off of the main highway.
Rooms: There are three treehouses. Each is different and unique in its own way. My wife and I stayed in Treehouse #1 for three nights. It is roughly 50 feet high with a deck that wraps halfway around the treehouse. The door opens to the bedroom (with queensize bed). The bedroom has a door on each side (one to the toilet, the other to the shower). There is ample shelf room and a safe to keep valuables as well. At the center of the foot of the bed was a ladder leading into the loft. In the loft, there was another queen sized bed and a fan. You could comfortably sleep four adults. It was quaint and awesome!
Food: Raeann serves a different breakfast each morning. The breakfasts consisted of delicious Costa Rican/American fusion cuisine. Breakfast was a perfect start to each day. As you ate, you were surrounded by at least 50 hummingbirds, as well as many other colorful birds.
Vibe: The vibe was super chill. Raeann was extremely helpful. She set us up with all of our tours and guides. She has a lot of friends there and knows a lot of expats who really hook it up.
Keep in Mind: It's an amazing jungle paradise. The 80+ acres contain a waterfall and other really awesome hikes. Raeann also arranged the best tours we went on in CR. We were there two weeks and did a lot of tours.
Price Range: US$75-$150 # of Rooms: Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes the Vista del Mar so Darn Good? We stayed at Vista del Mar in January 2009. The place is very laid back and simple with a beautiful view. We went for a short trip to do some SCUBA diving. We were lucky because the Akumal Dive Adventures and its wonderful dive master Jose were right next door. So was the amusing the Buena Vida restaurant. Since we were diving we paid $81 per night for the room, an incredible bargain.
Location: Beach Front on a half moon bay.
Rooms: Small, bright, and cleaned daily.
Vibe: Laid back.
Keep in Mind: The beach was lovely and cleaned daily, but the entrance is rocky.
Price Range: US$55-$65 # of Rooms: 13 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes the Two Rivers Inn so Darn Good? These detached bungalows were used as barracks during WWII. When they were no longer needed, they were moved to their present location near the center of historic Dunnellon. Since then they have been extensively remodeled several times. Today each room sports a different theme and the decor and furnishings are absolutely gorgeous. The innkeepers are wonderful. There is so much to do in the area, and best of all, the rooms are just $55-65 - in season!
Location: Dunnellon is located on the Nature Coast of Florida (the Gulf Coast in the northern part of the state, where it meets the panhandle). The area is home to cross-country bicycling trails, miles of hiking trails, natural springs, and great access to boating, kayaking, and deep sea fishing.
Rooms: Wonderful big fluffy beds with scads of tossed pillows, very clean and extremely well maintained. Each cottage also has a big screened porch with outdoor furniture for enjoying the evening breezes sans mosquitoes.
Food: No on-site food, but great restaurants two blocks away in the center of Dunnellon's Historic District, which is home to more than 70 old homes, many of which have been restored.
Vibe: Cool and laid back. Rainbow Springs State Park and KP Hole County Park are close by, and both are a best bet for activities. At night, several local places have live entertainment.
Things to Keep in Mind: This is not the "theme park" part of Florida, but you will discover fine folks and an area of the state where you can experience "old Florida."
Price Range: US$59-$192 # of Rooms: 11 Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes The Old Saltworks Cabins so Darn Good? These simple, clean affordable cabins are located on gorgeous, peaceful St. Joe's Bay in the delightful Cape San Blas area. Totally peaceful. They have a canoe you can borrow to paddle around the bay - no powerboats, tons of wildlife. The ocean is just a short walk on the other side of the road.
Rooms: One room to multi-room cabins.
Things to Keep in Mind: There's a paper mill in nearby Port St. Joe, which is probably why it's not more touristy. The bay is shallow, which is why it doesn't allow power boats - just be sure not to paddle all the way out at high tide - you'll be carrying your canoe back at low tide!
Price Range: US$55-$4445, from studio apartments to luxury houses Kid-Friendly: Yes
What makes Accommodation in Rio so Darn Good? All kinds of accommodations! From US$60 to much higher! From studio to penthouse with private swimming pool. Very nice, helpful couple in charge. English, Spanish, French, Portuguese is spoken.
Location: We stayed in a two bedroom apartment 10 meters from the beach of Copacabana for US$150. Very clean, modern, bright and well furnished.
Rooms: Two bedroom with queen size bed, their own bathroom. Nice living room with cable tv and internet access.
Food: We always ate outside.
Vibe: Goooooooood vibes!
Things to Keep in Mind: Marvelous city!