When it comes to discovering the intricacies of a country, nothing beats a staying with a local. Whether you’re hoping to learn a new language, immerse yourself in the community or even camp out with nomads, one of these European homestays might just be the answer.
1 Victor’s, Granada, Spain
What: A cosy property in the centre of historic Granada. Spain may well be a party destination, but Granada is a great place for travellers who want to find out what else the country has to offer – whether it’s a visit to Andalucia’s Museum of Memory, the Moorish citadel or the monasteries and churches that line the cobbled streets of this fifth-century town. Victor, the host, is a keen traveller himself and a great source of knowledge regarding the local area.
Wow factor: Victor’s offers the best of both worlds. The location on a quiet back street means guests are just a short walk from Granada’s main attractions, but far enough away to ensure an undisturbed night’s sleep.
The damage: From €25 per room inc light self-service breakfast.
2 Valle Nuova, Urbino, Italy
What: A rustic property on a 185-acre farm on Italy’s east coast. If you’ve ever dreamt of owning your own little pied-à-terre in the Italian countryside, a stay at Valle Nuova is for you. Located in the picturesque town of Urbino – a world heritage site – this traditional farm is perfect for those looking to get away from it all.
Wow factor: The food and drink served at Valle Nuova is all produced on site, whether it’s the organically grown fruit and vegetables or the homemade pasta, jam and wine. The house’s eco credentials are also impressive, thanks largely to a series of photovoltaic panels providing renewable energy.
The damage: From £48pppn including buffet breakfast.
3 Tregarth, Snowdonia, Wales
What: Tregarth is a cosy operation run by locals Kathleen and Peter Coleman. It’s the ideal location for fitness fanatics, with a wide range of bike and walking paths on its doorstep. The area also serves as a mountaineering and watersports hotspot – and Snowdon is only 20 minutes by car.
Wow factor: Watch the sun go down from the sun terrace. All the rooms offer views of the surrounding mountains, along with the Menai Strait, Anglesey and Puffin Island.
The damage: From £35pppn.
4 Flavia Constans, Spello, Assisi, Italy
What: Animal lovers should head to this rural Umbrian farm, located in the ancient town of Spello, and run by Manuele and Akiko, a mixed Japanese/Italian couple. There are goats, sheep, and rabbits – homemade cheese, wine, olive oil and fresh milk.
Wow factor: This place is a must for foodies. Depending on the time of year, visitors can help with the olive harvest or pick local herbs and asparagus from nearby Mount Subasio, while the hosts also offer lessons in pasta making.
The damage: Rates start at €75 per room per double room per night (peak season) includes breakfast.
5 Anonymous Homestay, Paleochora, Crete
What: A traditional Greek homestead run by local Manolis Klironmakis, his wife Sigi and his mother, Sofia. A spell at the Anonymous Homestay is the ideal way to sample the traditional Greek way of life. Five of the rooms surround
a beautiful, flower-filled garden while two look out on to a quaint cobbled side street. The homestay is just a short walk from some of the area’s most spectacular Byzantine churches, as well as the breathtaking Peninsula of Paleochora.
Wow factor: Sample the family’s delicious homemade olive oil, made from fruit from the nearby mountains.
The damage: Rates start at €20-€25 pppn (single room).
6 Casa do Correio Mor, Ponte da Barca, Portugal
What: A 17th-century manor house in the centre of Ponte da Barca, a medieval town. Casa do Correio Mor’s current owners, the Lacerdas family, are direct descendants of the original builder, and their expert knowledge of the area is invaluable. Must-sees include the Peneda-Gerês National Park and the beautiful River Lima valley.
Wow factor: Where to begin? Whether it’s the huge pool, palatial gardens or four-poster beds, this homestay is in a different class.
The damage: Rates start at €20 per double room per night (peak season).