From a former coaching inn in Normandy to cool hideouts in sunny Sicily or Andalucía, here are 20 great budget boutique hotels in popular European holiday destinations.
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Villa fol Avril Moutiers au Perche, Normandy
A former coaching inn in the Normandy countryside has been transformed into a boutique hotel, with 12 large rooms and suites and a walled garden. Many rooms have original features and are decorated with natural materials, from lime-washed walls to linen bedding, and with exposed rafters.
• +33 2 33 83 22 67, villafolavril.fr. Doubles from £70
Le Sénéchal Ars-en-Ré, Ile de Ré
This hotel is a higgledy-piggledy collection of buildings around courtyards and a narrow pool. The rooms are beautifully designed in understated pale colours, with wooden floors, unusual lighting and exposed brick walls. The hotel is next to the beach and harbour in a village on the Ile de Ré, an island off the west coast, connected by a bridge to La Rochelle.
• +33 5 46 29 40 42, hotel-le-senechal.com. Doubles from £65
Mama Shelter Paris
The hip hotel chain Mama Shelter, which also has a pad in Marseille, has rooms in the 20th arrondissement, not far from the Père Lachaise cemetery. They are styled in dark matt grey with funfair-style lighting, iMacs and free Wi-Fi. There’s a rooftop bar with hammocks, deckchairs and parasols, a downstairs island bar with table football and cocktails, a pizzeria and a proper restaurant also serving brunch.
• + 33 825 00 62 62, mamashelter.com Doubles from £78
La Petite Couronne, Saint-Cricq-Chalosse, Aquitaine
Hôtellerie La Petite Couronne is a small, wooden eco-hotel painted grey, built in 2009. There are 10 simple but stylish rooms, each with a terrace or balcony overlooking the Chalosse hills in Aquitaine, in the south-west.
• +33 5 58 79 38 37, lapetitecouronne.com. Doubles from £74 B&B
Château de Gramazie, near Mirepoix, Languedoc
This refurbished medieval abbey with a grand cream exterior now has four vast bedrooms and one slightly smaller one, all with high ceilings, large windows looking out on to parkland, and antique furnishings. The 12-acre estate is in the midst of Cathar country, between the historic towns of Carcassonne and Mirepoix.
• +33 4 68 31 15 21, chateaudegramazie.com. Doubles from £69
Antiche Mura, Arezzo, Tuscany
Each of the six rooms is like a baroque cocoon, whitewashed and dressed with motifs from the lives and works of great women in film, literature and history. Artemisia, named after the renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi, is accented in the rich reds she favoured in her art; Clarissa is in green, for the flowers she buys at the opening of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The Emma room claims to be dressed in the pastel shades of Madame Bovary’s Provençal home (yes, we know the book was actually set in Normandy). Holly (Golightly), Marilyn and Matilde (Queen of Tuscany) complete the set. Plus there’s aircon and free Wi-Fi, of course.
• +39 0575 1596096, antichemura.info. Doubles from £65
Locanda Borgonuovo, Ferrara, Emilia Romagna
On a quiet side street opposite the castle and just behind the cathedral, this stylish family-run B&B has four en suite bedrooms, and a couple of self-catering apartments over the road. Breakfasts with fruit and homemade cake are served in an art-filled salotto on the second floor, and there’s a pretty courtyard garden, and bikes to borrow for getting around this cycle-friendly city the way the locals do.
• +39 0532 211 100, borgonuovo.com. Doubles from £69
L’Hotel in Pietra, Matera, Basilicata
A converted 13th-century church, L’Hotel in Pietra has eight rooms, all carved out of the natural rock, creating curvy alcoves, stone baths, stairs and a lovely terrace. It is perched high up in Matera’s old town, which started as a settlement of cave dwellings on the slope of a ravine thousands of years ago.
• +39 0835 344040, hotelinpietra.it. Doubles from £74
Le Lumie, Modica, Sicily
This sweet boutique B&B has three colour-themed, modern rooms and a charming landscaped courtyard garden with a palm tree and views overlooking the town and surrounding hills.
• 0932 751439, lelumie.com. Doubles from £87
Le Repubbliche Marinare, Venice, Italy
So many Venice hoteliers seem to think guests want brocade and gilt to match the doge’s palace, so the clean white spaces, primary-coloured furnishings and modern prints of this B&B make a welcome change. As do the prices – book well ahead to bag the one en suite double (there’s also a larger one with shared facilities). It’s in an old dwelling restored by a well-known Venetian architect, and its cute terrace overlooks the fish market (without being pongy).
• +39 3899 000090, lerepubblichemarinare.com. Doubles from £62
Hotel Bernat de So Llívia
A former farmhouse has been converted into this 21-room hotel, Hotel Bernat de So, blending traditional Catalan architecture with modern design. There are huge gardens, a heated outdoor pool and sunny terraces. The hotel is in a small town that is a tiny Spanish enclave within France, about 1km from the border in the Pyrenees. It is a great base for hiking in mountains, forests and beside lakes, and in winter there are several small ski resorts nearby.
• +34 972 146 206, hotelbernatdeso.com. Doubles from £83
Hotel Cresol de Calaceite, Aragon
This six-room hotel started life as an olive mill in the 18th century and is now a mix of rustic and contemporary design, with exposed beams and designer lighting. Calaceite is a small, historic town in the Aragon region, north of Valencia, well-situated for indulging in the region’s wine and gastronomy.
• +34 609 908 190, hotelcresol.com. Doubles from £79
Aire de Ronda Ronda, Andalucía
Aire de Ronda is a tiny, whitewashed hotel in a sensitively restored period house in the town of Ronda. It has just three elegant rooms, and a restaurant serving traditional Andalucian food.
• +34 952 16 12 74, airederonda.com. Doubles from £84 B&B
Casa Olea, Priego de Cordoba, Andalucía
This intimate guesthouse is within driving distance of Cordoba and Granada, but in a rural location surrounded by hills and olive groves (a good spot for cycling and hiking). Its terrace offers river views. The six guest bedrooms have wooden furniture made by local craftsmen, and framed treasures from the owners’ travels in Latin America and India. There’s a swimming pool for hot days, but it’s also cosy in winter, with underfloor heating and a log fire.
• i-escape.com/casa-olea. Doubles from £92, two-night minimum
Room Mate Pau , Barcelona
With several other budget-style hotels across Spain, the Room Mate group is dependable for smart but small, almost pod, rooms in pricey destinations. Room Mate Pau, one of two in Barcelona, is near Plaza Cataluna in the centre of the city and has simple rooms in white and pale lime, with quirky walls with sculptural cut out patterns, and all the technological bits and bobs you would expect these days.
• +34 912 179 287, room-matehotels.com. Doubles from £85
Mi Casa En Lisboa Lisbon
In this B&B, perched on a hill in Lisbon’s Graça district, overlooking the castle and the city’s crumbling stone walls with views towards the river Tagus, design journalist María Ulecia has filled her home with beautiful furniture and fascinating details and decorations. Homemade breakfasts of cake, fruit, yoghurt and eggs are included, and there’s a little terrace full of plants. María is always on hand to give good recommendations on what to do and where to eat
• no phone, micasaenlisboa.com. Doubles from £88 B&B, two-night minimum
Casa da Ermida de Santa Catarin,a Santa Eulália, Alentejo
On a strip of olive grove that juts into the Caia reservoir is a secluded boutique guesthouse and 16th-century chapel. The house has six colourful bedrooms and one large suite with its own terrace, plus a gorgeous glass-fronted living room with lake views. Spend your days reading on the deck, kayaking on the reservoir or watching water birds wing by.
• +351 91721 4380, casadaermidadesantacatarina.com. Doubles from £78
Companhia das Culturas, Eastern Algarve
Pale weathered wood, white walls, patterned tiled floors and simple interiors add up to a laid-back beauty perfectly suited to hot weather at Compania das Culturas. Outside there’s a pool and pretty patterned fabric hangings to provide shade on the terrace, overlooking a hot flat landscape.
• +351 281 956 167, companhiadasculturas.com. Doubles from €90
Ha Mar ao Luar Setúbal
Sitting on a large sweep of sand near the Troia peninsula, this collection of seven holiday lets each has a kitchenette. Breakfast, included in the price, is left in guests’ fridge each night, though, and there is a cook available on request. A windmill and two cabins are among the choice of rooms, and there’s a swimming pool. There are restaurants and nightlife down the hill in Setúbal.
• +351 265 220 901, i-escape.com/ha-mar-ao-luar. Doubles from £66
6Only is a beautifully restored old townhouse in the centre of Porto with six ultra-modern rooms, decorated mainly in white with splashes of colour, alongside original features such as ornate ceilings and big shuttered windows.
• +351 222 013971, 6only.pt. Doubles from £57