Sometimes it feels like the family-run inns of yesteryear are all but extinct now; larger brands run the hospitality show these days, and even some historic bed-and-breakfasts that have maintained their quaint vibe are nonetheless owned by hotel chains now, meaning no more pleasant interactions with husband-and-wife duos or generations of owners. But "all but extinct" does not mean "extinct," and when we do find family-run hidden gems, they are all the more precious to us. In some ways, we hate to give away our best-kept secrets, but we are too set on having travelers enjoy their vacations as much as possible to keep Europe's top 10 family-run inns "hush-hush."
Take a look at the adorable bed-and-breakfasts in Europe that make our list, then let us know -- are there any we've forgotten?
The 120-room Adler Dolomiti Spa & Sport Resort is a high-end, family-run hotel complex set in the heart of a pretty South Tyrolean village; it dates back to 1810. Boasting the largest water-based spa in the Dolomites, facilities are certainly impressive, as are the surrounding private parkland and accompanying mountain views. Rooms are peaceful and minimal, with modern bathrooms, minibars, and some with gorgeous balconies. Rates are bordering on eye-watering, though you can get plenty of extras with all-inclusive and half-board plans.
Boogaard’s Bed and Breakfast is a budget-friendly, two-room B&B which — despite its hectic central location — offers a little haven of peace. Though it’s a relatively humble 18th-century home, the owners (a couple and their two dogs) provide top-notch service. The rooms are individually decorated with cozy sitting areas around a fireplace, flat-screen TVs, laptops, air-conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. A fine breakfast, homemade deserts, and other treats are included, along with access to two stocked wet bars. It’s geared toward couples looking for an exclusive setting, and a little morning chit-chat with personable hosts.
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Castlewood House is an attractive bed and breakfast overlooking picturesque Dingle Bay in the county of Kerry. Run by a husband-and-wife duo (who have a young son) for the past 10 years, this guesthouse is filled with antiques and artwork, and common areas include a cozy lounge. Rooms are spacious with lovely views, though it’s the exceptional breakfast (cooked up daily by the owners) that’s the main draw — reputedly one of the best in Ireland. Rates also compare pretty favorably with other lodging in the area, making this a solid option. However, amenities are few; there’s no full restaurant, gym, or spa.
This multi-level, family-run guesthouse is made up of only nine rooms, each offering the sprawling coastal views the area is famous for. The quaint, idyllic grounds are covered in ivy and flowering vines, and the pride the family takes in their cuisine is reflected in the on-site restaurant’s exceptional offerings. Hotel Pellegrino is ideal for those seeking an affordable and romantic stay along the coastal cliffs. However, those wishing for an immediately accessible on-site pool or dedicated sunbathing area may be disappointed, though these amenities are available for use at a nearby hotel.
“Family-run” does not have to mean “old-fashioned” or “quaint.” Paris’ Hotel Signature St Germain proves this with colorful, modern interiors accented by patterned fabrics and abstract artwork. Opened in 2013 after a total renovation and relaunch, the family-run property (formerly known as the Hotel Lindbergh) offers 26 mid-century-inspired rooms in Paris’ central, well-heeled St-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood. The surrounding area is picturesque and classically Parisian, with many popular tourist sights within walking distance; some of the higher-floor rooms even afford glimpses of the iconic Eiffel Tower.
The family-run Lodore Falls Hotel is an upscale, landmark hotel set in picturesque parkland overlooking Lake Derwentwater in the heart of the Lake District National Park. Quintessentially English interiors give the place a cozy and traditional vibe, while health and relaxation facilities are extensive and up-to-date. Excellent dining is another big plus, however it’s the hotel’s surrounds — including a wonderful waterfall — that really steal the show. Rates aren’t cheap but it’s great value for what you get — staying at the nearby Borrowdale Hotel, which is also owned by the Graves family, might save a few pounds, but there’s certainly less on offer.
Housed in a former 18th-century monastery, the 15-room Hotel de Goezeput is a charming, mid-range, two-floor hotel with an attractive mix of modern and classic elements. The rooms are clean, quiet, and full of historical character; flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi are standard. The property offers a breakfast buffet, modern lounge bar, and attractive outdoor terrace. With an excellent location in central Bruges, the hotel is within a 10-minute walk of shopping, dining, and major attractions including Market Square, St. Salvator’s Cathedral, and the Groeninge Museum. A family-run hotel, it has a warm and friendly feel and is a good choice for travelers who want budget prices with a little more style and historic character than basic hotels.
The Mains of Taymouth Country Estate & Golf Course is a four-pearl, family-run resort composed of 43 self-catering cottages, apartments, and villas. Situated on the banks of the River Tay, the 120-acre estate is surrounded by scenic hills and woodlands, and makes for a tranquil countryside retreat in a fairly secluded location (the village of Kenmore is close by, but bigger cities require a drive). The upscale units vary in size from one-bedroom Cottages to a six-bedroom Farmhouse (pictured). All have tastefully muted contemporary decor, and come equipped with flat-screen TVs and full kitchens. Many have hot tubs and private gardens, and some even have Finnish saunas and game rooms. The property is also home to riding stables, a nine-hole golf course, a gift shop and deli stocked with local products, and a cozy restaurant and bar.
Staying at the Agriturismo Fattoria Lavacchio provides an authentic Tuscan experience that begins with a tour of the property, a farm founded in the 1700s. Today, a husband-and-wife team oversees production of organic olive oil, wine, wheat, cured meats, cheeses, and produce. The property has an assortment of 25 rooms, suites, villas, and apartments, with antique exposed beams, minibars, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and views of the Tuscan hills. It’s also home to a beautiful modern pool, restaurant and poolside snack bar, and kids’ club.
Housed in a coaching inn dating back to the late 19th century, the Fox and Hounds Country Hotel is certainly the place for a quintessentially English country getaway. Run by the Culverhouse family since 2007, the property feels relatively fresh, while a liberal scattering of antique furnishings throughout keep the vibe traditional. The setting is genuinely scenic and serene with lush greenery and plenty of wildlife, including fishing on-site. Overall it might be a little remote for some, but for others its a great spot for a secluded weekend surrounded by nature.