Petit Bé, Saint-Malo, France
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In 1667, to ward off the English, the French government built a small fort on Petit Bé. The tidal island, 10 minutes by boat from the city of Saint-Malo, in Brittany, France, was chosen for its awesome panorama of the Emerald Coast. Three-and-a-half centuries later, it’s an atmospheric – if somewhat austere – holiday let perfect for wild, windswept walks and life-affirming communal dinners. Rent the home and you’ll have the whole of Saint-Malo Bay to yourself and 15 of your closest friends; camp beds, bunks and beds are spread across three bedrooms and other spaces.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
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West-coast Canadians are maestros in the art of cosy luxury in the wilderness. Cedarwood Cove’s main house is no exception, ensconced in a cedarwood forest in a small cove on Vancouver Island, the jewel of British Colombia. Part of a wellness retreat set on the edge of the epically beautiful Tofino inlet, it’s a place to immerse oneself in the wild and cast off the cares of the world beyond. Yoga, massage, surfing, babysitting, nutrition consultations and stand-up paddleboarding are on offer. The well-equipped cabin sleeps six people.
Koe in de Kost, Overijssel, Netherlands
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The creation of a Dutch fashion graduate who returned to her rural roots, Koe in de Kost is a group of six holiday houses on a farm. With their grass roofs and meadow views, each small home is a wonderful place for a family to dive into a Dutch farm experience. Koe in de Kost is located in a tranquil corner of the country between the two historic towns of Zwolle and Deventer. Guests are encouraged to help milk the cows and feed the animals; back at the ranch, there’s the soothing minimalism of unadorned, modern interiors.
Pioneertown, California, United States
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The eco dream-home of an architect from Los Angeles, the award-winning off-grid, solar-powered itHouse has to be seen to be believed. The views are of serene desert and there’s no TV or wi-fi – guests come here for inspiration and solitude, to watch the sun change on the rocks and the antics of the jack rabbits. Located near Joshua Tree National Park and local museums, the house has capacity for four guests and endless desert-gazing.
Geiranger, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
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The best of Norway’s western fjords, Geiranger offers a fairytale-like beauty, with its snowy peaks, forested cliffs and icy-blue waters. It also welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and more than 150 cruise ships. This four-bedroom eyrie with panoramic views of the fjord is set above the village of Geiranger, allowing guests to rise above it all. Modern, spacious, well-stocked and comfortable, the three-storey home is the perfect pad from which to explore the waters or take a wild drive down hairpin bends before returning to the hot tub on the deck.
Los Baños de la Luz, Andalucia, Spain
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From the quiet hills of this untouched corner of Andalucia, under the flight path of migrating birds, guests can stay in a cosy igloo-esque geodesic dome. Set amid lush vegetation, the dome is equipped with a queen bed and set on a wooden platform with a deck and dinner table. There’s a communal kitchen used by other houses on the property and alfresco bathrooms. From the dome, gaze at the greenery; enjoy cool Atlantic breezes that mingle with the desert wind blowing in off the Sahara.
West Augusta, Virginia, United States
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The green forests, picturesque rivers and snowcapped peaks of Virginia have inspired songs and devotion; this mountain hideaway could, too. The Mountain Octagon is a simple but perfect octagon-shaped cabin offering dreamy mountain views out of floor-to-ceiling windows and a two-level deck. Inside, there’s room for four.
Bird Island, Placencia, Belize
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This private-island retreat is a 20-minute boat ride from the village of Placencia and offers an idyllic escape à la 'Robinson Crusoe'. Days are spent swimming, snorkelling in the shallow, protected waters of the coral reef, kayaking and lounging on the sundeck. At night, things are strictly self-catered so pick up supplies from Placencia to cook up feasts in the well-equipped kitchen. The atoll has been hand-filled with river sand to drive away mosquitoes so there really is complete privacy. Sleeps four.
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From north-east Iceland you can take daytrips to islands that straddle the Arctic Circle and to canyons, waterfalls and exhilarating off-piste skiing experiences. Sweeping windows in the spacious architectural cube let the outside in. It’s within 15 minutes’ drive of the diminutive but cool city of Akureyri, the so-called “capital of North Iceland” at the head of the Eyjafjörður fjord. With great cafés, restaurants, galleries and the annual winter festival, the tiny city punches above its weight.
Governador Celso Ramos, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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On this secluded, laid-back stretch of German-influenced coast, green mountains melt into clear waters. If you like your beaches deserted, this is the place. The only time things heat up in Governador Celso Ramos is during February Carnival. This beach house is an architect-designed timber home – one of three in this secluded corner – cantilevered over the clear waters. Large windows offer ocean views and a few steps outside the front door sees you arrive on a pristine beach. There are four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and the beach offers a bounty of oysters, mussels and fish.
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