Snowdonia Gardens and Homes

North Wales is home to some of UK’s most outstanding gardens and homes. Offering beautiful scenery using a variety of interesting plants from all over the world, you’re sure to be amazed with the colour and natural beauty of these gardens. The homes are of another era, delivering grand elegance to their grounds. In the Snowdonia National Park there’s an abundance of wild nature, but looking at gardening as an art form, North Wales showcases some of the most inspiring gardens around.

Bodnant Gardens, open between March and November and then December, has 80 acres of garden. The upper garden is based around Bodnant Hall, and the wild garden, known as the “Dell”, is formed by the valley of Hiraethlyn. The gardens offer a world of colour with plants from North America, China, Japan and Europe which are suited to the Welsh soil. Bodnant Gardens, most glorious during summer months, are perfect for the whole family, with entertainment bags for the children and a new and exciting playground for 2012, and a cedar-shingled tea room. Through spring to autumn you’ll see a wide range of flourishing colours. In early spring to late April the camellias, magnolias, daffodils and other spring bulbs light up the grounds with bursts of colour. Early April to mid-May is the time to see the beautiful collection of rhododendrons. Then, in early June the 55 metre long laburnum arch can be seen in all its yellow glory. In the summer, down in the “Dell” where the giant conifers grow, the herbaceous plants are in flower as well as the blue flowering hydrangeas along the riverbanks.

Portmeirion is a village resort, a popular visitor attraction near Porthmadog. Designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis the village was constructed between 1925 and 1975. The grounds are spectacular, surrounded by the picturesque Italianate village. It holds seven self-catering cottages and a four star hotel, and a castellated mansion. Portmeirion Village offers a perfect getaway, with its own restaurants and cafes interspersed with grand listed buildings in beautiful colourful surroundings. Portmeirion even has its own spa, offering bespoke treatments to make your stay even more relaxing. With an amazing backdrop of estuary and mountain the village is also suitable for a number of events including weddings, dinners and parties.

Set on the banks of the Menai Strait is Plas Newydd country house and gardens. The elegant house was redesigned by James Wyatt in the 18th century. The 1930s restyled interior is renowned for its Whistler association, containing his largest painting and exhibition. The grounds also hold a military museum which contains relics from the tenure of the first Marquis of Anglesey, who commanded the cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo. The garden, at its finest in spring, is home to an Australasian arboretum, with an understory of shrubs and wild flowers. The grounds also hold a wonderful summer terrace, with massed hydrangeas which provide much colour. The icing on the cake is the woodland walk with access to a marine path next to the Menai Strait, a perfect location to watch the sunset.

The Brondanw Estate lies within the Snowdonia National Park. Plas Brondanw is the principal house on the estate, owned by Clough Williams-Ellis who decided to enlarge the estate when he bought two adjoining mountainous properties threatened by mining. The estate, now owned by a charitable trust for its protection, offers stunning scenery and is open to the public. Before you even enter the main gates of Plas Brondanw, you’re welcomed by an outlook tower on a rocky hillside overlooking Snowdonia all the way to the sea. The gardens are the pride of the estate, considered ‘Clough’s most marvellous creation’. The creatively trimmed hedges outlining exciting and precise shapes bring a burst of life to the garden. Brondanw also has a cafe, using the finest local produce, and a little shop showcasing locally made woodwork, pottery and jewellery. Admission fees are low, with free admission for children and all proceeds funding the garden’s maintenance.

Bodysgallen Hall and Spa near Llandudno also has stunning grounds. With over 200 acres of parkland and garden there’s more than enough space to make to the most of a full day. Bodysgallen’s head gardener provides tours offering inspiring advice about the estate’s grounds. Featured within Bodysgallen Hall’s grounds are ‘a rare 17th century parterre of box hedges filled with sweet-scented herbs, naturally occurring limestone outcrops, a rockery with a cascade, a walled garden, lily-pad ponds, and several follies’. Another popular attraction is the formal rose garden which offers a delightful presence and ambiance along with other interesting and diverse trees and shrubs. If that’s not enough, there are also several woodland walks, including one which leads to a Gothic Tower and the obelisk located on top of Pydew Mountain.

The Most Romantic Hotels in Santorini, Greece – Imerovigli

The Island of Santorini in Greece exemplifies extreme beauty and peace which makes it a favourite destination for romantic getaways or honeymoon. One of the most sought after location in Santorini is Imerovigli, a very picturesque village in Santorini. Imerovigli are littered with lovely churches built with Cycladic architecture and are renowned for its breathtaking views and beautiful sunsets. Many glamorous hotels and resorts were built to take advantage of this romantic phenomenon, so if you are ready to splurge for that special occasion, which one should you, choose? Read on about the best Imerovigli Hotels and Resorts based on past reviews and of course, the kind of views they can offer.

The Hotel Afroessa

Built on top of Santorini’s hillside, Afroessa hotel promises priceless moments of serene calm and romance. Breathtaking views of the caldera and enchanting sunsets from the hotel’s “old canavas” rooms exude romance and beauty. Afroessa hotel comprises of ten studios individually decorated giving its own distinct character. Relax while listening to chill – out music in the hotel’s wonderful outdoor swimming pool with a pool-bar. Friendly staffs are always on hand to assist you with the many activities in the surrounding area including scooter rentals and boat tours. Visitors always talked about their priceless moments and experiences during their stay here so check in to this wonderful property and always be reminded of the magic of Afroessa.

Dreams Luxury Suites

Dreams Luxury Suites is the place where style and perfection meet a world of beauty and tradition. Situated at the highest point of the Caldera, this property offers breathtaking views overlooking the Caldera and the Aegean Sea. The 4 suites are decorated in traditional Cycladic style, and have its own private terrace with a Jacuzzi or Swimming Pool while featuring luxurious amenities and services. The Archaeological Museum is in close proximity and Museum of Prehistoric Thira and Nea Kameni Volcano are close by. Previous guests have always been appreciative of the comfort and tranquility of this property. If you are dreaming for some luxurious relaxation, check in to Dreams Luxury Suites and they will make your dreams come true.

Remezzo villa

Remezzo villa’s beautiful backdrop of deep blue Aegean Sea meeting Greek’s cobalt blue sky radiates romance and tranquility. Nestled on the cliffs of Caldera, Remezzo Villa is blessed with wonderful views of the enchanting gulf and Santorini’s renowned romantic sunset. Museum of Prehistoric Thira, Archaeological Museum and Nea Kameni Volcano are just a stone’s throw away. The property’s late 1800s architecture has been carefully restored in accordance to the original local design. The Studios and suites features glass-brick skylights, vaulted ceilings and curved edges to create an unique ambience of comfort. Remezzo’s exquisite moments of beauty and peace have given their guests wonderful memories and experiences. So check in to Remezzo Villas and you’ll find yourself a home away from home.

Santorini Princess Hotel

At one of the premium spots of Imerovigli village lies Santorini Princess Hotel perfect for those seeking discreet luxury and comfort. Hanging 300m above the Caldera gulf, one can enjoy unique and fascinating view of the volcano and sunsets within the small islands in the Aegean Sea. Built in 2004, Santorini Princess’s 22 apartments are renovated with traditional Cycladic designs, marble flooring and equipped with modern amenities. Unwind and relax with the property’s beauty and spa services or take a dip in their seasonal outdoor pool. Rejuvenated guests speak highly about the calmness and uniqueness of this property. So check in to Santorini Princess Hotel and let yourself be free.

Astra Suites

Stay in stunning Astra Suites and experience true luxury and elegance like never before. Hype up your romance with panoramic views of the sleeping volcano, mysterious Caldera and the endless blue Aegean sea. This property is strategically located close to the Archaeological Museum, Museum of Prehistoric Thir, Nea Kameni Volcano and Catholic Cathedral. Some of the luxurious suite’s balcony features a private swimming pool or jacuzzi including extraordinary amenities and services designed to spoil you. Previous guests of Astra Suites have enjoyed the most breathtaking sunsets, right from their own personal balcony. You’ll have to check into Astra Suites to see it and believe it.

Grace Santorini

Escape to unmatched serenity and romance when you stay in Grace Santorini Hotel. Located high above the Caldera within the gorgeous setting of Imerovigli, the Grace Santorini provides an ideal vantage point from which to admire the famous Santorini sunsets that engulf the Aegean Sea. Accommodation includes Luxury Suites, Deluxe Rooms with personal plunge pools and the brand new “The Villa”, believed to be one of the largest and most impressive hotel suites in the Cyclade Islands complete with great amenities and services. Previous guests received nothing but first class and luxurious service so check in to Grace Santorini and let them calm your mind and soul.

Choice Hotels – Unique Settings for the Italy Traveller

Every region and major city in Italy has more than a few unique hotels in settings that will mesmerize the tourist.

Many hotels are near restaurants or have a built-in restaurant for convenience. Some are known for their picturesque designs (both architecture and decor) as well as the landscapes where they sit. Below are some fabulous hotels along with detailed descriptions about their special features to help the traveller who’s looking for something beyond ordinary.

Lap of Luxury in the Alps of Italy

La Perla Corvara, Italy

Situated high in the Dolomites, the South Tyrolean lodge called La Perla is located in Corvara, a friendly Alpine village that’s near the Swiss border. The lodge has traditional rooms with rustic wood furniture, decorative headboards and printed fabrics. The hotel resembles a typical Swiss lodge, with a dining area that has all wood paneling and timbered ceilings. The walls are lined with wine bottles. There’s also an unusual motorcycle museum at the resort that has antique bikes on display! The resort is just over 100 miles from Venice.

Guests at La Perla enjoy the daring view of the Dolomite peaks, snowshoeing and skiing activities, and also hiking

during warm weather. There are Turkish baths, a jacuzzi and saunas as well as an indoor-outdoor pool. This is a fun and relaxing place to rest during your Italy tour.

Vigilius Mountain Resort South Tyrol, Italy

This resort sits at the top of a mountain in South Tyrol in the Alps, near the Italian-Austrian border. Don’t want to drive up the mountain? You won’t have to because this resort is accessible by cable car only – 1500 meters up!

The hotel is modern in design with stone and concrete on lots of plain wood. If you want remote, this is the place to be.

Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria Sorrento, Italy

This hotel is located high on a cliff that overlooks the harbor in Sorrento. The hotel is actually three villas, each built in the 1800s. The hotel has been restored, but still maintains its original design. Ornate frescoes on the ceilings of a few suites and unique furniture give the hotel its unique beauty.

There are two restaurants. One is a traditional dining room with a 19th century elegant style. The other is a terrace restaurant that has a tremendous view of the harbor. Guests staying during the summer months might get to dine by candlelight on the Vittoria Terrace as a small orchestra plays music. The hotel offers a private elevator, which transports guests to the harbor. Boats are also available for hire here.

Il San Pietro di Positano Positano, Italy

For those not afraid of heights, this unusual hotel descends with each level down a cliffside. The views of the sea can be enjoyed from each room and terrace to the max because the hotel is built alongside the cliff only one room deep. Each room has its own private terrace. This makes for a very relaxing and quiet getaway.

The entrance of the hotel is actually a small chapel from the 17th century that was devoted to San Pietro. There is a restaurant on top of the hotel that serves Italian cuisine and offers more stunning views of the Gulf of Salerno. There’s also a swimming pool that has been carved into the cliffside. A lift can be taken from the hotel lobby down to a private beach and seaside cocktail bar.

Grand Hotel Quisisana Capri, Italy

The Grand Hotel Quisisana is where many supermodels, actors and other members of the elite go to hide away. Located in the popular city of Capri, this hotel resembles a habitat for the rich and famous with its 19th century design, endless mirrors and amazing floors. A pool and outdoor cafe are available.

Caesar Augustus Hotel Capri, Italy

Sitting above the Bay of Naples, 1000 feet above, is this classic hotel with its unmatching views of the bay. The rooms are welcoming with bright modern bathrooms and private balconies. There is a restaurant on a terrace that overlooks the bay also. It offers stylish comfort and a beautiful view all in one package!

The Capri Palace Anacapri, Italy

A hotel with Roman Empire elegance and a stunning view of the sea, the Capri Palace welcomes guests to gorgeous rooms with chandeliers, tile and marble baths and canopy beds. Luxury is an understatement at this hotel. Even outside the hotel is a well-kept garden. A pool and spa are available for relaxation. The hotel offers a penthouse suite and also an apartment-style suite for long stays that has its own garden and pool.

Don’t settle for second best on your trip. If you don’t see a unique hotel above for the area you plan to visit, use online resources and searches to find other dream resorts in Italy! Choice Hotels, Unique Settings for the Italy Traveller

San Domenico Palace Hotel Taormina, Sicily, Italy

For a luxury vacation in Sicily, tourists enjoy staying at the San Domenico Palace. It sits on a hill above Taormina and offers lovely views of the volcanic peak of Mount Etna as well as the Ionian Sea. The hotel is in a 15th century monastery with beautiful terraces and gardens. Although the building is ancient, the interior is not. The marble bathrooms are very modern as are the fixtures and amenities. Guests enjoy lounging in the pool during the summer, or dining at one of three restaurants that each serve a broad range of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Hotel Eden Rome, Italy

When in Rome, many tourists choose to stay at Hotel Eden, even Hemingway and Ingrid Bergman! With over a hundred rooms, Hotel Eden is far from small, but gives guests a feeling of seclusion, like a stay in a private residence. It’s just a few blocks from the Spanish Steps, a main tourist area in Rome.

The rooms are classic and offer striking views of the city. Antique furnishings and corniced ceilings blend with modern design to give an elegant appearance. Nearby there are great shopping areas, attractions, sights and restaurants for fine dining.

Hotel Forty Seven Rome, Italy

Hotel Forty Seven is a place for art lovers with Italian art from the 20th century on each floor. The rooms have comfortable furnishings, satellite television and Internet connections. Twenty-four hour room service is also available. Atop the hotel is a restaurant that overlooks Ancient Rome, where guests can enjoy a delicious Mediterranean dinner.

Hotel Capo d’Africa Rome, Italy

This hotel offers spacious, decorative rooms with high ceilings, painted in warm, bright colors. The furnishings are modern although the building was once a school in the early 20th century. The neighborhood is quiet, and there is a rooftop terrace that’s a great place to relax. Just a few blocks from the hotel is the Colosseum.

Hotel Gritti Palace Venice, Italy

This is a gorgeous hotel that was once a palace in Venice. It’s just steps away from San Marco, but located far enough from the roar of traffic to give guests a peaceful stay. The Terrazza restaurant at the hotel offers a terrific view of the Grand Canal.

Hotel Spadari al Duomo Milan, Italy

The Hotel Spadari al Duomo has a middle name – and that name is “fashion.” Designers often set up at this hotel for furniture fairs, making it a favorite place to stay for those in the fashion industry. The rooms are comfortable with custom-made furniture for a unique appeal. Some rooms offer a view of the Duomo cathedral. There are beautiful contemporary paintings hanging on the walls.

Grand Hotel et de Milan Milan, Italy

An elegant hotel in Milan that has lovely rooms with period furniture and rich fabrics. The La Scala theater is just a short walk from the hotel.

La Sommita Relais Culti Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

La Sommita Relais Culti is a hotel that doesn’t look like much on the outside, and the rooms are very discrete. This is an unusual hotel that has only nine suites, with each suite appearing to be the only one around. This is the place to stay for those needing seclusion or who want to grasp what it’s like living in a place like Ostuni.

Grand Hotel Continental Siena, Italy

Once an aristocratic residence, the Grand Hotel Continental is the most luxurious hotel in Siena. It’s located just off the pedestrian street of Piazza del Campo in the heart of Siena. Although the building has been restored, the original details remain. The hotel has a grand ballroom, a splendid restaurant and a wine bar. The rooms are designed with frescoed ceilings, paintings and unique furnishings while also offering the modern conveniences of satellite television and Internet access.

Lungarno Suites Florence, Italy

This hotel adds modern elegance to Florence with three stylish hotels. The suites are apartment-style with kitchenettes and refrigerators, and are also very spacious. The hotel’s location makes it easy for guests to explore the city. Families will appreciate the extra space! A dream vacation in Italy doesn’t have to be bland, and neither do the accommodations!

You can find international cell phones and service for Italy from http://www.planetomni.com. Free incoming calls from all countries night and day and calling the states is just US $.60 per minute! They rent and sell phones and satellite phones as well.