$1,262 for 12 people for four nights.
Rudyard Kipling’s self-built family home in Vermont? Sleeping room for eight for $390 a night.
The Landmark Trust rescues historic and architecturally significant buildings from decay and ruin. It maintains almost 200 European properties as vacation rentals, re-decorating them sensitively and — in line with that historic vibe — without TVs or WiFi.
Standalone iterations of the trust exist in Ireland as well as the US.
From English Tudor castles to Atlantic-facing lighthouses, these unusual buildings all have a story behind them.
Here are 10 worth booking:
A UNESCO site that inspired a new style of architecture
Villa Saraceno, Italy
The ancient city of Vicenza was founded more than 2,000 years ago, but it was in the 16th century that Venetian architect Andrea Palladio built a set of villas so influential a style of architecture was named after him.
Part of the Palladian Villas of Veneto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Villa Saraceno resembles a Roman temple, dramatically imposed upon the flat, green landscape of the Vicenza countryside.
Its clean lines are testament to Palladio’s devotion to symmetry.
The architect sought inspiration from the ruins of Rome, reinventing their columned design principles as fashionable villas for noblemen around the city.
Stepping inside, six-foot-wide frescoes of Greek mortals and goddesses adorn the ceilings.
In the living room, friezes depict scenes from Virgil’s Aeneid — mainly Dido and Aeneas’ romantic frolics on their journey towards Carthage.
There are seven bedrooms and despite the villa’s museum-like grandeur, Saraceno still manages the kind of rustic warmth you’d expect from a Mediterranean home.
Sleeps 16. Four-night stays from $1,466 (£1,193).
Rudyard Kipling’s Vermont home
“The Jungle Book” author Rudyard Kipling built Naulakha in 1893 on a secluded Vermont hillside overlooking Connecticut River Valley.
His family lived there for three years before moving back to England.
The house retains almost all original furnishings.
“They took very little with them,” says Kelly Carlin, operations manager at Landmark Trust USA. “A few books, pictures and rugs but that was it.”
The study contains the very desk on which Kipling wrote “The Jungle Book,” “The Seven Seas” and “Captains Courageous.”
Abandoned for 50 years to become a home for raccoons, it was purchased by the Trust in 1991 and restored to its former glory.
More than 1,000 prized works of literature await readers within its library, from Kipling’s own books to those of his contemporaries.
“I think if the Kiplings were here today,” adds Carlin, “they would recognize their own house.”
Priced from $390 per night in low season and $450 in high season, there’s space for eight people across four bedrooms. Three-night minimum stay.
More Kipling heritage in the Vermont countryside
Kipling’s Carriage House, Vermont
“A mini Naulakha,” Kipling’s Carriage House sits on the edge of the forest covering Kipling Hill. Originally a barn, it was where Rudyard Kipling’s carriage was kept before being converted to housing for coachman Matthew Howard and family.
Carriage House brings you back to 1800s-era understated comfort. On the ground floor, beautifully bound books, paintings and various ephemera hint at Kipling’s Indian roots as well as his and Howard’s English heritage. Upstairs are two bedrooms that comfortably sleep four.
When it comes to historic character, “there’s an equal attention to detail,” says Carlin. There’s original furniture and wall panelings, and even the walls’ color scheme remains the same. The lightest touches of modernity have been added for convenience such as a dishwasher and washer/dryer.
Sleeps four. Prices start from $225 (low season).
The Florentine home of Elizabeth and Robert Browning
Casa Guidi, Italy
Built in the 15th-century for a well-heeled Florentine family, 400 years later the Palazzo Guidi was divided into apartments, the ground floor of which became the Florence home of English poets Elizabeth and Robert Browning.
Legend has it guests at the Casa Guidi included authors Anthony Trollope and Nathaniel Hawthorne and the poet Frederick Tennyson.
The property was restored in the likeness of a painting commissioned soon after Elizabeth’s death in 1861.
Inside it’s been lavishly decorated with moody hues, brocade curtains, gilded oil paintings and antiques. All very romantic.
Then there’s the main bedroom (there are three in total) — with a lofty ceiling, ornate rugs, vintage lounges and a solid carved wood piano, ready for tinkering.
Sleeps six. Priced from £782 ($960) for minimum three-night stay.
The French hideaway of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, France
There are many reasons to be enthralled by the 18th-century mill house and surrounding cottages that make up Le Moulin de la Tuilerie: its location south of Versailles and moments from Paris, its wisteria-cloaked facade and the photogenic courtyards that blend into tranquil oak-filled woodlands.
After Britain’s King Edward VIII gave up his throne in 1936 for “the woman I love,” Moulin was the couple’s vacation home for almost two decades.
It was convenient for the Duke of Windsor and his American divorcée wife Wallis Simpson, being half an hour’s drive from their official residence within the Bois de Boulogne. It was the only house they ever owned together.
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Cecil Beaton were among their famous guests.
In the gardens, beech hedges line its manicured paths while hydrangeas, box balls and the scent of lavender entice visitors.
Inside, its living areas have been thoughtfully renovated with flourishes of bright pastels on walls and furniture.
You can sit in the upstairs living room contemplating the stencil commissioned by the duchess, inscribed: “I’m not the miller’s daughter, but I have been through the mill.”
Sleeps 12. Priced from $1,262 (£1,027) for four nights.
A strategic site in the Battle of Waterloo
A rolling, sleepy farmyard, south of Brussels.
It’s hard to imagine a more serene place as backdrop to one of the greatest battles in European history. A key strategic point in the Great Battle of Waterloo, British and Prussian troops defended the Chateau Hougoumont against French armies more than 200 years ago.
“The outcome of the Battle of Waterloo depended upon the closing of the gates at Hougoumont,” declared The Duke of Wellington at the time.
Rescued from decay in a £3.5 million restoration project involving multinational teams, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended its 2015 opening.
It’s said thousands of slain soldiers’ bodies lie buried beneath its orchard. Guests will need to dispel such grim history to indulge in countryside walks amongst the rolling picturesque views of this idyllic farm.
The two-bedroom gardener’s cottage stands beside the south gates. Inside, flanked wood ceilings and dark furniture are muted with neutral walls and lighting.
Throughout are careful nods to the Napoleonic era, such as framed photographs of notable individuals and red and blue striped cushions on spacious sofas.
Sleeps four. Priced from £392 ($482) for three nights.
A lighthouse on Ireland’s northwest coast
St John’s Point, Donegal, Ireland
St. John’s Point has been a working lighthouse since 1831. It’s one of 12 lighthouses around the Irish coast that are available to rent.
Rooms are unpretentious and sleep four. For entertainment there’s a replica Carnegie Library bookcase, donated by US philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The original oak bookcases are now kept in a museum in Dublin.
“Each lighthouse had a beautifully handmade library box built for them… in order to relieve the solitude that was part and parcel of lightkeeping life,” explains Irish Landmark Trust’s marketing executive Diana Moholan.
In the kitchen handmade Irish pottery adds a quaint bucolic charm. But the pièce de résistance has to be the spectacular Atlantic views.
If you snorkel or scuba dive, “there are more than 15,000 shipwrecks, large and small, lying in the waters around Ireland,” explains Moholan.
Three of the Spanish Armada’s vast ships were wrecked near here, while returning from defeat at the Battle of Gravelines in 1588.
Sleeps four. Priced from $419 (€398) for two nights, minimum stay.
Irish stone tower in a ‘Game of Thrones’ landscape
Helen’s Tower, Northern Ireland
Proof that a rural vacation does not have to mean slugging it in a tent.
Helen’s Tower is an enchanting stone turret squirreled away in the woodlands of County Down, Northern Ireland. It’s inspired eponymous poems by Robert Browning and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Originally a Game Keepers Tower, it was built for the fifth Baron of Dufferin in the mid 1800s. Inside, rooms are stacked on top of each other accessed via a snaking stone staircase.
There’s a shower room, separate bathroom, kitchen, living and dining room with an open pit fire and a rooftop poetry room. Atop, its terrace is swamped by gorgeous views across the lush green hills of the Clandeboye Estate — a regular filming location used in “Game of Thrones.”
The bedroom is a little snug, but what it lacks in luxury it makes up for with Northern Ireland’s wild landscape and ancient ruins.
You can pull on boots and ramble off within its woodlands, or set off for a round of golf.
Eco-conscious guests will be happy to know it was awarded a bronze in sustainability in 2015 by the Green Tourism Business Scheme
Sleeps two. Priced from $335 (£273) for two nights, minimum stay.
Henry VIII’s building project
The Georgian House at Hampton Court Palace, England
Known as Henry VIII’s renovation “plaything’ and set amongst the English king’s grand reworkings of Hampton Court Palace, this series of gardens and courtyards alongside kitchens once covered 36,000 square feet.
Despite its imposing features, the Georgian House started life as a simple kitchen for King George I, built on an alley leading to Henry VIII’s tennis courts at Hampton Court Palace.
Inside, the house sleeps eight across five rooms all minimally furnished but no less comfy with grandiose chandeliers in its living and dining room.
Sleeps eight. Price starts from £864 ($1,061) for four nights.
The castle where Cardinal Wolsey was arrested for treason
Cawood Castle, England
The gatehouse and great hall (now empty) are all that remain of this once spectacular medieval castle for archbishops — reportedly “more palace than castle.”
It’s seen a fair share of drama during its 500-year history. In 1529, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was arrested for treason on King Henry VIII’s orders, after failing to secure an annulment so the king could marry Anne Boleyn.
Following arrest, he rode out through the gate passage on a mule bound for London and died on route. Henry later stayed at the castle with new wife Catherine Howard.
Her entourage included Thomas Culpeper. Howard and Culpeper were later to be accused of adultery and beheaded for treason.
Used afterwards as an officer’s mess during World War II, the gatehouse now sleeps up to four people in bright, airy rooms. Its main bedroom sports a grand four-poster bed.
The dark interiors, hessian lampshades and tapestry curtains make you feel instantly cosseted from the outside world — lord of your own castle (until Henry VIII sends for you).
On starlit nights you can climb the second floor stairs and dine on the roof terrace for uninhibited views of rugged Yorkshire.
Sleeps four. Priced at $292 (£238) based on four nights.