ExperiencePlus! - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Travel Stories

Accommodations We Love – Part 1

by ExperiencePlus! - Monday, October 3, 2011 dine_mansion

ExperiencePlus! has added one more piece of information to our itineraries to enhance the fun and excitement of choosing your next bike trip – you can now check out the hotels on each day.  Since we originally launched our website in 1996, we have always provided day by day itinerary descriptions, photos, maps and reviews and now we’ve gone one step further by adding a link to the night’s hotel.  As you can imagine, there are quite a few of them since our average tour stays in 5 – 8 hotels.  We thought we’d introduce you to  few of our favorite places, but soon realized there are way too many for one newsletter feature so we’ll spread them over the next several months.

We’ll begin with one hotel in each of the following countries: Costa Rica, Northern Argentina,  Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, and Scotland.

View pool side at La Mansion in Costa RicaBicycling Costa Rica (Plus! the Pacific) –  La Mansion Inn Lake Arenal
The only thing better may be your own private Costa Rican cottage timeshare, but here’s the next-best option for you!  La Mansion Inn on Lake Arenal, a collection of 17 cottages, will serve as your home base for 3 days on our Bicycling Costa Rica (Plus! the Pacific) tours.  Amidst tropical flowers, stunning views of the lake, and volcanoes in the distance, you’ll want to push pause and soak in the tranquility of this small hotel set on 25 acres high in the mountains.  Your cottage comes complete with rocking chairs on the terrace, a private garden with painted murals that give a colonial Costa Rican feel.   If you can find the motivation to move from your patio, we recommend hitting the pool to take in a spectacular sunset over Lake Arenal.  Experience the ‘pura vida’ as you savor fresh tropical dishes and rest up for the days of adventure and memories that await you.

Hotel Killa in Northern ArgentinaDiscover Northern Argentina (Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes) – Villa Killa
Hotel Killa is the kind of place you’ll be telling stories about for months after you return from Argentina.  Not only does this hotel have a picture-perfect setting it also features unique room names paired with themed furniture and local calchaqui art decoration.  Its location in the middle of town allows easy access to explore Cafayete and since we’re here two nights on the 12-day Plus! tour, there’s plenty of time for you to hit the town, and lounge by the pool and garden.   Be sure to visit some of the local museums centered on the wine making of the region.  Peruse the artisan markets as you hop from winery to winery and check out the cathedral built in 1885 with five naves, one of three remaining in South America.

Exterior of Monasterio de San ZoiloCycling the Camino de Santiago: Roncesvalles to Santiago – El Monasterio de San Zoilo
The Camino de Santiago is chalked full of history, and so is this hotel in Carrion de los Condes, a former Benedictine monastery turned Jesuit high school, and a popular refueling spot for Camino pilgrims over the years.  Opened as a hotel in 1992, El Monasterio de San Zoilo had monks in residence dating as far back as 948 AD.  The design of the building has changed with the style of the era, from Romanesque qualities to Baroque tints.  Each room features individual layouts and decorations, which reflect their original purpose as either monk or nurses’ quarters, and all are arranged around the large center courtyard and upper cloister.  If you’re curious, you can explore the inner cloister, church and roam the grounds of this old monastery.  Relax, prop your feet up and take a rest from your journey, relishing in the past amidst well-preserved buildings and the feel of a Spain gone by.

Room in Agriturismo Monebelli Coastal TuscanyCycling  Coastal Tuscany (Plus! Hilltop Towns) – Agriturismo Montebelli
Enjoy an authentic Tuscan experience at the Agriturismo Montebelli. Chef Clarence prepares meals with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the nearby bio-organic farm, and will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to your long lost Italian grandmother’s kitchen.  Simple and delicious – How does bruschetta sound for an appetizer?  With fresh backyard tomatoes & basil tossed in extra virgin olive oil from the farm atop a grilled slice of rustic bread, I think I’ll order two!  Reward yourself after a “hard” day of cycling with a swim or one of the health center’s 11 types of massage and you’ll be sure to sleep as well as you’ve eaten.

View from the pool in UzesBicycling the Best of Provence (Plus! the Luberon and Aix-en-Provence) – Hotel du Général d’Entraigues
A small iron-forged sign hangs outside the Hotel d’Entraigues hidden in the historical center of Uzes. It’s the only indication that there is indeed a hotel there. Separated by a tiny cobblestone street and arching pedestrian bridge the hotel is comprised of several private 15th and 17th century homes preserved and restored by the family Entraigues du Pin, descendants of Louis XIV’s great French military architect Vauban. These homes form a medieval maze of vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, spiral staircases and decorated windows carved into the thick limestone walls. Each room is unique and offers a view of the many historical monuments spread out across the town (churches, bell towers, duchy, mansions, etc.). This hotel has the added bonus of a pool on the first floor overlooking the cathedral. Its restaurant and chef have built an excellent reputation throughout town by serving memorable meals on the first floor terrace or in the main dining room that occupies a former convent.

Lovely bath in Belgium with ExperiencePlus!Bicycling Belgium’s Best Breweries (Plus!) – Pegasus Recour
The Hotel Recour is a small, just 15 rooms, gem we discovered in Belgium.  Just meters from the town market square in Poperinge, you’ll have the chance to stay in a uniquely themed room each painted in a color designed to inspire meditation, music or poetry.  One thing is certain: you’ll enjoy modern amenities and comfy beds.  The original timber frame and brick combination provide for a rustic yet elegant feel.  Consider splurging on a gourmet meal creatively prepared by Chef Bert Recour at the on-site restaurant.  Looking for a little rest and relaxation post-ride?  The Recour has a wellness center with saunas, massage treatments, baths, showers, and other spa offerings.

Mary Culter on the banks of the River Dee in ScotlandBicycling Scotland’s Highlands Coast to Coast (Plus! the Isle of Skye) – Mary Culter House
Just six miles from Aberdeen sits an elegant hotel on the banks of the River Dee where the Knights Templar trained in 1227 AD.  Rich in history and tradition, The Mary Culter House is beautiful and peaceful; an idyllic place to begin your journey pedaling from coast to coast through the magnificent highlands of Scotland.  Upon arrival to this jewel on the water, you’ll be able to rest in your spacious room, size up your bike and take a little jaunt around the countryside.  Work up an appetite because a tasty dinner is being prepared at the Priory, located right in the hotel.  Chef Donovan is committed to incorporating local and artisan products in his meals and prepares scrumptious and authentic Scottish fare for an appreciative audience.

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