Some of our most treasured travel memories are undoubtedly those involving family and friends. And while the planning and cost for a group holiday can be off-putting, you can make the numbers work by finding a place large enough to accommodate everyone then splitting the cost.
Here’s a collection of weird, wonderful and surprisingly cheap places to stay around the globe to take some of the legwork and financial strain out of your next reunion.
Secluded French castle
Set amid the Loire Valley’s rolling countryside, this seven-bedroom French château with room for 16 is the perfect spot to stoke your Louis XV Sun King fantasies, and one of the best value places on Airbnb. Expect sprawling gardens and a pool beside a vineyard, elegant interiors featuring painted floor tiles, gilded chandeliers and open fireplaces, and peace and quiet despite being just a two-hour drive from Paris. From about $411 a night.
Greek island villa
Perched on a hill overlooking the eastern coast of Paros, at Agnanti Villa you’ll want to do nothing but sip rosé and laze in the sunshine for a week straight. With four double bedrooms making it only about $130 a night per person for a group of 8, the biggest quandary you’ll face at this stone villa is where to while away the afternoons: by the infinity pool, on the sunny terrace, or beneath the shady pagoda. From about $1,048 a night.
Giant Pineapple, Scotland
Dating back to 1761, this fruity (and insanely cheap) abode in Dunmore, Central Scotland, was originally a summer house for the fourth Earl of Dunmore who had a penchant for the prickly fruit. These days, on either side of the 11-metre stone pineapple, you’ll find two simple, wood-panelled guest rooms, one twin, one double, for four guests. You can book them on Landmark Trust, a charity that rescues historic buildings and rents them to curious travellers. About $420 for four nights (or just over $100 each).
Canadian hanging treehouses
Dangling like large wooden pendulums from maple, cedar and fir trees in five acres of forest on Vancouver Island, these ‘Free Spirit Spheres’ are a childhood fantasy come true. Whichever of the three orbs you choose (they sleep between one and three people), you can peek out from the circular windows at the passing deer, rabbits and squirrels before heading out for a forest walk or picnic with your travel buddies. Treehouses from about $240 a night.
The 300-year-old Madri Haveli mansion, set in the heart of Udaipur in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, will have you and your travel companions feeling like Maharajas – no surprise, really, since it has belonged to a string of them. The sprawling suites with stained-glass windows, Rajasthani archways and antique furnishings are the pick of the 14 rooms, and a sunset session on the rooftop is not to be missed. Head out to explore the shimmering waters of Lake Pichola, the 16th century City Palace, and various temples dotted around town. Suites are about $100 a night.
Luxury Japanese ryokan
You don’t get much more quintessentially Japanese than the traditional ryokan inn with its minimalist aesthetic and tatami sleeping mats. And Gora Kadan is one of Japan’s best. Originally a summer villa for a member of the Imperial family and located inside Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park, it’s centered on onsen open-air hot springs and private gardens, with a mountainous forest backdrop. Make sure to book one of the 38 rooms that comes with its own hot-spring pool. From about $530 a night for four.
Indonesian bamboo house
Located on Bali’s sacred Ayung River Valley just 25 minutes from Ubud, everything in Sunrise House – from the roof and ceiling to the floors and furniture – is made of bamboo. Surrounded by lush palm and bamboo groves, there’s also a plunge pool, free-standing copper bathtubs, plush canopied beds and excellent views across the valley, for the bargain price of about $450 a night for six guests. Massages, private chefs, drivers and more can also be arranged.