Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Howard Shapiro

4/27/2009 (6 years ago)

McClatchy Newspapers (

The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT) - Some specialty hotels become the focal point of a vacation because of their unique qualities. Here are four odd European hideaways (including a former jail) that fit that description. What's more, they're perfect in springtime, when the weather's warming and tourists have yet to swarm to Europe.


By Howard Shapiro

McClatchy Newspapers (

4/27/2009 (6 years ago)

Published in Travel


Atop a hill in a 14th-century village named Torrita dedi Siena _ just a few minutes' ride from the charming town of Siena in Tuscany _ sits Residenza D'Arte. Once a splendid sprawl of a house, then abandoned, it's now an art gallery-hotel, rich with fireplaces, old stone walls, and rooms with panoramas.

The management hooks up with the community for everything from massage therapy to painting and cooking classes, cultural tours in Tuscany, wine tours, horseback riding, and mountain-bike trips. Or you can just relax _ and shop, if the feeling's right, 45 minutes away at an Italian outlet center that houses Gucci, Fendi and others for enough of a discount to make the euro bearable. Now, in low season, junior rooms at the hotel run about $190 per night; superior rooms are about $250 and a suite, $330.

Residenza D'Arte, Poggio Madonna dell'Olivo, 53049, Torrita di Siena, Italy, 011-39-338-481-4384,


In the harbor at the docks of Harlingen _ a town full of interesting hotels, about a 75-minute ride from Amsterdam _ sits Harlingen Lighthouse, last used to guide ships 11 years ago, when alterations to the harbor rendered it unnecessary. It's now a luxury hotel for two people at a time (staying together), an aerie about 80 steps up, where three floors of round-walled living space serve as accommodations.

The lantern room, on the highest level, opens onto a balcony; binoculars are provided, but guests say there's plenty to see without them. The folks who own the lighthouse also own hotels in a crane and a lifeboat. The lighthouse runs about $445 per night.

Harlingen Lighthouse, Havenweg 1, Harlingen, the Netherlands, 011-31-517-414-410,


Once a Roman fortress carved from rock on a mountainside, Le Prince Noir in the south of France is now a rarefied B&B. In Les Baux-de-Provence, a tiny village of Provence about a half-hour drive from Arles, the converted fortress comprises three accommodations _ a double-bed room (about $125 per night), a family suite (about $285), and a small apartment with a private terrace (about $340). Guests like the breakfasts, panoramic views and general comfort. There's a two-night minimum stay.

Le Prince Noir, Rue de Lorme, 13520 Les Baux-de-Provence, France, 011-33-6-2007-8267,


The last convict left Stockholm's Crown Prison in 1975, and 14 years later, the jail became Lĺngholmen Hotel. The early-19th-century building, on the city's seventh-largest island, has 89 single and 13 double cells _ yes, cells (with private doors) _ each with its own shower.

It also has an atrium, a 24-hour cafeteria in the old prison entrance, an adjoining full restaurant and museum, free Internet, parking within the prison walls, and jogging paths outside for a little prison rec. "A captivating experience," says the management, which promises to give you your own key. Singles run about $135 per conviction _ er, night; doubles, $195.

Lĺngholmen Hotel, Lĺngholmsmuren 20, 10272, Stockholm, 011-468-720-8500,


© 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer.


More Travel

5 amazing safe holiday travel tips you can't go without this year Watch

Image of Safe travels with your family can be simplified by following a few basic safety rules.


With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years just around the corner, people around the world are planning to travel to visit with friends and family. Any form of travel comes with its own hazards, but Catholic Online has five top safety tips for the holiday traveler. LOS ... continue reading

Top 5 Catholic Bucket List Destinations Watch

Image of St. Michael Guardian Angel Travel Protection Clip (Catholic).


As Catholics, we know the world offers a variety of historically religious landmarks from the River Jordan to the birthplace of Christ, our Savior. So, after scrimping and saving you're ready to go out and explore religiously-relevant locations across the ... continue reading

Pilgrimage of Mary: The Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Gorreti Watch

Image of St. Maria Goretti's remains are encased inside a glass-sided casket. Inside the casket is a wax statue, which contains her skeletal remains. None of the sacred remains are visible. Nevertheless, the skeleton is complete, with the exception of small fragments that were taken to be placed in altars and for use in the Church's ministry (


St. Maria Goretti Parish is set to host a tour of the relics of its patron saint, St. Maria Goretti, as part of the Pilgrimage of Mary: The Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Gorreti. The parish is one of more than 50 in the United States to host the major relics of ... continue reading

Pope Francis plans visit to Mexico in 2016 Watch

Image of Pope Francis' visit will be his first time in Mexico.


The Vatican announced that Pope Francis is planning to visit Mexico in 2016. His itinerary will include a visit to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed last Tuesday that plans of a ... continue reading

Never before seen Vatican artifacts on display in Philadelphia Watch

Image of Pope Pius IX's processional cross.


A preview of "Vatican splendors" can be seen in an exhibit at the Franklin Institute that showcases never before seen relics and art pieces from the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A collection of over 200 items from the Vatican that have never been seen ... continue reading

Visit historic Catholic sites in New York Watch

Image of Visit New York City's Historically Catholic architecture!

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The New York Times released "A Tourist's Guide to Catholic New York," indicating which prominent locations in New York City stand out for their Catholic annotations and historic relevance. NEW YORK CITY, NY (Catholic Online) - People have made a journey to New York ... continue reading

'We were able to walk where Jesus walked': Pastor strives to become peacemaker while visiting the Holy Land Watch

Image of Pastor John Moyle offered to be a peacemaker between Israel and Palestine.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pastor John Moyle wanted to visit Israel not as a tourist, but as a peacemaker. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Moyle, who is a social justice minister at Oakbrook Church in Reston, Va., wanted his church group to become peacemakers throughout Israel and ... continue reading

Want to visit Cuba? Here are 5 things to keep in mind! Watch

Image of Visit Cuba today!

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba restored, Americans have already started to plan Cuban vacations with thoughts of eating good food and soaking up plenty of sunshine -but what should Americans keep in mind as they plan?  LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

St. Michael's Mount Watch

Image of St. Michael's Mount is located on an area that is supposedly part of a mythical kingdom that was destroyed by the sea.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

St Michael's Mount is a tidal island located 366 meters, (400 yd) off the Mount's Bay coast of Cornwall in the United Kingdom. It is a civil parish and is united with the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low ... continue reading

Interactive map gives users a 'blast from the past' of Old San Francisco Watch

Image of Two encoders have taken a Google Street View Map and turned into an interactive look at San Francisco of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Call it a virtual time machine. Two encoders have taken a Google Street View Map and turned into an interactive look at San Francisco of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It may very well be the closest to a trip back in time. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading

All Travel News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • BIGGER THAN ISIS - There's a hidden power behind ISIS and it's so big ...
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • President likens Syrian refugees to pilgrims on Mayflower in ...
  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • Who Needs Advent? I do!

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 33:14-16
14 "Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.5 ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
25 'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 3:12--4:2
12 May the Lord increase and enrich your love for each other and for all, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 29th, 2015 Image

St. Saturninus
November 29: St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr ... Read More