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There are some aspects of holiday accommodation that simply cannot be summed up by the traditional star rating system; a night in the Arabian Desert beneath a twinkling blanket of stars so close you feel like you could reach up and touch them for example.
Ever fancied the idea of staying in a 14th century castle or perhaps a luxury safari camp perfectly positioned beside a waterhole? On an Exodus cycling adventure you could do just that. Check out our top five cycling stopovers – places without stars but ones where you’ll never ‘lodge’ a complaint.
CASTLES IN THE SKY
“Staying in a castle” just has a certain ring to it, with or without a bell tower – which this one just happens to have. Set atop fields striated by sloping vineyards and shaded peach orchards, this Catalonian castle is so enchanting that Salvador Dali once tried to buy it.
The ruined ancient stones were painstakingly coaxed back to former glory, then converted into this elegant accommodation. Quaff vintage wines, taste tradition in the Drac restaurant and appreciate the local ingredients used in each dish – the perfect way to stock up for another day pedalling through the sunflower fields and along the fisherman’s coastline.
Taking you there: Catalunya Cycling
Forget the Flintstones, this is cave luxury: en suite rooms and minimalist, chic furnishings set in stone. Italy’s Sassi district is honeycombed with white stone grottos where people have dwelt for centuries.
The surprisingly airy rooms are customised with rock-hewn extensions. Narrow stone staircases lead up to patio terraces overlooking the town – not a bad place for a night on the tiles. Alternatively, the subterranean swimming pool ‘Thermae’ will vanquish any saddle soreness.
Taking you there: Puglia trips
A day biking through Etosha National Park in Namibia reveals a glorious, golden vastness that rarely disappoints. Off-road routes lead deep into the heart of the park, where wildlife is seldom far away, but infrequently more so than at dusk.
The camp is metres from a major watering hole, drawing in creatures great and small when a tense, temporary truce occurs between thirsty species. From noisy elephant families and graceful giraffes to lone prowling jackals; take a front-row seat as the sun sinks into the horizon and the flood-lights flicker on.
Taking you there: Namibia trips
Keralan canals were once a hive of merchant activity, but these traditional rice barges have cruised into modern times as the finest floating curry houses in the world. Nimble sailors stack your bikes expertly onto the roof of your boat home for the night.
Onboard surprisingly modern touches ensure a good night’s sleep – particularly air-conditioned en suite rooms – and a few sips of Kingfisher beer will do the rest. Watch life along the river slow down as the sun sinks and your hosts bring out a parade of coconut-flavoured curries to savour.
As darkness draws in and the chatter dwindles to a respectful murmur, people fade back to their bedrooms, peeking through windows at the shadows shimmering on the water as the current laps the keel, lulling you to sleep.
Taking you there: Kerala trips
KHAN YOU KICK IT?
The grasses rustle in the wind, an almost unbroken sea against a backdrop of distant sharp mountains barely touching an overwhelming expanse of sky. The only punctuation in this wide emptiness is a small cluster of bright white eaves – the only hint of humanity across the undulating miles.
Come closer, and these circular canvas shapes reveal themselves as the ger tents of the nomadic herdsmen, master horsemen and survivalists of the Mongolian wilderness. Park your bike and unpack for a night spent soaking in hot springs and staring at the stars.
Against uncaring elements, the hospitality is even more pronounced: expect steaming cups of butter tea pressed into your hands, be warmed by open fires and won over by weathered smiles.
Taking you there: Mongolia trips
Browse our tours below and experience some incredible cycling accommodation.