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Our little black book of enchanting places


An island of your own by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Fancy getting away from it all but can’t spare the £39,000 a night it costs to rent Richard Branson’s legendary Necker Island?  Here are five less expensive ways of playing Robinson Crusoe this summer.

Swinton Park, Yorkshire Dales

You don’t even have to leave the country to enjoy this lake island (above) at Swinton Park castle hotel. Reached via a hand-operated cable ferry, the island can be hired by the half or full day for whatever you like – a gourmet picnic prepared by the hotel, sunrise yoga, or perhaps a starlight barbecue. From £250 for half day, with each additional hour charged at £50. Ockelbo, Sweden

Simply Sweden, the specialist tour operator to Sweden and Norway, has a new package that includes a night in a traditional Swedish cabin on a secluded private island. They suggest you while away the day swimming in the lake and cooking dishes from local organic produce – or you could just sit on the front porch and enjoy the peace and quiet. From £930 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Stockholm, transfers, two nights’ b&b in Rex Hotel, one night’s full board at another location and one night on the island.Torsa, Scotland

This 250-acre island lies off the west coast of Scotland, between the Isle of Luing and Degnish Point. Once nearly a dozen crofting families lived on the island; longer ago it was the site of a medieval Highland castle. Today there is just one farmhouse which sleeps up to six. From £980 for seven nights, including use of a motor boat; well-behaved dogs are charged at £30 per dog, per week. Burguillo Island, Spain

This two-acre island, planted with pine, fruit trees and vines, is to be found in Burguillo Reservoir in Central Spain. It’s only 300m from the mainland so not exactly cut off from the world, but it does have its own five-bedroom castle and beach. From €2,800 for five nights.Florida, US

This tiny island is set among mangroves in the Florida Keys. Accommodation is on a two-bedroom houseboat, though if you prefer to sleep outdoors, there are sheltered hammocks (and a composting toilet) on the island itself. From €449 per night. 

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