It's called Balfour Castle and it's on the island of Shapinsay in the Orkney Islands. Accommodations for six guests. Four-poster and canopy beds. Other antique furnishings. Garden-fresh vegetables, fresh eggs, butter, cheese, poultry, meat, shellfish. A private boat is available for charter. The castle was built in 1847. Turrets, lofty ceilings. Guests stroll along deserted beaches, study the ocean from towering cliffs. Rates: 68 per day, full board with wine. Flights from London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness. For reservations write to Balfour Castle, Shapinsay, Orkney Isles, United Kingdom.
Beverly Beyer has updated her handy little book, "Passport to Europe's Small Hotels & Inns." Names more than 850 properties in 23 European countries. It's pocket-size. Sells for $6.95. Beyer has been a hotel snooper since 1960. Selects hotels/inns based on comfort, appeal, location, value, dining. Some are bargains, others are pricey.
In Portugal, Beyer describes Hotel Da Nazare in the village of Nazare: "Terraces and dining room overlook this colorful fishing village. One of the better places to eat. Fifty rooms with glorious views. Rates: Doubles with bath, $35." Her choice in Positano, Italy: Palazzo Murat. "A sumptuous baroque villa with antique-filled rooms, balconies, patio with breakfasts beneath a waterfall of flaming bougainvillea and hibiscus."
Beyer says her readers are "adventurers" and that although they may "splurge occasionally, there is always a rucksack in their souls." Describes them as "footloose and independent." Besides naming inns/hotels, Beyer provides tips on packing, budgeting, car rentals, Eurailpasses, bus passes, etc. If you can't find Beyer's book in your local store, write for listings to John Wiley & Sons, 605 3rd Ave., New York 10158-0012 or telephone (212) 850-6164.
Barging in France is generally expensive, but Bill Forsythe does trips for bargain hunters. Rates $500/$750 per week. Four vessels in the Burgundy region. Forsythe's barges accommodate six to 10 passengers. Private cabins/showers. To keep prices low, only breakfast/lunch served. Evenings are spent exploring villages, discovering inexpensive restaurants, bistros. Forsythe says his barges feature central heating, libraries, stereos, bars, bicycles. (Just keep in mind that these aren't luxury liners. ) Contact Forsythe c/o Cruises in France, 6 Clearbrooke Circle, Rexdale, Ont.,, Canada M9W 2E3.
Puerto Rico's Paradores
Paradores are popular in Puerto Rico. Modeled after those in Spain. Rates $30/$60 a night. Of the dozen operated by the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., three are on Puerto Rico's northwest coast. Another paradore does business in a small fishing village on the southern coast. A couple of others welcome guests in the mountains on working coffee plantations. Other privacy offered at Villa Esperanza on the little island of Vieques. For reservations call toll-free (800) 443-0266.
A couple of magazine-size guides are available free from New Zealand. One is titled "New Zealand Book 1987." Contains maps, photos, tips on dining/shopping. Details on seven regions. The other guide ("New Zealand Outdoor Action Holidays") provides background on fishing, boating, sporting lodges, farm visits, bike tours, mountaineering, trekking, four-wheel drive safaris. For copies write to the New Zealand Tourist & Publicity Office, Suite 1530, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90024 or telephone (213) 477-8241.
The Eurailpass people have published a 12-page pocket-size booklet. Tells about the Eurailpass, the Saverpass and the Eurail Youthpass. Eurailpasses priced from $280 for 15 days, Youthpasses sell for $310 for one month and the Saverpass for two or more vacationers traveling together (15 days) during March figures out to $199.
Tickets are good for travel in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. For copies of the booklet write to Eurailpass, P.O. Box 325, Old Greenwich, Conn. 06870-0325.
Oregon--Gary Pollock, San Rafael: "Highly recommend Fiddleback Manor, Old Highway 101, P.O. Box 288, Port Orford, Ore. 97465. On a sheltered hilltop just a mile south of Port Orford in southern Oregon. The entire 10-acre estate rents for about $850 a week."
Napa Valley--Bill Muster, Los Angeles: "Gracious hospitality from English innkeepers Janet and Geoffrey Villiers and their daughter Lisa at the tastefully redecorated Country Garden Inn, 1815 Silverado Trail, Napa, Calif. 94558. Complimentary wines, champagne breakfast. Rustic surroundings on Napa River. Large room with Jacuzzi, $110. Others from $55."
Big Bear--Ellen Krahforst, Los Angeles: Praises Sleepy Forest Cottages. "So quiet you can hear the trees growing. It cost $79 a night for two of us." For reservations call (714) 866-7444.