In 2003, Roland Purcell and his wife, Zoe, upped sticks from Tanzania, where they had created Greystoke Mahale, the remotest of safari lodges, to return to Port Donegal. Their white-washed eco-cottage is a six-hour drive from Dublin. Run on solar power that, thankfully, isn’t up to firing a hairdryer, the house is warmed by wood-burning stoves. It is a place to get away from everyone and everything – walking in the Atlantic spume, swimming in warm rain and searching for migrating basking sharks on cliff-top walks. port-donegal.com; from £65 ($95) per night, with a minimum two-night stay, sleeping six to eight.
Cabanas no Rio feels more lonesome than it is. Located in the Herdade da Comporta, a protected coastal nature reserve in the Alentejo, among umbrella pines, cork trees and beach, it is only an hour from Lisbon. Designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, a Portuguese architect, the property is made up of two fishermen’s cabins with a sparsely modern aesthetic. One houses the bedroom and inside-outside shower, the other the kitchen(ette) and living room. There is electricity, but not much else beyond the kayak moored alongside the private pontoon on the Sado Estuary. cabanasnorio.com; from €200 ($223) per night for two people with a minimum three-night stay.
It takes 25 minutes to walk along a narrow cliff-side path to the ghost village of Zucco Grande on the island of Filicudi, where Belquis Zahir, an architect and granddaughter of the last king of Afghanistan, has painstakingly restored a once-abandoned house. Showers are fed by collected rainwater and electricity powered by the sun and wind. From the terrace, you can lie on a hammock and gaze across the Aeolian Sea towards Stromboli, Salina and Lipari – or scramble through wild herbs to a secret bay below. The design of the house is in tune with the nature around it: bleached wood furniture and curved plaster walls. sopranovillas.com; from €1,600 ($1,780) per week for four.
Eilean Shona, a 2.5-mile-long private island a 40-minute boat ride off Scotland’s west coast, provided the inspiration for Neverland in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”. Here, an abandoned schoolhouse with views of a pewter North Atlantic has been turned into a two-bedroomed celebration of splendid isolation: no electricity or mobile-phone reception, but tongue-and-groove panelling, wood-burning stoves, colourful rugs and pottery put together by Vanessa Branson (sister to Richard). The boat for Eilean Shona leaves from Dorlinn Pier, a three-hour drive from Glasgow. eileanshona.com; from £1,250 ($1,825) a week, sleeping four.