25 Secret European Villages
When Russian oligarchs head to the country, they go to Plios, on the banks of the Volga. Since 1999 Alexey Shevtsov, a tycoon turned hotelier, and his wife, Natalia, have been converting the town’s provincial buildings into dacha-style guesthouses. Thankfully Plios hasn’t lost its original Slavic appeal: the scent of woodsmoke wafts from Russian stoves, men hawk smoked Volga bream, and babushkas carry baskets of chanterelles past old merchant’s houses.
How to Get There: Hire a car service from your hotel in Moscow for the four-hour drive northeast.
Where to Stay: Great Value Shevtsov’s hotel group runs the rustic-moderne Fortecia Rus Hotel (doubles from $82; houses from $306).
Where to Eat: Try Russian dishes such as roast duck with cabbage at Yacht Club (dinner for two $80).
Local Take: Shevtsov browses 19th-century antiques at Stariy Dachnik.