We think that the Great British staycation is rarely a bad decision, and our carefully curated collection of UK hotels and hideaways has something for everyone. From coastal boltholes with dramatic sea views, country pile hotels lording over acres of parkland to serious spas with nourishing treatments and kitchen garden grub.
A habitual itch to leave the country for respite often overlooks the sheer variety of landscapes and settings that lie on our doorstep, from the mist-shrouded and majestic Perthshire hills to the soft, honey-hued Cotswaldian villages choreographed like a film set around a trickling stream. It also belies the slew of adventures, phenomenal food and epic architecture that people flock to the Blighty for.
From family-friendly classics au fait with energetic tots to laid-back, lavender-infused country spas for couples to stew in, here are 8 of the best British beauties to convert any staycation sceptics. Stay tuned for part two…
Best for Spa
Smart but not stiff, rustic but not chintzy, Calcot Manor & Spa sits within 202 acres of Cotswoldian meadowland, with a refreshingly unpretentious (and wildly delicious) restaurant and much-lauded spa. Guests can wallow in fireside hot tubs skirted by lavender in courtyards, splay out on treatment beds as organic potions are worked into weary muscles, or make the most of the indoor pool with its floor-to-ceiling country views. The gym’s full-throttle class timetable, tennis and cycling galore, as well as a 3km ‘Tim Trail’ running track cater to the more energetic side of the wellness coin – rewarded, of course, with elevated pub grub in The Gumstool, Calcot Manor’s very own Cotswoldian inn.
Best for Families
Since it was taken on by Ennismore (behind the Hoxton group), Gleneagles has flourished – staying true to its sporting heritage and enduring whisky-and-tartan allure while meeting the new lofty standards of luxury travel. This Perthshire grande dame sits within 850 acres of preened golf courses, landscaped gardens and heather-clad hills crossed by ponies and the elusive stag. And with a dizzying menu of outdoorsy activities, from falconry and fishing to clay pigeon shooting and riding, families will be in their element. Parents can nab a well-earned time-out in the cavernous ESPA spa while their sprogs are fully engaged in various country pursuits, the kids club or are monitored by an expert team of babysitters.
Best for Rural
Retreats to the wild are fast gaining currency in our relentless, iPhone-driven world deprived of any off-buttons. Particularly for the city rats who crave raw, unspoilt landscape that is so wonderfully ubiquitous in the Scottish Highlands. Kyle House on the southern tip of the Kyle of Tongue is a small but mighty design den, whose original charm has been keenly preserved in its zealously gentle renovation. Aside from the Nordic, minimalist interiors and hiking routes to nearby beaches, it’s the views from large contemporary windows across mottled hills of tartan shades and wind-whipped grasses sloping towards the North Sea that make this Highland hideaway so thrilling.
Best for Couples
Of all the Cotswoldian honey-stoned hotels, Thyme’s farm-to-fork appeal is the most enticing. Perhaps this is due to its authenticity as a family-owned cluster of beautifully renovated barns and cottages set within herb-filled gardens, orchards and meadows, and its genuine, non-gimmicky sustainability ethos. Everything is reared, grown, pulled, plucked or cut from this 150-acre working farm, setting the gold organic standard for ingredients on menus, flowers in bedrooms and herb-infused oils in the spa. The home-grown theme is elevated to sumptuous standards in the bedrooms, where earthy tones and thick timber beams elegantly echo the rural surroundings. Even the superlative spa’s pool appears as though it were always there, carved into a walled courtyard like a classic country house swimming pond.
Best for Nature Lovers
Envisage a thatched pastel-pink cottage hovering over the edge of a swimming pond, with views across rolling English parkland. Doxie is a go-slow rural escape in the verdant Suffolk countryside, whose soft, story-like exterior and chunky-beamed skeleton belie its eclectic interiors. The latest addition to The Wilderness Reserve, this bucolic retreat features Hypnos beds, an outdoor hot tub, Nespresso machines and Pashley bikes to explore the 8000 acres of rewilded countryside. While a kitchen built into the covered decks encourages constant rounds of barbecues and alfresco suppers, there are plenty of top-drawer restaurants and gastro pubs nearby to book into.
Best for Foodies
When the farm-to-fork movement took hold in the UK, its cosmopolitan edge began to sniff out fertile, verdant spots in the countryside, where lattés and Scandinavian lighting were welcome, and usually, where farm-to-fork culture preceded the trend. The Newt perfectly embodies this edited, back-to-nature ethos and aesthetic, where London’s lofty small plate standards combine with acres of Somerset bounty, free-range everything and even buffalo mozzarella, from a west country buffalo herd, of course. The mottled and magnificent main Georgian house paints noble rooms in gentle modern strokes, while a pretty indoor pool and gym peer over the vegetable patch and greenhouse as if framing and reaffirming their significance. Acres of orchards, gardens and farmland are leveraged by non-flashy chefs and bakers, keen to show off The Newt’s own treasures with creative menus and fresh-from-the-oven pastries.
Best for Beach
Reimagined from a local pub, The Blonde Hedgehog is a cluster of stone buildings in the heart of St Anne on the Channel Island of Alderney. Beautifully designed with its contemporary interiors working in step with their Georgian character. The deep hues, crackling evening fires and sumptuously simple, locally led menus set a home-from-home tone. Alderney is one of the UK’s best-kept secrets (and Philippa & Holly’s bucket and spade holiday of choice) with unrivalled beaches, turquoise waters, stunning cliff walks, bags of history and nature, and many wonderful places to eat. Best explored by bike or on foot, via 80km of scenic trails with pit stops at beaches for swims, fishing or picnics.
Best for Big Gatherings
With its Jane Austin, no-neighbour appeal, Big House on The Hill in the lush and lovely Tenat Valley engulfs families and large groups for days, weeks on end. Situated on the Welsh/Shropshire border, the elegantly restored manor house is a warren of wood burners, roll-top baths and deliciously comfortable beds crowned with elaborate headboards. When not leaning into various board games in the drawing room, families or groups can head into Snowdonia National Park (a mere 30 minutes away) for long hikes, mountain biking adventures, horse riding, as well as kayaking along the pretty coast. And a hot tub, roaring fire and private chef (if cooking feels a drag) are the perfect end to an energetic, outdoorsy day.
Best for Escapism
Escape to the British countryside at the award-winning Middleton Lodge, a Georgian stately home set within 200 acres of glorious North Yorkshire countryside. With its delicious farm-to-fork dining, Yorkshire hospitality and the owners’ excellent eye for detail, it’s a wonderful base with all the creature comforts from which to explore the surrounding national parks, or as a stop-off point when exploring the rest of the country. Unwind in the comfort of your very own hot tub in the Dairy Hot Tub room (it’s Holly’s favourite!) or pick one of the holistic treatments from the spa menu.
Best for Something New
Found in the rolling Leicestershire countryside, Keythorpe Hall is the latest addition to our Hideaways collection, and it is here where the food deservedly takes the limelight. Each menu is carefully curated and made from seasonal produce; either foraged, from the walled garden with its vegetables, herbs and fruit, or from local artisan suppliers. Comfortably sleeping up to 20 in rooms kitted out with antique furniture, this is the place to go for multi-generational staycations that everyone can enjoy or celebrate something special with friends and family.