Countryside hotels in the UK do travel breaks exceedingly well. With few people wanting to hop on a plane, its the best escape one can get whilst staying on our isle.
From quintessential afternoon teas to ultra luxurious bedding to grounds to enjoy weather and social distancing at its best, there are hundreds of characterful country house hotels to choose from.
For some, there are roaring fires and excellent menus, while others have spas, cookery courses, foraging, bee keeping, clay pigeon shooting and so much more. On top of the endless string of activities, the one sure thing you are guaranteed is sublime comfort in our cream of the crop pick of 25 of the best UK country hotels.
From a seaside escape to an eco-friendly retreat enmeshed in woodland groves, these secluded UK hotels promise an indulgent weekend getaway of comfort to pacify an unbridled build-up of wanderlust, all without having to step foot on a flight.
THE PACKING EDIT
The Newt, Somerset
Surrounded by landscaped gardens and lakes, The Newt’s mind-mellowing location close to Somerset’s golden villages is prime weekend break material, as well as the abundance of local cider on offer. Clean air, abundant gardens and the surrounding farmland points to plenty of outdoorsy activities to maintain a healthy distance from thy neighbours. The hotel, gardens, shops and eateries are open to guests and visitor, and all can take back their weekly shop with their fresh foods and pantry items produced on the estate. Also available from the online shop.
Book a room in the Stable Yard: the beds are in the original horse stalls, and feature standalone tin bath tubs.
The Artist's Residence, Brighton
Some love the idea of complete solitude tucked away in a bolthole atop a mountain, whilst others prefer a mix of calm with the chance to go out and about town. If you fit the latter, then Artist Residence in Oxfordshire offers a bit of both with a side of unstuffy tranquillity.
This 16th-century inn has five luxurious bedrooms nestled under its cosy thatch and three suites in the farm outbuildings plus a quirky converted Shepherd’s Hut, each a calming combination of luxurious linens, bohemian styling and antique furnishings. Each of the stylish rooms feature rich colours and terraces big enough for basking in the sun and, if you book wisely, overlooking the fecund vegetable patch.
Pendley Manor Hotel, Hertfordshire
Having just opened after a huge refurbishment, this stately manor is as rural as it gets in the midst of Hertfordshire’s rolling hills. The building dates back over 1000 years, telling stories of battles and duels (quite literally) in the illustrious wallpaper. The feasting takes place in two charming restaurants, the Oak made for lazy luncheons and over running dinners, or the Peacock Lounge, the Rose Garden and terrace for cocktails, romantic tête-à-têtes and afternoon teas. You can even dip into the pool overlooking the grounds or spoil yourself to an ESPA treatment in their brand new Spa. (Go for a massage, you’ll feel utterly elevated after).
Social distancing done well set over 35 acres with 15 peacocks roaming the grounds and an annual outdoor Shakespeare Festival and an open-air cinema during the summer months. Settle into the wood-panelled Shakespeare Bar in the evening with a boardgame and a great whisky. (Note: This is the sister property to The Mandeville Hotel in London)
Monkey Island Estate, Bray
Monkey Island Estate sounds like it belongs somewhere in the far-flung tropics when, in fact, it’s just an hour’s drive from London. The suburban village of Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire is still fairly under the radar in comparison to the more obvious rural hotspots buzzing with city slickers taking selfies with trees.
Monkey Island, with its intriguing history dating back 800 years, has been the haunt of monks, monarchs, aristocrats and writers alike. Set across seven acres and surrounded by elegant gardens, Monkey Island is accessed only by footbridge, boat or helicopter, offering a secluded country venue. The opening of six new Private Residences means you can relish in the sensation of complete solitude and many a Pimm’s.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa
If you’ve been hankering for a good old-fashioned culture fix or a soak in a spa, the Gainsborough caters to both. The Gainsborough Bath Spa‘s stands out, firstly, with its substantial Romanesque spa – the only hotel spa in Bath with access to the city’s natural thermal waters, with a circuit including two natural thermal pools of varying temperatures, traditional and infrared saunas, a steam room, an ice alcove and elegant relaxation areas.
Take a seat in The Gainsborough Restaurant, picture leather armchairs and some sofa seating, boarded floors and bare-wood tables, for modern British fare. Stay overnight and enjoy a lustrous breakfast buffet including freshly-squeezed orange juice, croissants and pastries and smoked salmon; classic cooked options are also available.
The Georgian town of Bath encourages plenty of museum-mooching and Earl Grey pit stops. Alternatively, take a slow amble out to the rolling fields and dramatic valleys nearby.
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Scotland
The Fife has an ambiance fit for a modern-day dandy with a traditional Scottish sheen. We’re thinking of the staunch anti-minimalist, a Dorian Grey figure wafting in and out of the library sporting a velvet suit with tweed cufflinks.
This is a hotel that is wildly romantic and a fascinating passion project from international art dealers Hauser & Wirth. You’ll like it for the location and because it’s a great hotel, but you’ll love it for the extraordinary imagination that’s turned art into an experience.
Rooms feature an assortment of antiques, oriental rugs and portraits of Picasso and Freud, as you do. Expect foraging walks for a lungful of fresh Highland air followed by smoked-venison tartare for supper, naturally.
The Pig hotels, multiple locations
The Pig has come to define the archetypal English summer escape and, for the fashion crowd, a decadent after-party spot for a post-Glastonbury refresh. Though festivals are on pause, hedonism continues to abound across the Pig’s expanding litter of hotels. So far, hotel locations include Kent, Somerset, Dorset, two in Hampshire, Southampton and Cornwall.
Dubbing themselves “a restaurant with rooms”, each Pig offers an alternative quirk to the next. Their beds are supremely comfy, their own Pig Hut rosé is delicious and the food – farm to table which has become their signature – is some of the best when it comes to country manors.
Booking ahead for a weekend is necessary.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire
The original Soho Farmhouse first opened its doors in London, spreading far and wide across 15 locations. It has since seen stylish urbanites flock there in search of a rustic escape within their creature comforts. Bathtubs are an undeniable part of the brand’s pizzazz—be it a roll-top tub centred in the heart of the room or a lakeside cabin positioned outdoors.
About 40 reclaimed timber cabins flank four man-made lakes and original 18th-century farmhouse buildings. Electric milkfloats whisk guests around the estate, while families pedal by in matching dressing gowns and cow-print wellies. There’s no shortage of facilities – the Cowshed spa with sauna, hammam, hot tubs and a range of treatments, the luxurious cinema, cookery school and spacious gym and spinning studio, an indoor and outdoor pool, boating lake, tennis courts, football pitch, horse riding and “Teeny Barn” kids’ club.
For food and drink? The Main Barn offers three restaurants in one, the Japanese sushi grill Pen Yen, al fresco dining in the central courtyard and the farmshop-cum-deli for light bites, and the Mill Room pub.
Non members can stay, and members get discounted prices.
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
Right on London’s doorstep, Heckfield Place is a home away from home with the added benefit of an ornamental lake for wild swimming and a sleek bar.
There’s a sense of stately grandeur from the moment you enter the drive; it’s no surprise Jane Austen lived down the road in Chawton.
Rooms are unstuffy and tasteful, blending contemporary and antique furniture with an assortment of forest greens and earthy tones. It does laidback luxury really well here. Mid-20th-century photographs line the stairways and floral designs by Kitten Grayson are dotted throughout. And culinary director is Skye Gyngell (who won a Michelin star at café-in-a-conservatory Petersham Nurseries in 2011 and now runs Spring at Somerset House). Make time for the Long Room, which is more of an apartment in its size and floor plan and features an 180-degree-view private terrace. Truly a portrait of comfort steeped in elegance, rustic it is not.
Babington House, Somerset
Another one from the Soho House family, Babington House is just 30 minutes from Bath town centre, in the heart of Somerset. The Grade II listed building dates back to 1705 and feels instantly ducal from the outset rolling in through the car park. Inside, traditional hand-painted wallpapers, oak four-poster beds, velvet sofas and antique furniture are found throughout our country House to sink in and read (or nap) for hours on end. This is shabby chic at its best.
And there’s no shortage of activities, so there’s really no reason to leave the property. The main house has a library room for reading the papers with afternoon tea, there’s a TV room for kids (and big kids), wellies to borrow for rambling, bikes to take for a spin around the countryside, and a glorious outdoor heated pool (as well as an indoor one), tennis, 5-a-side football, cricket, a 45 seater cinema, with screenings free for guests and members and of course a signature Cowshed Spa.
University Arms, Cambridge
Undergoing a judicious architectural transformation in 2018, University Arms has become a respite for aspirational southerners in need of immediate relaxation. Sift through literary classics in the library before lunch in the playful restaurant re-created by architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki, the man behind Annabelle’s.
The hotel has perfectly captured the defining characteristics of the literary and academic spirit of Cambridge, as well as it’s history dating back to 1834. The main restaurant space is Parker’s Tavern, overseen by Tristan Welch, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner sittings. Cleverly designed to evoke a college dining hall, it serves a hearty English breakfast, followed by low key classic British comfort food, and an ice cream menu, great for kids, even better for adults.
Cliveden House, Berkshire
Stories of scandalous parties and romantic entanglements with Russian spies have built an aura of intrigue around this English majestic neoclassical manor. Gatsby’s wannabe contemporaries can be spotted playing host at opulent dinner parties or nonchalantly slurping champagne by the legendary pool where the Profumo affair began.
This National Trust property, dating back to the late 17th century is set among 376 verdant acres on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire. Priceless tapestries and suits of armour from the 18th century greet guests upon entering the darkly dramatic, red-toned Great Hall. Portraits line the walls, along with stone busts, while chandeliers and elaborate floral displays add lighter touches. The wonderfully ornate French Dining Room was transported from France’s Château d’Asnières in 1897. Just a taste of the history and grandeur in this hotel.
Book Spring Cottage, our favourite, for a plush romantic hideaway with its own idyllic garden backdropped by a small lake.
Dormy House, Cotswolds
The Cotswolds tends to be the first in mind for a weekend getaway for its honey-hued side streets and cobbled paths. Dormy House is cosy personified. Right by Broadway village, in case you fancied a culture fix or some retail therapy. Strolls through the nearby riverbanks offer a lungful of brisk country air and rosy cheeks for the taking. Inside, notes of Scandinavian style provide a fresh take on the conventional country retreat.
Both The Garden Room restaurant and gastro pub ‘The Potting Shed’ provide excellent wholesome fare. The House Spa is in a large, modern annexe with Cotswold stone incorporated into its striking clean lines and contemporary design.
From the 40 bedrooms to the spa, gardens, lounge, two gyms, CD and DVD library, you’re totally covered.
Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
Gleneagles is a hidden treasure that offers a fuzzy feeling of warmth much like wearing a chunky knit.
An iconic country estate set beneath the beautiful Ochil Hills, The Gleneagles Hotel has been a luxury destination for nearly a century. Famed for its golf particularly, there are three championship courses establishing the resort’s reputation as a golfer’s paradise but the hotel offers so much more than golf. The 850-acre estate epitomises the rugged natural beauty for which Scotland is famed and offers guests a glorious playground of country pursuits and activities. Whether you come to fly a Harris’ Hawk, ride horses, play tennis, go off-roading, train gundogs, shoot game, fish, enjoy Michelin-starred dining, or relax in an award-winning spa, Gleneagles offers a complete world of the outdoors.
Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
Lympstone Manor is the finest dining, with a stop, led by Chef Michael Caines. This Georgian manor-turned-contemporary country house embodies his vision of hospitality for the 21st century. Overlooking the Exe Estuary in the southwest of England, the estate extends to the shore, enveloped in the colours of the landscape of this magnificent part of Devon.
The cream-coloured Georgian mansion surrounded by sun-dappled coastal paths and dog-friendly beaches to rival the Mediterranean. It’s a welcome jolt of glamour to Devon, both in design and cuisine which is on the finer side. A freshly planted vineyard will one day soon bring a unique house wine to the eclectic list which is already a pillar in the ethos of the hotel.
An eclectic weekend escape namely for its location on the edge of the ancient New Forest, Chewton Glen has a grand entrance softened by immaculate lawns in the immediate grounds. A sprawl of suave Treehouse suites socially distanced by design no doubt enhance the sensation of a true hideaway detached from daily monotony.
The main hotel rooms are individually decorated with a mix of traditional furniture and contemporary luxuries like iPad docks. The 14 treehouse suites, are wholly contemporary in style, built atop stilts, they sit high in the tree canopy, with hardwood private decks, wood burning stoves and floor-to-ceiling windows.
A fabulous spa retreat-meets-country-house-hotel with spoiling service, stellar dining and activities galore, Chewton Glen presses all the buttons. Aquatic lounging and crystal steam rooms are the norm in this neck of the woods.
At Retreat East, it’s all about the mind, the body and the fulfilment of your hot tub requirements. Each individual “Barn” offers something different to the next, some spacious with a dedicated reading area and terrace, others more snug with the idyllic Suffolk countryside in the backdrop. Its style is sculptural and overwhelmingly wholesome with an on-site organic farm to reflect a seasonal menu.
It acts like a country getaway; in reality it’s a private members’ country club in the Suffolk countryside that has opened its doors to non-members. There’s a small spa for treatments and a fitness area with plans to expand. When it comes to accommodation, think plush country barns with freestanding baths and Architectural Digest-style kitchens – a big feature for the properties are that they are mainly self-catered. Eggs are delivered from the farm, along with other breakfast staples from the nearby towns. For dinner, there’s the option of in-barn dining where they deliver fresh, seasonal ingredients – usually from their allotment. Alternatively, you can dine in the Great Barn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Four Seasons, Hampshire
A stay at the Four Seasons for the weekend promises unrestrained self-indulgence without having to board a flight. The hotel is sprawled across 500 acres of the Hampshire countryside, ideal for those who aren’t in a hurry to join the crowds just yet.
The array of activities range from clay-shooting and cycling to yoga, croquet and catch-and-release fishing in the lake. There are also floodlit tennis courts and a child-friendly Highwire Adventure obstacle course featuring zip wires, tree-canopy bungee jumps and hairy high ropes might be the smartest way to snap out of a sleepy state of leisurely stupor, but don’t take our word for it. The focal point is the large lap pool (children welcome and adults-only times available). There’s also a sauna and crystal steam room and excellent treatments.
Don’t be deceived by restaurant name Carrot, at first seeming vegan or uber-healthy, it is in fact indulgent with the sumptuous breakfasts and the likes of partridge pie and carrot risotto at dinner.
Glamour but with a twist, Beaverbrook defies stark categorisation which is a strong part of its appeal. Whilst classically decorated rooms hint at a quintessential English countryside escape, the Japanese restaurant set amid the upholstered flounce of a former drawing room switches it up.
It’s pure hedonism inside the hotel, and outside 470 rolling acres of Surrey countryside. In the restaurant, Head chef Taiji Maruyama has deployed his considerable skills on one of the best Japanese-inspired menus in the country. Or for the ‘real countryside’, you can stay in the nearby Garden House, which features its own gastropub-style all-day dining restaurant.
Library, lounge, screening room, events space, kids’ club, free WiFi, 400-acre grounds, a walled kitchen-garden, woodlands, a trout-filled lake. In rooms: fireplaces, a minimum of king-size beds or larger, flatscreen Apple TV, free Sipsmith Sloe gin, minibar, free bottled water, coffee machine, Bamford toiletries, ensuite underfloor heating, robes, slippers. Be utterly spoiled.
If a pampering weekend is all that you crave, Lime Wood can supply the goods. Heading up the long drive, Lime Wood cuts an imposing sight. In the heart of the New Forest, its Regency style oozes class without the frayed edges. A place like Lime Wood, despite all appearances of insouciance, doesn’t just happen by accident. The minds behind the house’s current boutique-hotel incarnation are hospitality heavyweights, including alumni of some of Britain’s top hotels, both independent and corporate, and the staff is an all-star team as well.
There’s a very fine yet totally unpretentious restaurant, with a resolutely fresh-and-local menu by chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder, and a spa that’s just luxe enough. Treatments include Bamford massages and facials and a sleek spa with a focus on healthy skin care treatments to alleviate months of lockdown fatigue. Turns out your summer glow-up can be year-round .
The Swan, Southwold
It’s easy to book a hotel without delving into its past but The Swan, dating back 400 years, offers an intriguing slice of history in this nook. Having witnessed grand scale change since its heyday as a brewery circa 17th century, weathered antiques and a catastrophic fire are all part of tales left to be told to an ever-evolving carousel of guests. Sat on the Suffolk coast, seaside strolls and jaunts across the surrounding hinterland can be arranged.
This is your British beach staycation. The busy market square opposite is where you’ll find some of the town’s best delis, coffee shops and shopping. Five minutes’ walk away is the beach and a little further on is the harbour and lighthouse. The design at The Swan is all about brightly coloured velvet sofas, seagrass green walls, bold clashing patterns and statement tiling. Exposed wood, copper fittings and handmade glass lamps help to lend a contemporary, fresh look. With 35 rooms in total including ‘excellent’, ‘fabulous’ and ‘outstanding’, they’re luxurious and inviting, much like their huge fluffy bathrobes you’ll want to take home.
There are 2 restaurants but The Tap Room is a favourite, an informal spot with one of the best fish platters you’ll come across.
The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District
The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House is in fact two luxurious hotels on two separate sites situated just one-mile apart. The Gilpin Hotel is a luxurious hotel that has been family run since 1987 and sits a short drive from Lake Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside. The hotel features fabulously designed rooms, six of which have their own cedar-wood hot tubs.
The Gilpin Lake House has just six rooms where guests can exclusively enjoy 100-acres of grounds. Facilities include a private lake, boathouse, hot tubs, treatment rooms and a heated indoor swimming pool. There are endless places to lounge around – books and newspapers at your elbow – several terraces, and a charming gazebo. Alpacas and llamas graze in the garden, the latter tinkling with streams and fish-stocked ponds. Maps and walking-routes can be borrowed while Lake House has a tiny spa (bespoke products) with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake.
Sweeping views of Alpacas grazing, Michelin-starred food, private hot tubs —what more could anyone ask for?
Coworth Park, Ascot
Craving manicured glamour backdropped by nature? Flee to Coworth Park, an Ascot manor that relishes in the simple pleasures in the form of scones and champagne for breakfast. The wildflower meadow in summer. Winter evenings in front of the fire. Long walks through golden autumn and the vivid bluebells of spring.
Splendour in 240 acres of grounds, tennis courts, Guards Polo Academy, library with books, music and film, and free WiFi throughout.
With a roof of fragrant herbs, Coworth Park’s eco spa features stylish, contemporary architecture. It offers a range of relaxing spa and beauty treatments, along with a swimming pool with underwater music and a gym. Coworth Park is the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields. The hotel’s equestrian centre offers horse-riding lessons to guests, as well as extensive stabling facilities.
Interiors are quietly confident in grandeur, peppered altruistically with original and modern features to appease traditionalists and millennials alike.
The Seaside Boarding House, Dorset
It’s impossible not to feel a healthy dose of self-salvation after a sleepy weekend spent on the Jurassic Coast. Set up by the people who founded London’s Groucho Club, this neutral-hued bolthole beckons guests with its sea view suites, all eight of them positioned on a clifftop perch overlooking the majestic sweep of Dorset’s Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay. This is one of Dorset’s coolest examples of coastal lodging, decked in nautical retro-chic details and home to a lauded restaurant.
The Michelin-listed restaurant takes full advantage of the hotel’s vertiginous location, with a side of windows drawing the outside in over white-clothed tables, silver cutlery and tones of cerulean blue; when the weather is fine you can eat on the terrace, and on darker evenings the restaurant is only very dimly lit.
Casual lunches to the bar are well worth spending some serious time; and a couple of their signature martinis using Dorset’s own milk-based Black Cow Vodka.
Which room? If you’re after a proper sea view, the rooms at the front of the hotel are the finest, with large bay windows.
The Nare is propped right on the Cornish coast in a secluded bay that feels more like a private cove of hidden sand in the Algarve than the British Isles. Flanked by colourful gardens and overlooking the white sands and gentle waves of Gerrans Bay, it has all the exclusivity of a private island.
Interiors are country house classic with tartan carpets underfoot; floral and birds of paradise-print wallpapers; political caricatures lining the walls. The art collection of the original founder, Bettye Grey, hangs on the walls to this day, and includes a watercolour by Prince Charles – it’s a place which feels loved and lived-in.
For the active, there’s a bay-side outdoor pool, plus another indoors, as well as a tennis court and outdoor hot tub to enjoy. Stay in and soothe sun-kissed skin with a spa facial, indulge in cream tea in the charming drawing room, or curl up with a book in front of the log fire. Or spend a day on the water aboard Alice Rose, an elegant 38′ gentleman’s motor launch dedicated for guests’ private use and perfect for exploring the Fal and Helford Rivers – Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
There’s the added benefit of long walks in the leafy lanes if a languorous afternoon spent slathering sunscreen doesn’t cut it. Kudos to the subtle floral theme going on, never to excess. Dining can be relaxed in the Quarterdeck Restaurant or more formal depending on the occasion.