A weekend away is always a good idea. Helping to pacify our unbridled build-up of wanderlust, we’re looking to the UK countryside for our next getaway.
With hundreds of characterful country house hotels to choose from, settling on where to book can be quite the feat. For some, roaring fires and excellent menus will swing it, while others will be drawn to experiential services – such as cookery courses, foraging, bee keeping, clay shooting, and more.
We’ve hand-picked 28 of the best UK country hotels – from a seaside escape to an eco-friendly retreat enmeshed in woodland groves – to make planning your next UK weekend getaway a cinch.
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. 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 visitors. Just visiting for the day? Take home your weekly shop of fresh foods and pantry items produced on the estate.
CF Top Tip: 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 of the stylish rooms feature a calming combination of luxurious linens, bohemian styling, and antique furnishings, bedecked in rich colours. Make good use of the 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. 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 cater to cocktails, romantic tête-à-têtes, and afternoon teas. For some R&R, 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).
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 – if space is what your craving, these grounds cater to you. Settle into the wood-panelled Shakespeare Bar in the evening with a board game and a great whisky before discussing your future plans to return to the city. (Note: This is the sister property to The Mandeville Hotel in London).
If marvelling at chocolate-box cottages and strolling through leafy rural lanes is top of the agenda when lockdown lifts, make a beeline for Thyme in the sleepy village of Southrop, a family owned cookery-school-turned-country-chic hotel.
The site’s epicurean roots have remained firmly grounded in the hotel’s appeal, with the addition of an Ox Barn in an 18th-century oxen house overseen by Charlie Hibbert and a seasonal menu beautifully illustrated by Caryn Hibbert. The Swan (*due to reopen its doors soon) is a short waddle away, a 17th-century village pub that offers refined pub grub and a traditional Sunday roast that varies season to season.
Bedrooms are immaculately designed with antiques from Tetbury, a soothing palette and freestanding tubs where you can stargaze through the shower’s skylight as you soak.
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, the estate is accessed only by footbridge, boat, or helicopter, offering a secluded country venue. The opening of six 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 is just the ticket. The Gainsborough Bath Spa – substantial and Romanesque – is 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, plus elegant relaxation areas.
Post-spa, 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; classic cooked options are also available to fuel you up for the day.
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 is perhaps best fit for a modern-day dandy with a traditional Scottish sheen. We’re thinking of a staunch anti-minimalist, Dorian Grey figure wafting in and out of the library sporting a velvet suit with tweed cufflinks.
This hotel is wildly romantic and a fascinating passion project from international art dealers Hauser & Wirth. You’ll like it’s great location and pleasant ambience, but you’ll be most impressed by the extraordinary imaginations that have turned art into an experience.
Rooms feature an assortment of antiques, oriental rugs, and portraits of Picasso and Freud – as you do. Enjoy afternoon pursuits foraging in the 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, Devon, Hampshire, 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 fare, which has now 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 House first opened its doors in London. Since then, it has spread far and wide, with Soho Farmhouse drawing stylish urbanites to Chipping Norton in search of a rustic escape (within their creature comforts).
Reclaimed timber cabins (kitted out with much-Instagrammed roll-top tub baths) flank man-made lakes and original 18th-century farmhouse buildings. Adding to this bucolic picture, electric milk floats 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, and hot tubs, offers a range of treatments, while the luxurious cinema, cookery school, and spacious wellness centre (complete with spinning studio, gym, an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts and football pitch) will keep you occupied for hours on end.
For food and drink? The Main Barn places you in the heart of the action, the Japanese sushi grill Pen Yen offers lakeside views, and the farmshop-cum-deli is ideal for light bites.
While non-members can stay here, priority booking goes to members (who also avail of discounted prices).
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
Right on London’s doorstep, Heckfield Place is a home away from home – assuming your home is a stately manor. There’s a sense of grandeur from the moment you roll up 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; laidback luxury is executed really well here. Mid-20th-century photographs line the stairways and floral designs by Kitten Grayson are dotted throughout. Culinary Director, Skye Gyngell (who won a Michelin star at café-in-a-conservatory Petersham Nurseries in 2011 and now runs Spring at Somerset House) presents another draw – dining at Hearth is a must while here. Make time for walks down to the ornamental lake for wild swimming and then retreat back to the sleek bar – complete with XL disco ball – for a tipple pre-dinner.
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. Inside, traditional hand-painted wallpapers, oak four-poster beds, velvet sofas, and antique furniture are dotted throughout this charming country house. With ample cosy corners to tuck in for hours on end, this is shabby chic at its best.
There’s no shortage of activities either – really there’s 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). On rainy afternoons (thank you British summertime) there’s a 45-seater cinema, with screenings free for guests and members, and of course the 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 recreated by architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki, the man behind Annabel’s members club.
The hotel has perfectly captured the defining characteristics of the literary and academic spirit of Cambridge. The main restaurant space is Parker’s Tavern, overseen by Tristan Welch, is cleverly designed to evoke a college dining hall. It serves a hearty English breakfast, followed by a lunch menu of low-key classic British comfort foods (whether you’re a child or an adult, ask to see the ice-cream menu after your main meal; ‘scrumptious’ doesn’t cut it).
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 amongst 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 at Cliveden. 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. And that’s just a taste of the history and grandeur in this hotel.
Book the 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 front of mind for a weekend getaway – perhaps due to its honey-hued side streets and cobbled paths. Dormy House, right by Broadway village (in case you fancied a culture fix or some retail therapy) is cosy personified. 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 for a weekend of hunkering in.
Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
Gleneagles is something of a hidden treasure.
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 in particular, three championship courses establish the resort’s reputation as a golfer’s paradise. If teeing off doesn’t drive you wild, you’ll be glad to know that the hotel offers so much more than golf. The 850-acre estate epitomises Scotland’s rugged natural beauty and offers guests a glorious playground of country pursuits and activities. Whether you come to fly a Harris’ Hawk, ride horses, play tennis, train gun dogs, shoot game, enjoy Michelin-starred dining, or relax in an award-winning spa, Gleneagles will cater to your every whim.
Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
Lympstone Manor is the epitome of fine dining, with a kitchen led by Chef Michael Caines. 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 Georgian manor-turned-contemporary-country-house is 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 located on the edge of the ancient New Forest, Chewton Glen has an ethereal feel. A hive of Treehouse suites (socially distanced by design) elevate a sense of magic, creating a true hideaway detached from daily life.
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. In the main hotel, rooms are individually decorated with a mix of traditional furniture and contemporary luxuries like iPad docks.
A fabulous spa-retreat-meets-country-house-hotel will spoil you with its stellar spa offering (aquatic lounging and crystal steam rooms are the norm in this neck of the woods), premium dining, and activities galore. Chewton Glen presses all the buttons.
At Retreat East, it’s all about the mind, the body… and the fulfilment of your hot tub requirements. The private members’ country club in the Suffolk countryside that has opened its doors to non-members and we are so glad.
Guests will check into plush country barns, each offering something different – some are spacious with a dedicated reading area and terrace, others are snugger with the welcoming backdrop of the Suffolk countryside. The overall style is sculptural and the vibe is overwhelmingly wholesome, with an on-site organic farm to reflect a seasonal menu. There’s a small spa for treatments and a fitness area with plans to expand.
The properties are mainly self-catered. In the morning, 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 (fresh, seasonal ingredients – usually from their allotment – are delivered direct to your barn) or, alternatively, you can dine in the Great Barn (only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Four Seasons, Hampshire
A stay at the Four Seasons, Hampshire promises unrestrained self-indulgence without having to board a flight. The hotel is sprawled across 500 acres of the Hampshire countryside and is ideal for those who aren’t in a hurry to join the crowds just yet.
Choose from an array of activities including clay-pigeon shooting and catch-and-release fishing in the lake, to cycling and yoga. 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 – this 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 of the wellness centre is the large lap pool (children welcome and adults-only times available); there’s also a sauna and crystal steam room and excellent treatments.
Word to the wise – don’t be deceived by restaurant Carrot’s name. Seemingly uber-healthy, Carrot is in fact indulgent with the sumptuous breakfasts and the likes of partridge pie and carrot risotto at dinner.
Glamour 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 keeps guests on their toes.
It’s pure hedonism inside the hotel and outside 470 acres of rolling Surrey countryside. In the restaurant, Head Chef Taiji Maruyama has deployed his considerable skills to create one of the best Japanese-inspired menus in the country. Get up close and personal with countryside when you book in to the nearby Garden House, which features its own gastropub-style all-day-dining restaurant.
Guest rooms are kitted out with fireplaces, a minimum of king-size beds or larger, ensuite underfloor heating, Bamford toiletries, and flatscreen Apple TV, a stay here will leave you feeling utterly spoilt.
If a pampering weekend is all that you crave, Lime Wood has you covered. Heading up the long drive, Lime Wood cuts an imposing sight. In the heart of the New Forest, its Regency-style facade 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 (ready to bring about your summer glow-up).
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.
The design at The Swan is vibrant – think 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’, all are luxurious and inviting. For dinner, choose from two on-site restaurants – we recommend The Tap Room, an informal spot with one of the best fish platters you’ll come across.
Sat on the Suffolk coast, seaside strolls and jaunts across the surrounding hinterland are encouraged. A wonderful British beach staycation, head to the busy market square – a five-minute walk from the beach – for some of the town’s best delis, coffee shops, and shopping.
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. Guests can exclusively enjoy over 100-acres of stately grounds and make best use of facilities include a private lake, boathouse, hot tubs, treatment rooms, and a heated indoor swimming pool. There are endless places to lounge around, several terraces, and a charming gazebo. Alpacas and llamas graze in the garden (how novel), the latter tinkling with streams and fish-stocked ponds.
Michelin-starred food, private hot tubs, AND llamas… 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 life’s simple pleasures – we’re talking scones and champagne for breakfast and the happy sight of wildflower meadows in summer.
Boasting 240 acres of grounds, tennis courts, and Guards Polo Academy (the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields), the hotel’s interiors are just as impressive. Quietly confident in grandeur, peppered altruistically with original and modern features to appease traditionalists and millennials alike, tuck into a library with books, music and film before making ways for Coworth Park’s eco spa.
Cutting a stylish, contemporary shape, the spa (complete with fragrant rooftop herb garden) offers a range of relaxing treatments, in addition to a swimming pool with underwater music and a gym.
The Seaside Boarding House, Dorset
It’s impossible not to feel a sense of personal 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 are positioned on a clifftop perch overlooking the majestic sweep of Dorset’s Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay. Wondering which room to book? If you’re after a proper sea view, the rooms at the front of the hotel are the finest, with large bay windows.
The Michelin-listed restaurant takes full advantage of the hotel’s vertiginous location, with dining-room 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 while on darker evenings the restaurant is only very dimly lit. Head to the bar post dinner and order a couple of their signature martinis using Dorset’s own milk-based Black Cow Vodka.
This is one of Dorset’s coolest examples of coastal lodging, decked in nautical retro-chic details and with an A-grad restaurant to boot.
The Nare is propped right on the Cornish coast in a secluded bay that feels more like a private cove in the Algarve than anywhere in the British Isles. Flanked by colourful gardens and overlooking the white sands and gentle waves of Gerrans Bay, The Nare has all the exclusivity of a private island.
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 – both deemed ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. For the active, there’s a bay-side outdoor pool, as well as a tennis court, and outdoor hot tub to enjoy. Those operating at a slower speed, can stay in and soothe sun-kissed skin with a spa facial, before indulging in cream tea in the charming drawing room.
Interiors at The Nare are country-house classic with tartan carpets underfoot, florals and birds of paradise-print wallpapers, and 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. Kudos to the subtle floral theme going on, never to excess. Homeliness personified.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxford
Refuting stuffy dress codes and fussy dinner plans, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is Raymond Blanc’s honey-stoned Oxfordshire outpost just a 45-minute train journey from London.
Foodies flock here from far and wide for the superb culinary offerings that blend French heritage with super fresh, locally sourced ingredients plucked and peeled from the surrounding vegetable garden. You must under no circumstances miss out on a tour of the manicured grounds, preferably at night when the wildflower meadow transforms into a fairy-tale dreamland fit for a Taylor Swift music video circa Folklore.
A splash of France here, a dash of pastoral Italy there, the 32 rooms are spread across the grounds and feel separate from the UK altogether in part due to the rustic, airy design as much as the scent of orange trees that wafts in through the patio.
Foxhill Manor, Cotswolds
Dubbed the ‘non-hotel’, Foxhill Manor has taken the traditional country house experience and turned it on its head by shunning the usual hotel formalities. Breakfast, for one, is served whenever you choose, so there’s none of that rushing around business in the early hours, and the reception is more like a chilled-out bar area where you’re free to sink into an armchair with a tipple of your choice whenever you fancy. This ‘whenever, wherever’ policy extends to dining throughout the day, allowing guests to summon the chef to request an entirely bespoke meal or picnic on the lawn. For dinner, the head chef Richard Thorpe is readily available to curate a menu based on your tastes.
Foxhill Manor’s laissez-faire approach doesn’t end with the food, with bedrooms quirky enough to cater to rock-star afterparties and homely enough to perfectly embody that kick-your-shoes-off feeling post-hike.