3 country escapes perfect for a staycation
It’s not difficult to see why the Cotswolds is a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with its national parks and chocolate-box stone houses reaching from the south of Stratford-upon-Avon to Bath.
This region has some fantastic hotels, ideal for a relaxing weekend away. Lucknam Park (£892 for two nights in the Park Double room for two people, lucknampark.co.uk) in Chippenham is one of the most luxurious, with its grand entrance and impressive tree-lined driveway. It has a first-class spa, an outside Jacuzzi, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a fine equestrian centre and a cookery school. And remember to take wellies, as the hotel is situated in 500 acres of woodland.
Nearby is Castle Combe, often named the prettiest village in England, where Warhorse was filmed, but it’s Lacock Abbey that’ll win over your heart. It’s a National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk) property and village, reminiscent of a film set. I fell in love with this historic village for its quaint shops and cafés.
MOVING ON… Fifty miles north is Dormy House (from £255 per night based on two people sharing, dormyhouse.co.uk), a 17th century farmhouse hotel with a relaxing spa or, for a special occasion, try Foxhill Manor (from £295 per night based on two people sharing, foxhillmanor.com), it’s grander older brother.
It has the service of a five-star hotel in a private house setting. And with gin the drink of the moment, make sure you book an afternoon at The Cotswolds Distillery for a tour and a tasting.
TIME TRAVEL: Lose yourself in the charming village of Lacock, left, home to 13th century Lacock Abbey, the birthplace of photography, and set for Wolf Hall and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
The North Kent coast is enjoying a bit of a popularity moment and, while not on the sea, Faversham is surrounded by water, in the form of the Swale which separates the Isle of Sheppey from Kent.
The town is steeped in history; it has the oldest gunpowder mill in the world and Abbey Street is home to several English Heritage listed buildings, some 400 years old. Needless to say, Faversham has many traditional pubs. One of the best is The Three Mariners (thethreemariners oare.co.uk), which serves epic Sunday lunches.
Further up is Conyer, with its estuary walk and nature reserve. For an overnighter, check into The Shepherd House (from £140 per night based on two people sharing, shepherdhouse-faversham.com), set in a Georgian townhouse with a bold interior design.
MOVING ON… Further down, perched on the clifftop in Ramsgate, is the elegant Albion Hotel (from £100 per night based on two people sharing, albionhouseramsgate.co.uk) with great views over the water. Walk under the arches by the harbour and have brunch followed by shopping in Archive, a Scandi-style shop -cum-restaurant with a lively vibe.
IN STYLE: Luxuriate in the elegance of Ramsgate’s Albion House Hotel, below and left, or enjoy the quirky fusion of traditional and modern at Shepherd House in Faversham, right
The biggest fans of outdoor holidays will know that Cumbria has some of the most epic scenery in the UK. Iconic lakes, walks that go on forever and plenty to see and do from Ullswater in the north to Kendal in the south.
For a fun weekend, stay in a hobbit house at The Quiet Site (from £65 per night for up to two adults and up to four children,(thequietsite.co.uk) in Ullswater. It’s totally private, making it quite romantic in our books, especially as the only view faces the lake. Plus, it’s fully insulated so makes a cosy alternative to camping in winter.
At the bottom of Bassenthwaite Lake is Thornthwaite (prices vary, stayinthornthwaite.co.uk), with its unique collection of accommodation on Lanefoot Farm, including a shepherd’s hut, a 1969 Cheltenham caravan alongside cute wooden camping pods.
MOVING ON… Head south to Cartmel, and tuck into a magnificent Michelin-starred dinner at L’Enclume (rooms from £189 per night based on two people sharing, lenclume.co.uk) a respected restaurant with 16 rooms, headed up by acclaimed chef, Simon Rogan.
IN YORKSHIRE… Head to Ryedale’s ‘21 Mile’ High Street for some super shopping. Kids will love the steam train ride with Santa, too. Afterwards, relax by the open fires at the Feversham Arms in Helmsley.
QUIET REFLECTIONS: Cumbria, which includes The Lake District, provides stunning views, miles of invigorating scenic walks and the chance to unwind before the festive season swings into gear
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