Are we not quite spoilt for choice in the UK for country boltholes to which we can escape, be it for a long weekend or a mid-week getaway? While self-catered and impeccably decorated cottages are a fabulous option for a longer stay, when you’re going ‘off grid’ for only a night or two, nothing quite beats the charm of a luxury country hotel.
To tempt you somewhere peaceful and palatial for the upcoming bank holiday weekend (one of 2020s first usable bank holidays), here are some go-to British hotels for when you’re in need of some much-deserved R and R.
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Image Credit: Heckfield Place
One of the most-talked about hotels since its grand opening in 2018, Heckfield Place is where high society kicks back—yes, even the Royals. Seclusion is found in its 400-acre estate grounds that is described as being both ‘tame and gently wild’ and beauty is there to behold in the Georgian manor that is the main hotel.
Craftsmanship abounds wherever you turn at Heckfield Place, from the careful curation of handmade furniture, fine embroidery and hand-knotted rugs to the hand-picked harvest that makes up its delectable menu. Of course, there isn’t just one menu but several depending on which of its eating areas you wish to dine in—spoilt for choice you will certainly be.
Room-wise, even the most ‘humble’— the guest and friends rooms—offer spectacular garden views and sumptuous styling, but to really push the boat out, opt for The Long Room. In here, the ceiling is vaulted, the views are the best in the hotel, and comfort abounds.
Image Credit: Lympstone Manor
Recognised first and foremost for its gastronomic prowess, Lympstone Manor is the product of acclaimed British chef Michael Caines MBE.
It was a dream of his to one day open a British country house hotel where he could serve guests his culinary creations in a setting that was as painstakingly considered as his food, and Lympstone does not disappoint. It was awarded a Michelin star just months after it opened its doors.
Situated on the foreshore of the serene Exe estuary, this is one place that I like to rest my head in Devon because I know my every need and wish will be catered for. Expect luxuriously decorated bedrooms with playful dashes of colour, mesmerising chandeliers, the finest fabrics to sit upon, and views that you will find yourself gazing at all day long. If you’re going along with a special somebody, treat yourself to the Heron Suite which has side-by-side brass bathtubs.
Image Credit: Chewton Glen
Another of Hampshire’s finest hotels, Chewton Glen has long been deemed as the pedigree of country hotels in England.
Though you won't be able to visit it this bank holiday, the spa here is divine with the indoor pool being newly renovated by London interior designer Anita Rosato for spring 2020—the perfect excuse to pamper yourself when things open up again.
Similarly, while the suites are absolutely something to write home about—especially the hotel's set of 14 grown-up-approved treehouses—you'll struggle to get a room at the moment since it's entirely booked out. The hotel is welcoming non-hotel residents for lunch at the hotel's main dining room or at The Kitchen.
Image Credit: The Frogmill
Head to the quintessentially British locale of The Cotswolds and check in to The Frogmill and you are destined to have a bank holiday weekend to remember.
From the moment that you stroll up to its 16th-century honey-hued brickwork, you feel as though you have been transported back in time.
The hotel’s interior was remodelled in 2018 and all 28 of its bedrooms were treated to a luxurious update. Tongue and groove panelling, antique furniture, exposed original beams and woodburning stoves are just a handful of details to anticipate when you open your bedroom door, but the suite is, as ever, the one to watch. A super king four-poster bed promises a restful night’s sleep, and when morning comes, you can look out onto the rolling Cotswold hills from your secluded, private terrace. It is also a dog-friendly suite, so you’re more than welcome to take Fido along with you for the trip.
Image Credit: The Pig at Bridge Place
The Pig at Bridge Place
The sixth instalment of Robin Hutson and his wife Judy’s group of The Pig hotels, this Canterbury-based outpost opened in 2019 and has done extraordinarily well from the word go.
Bagging The Sunday Times’ Best Place to Stay award in its first year, this prestigious accolade is most deserved as the hotel brings together highly unique interiors, want-for-nothing service and kitchen garden fare that is so deliciou that The Pig considers itself less of a hotel and more of a ‘restaurant with rooms’.
With Hutson having trained at The Savoy, founded the Hotel du Vin group and chaired the Soho House group, you would expect nothing short of exceptional of the owner. His wife Judy has developed a distinct style of decor for The Pig that is best described as eclectic country with a hint of rock and roll spirit. Nothing is made to match and yet everything hangs together seamlessly.
A perfect place to get away with family and friends or just as a place for peace and quiet for you and you alone, you will dine like kings and sleep like royalty too no matter what bedroom you choose, though, for me, it has to be The Barn if I were to opt for a room outside of the main house. It’s a former stable block converted with plenty of the original timber work intact and a separate sitting room with an all-important log burner. Or in the main house, I am fond of the Big Comfy Luxe room with the gilded bed frame, dark-stained wood panelled walls and olive green accents.
Image Credit: The Newt in Somersetthe newt
The Newt In Somerset
If there were one newly-opened hotel that were to take over from the Heckfield hype, it would have to be The Newt.
Another classic British country estate—Georgian, countryside for miles, spa facilities, an esteemed seasonal menu, and an into-the-millions renovation—the Newt shares many of the sublime qualities as others of its type, but is deemed ‘next level’ in its execution.
The interior at The Newt is surprisingly contemporary with Great British foundations just as in its sister hotel, Bablyonstoren in South Africa. But some of the bedrooms are more traditional than others, such as the Hadspen Garden View Rooms and smaller Cosy Rooms. Beyond the main house are the stable rooms where the decor is inspired by heritage horse boxes—all hay mangers and tie-rings. Above, in the stable lofts, it is a different story of white serenity. Explore the romantic Granary room where there’s a futon-style bed and playful levels, or for something more airy and contemporary, I’d suggest the Hayloft and Woolsack rooms.
Included in every stay are tours of the magnificent gardens (The Newt’s crown jewels) and the Cyder press facility—two activities not to be missed for they show you the full extent of what makes The Newt so special.
Image Credit: Gleneagles
Gleneagles has long been considered one of Great Britain’s best country hotels and certainly one of the finest five-star resorts in the whole of Scotland.
Far older than many of the hotels in this list, Gleaneagles has been delighting guests since 1924 and was described as ‘a rivera in the Highlands’. It is part of the Leading Hotels of the World establishment not least because of its opulent rooms, but its three championship golf courses, spa and accolade of being the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars.
Regardless of which calibre of room you stay in, there is a pillow menu, Scottish textiles, and locally sourced art and furniture. If you’re the sort who prefers a traditional English interior, the Royal Lochnagar Suite is grand, but I’m quite fond of the Blue Tower Suite. It has the added luxury of being spread over two floors with a spiral staircase connecting the two and spectacular views across the entire estate.
Image Credit: Beaverbrook
From Scotland to Surrey, Beaverbrook is my final favourite of Britain’s country estate hotels.
There’s definitely a sense of Italian glamour here; you can almost imagine it being a Lake Como hotel with its ornate balustrades, ornate stone carvings and cream canopies. And when the weather is on your side, sitting outside in its manicured gardens with a book in hand is as enjoyable as being somewhere far away.
What I enjoy most about the rooms here is that they offer a different sort of English heritage decor. It’s less heavy and dramatic and more about lightness of touch, delicate wallpapers and prettiness of palette. Floral embroidery is a feature in most rooms and so is painted furniture nestled next to Edwardian antiques, from escritoires to chests and trunks. There are only 18 rooms so the hotel never feels too full and nor too quiet. Every time I stay it feels, as the saying goes, just right.
You can choose to stay in The House, The Garden House or The Coach House, and all three have a sense of character that is consistent and yet distinct at the same time. Those in the Coach House are described as being ‘designer whimsy’ and are the work of Susie Atkinson whereas The Garden House rooms have farmhouse-inspired furniture and botanical prints as their main theme with woodland views. In the main house, be sure to inspect the Elizabeth Taylor suite which is as glamorous as the name suggests and was in fact once owned by ballet legend, Rudolph Nureyev.
Go forth and choose whichever of these gems speak to you most. I hazard that you will be booking your return trip before you’ve even checked out.
Header Image: Beaverbrook