With the path out of lockdown now looking relatively clear, Bonnie Friend takes a look at some of the finest hotels in the UK.
The date has been set, the plans are in motion and we’re counting the days before we can travel again. Head for a luxurious stay, relaxing in a spa, blowing away the cobwebs on walks from the door and enjoying a meal you have not had to provide. With hotels getting booked-up fast, the Good Hotel Guide shares 10 of their top country house hotels to escape to this summer.
Headlam Hall, Darlington
In the countryside between Durham and Darlington, Headlam Hall is a luxurious four-star hotel complete with a working farm. The 17th-century building is surrounded by mature gardens and rolling fields. Food is local and everything inside is quietly luxurious.
Elegant furnishings combine with exemplary service, an on-site spa provides pampering and relaxation, and the hotel even has its own nine-hole golf course.
The Grove, Narbeth
One of the most romantic hotels in Wales, The Grove is an award-winning destination in the heart of Pembrokeshire. The individually designed bedrooms take in views of the Preseli Hills, as well as lawns, flowers, meadows and mature trees.
The restaurant, the Fernery is said to be one of the finest in Wales. There’s also a relaxed dining option in the Artisan Rooms, which have recently been added.
Pendragon Country House, Camelford
This five-star country house in North Cornwall offers lavish style but it’s really all about a warm, welcoming and homely environment. The multi award-winning retreat has made a name for itself as somewhere the whole family can enjoy. Book a romantic stay in the main house’s opulent bedrooms or choose a self-catering cottage in the grounds for more space with friends and loved ones.
Food and drink are served to a high standard and there’s an honesty bar in the lounge. There’s plenty of entertainment here, whether you fancy a game of pool, a shooting party, or simply a walk in the grounds. They are proud of their credentials and offer free car charging to EV drivers who are customers of Pendragon Country House.
The House at Temple Sowerby, Penrith
Between the market towns of Penrith and Appleby in Westmorland with the mighty Cross Fell Mountain in the background, The House at Temple Sowerby is a Lake District boutique hotel that was originally built in the 17th-century. Surrounded by a walled garden, it exudes the feel of a well-to-do relative’s home. The hotel has a variety of room types available, equipped with thoughtful touches for the modern traveller, such as hair straighteners, USB ports and Nespresso coffee machines.
The superior rooms also feature either massage baths or hydrotherapy showers. Food at the hotel is a celebration of local produce. At breakfast, you can sample bread baked in house, eggs from a local farm, in-house recipe beans and home-made marmalade and jam.
Corse Lawn House, Corse Lawn
A hotel that’s been in the same family for more than 40 years, Corse Lawn House, near Tewkesbury, is a welcoming manor house. A labour of love that has been honed over the years, inside it is an eclectic mix of design. It has 18 bedrooms, all of which are lavishly styled.
There is also plenty to do here, ranging from a dip in the indoor pool to strolls around the grounds, a game of tennis on the hard court or croquet when the weather allows. It is close to a road, but it’s almost impossible to tell from inside the grounds of the beautiful property.
Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead
Set in more than 1000 acres of tranquil Sussex countryside, yet just 30 minutes from central London, Gravetye Manor is a historic hotel where every detail has been carefully considered. The style of the hotel honours its history, which dates back to 1598.
As such, wood panelling and architectural details are part of the decor, offset by heritage fabrics and wallpaper. There are 17 rooms and suites to choose from, many with views out onto the gardens. The restaurant has a Michelin star for its exceptional food. It takes its lead from the changing seasons and every ingredient has either been grown in their own kitchen garden or sourced from a trusted, local supplier.
The Torridon, Torridon
Set in 58 acres of parkland, The Torridon sits at the end of a magnificent sea loch, near a small village in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. Surrounded by water and mountain views, the hotel is one of a kind, serving up the most breath-taking of countryside experiences, but with no shortage of luxury either.
The main house has 18 rooms and suites that combine Scottish heritage with contemporary flamboyance. The Stables is the more casual on-site inn and has 12 bedrooms that are simple and cosy. Then there’s The Boathouse, a private waterside retreat with two bedrooms, living room and its own kitchen. The hotel also offers two dining experiences: the fine dining 1887 restaurant and the more relaxed Bo & Muc in the former stables. The bar is well stocked, with 365 malts and 120 gins, including their own Arcturus gin. There’s also plenty to do, from guided walks to sea kayaking, archery, gorge scrambling to cycling.
Kinloch House, Blairgowrie
In the heart of Perthshire near Blairgowrie, you arrive at Kinloch House to be greeted by horses grazing in the fields outside. Walk in and you will find luxurious, traditionally decorated rooms and suites that have kept intact many of the Victorian property’s original features.
Kinloch House marries the grandeur of its scale with the comfort of a family home. Antiques pepper the house, while log fires make for a wonderful greeting at the end of chilly autumn or winter days. Fine dining offers an array of Scottish meat, fish and game, alongside produce from the garden.
The Newt in Somerset, Castle Cary
Surrounded by splendid gardens, woodland and farmland, The Newt makes an instant impression on arrival, with its limestone buildings glowing orange as you travel up the driveway. This grand property fuses contemporary and heritage style and leaves no modern stone unturned.
The property dates to around 1690, but rooms and suites have been restored and re-imagined to make the most of the architecture and surroundings. Spend your days reading a book in the Library, sampling teas in the Drawing Room, sipping cocktails while taking in the views of the croquet lawn and dining on homegrown fare in The Botanical Rooms. They also have a collection of wines in their vaulted cellars, as well as their own cider. The cherry on top is the exquisite spa, complete with an indoor-outdoor pool, steam room and sauna, hammam and a range of treatments created from their medicinal herb garden.
Little Barwick House, Yeovil
Excellent cakes and the most welcoming smile you could ask for make Little Barwick House in Somerset a wonderfully cosy hotel at any time of the year.
The dog is welcome, adding to the sense of warmth, so after a good walk in the countryside settle into a mushroom risotto and a bottle of wine in the evening to put the world to rights.
Adare Manor is no-expense-spared labour of love created by a billionaire owner — and it makes a wonderful weekend away, as
In one of England's most picturesque and unspoilt thatched villages is a glorious English inn and adjoining mill which offers
One of Wales's loveliest small towns has one of its loveliest small hotels – and they even have an option for