The best May half term holidays still available to book in the UK and abroad

On April 12, the Government is expected to announce that domestic hotels will be able to open — and international travel is likely to be permitted from May 17 onwards. Though the number of holiday bookings has surged in the last few weeks, there is still some availability here at home and around the world, for families craving some long-awaited time away.

If you’re looking beyond the UK, then Greece and the islands that have effectively managed the spread of Covid-19 — including the majority of the Caribbean — are likely to be top of everyone’s list.

Country Life’s Travel Editor Rosie Paterson rounds up her favourites.


In the UK

Scotland

Innovative tour operator Black Tomato have two extraordinary half term itineraries still up for grabs. First up — their signature Blink pop-up accommodation in Jura in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

Camping in the grounds of Glenapp Castle

The concept takes its name from the phrase: ‘blink and you’ll miss it.’ In short, the company constructs luxury, temporary accommodation, which then disappears without a trace and with minimal environmental impact, as soon as you’ve left.

Activities include foraging, fishing, sailing, marine wildlife-spotting and a trip on a RIB to see the world’s third largest whirlpool. Other activities, like guided hiking and yoga lessons, can be arranged on request.

Guests will spend two nights in an exclusive-use castle before transferring to the camp, which comes with a private chef, proper beds and private bathrooms.

Four nights from £5,000 per person, based on a four-person booking.


Oxfordshire, England

Secondly, for a child-friendly half-term break in rural Oxfordshire, take a look at this holiday inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The charming itinerary has been created in collaboration with hotel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Children will have the chance to follow in Alice’s footsteps (in a bespoke costume, of course) and learn how to forage in the hotel’s fantastical forest and turn their haul of flora into products.

And families as a whole, will enjoy an interactive afternoon tea, and be invited aboard a guided river cruise and to a masterful storytelling session inside the Story Museum.

Bookings open April 8; five nights from £8,250 per person.


Kent, England

Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve is Kent’s only safari experience, and offers guests a unique chance to nap alongside 700 animals, including the largest herd of black rhinos in the UK, gorillas, giraffes and tigers.

Accommodation options include the Treehouse Hotel — which enjoys views across the 600-acre reserve from its canopy top, vantage point — Pinewood — a luxury glamping site — and individual lodge rooms that back directly onto the animal enclosures.

It’s part of the Aspinall Foundation — a breeding sanctuary for rare and endangered species, that, where possible, works tirelessly to return all animals to protected areas of their natural habitat.

From £129 per night.


Oxfordshire, England

Holiday home rental company Unique Homestays still has a handful of properties left to rent over the half term week, but you’ll need to act quickly.

Options include The Tapestry, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, an ancient limestone farmhouse surrounded by 320 acres of re-wilded countryside. It’s perfect for large households or families that have bubbled-up with grandparents: six bedrooms sleep 12 comfortably and mid-stay housekeeping is included, though children might be more excited to hear about the sunken trampoline in the garden.

There’s also a large double Aga and a seasonal vernal pool. Two well-behaved dogs are welcome, but be aware that sheep, deer and rabbits all make regular appearances.

From £2,995 per week or £2,395 per short break.


In Europe

Corsica, France

Villa Quatre in southern Corsica, France, is available through SJ Villas. The charming wood-clad house sleeps 14 across seven bedrooms and is a fun-filled five minute golf buggy ride away from the beach.

A skippered speedboat is available to hire by the day—a must for exploring the craggy coastline. A golf course and tennis courts are nearby, as are the restaurants of Bonifacio.

Back at the house, there are two huge, wooden decks with al fresco seating areas, an infinity pool, home cinema, gym and hamman. Housekeeping is included.

From €16,3250 per week.


Corfu, Greece

Villa Fos on the island of Corfu, Greece, is available through The Villa Collective and brand new to the rental market this year.

A 50-minute drive from the airport, in the north east of the island, Fos comes with a private chef, heated infinity pool, uninterrupted sea views and a handy boat mooring. It sleeps ten, plus two children, and there’s a lift connecting all three floors, for easy wheelchair access.

The White House, where Lawrence and Gerald Durrell lived back in the 1930’s, now a popular taverna, is a few minutes walk away, as are a couple of Corfu’s best beaches — Yialiskari and Agni.

From €18,000 per week.


Paxos, Greece

We don’t know how, but there’s still availability at Villa Dionysus, a design-led home on the Ionian island of Paxos — through The Luxury Travel Book. Suitable for families with older children (Dionysus was the Ancient Greek God of wine, after all).

Though it sits on the western side of the island (excellent sunset views), it’s only a 15-minute drive from the picturesque fishing villages of Loggos and Lakka and the equally pretty beaches on the eastern coast.

The furniture is a mixture of 1950’s and 60’s vintage pieces, including in the five bedrooms for up to 10 guests. A separate annexe, with its own kitchenette and veranda, can accommodate two further people.

From £16,900 per week.


The Caribbean

Antigua

Villa Azura—a Moroccan meets the Caribbean-style rental—on the island of Antigua is available through CV Villas.

The obvious choice for single families in need of some warmer weather: it sleeps six and is a 10-minute walk from Long Beach (arguably the island’s best swim spot). And there are regular, direct flights from London, throughout May, often for a fraction of the peak season cost.

A tropical walled garden, canopy beds and en-suite outdoor showers will ensure you feel a million miles away from lockdown life. There’s also a roof terrace for stargazing and, on the off-chance that it rains, a snug room with a TV. Housekeeping is included; chef service on request for an additional charge.

From £3,766 per week.


Mustique

Red Savannah looks after Grasshopper — an Oliver Messel-designed property in the heart of fabled Mustique.

Even from its central, hilltop location, guests are only moments away from Macaroni Beach, Cotton House Beach, the island’s tennis courts and riding stables and, most importantly, the global phenomenon that is Basil’s Bar.

Five bedrooms, which collectively can accommodate groups of either six or eight, are scattered across the extensive gardens in individual, daffodil yellow rooms. The en-suite bathrooms have all been recently renovated. Housekeeping and a chef are included.

From £7,946 per week.