Three of Bri­tain’s best self- cater­ing stays

Brighter days call for your own self-cater­ing house in the countr y with win­ning de­sign

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Contents -

ENG­LAND: BENTLEYS King­ham, Ox­ford­shire

A Grade-II listed house dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury, Bentleys is a warm hug of a place, with the cosy di­men­sions, wonky floors, wooden beams and stone fire­places you’d ex­pect from a 400 -year-old home. The three dou­ble rooms are sim­i­larly bur­row-like in feel, and the per­fect places in which to hun­ker down dur­ing a bad case of April show­ers. There is, how­ever, a twist to the house: linked to the lime­stone walls of the cot­tage is a mod­ern, ar­chi­tect­de­signed glass box hous­ing a gi­ant kitchen, din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment space, with di­rect ac­cess to a sun­trap of a ter­race. The kitchen is wor­thy of a place in Elle Dec­o­ra­tion, and there’s a pizza oven in the gar­den, but you may not get to tr y them out: Bentleys is within am­bling dis­tance of two of the Cotswolds’ best gas­trop­ubs. Miche­lin-starred The Wild Rab­bit and the multi- award-win­ning King­ham Plough both serve a mod­ern Euro­pean menu and a stonk­ing Sun­day roast. From £3,000 for a week’s min­i­mum stay; lux­u­rycotswol­

WALES: LIFE HOUSE Llan­bis­ter, Powys

The trend for spir­i­tual re­treats has taken off in re­cent years, but not ev­ery­one is ready to sign up for group chant­ing and cold show­ers at dawn. En­ter Life House, a large, sin­gle-level building in deep­est Mid-Wales, which might be the most con­tem­pla­tive en­vi­ron­ment you can es­cape to while re­tain­ing es­sen­tial crea­ture com­forts. The in­te­ri­ors are as undis­tract­ing as it gets: cream­coloured walls of hand­made Danish brick, a kitchen clad in pale tim­ber, and even a ded­i­cated room for med­i­ta­tion, dug into the hill­side. The big pic­ture-win­dows bathe the place in plenty of spring light, and look out over un­du­lat­ing views of green fields and wild heath that of­fer sim­ple beauty but few fo­cal points – very zen. If you pre­fer to do your men­tal un­clut­ter­ing in a small group, the house sleeps up to six, in three dou­bles with en suite bath­rooms stocked with prod­ucts from REN skin­care. There’s a cu­rated li­brary and music col­lec­tion for days in­doors, and if seren­ity is not your aim, you can turn the au­dio sys­tem up high with­out any neigh­bours to dis­turb. For out­doors ex­pe­ri­ences that are as pared-back as the dé­cor here, strike out west to the Cam­brian Moun­tains, where hik­ing trails and bike routes run through a re­gion so sparsely set­tled, it’s been dubbed the ‘green desert of Wales’. From £1,450 for a three-night week­end ; liv­ing-ar­chi­tec­

SCOT­LAND: SU­PER­NOVA Car­bost, Isle of Skye

On a hill­side over­look­ing a sea loch, Su­per­nova is a for­mer chapel that has been con­verted into a cosy base for two. There are a few sug­ges­tions of its for­mer life in its tall win­dows and pure-white walls, but with furry throws and cush­ions scat­tered all about, it’s hardly aus­tere. Skye is known for its lack of light pol­lu­tion, and in the up­stairs sit­ting room you’ll find a tele­scope for stargaz­ing. The is­land’s cin­e­matic scenery be­gins right out­side the door, and, at this time of year, a new cast of lambs can be spot­ted around its slopes. If the weather isn’t tempt­ing you to­wards out­doors ad­ven­tures (see our Top Picks guide, p117), you can fire up the sauna at home, or head down for a dram at Talisker –Skye’s only dis­tillery, a half-mile from the house. From £995 for a three-night week­end; unique­home­s­

Whip up a pizza then dine al­fresco on your ter­race at Bentleys

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