British Travel Journal

TEN OF THE BEST LUXURY BOUTIQUE STAYS

Some fabulous self-catering properties have opened around the UK during lockdown – all offering privacy, space and inspiring locations. Just what we all need!

- Words | Emma O'Reilly

Fancy hunkering down for the night in front of a burning log fire in a cute, cosy cottage or luxurious accommodat­ion nestled in the middle of acres of beautiful countrysid­e, a quaint village or coastal clifftop?

1

AULINN, ISLE OF SKYE

Anyone who stays at this cute hideaway for couples must feel as if they've bagged front row seats for one of the best natural shows on earth. The views from

the terrace, hot tub and all the windows are nothing short of spectacula­r – with the sea mere metres away, fringed by misty mountains. This area is rich in wildlife, too, with a RSPB otter hide nearby. The building is a simple croft turned sumptuous, with light-filled rooms, cosy textiles, a slick modern bathroom. There's a wooden swing bench on the terrace where you can enjoy special moments – from morning coffee watching the day unfold, to wrapping up to stargaze as darkness falls. Outside are three acres of your own grounds to roam. Or get out and explore Skye's amazing

scenery. Take a dip in the sea or in the crystal clear Fairy Pools. Tramp around the crags and pinnacles of the Quiraing or up the Old Man of Storr. Hop on a boat to go spot sea eagles and whales. In between, dine out in some of Skye's excellent restaurant­s – indeed people cross continents to dine at the legendary Three Chimneys. Bring the credit card! Prices from £1,352 for a long weekend or mid week break.

boutique-retreats.co.uk

2 SANDYBURY BARN, SHROPSHIRE

This big, modern rustic barn sleeps up to seven across its four bedrooms. Double height windows and open plan spaces mean plenty of room to spread out. Speaking of space, there are no less than 3000 acres literally on the doorstep. The barn is on the Dudmaston Estate. Bring your bike and cycle, or walk, through the parkland and woodland paths, past lakes and babbling brooks. Dudmaston House is a very pleasing rainy-day option. It's been lived in by one family, inherited through birth and marriage, for 875 years and, for a stately home, it has a surprising­ly homely feel. It would be easy to spend a break here and go nowhere else, but it would be a shame to miss out on the bucolic scenery of Shropshire – the beauty spots of Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge are both just a short drive away. Prices from £975 for a three night stay.

nationaltr­ust.org.uk/holidays

3 CLIFFTOPS, DORSET

The Isle of Portland is joined to the rest of Dorset by the shingle barrier of Chesil Beach. Most visitors bomb straight to Portland Bill, the famous lighthouse. There's much more to see. Clifftops, a new venture at the Pennsylvan­ia Castle Estate is a good base from which to explore it. Five sleek looking lodges, each sleeping four, are carved into the cliffs – made from the local Portland stone, then clad in copper, designed to weather and blend into their environmen­t. Each provides sparkling views over the English Channel, best seen from the terrace. Thoughtful planting of indigenous flora attracts birds and butterflie­s. The rooms are sexy and simple, with blonde woods, neutral furnishing­s and big windows – it's all about the view! It's a mere totter down to tiny, secret Church Ope Cove for a swim. Or get out and see the rest of the island – from Portland Castle, built by King Henry VIII, and with an interestin­g war-time history to The Tour Quarry Sculpture Park, set in a disused quarry and used as a vast outdoor studio by artists. Chesil Beach is wild and windswept – good for long walks and wildlife spotting. Lodges priced from around £585 for a three-night stay. thepennest­ate.co.uk/the-estate/clifftops

4 EDITOR'S CHOICE FRITTON LAKE, NORTH NORFOLK

Fritton Lake, set in 250 acres of mature woodland with stunning views of the open countrysid­e and one of the most beautiful lakes in East Anglia, has recently completed its luxury refurbishm­ent to include a new outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis courts, children's adventure trail and other outdoor games. Since the coronaviru­s pandemic has left us all searching for ways to live a healthier lifestyle, thinking more about our happiness and wellbeing, the timing of this, along with the launch of their new luxury holiday lodges, couldn't be better.

This simple peaceful retreat offers the perfect setting in which to reconnect with nature and de-stress from the modern world. It's a members club, with 100% self-owned lodges located in fields and woods around the tranquil grounds, all within a few minute's reach of the lake. Some of the property owners rent out their properties for holiday-goers while others enjoy the facilities around their second-home, retreating to them whenever they get

the chance (out of lockdown!). In the centre there's a charming pub, The Fritton Arms, with eight beautiful guest rooms, serving also as the resort club house exclusivel­y for members and guests.

Think locally sourced seasonal menus, roaring fires, wooden beams, deep sofas and pretty fairy lights in the courtyard garden – a beautiful spot to dine alfresco and enjoy as the sun is setting. Adventures can be found in the nature and on the lake, to include wild swimming, trail running, yoga, canoeing, rowing and even Croquet – but most of all Fritton Lake is a place to relax, to enjoy the peace and quiet and great local food – to sit and read a book or take a gentle stroll along the lake and replenish your sense of wellbeing. Cabins are priced from £647 off season and £1734 peak season for a 3/4 night stay. Rooms for B&B at

The Fritton Arms are priced from £140 per night all season

frittonlak­e.co.uk

5 WILD ESCAPES, HAMPSHIRE

Treehouses just went up a notch! These five snazzy little numbers by Wild Escapes are the first ever to be built on a UK vineyard. So, as guests, it would surely be rude not to lie in your outdoor bath, a glass of (ultra local!) Black Chalk wine in hand. If you like it, organise a vineyard tour and tasting with lunch (truffle hunts in late Autumn too). Each of the four treehouses sleeps a couple (two can take a further two adults) and is slightly different but they all have an ultra large outdoor bath, outdoor and indoor showers, a loo, kitchen, wood burner and electric heating and lighting. You can still say you're camping though, right? The local town, Stockbridg­e, has plenty to divert – independen­t shops, tea rooms, pubs and restaurant­s, galleries and gift shops. Danebury Hill Fort, Houghton Lodge Gardens, and the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop are also nearby. But you'll probably want to spend most of your time hiding away in your beautiful bolthole. Prices from £280 per night for 2 adults.

canopyands­tars.co.uk

6 THE LAVENDER SHACK, SUFFOLK

This bijou barn conversion for two is a delight – all vaulted ceilings and restful Scandi chic interiors. It sits in deep countrysid­e on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, just a half hour or so from the Suffolk coast (and under an hour from the beaches of Norfolk). On warm days bifold doors can be flung open, with views of woodland and flowers - the florist owner's cutting garden is here. In cooler weather there's underfloor heating and a wood burner to keep things cosy. The little details have been thought out – like a super king size bed, a second smart TV in the bedroom, a Lavazza coffee machine and an electric car charging point outside. Close by is the village of Broome, with its dog-friendly pub. Also minutes away is paddle boarding and canoeing on the River Waveney and Beccles, gateway to the Norfolk Broads from where you can spend time messing about in boats. Prices from £391 for a midweek stay.

norfolkhid­eaways.co.uk

7 LITTLE RED LOCK, THE COTSWOLDS

A kind of alchemy happens when city folk fall in love and up sticks from the city in search of a secret country bolthole. Filled to the beams with English eccentrici­ty and encircled by a wooden picket fence, this unique canal-side home near Banbury in the Cotswolds is a perfect example. Little Red Lock's waterfront setting on the Oxford canal oozes tranquilli­ty, while inside its brick walls, a carnival-like celebratio­n of eclectic rustic charm awaits. In true English country home style, copper pans hang above a clotted cream coloured Aga and heavy curtains frame bucolic

views as far as the eye can see. Mornings are best spent plotting the day's adventures with a generous breakfast spread laid out on the picnic table by the water's edge; the mooing cows or odd passing narrowboat your only neighbours. The market town of Banbury (six miles south) is a higgledy-piggledy affair with narrow alleyways and independen­t shops. Sleeps 6, prices from £1,950 per week, £1,495 per short break

uniquehome­stays.com

8 TREGONCE FARMHOUSE, CORNWALL

Relax, unwind and reconnect in this beautiful Grade II Listed stone built farmhouse with breathtaki­ng views across the North Cornish coast. From your holiday door it is a short walk down to the banks of the Camel Estuary and along the Camel Trail into Padstow where Michelin starred restaurant­s, artisan shops and cool cafes blend beautifull­y with the Cornish harbour life. Take a trip around the bay at high speed, hop aboard the Padstow to Rock Ferry, stop for a local ale and crab sandwich and simply immerse yourself in the beauty of this wonderful coastal town. Join the South West Coast path from Padstow to the dramatic high cliffs, across golden sand beaches and across stunning headlands. Hit the waves at nearby Harlyn Bay or Trevone, stretch out across the beach at Constantin­e and Treyarnon Bay and find your favourite corner of this magical corner of Cornwall. Sleeps 7. Prices from £1620 (3 nights) and £2025 (7 nights).

cornishgem­s.com

9 THE WELLS GLAMPING, HEREFORDSH­IRE

With most events cancelled for the foreseeabl­e, what to do with all those trendy Airstream trailers used for housing pop stars and festival goers? Well that's exactly what the team at The Wells Glamping thought. They're keeping five of them busy in two big, peaceful (ie. minus the loud music!) meadows in Herefordsh­ire. Each sleeps 2-5 guests with everything needed within – kitchens, beds, shower rooms and loos. Outside are picnic tables, and firepits and hot tubs are available to hire if you want them, too. Within a 20-minute drive of the site are plenty of sightseein­g options – from the National Trust's Brockhampt­on Estate to the Malvern Hills for walking and the city of Hereford, whose cathedral is home to the Mappa Mundi. Herefordsh­ire is a delight to drive around, with the 40-mile ‘Black and White Village Trail' brimming with pretty timbered and half timbered houses, orchards and hop fields. Prices on request.

thewellsgl­amping.co.uk

10 GRANAR TREHILYN, PEMBROKESH­IRE

Stunning location, stunning house…what more could one ask for? Strumble Head is a rocky headland and lighthouse (and excellent place to view dolphins, grey seals, even orcas) in the Pembrokesh­ire Coast National Park. It's an area jam packed with amazing beaches – with more Blue Flags than anywhere in the UK. Just a short walk away from it all is this former stone granary, once used to store grain or feed. The house has been lovingly converted by comedian Griff Rhys Jones and his designer son, and is part of the family's 70 acre Trehilyn Estate - the restoratio­n of the farm was seen in BBC series ‘A Pembrokesh­ire Farm. Prices from £564 for a midweek stay.

undertheth­atch.co.uk/granart

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