Town & Country (UK)
Diminutive domiciles for secluded escapes, from the Cotswolds to the Isle of Skye
ELMLEY NATURE RESERVE, ISLE OF SHEPPEY
With one wall made entirely of glass, the Saltbox on the 3,300-acre Elmley Nature Reserve in north Kent is perfect for stargazing and watching the sunrise while snuggled up under a duvet. This large shepherd’s hut also has a kitchenette, a dining and lounge area, and offers plenty to keep you cosy, including woollen Romney Marsh blankets, hot-water bottles and a cast-iron radiator. But the pièce de résistance has to be the outdoor shower, stocked with fragrant Bramley products and giving a breathtaking panorama over the landscape, teeming with birds including lapwings, short-eared owls and golden plovers. The Saltbox at Elmley Nature Reserve (www. elmleynaturereserve.co.uk), from £145 a night.
An archetype of slow living, Settle is home to three beautifully restored vintage railway carriages and a cluster of luxury canvas tents, set in private Norfolk parkland. The latest addition is a spacious cabin surrounded by forest and overlooking a serene lake, flecked with waterlilies. Interiors feature a free-standing egg-shaped bath, reclaimed wood and a Bertazzoni cooker, while outside there’s an abundance of wildlife to admire. In the morning, a breakfast basket is delivered to your door, brimming with fresh sourdough bread, ground coffee and organic porridge oats. The Cabin at Settle (www.settlenorfolk.co.uk), from £280 a night.
THE LINGHOLM ESTATE, CUMBRIA
Sitting on the leafy western shore of Derwentwater in the Lake District, the Lingholm Estate surrounds a grand Victorian mansion, where the writer Beatrix Potter spent many summers (the old kitchen garden is said to be the inspiration for The Tale of Peter Rabbit). Fast-forward more than a century and today’s guests can rent a number of properties in the grounds, including the Boathouse – a Scandinavian-inspired lodge right on the water’s edge. Boasting spectacular views of the fells, its own honesty bar and a rowing boat for guests to borrow, it’s the ultimate romantic retreat for two. The Boathouse at the Lingholm Estate (www.thelingholmestate.co.uk), from about £300 a night.
THE FISH, THE COTSWOLDS
Children and adults alike will be enchanted by the Fish’s magical treehouses – three sophisticated arboreal retreats where an overnight stay includes a proper Cotswold breakfast the following morning. As well as the delight of running across a wooden bridge to get to your room, there are grown-up perks such as ensuite bathrooms, underfloor heating and Nespresso machines. When dusk falls, mix a cocktail from the well-stocked minibar before taking a long soak in one of the two huge wooden baths standing on the outdoor decking area that is built around a large oak-tree. The Fish (www.thefishhotel.co.uk); treehouses, from £395 a night.
THE BLACK SHED, ISLE OF SKYE
If you’re looking for award-winning architecture in a remote setting, then head to the Isle of Skye’s self-catering cottage the Black Shed. Based on a working croft, this unique property is nestled in the glorious Scottish wilderness at the foot of the Macleod’s Tables flat-topped hills and combines stylish pine-clad walls with concrete floors and a stainless-steel kitchen. After a bracing hike around nearby Loch Dunvegan, passing Hebridean sheep along the way, curl up on the sofa in front of the wood-burning stove with a book borrowed from the study. The Black Shed (www.blackshed.co.uk), from £700 a week.