Fancy a night away? Refresh yourself (and perhaps your plus one) with an overnight break right here in the UK, writes Liz Nicholls.
What with all the political hokey cokey over the past couple of years (Brexit), we thought we’d turn our sights to staycation options close to home.
After all, amid all the frustrating / upsetting (delete as appropriate) wranglings over backstops and borders, surely now is a good time to celebrate the best quirky, wonderful resources Blighty has to offer?
Well, our eccentric island nation of “Marmite, village fetes and country lanes” (to quote Bill Bryson) certainly has plenty to offer so you’re sure of a great break to suit any budget, without having to get your passport out.
Two Hoots Glamping near Alresford has some beautifully British shepherd’s huts and camping pods where you’re sure of cosy, comforting TLC right in the heart of gorgeous Hampshire countryside. The eco-friendly pods and huts feature king-size beds are perfectly located for visiting Jane Austen territory and you can travel there by steam train, thanks to the idyllic Watercress Line. For full details visit www.twohootscampsite.co.uk or call 01962 772242.
Are you a lady of a certain age who’d relish time away from the male of the species? If so, I hear you! Slipper Camps in Tenterden, Kent, specialise in ladies-only uplifting getaways, full-board, in a boutique country hotel, featuring creative workshops so you can share new experiences and laughter with other like-minded ladies. Visit www.slippercamps.co.uk or contact 07774 294309.
The Chilterns View in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside is the ideal choice for a romantic rendezvous. Book into one of the south-facing lodges, which each boasts a floor-to-ceiling glass front and raised veranda, elevated to give you unrivalled views across the Chiltern Hills. Two of the five lodges are open-plan and each comes with its own private side balcony and a 24-hour heated hot tub for two. Visit www.thechilternsview.co.uk or call 01491 836 353.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous group or family staycation you’re sure of lovely accommodation with character, stunning light and scenery to die for with Coronet Cottages. The family business has a holiday home on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and another in Cotswold Water Park each offering a breath of fresh air. www.coronetcottages.co.uk
Just to prove how much the UK does offer, there is even a super safari option – courtesy of Port Lympne in Kent. As featured on ITV’s This Morning, this 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel is run by the award-winning Aspinall Foundation and is home to more than 760 animals and 90 species. Book a rhino or tiger lodge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience while helping conservation. Visit
If camping is more your jam, Wigwam Holidays has loads of comfy glamping options which can incorporate your passion too, be it hiking, photography, surfing, climbing, archery, fishing or water sports; visit www.wigwamholidays.com
And Henry’s Campsite, right on the tip of the The Lizard in Cornwall, offers pitches with sea views, sunsets to die for and a location boasting coastal and inland paths (careful if you’ve partaken of a few rosies!). Visit www.henryscampsite.co.uk or call 01326 290596.
Also in Cornwall, Carbis Bay Holidays offer a five-star collection of cottages in St Ives, from penthouse apartments overlooking the white-sand beaches to designer country homes a pebble’s throw from the coast; call 01736 630015 or visit www.carbisbayholidays.co.uk
Luxury Lodges offer stunning stays in Cornwall, the Lake District & Wales; www.luxurylodges.com.
For a healthy break, you’d be hard-pushed to beat the pampering packages at Grayshott Health Spa near Hindhead, 2018 winner of the World Spa Awards, no less; visit www.grayshottspa.com or call 01428 602020. Or top up your sunshine levels by booking in for a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage your cares away, bathing you in low-level UV canopy light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.
Spectacular splendour is the name of the game at Great Fosters in Egham, voted AA Hotel Of the Year England. It’s a wedding venue to die for & Michelin-starred foodie mecca; visit www.greatfosters.co.uk or call 01784 433822.
Whether you favour the voluptuous Yorkshire Dales or cute Cotswolds, Together Travel have superb luxe glass-fronted eco-lodges. Visit www.togethertravel.co.uk or call 01386 897179. And Cool Stays has incredible treehouse, cabin and “boatel” break ideas for groups and couples at www.coolstays.com
For bucolic country cottages in some of the UK’s most heart-stoppingly beautiful landscapes check out Home Away (there are also cute continental options if you do want to travel beyond the white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk
De Vere Cotswold Water Park, GL7 5FP, is a tranquil spa haven sure to rejuvenate you; www.devere.co.uk. Top up on sunshine with a stay at Donnington Valley Hotel in Newbury where the new Aqua Sun package will massage cares away, bathing you in low-level UV light. The privately owned hotel and golf club is set in stunning parkland. Visit www.donningtonvalley.co.uk or call 01635 551199.
I just had a houseful of Canadian friends to stay… It’s amazing how playing tour guide in your home city (mine’s Oxford) opens your eyes. For the perfect Dreaming Spires stay try The Porterhouse, OX2 0AL, just a hop from the station, for the best steak in Christendom and hip, comfy rooms; 01865 248546 or www.theporterhouse-oxford.com. Another quirky choice is Malmaison’s reincarnation of the old prison in the castle quarter; www.malmaison.com. And if, like me, you’re a fan of that 1950s American vibe, you’ll love Mollie’s Motel & Diner near Faringdon, SN7 8PY. I can’t wait to try this celeb honeypot (brainchild of Soho House founder Nick Jones) for a milkshake and adult sleepover! www.molliesmotel.com
One thing we do best in the whole world is a great pub! The Fat Fox Inn in pretty Watlington, OX49 5BU, is a foodie’s dream with gorgeous rooms too; www.thefatfoxinn.co.uk or 01491 613 040. The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, OX2 9QH, is an original Tudor beauty lavished in TLC serving award-winning food; 01865 862329 or www.bearandraggedstaff.com. Also find cosy charm at The Fleece in Witney, OX28 4AZ; 01993 892270 or www.fleecewitney.co.uk and I had one of the best dinner dates/stays ever at The Lion at Wendlebury, OX25 2PW; www.thelionwendlebury.co.uk or 01869 388228. Oh, and just up the road in Bicester, OX26 1UE, The Chesterton Hotel offers truly fabulous cream teas and dinners, with rooms to match; 01869 326 550 or www.thechestertonhotel.com
There’s even a safari option on this sceptred isle! Port Lympne in Kent, featured on ITV’s This Morning, a 600-acre reserve and luxury hotel, run by the Aspinall Foundation, is home to 760 animals; www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne
For bucolic country cottages in heart-stoppingly beautiful British landscapes check out Home Away (there are also sweet continental options if you do want to travel beyond those white cliffs…). Visit www.homeaway.co.uk
Enjoy your stay!
Wherever in the UK you choose to stay, we hope you have a lovely time and please share your experiences with us on social media @randamag