For those who missed the boat on booking a UK break back in spring, or held out in the hopes of an overseas trip, the holiday landscape might now seem rather barren. But with ever-shifting restrictions, endless forms and testing requirements, there’s no shame in conceding defeat on jetting abroad and turning your attention closer to home.
While it’s certainly true that options are limited in terms of UK holiday rentals, securing a last-minute summer holiday doesn’t mean settling for the dregs. Last-minute cancellations and a steady stream of newly launched properties mean there are still gems out there.
From a converted Cotswolds stable to a Scottish island escape with its own harbour, here are 10 properties with availability between now and the end of August.
Stable Cottage Greenwich Lane, Oxfordshire
Those looking for that postcard-pretty summer break are in luck. Stable Cottage, a short jaunt from the likes of Burford and Charlbury, has all the hallmarks of a class Cotswolds break, with its honey-stoned exterior, wood-burning stoves, aga and and even a treehouse outside. Interiors are a cut above most holiday rentals, with a freestanding blue bath and painted floorboards among the design flourishes. The cottage sleeps six and is available for a good chunk of August.
Sleeps six. From £3,500 a week; luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk
The Playhouse, Rye, East Sussex
Down a narrow alleyway In the heart of quaint Rye, you’ll find this unexpected architect-owned apartment that would be more at home in East London. Arty touches abound, from the giant Bovril sign in the kitchen to the neon yellow ‘acid house’ smiley face motif that crops up a few times. The double height lounge and exposed brick walls add an urban loft feel. The Playhouse has scattered availability in August and is dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged friend for a scamper on nearby Camber Sands beach.
Sleeps three. From £410 for two nights; hostunusual.com
Harbour House, Stromness, Orkney
For a seaside holiday let with a difference, book the Harbour House Stromness, up in Orkney’s main port, which comes with its own pier and slipway. In addition to the spacious main house, guests have use of a boathouse that was once used to build traditional Orkney Yole boats and now serves as an al fresco dining area and games room. Expect sea views from most rooms and a nautical feel with blue hues and wood-panelled walls. Out and about, wander the winding flagstone streets of Stromness and visit the town’s museum, which is opposite the house.
Sleeps eight. From £280 a night; hostunusual.com
The Piggery, Southcombe Barn, Dartmoor
An ivy-clad former pig shed is the new place to stay at Southcombe Barn in Dartmoor, a self-styled social enterprise with yoga studio, gallery space and workshops on the likes of flower-crown making and foraging. If the weather plays ball, guests can opt to sleep under the stars on a fairytale-style outdoor four-poster bed. If not, soak in the rolltop tub and tuck into a welcome hamper of fresh bread, local cheeses and apple juice from the orchard – hot meals and evening tipples can also be ordered.
Sleeps two. Four nights in August from £840; canopyandstars.co.uk
Congrove Barns, Bath
In a valley a few miles outside Bath, a pair of recently refurbished barns combine to create upmarket holiday rental Congrove Barns. One is the designated living space, with an open-plan kitchen and dining room, plus a games room with table football. Meanwhile, the 'sleeping barn' has two large en-suite bedrooms (two extras can stay on a sofa bed). The garden is a highlight, with its attractive in-ground hot tub, croquet and badminton. Walks from the doorstep weave through a private arboretum and into the surrounding Cotswolds countryside.
Sleeps four (plus two). From £1,950 for a week in August; luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk
Retreat at Fritton Lake, Norfolk
A couple of cabins at high-end holiday club Fritton Lake on Norfolk’s Somerleyton Estate still have some space this summer. Accommodation at the park is scattered between hotel rooms in a manor house, cottages and cabins in the woods, with all having access to the many facilities. The estate is involved in WildEast, an ambitious eco-recovery programme which aims to return 20 per cent of East Anglia’s land to nature. Guests can see the progress being made with a rewilding boat tour of the lake or walking safari. Other outdoor activities include wild swimming and paddle boarding, plus there’s a heated pool and tennis courts.
Sleeps four. Four nights in a Retreat cabin in late July from £1,860; frittonlake.co.uk
Hampshire Hideaway, near Basingstoke
This renovated old cart shed with magazine spread worthy interiors is a good choice for couples wanting to celebrate any missed milestones. And where better to pop the champagne than the private bar in the beamed open-plan living area? Set on a working farm near Basingstoke, it’s only an hour’s drive from London, but feels fantastically remote. Head out into your south-facing wildflower garden, along with a pair of binoculars, to spy hawks, kestrels and owls circling overhead.
Sleeps two. From £180 for two nights; kiphideaways.com
Plas Uchaf, Anglesey, Wales
The usually booked-up Plas Uchaf currently still has a week available at the end of August. This whitewashed cottage on Anglesey offers panoramic sea views and is only a 20-minute stroll down to a quiet beach. Alternatively, walk along the coastal path and rugged cliff tops to Trearddur Bay, where it's almost obligatory to stop for a portion of fish and chips while enjoying the views. A cosy cottage style runs throughout the house, with cream sofas, country kitchen and wood-burning stove.
Sleeps four. From £2,237 for a week’s stay in August; sykescottages.co.uk
The Linen House, Kelso, Scottish Borders
Up in the market town of Kelso in the Scottish Borders, Crabtree & Crabtree has just added The Linen House and Scott Apartment to its collection. Perfect for parties or family reunions, the two properties, which adjoin and can sleep up to 14, both currently have space in August. The larger Linen House is a five-bedroom townhouse, which dates back to the mid 19th century and originally formed part of the British Linen Bank. There’s a mix of period features – think a grand staircase, cornicing and original fireplaces – and a sleek kitchen. Kelso itself has a pretty Flemish-style square and attractive Georgian architecture.
Sleeps 14 (10 in the Linen House, plus four in the Scott Apartment). From £3,350 for a week’s stay; crabtreeandcrabtree.com
Call Out Cottage, Sledmere, East Riding of Yorkshire
In a previous life, Call Out Cottage served as the village of Sledmere’s fire station. Now retired and refurbished, it’s recently joined Sykes Cottages’ books, however its roots are still represented with a red feature wall in the living room, tiles in the kitchen and a sign above the front door. The North Yorkshire Coast is within easy reach and it’s a short drive to the vineyards of the Yorkshire Wolds – the area has emerged as an unlikely wine region in recent years thanks to its mineral-rich soil.
Sleeps six. From £1,107 for a seven-night stay; sykescottages.co.uk
All holidays had availability at the time of publishing.