20 of Britain's loveliest holiday cottages for couples

top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 Upper Barn Devon - Rebecca Rees for The Telegraph
top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 Upper Barn Devon - Rebecca Rees for The Telegraph

If you want to get away from the world for a week or two, nothing beats the sheer escapism and independence that you can find in a holiday cottage. You have no one to answer to but yourselves. You can use it as a base to explore, or a bolthole to which you can retreat. Depending on the season, you can batten down the hatches and fire up the wood burner or throw open the windows and let the country air pour in. You can cook up a storm, pick up a takeaway, or walk down to the local pub for supper.

But when it's just the two of you, the snugness and intimacy you seek can be undermined if you choose the wrong property. You don’t want to be rattling around for a week in a three- or four-bedroom house. And you certainly don’t want to be paying for space you don’t use. The answer? Go compact. Although the holiday property market is dominated by houses aimed at families, if you know where to look there are some great properties for two. And, as we know, small is beautiful – small-scale places have a special character of their own.

To illustrate the point and to inspire your next holiday, we have picked 20 of the best and most appealing spots, avoiding chalets and shepherds’ huts and focusing on the most historic and characterful properties – from little thatched cottages in Dorset and Warwickshire to a 19th-century timber observatory in Snowdonia and a classic gatehouse in Norfolk.

top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Getty
top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Getty

This is only a taste of what is on offer out there, however. If you want to explore your options further, National Trust Cottages has around 36 one-bedroom properties for two in England and Wales, and the Landmark Trust has around the same number of options. These are not all classic cottages – the selection includes many quirky follies or apartments in bigger buildings, but they are among the best for character and are dotted all around the UK.

Some of the more commercial agents and specialists are particularly switched on when it comes to attracting couples. Boutique Retreats has nearly 70 cottages for two people on its books, mostly in the West Country, but in other parts of the UK, too. Holidaycottages.co.uk has a “romantic” collection – and Unique Homestays, which specialises in distinctive properties in delightful locations, has more than 30 suitable for two people.

Here's our pick of the crème de la crème of holiday lets for two.

Supernova, Isle of Skye

Backed by the Cullin Mountains, overlooking Loch Harport and surrounded by miles of sheep-grazed moorland, Supernova was formerly a small chapel. This whitewashed retreat now offers upside-down living with a king-sized bedroom, en-suite bathroom and sauna on the ground floor and spiral staircase to a first-floor, mezzanine living area with a picture window in the gable and telescope for spotting local wildlife. Local excursions include a boat trip to Armadale or a trip to the whisky distillery at the local village of Carbost.

How to do it: Unique Homestays (01637 881183; uniquehomestays.com); from £1,695.

Supernova Isle Skye top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Unique Homestays/Mark Watts
Supernova Isle Skye top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Unique Homestays/Mark Watts

Week Cottage, Exmoor

Dating back to the 1690s, this is an idyllic stone-built retreat tucked into a wooded valley, near Dulverton, in Exmoor National Park. The atmosphere is enhanced by original quarry-tiled floors, old wooden beams and a large fireplace with woodburning stove. Plus points include the enclosed garden and spacious entrance-hall-cum-boot-room for storing outdoor clothes. From the gallery kitchen and living area, steep cottage stairs lead to a snug bedroom with wooden shutters and bathroom with bath and separate shower. Enjoy long moorland walks from the door.

How to do it: Classic Cottages (01326 555 555; classic.co.uk); from £346.

Pound Farm Cottage, Dorset

A few miles from the market town of Sherborne, Pound Farm Cottage is a pretty thatched cottage with private, south-facing garden and views across fields and farmland. Strong on practical features, there is a utility room for walking boots and an adjacent, lockable shed for bikes. A spacious ground-floor bathroom provides a bath and separate shower, and it’s up the stairs to a comfortable, galleried bedroom. The nearby village of Leigh has a shop, café and pub, while Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and the port of Lyme Regis is less than an hour’s drive away.

How to do it: Classic Cottages (01326 555 555; classic.co.uk); from £452.

Pound Farm top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
Pound Farm top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

Nant Las, Snowdonia

Secluded among the trees of the Dolmelynllyn estate in the Snowdonia National Park, and originally built as a 19th-century observatory, Nant Las is a lovely one-storey, timber-built hideaway with a raised stone veranda, log burner and large, fenced garden. Plus points include the valley views from the bedroom and sitting room and many walking trails on the doorstep, including a footpath to Rhaeadr Ddu, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Wales. The hiking trail for Cader Idris and the cycle path along the Mawddach Trail, a former railway line, start in nearby Dolgellau.

How to do it: National Trust Holidays (0344 800 1895; nationaltrust.org.uk); from £499.

North and South Segganwell, South Ayrshire

On a quiet stretch of shingly shoreline, within a few minutes' walk of Culzean Castle, this secluded stone building, owned by the National Trust for Scotland, divides into two self-contained cottages, each accommodating two people. Formerly used by estate workers, expect simple, homely furnishing, woodburning stoves and distant views of the Isle of Arran across the water. Backed by miles of walking through Culzean’s Country Park, there’s a local farm shop and café – plus a wider selection of restaurants in the local town of Maybole.

How to do it: National Trust for Scotland (0131 458 0305; nts.org.uk/holiday-accommodation); from £499.

North South Segganwell top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
North South Segganwell top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

Houghton West Lodge, Norfolk

This is one of four 19th-century gatehouses guarding the entrances to Houghton Hall, near King’s Lynn, once home to the first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole. The compact building was restored by the Landmark Trust in the 1990s, and is built around a central chimney, with an open fire in the little sitting room. A private courtyard adjoins the kitchen, for outdoor dining, and the lodge stands next to a quiet, grassy track surrounded by woods, ­convenient for visiting the Queen’s ­Sandringham Estate and nearby 12th-century Castle Rising.

How to do it: Landmark Trust (01628 825925; landmarktrust.org.uk); from £584.

Ty Bach, Brecon Beacons

The prospect of life without electricity, flushing toilet or mobile signal isn’t for everyone, but you can have a go at off-grid living at Ty Bach near Hay-on-Wye. This tiny stone bothy with its wood-fired hot tub and compost loo, is ­surrounded by unspoilt National Trust-owned countryside. Prepare simple meals on the woodburner or curl up in the light of an oil-burning lamp before climbing a ladder to a mezzanine bedroom under the eaves. Offa’s Dyke footpath is less than two miles away and the romantic ruins of Llanthony Priory are also close by.

How to do it: Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages (01237 426781; breconcottages.com); from £628.

Ty Bach Brecon Beacons top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
Ty Bach Brecon Beacons top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

Ancient House, Suffolk

Travel back centuries with a stay at the Ancient House, a timber-framed building in the market town of Clare, south of Bury St Edmunds. Original 15th-century features include the ornately decorated plaster facade, moulded timber ceilings and carved oriel windows. A woodburning stove warms the ground-floor living area and small kitchen, and rugs cover the old boards in the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. Next to the town’s museum and church, it has a small enclosed garden and is within easy reach of the region’s other old wool towns, including Lavenham and Long Melford.

How to do it: Landmark Trust (01628 825925; landmarktrust.org.uk); from £641.

The Custodian’s House, Cornwall

On a high headland overlooking ­Falmouth Bay, the Custodian’s House is a solid, stone cottage among a clutch of buildings in the grassy grounds of 16th-century Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII. The layout is simple – all on the ground floor with modestly furnished but comfortable bedroom, bathroom and living area, plus an enclosed courtyard with outdoor table and chairs. A great base for walkers, this scenic spot makes a perfect springboard for exploring the Fal Estuary and Helford River.

How to do it: English Heritage (0370 333 1181; english-heritage.org.uk); from £730.

Custodian House Pendennis Castle top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Ed Shepherd/Historic England English Heritage Trust
Custodian House Pendennis Castle top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Ed Shepherd/Historic England English Heritage Trust

Bull Hollow Cottage, Shropshire

Cosy cottages often come with tiny gardens, but Bull Hollow Cottage, near Shrewsbury, sits in 10 acres of private lawns and woodland with a stream forded by a small, stone bridge. The stone-built, two-storey house with its steeply sloping roof has an airy sitting room with large bay windows and a woodburning stove. Upstairs, there’s a smartly furnished bedroom, small study and and modern bathroom with underfloor heating. It’s a good walking base, with the town of Much Wenlock and the ruins of Wenlock Priory close by.

How to do it: Rural Retreats (01386 897262; ruralretreats.co.uk); from £751.

Honeycomb Cottage, Warwickshire

With inglenook fireplace, scrubbed oak floors and Cotswold stone walls, 17th-century Honeycomb Cottage is a quintessential English cottage located in the village of Whichford, near the Oxfordshire/Warkwickshire border. There is an elegant rolltop bath in the Shaker-style bedroom and a separate shower room with walk-in shower. Nearby Shipston-on-Stour offers plenty of small, independent shops and ­restaurants, while Stratford-upon-Avon, Blenheim Palace and Oxford are within easy reach.

How to do it: Holiday Cottages (01237 426790; holidaycottages.co.uk); from £788.

Honeycomb top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
Honeycomb top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

London Lodge, Hampshire

In 1793, the owner of Highclere Castle, Colonel Henry Herbert, celebrated his elevation to the Earldom of ­Carnarvon by building a grand stone gateway at the entrance to his large estate. Later two wings were added to this neo-classical arch and they now make a stylish and unusual retreat. Either side of the large iron gates, one wing has a comfortable sitting room with woodburner and a kitchen, while the other contains the bedroom and spacious bathroom. Nearby sights include the Castle itself as well as nearby Hungerford with its fine antiques market.

How to do it: Highclere Castle (01635 253 210; highclerecastle.co.uk); £850 for two nights – maximum stay three nights.

Apple Store Cottage, Cotswolds

In the centre of Charlbury, but set back from the main shopping street on a private drive, this wisteria-decked honey-stone cottage was formerly a coach house. Rooms are airy and open-plan, warmed by a central, double-sided woodburning stove. French windows open onto a flower-filled courtyard ­terrace and the comfortable, whitewashed sitting area is furnished with a cushioned sofa and cosy armchair. The upstairs bedroom and panelled bathroom are stylish, with wooden floors and soft, coloured fabrics.

How to do it: Bolthole Retreats (01242 851208; boltholeretreats.co.uk); from £922.

Apple Storage top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
Apple Storage top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

Summerhouse Cottage, Somerset

Little grade II-listed Summerhouse ­Cottage on the National Trust’s Tyntesfield estate near Bristol is on the edge of woodland and accessed along a woodland track. Backing onto farmland, there are miles of walking trails from the door and an open coal-burning fire in the sitting room for chillier days. Once a hunting lodge, the rooms are all ground floor, with a simply furnished bedroom and bathroom with stand-alone, rolltop bath and separate shower, plus a small, private patio.

How to do it: National Trust Holidays (0344 800 1895; nationaltrust.org.uk); from £604.

Libertine, Cornwall

Buried in a wooded hillside near the sandy beach of Perranporth, Libertine is a tiny south-facing cottage with solid stone walls and an outdoor hot tub overlooking the surrounding meadows. Inside, whitewashed walls contrast with splashes of colour, including a blue ­velvet sofa and boldly striped cushions on shabbily chic, mis-matched chairs. Heating is solar-powered and a woodburning stove is provided for winter. The cottage is accessed down a bumpy farm track near Goonhaven village.

How to do it: Unique Homestays (01637 881183; uniquehomestays.com); from £995.

Libertine Cornwall top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Unique Homestays/Mark Watts
Libertine Cornwall top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Unique Homestays/Mark Watts

Upper Barn, Devon

Cows graze in the tranquil fields around Upper Barn, a tiny stone-built bolthole near the village of Chagford on the eastern edges of Dartmoor. Its snug sitting room has a woodburning stove, and a winding staircase leads up to a first-floor bedroom with vaulted roof and king-sized bed. The small cottage garden has outdoor table and chairs, with lanterns provided for dusky evenings. Local excursions include walks to Scorhill Stone Circle and the rocky outcrop of Kestor Rock.

How to do it: Boutique Retreats (01872 553491; boutique-retreats.co.uk); from £652.

Hartley Hare, North Yorkshire

This grade II-listed barn in the Yorkshire Dales dates back to the 15th century, and retains original features such as the timber partitions and the lean-to roof beams. But the interior – which is on two floors – is bang up-to-date. Underfloor heating, a well-equipped kitchen and a wood-fired hot tub are among the contemporary comforts. The outside terrace is enclosed by a dry-stone wall and looks out over the rolling landscape of the Dales. Close to the market town of Settle, this is a great base for exploring both the National Park and the nearby Forest of Bowland Area of Natural Beauty.

How to do it: Boutique Retreats (01872 553491; boutique-retreats.co.uk); from £1,104.

Hartley Hare North Yorkshire top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Boutique Retreats/Daniel Casson
Hartley Hare North Yorkshire top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022 - Boutique Retreats/Daniel Casson

Peverell’s Tower, Kent

Hideaways don’t come much more romantic than Peverell’s Tower, a lofty, one-bedroom eyrie in the 13th-century walls of Dover Castle. A winding stone staircase twists up past a small shower room to a modern kitchen with exposed herringbone brickwork and wooden floor. Deep alcoves and window seats provide plenty of spaces to curl up with a book, and a private rooftop terrace has spectacular views of the Channel and surrounding landscape. When the ­castle closes to the public, guests have the grounds to themselves.

How to do it: English Heritage (0370 333 1181; english-heritage.org.uk); from £1,000.

Daffodil Cottage, Gloucestershire

A thick fringe of roof thatch sweeps low across the broad, honey-coloured stone walls of Daffodil Cottage, in the quiet hamlet of Tarlton, near Cirencester. Inside, the low-beamed ceilings, ­rug-covered floors and velvet sofas pulled up to a large inglenook fireplace add to its cosy atmosphere. The first-floor bedroom and bathroom are under steeply sloping eaves and, from the smart rolltop bath there are views of the grassy garden and countryside beyond. Local pubs and restaurants serve excellent food.

How to do it: Olivers Travels (0333 888 0205; oliverstravels.com); from £1,285.

Daffodil Gloucestershire top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022
Daffodil Gloucestershire top 20 british best lovely holidays cottages couples uk visit staycation 2022

Folly Lodge West, Dorset

Hole up with your partner or take another couple of friends along too. Folly Lodge West, by the gateway to Shaftesbury House near the village of Wimborne St Giles, offers the choice. Both this property, and Folly Lodge East, on the other side of the gate, are kitted out for two people. Both have snug ground-floor rooms, painted in strong, contemporary colours, with open fires and rural views from pretty, arched windows. The New Forest and seaside resort of Bournemouth are close by.

How to do it: Oliver's Travels (0333 888 0205; oliverstravels.com); from £840.

Prices quoted are for a week’s rental in low season, unless stated otherwise. But look out for late booking offers.

This article is kept updated with the latest information.

Do you have any tips for finding the perfect British holiday for two? Please share your thoughts in the comments below