Beautiful beaches, rolling countryside, soaring mountains and vibrant cities – Britons really are lucky to have so much at their fingertips. Summer is officially here, and the many millions of us dreaming of a holiday on home soil this year now have a choice to make. A seaside retreat in Cornwall or Norfolk? A walking trip in the Lakes? Maybe some kind of adventure in Snowdonia or a city break in buzzing Edinburgh? Whatever the destination, finding the right place to stay is absolutely key. Holidaymakers have all sorts of options in this age of Airbnb and glamping pods, but can do little wrong by going down the ‘traditional’ route of a hotel stay that suits their needs and wants: a Michelin-starred restaurant for foodies, treehouses and nature trails for young families, or perhaps a watersports academy for adrenaline junkies. So from Dartmoor to the Dales, here are 50 of the best hotels for a summer escape.
On a bluff above a sandy surfing beach – summer sunsets here are sensational (particularly if you happen to nab one of the hot tubs, pictured, at the right time of day). A big range of activities are on offer, from horse-riding on the beach to surf lessons, tree-climbing and coasteering. The reed-fringed, rock-strewn outdoor pool extends from the indoor one, punctuated by those two scarlet wood-fired tubs perched between boulders overlooking the sea. The excellent restaurant serves lunch and dinner from a short menu of classic British and Italian dishes with a modern twist.
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Staying at this superbly stylish, laid-back waterfront inn in chic St Mawes is guaranteed to make you instantly rethink your home interiors, such is the perfection and precision of the design by owner Karen Richards. The hotel is set right on the miniscule harbour, with sailing boats moored and little passenger ferries shunting in and out where skies and sea often look Mediterranean. Sitting in the bar over a perfectly executed cocktail, it can be hard to believe you are in England. The amazing concierge can advise on beaches, pubs and coastal walks and whether to explore by foot, ferry, RIB or kayak.
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Surrounded by sun-soaked beaches and sparkling seas, this stylish waterside hotel in yachtie Salcombe is the place to come if you want to feel the sand between your toes. Set back from the water, it sits directly on the South West Coastal Path, and is a short walk, sail or boat ride to some of Devon’s safest and prettiest swimming beaches. A contemporary retreat, the 50-room hotel offers a luxury spa, a private cinema, a stylish restaurant, and outdoor terraces with panoramic bay views. As you’d expect from a coastal hotel, the menu is seafood-heavy, and the offerings are simple and classic.
Set beneath the cliffs on the beach, The Cary Arms’ location is nothing short of spectacular (though it's a bit of a hair-raising drive to get there, the hill leading down to it feels almost vertical). Rooms are delightful, with retro red leather bed heads, pretty wardrobes and sticks of rock on snow white pillows. Best of all though (and ideal for summer) is the collection of one-bedroom beach huts: including walk-in showers, soft carpets, White Company toiletries, a Smeg minibar and sun loungers on the terrace. The blue-and-white design is Instagram-sweet and the porthole windows are deliberately situated so that the view from the bed on the mezzanine is just sea meets horizon.
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The hotel is situated in a stunning position overlooking the sea, with the dramatic chalk stacks of Old Harry Rocks in the foreground and the Isle of Wight in the distance. The beach is a five-minute walk away, but if you tire of bucket-and-spade fun among sand dunes, Britain’s longest National Trail, the 630-mile South West Coast Path, can be joined here; walkers usually end at nearby South Haven Point, but it's just as pretty going in the opposite direction. All the rooms are delightful, many with interesting original features. They employ vintage style fabrics, chandeliers and beautifully dressed beds, with the Pigs’ signature Roberts radios, well-stocked ‘larders’ and excellent bathrooms.
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The grande dame of North Norfolk, the Blakeney has been a hotel since 1922. Public rooms are smartly contemporary in soothing shades of greens, creams and dove greys. An eclectic collection of antique prints (maps, plants, birds) sourced by owner, Emma Stannard, embellish the hallways. On a rainy day when the Norfolk beaches have less appeal, squashy sofas and blazing fire in the Boat Room lounge create a cosy retreat. Around a dozen rooms have estuary views, some with small balconies. Guests are encouraged to take a half-board tariff which includes a three-course dinner menu. Dogs are welcome (though not in the bar or restaurant).
In the middle of the small, well-kept village of Penally (which has its own beach and train station, and is just a 30-minute walk to the jolly seaside town of Tenby) this hotel has a peaceful, elevated position. There are 11 rooms, all lovely and all unique in character. The top floor houses rooms One and Two, which can be made into an interconnecting, rambling suite. It's perfect for families and rather like living inside an Enid Blyton book. It’s a real pleasure to dine in the restaurant, with its candlelight and white linen tablecloths. The food is enjoyable and the menu might include dishes such as steamed clams or seared salmon fillet.
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A renowned Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms helmed by chef Gavin Ward (you can only actually book a room if you are having dinner which starts at £350 per person), this one really is for the die hard foodies, but Ynyshir’s location is pretty special, too. The undulating grounds, stippled with rhododendrons and eucalyptus trees, are as peaceful as can be, and lead to the RSPB Ynyshir Nature Reserve saltmarsh and lowland wet grasslands at the head of the Dyfi estuary. Just across the water is Aberdyfi and its broad sweep of dune-backed beach which is pleasantly packed in summer with children playing in the golden sand.
A restored Georgian townhouse on genteel Hawley Square, a stone's throw from Margate's sandy beach, quirky Old Town and the Turner Contemporary. Three bedrooms span a floor each and, with lavish breakfasts enjoyed in the privacy of one's room, it's more boutique luxury hotel than typical beachside b&b. Floorboards are stripped, walls unevenly undressed of layers of multicoloured paint and plaster, antique chandeliers hang above old radiators painted slate grey, and wildflower posies sit on ornate fireplaces. The bathrooms are vast, each featuring a walk-in shower and freestanding roll-top bath, piles of fluffy towels, bathrobes and slippers, and a generous selection of Ren Skincare products.
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Bodysgallen Hall has 600 years of history and sublime views over landscaped gardens to the mountains and sea beyond. Ramble the romantic grounds, unwind in the spa or use it as a base to explore seaside Llandudno, castle-topped Conwy or the high peaks of Snowdonia. The grounds are a riot of fragrance and colour in the summer, and lovely to wander at leisure. There's a box-hedge parterre, walled rose and herb gardens, and a croquet lawn. One walk leads through sun-dappled woods to an obelisk atop Bryn Pydew, which opens up the view spectacularly. Tours with head gardener Robert Owen are offered, too.
This is a quintessential country house: tartan carpets underfoot; floral and birds of paradise-print wallpapers; political caricatures lining the walls – it’s a place which feels loved and lived-in. It’s remained within the same family for more than 25 years – in fact, the art collection of the original founder, Bettye Grey, hangs on the walls to this day, and includes a watercolour by Prince Charles. Other than the charming interiors, the real highpoint that makes this hotel sing in the warm months is the heated outdoor pool (pictured). For a summer supper with a difference, head to the Hidden Hut (a 15-minute drive away) on Porthcurnick Beach which runs feast nights – think wood-grilled lobster or mussels cooked over a fire pit.
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The Torridon could scarcely be more striking; nor impressive. This large Scots Baronial pile has been plucked straight out of the late 19th century, while shaggy Highland Cows graze the extensive grounds and the sweet smell of pine fills the air in the summer. This is a hotel that really throws you deep into the Scottish Highlands in every way. On-site Torridon Outdoors thrills you into the epic local landscapes, with archery, Munro bagging, clay pigeon shooting, kayaking, and gorge scrambling. Or just hire a mountain bike and head off on your own. More relaxed ambles by the loch tempt: look out for otters and herons in the smouldering light of the gloaming.
This petite, buttercream-coloured, wisteria-clad country house hotel in the sylvan New Forest National Park is the ideal setting for special occasions, restful spa weekends and romantic breaks. Summer days are best spent wandering the grounds or heading off on a New Forest walk (Hunter wellies and bikes for all ages are provided, and the staff can share suggested routes and maps) before stopping off at The Pig for lunch. In the evenings, ease yourself into a chair under the pergolas and see the day off with a nice bottle of something chilled from the extensive and interesting wine list.
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Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel is a living monument to the charismatic chef patron’s 30-year pursuit of perfection. Its star attractions are its restaurant and kitchen gardens, but the Frenchman’s passionate enthusiasm can be seen throughout the property. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant with ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines.
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Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic with Dartmoor National Park on the doorstep. Inside, the décor is stylish and straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. Gidleigh attracts well-heeled gastronomes, wine buffs and ‘once in a lifetime’ visitors celebrating an occasion, so it’s ideal for couples searching for a special summer spot.
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Sitting prettily within a thousand acres, surrounded by a wonderful riot of flowers and shrubs and footed by a lake, this Elizabethan mansion – the one-time home of celebrated gardener William Robinson – is a horticulturalist’s dream, with its own remarkable grounds and Kew offshoot Wakehurst close by. With limited facilities (no pool or spa) you’ll want to spend most of the summer days enjoying the grounds by way of pleasant walks, guided tours, or a game of croquet. Homegrown produce enhances dishes in the Michelin-starred restaurant, a dramatically beautiful contemporary space, while rooms are pleasingly comfortable with squishy sofas, padded window seats and four-poster beds in some higher-grade rooms.
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Just a 15-minute drive from the heart of elegant, happening Cheltenham, Cowley Manor is an immensely pleasing blend of funky art hotel, country house spa retreat, and family-friendly haven. Summer days are spent wandering trails in the 55 acres of parkland – beside a glorious lake, past cascades and alongside contemporary sculptures; lazing on deck chairs on the long terrace (including smaller versions for children); and playing board games in the sunny sitting room. Events, such as cinema nights and open-air theatre, are often held in the grounds – and during school holidays, activities are put on for children.
This fantasy Victorian mansion – seemingly immune to time and trends – is situated in its own 50-acre estate on the fringes of the Berwyn Mountains and Snowdonia National Park. Facilities are deliberately low-key and in keeping with a country manor of this calibre: walk the wooded grounds to a sunken garden, visit the resident donkey and Shetland ponies, go fishing, or curl up with a book. The concierge team can point you in the direction of some memorable walks or, should you wish, they can hook you up with a local e-bike provider – the extra oomph is handy for negotiating these hills. Pale Hall was awarded Wales’ first Michelin Green Star, so finish the day with a languorous signature tasting menu before heading up to one of the exquisite rooms.
Glamping is taken up a notch at this hip hybrid of Welsh farm and Japanese forest retreat: domes have solid wood floors and wood burners, king-sized beds are covered with thick duvets and welsh blankets, and outdoor kitchens are fully equipped. Some even have private cedar-clad en-suites. Elsewhere, there are canvas-topped cabins and other cute dwellings tucked into the trees. Exploring nature at your own pace and uninterrupted, is prized here – but staff can recommend local walks to gorges, waterfalls and secret beaches. A giant tipi screens children’s films regularly, nature-inspired workshops are held in high season, and there’s even a small summer festival called Gather. Fforest also run their own activity company, Heritage Canoes, who organise canoeing, surfing, coasteering and more.
Long-weekenders love Rudding Park, a large, luxury, contemporary-style country house hotel just a 10-minute drive from Harrogate. The big draw – two golf courses, aside – is the extensive (think three tennis courts for size) rooftop spa that has seriously raised the bar with its hydrotherapy pool, saunas, spa bath and steam rooms dotted amongst lounging areas, trees and shrubs. There's a small gym, private cinema, woodland walks plus gardens and terraces (popular for lovely long lunches). Interiors are surprisingly light and colourful with boldly striped and patterned sofas, walls hung with striking, modern art, and light, sleek and understated rooms.
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One of the most exceptional country house hotels Britain has seen, The Newt occupies beautiful Palladian-fronted red-gold limestone Hadspen House, first built in 1687. Its famous gardens have been entirely replanted and redesigned and are really worth a wander. The centrepiece is the egg-shaped Parabola walled garden, now planted with hundreds of trained British apple trees (267 varieties) arranged in a Baroque-style maze. And then there’s the cyder press, bottling plant and bar, mushroom house, History of Gardening Museum, farm shop, treetop walk, thatched ice cream parlour and wild swimming ponds, not forgetting the colony of great crested newts after which the hotel is named, all of which make the hotel and its estate feel like a lively, cultured, kindly and well orchestrated haven, ideal for summer.
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This cluster of honey-stone properties in postcard-pretty Southrop is a 'village within a village' – a former rectory, an old farmhouse, cottages and barns (including a magnificent tithe barn) – all beautifully restyled. Facilities are first-class, from the Meadow Spa with five treatment rooms to the heated springwater swimming pool, tennis court, topiary-filled garden and ample grounds beyond. The cookery school offers a year-round programme of day classes, such as breadmaking and seasonal dinner party dishes. This is a profoundly peaceful place in a particularly striking part of Gloucestershire, with wonderful walks in the Leach Valley on the doorstep.
This sprawling Palladian style hall (17th-century origins) on the eastern fringes of the Yorkshire Dales has all the modern grandeur you’d expect of a Relais & Châteaux hotel. Classic stately home features have been elegantly reinterpreted for the 21st century, there’s an embarrassing choice of dining options, from Michelin-starred Shaun Rankin’s tasting menus to pan-Asian fusion, plus a sweep of distractions including a spa, Japanese garden, and 30 acres of parkland. If that's all too much there are at least three lounges, a wine-tasting room, terraces for sunny days and heaps of fat coffee-table books to browse.
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Congham Hall is located in a small village, six miles north-east of King’s Lynn, within easy reach of the Queen’s estate at Sandringham and north-west Norfolk coast’s large sandy beaches. It’s a great base for visiting Holkham Hall, Oxburgh Hall, Castle Rising and Houghton Hall (all are a few minutes’ walk or drive away) as well as a variety of walking routes nearby, such as the Peddars Way. On site, there’s an excellent restaurant and well-presented spa, while the rooms – main house, garden rooms and detached Orchard suites – all have their plus points, from French doors leading to private patios, to outdoor bathtubs. The hotel’s kitchen garden supplies seasonal fruit, vegetables, salad and herbs to its large restaurant, The Samphire Garden, which overlooks the grounds.
This traditional country house hotel with a set of contemporary treehouse suites in its grounds is a popular destination for a five-star, weekend escape on the edge of the New Forest. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. It also has lovely grounds, and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach. Families especially love it here: the kids’ club is impressive, children are taken outside for wholesome activities like nature scavenger hunts, as well as playing with the treasure trove of toys (and technology) inside.
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This beautifully devised haven four miles from handsome (oddly underrated) Tetbury provides outstanding facilities for families as well as a serene space for adults (remarkably, there's plenty to please a wide range of ages and interests). It has a wonderful spa and generously designed rooms, and offers excellent food in a bistro-pub or fine dining restaurant. The wealth of outdoor facilities includes bikes, disc golf, croquet, courtyard swimming pool and tennis courts, and there are special events (meet the author, gin workshops), and picnic hampers to order. The staff evidently love the hotel, their enthusiasm is charming.
The stretch of Cornish coastline that’s home to Watergate Bay is like nature on steroids (bigger, brighter, more brilliant) and Watergate is the only hotel on a bay so expansive it generously absorbs bucket-and-spade grockles, bodyboarders and wobbly surf school groups. The hotel's Extreme Academy welcomes everyone from beginners to experts of all ages at their kitesurfing, surfing and SUP lessons, all taught by calm, expert staff. Back at the hotel, you can take a yoga class or relax in the Swim Club. There are games, craft activities and an outdoor mini-adventure playground in the Kid’s Zone for the smallest guests, while The XA Club designed for older kids has a pro ping-pong table, vintage arcade games and the latest console games.
Augill Castle is ridiculously good fun. It stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Expect vast rooms, towers and turrets, acres of terraces and lawns, a dinky cinema, help-yourself honesty bar and house party-style dining. It's spot on for families, as children are genuinely made to feel at home and warmly welcomed, with toys and board games in the house, a playground, a fort in the forest, a tree house, and cats and dogs. Early suppers, baby monitors and cots are available and there is a children’s cookery school.
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This five-star golf and spa resort is a playground for adults and children alike in the summer - from golfers of all ages making the most of the long days and warm weather, to families exploring the Alice in Wonderland-themed adventure playground and nature trail complete with Wonderland sculptures and six woodland pods (all bookable free of charge). Each pod is enchantingly decorated and equipped with different activities to tempt different ages (from soft play to Xbox). The hotel is also perfectly positioned for visiting, the Yorkshire Dales, the North Yorkshire Moors and the coast.
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This grand stately pile’s dramatic location overlooking lushly wooded hills on the western side of Dartmoor National Park is superb. Here, the great outdoors beckon with activities ranging from golf and tennis to croquet and archery, plus beautiful lakeside walks. Despite its smart décor, Bovey Castle is the least precious luxury hotel imaginable: muddy dogs, children and walkers are all welcome. During school holidays The Bovey Rangers kids’ club has an extensive programme of activities including rock climbing, raft building, apple pressing, canoeing and golf, and there’s a crèche offering painting, pottery, biscuit decorating, and badge making among others.
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With a Michelin-star restaurant and a spoiling spa, this refined 18th-century pile is one of the south’s best-known hotels for an indulgent escape. It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, but it’s particularly lovely in summer when the surrounding countryside bursts into green and the outdoor activities come into their own. The grounds feature tennis courts, an arboretum and a small, walled garden, and the spa has an outdoor area for relaxing pre or post-pamper. A cottage for children offers age-appropriate play facilities, bikes can be borrowed and there is also an equestrian centre. The city of Bath and National Trust-owned medieval Lacock are both a 20-minute drive away for fun days out.On Carbis Bay, each of these spacious lodges is beautifully styled, with neutral interiors and plenty of luxury add-ons – plus private access to the Blue Flag sandy beach. As the lodges are set within the Carbis Bay Hotel estate, guests have full use of the hotel restaurants, bar and spa facilities. Welcoming touches might include homemade lemon drizzle cake, oat cookies, and freshly baked bread on arrival, and children are welcome to use the outdoor pool. A kids' club runs during school holidays – for example film nights or seasonal mocktail workshops – and children’s tea is served in the restaurant from 5-6pm.
The castle, a country house built in the 1860s, is thrillingly sited on high ground at the northernmost tip of Mull overlooking the Sound of Mull, Ardnamurchan Peninsula, outlying islands and, vivid at sunset in the far distance, the Outer Hebrides. The Nelson family who own Glengorm Castle live in one of the wings, adding to the happy feeling of being in a much-loved private family home. Dinner is not served (local restaurants are open during summer months), but breakfast is fit for a king, at a long table that dates back to the 16th century, with matchless views from the dining room’s bay windows. Another plus is that dogs are welcome – the family spaniels may well come for a walk with you.
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Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers at this 19th-century mansion on a private island, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat sputtering over tranquil water. Inside, the trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall, and there are lots of activities including boat trips from the private pier.
On the western shores of Bryher, this chic beachside retreat showcases one of the finest private art collections and freshest, seasonal cuisine, amidst a spectacular setting. Atlantic rollers crash on the western coast, surrounded by wild moorland, whilst turquoise waters lap white sands on the east. Discover traditional Scillonian tattie cake at the island's shop, homemade fudge at Veronica Farm, local ales at Fraggle Rock and freshly caught shellfish at Island Fish, supplier to Scilly Isles for over 50 years. Finally, climb the five hills of Bryher and watch resident artist, Richard Pearce at work in his beachfront studio.
This historic hotel is one of the Isle of Wight’s most prestigious addresses. Built in 1832, public rooms are lofty and elegant with a polished parquet floor in reception, large mirrors and framed black-and-white prints. A bright conservatory is the place for afternoon tea when the weather’s inclement, but on a fine day head for one of the Lloyd Loom chairs on the pretty trellis-covered terrace overlooking the pool and gardens – or lounge out in the garden itself; the tropical planting hints at the unique microclimate of the area. Elsewhere, expect excellent cuisine, a laid-back atmosphere and lofty rooms.
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To stay on this glamorous little island just a few hundred metres from Bigbury-on-Sea on the south Devon coast is to step back in time to the swinging Thirties, when the likes of Noel Coward and Agatha Christie (who wrote two of her books here) famously flocked. From the chandeliers to the collection of vintage cocktail shakers and original Thirties billiard table, everything in this hotel has been lovingly restored to its Art Deco glory, in keeping with original 1929 architecture. Like the location, facilities are eccentric – there’s a helipad, croquet lawn, tennis court, sauna, and the stunning tidal seawater Mermaid Pool is a treat to dive into.
Haven Hall is located at the seaside end of a short cul-de-sac, seconds from an undulating coast path which leads down to toffee-coloured stretches of Sandown Bay within five minutes. The A-list residence cleverly blends country-house glamour with guesthouse friendliness, and offers grand rooms beside the sea – plus a heated pool, tennis courts and award-winning gardens. There's even a private hut on Sandown’s beach which is free for guests to use. Aided by few passing planes or honking boats, this is a place of perfect tranquility.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House is the epitome of a modern country house hotel pimped up with a dash of bling. The main building, a series of quirkily shaped rooms, is lavish modern country-house. Scattered around the grounds are around a dozen suites in modern Scandi-style or glass-and-wood lodges. A mile away, wrapped in 100 private acres, is the six-bedroom Lake House. There are endless places to lounge around, several terraces, and a charming gazebo. Alpacas and llamas graze in the garden, the latter tinkling with streams and fish-stocked ponds. Maps and walking-routes can be borrowed while Lake House has a tiny spa (bespoke products) with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake, plus hot tubs, saunas and an indoor pool.
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Hambleton Hall might not have a spa, a cookery school or a carefully curated slew of celebrities, but few other hotels can match it for its sense of continuity. The level of comfort, food, welcome and location are all in perfect harmony, and staff tend to stay for years. The hotel occupies a late Victorian house that when it was first built overlooked a small hamlet; since 1978, it has overlooked Rutland Water, the creation of which provided the Midlands with one of its most beautiful and evocative landscapes as well as leisure and sporting activities from sailing to cycling. Views from the gardens, parterre and pool are charming.
This modern chalet-style retreat is tucked away in one of the Lake District’s most picturesque valleys. With vast rooms, feature bathrooms, wood-burning stoves and private terraces, it’s unashamedly sybaritic, and special-occasion pricey. The big differentiator, compared with other Lake District hotels, is the team of hosts who are on hand to sort guests’ whims and queries, from providing a (free) taxi service to advising on walking routes (with maps), kitting them out in boots and wet-weather gear (free to hire) to lighting the room's fireplace. If you don’t want to stray far, there’s a swish spa with extensive thermal experiences, indoor-outdoor relaxation areas and a 20m pool – both the spa and leisure centre are shared with Langdale Hotel.
Sister to Cornish hotel Watergate Bay, this stylishly informal country house, in a plum position on Ullswater, keeps children entertained and grown-ups as active or as chilled as they choose. For those seeking activities outdoors, there’s organised open-water swimming, SUP, kayaking, sailing and archery plus 18 acres of grounds. Indoors, there’s a 20-metre pool and gym, or you can just relax in the hot tub or with a spa treatment. Dogs are also welcome.
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This exceptionally stylish bed and breakfast on the shores of Loch Ness earns every one of its five stars. With luxurious bedrooms, inviting public rooms, one of the best breakfasts in Scotland and glorious loch views from every room, you won’t find a better spot for monster-spotting. You’ll not find many b&bs offering a spa with whirlpool tub and sauna, never mind massage and reflexology treatments (not weekends). Packed lunches are available to order and you can bring your dog, too. A cozy snug, elegant lounge and sun-washed terrace mean there’s always somewhere pleasing to relax.
The Goring is one of those old London favourites – you either know about it or you don’t, and those who do, treasure it. It was opened by Otto Richard Goring in 1910 and remains in the family to this day, beloved by dowager duchesses, lords, ladies, assorted gentlefolk and the Royal family (it’s the only hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant). What makes The Goring special in summer is that it has a huge private garden, surrounded by flower borders and shrubbery, with a central lawn on which croquet is played in the fair-weather months.
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The elegant tone of this luxury hotel in Bath is at once set by curvaceous staircases overseen by classical busts, lounges with chandeliers and oil paintings, and extravagant suites with elaborate stuccoed ceilings. Hidden behind lies the hotel's lovely acre of pristine garden, with mature trees and shrubs, striking modern statuary and wooden tables and chairs on lawns much used for eating and drinking in fine weather – the hotel is famous for its very indulgent afternoon teas. Four further Georgian buildings at the back of the garden house the spa, a contemporary-styled bar and the pretty Dower House Restaurant.
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Opened in 1864, this is Brighton’s grandest dame among the city’s plethora of seafront hotels. The Victorian-Italianate beauty is located between Brighton pier and the ruined west pier in a position that affords it uninterrupted ocean views; so it's an absolute stunner for a summer stay. All Brighton’s major attractions are within 10 minutes’ walk; taxis pull into the forecourt, and guests have access to a bike delivery service for a small charge. Traditional afternoon tea at the Victoria Terrace while watching promenaders dodge wind-whipped waves is a sublime experience, as is drinking cocktails in the bar, a buzzing venue with regular live music (don’t miss the signature Hobden’s Margarita, £10.50). Small platters and brunch are also served in the terrace, or head to Cyan, the hotel’s fish restaurant.
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The four bedrooms above this Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms are as stylish as the food. The contemporary/baroque look (at times surprising, but always sensual) and unexpectedly leafy views, make this a low-key option for a summer trip to Edinburgh. The hotel is located on a Georgian terrace set back from the busy London Road, at the eastern end of the New Town. But it does have a very welcome private garden merging into Calton Hill at the rear. Michelin-starred chef Paul Kitching is a maverick who likes the drama of teasing out unlikely flavour combinations. You're in good hands with a man who can combine brandy snaps, black pudding and chicken into a dish of meltingly subtle delight. The menu changes weekly, which is just as well as you may want to visit on a regular basis.
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Tucked between the historic, largely 17th-century Treasurer's House, the Minster and the medieval city walls, and with the Dean as a neighbour, this is arguably York's smartest address. A very sure eye (owner Helen Heraty) has furnished it with a mix of English and French antiques, modern sofas and contemporary artwork and reportage photography, so it feels elegant and luxurious but relaxed. It's like a stately home without the stuffiness. For an 11-bedroom hotel, Grays Court has a disproportionate number of areas to relax, read your book or recover from a day's shopping and sightseeing. As well as two vast galleries, comfortable with sofas and soft lights, there's a well-stocked library, a cobbled courtyard plus large mature garden with wooden pavilion and steps straight onto the walls (the city's only private house with this access).
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This landmark building had one of the most lavish makeovers the UK had ever seen when it opened as the Corinthia – the scale and quality of the fixtures and fittings provided an impressively contemporary wow-factor, as did the aesthetic that David Collins brought to the bar and restaurants – the Bassoon Bar, with its giant piano that doubles as the actual bar itself, is a great beauty. The flagship ESPA spa, spread over four floors, is definitely one of the best and most pleasingly designed in the city, with acres of black marble and mosaics, hydrotherapy and swimming pools (although if you want peace and quiet, you may want to avoid it between 10am-11.30am and 3pm-6.30pm when children of residents are invited).
An energetic management with an appetite for excellence has overseen a successful refurbishment and the relocation of one of Cambridge's top restaurants, lifting this city-centre hotel from ordinary to boutique. It's located near the southern corner of Parker's Piece, a 25-acre open common, named after a Trinity College cook who farmed it in the 17th century; it is said to be the birthplace of the rules of football and in summer the space comes alive with picnics and locals playing games. It's a real joy, but not quite as joyful as the food at the hotel. When the lease expired on one of Cambridge's gastronomic destinations which hovers on the edge of Michelin star status, the Gonville invited Cotto's chef/restaurateur couple to move to a purpose-built glassed-in space at the front of the hotel. The three-course Cotto menu, costing £70 on weekdays, £75 on weekends, delivers up superlative cooking.
Contributions by Ros Belford, Suzy Bennett, Sophie Butler, Gabriella Le Breton, Mark C. O’Flaherty, Jade Conroy, Hattie Garlick, Susan Griffith, Linda Macdonald, Robin Mckelvie, Natalie Millar-Partridge, Benjamin Parker, Helen Pickles, Louise Roddon, Kerry Walker