A far-flung adventure might feel like the ultimate wishlist trip but, if you know where to go, a UK staycation can offer just as much beauty, adventure and luxury.
With most of us stuck at home in Lockdown 3, now is the ideal time to browse ideas for a summer staycation, for when it’s safe for to travel again.
Choosing a staycation in the UK over a holiday abroad has many advantages. Not only can you leave your passport at home and forget about Covid restrictions overseas, you can usually drive or get the train to your destination, which means no stressful airport security and luggage limits – so you can bring back a plethora of mementos without any hassle at all.
But a UK staycation is much more than a practical convenience. Our cluster of islands are also home to 12,500 miles of rugged coastline, 15 national parks that abound with natural, unkempt beauty and flourishing wildlife, and endless opportunity to indulge in mouthwatering seasonal produce, homegrown wine and local delicacies.
In fact, there are seemingly endless acres of breathtaking countryside and a myriad market towns, honey-hued villages and seaside destinations to explore.
From the lavender-lined path of the world-renowned Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, to the regal Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh – where foodies can tuck in at a Michelin-starred restaurant, an Alain Roux brasserie and the prettiest tea salon in the city – there’s a UK staycation to suit everyone.
So, whether you’ll be celebrating our future freedom with a group trip with the family, an intimate couples getaway or a fabulous solo escape, here are the best UK staycations that make for a wonderful base to start exploring Britain again.
Turns out there really is no place like home…
The Idle Rocks, Cornwall
On the quayside in the traditional fishing village of St Mawes in Cornwall, The Idle Rocks boasts excellent sea views and fresh seafood.
On this UK staycation, the food is sourced locally and the head chef is also a keen forager. Breakfast includes unique twists, such as Birch Tree syrup, and there is also a range of brunch dishes on offer.
You can enjoy a cocktail in the bar, or on the terrace which offers lovely sea views.
The village is home to St Mawes Castle, coastal and inland walks and watersports. Falmouth is a mile away by ferry, which operates year-round and Trelissick Gardens, St Austell and Truro town centres are 30-minutes drive away.
Want to amp up the glamour? You can arrive to The Idle Rocks by boat, on the Falmouth Foot Ferry.
A gorgeous world unto itself, Thyme is Britain’s answer to those rural Tuscan hotels set across dreamy old villages. In this case, the village is honey-stone Southrop, sat prettily beside the River Leach in the Cotswolds.
With a spa and an acclaimed restaurant, it’s a sublime retreat for adults, and attracts sybaritic foodies and city escapees as well as locals. You’ll live exquisitely here, although the price means it’s a UK staycation to book for an extra-special escape.
Amberley Castle, West Sussex
Amberley Castle is the charming English castle of children’s drawings. Some parts of the hotel even date back to the 12th century and inside you’ll find suits of armour, large fireplaces and bedrooms with original features.
The gorgeous 12-acre grounds are neatly edged with hedges and contain the ruins of a Great Hall, destroyed in the English Civil War. Yet the restaurant takes a modern, creative turn, offering tasting menus or three-course à la carte.
Barnsley House, Cotswolds
A honey-stone manor house in a picture-pretty Cotswold village, Barnsley House has stylish interiors, good food, a neat little cinema and a charming spa that backs onto a meadow. But that all plays second fiddle to its famous grounds, devised by gardening legend Rosemary Verey, who lived here from 1951 until her death in 2001.
Now beloved as one of the top hotels in the Cotswolds, Barnsley House is an adults-only retreat – every inch a dreamy destination for romantic getaways, garden aficionados and those seeking a rural escape. Make sure to check out the chickens, who run free behind the stone wall of the manicured gardens.
The Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast
Standing high on the slopes of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim Coastline, is the magnificent Culloden Estate and Spa, a prestigious five-star hotel in Northern Ireland.
Originally built as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, the Culloden stands in 12 acres of beautiful secluded gardens and woodland.
Palatial surroundings, exquisite decor, fine antiques and exceptional service combine to give the Culloden Estate and Spa a unique air of elegance.
With all its tranquil opulence you could be forgiven for thinking the Culloden is a rural retreat, however, this beautiful property has the added advantage of being just 10 minutes from Belfast’s city centre and is conveniently located to many of Northern Ireland’s major visitor attractions.
The Grand Hotel Eastbourne, East Sussex
This magnificent five-star hotel faces the beach from King Edward’s Parade. It offers luxurious accommodation, two award-winning restaurants, and both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
The Grand Hotel Eastbourne has welcomed many famous guests, including Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, no doubt in the collection of rooms that boast spectacular sea views.
Traditional English cuisine is served in the Garden Restaurant. Mirabelle Restaurant has been awarded 2 AA Rosettes, and afternoon tea is available in the hotel’s Great Hall.
The Health Club and Spa features a sauna and steam room and you can enjoy treatments in the beauty salon. The shops and theatres of the town centre can be reached in around 10 minutes on foot.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire
It looks so classically English, with a lavender-lined path leading to a honey-stone Oxfordshire manor. But with both boules and croquet on the lawn, there’s a hint of the marriage of French and British culture inside Le Manoir – a fantastical world created by two Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc.
You know the food is going to be good, but there is another wow factor: the chef has let his creative passion in the kitchen spill out into the bedrooms, which are inspired by his travels and his past.
Service isn’t snooty, but it still manages to be impeccable – Blanc ensures that everything is as perfect as a hotel can be. For a place that feels truly special from the moment you arrive to your departure, look no further than Le Manoir.
Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Devon
There’s no forgetting that you’re beside the water at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel in South Deon. The hotel’s estuary-side seat delivers on views over the quaint harbour – with its sailing boats (not a cruise ship in sight, don’t worry) – from all rooms and particularly if you can nab yourself a prime spot on the terrace.
Rooms have a chic seaside aesthetic, decked out in blue and white, with driftwood and wicker furnishings, and coastal-kitsch knick-knacks dotted around throughout.
And when you’re not out exploring, treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea, pilled high with scones and cream, or take some time out with one of the holistic ESPA treatments available.
Saracen’s Head, Herefordshire
On the banks of the River Wye, the old-world, timbered Saracen’s Head sits at the edge of the River Wye and is just three miles from Goodrich Castle and six miles from the Forest of Dean.
The 10 simple, bright rooms boast river views and upgraded rooms in a boathouse annexe have seating areas, and a balcony. Drinks and dinners can be enjoyed on the outdoor terraces, with gorgeous river views, and for late-night tipples we advise retiring to the pub inside.
Hever Castle, Kent
Surrounded by glorious Kent countryside, Hever Castle’s B&B offers 28 luxury bedrooms in the Astor Wing and the Anne Boleyn Wing, both Edwardian Wings, designed in Tudor style.
If you’re looking for a regal staycation with quirky yet luxurious character, this is one place worth checking out.
The Astor Wing offers a beautifully panelled lounge with deep sofas and a selection of books and magazines for guests to relax with during their stay. There’s also a rather splendid Billiards Room to be discovered.
The Anne Boleyn Wing enjoys its own beautiful Breakfast Room which is flooded with natural daylight and offers window seats looking out across the orchard to the Castle.
Newbridge on Usk Boutique Hotel, Monmouthshire
Housed in a characterful, 200-year old country inn in the Monmouthshire countryside, the Newbridge on Usk boasts an a la carte restaurant, stunning river views and a relaxed feel. Furnished in oak and teak, each room boasts a roll-top bath and the kitchen garden and outside terrace are good spots in warmer weather.
You can also use all the facilities of the five-star sister property The Celtic Manor (eight miles away), including six restaurants, three 18-hole championship golf courses and two spas, with complimentary transfers available.
Rock House, Scotland
Home and studio of early photography pioneers Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill, this fascinating house (said to be one of the oldest in the city) with separate annexe and belvedere studio is set in a commanding yet secluded city-centre position near the foot of Calton Hill.
Imaginatively restored and skilfully styled, Rock House is an attractive take on high-Victorian meets uncluttered contemporary. The flexible space makes it perfect for friends or extended families, with sufficient privacy, whether in a group or separately renting the apartment or studio.
There’s a garden, courtyard and terrace, but the unique location means parking away from the house with access involving steps, so it’s not suitable for those with limited mobility.
The Victoria Inn, Norfolk
Close to one of the most beautiful, isolated beaches, this genteelly refurbished pub on the Earl of Leicester’s Holkham estate is ideal for exploring the north Norfolk coast.
At The Victoria Inn, Enthusiastic staff welcome locals, tourists and their dogs to the open-plan bar, where hunting trophies and taxidermied wildfowl are displayed; in the dining rooms, local produce (beef from the estate; shellfish, fish and samphire from local waters) dictates the daily specials on the unfussy menu.
Bedrooms and family-friendly suites in country-cottage hues have a few antiques and plenty of perks, including a mini-fridge with complimentary drinks. A plus, for Ancient House residents is the walled rose garden, for the sun and the scent.
The Balmoral, Edinburgh
One of Edinburgh’s two great railway hotels, its clocktower (traditionally set a few minutes fast) still dominates Princes Street. The Balmoral has everything you could desire from a grand hotel, including a fabulous Michelin-starred restaurant, an Alain Roux brasserie and the prettiest tea salon in the city (complete with harp player).
Be pampered in the indulgent spa, take a dip in the 15-metre pool or check out the impressively stocked SCOTCH Whisky Bar. It’s got every service imaginable, not to mention 167 stylish bedrooms (and 20 suites). With staff that are both peerless and personal, don’t worry about the size, just feel the luxury.
The Masons Arms, Devon
The Masons Arms’ in Branscombe, believed to be the longest village in England, occupies a position nestled amongst the quaint thatched cottages, with a luscious hilly backdrop.
The 14th century thatched inn boasts 27 contemporary bedrooms, a cosy bar complete with inglenook fireplace and a comfortable, relaxed ambience.
The area sweeps towards Branscombe Beach, a long shingle cove, where keen walkers can join the South West Coastal Path and less keen0walkers can dip their toes in the cool (read: chilly) waters.
Meander into the village to explore its working forge and grab a baked treat from the old bakery, or venture further afield to take advantage of fossil hunting along the Jurassic Coast.
Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire
Set within the peaceful village of Goldsborough, this 17th-century hall is just a short drive away from the historic spa town of Harrogate and the market town of Knaresborough.
However, you needn’t leave the grounds of Goldsborough Hall to feel as though you’re really immersing yourself in local culture. Enjoy afternoon tea in the oak-panelled library or a leisurely drink in Princess Mary’s Drawing Room and, if the weather is good, take a stroll around the Royal Gardens which wrap round the hall.
Careys Manor Hotel, New Forest
Just a nine-minute walk from Brockenhurst train station and seven miles from the Beaulieu National Motor Museum, this luxe hotel and spa retreat is set in a manor house dating to 1888.
Careys Manor in the heart of the New Forest, offers guests luxury accommodation, with a two AA Rosette award-winning cuisine and a gym and swimming pool.
The two AA Rosette award-winning restaurants include Cambium, a creative and enchanting dining experience, and the hotel’s French restaurant Le Blaireau offers simple, high quality authentic French cuisine.
Explorers can grab a pair of wellington boots and a map from the desk, order a picnic, and head out on the circular meander through the woodlands and Puttles Bridge.
The Swan at Lavenham, Suffolk
The Swan’s timber-framed set of buildings look as though they are straight out of the pages of a quaint story book and occupy pride of place within the old Tudor wool village of Lavenham.
The village itself – whose main square is just 30 seconds walk away – boasts a famous bakery serving all manner of sandwiches and sweet treats, the notable Guildhall and a 15th-century church, all encircled by half-timbered medieval cottages.
In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England and The Swan certainly upholds an air of refined charm.
Service is friendly and professional, and the hotel has a bar, two restaurants, two car parks, a spa and garden and a very comfy lounge that wraps around most of the ground floor.
The spa, a relatively recent addition, with its ultra-modern facilities is in stark contrast to the creaky, wood-clad corridors of the original building, but the two seem to merge seamlessly.
Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Cumbria
The family-owned Gilpin Hotel and Lake House has it nailed when it comes to a modern country house hotel that combines the best of tradition with the excitement of the new. The original Edwardian villa – with its sprawling lounges, smart Michelin-starred dining and super-comfortable bedrooms – has expanded into a swathe of chic lodges and garden suites, plus a vibrant, pan-Asian second restaurant.
And if you want the cosier charm of – almost – a private house, there’s Lake House, a mile down the road and wrapped in 100 acres of woodland. Service throughout is tip-top yet friendly, and the overall feel is of indulgent privacy – though some may feel it’s almost too quiet.
Certainly this is the place to switch off and chill out – with spa treatments, too, if you’re in Lake House or a spa lodge.
The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath
This hotel is quintessentially Bath. With an unrivalled location behind the landmark facade of the sweeping Georgian crescent, the Royal Crescent Hotel occupies two five-storey original period homes. The exceptional Regency-era hospitality begins as you walk in the door and you’re immediately shown into the drawing room.
From there, the experience continues with original fireplaces, decorative mouldings, sedan chairs peeking out from under the stairs and landscaped gardens in keeping with the period, where you can enjoy alfresco dining and barbecues in summer.
Afternoon teas are served alongside fine dining in the elegant Dower House. The original coach house is now the bath house spa – a relaxing sanctuary where you can bathe in the pool and rejuvenate with a facial and massages.
Four Seasons Hotel, Hampshire
Set on a 500-acre country estate, this elegant hotel in a Georgian mansion is two miles from Dogmersfield village and six miles from Farnham Castle.
At the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, there’s a plush spa with a heated indoor/outdoor pool and a fitness centre. Dining options include a fine-dining restaurant, a refined bar with a fireplace, and a library lounge offering afternoon tea. Other amenities include a treetop zipline course and bike rentals, plus activities such as tennis, horse riding and fishing – ideal if you’re thinking of bringing the extended family along for the ride.
North House, Isle of Wight
Occupying a handsome townhouse, which was once a theatre, at the top of a small lane in the sailors’ mecca of Cowes, North House is a chic and welcoming 14-room bolthole by the sea.
There are large lanterns, a buzzy cocktail bar and a lovely brasserie serving fresh seafood downstairs, and upstairs, beautiful bedrooms with huge beds, clawfoot tubs or wet rooms stocked with Ren products.
Outside, there’s a walled garden – a perfect sunbathing spot in the summer – and a shaded seating area with firepit and blankets if you fancy an outdoor, evening tipple. A croquet lawn and a small heated pool are also at your disposal.
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