Planning a staycation? We've selected the best budget and mid-range beds around Britain offering the perfect place to get some shut eye before exploring some of the country's most idyllic and interesting locations from Ben Nevis to the Yorkshire Dales to the Purbeck Coast.
Price index Budget = £ / Mid-range = ££.
Falmouth Town House, Falmouth
Given its arty air, Falmouth was long overdue a hotel with design flair – and with the arrival of Falmouth Town House, crafted with care from an incredibly handsome double-fronted Georgian house, it finally has one. The ten rooms at this retro-styled hotel are artfully scattered with vintage modernist design classics, original art and bespoke furniture, amassed with care by the owners, as well as equipped with king-sized beds, spacious luxury bathrooms (with toiletries from natural specialists Korres) and an unbeatable location in the centre of town – right opposite the harbour and the National Maritime Museum. The cool little bar in the reception rooms serving tapas, wines and cocktails is a neat addition.
With the desolate Penwith moorland on one side and the foaming Atlantic on the other, this country inn with restaurant and rooms is ideal for that weekend when you really want to get away from it all. Located a touch west of the pretty village of Zennor, the coastal pub sits a few fields away from the namesake Gurnard’s Head, a spectacular rocky outcrop (shaped like a gurnard’s head) that takes you out into the Atlantic for great views of the cliffs on either side and the feeling of the wind in your hair (and quite possibly the Cornish drizzle on your anorak).
Rooms are simple and comfortable, and though the upmarket menu and rustic chic decor place Gurnard’s squarely in the gastropub category, the food is fuss-free – this is hearty British comfort food of the highest order: the likes of pork belly with mash, cabbage, cider and thyme; rabbit and partridge terrine; and, of course, the mother of all Sunday roasts. The Inkins are firm believers in ‘the simple things in life done well’. So, now, are we – along with hundreds of other hungry hikers, urban refugees and locals getting together for a big family roast – so booking is recommended.
Half an hour’s walk inland from the coast at Durdle Door, close to Lulworth Camp, Burngate is a sturdy, stonebuilt old farmhouse, in part dating back to the Middle Ages. The chosen HQ of Rob da Bank and his crew for the first Camp Bestival at Lulworth Castle in 2008, it has three very comfortable first-floor double bedrooms – French beds, cotton sheets, plenty of books – all with their own bathrooms. Guests are also welcome to use the large sitting room downstairs, with its wood-burning stove, mags, TV and generous sofas, where they might even be joined by Guinness, the cheerful pointer belonging to proprietors Sophie and David Weld-Davies. Lifts to the pub are all part of the service, though not after midnight, wedding guests should take note. Exceptionally good breakfasts are served in the dining room: homemade bread, kippers from Bideford, and Dorset oats in the porridge.
This extraordinary old stone tower of a house on the edge of Lulworth Castle’s park – you can just see the castle’s chapel over a distant ridge – probably dates from the 17th century. It has been both a farmhouse and a gamekeeper’s house in its time but looks as though it was destined to be part of something much more impressive. Guests get to stay in the roof, up a steep and wide old wooden staircase, where there are two rooms, simply furnished and perfectly clean, one with a free-standing roll-top bath in the corner. There’s a quirky little sitting area on the landing, while breakfast is served downstairs in the dining room, with its huge fireplace, log-burning stove, and stone-mullioned windows. All in all, Park Lodge has got a lot of character, and Hennie Weld runs the place with enthusiasm and charm.
This B&B bills itself, with typical eccentric humour, as ‘a mini country hotel’. Mini indeed: it’s a tiny 17th-century cottage on a narrow cobbled street whose front door opens directly into the living room/diner. Here you’ll likely find the proprietor, retired catering scientist Daphne Forbes, along with her home-made cakes: non-guests are welcome for afternoon tea, and guests are offered all-day refreshments, plus candlelit silver-service dinner. The three rooms are small, pretty, a tad old-fashioned and excellent value.
Waddington, 2 miles N of Clitheroe The Square, Forest of Bowland (01200 422367). No credit cards. ££.
Park House is a bit of a find: it has all the charms of a small, personal hotel and none of the institutional tics of the B&B that it really is, with concommitantly reasonable prices. It’s a handsome Georgian house opposite Gisburn church, with five rooms and a beautifully furnished guest lounge. Proprietor Glenis Jollys has a passion for antiquing and an eye for style: the rooms are furnished with pretty and individual one-off pieces, and the details are thoughtful. Beds are comfortable, glasses are cut glass, the flowers fresh and the fires real. Park House doesn’t serve dinner, but there’s a decent pub nearby, the White Bull, along with a smart and friendly Italian restaurant, La Locanda.
Location is everything here: the three cosy double rooms available above the three bars of this rambling old pub in the middle of lovely Hambleden make a good base for walks up into the Chiltern hills. The rooms are nothing special, but the pub does reasonable food and is still very much part of the village community.
This refurbished inn isn't quite in the league of the Priory Bay hotel, the George or the Hambrough, but it's a great east island base, nestled in the centre of Bembridge village, and its 14 en-suite rooms are comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Fresh local fish and lobster, alongside a great range of ales and wine from a good list, are served in the cosy bar, or you can eat in the pretty garden room, where the warm colours and Mediterranean feel of the space, overlooking the patio and garden, will make you feel you're somewhere more exotic than England.
There are just two rooms in this charming B&B, situated in the early 14th-century annexe to 17th-century Gotten Manor on the rugged south of the island, but both are beautifully decorated, with limewashed walls, quality textiles and polished wooden floors. They are as luxurious as any first-rate hotel, housing rosewood double beds, sofas and huge cast-iron baths, with fluffy white robes, soft towels, crisp bedlinen, fresh flowers and candles completing the picture of loving care and attention to detail. Breakfast, served in either the walled garden or the former creamery, is as good as you would expect; local and organic produce features heavily, as do home-made jams, yoghurt and smoothies. Three attractive self-catering cottages in converted barns are also available to hire for weekends or whole weeks in this highly recommended, unique, discreet hideaway.
A functional, unfussy affair set in the comfortable frame of a former Lakeland mill, with a hilltop location and stunning views across the valley to Skiddaw, the lemon yellow Coledale Inn remains a firm favourite with families. Facilities are limited to a suitably cavernous Victorian bar, a bright and airy restaurant (serving cheap and cheerful pub-style grub) and a small residents’ lounge furnished with a few battered sofas, a handful of antique lamps and a well-worn Persian rug. The 24 rooms are simply furnished, but all are clean and cosy and many have superb valley views.
Delightfully idiosyncratic Cley is a great place to hole up for a night or two, and this pretty country inn makes an appealingly calm base. All 12 rooms are unfussy, furnished in neutral colours and delicate fabrics. Rooms 3, 4 and 5 offer glorious views and plenty of space, the attic rooms are cosier but have the same expansive views across the marshes. Food in the understated, modern restaurant ranges from sandwiches to an à la carte menu of simply cooked and reasonably priced dishes.
On its ground floor, this pleasantly ramshackle 16th-century country pub serves crowd-pleasing bar meals (bowls of mussels, fish and chips) alongside a full restaurant menu and real ales to an appreciative wide-ranging clientele (dogs and children welcome). Upstairs and in the adjacent building, the Lifeboat offers 14 light-filled, pine-furnished rooms prettily decorated with patchwork quilts and bright fabrics and featuring big comfy beds. Some have views over the marshes and across Thornham harbour to the sea, but the pub’s location (away from the main road) means all the rooms have decent views. Free Wi-Fi is included, and the huge hearty breakfast should send you on your way sated and happy.
Part village pub, part smart restaurant and part boutique hotel, the Rose & Crown makes a lovely base from which to explore nearby Sandringham and Hunstanton. The setting, on the edge of the large village of Snettisham – near the church and opposite the cricket pitch – is serene. Three snug bars are at the centre of the pub, the oldest part of which dates from the 14th century. The 16 bedrooms are more modern and pleasingly varied, from oak-panelled spaces to contemporary, pastel-hued rooms in the extension. All are bright and pretty, with a note of luxury provided by power showers, Molton Brown toiletries, bottled mineral water and Wi-Fi, magazines and books. There’s ample choice for breakfast, including a vegetarian assembly, a whole kipper (with poached egg and spinach) as well as a hefty full English.
In a mildly forbidding Victorian mansion set on a steep wooded hillside enlivened by curious open-air artworks, the hotel isn’t the raison d’être of Broomhill, but it’s perfectly serviceable and pretty good value. There are only six rooms and so long as you’re not expecting luxury – the shower rooms are tiny and the beds aren’t the best – you’ll appreciate the adventurous vibe established by the welcoming Dutch owners and curators Rinus and Aniet van de Sande. The mellow Terra Madre restaurant espouses the ‘slow food’ philosophy, and features a menu with a faintly incongruous Mediterranean slant. The sitting room gallery is just the place to enjoy a Somerset apple brandy digestif. Barnstaple Muddiford Road, North Devon (01271 850262/www.broomhillart.co.uk). ££.
Anthony and Sandy Sharpe’s welcoming home could hardly be more secluded (just north of the B3227). It’s an old mill-house nestling in a hidden valley near the confluence of two streams, with a wonderful orchard garden. This B&B is strictly for animal lovers (the Sharpes keep three Labradors and several cats), but guests get their own wing of the house, with three bedrooms on the first floor and a sitting/dining room at ground level. Goose-down duvets and superior cotton sheets make for a blissful night’s rest. Breakfasts feature fabulous porridge or eggs done any which way. Anthony will happily regale you with local information. Nr Umberleigh, 10 miles S of Barnstaple, North Devon (01769 540326/www.fordmill.uniquehomestays.com). ££.
Hartland Quay Hotel
A quirky establishment on the farthest-flung outpost of Hartland. The location is unmatchable, and remains the hotel’s strongest reason for recommendation – vast waves lash at the fantastic jagged rocks of the north Devon coast just a hundred yards from the door. Inside, the rooms are basic and functional, and only those on the upper storey have good views. Corridors and stairs are decorated in an alarming white and pea-green colour scheme. The Wreckers Retreat bar, with its log-cabin look and plastic fish on the walls, is a spirited place, featuring an awe-inspiring chart of where ships have foundered on the terrifying coast. This is not such a bad place to have washed up in. Hartland, North Devon (01237 441218/www.hartlandquayhotel.com). ££.
Joiners Shop Bunkhouse
You don't expect luxury in a bunkhouse, but you hope for somewhere clean, well run and welcoming, and that's just what proprietors Wal and Annie Wallace provide. There are 18 bunks, arranged in curtained-off dormitories. The bunkhouse has self-catering facilities, but meals and packed lunches are provided if requested in advance. You can either bring a sleeping bag or rent them here. Joiners is in a rural area, with easy access to the A1 and coast, and a nearby railway stop at Chathill. Preston, Nr Chathill (10 miles N of Alnwick), Northumberland Coast (01665 589245/www.bunkhousenorthumberland.co.uk). No credit cards. £.
Crown & Anchor
The Crown & Anchor’s guest rooms – at least three of the four – have the best views available to anybody staying on Holy Island, with outlooks over priory, castle and bay. Rooms are simply furnished and clean, and the proprietors, islander Keith Shell and all-but-islander wife Rachel, are good hosts. The pub, decorated with old photos of fishermen, has an open coal fire and serves good pub food.
Jeff and Jill Sutheran took a semi-derelict Presbyterian church and turned it into an exemplary modern B&B. Here you’ll find all the comfort and most of the refinements of a major hotel, but also the personal service and human contact of the best B&Bs. The cooked breakfast is excellent. Guest rooms are clean and well thought out, but the highlight is the communal area, with natural light flooding through the arched windows of the old church, and the old lectern repositioned in the overlooking gallery. It’s a glorious space, ideal for relaxing in at day’s end. Jeff and Jill are musicians, and if you ask, Jill might play the Northumbrian small pipes.
The Victoria looks over the village green in Bamburgh. Only three new additions to its 37 rooms have views towards the castle; the rest look towards the parish church, the sea beyond, or inland to the Cheviots. Superior rooms have four-poster beds, and are decorated in earthy colours in keeping with the pleasing Victorian feel of the hotel. The ambience is enhanced by winding staircases leading up to some rooms.
If you're not averse to cosying up with a few strangers (bunkhouse accommodation is in three dormitories), then there couldn't be a much more convenient spot to lay your head before an ascent of the big mountain - the main path up Ben Nevis starts right outside the door. Sleeping conditions are a little cramped, to say the least, but to help you drop off in such confined surroundings there's a lively bar with reasonably priced simple meals and a decent selection of malts on offer.
Indulge in some country house grandeur by sleeping in a four-poster bed in the Victorian mansion on the Cambo Estate. As well as three sumptuous bed and breakfast suites, there are five self-catering apartments in the main house, and three self-catering cottages by the main gate. Tennis courts, basketball, a games room and a children’s play area are also available.
It’s old-school Scottish but has the advantage of being right at the water’s edge. This is no longer the East Neuk proper, but a convenient halfway point en route from the bright lights of Leven and Kirkaldy. The crepuscular bar and restaurant are popular with locals.
An 18th-century coaching inn with a decent, if rather retro, restaurant and sun terrace. Expect pleasant, comfortable and unpretentious rooms (two doubles and three twins) and a friendly welcome. Golf packages are available.
Situated right in the heart of Glencoe, a couple of miles south-east of Glencoe village, this 300-year-old inn is a classic climbers' and walkers' staging post. There are 23 en-suite bedrooms. Food is a Highland theme menu, with haggis, venison casserole and clootie dumpling all making an appearance. The boots bar, with a cracking open fire, has loads of live music and malts galore, perfect for elaborating on that overhang you climbed earlier in the day. Glencoe, Scotland (01855 811252/www.clachaig.com). £.
Kings House Hotel, Glencoe
Built in the 18th century, the Kings House Hotel sits in splendid isolation, just off the A82 opposite Glencoe's most famous peak, Buchaille Etive Mor. The 22 bedrooms could do with some updating, but after a day on the hills, most guests are generally after a comfy bed, a hearty meal and a large dram, and the Kings House wins through on all three counts. The climbers' bar at the back of the hotel is a lively place to numb the pain after a day on the hills. Glencoe, Scotland (01855 851259/www.kingy.com). £.
Stein Inn, North-west Skye
Want to stay in a small and simple 18th-century inn? Thanks to some illustrious venues, Skye is often associated with the upper end of the hotel market, although a more economical bed for the night is a welcome addition to the island’s hotel roster. The rooms at the Stein Inn, up on Loch Bay, are simple in decor, the seafood is fresh (weather permitting) and there’s a decent bar with around 125 single malt whiskies to choose from, some cask ales too. No frills, good atmosphere.
Stein, Waternish, 6 miles N of Dunvegan, North-west Skye (01470 592 362/www.steininn.co.uk). ££.
Bridges Long Mynd Youth Hostel
This former village school became a youth hostel in 1931. Present owners Mick and Gill Boulton bought it in 1990 and have devoted themselves to its running ever since. A full catering service is available, including packed lunches and evening meals. The Shropshire Way passes the hostel's front door, there's a large garden, and Mick bought the stream some years ago. With 37 beds, including two family rooms. Watch out for the Natterer's bats that live in the attic. Nr Ratlinghope (2.5 miles NW of Church Stratton), Shropshire Hills (01588 650656/www.yha.org.uk). No credit cards. £.
Boasting a secluded, postcard-perfect setting in a lush valley, this stone mill house (closed Nov-Feb) is one of the area’s most appealing accommodation options. The oldest parts of the house date from 1640, but beautiful old furniture is complemented by tasteful hints of modernity. Birches Mill is popular with walkers, as the Shropshire Way and Offa’s Dyke paths are nearby. Be sure to pick up a jar or two of the moreish, own-made jams and chutneys before you leave.
Enticing in summer and dramatic in winter, the Jinlye’s location could scarcely be bettered, offering amazing views and terrific walking opportunities. The stone guest house, built as a crofter’s cottage in the 18th century, does a fine job at living up to its location. All six rooms are individually decorated, with handsome antique furniture: The Wild Moor room has a 17th-century bed complete with intricately carved headboard.
Castle Hill, All Stretton, 1 mile N of Church Stretton, Shropshire Hills (01694 723243/www.jinlye.co.uk). ££.
Ward Farm Bed & Breakfast
Set among beautifully peaceful countryside is 120 acres devoted to organically rearing beef, sheep, pigs, chicken and goats. The Batemans, who also run the B&B, will show guests around and let you pat the friendlier Herefords (cattle) and admire the handsome Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshire pigs. The three guestrooms are light, airy and spotless, the atmosphere friendly, and the milk is free. It’s a delightful place to stay. There’s also a small campsite. Nr Westhope, 3 miles NE of Craven Arms, Shropshire Hills (01584 861601/www.wardfarm.co.uk). ££.
This unspoilt Elizabethan manor house (built in 1585) is a youth hostel as well as a National Trust property. Set in grounds below Wenlock Edge, the building is largely unaltered and features a wonderful oak spiral staircase, a grand dining room and original garderobes (no longer in use). There are five family rooms and four dormitories, plus a bar serving local beers and wines. An unforgettable place to stay. Nr Longville in the Dale (10 miles SW of Much Wenlock), Shropshire Hills (0845 371 9149/www.yha.org.uk). No credit cards. £.
Boutique hotels might be relatively commonplace these days, but boutique B&Bs are far more unusual. However, the best place to stay in Cirencester is just such an establishment – within a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse in the centre of town you’ll find four large, immaculately groomed bedrooms with extra long beds (maybe a French bateau lit or antique leather sleigh bed), feather pillows and sleek, contemporary bathrooms (equipped with Molton Brown toiletries and bathrobes). Friendly service and a good breakfast included in the price are further attractions.
Probably Llandudno’s best guesthouse, Carmen is affectionately tended and a pleasure to visit. All rooms are uniquely decorated and have en suite facilities. A major refurb and redesign in 2008 earned it Wales’s four-star guest accommodation status, but it’s the personal touches from the charming owners that make the place stand out.
The Old Smithy B&B lives up to its characterful name. It's a 200-year-old cottage in a sleepy hamlet, with low beamed ceilings, exposed brickwork and antique furniture, complemented by shiny modern bathrooms. Barafundle Bay, one of Wales's most treasured beaches, is a short drive away, but so are a range of other supreme strands, including Freshwater West, Broadhaven, and a little further afield, Tenby and Manorbier. Other attractions include birdwatching at Stack Rocks and the nearby Bosherton Lily Ponds.
7 Merrion Village (3 miles W of Castlemartin), Merrion, Pembrokeshire Coast (01646 661310). No credit cards. £.
Cefn y Dre
High above Fishguard, Cefn y Dre has bucolic views of the Preseli Hills, framed by an acre of gardens and mature ash, sycamore and yew trees. It’s also got history: the house dates back to the 15th century, and more recently, Lloyd George stayed here. Though the house has classically proportioned rooms and handsome Regency and Victorian touches, it has an unpretentious and informal feel. Rooms are comfortable and mumsy – lots of beige, with the odd piece of antique furniture handed down from the family of owner Gaye Williams. Indeed, Cefn y Dre’s biggest selling point is the personal touches offered by Williams and her husband Geoff Stickler: there are family heirlooms and oil paintings, but more importantly, personal advice on where to go walking and birdwatching, and where to eat in Fishguard and Newport. They know it all, and will tell you as you sip tea by one of the crackling fires in the homely drawing room or elegant dining room.
Not too long ago, the Grove would have been a simple chain pub where you could grab a cheap room for the night in St Davids. Nowadays, Welsh pub chain Brains is trying to take it more upmarket. The menu has gastropub aspirations, and if you wanted to be trendy you could call it ‘a restaurant with rooms’, though the whole place still feels chainy and slightly middle of the road. Upstairs, the seven bedrooms are going for a boutique look, with white duvets, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi access. It’s all very comfortable, if not memorable, and offers very good value for money.
The main attraction of Stackpole Inn is its proximity to Barafundle Bay and the Pembrokeshire coastal path. But it has plenty of other charms. With its ivy-covered stone walls, gabled windows and sweet garden, the 17th-century inn is the epitome of quaintness. Yet the four bedrooms are cool and contemporary (and two have pullout sofas for family stays). The area’s best local grub is offered downstairs. Served in a modern rustic setting, the food comprises classy gastropub fare – such as Welsh Black beef steaks, Welsh cheeses, Tenby crab, Pembroke sausages – and a selection of real ales.
Some say that Pembrokeshire is like Cornwall was 40 years ago. The Warpool Court Hotel could make a similar claim: there’s a distinct whiff of the ’70s about this country house hotel. The decor is formal but fusty, comfortable but forgettable. It’s the views, however, that will linger in the mind. Built majestically on the edge of a cliff, the hotel boasts vintage Atlantic vistas, complemented by formal, statue-filled gardens that open on to the coastal paths. The hotel attracts a seasonal cast of regulars, of the type who prefer tradition to trendiness and scenery to style, who might enjoy a game of croquet before dining amid the white tablecloths, chandeliers and frilly drapes of the retro dining room. Still, the glass-covered, heated indoor swimming pool is a unique selling point in these parts. And those amazing views trump designer makeovers any day.
A retro American-style motel in traditional St Davids? It sounds unlikely, but the Waterings is more 1960s motorway than 1860s cobblestone – a sprawling one-storey building with rooms that open on to a courtyard, and a deliciously kitsch lobby filled with conch shells and shark’s teeth. The marine paraphernalia is a nod to the Waterings’ former incarnation, as a tourist aquarium. Back in 1989, it was converted into a motel, but the family held on to its heritage, hence the pond of koi carp. All the fishy stuff goes well with the motel’s nautical motif (buoys flank the entrance and the rooms have cute names like First Mate, Cabin Boy, and so on). Rooms are done up in pine furniture, all have a double and a twin, and many possess skylights. And, in contrast to its American counterparts, this is one motel where the car isn’t king: you can walk into the centre of St Davids in ten minutes. St Davids Anchor Drive, High Street, Pembrokeshire Coast (01437 720876/www.waterings.co.uk). ££.
Grinton Youth Hostel
A handsome old shooting lodge set above the village sleeps 59 in a variety of family bunk rooms. The Salt House annexe takes 12. Both can be hired for exclusive use.