We’ve scoured the home counties and beyond to find unusual and easy weekend breaks in the UK. So if you’re after an intimate love nest or a warm and family-friendly retreat, this is the perfect place for you to start.
Less than £100
The Old Rectory
A beautiful, family-run gothic-style B&B, with six large, individually designed rooms, each with an ensuite bathroom. Award-winning breakfasts are served in the dining room, and the Dean’s Room has a snug four-poster bed.
Lacock, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 2JZ (01249 730 335, www.oldrectorylacock.co.uk). Room rates Doubles from £75 per night; a second night is half price.
Garden Room at Thomas Cottage
A characterful self-contained studio room set down a single-track country lane. The bed is on a mezzanine in the eaves, accessed by a ladder. The owners will leave a starter pack of food in the kitchenette – including wine.
Wepham, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9RG (01903 885 923, www.thomascottage.co.uk). Room rates £99 per night with a discount for additional nights.
Hut by the Pond
A tiny lakeside hut surrounded by woodland on an organic farm in the Cotswolds. Romantically basic (wood-burning stove, gas ring, outdoor loo, BYO bedding).
Abbey Home Farm, Burford Rd, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 5HF (01285 640 441, www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk). Room rates A bargain at £50 for two for the night.
A short walk from the beach, this guesthouse offers sea-view rooms, and owners Jenny and Gabrielle will make you feel like you’re in your own home rather than theirs.
47 Mallon Dene, Rustington, West Sussex, BN16 2JP (01903 775383, www.mallondene.co.uk). Room rates Rooms are £35-£50 per person per night (minimum two nights), which includes a hearty breakfast made with local fare.
For those looking to cosy up in the woods this popular campsite is in a magical location at the foot of the South Downs. If you’re not into tents, there’s a London bus (sleeps four), a wooden gypsy caravan or a 1960s version called the Bubble (each sleeping two).
Streat Lane, Streat, East Sussex, BN6 8RS (01273 890 035, www.blackberrywood.com). Rates Bus £50; caravans £20-£35 per night.
Waters End Barn
Set within idyllic rural surroundings near the village of Benenden, this converted barn has underfloor heating and a wood-burner to ensure you and your squeeze stay warm. It sleeps four, with a kingsize master bedroom and a twin room. There is also fishing and boules.
Play lord or lady of the manor at one of English Heritage’s 13 holiday properties, which range from from cute cottages to castles, and ruined abbeys to rambling grand estates. Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll be in an unusual building. If you opt for a stay in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, banish any images of a cold, dank dungeon: you’ll be kipping in a swish second-floor apartment (sleeping a family of four) within the walls.
A must for oenophiles, this tastefully renovated farmhouse offers comfortable accommodation within England’s largest vineyard. There are seven modern, double ensuite rooms and a full English breakfast is served in the airy conservatory.
London Rd, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6AA (01306 876 616, www.denbiesvineyard.co.uk). Room rates Prices start at £95 per room based on two people sharing.
The Inn with the Well
The Inn with the Well is a traditional pub with rooms offering two-night breaks for £99 per person including breakfast, a newspaper and a three-course dinner each night. By day, go boutique shopping in Marlborough, explore the countryside or find your pagan side at Avebury Stone Circle.
Marlborough Rd, Ogbourne St George, Wiltshire, SN8 1SQ (01672 841 445, www.theinnwiththewell.co.uk). Room rates Doubles from £55 per night.
If you’ve never made it to Mongolia but hanker after a night in a yurt, try these ones, set within traditional English woodland. Rented together and providing accommodation for up to four, they are the ultimate in alternative luxury and, thanks to the wood-burning stoves, you won’t feel the cold. The owners, who built the yurts from recycled materials, also grow their own vegetables and keep chickens.
Stubb Lane, Brede, East Sussex TN31 6BN (01424 883 057, www.barefoot-yurts.co.uk). Rates Indulge guilt-free from £115 per night for couples – just remember to take a torch.
This row of sea-wall huts is often booked out in high season but fairweather holidaymakers tend to overlook them in the chilly months. Snug and warm, with sea views (apart from hut six), they’re peaceful places to hibernate with a companion. Brave the Kent winds to hang out at the renowned Whitstable Oyster Fishery Restaurant or enjoy a generous full English at the Hotel Continental, through which the huts can be booked.
29 Beachwalk, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 2BP (01227 280 280, www.hotelcontinental.co.uk). Rates Weekend booking for a two-person hut with a sea view is £260 for two nights.
The Olde Bell Inn
Dating back to 1135, this picturesque inn has been reinvented by Ilse Crawford of Soho House fame to offer a modern and luxurious rural retreat. Each room is simply and stylishly furnished. The bar beckons with its open fire and local ales and the restaurant has delicious seasonal and locally sourced food.
High St, Hurley, Berkshire SL6 5LX (01628 825 881, www.theoldebell.co.uk). Room rates Rooms from £125 per night. Valentine's deals Opt for the Valentine’s package and for £285 per couple you’ll be treated to a luxurious night of indulgence with bubbly on arrival, chocolates and a three-course dinner, with a Champagne breakfast in bed.
Gerard Basset is one of the best sommeliers this side of the Channel. He co-founded the Hotel du Vin chain but has since downsized to this gorgeous boutique hotel. The restaurant’s wine list is all you’d expect from a Master of Wine with an international reputation to uphold, and the food does it justice. You’re well placed to explore the New Forest, but you may not make it beyond the front door.
174 Woodlands Rd, Woodlands, Netley Marsh, New Forest, Hampshire, SO40 7GL (023 8029 3784, www.hotelterravina.co.uk). Room rates Rooms from £135-£230 per night.
This picturesque chocolate-box cottage sits in its own secluded garden on the Belmont estate. There is an Aga in the spacious kitchen and an open log fire to keep you warm. It sleeps five people in one master double, a twin and a single room.
Belmont Park, Throwley, Kent, ME13 0HH (01233 813 087, www.mulberrycottages.com). Room rates Minimum of two nights at £159 per night.
The Angel Hotel
Not many hotels boast both Charles Dickens and Angelina Jolie as former guests. This 75-room Georgian hotel, a former coaching inn, is situated in the heart of tiny Bury St Edmunds, overlooking the cathedral.
3 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1LT (01284 714 000, www.theangel.co.uk). Room rates Dine on Modern British cuisine in the restaurant and stay from £100 per night with a full Suffolk breakfast.
Salthouse Harbour Hotel
Converted in 2003, this large hotel was formerly a harbour warehouse. Rooms vary, with some featuring freestanding copper baths, underfloor heating and views of the marina, as well as iPod docks and Ren toiletries. The staff are warmly welcoming. Neptune Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AX (01473 226 789, www.salthouseharbour.co.uk). Valentine's deals For Valentine’s weekend they are offering Champagne on arrival, a three-course dinner and B&B for £200. Rooms from £100.
A former coaching inn, this Grade II-listed building has been brought back to life by local farmer and Suffolk loyalist James Buckle. Buckle is proud of his Suffolk sheep and herd of red poll cows, which appear on chef Chris Lee’s tempting menu.
High St, Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EB (01449 740 510, www.thebildestoncrown.com). Room rates B&B from £150. Valentine's deals Valentine’s special is £290 for two nights, which includes dinner and a bucks fizz breakfast.
Set in gardens a mile from the centre of Cambridge, the Hotel Felix has rooms that are stylish and uncluttered and there’s relaxed dining in the Graffiti restaurant. Spice things up this Valentine’s Day with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ package featuring a box of naughty nibbles and saucy surprises, as well as unlimited movies of your choice (from £220 per night).
Whitehouse Lane, Huntingdon Rd, Cambridge, CB3 0LX (01223 277 977, www.hotelfelix.co.uk). Room rates Rooms from £190 per night.
£200 and above
Designed by Augustus Pugin in 1843, this beautiful gatehouse is among the many architecturally and historically significant buildings owned by the Landmark Trust and has just opened for guests. It sleeps four, with one double room on the ground floor and one twin room on the first floor reached by a spiral staircase. There is a private garden and an open fireplace.
Peper Harow, Elstead, Surrey, GU8 6LA (01628 825 925, www.landmarktrust.org.uk). Room rates A three-night-minimum weekend is £223 per night.
Fawsley Hall is steeped in history. A former royal manor, it dates to the fifteenth century and has an air of sophisticated decadence. Bedrooms range from simple and modern to luxurious Tudor opulence. Chef Nigel Godwin’s Modern British restaurant, Equilibrium, proves you don’t have to go to Barcelona (or Bray) to indulge in the multisensory delights of designer cuisine.
Fawsley, nr Daventry, Northamptonshire, NN11 3BA (01327 892 000, www.fawsleyhall.com). Rates Rooms £175-£475 including full breakfast and use of the spa.
Royal Crescent Hotel
Imagine you’re a character from Jane Austen and indulge in sophisticated meals and long walks in the secluded gardens. Back in the present, take advantage of the spa. The Valentine’s retreat costs £360, including chocolates in your room, a five-course dinner and use of the spa.
Once the home of Lady Astor, these days this stately home is all about fine dining, spas and every amenity you could wish for.
Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0JF (01628 668 561, www.clivedenhouse.co.uk). Room rates Rooms range from £210 up to a cottage with a butler (£1,745).
Four Seasons Hotel
This Georgian manor house hotel has top-notch food, a spa and a host of activities. Keep your horse-mad youngsters occupied with an ‘own a pony day’ (£135). Adults can get the romance flowing on Valentine’s Sunday – the hotel will give guests red wellies and a 6pm Monday checkout (the mind boggles!).
Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Hook, Hampshire, RG27 8TD (01252 853 000, www.fourseasons.com/hampshire). Valentine's deals Book any room for February 14 from £195 to qualify.
Lovingly converted by Judy Astor, these cottages offer a quintessential Cotswolds retreat. Spaced around a central courtyard and set in beautiful gardens, the cottages range in size, sleeping between two and ten, each one individually decorated. An indoor heated pool and spa were recently converted from adjoining stables. Children of any age are catered for with a Wendy house and playroom.
Disappear into your own Tudor romance at this hotel dating back to the fifteenth century. Set in the picturesque village of Lavenham, The Swan has ancient exposed oak beams and inglenook fireplaces. The 45 rooms are sumptuously decorated, some with four-poster beds. High St, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10 9QA (01787 247 477, www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk). Room rates Double rooms are from £170. Valentine's deals Two-night Valentine’s breaks from £230 per night, including a three-course dinner, chocolates and Molton Brown goodies.
This country mansion and 300-acre estate with 201 rooms, golf course, spa and multiple restaurants offers a decadent break. Choose your style from contemporary to period with open fires and four-poster beds. Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG (01923 296 010, www.thegrove.co.uk). Room rates Rooms from £295 per night. Valentine's deals They are offering couples a one night ‘get it on’ package from £395, as well as a ‘get over it’ option for singletons from £245 per person.
Additional research: Emma Sleight, Simone Baird, Ben Isaacs, Sonya Barber. Prices are per room per night.
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