Dust off your suitcase: it looks like holidays are on the cards again. Those hankering for a post-lockdown escape were given some good news in the latest lockdown exit strategy, which confirmed it will be possible to stay in self-catered accommodation in the UK, including Airbnbs and campsites, from April 12.
So, while travelling abroad remains up in the air, domestic holidays in the UK could be back on again just after spring and throughout the summer – and really, it’s no hardship. From gorgeous, soul-restoring countryside to lush forests and secluded sandy beaches, there are endless opportunities to explore and relax right here.
But, with more people than ever planning to take holidays in the UK this year, the most popular locations are already getting booked up for July and August. So, if you want to go on holiday this summer, it’s worth making plans sooner rather than later. Luckily, to save you precious time, we’ve rounded up some of the best Airbnbs across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Airbnb can be your key to discovering everything the UK has to offer. Not only does it offer a wealth of quirky alternatives to a more trad hotel (treehouse, anyone?) but you’ll often get local tips from hosts on great things to do in the area. It can also be mega-affordable.
We’ve found some real stunners. From an otherworldly Scottish castle and a seafront retreat on the unspoilt beaches of Northern Ireland to an elegant flat in Bath and a romantic riverside cabin in Cornwall, here’s our round-up of the very best Airbnbs in the UK.
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This treehouse might appeal to the inner child, but rest assured the interiors are made for grown-ups. Perched among the trees, the circular cedarwood den is warmed by a wood-burning stove and features solar-powered lighting, fluffy bathrobes and a widescreen TV plus DVD player and bluetooth speakers. You could embark on one of the many walks through ancient woodlands, or just hole up in the trees like a boujie Tarzan.
Bath is famed for its elegant honey-coloured buildings, steamy Roman baths and its rich historical surroundings, and this little flat is the perfect base to explore. The envy-inducing pad is based in one of the city’s iconic Georgian townhouses, and its rooftop terrace offers glorious views over the city. Owned by an interior designer (of course), it’s decked out with handsome antique furniture, a deep roll-top bath and pretty chandeliers throughout.
Settled next to a stream in the heart of the Cornish countryside, this rustic handmade cabin is the stuff of fairy tales. It’s small but perfectly formed: up top there’s a snug double bed and on the ground level there are custom-built bunks, a charming living space, a kitchenette, and – of course – a wood-burning stove. Cook up a storm on the outdoor firepit or take the 20-minute drive to Falmouth, an artsy coastal town, for oodles of indie bars and restaurants.
We love a good BBQ, but the weather in the UK can be, let’s just say, unpredictable. Luckily, the Lake District is so damn beautiful that we’ll forgive a few showers. Plus we’ve found this awesome BBQ shack where you can flame-grill sausages in the comfort of your Scandi-style cabin. The central fire pit comes with charcoal and firelighters, so all you need to bring is the food. Work off that feast on a long, lakeside bike ride; a warren of cycle paths all start from the doorstep.
Is there a better Airbnb review than the thumbs-up from actual royalty? Back in the sixteenth century, Mary, Queen of Scots loved staying in this regal residence with her husband – and the hospitality has only improved since then. Dating back to around 1190, Neidpath Castle is full of bewitching original features and fascinating history, while the private chamber boasts an original open log fire, antique four-poster bed and roomy rolltop bath – a combo that guarantees a right royal night’s sleep.
Live out your ‘Bridgerton’ fantasies by romping around the East Wing of this red brick Regency pile in the Norfolk countryside. Wolterton Hall was built by Horatio Walpole, brother of Sir Robert, the first British Prime Minister, and you’ll still find plenty of historical touches here, from original artwork and crystal chandeliers to period furniture and marble bathrooms. Wake up in a four-poster bed to views across the rolling parkland and humongous lake. Herringbone corset optional.
Imagine this: you wake up to the sound of lapping water, swing open the french doors at the foot of the bed to let in a gust of salty sea air, and retire to your queen-sized bed indefinitely. With breathtaking views of the Mourne Mountains and across Strangford Lough, an honesty bar stocked with prosecco and a stash of good books, there’s no need to leave this tiny waterside retreat – other than to take a dip in the big blue.
Tell me what you want, what you really really want: a night in the original Spice Bus from the 1997 film 'Spice World'? You got it. Not only has the Union Jack-covered bus undergone a seriously luxe makeover, but it's also situated permanently on the gorgeous Isle of Wight. The two-storey interior, which sleeps three people, includes loads of cute touches that will thrill any fan, including an old-school CD player for listening to Wannabe on repeat, a dressing room area for '90s makeovers and Union Jack chairs.
If an entire castle is a tad out of your budget, we’ve got you. This sixteenth-century stone dovecote has all the charming historical vibes, but on a teeny-tiny scale. The thoughtful conversion is perfectly cosy, with hand-made cedarwood furniture, a spacious rain shower and a double bed surrounded by ancient coves that once hosted pigeons. Through the french doors lies a secluded stone patio, gorgeous rose gardens and, just beyond, some of Edinburgh’s coolest districts.
Whimsy and romance are served up in abundance at this carefully restored Grade II-listed windmill. Inside the one-bed tower it’s a charming hotch-potch of old wooden floors, huge original cogs and chunky beams. Head up through a trap door to the upper floors to see the mill machinery preserved as it would have been 200 years ago and for stunning views over the rooftops of Woodbridge and the River Deben.
Looking for a rural hideaway? This rustic, wooden shepherd’s hut is so remote, guests have to trek across muddy fields to reach it. With a copper roll-top bath, cosy wood-burning stove, fire-pit and bubbling hot tub, it’s certainly worth the effort to get there. On the edge of Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s also perfectly situated for exploring the sublime North Yorkshire countryside, the east coast’s stunning beaches, the quaint villages around the North York Moors National Park, and the ancient city of York.
What do you do with a stunning spot of land on a Scottish lakeside? Pop an airship on it, of course. This incongruous little thing doesn’t exactly fit into the landscape, but it does fit into the ‘so ugly it’s cute’ category. The architect-designed home features a stylish modular living space, compact kitchen and super-soft queen-sized bed. At either end of the airship, glass-panelled noses offer heart-melting views of mountains and lochs, reaching as far as the Isle of Mull.
If being by water is your idea of nirvana, then a weekend in this idyllic floating cottage will bring you close to enlightenment. Thanks to patio doors which open straight out onto decking and the open water, it’s easy to take a dip before warming up post-swim by the log burner. What’s more, this tranquil retreat is just a 15-minute drive from Pembrokeshire’s pristine beaches for more waterside shenanigans.
Pretty, pastoral and pleasingly austere, this cottage is as wholesome as a hug from your gran. The Grade II-listed thatched beauty is one of the best surviving examples in Wales, dating back to around 1750. Its limewash and oak beams have been untouched since the eighteenth century, and guests are welcome to cut fresh roses and herbs from the garden to perfume their new home. The bathroom has been updated with a fancy double-ended bath and the kitchenette is stocked with tea and coffee, but the rest of the house is 100 per cent back-to-basics.
Haven’t set foot inside a church since your primary school harvest festival? Now is the time to make amends. This quirky church conversion a short drive from the market village of Billericay is grade II-listed, with stunning original stained glass, wooden roof beams and carved marble slabs set into the floor. Despite the period features, the huge open plan living area feels bright, airy and modern, thanks to its huge ceilings and white-washed walls. It can sleep up to eight so is perfect for a group getaway. Take me to church!
Combine the fun of camping and the comfort of a hotel with a stay in this 6-metre wide geodesic dome on the edge of the South Lakes. Situated in a secluded garden with its own log-burning stove, plush furnishings and a private deck area from which to enjoy the view, the dome is ideally situated for stocking up on mint cake in nearby Kendal or cruising on Lake Windermere, which is just a short drive away. We reckon old Will Wordsworth would have gone mad for this.
You’ve probably been to countless sleepovers in your lifetime, but we bet none of them were as cool as this. In this semi-converted barn within the picturesque 60-acre grounds of a 17th-century manor, you’ll be sharing a bedroom with Basil, the adorable miniature horse. No, you won’t be bunkering down on a bed of hay. Basil’s stable is attached to the bedroom but separated by a low wall, so you benefit from excellent carrot-feeding opportunities without having to worry that you’ll wake up in the night with a lamb trying to spoon you. The ‘humans only’ side of the barn also features a cosy indoor fireplace and kitchen area, and Basil’s guests benefit from access to an outdoor log fire with a BBQ grill and tiki hut seating, as well as a tour of the nearby paddocks to meet Basil’s extensive group of farmyard friends.
Houseboat holidays always sound like a great idea in theory, but in practice it often means paying double what you would for a decent hotel to spend a week having cold-water showers and banging your head every time you try to stand up straight. Not so with this charming getaway situated amid a small village of floating homes on a nature reserve by the Sussex coast. Lovingly crafted with painstaking attention to detail, from the light-maximising curved roof and elegant deck space right down to the swanky polished brass fittings, this floating haven has a truly luxurious feel.
This surf-themed tiny house is the ultimate minimalist haven. Cleverly crafted from a former shipping container and artfully decked out in reclaimed wood and vintage surfing accessories, it’s a great base from which to explore the Causeway Coast, a mere fifteen minutes by car from the Giant’s Causeway itself, as well as the village of Bushmill and its famous whiskey distillery. And if the Irish weather is a little too chilly for a dip in the actual sea, you can always relax with a glass of single malt in your own private hot tub.
Channel your inner Samwise Gamgee (or maybe Tinky-Winky?) on a stay in this underground earth house built into a secluded hillside on Loch Tay. Accessed via a wooden bridge across a babbling stream, this charming hideout has plenty of characterful features including a cute little duck pond, circular porthole windows and rounded doors. And in one of the few welcome departures from the authentic hobbit lifestyle, it also benefits from a private river pool and hot tub with beautiful views. One AirBnB to rule them all? Quite possibly.
This serene, pastel-coloured seaside apartment benefits from stunning beach views, airy bedrooms and thoughtful decor. Designed with wellness in mind, the apartment has its own meditation area with soft cushions, yoga mats, relaxation masks, and aromatherapy oils. The well-stocked kitchen is perfect for preparing long, lazy meals, with excellent coffee and cocktail-making facilities. Centrally located, the apartment for exploiting the Margate’s many independent shops and art galleries, including the Turner Contemporary a mere five minutes walk away.