The Ultimate Staycation

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Lake Country House
Cosy cottages, sumptuous hotels and unbeatable views; stay on home turf this autumn at one of these gorgeous British boltholes
'Many don't consider Wales when planning a staycation, but with rolling hills, tumbling streams and friendly faces wherever you go, it's a seriously underrated destination'
The Little Charcuterie
The Hayloft/The Anthol

Lake Country House, Powys

Many don't consider Wales when planning a staycation, but with rolling hills, tumbling streams and friendly faces wherever you go, it's a seriously underrated destination. Embrace the slower pace of life at the Lake Country House in Powys, which was originally built as a hunting and fishing lodge (from the turn of the 20th century until World War II, it was the only barium spa resort outside Germany). Start your day with freshly brewed coffee and croissants on the sun terrace before spending a day in the sumptuous spa, playing croquet on the lawn, enjoying afternoon tea over a board game, or fishing on one of the glistening lakes. The bedrooms here are individually designed with elegant classic furniture, and the ground floor suites have little sunny areas to sit outside and relax with a glass of wine and good company. Got a four-legged friend in tow? The Lake Country House loves dogs and offers pooch-friendly junior suites opening directly onto the grounds.

What to do: The Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains and surrounding areas are effectively nature's playground, comprising valleys, hills, gardens and waterfalls where you can go hiking, mountain biking, horse riding or even canoeing on the River Wye. The medieval Powis Castle, a Baroque triumph dating back to 1200, rises dramatically above its celebrated gardens – after meandering among the rare plants and relaxing in the gorgeous orangery, take a stroll through the Castle's state rooms and discover the impressive collection of art, tapestries and furniture.

Where to eat: You could travel a long way and still not find anywhere as good as the hotel's award-winning restaurant, which has two AA Rosettes. Serving up gourmet dishes with a Celtic twist, you can expect indulgent creations such as roast rack of lamb for two: braised lamb shoulder, Jersey royals, aubergine caviar, Mediterranean vegetables, wilted greens and tomato purée.
From £195 per night www.lakecountryhouse.co.uk

The Little Charcuterie, Cornwall

This quirky Cornish abode started life as an old coach house in the 17th century, and has recently been transformed into a luxury love nest called The Little Charcuterie. Nestled in the quintessentially British village of Marhamchurch, the first-floor self-catering home is decked out in Rococo-inspired interiors: eclectic vintage finds, fancy French furnishings and rustic wood create a cosy feel. The highlight of staying here is the terrace's suspended daybed layered with striped blankets and cushions, where you can curl up with a glass of wine and gaze out towards the coast. Holiday cottages don't come much more unique than this; the owners live next door and use the petite kitchen beneath The Little Charcuterie as a hobbyist butchers, where they make artisan sausages once a week. From £315 for three nights www.uniquehomestays.com

What to do: Hitting the waves on your surfboard isn't the only way to get your blood pumping in Cornwall; try exploring the coast with a geological walk, or opt for something new such as abseiling, rock-climbing or mountain boarding. For something a little less strenuous, take a trip to nearby Bude, a charming Cornish seaside town where you can indulge in some traditional Granny Wobbly's fudge and mosey around the smattering of independent shops (which sell everything from buckets and spades to high-end apparel and New Age crystals).

Where to eat: The Bank at Bude does authentic Spanish tapas using a combination of Mediterranean and Cornish ingredients – think locally caught seafood with homemade sauces and dressings, or spicy chorizo topped with Cornish cheddar. The Bullers Arms is a Marhamchurch stalwart, which reopened early this year following campaigns to keep the local favourite alive, and now continues to serve hearty gastropub fodder and proper local ale. 

The Hayloft, Yorkshire Dales

An artist-designed contemporary space, this ultra stylish apartment is set in the historic grounds of Patrick Brompton Hall, a beautiful Grade II listed house dating back to 1703. The stables were recently converted into four luxury properties, each of which have a unique style and feel, and The Hayloft is our top pick, with its large open-plan living area, woodburning stove, exposed oak beams and lavish textiles. The bedroom is set behind a demi-wall within the same space, complete with a free-standing bath to sink into before you curl up in the super kingsize bed. There's also a summerhouse and barbecue area, and it's just a short stroll from the village pub – perfect for al fresco dining and a few drinks in the last of the summer sun. From £400 per week www.gorgeouscottages.com

What to do: The Hayloft is situated between the pretty North Yorkshire market towns of Bedale and Leyburn, both of which are well worth exploring. In Leyburn you'll find traditional shops, pubs and cafés lining the town square, which hosts a busy market every Friday, while Bedale is a fabulous foodie destination, with a deli, bakery and speciality chocolate shop among the artisan offerings. The Dales are, of course, a walker's paradise – the gushing Aysgarth Falls and grand Bolton Castle are must-visits.

Where to eat: The Wensleydale Heifer in West Witton is a 17th century coaching inn, now serving as a boutique hotel with a renowned restaurant (and five top chefs at the helm). Feeling extravagant? Go for the Whitby lobster and king scallop thermidor with mustard Swiss cheese glaze, hand-cut chips and buttered spinach. There's also a less formal fish bar serving seafood delicacies, with seagrass flooring, rattan chairs and wooden tables for a relaxed seaside vibe.

The Atholl, Edinburgh

Hotels don't come much more luxurious than The Atholl. There are only four gigantic suites in the whole hotel, and breakfast is served at a time of your choice in your room (your personal chef will whip up whatever you fancy, whether that be eggs Benedict, kippers or the full Scottish). In fact, the team of chefs, all trained by cooking legend Albert Roux, can be hired to cook dinner in your own kitchen, serving classic French cuisine like bisques, confit duck legs, langoustines and soufflés. To top it off, your personal wine fridge is already stocked, accompanied a complimentary fromagerie of five different cheeses. The Dundonald suite even has its own whisky tasting room, while the Abercromby has a lavish outdoor area with both a hot tub and a fireplace. Forget 'home from home' – this place is ten times better. From £625 per night www.theatholl.com

What to do: Take a stroll along George Street, which is lined with high-end boutiques, trendy bars and some great restaurants. If you're a shopaholic like us, Princes Street is the place to be, or if you'd prefer something a bit more cultural (sorry Jenners), pay a visit to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace or the National Museum of Scotland. Prefer something more active? Climb Arthur's Seat for the best views in the city.

Where to eat: Giuliano's, situated opposite Edinburgh Playhouse and the Omni Centre, serves a huge menu of authentic Italian food (try the pasta alla genovese) at reasonable prices, or for something more upmarket, try the restaurant at The George Hotel. For a mid-afternoon treat, stop by Mary's Milk Bar for a fresh affogato: coffee with gelato. It sounds strange, but it works, and there are plenty of different flavours to try. We love the espresso with pistachio gelato.

Published in: August 2014

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