The dreamiest places to stay to book now
In need of an indulgent weekend away? Er, ALWAYS. Here's our pick of the best - and downright desirable - hotels, glamping and boutique stays to book pronto. Breakfast in bed and late check-outs all round!
Whatley Manor, Malmesbury
Whatley Manor may be a luxury 17th-century, Grade II-listed manor house in a knockout Cotswold setting, but it is also possibly the most romantic hotel in the world. Think individually decorated rooms with four poster beds and an eclectic mix of antiques, contemporary pieces and international art, as well as beautifully designed gardens, a stunning Michelin starred restaurant and a superbly relaxing spa. You’ll never want to leave…whatleymanor.com
Whychurch Farm, Malmesbury
It’s camping and glamping all the way at this cool and quirky gaff just outside Malmesbury. Glamping wagons are cute and comfortable, with enough mod-cons for a fair-weather camper like me, and the perfect spot to rest your head if you’re visiting glamorous Malmesbury, Abbey House Gardens, Westonbirt Arboretum, Cotswold Water Park, Bath, Badminton Horse Trials, Stonehenge, Lacock or Castle Combe, or even if you’re hitting the bright lights of WOMAD this summer. There is also a campsite and two B&B cottages on site but it’s the wagons I particularly love. In fact, bring the car around, will you? I might just hitch one up and take it home. www.malmesburyglamping.co.uk
Lansdowne Strand, Calne
Fancy bedding down in a Grade 2 listed coaching inn in the heart of Calne with a real honest-to-God medieval brew house in the courtyard? You can’t get quirkier than this old pub, which has been welcoming hungry and thirsty travellers for over 500 years. Rooms are cute, the 2 AA rosette restaurant will serve you well with a fab menu (love the sound of crispy lamb breast), and a big tick goes to their super quirky vibe, with a panelled snug, gorgeous open fires, a bar bursting with character and odd little twists at every corner. You’ll be living and breathing history, here. lansdownestrand.co.uk
The Old Bell, Malmesbury
England’s oldest hotel (now there’s a USP) sits snuggly next to an ancient Abbey (home to the tomb of King Athelstan, first king of England) in the heart of historic Malmesbury. Recently restored to the height of English charm, like Cinderella, it now has its glad rags on and is ready to go to the ball. After a good snoop around, we’ve given The Old Bell a big Muddy tick for lovers of fantastic food and a good night’s kip in a stunning historic setting. The hotel may be old (I’ve been advised not to read the ghost stories to my 7-year old before bedtime) but it is light and bright with some funky touches, while retaining its historic feel: the hooded stone fireplace downstairs is believed to be one of the first flue chimneys in England. You won’t have to stagger far for a good night’s sleep – upstairs are 34 luxe bedrooms, prettily decorated, from Cosy rooms to huge Master Suites that would make even the snootiest Lord of the Manor nod his approval. Our Muddy noses certainly sniffed out a romantic haven here, perfect for lovers of luxury, yet no need for a boot full of wellies as you’re in a bustling town centre.
The Beckford Arms, Fonthill Gifford
Set in the most gorgeous location in stunning parkland on the Fonthill Estate is The Beckford Arms, a traditional yet stylish country pub, and one that is right up our street. Think open fires, cosy bedrooms, #inlovewithlocal ales and gins, comfy sofas and a fab gastro restaurant. For foodies, the menu changes with the seasons to ensure the freshest produce. Whole suckling pig is spit-roasted on the bar’s open fire (yikes!), they make their own hams and piccalilli, serve game pies with homemade pastry as well as aged Wiltshire steaks. Head upstairs to bed to one of eight smart bedrooms or if you fancy a 15 minute stroll, Beckford’s Spendlens Pavilions are a gorgeous pair of luxurious lodges named after the original Pavilions built by William Beckford as guest accommodation for Fonthill Splendens, whose regular guests included Byron, Nelson and Turner, no less. Arrive to a well stocked fridge so you can cook a slap up brekkie for yourself, after a night on the mezzanine level gazing out over some of the most beautiful views in Wiltshire.
Artist Residence, Bristol
This mini-chain excels in hip, boho hotels and their new Bristol branch looks, opening June, looks like no exception. In St Pauls (dangerously close to the retail thrills of Cabot Circus), it’s a former boot factory – I like the fact they call the smallest of their 22 rooms the “shoe box” option. At least they’re honest, right? And there’s so much going on in Brizzle, you probably won’t spend much time in it. The bar, with its exposed brickwork and copper bar, looks like hipster catnip so basically exactly what you want from a weekend city break.
You can’t beat Howard’s House Hotel for a perfectly romantic stay. Their newly restored Coach House has been lovingly designed with privacy, comfort and luxury in mind, perfect for a drinks receptions or full wedding breakfast, plus their secret garden is just the spot for a marquee. In fact, nestled in its idyllic setting of Teffont Evias, Howard’s House holds the Good Hotel Guide’s Cesar Award for ‘Britain’s Most Romantic Hotel’. Wiltshire’s best kept secret is a country house hotel but in true indie style – it might be nestled in an idyllic Wiltshire village but everything inside is just that little bit different. And when it comes to cooking it really is unique – ingredients are homegrown or locally sourced, seasonal ALL the time and dishes inspirational. Bedrooms are indulgent with lots of lovely touches, the location is picture perfect and you’ll bump into wildlife (deer, pheasant, fowl) around every corner. Bliss.
Studley Castle, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Fancy being queen of the castle? You’re in the right place. This 210-room rural hotel, built in the 1830s, has just reopened after a £50m refurb. It’s a good choice for culture vultures – there’s a sweet onsite cinema and lots of live music, including, on Saturday 13 April, a festival featuring Jo Whiley introducing new bands and playing a DJ set. Check their website for special flash deals such as a Sunday night stay for just £59.
Under the Walnut Tree Shepherd’s Hut, Painswick
The idyllic sounding Under the Walnut Tree Shepherd’s Hut is the height of romance-chic. Watch horses and cattle roam in the fields, as hay bales are made. The hut is packed with mod cons but it’s totally off-grid, giving you extra time for email-free unwinding (aaahh) and gazing into each other’s eyes. On arrival you get a breakfast welcome pack with freshly laid eggs, then take in the glorious Painswick scenery (if you make it out) and toast marshmallows on the atmospheric firepit by night .
Woolley Grange, nr Bradford on Avon
This beautiful hideaway on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, 15 minutes from Bath and a short jaunt down into artisan Bradford on Avon, has a family friendly spa hidden in the walled garden where fresh vegetables and children grow healthily alongside each other. They’ve just launched a whole host of new spa treats, including ‘Time for Mum 2 Be’ (think peaceful pregnancy massage, a gentle swim in the oh-so-warm pool and a nutritious two course lunch or scrummy afternoon tea) and ‘Time Together’ for mum and child, where little ones enjoy an hour of fun play in the Woolley Bears Den whilst you revel in an Elemis spa treatment, followed by a relax with the paper. For a more grown up treat the hotel has just launched their ‘Morning Half Day Refresh’ and ‘Afternoon Revive’, both including an Elemis or Jessica treatment, food and full use of the pools, sauna, steam room and beautiful grounds.