From grand estates with manicured lawns to Cotswolds manors with cottage gardens, here are our favourite hotels with gardens in Britain
The best hotels with gardens in Britain
The Newt, Somerset
Garden-lovers rhapsodise about The Newt in Somerset, a bucolic estate set around a handsome Georgian manor. Successive green-fingered enthusiasts have shaped the gardens over two centuries, from the Victorian horticulturalist Margaret Hobhouse to Patrice Taravella, whose beautiful plantings have given the gardens a new lease of life in recent years.
Whether you stay in ochre-coloured Hadspen House itself or in the luxuriously converted stables next door, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible in the beautiful gardens. Wander the Parabola, a curved, walled garden at the heart of the estate harbouring an apple tree maze (you can sample the fruit in the hotel’s homemade ‘cyder’); play badminton on the lawn, surrounded by a cloud-like yew hedge affectionately nicknamed ‘Old Knobbly’ by the hotel’s gardeners; or explore the glazed Winter Garden with its exotic orchids and succulents.
The Roman Villa Garden frames an extraordinary full-scale recreation of a 4th-century villa, while new for 2024 is the Four Seasons Garden, with four distinct spaces, each optimised for one season of the year.
Barnsley House, Gloucestershire
Those that like their gardens rambling and romantic will love Barnsley House, a honey-stone manor in the heart of a handsome Cotswold village, one of the finest hotels with gardens in Britain. It was once the home of esteemed gardener Rosemary Verey, whose spectacular design can best be appreciated in springtime, when the front of the house is draped in wisteria and the laburnum arch bursts into bloom, underplanted with stately alliums. King Charles, no less, visited the gardens at Barnsley House to take inspiration for the gardens at his own Cotswold retreat, Highgrove.
The influence of the garden can be felt throughout the interiors, from the vases of freshly cut flowers to the dishes served up in the restaurant, with the ingredients freshly picked each morning from the kitchen garden.
The bedrooms eschew frills and florals in favour of sleek lines and a tasteful palette of neutrals – though there are colourful views galore through the windows.
Garden tours can be arranged, or you can simply wander within the weathered stone walls and discover its hidden nooks for yourself. Tucked away is the little garden cinema, while the spa nestles in a peaceful dell, with an outdoor hydrotherapy pool overlooking the rolling Cotswold countryside.
Leonardslee, West Sussex
The gardens at Leonardslee have a long and prestigious history, beginning as land granted by King Charles II in around 1685. The estate was developed by successive owners over the centuries, including Sir Edmund Loder who introduced a colony of wallabies. Leonardslee also suffered long periods of neglect and was closed for almost a decade before the current owners bought the estate and dedicated themselves to its restoration.
Having reopened in 2019, Leonardslee is once again a magical garden, with 240 acres of woodland and gardens bursting with colour, dotted with sculptures and interlaced with seven serene lakes. The scale of the gardens is breathtaking, from the vibrant clouds of rhododendrons to the centuries-old oaks and giant redwoods.
In 2022, the estate opened Leonardslee House, a handsome 19th-century mansion, to overnight guests. The ten bedrooms are light, airy and decorated in serene pastels in a refined country-house style, and have sweeping views.
Dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant, Interlude, is a must. The set menu is guided by what is available in the garden, with premium produce from Sussex suppliers and ingredients such as magnolia, birch sap, honey, seeds and sloe berries foraged from the gardens. After a multicourse dinner, a stroll will be in order: guests can roam the gardens free of the day’s visitors – and perhaps even enjoy an encounter with one of Sir Edmund’s wallabies.
Bodysgallen Hall, North Wales
The name Bodysgallen is thought to mean ‘house among thistles’, but rather than prickly plants, this is a house surrounded by delightful terraced gardens in the Arts and Crafts style and one of the best hotels with gardens in Wales.
One of only three hotels owned by the National Trust, this 17th-century hall has been carefully restored, and its interiors – all wood panelling and imposing fireplaces – are wonderfully atmospheric. The pace is slow here: settle into a squishy armchair in the lounge to read the papers, or take afternoon tea in the Dining Room, and gaze at the romantic views over the landscaped gardens to the craggy peaks of Snowdonia.
The impressive gardens date back to 1678, as attested by a sundial bearing that date. Garden-lovers will find plenty to inspire, including a rare 17th-century parterre of box hedges filled with aromatic herbs, a lily pond, rose garden, obelisk and Gothic folly. Head gardener Robert Owen, who has tended the gardens for 35 years, leads monthly tours focusing on seasonal plants and trees.
The gardens merge into wilder parkland – over 200 acres to explore. The hotel can provide walking maps of the estate, and beyond, the medieval town of Conwy and the ruins of Deganwy Castle.
Set high on a cliff above the Thames, the gardens at Cliveden, one of England’s great country houses, have wonderful views down the river. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of illustrious past guests, from kings and queens to heads of state, and explore the 376 acres of grounds, which are now looked after by the National Trust.
Highlights include the Water Garden with its oriental temple, the sweetly scented rose garden and the dramatic parterre with its manicured topiary. The grounds are dotted with classical statuary; visitors can’t miss the shell-shaped Fountain of Love, commissioned in 1897 by former owner William Waldorf Astor, marking the start of Cliveden’s sweeping drive.
As well as the grounds, Cliveden has many other delights in store, from dinner in the sumptuous Dining Room to a top-class treatment at the spa. Book an art lesson on the terrace and sketch the famous view of the parterre; learn about foraging on a guided ramble; or descend to the riverside boathouse for a trip in Belmont, a lovingly restored 1930s launch, and enjoy afternoon tea on board.
Grove of Narberth, South Wales
When Neil and Zoe Kedward first set eyes on this country manor back in 2007 it was a dilapidated building in overgrown grounds. Undaunted, they bought it and have painstakingly brought it back to life. Grove of Narberth is now one of Wales’s finest hotels, set in beautiful gardens.
Now, this enchanting white country manor gleams against its emerald backdrop, with the Preseli hills huddled in the distance. The gardens are made for exploring, with lawns, woodland and a 17th-century walled garden brimming with cottagey flowers. Clouds of Japanese cherry blossom and a carpet of bluebells greet guests in the spring, and masses of rhododendrons blaze into bloom in the summer.
The kitchen garden keeps the hotel’s two restaurants supplied with 70 varieties of vegetables, herbs and summer fruits, and there’s even a cutting bed for the resident florist.
Inside, the interiors are luxuriously comfortable and relaxed, with nods to the natural world and to local crafts and traditions. A line of hand-carved Welsh love spoons decorates one wall, while elsewhere you might see woven baskets, local pottery or a panel of delicate Welsh lace.
This quietly elegant hotel is all about homespun, unshowy luxury – and a remarkable story of rescue and renewal.
Gravetye Manor, West Sussex
The Victorian garden designer William Robinson loathed the typical gardens of the era, with their neat displays of gaudy begonias and geraniums. Instead, he pioneered the ‘wild garden’, celebrating nature rather than attempting to control it. The masterpiece garden that he created at his home, Gravetye Manor, in 1885, joyfully embraces this philosophy, from the exuberant flower garden, where Robinson first cultivated the idea of the mixed border, to the meadows, covered in drifts of daffodils in spring and wildflowers in summer.
Sitting within the thousand-acre estate, Robinson’s one-time home is now a hotel – an atmospheric, creaky-floored Elizabethan manor with its original features intact, and gorgeous views from every window. Each of the bedrooms are different: yours might be woodpanelled with an antique four-poster bed, or a romantic suite decorated with a hand-painted botanical mural.
The garden theme continues in the restaurant, an elegant glass-fronted structure planted at the garden’s edge, immersing diners in greenery. Seasonal ingredients from the kitchen garden flavour every dish on the Michelin-starred menu.
Tours of the gardens are regularly organised. You could also make a stay here the starting point of a horticultural journey: the area is renowned for its gardens, from Kew offshoot Wakehurst to Sheffield Park, designed by Capability Brown.
This is an extract, read the full feature in the September/October 2023 issue of BRITAIN, available to buy here from Friday 11 August.