A leisurely breakfast, a day in the fresh air, afternoon tea and gourmet dining…nothing beats a country house hotel break when you want to relax and unwind. Here, The Good Hotel Guide chooses ten favourite places where you can live as to the manor born.
Hambleton Hall, Hambleton, Rutland
‘Fay ce que voudras’ (do as you will) reads the motto inscribed on the gabled porch, an invitation to relax and enjoy yourself at this hotel and one-time hunting box, built in the picturesque English style for a wealthy brewer, in manicured gardens stretching down to Rutland Water. A fire burns in an opulent drawing room where such house gusts as Noël Coward were once entertained. There is a bar with plenty of comfy seating and Michelin-starred dining in the restaurant. B&B single from £220, double from £310, dinner £89.
Plumber Manor, Sturminster Newton, Dorset
In deepest Thomas Hardy country, this Jacobean country house is run as a characterful hotel by descendants of the family for which it was built. Interiors are filled with antiques and ancestral portraits, and bedrooms are pretty and traditional. Richard Prideaux-Brune is your affable host, while brother Brian works in the kitchen with chef Louise Haskell. Shooting parties are catered for. Fires blaze in the dining rooms and bar. The Divelish stream meanders through gardens dotted with pig sculptures.
B&B single from £130, double from £170, dinner £40.
Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon
A Grade I listed, fairy-tale ‘cottage orné’, built as a fishing lodge for John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, and Duchess Georgiana, gazes out over picturesque gardens and pleasure grounds created by Georgian landscape artist Humphry Repton, on the River Tamar. Interiors are stylish and uncluttered. Bedrooms have original hand-painted wallpapers and antique bathroom fittings. Days can be spent shooting, fishing, spotting kingfishers, falcons, deer and otters, before tea in the library and dinner in the oak-panelled dining room. B&B doubles from £220, dinner £57.50.
Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex
One of Britain’s most romantic hotels, this Elizabethan manor house sits pretty in a thousand wooded acres, just 30 miles from London. Bedrooms have antique pieces, original paintings and freshly cut flowers. Home-grown produce features on Michelin-starred, seasonal menus in a glass-walled dining room, overlooking flower-filled gardens created by William Robinson, Victorian pioneer of the natural English garden style. B&B doubles from £298, dinner £95.
Augill Castle, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
A Victorian fantasy castle, this family home-cum hotel stands at the centre of a small working estate in the Eden Valley, between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales national parks. The bedrooms are spacious and characterful, some with a four-poster. Children are welcome, the atmosphere relaxed. Afternoon tea by the drawing room fire or in the music room is a daily treat, while locally sourced food is contemporary and unpretentious. B&B doubles from £220, dinner £35.
Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
On the edge of the New Forest, this English country house hotel, with spa and cookery school, has set the style for imitators since it opened to guests in 1966. It dates from the early 1700s but moves with the times. Accommodation ranges from classic bedrooms to hot-tub and treehouse suites. Enjoy croquet on the lawn before afternoon tea. Five-star luxury and gourmet fare are no bar to family friendlinesss, with fun activities and a children’s menu. B&B doubles from £400, à la carte £54, tasting menu £85.
Hartwell House, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
The National Trust does a fine job in presenting this Jacobean stately home in the Vale of Aylesbury as a luxury hotel and spa. It is approached via an arcadian landscape stretching to the Thames, with lake, temples, columns, statuary, canals and an obelisk. Fine interiors, updated in the Georgian era, are furnished in 18th-century style. Bedrooms have antiques and artworks, some a four-poster. Largest and grandest are the Royal Suites. B&B (main house) single from £220, double from £355, dinner £58-£71.
The Torridon, Torridon, Highland
In a truly sublime setting, with mountain views across Loch Torridon, a Victorian Scottish baronial hunting lodge, built for the Earl of Lovelace, opens its doors as a resort hotel from February to December. Bedrooms and suite mix a bold contemporary look, which nods to Victorian styling, with well-chosen antiques. You can eat simply, in the brasserie, or choose fine-dining in the scenic 1887 restaurant, where produce from the two-acre kitchen garden, and home-reared meats are menu staples. B&B doubles from £305, tasting menu £70-£85, à la carte (brasserie) £37.
Kinloch Lodge, Sleat, Highland
Whether you’re into deer stalking, foraging or salmon-fishing, or simply want to explore the wild beauties of Skye, a ghillie is on hand at Lord and Lady Macdonald’s small hotel on the shores of Loch na Dal. A sixteenth-century former farmhouse and shooting lodge, this is the family home, and has a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Daughter Isabella Macdonald is your hostess. Interiors are furnished with antiques, paintings and memorabilia. Meals are served at set times, with cakes and sandwiches available all day, and a wide choice of whiskies. A three-course dinner from a short menu features island produce from land and sea. Doubles from £320, dinner £75.
Llangoed Hall, Llyswen, Powys
The late Sir Bernard Ashley opened this remodelled 17th-century manor house as a hotel in 1990, with the aim of offering an authentic Edwardian country house experience. The setting is beautiful, in the Wye Valley, close to the Brecon Beacons. Interiors are hung with Sir Bernard’s art collection, including works by Sir James McNeil Whistler and Augustus John. Afternoon tea is served on bespoke bone china. Breakfast brings eggs from the hens and ducks, honey from the hives. While outdoor types go walking fishing or mountain biking, bibliophiles visit literary Hay-on-Wye. Open Thur-Sun. B&B doubles from £340, tasting menu £75-£95.
This selection is taken from the Good Hotel Guide’s Best Country House Hotels.