In need of a proper break, but don’t want to get on a plane? Or have you only got a free weekend instead of a whole week? Then a luxury staycation is for you. A change of scenery can do wonders for the psyche and really recharge the batteries – just what most of us need when the winter blues set in and the summer holiday couldn’t feel further away. We’ve brought together a selection of five amazing hotels in the Pride of Britain Hotels Group, each with that something special. Whether you’re looking for an amazing spa break, superb gastronomic offerings or just somewhere the whole family can relax, take a look at our guide.
Best for: Walkers, Foodies
When one thinks of the lake district, one of the most compelling views has to be that of the glorious, mist-covered Windermere and its surrounding fells – the vast, inky waters and steep, tree-covered surrounds. Can you imagine what it would be to wake up to just such a magnificent view? Well, at Holbeck Ghyll, you can do just that.
The hotel sits high on the hills around Windermere and as such offers its guests the chance to wake up to a truly breathtaking view. Each room has a boutique feel and all imaginable home comforts, including a complimentary glass of local damson gin – perfect to enjoy in front of a crackling fire or as the sun sets over the lake.
We stayed in the charming Miss Potter Suite, so named because it is where Renée Zellweger stayed during the filming of Miss Potter. From there, you can enjoy the views from your own private hot tub on a terrace – perfect to soak away all stresses and strains. If it’s good enough for a Hollywood star, it is certainly good enough for us!
The hotel is ideally placed for a number of fabulous Lakeland walks and as such is dog friendly – ideal if your little furry friend needs a holiday too! As well as taking in some amazing views, walking does have the other virtuous benefit of allowing some guilt-free eating in the superb restaurant.
The hotel’s Oak Room restaurant is attracting foodies from not just the local area but from around the world – Head Chef Darren Cormish’s innovative cooking combines with superb local sourcing, resulting in some truly divine dishes. Standout dishes included – local wood pigeon with textures of carrot and hazelnut and for dessert an amazing banana trio – cheesecake, soufflé and sorbet. The wine flight makes a superb addition to the tasting menu and Holbeck Ghyll’s resident sommelier is always on hand to help with your selection – whether you are a wine buff or just beginning to know your Chablis from Chardonnay, he always finds just the perfect accompaniment to the very fine food. It’s little wonder that this restaurant is such a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.
Whilst you are at the hotel, make the most of all the facilities and pay a visit to the spa – it’s the perfect place to ease tight muscles, either from tackling the fells or from sitting at a desk! We recommend the 70-minute ESPA Aromatherapy Body and Scalp massage for an all-over treatment. With its views over Windermere, you would be hard-pressed to find a lovelier place to wile away the hours.
Holbeck Ln, Windermere LA23 1LU
Best for: Relaxation, Spa Lovers
Barnsley House has truly captured what it means to call itself a luxury country getaway. The hotel, beautiful in its make up thanks to classic Cotswolds stone and acres of glorious garden, is a masterclass in discreet service, country style and modern luxury. Mod cons enrich, but do not dominate the rooms, instead the focus is on the aspects out to the gardens, carefully selected furnishings and generous space. Our room, number 1 (nice and easy to remember on the return from dinner) had three glorious aspects out to the garden, a sumptuous four poster bed and a double-bath bathroom, lit wonderfully and made cosy with underfloor heating warming the traditional oak floor boards.
As difficult as it was to tear ourselves away from the comforts of our room, a massage beckoned. The spa is a wonderful retreat – the kind of place you can curl up in and spend a few hours relaxing totally with a book, whilst occasionally venturing out to take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. The treatment list is also perfect – with a great selection of treatments to soothe, revitalise, tone or buff. I opted for a double treat with the signature massage and ELEMIS facial. As with the hotel, everything in the spa is executed with ease and grace, meaning you feel relaxed the moment you walk through the doors. The heated outdoor spa pool is as glorious on a sunny day as a rainy one and the spa artfully combines luxurious finishes and traditional elements.
Dinner that night was in the lovely Potager restaurant, wonderfully intimate and unfussy with a real focus on seasonal ingredients and paired-back cookery. Gin aficionados can’t miss the gin bar either, with its large selection of local and international varieties, for a lovely aperitif.
We left feeling completely recharged – remarkable in such a short space of time and a testament to the way this wonderful Cotswolds getaway is run.
Barnsley, Cirencester, GL7 5EE.
Best for: Spa Lovers, Foodies
Set within 375 acres on the banks of the River Tees, near the village of Hurworth in County Durham, the 18th-century red-brick mansion cuts an impressive figure on the journey up its gentle drive. With 61 elegant bedrooms, an award-winning spa, world-class golfing and three charming restaurants, Rockliffe Hall delivers luxury and excellence on every front.
The recently refurbished spa provides the perfect environment to relax and unwind. We made use of the exquisite Spa Garden, with a glass-fronted sauna, fire pit, water feature and heated relaxation loungers inside and an outdoor infinity spa pool, making the most of the glorious panoramic countryside views whilst ensconced in warm spa water with a glass of prosecco in hand.
The spa offers a range of excellent treatments – we opted for the 60-minute Comfort Zone Himalayan Salt Ritual (£90 pp) which uses heated salt blocks to gently ease away muscle tightness and joint pain and purify the skin. It leaves the skin smooth and revitalised and gently works out those hard to reach areas of muscle tension.
We came to Rockliffe Hall predominately for the spa experience, but were utterly blown away by the imagination and quality of the cooking at the Orangery restaurant. The 3AA rosette restaurant, set in the charming 18th century Old Hall, offers fine dining in a relaxed setting. Executive chef Richard Allen’s menu combines premium ingredients with innovative cooking. We opted for the ‘Surprise Menu’, which was a specially selected seven course tasting menu featuring some of the most popular dishes. Each course was utterly divine, but favourites included the duck parfait with 100% dark chocolate and speck which was decadently smooth, salty and gently bitter and the venison with celeriac – cooked simply and to utter perfection.
With sumptuously comfortable bedrooms, wonderful food, a revitalising spa and stunning surroundings, Rockliffe Hall should be at the top of your ‘must-visit’ list.
Hurworth on Tees, Darlington, County Durham DL2 2DU
Best for: Families
Thurlsestone is one of many pretty villages on the south coast of Devon, just five miles west of Kingsbridge, featuring just a post office and store, church and village Inn but also The Thurlstone Hotel which was to be our home for the night.
After a very scenic but at times hair raising drive along the winding lanes to Thurlestone, including a little trip along a tidal road – thank goodness the tide was out! – we arrived at The Thurlestone Hotel to a very warm welcome by the general manager Kevin and his staff. On this exciting trip to the coast I was accompanied by my partner and our two girls aged 11 and 7, so I was hoping there was going to be something for all of us to enjoy. As soon as we walked through the entrance, the girls were immediately pleased to see a collection of buckets and nets left for you to help yourself to if you fancied the five minute walk to the closest sandy beach. Also a basket of towels to dry off your wet pooches paws – this is a dog friendly hotel and many areas of the beach are dog friendly too.
Overlooking 19 acres of beautiful, well planted garden the view beyond of Thurlstone Bay is glorious. From the terrace we were pointed in the direction of the heated outdoor pool, sun terraces, tennis courts and the hotels very own 9 hole golf course. Children are very welcome to take part in any of the activities on offer at Thurlestone and the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel was already starting to take effect on us.
We were lucky enough to be staying in a double bedded family deluxe room with balcony and sea view and wow what a view! Our spacious, light and airy room with double aspect windows was stunning and the girls were thrilled to have their own room with bunk beds. As it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon we decide to take a dip in the outdoor pool before spending the rest of the afternoon in the Voyage Spa. Another relaxed and calming area, we enjoyed the indoor pool and spent a great deal of time in the Hydrotherapy Pool, the girls favourite!
After our dip, we dressed for dinner. We chose to dine as a family in the Margaret Amelia Restaurant, which offers a wonderful fine dining experience. We decided to have some drinks at the elegant bar before dining – the girls enjoyed being part of the fun with their ‘Cinderella’ mocktails, which one described as ‘the tastiest drink ever’ and was gone as quick as it had arrived. The food was outstanding – standout dishes were the Tempura Aubergine on Du Puy Lentils flavoured with chilli, ginger and coriander and South Coast Plaice Fillets with Butter Mash, Cider poached Clams, Samphire and warm Tartare sauce. We enjoyed a very comfortable night in the huge sumptuous bed and slept so well we feared we were late for breakfast. We needn’t have worried though and everybody had their favourites. Then it was time to go and we all wished we had another day to enjoy more of what Thurlstone has to offer, and definitely to spend a lazy afternoon in their lovely sunny lounge.
Thurlestone, Kingsbridge TQ7 3NN
Best for: Foodies, Walkers
A visit to the New Forest is always a delight. So when my husband told me we were to spend a night in Beaulieu I was thrilled. On this occasion we were to stay at ivy-clad The Montagu Arms Hotel, which is a beautiful country house just under a mile from the Beaulieu National Motor Museum and sits on the corner of the Beaulieu river.
We enjoyed a warm welcome and were taken to our room which was beautifully styled overlooking a very pretty garden. Ready for dinner we were guided to the the conservatory, which had the perfect view of the garden complete with a tranquil fountain. Here we relaxed with a glass of champagne whilst choosing from the extensive menu.
We opted for the Tasting Menu which included ‘Fine Wine Pairing’. We knew that Head chef Matthew Tomkinson is well known for creating a fabulous menu and that he is totally committed to finding the best ingredients for every dish. He is renowned for his dedication to using local produce including local fish, meat and veg. He also works with the hotel’s kitchen gardener who supplies the most fabulous home grown ingredients. And when it comes to breakfast the hotel supplies fresh eggs from their hens.
The meal was superb, probably one of the most delicious we have ever had in all our times visiting the area. The wine matching was excellent. Each dish was an absolute delight, however the most special for the evening was the dessert, a veritable taste sensation.
The rest of the evening was spent enjoying a glass of port and discussing the wonderful time we had had and making plans for the following day.
We had a wonderful sleep and were further enthused with the most delightful breakfast which consisted of local sausages, bacon and of course, eggs from the Montagu Arms’ hens. We were perfectly set up to spend a wonderful day exploring the New Forest.
If you are considering a visit to this wonderful part of the UK then we would recommend that you make The Montagu Arms Hotel your base for exploring. With its excellent food, sumptuously comfortable bedrooms and charming staff, it is a wonderful country retreat.
Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire. SO42 7ZL