10 quintessentially English cottages to stay in this year

From a private island cottage in The Cotswolds to a quirky brick bolthole in Kent, these are our favourite humble homes across the country…

If the last few years has taught us anything, it has been to appreciate the country we have on our doorstep. ‘Staycationing’ has seen a recent increase in popularity and — despite the odd rain shower and traffic jam — our green and pleasant land really does live up to its idyllic reputation.

And, dotted among the market towns and the quaint villages, you’ll find that enduring icon of provincial English life; the cottage. With thatched roofs and rose gardens, these modest homes may make for humble holidays — but, with our newfound passion for exploring England, we can’t wait to discover more of these charming hidden gems. Here are some of our favourites…

Inkwell Cottage, Burford, The Cotswolds

On the outside: The Cotswolds; a sufficiently British, suitable beautiful place to begin. And what a cottage Inkwell is; sitting pretty slap bang in the middle of this ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Built from honeyed stone, it’s got twin chimneys and roses trail above the door. Out back, the bistro table in the cottage courtyard is a particularly idyllic spot for al fresco summer dinner party.

On the inside: It’s got that same quirky charm. A slightly uneven staircase wonks its way to the upper floor, where you’ll find a bedroom fit for two people (with a king-size bed). The decoration is exquisite; with fun touches including an old Champagne riddling rack, apothecary bottles and the softest, greenest velvet sofa you’ve ever nodded off on.

Wishbone Cottage, Malvern Hills, Worcestershire

On the outside: Tucked away in the Malvern Hills, ‘Wishbone’ sits on a forgotten fruit farm. It doesn’t look too polished or pristine from the outside, and instead leans into the rough-luxe look, with vines and creepers covering the Grade II-listed, 16th century building. Expect big barn doors, a cobbled patio and fresh herbs grow in pots out back.

On the inside: More of the same. This is as laidback as a country cottage should be. True, it’s got the vaulted truss ceilings, but there’s little else too bombastic about this place. Instead, it’s mostly open-plan, has original timbers and stone walls and enough room to sleep two. There’s one ground floor double bedroom — with a king-size bed and an en-suite.

Little Portion, Holywell Bay, Cornwall

On the outside: Down to Cornwall for our next suggestion. ‘Little Portion’ has a quirky name, and an even quirkier character. From the outside, that red tin roof is the first thing that’ll grab your attention — perched jauntily above crooked cob walls and a forget-me-not blue windows. And the gardens! Brimming with wonderful plants, vintage tools and an all-important hot tub, it’s the perfect escape.

On the inside: There’s a modern rustic theme running throughout this cottage. Whether it’s the reclaimed floor or the vintage tiling, everything feels pleasingly ‘lived in’. There’s also a potting shed theme — blooming and blossoming throughout the colour palette, decor and general ambience. Flick through the retro gardening books, before retiring to the king-size bedroom for two that nestles up in the rafters.

Bush Cottage, Bridgnorth, Shropshire

On the outside: Sitting alone in a flowery pocket of rolling English fields, Bush Cottage is a diamond in its not-so-rough Shropshire valley. With leaded pane windows and glowing red brickwork, the place was constructed using oak in the mid-16th century — and it could serve as your very own off-grid escape into our nation’s rich history.

On the inside: A vast, chamfered central beam and truss — made from that same old oak — form the centrepiece of Bush Cottage’s interiors. There are two rooms in this one; a twin and a double, making it perfect for family adventures in the countryside. Elsewhere, a handsome fireplace will keep you warm, characterful wooden doors and shutters will keep out the cold and the homely kitchen makes it a treat to eat in.

Filly Island, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

On the outside: It’s back to the Cotswolds for this idiosyncratic cottage. Originally built as storage for its neighbouring mill’s cart (in the 1700s), it sits upon a tiny island in the River Churn — and is accessible only by crossing an even tinier humpback bridge. Nearby, a vast sycamore tree will cast enough shade for summer, and keep you sheltered enough in winter.

On the inside: The kitchen set-up is perhaps the highlight here. Not only is your cooking station stylishly rustic — but the dining table gazes out onto the river, giving you the perfect view with which to enjoy home-cooked fare. With enough room for two, comfortably, there’s also a double bedroom, roll-top bath and even a woodburner to ensure you keep cosy.

The Sorting Office, New Forest, Hampshire

On the outside: Could there be a more quintessentially English cottage? With its bold red bricks, old wooden frame and thick thicket of a thatched roof, The Sorting Office offers a picture perfect slice of English countryside. It’s very private, too. Surrounded by thick greenery, the only intrusions you’ll suffer will come courtesy of the horses from the neighbouring stud farm.

On the inside: Not what you’d immediately expect. There’s a more modern touch inside this cottage, with bright whites sweeping across the walls and light woods accenting on floors, beams and worktops. It’s a vibrant, clean, two-bedroom house with a family bathroom and a full-length window garden room that sits you squarely in nature. Thrown in the cocktail trolley, and it’s the perfect place to entertain.

Hole Cottage, Cowden, Kent

On the outside: This late medieval, timber-framed hall house is as unconventional a cottage as you’re ever likely to stay in. And that’s because it’s only a fraction of the original structure. This ‘cross-wing’ survived when the full house was demolished in 1833, and it now stands — proudly and quirkily — in a glade by a small stream in an idyllic, isolated forest.

On the inside: In a word; cosy. With small, leaded windows, a vast brick fireplace and beams criss-crossing both the ceilings and walls, Hole Cottage is a bucolic bolthole. There are logs available to keep the flames high, a double room for parents and bunkbeds for children. Dogs are even allowed (just be careful on those lavish, luxurious rugs).

Hex Cottage, Saxmundham, Suffolk

On the outside: Overlooking its own meadow, this thatched former forester’s cottage for two is another typical, traditional English property. Situated on Wilderness Reserve, it’s quintessential countryside stuff; with pale blue rafters, quaint columns and a door that looks plucked from the pages of a fairytale. Pleasingly symmetrical, twin chimneys poke up from the thatch (the fire is the sole source of heat in the whole cottage).

On the inside: That’s right, Hex Cottage is electricity-free; heated by fire and lit by candles. There are sheepskin rugs and a double Hypnos bed to keep you toasty, and plenty of distractions — from board games to a barbecue — to keep you busy. And the views! Who wouldn’t want to see a private lavender meadow each time they glanced out of the window?

Gwendolyn, Perranporth, Cornwall

On the outside: Fusing traditional Cornish charm with luxury beachside living, the cannily-named ‘Gwendolyn’ is a truly tranquil cottage — encircled as she is by her own, private compound. The alfresco dining table is a particular draw for the summer months, with the dual options of fire-pit and hot tub to keep warm after a long, languid dinner.

On the inside: Muted colours; a light, bright palette that’s somehow invigorating and calming all at once. The wood has a weathered feel, a drifty quality that makes sense this close to the sea. And this is a big one; with room for six adults and two children, an attic room and several trundle beds make the best use of the space. A coastal haven.

Howthwaite, Grasmere, The Lake District

On the outside: It’s in The Lake District — need we say anymore? This oasis of countryside calm is the jewel in England’s natural crown; dotted with hills to hike, lakes to row and trails to follow. Howthwaite sits slightly above William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, and shares the same exquisite views.

On the inside: It’s a simpler offering, with less adornments and decorations than some of the prettier places on this list. But the views do the heavy lifting here and, despite facilities including a handsome standalone bathtub, open fire and a herd of comfy armchairs, you’ll likely spent most of your time exploring the wonderful surroundings than every corner and crevice of the cottage itself.

Looking to stay somewhere further afield? These 7 lesser-known Greek islands are worth visiting…

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