These are Britain’s best five-star hotels

From a Scottish institution to a boutique London boltholes, check out where you should be checking in…

There’s nothing quite like a good hotel, is there? Fresh towels, room service, a well-stocked minibar. And hotels with a full five-stars are even better yet. So we’ve cast our discerning eyes up and down this green and pleasant land of ours to find the best of the best. Check out where you should be checking in…

Cliveden House is the jewel of Buckinghamshire

Does it get any grander than Cliveden House? The grand frontage, the architectural quirks — all the handiwork of Sir Charles Barry; he who designed the Palace of Westminster. The place is decadent, elegant and thankfully has a level of service to do its grandeur justice. A jewel of Buckinghamshire, Cliveden can be found sitting pretty in acres and acres of manicured National Trust gardens — and hosted the Duchess of Sussex the night before her wedding.

Inside, rooms range from ‘Club’ class to the ‘Mansion House Parterre’ suites — which boast handmade king-size beds, spectacularly high ceilings and honesty bars. You’ll find a spa tucked away behind the walled garden, The Astor Grill serving some top-notch grub in the house’s old stables and a flotilla of vintage boats available to hire for a cruise down the Thames.

First opened: 1985
Number of rooms: 47 (including 15 suites)
Nightly rate from: £445

Cliveden House

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For a charming Northern escape, The Grand, York

York is a special city. Like a stylish step into the past, it’s a destination packed with hidden corners and heritage architecture. One such building, The Grand, originally opened as the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway in 1906 — and today is the only five-star hotel in the Northern city. Historic and well-appointed, it has guestrooms of varying sizes spanning the Edwardian and Roman wings.

But it’s the extra amenities that really earn this hotel its ‘grand’ reputation. A calming spa sits in the building’s former vaults, complete with steam room, Nordic sauna and pool.

And, elevating the hotel’s focus on modern British cuisine with a refined menu of carefully curated flavours, its new fine-dining restaurant Legacy combines locally sourced ingredients with handpicked wines (the tasting menu is £120 per person). But our favourite thing about staying at The Grand? It makes an innately walkable city even more easy to navigate — perfectly placed as it is between the train station and city centre.

First opened: 2010
Number of rooms: 207
Nightly rate from: £169

The Grand, York

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For a taste of Italy, Lime Wood Hotel

With views of field and forest, there’s no doubt you’re in Britain when you check into Lime Wood Hotel. But the New Forest bolthole — if you can call a Regency-era country estate a bolthole — may have you second-guessing where you are. With white-walls and bright green foliage, the place has an air of Tuscany about it — especially on a balmy summer’s evening.

That European feel only grows once you step through the doors. Hartnett Holder & Co, the on-site restaurant, is run by Luke Holder and Angela Hartnett. Holder once spent a year cooking in the Italian kitchen of Enoteca Pinchiorri, 3 Michelin stars, in the heart of Tuscany — and he’s brought those Italian flavours back to Lime Wood.

First opened: 2009
Number of rooms: 32
Nightly rate from: £395

Lime Wood Hotel

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For a homely, chic stay, The Newt

The Newt, in Castle Cary, was in the making for over six years. You can tell. The thought that has gone into revamping and renovating every inch of 17th Century limestone Hadspen House is quite extraordinary. Owners Koos Bekker and his wife Karen Roos created the Parabola walled garden, a cider brewery and simple natural spa on site — to create one of the most sought-after stays in Britain.

The rooms are spread across the main house, the clock house and the stable yard. If you’re booking in, we’d suggest going for a garden room in the main house — where the decor and furniture is refreshingly simple and chic for such a grand setting. For food? A choice of two restaurants — the best of which is the Botanical Rooms, with a hearty, home-grown menu.

First opened: 2019
Number of rooms: 23
Nightly rate from: £383

The Newt

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For the full Scottish experience, Gleneagles

If you like the sound of bagpipes at breakfast, then we’ve got just the luxury hotel for you. Found slap bang between three championship golf courses in the unpronounceable Scottish town of Auchterarder, Gleneagles is a high-end spa and golf resort with rooms like no other — we’re talking levels of decadence that’ll give you two-story suites and claw-foot tubs.

But the best, most Scottish part of your stay will be that aforementioned breakfast. Okay, so the bagpipes may not be blaring — wouldn’t that be anti-social? — but every guest who checks in will get to enjoy a Full Scottish breakfast as complimentary. That means all your usual trappings, but also square lorne sausage, tattie scones and that most northern of delicacies; haggis.

First opened: 1924
Number of rooms: 232
Nightly rate from: £236


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The Balmoral is a Great British institution

Not to be mistaken for the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family — although they’d feel right at home here. The Balmoral is Edinburgh’s premier hotel; a landmark in itself on the cityscape of Scotland’s capital. Originally opened in 1902 as the North British Railway Station Hotel, it was designed by prevalent Scottish architect William Hamilton Beattie — and was re-opened in 1991 as The Balmoral by James Bond himself, Sean Connery.

Fit for superspies and royalty alike, the property is now part of the Rocco Forte portfolio — and has everything you’d expect or could want from a five-star institution. But it’s the less traditional touches that stand this one apart — such as the J.K Rowling suite; an elegant ode to the author built around the room in which she finished writing the final Harry Potter book.

First opened: 1902 (as the North British Railway Station Hotel)
Number of rooms: 167 (with 20 suites)
Nightly rate from: £162

The Balmoral

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The London EDITION defies classification

Simple accommodation doesn’t always mean budget accommodation. Just ask Ian Schrager, the man behind the EDITION hotel brand. London’s outpost of this stripped-back, sophisticated institution can be found near Mayfair — and it strikes the right balance between elegance and hip.

Oak floors, wood-panelled walls, custom furnishings and evocative photography from Hendrik Kerstens create a cabin-like feel to the rooms — somewhere between a bolthole in a forest clearing and a room on a private yacht. And the food is reason for visiting alone; with Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton lending his culinary expertise to on-site eatery Berners Tavern.

First opened: 2015
Number of rooms: 173
Nightly rate from: £198

The London EDITION

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For a cosy, mountainous escape, The Fife Arms

It would appear that Scotland have this whole five-star thing sewn up. The fourth hotel on this list north of the English border, you’ll find the Fife Arms in a 19th-century hunting lodge on Clunie Water, by Braemar. Tartan-trimmed and exceedingly sought-after, the place is supremely cosy; the well-executed passion project of international art dealers Hauser & Wirth.

The hotel has its own ghillie, who runs the gun room with an iron fist and will ensure any of your activities go off without a hitch or a misfire. And all bedrooms are themed — from ‘Scottish Culture’ to ‘Nature and Poetry’. Our particular favourite? The simple simple, cabin-like ‘Croft’ rooms. Because everything seems luxurious when you’ve got a tweed-covered hot water bottle…

First opened: 2019
Number of rooms: 46
Nightly rate from: £250

The Fife Arms

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