After a long summer of surfing, sunbathing and sailing, it’s time to look ahead to that wondrous recreational activity we otherwise like to call the ‘autumn staycation’. We may have only just gone back to work — but amidst the commuting, briefcase-carrying, Slack-checking and minute-taking, we need to find some brief moments of respite.
And where better to find these treasured, restorative moments than in the wilds of our British countryside? The staycation offerings on our tiny, humble Isles are at their very best during autumn — those red, gold and yellow leaves will unfailingly do wonders for both the soul and the Instagram account — and so we’ve scoured the country to find those perfect pockets of recreational bliss for the next few months.
Wilderness Reserve, Suffolk
If rurality and luxury could be combined, they’d make for a breathtakingly blissful cocktail. Happily, that’s exactly what the Suffolk-based Wilderness Reserve has achieved. Just two hours from London, the Reserve offers a vast, seemingly unending array of luxury self-catered cottages on an 8,000 acre private estate: from romantic, secluded boltholes (like the ‘digital detox’, electricity free Hex Cottage) to sprawling party houses (such as Sibton Park, which houses a gym, cinema room and wine cellar within its period property walls).
Each cottage is cared for by an exacting team with precision luxury standards (not to mention whimsical traditional nods — where else would you find Housekeeping cruising around an estate in their Morris Minors?); and the Reserve offers no shortage of activities. You’ll arrive to relax: but you’ll find yourself cramming more recreational activities (rowing on the lake, relaxing in the hot tub) into your staycation diary than meetings in your Gmail calendar. So take our word for it, gents: get those wheels rolling to the Suffolk countryside without further ado.
Lucknam Park, Wiltshire
We’re nothing if not upfront: so we won’t mince words here. If you’re after a decadent, gregarious, champagne-exploding sort of staycation, Lucknam Park won’t be the autumn staycation spot for you. If, however, you’re looking for a refined, elegant, sophisticated bolthole — possibly somewhere you could take your other half, or even your mother (when was the last time you treated her? Be honest…), then this luxury hotel should shoot straight to the top of your list.
Nestled in 500 acres of picture-perfect private parkland (where deer roam freely and the early morning mist has a distinct ‘Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice’ air to it), this reputed English Mansion awaits at the end of a long, beech-tree lined avenue: ready to greet weary travellers (the nearest station is Bath) with vast, airy drawing rooms, crackling fires, a state-of-the-art spa and enough quintessential British comforts to chase away any temptation to check your email. Let that OOO do its job, and relax into your well-earned Afternoon Tea.
Milne Graden, Scottish Borders
Set against the gently curving banks of the River Tweed lies this achingly picturesque collection of luxury cottages. Once again, we wouldn’t recommend it for a staycation centred around debauchery and depravity (not that we’d endorse that sort of behaviour anyway, of course) — but we’d certainly recommend it for a weekend of unwinding, detoxing and recharging.
Whether you opt for the pocket-sized West Lodge, the idyllic Garden House or the river-facing Tweedside, every one of these cottages is brimming over with luxurious comforts, cosy necessities and the sorts of panoramic views that make your breath catch in your throat while simultaneously reaching for your phone. With an abundance of countryside (and riverside) activities in your doorstep of the sort only the remote wildness of the Scottish Borders can offer, this is sure to be a staycation you’ll remember for a long time to come.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Is there anywhere better than the New Forest during autumn? It’s the sort of place that can conjure up a magical, fairytale atmosphere even when viewed through the rain-streaked windows of a crowded train during rush hour — so just imagine its transportative powers when selected for an autumnal staycation.
And if you’re New Forest-bound this autumn, you simply couldn’t do better than Chewton Glen. Conceived by Iconic Luxury Hotels (the team who brought us the renowned Cliveden House and the more recent, much-talked-of Mayfair Townhouse), this luxury hotel is just the spot to while away those endless, blissfully email-free staycation hours. Visit the Hydrotherapy Pool, enjoy a glass of wine at The Pool Bar or simply lose yourself in a good book by the fire: either way, enjoy an autumn staycation like no other.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve sung the praises of an Oxfordshire staycation; but when autumn is thrown into the staycationing mix, Oxfordshire deserves a thorough rehash when it comes to its opportunities for luxury living and relaxing in chic countryside style. It has more to offer than you can shake your Wellingtons at; but when it comes to the optimum staycation spot within the wilds of this picture-perfect county, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons will win out every time.
Seamlessly merging Oxfordshire tradition with a discernible French flair, courtesy of Raymond Blanc (the maître de maison), the honey-coloured manor — with its Michelin starred restaurant and hotel suites named after Blanc’s various travels (the Botticelli suite, anyone?) — serves as the ideal respite for the weary Londoner. And don’t forget: Daylesford’s Wild Rabbit is (nearly) a stone’s throw away, as is the ever-reliable, luxurious Bicester Village…
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District
Admit it: you were ready and waiting for the Lake District to make an appearance in an autumn staycation curation. And, indeed, why wouldn’t it? By universal acknowledgement, the Lake District is one of the most beautiful — and the most relaxing — places in Britain; and to omit it from any staycation discourse would be to commit a severe staycation faux-pas. And when it comes to where to stay, The Gilpin Hotel should shoot straight to the top of even the most discerning list.
Nestled between Windermere and Oxenholme stations, the luxury hotel comprises a mere 28 rooms: all of which have panoramic Lakeland views (just as you’d expect from a Lake District staycation). With Garden Suites offering their own cedarwood hot tubs, Spa Lodges boasting ensuite spas and Spa Suites proffering not only ensuite spas (complete with steam rooms and saunas) but also their own cocktail bars (together with circular stone baths, infrared lounge beds…the list goes on), you’ll barely spend any time actually at the Lakes. The Gilpin Lake House, meanwhile, sits half a mile away with six rooms that enjoy an exclusive 100 acres: so if you’re on the hunt for a digital detox, gents; this would be the place to do it.
The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
THE PIG at Bridge Place, Kent
To use ‘Garden of England’ as the selling point for Kent is an overused trope, to say the least; but with those neat hedgerows, rolling green fields and Beatrix Potter-esque houses around every corner, Kent truly can proffer some of the most scenic views in Britain; and when you factor The Pig into the quintessential mix, you’ll be packing your bags and setting the sat-nav before you’ve even thought to set your out-of-office.
With its luxury hotels all over the country, you presumably won’t be a stranger to the virtues of The Pig; but the Kent iteration of this five-star hotel group is enough to ensure you’ll never want to stay at any hotel that isn’t a Pig hotel ever again. Less than an hour from London by train, it’s snugly nestled in the tiny, historic village of Bridge (just three miles out of the better-known Canterbury). It’s something of an enigma (and a luxury one, at that); it houses all your traditional period qualities (panelled walls and the frequently-alluded-to fireplaces); but it’s also hosted gigs by multiple rock-n-roll legends over the years: Led Zeppelin, among them. Intrigued? You should be; so we’d suggest going to see what all the fuss is about sooner rather than later.
THE PIG at Bridge Place
The Newt, Somerset
Ah, the West Country: home to Thomas Hardy characters and five-star luxury alike. And if you were looking for a hotel that merges both West Country characteristics in one staycation package: it would be The Newt. The main house, Hadspen, was originally built in the 17th century and then remodelled in the Georgian era, and now evokes a Georgian family home; while half a mile away, the former dairy farm allows guests to relax and unwind in snug, cosy rooms housed in original farm buildings — right alongside grazing livestock, in true Hardy fashion.
One of the most notable elements of Somerset life lies in its nickname as ‘apple country’; a nickname that The Newt has fully embraced. Surrounded by ancient apple orchards, the hotel offers daily cyder tours to guests in the cathedral-esque cellar. Watch the slow, cold fermentation of the apples into that delectable tipple; and look forward to an afternoon at the Hadspen spa to follow.
The Newt in Somerset
Wondering how to pack for your autumn staycation? Complete your luggage collection with the Chapman Cargo Range…
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