One need not jet off somewhere exotic to enjoy the summer. Whilst Britain’s weather is co-operating with us, why not make the most of our fair land with a luxurious staycation? Sybarites know that August is the best time to be in Britain.
Savvy staycationers have the run of Britain’s fabulous parks, countryside, coastal spots, theatres, restaurants, hotels, art galleries, museums, markets and more, when everyone else is getting sand stuck to their suncream.
So stay right where you are and read our round up of 10 of the best hotels for a staycaction here in Blighty.
Sopwell House, Hertfordshire
Once the private residence of Lord Mountbatten, these days the listed building is famous for hosting more footballers than probably anywhere else on the planet (the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal FC have stayed and played at Sopwell House).
And understandably so; the ambience is instantly soothing making the building, with its gorgeous Georgian architecture and 12 acres of picturesque gardens, the perfect place for an August staycation.
Rooms manage to be elegant without being intimidating and colourful without being garish, while the AA Rosette fine dining restaurant – with its high ceilings and classic, sleek decor – is as sophisticated as any central London spot.
Elsewhere fitness fanatics will love the enormous TechnoGym Wellness System. Too energetic? Make the most of the hotel’s exceptional spa or explore the nearby ancient Roman city of St Albans.
Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel, Buckinghamshire
Set in 300 acres of glorious parkland, lakes, historic gardens and monuments created over the past one thousand years, Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel has hosted Hollywood heavyweights Hugh Grant, Daniel Craig and Renee Zellwegger.
Designed by James Wyatt – King George 111’s favourite architect – the cream coloured Palladian mansion is pure opulence: expect marble pillars, walls adorned with historical portraits on the walls and floors covered in grand oriental rugs on the floors.
There are 49 luxurious bedrooms and suites to choose from including the Pennsylvania Suite that Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver, aka Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant, romped in after rowing on the nearby lake in Bridget Jones.
Beyond the bedrooms, Sybarites can hone their serve at the indoor and outdoor tennis courts (Stoke Park hosts the annual Boodles’ Challenge every June), work up a sweat in the 4,500 sq ft gymnasium, splash about in the indoor pool or play a round on the 27 hole Championship golf course.
Ragdale Hall Healthy Hydro and Thermal Spa, Melton Mowbray
Located in the leafy Leicestershire countryside – a mere couple of hours from the hustle and bustle of London – Ragdale Hall’s elegant facade (expect ivy clad traditional Victorian architecture) makes you think you’ve stepped back in time to a far more graceful age.
Owned by Michael Isaacs and Penny Nesbitt, who purchased the property back in June 1990, Ragdale Hall doesn’t just offer excellent quintessentially English accommodation: it’s keen to provide you with a better life.
To this end, there’s a fantastic array of treatments on offer from a milk and honey body glow flotation and crystal therapy to traditional facials, massages, mani-pedis and the male zone (treatments specifically designed to cater for male concerns).
However Ragdale Hall’s piece de resistance is arguably itsThermal Spa boasting, as it does, 10 heat and water facilities including a cave shower and an outdoor heated mineral water pool. And breathe…
Rosewood London, Holborn
Holborn has long been associated with suits, but the arrival of Rosewood London – a 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque gem in what was once an insurance company office building – has helped raised the bar.
This high octane hotel is housed in a beautiful 1914 Belle Epoque building that was once the headquarters of Pearl Assurance. Guests arrive through wrought iron gates into a charming courtyard before turning right into the lobby that’s divided into zones where you can read (there’s an elegant edit of books artfully scattered around the room), enjoy a drink or simply listen to the contented chirping of the birds who are housed in gargantuan cages.
When it comes to suites, Grand Manor House Wing – which makes Buckingham Palace look like a Travelodge – is the one to go for (if you can get a reservation). It’s the first hotel suite on the planet to have its own postcode (W1CV 7DZ if you’re interested) and is said to be seven times larger than the average British home….
Hampton Court Palace, Richmond Upon Thames
Why not channel the spirit of the Tudors and spend a night or two at Hampton Court’s charming Georgian House apartment?
This imposing building just north of the main palace was originally a kitchen built in 1718 for King George I and used by him and his son George, Prince of Wales (later King George II). Later it was divided into two houses, for the Clerk of Works and the Gardener.
Sybarites can stay in the eastern house, with a private walled garden, handsome rooms and a fine view over the palace roofs. But arguably the icing on the cake is being first in the queue to gawp at Henry VIII’s majestic palace and maze – declared the most famous Maze in the history of the world, and immeasurably the one most visited” by Ernest Law back in 1926.
Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf, Harrogate
Looking for a hotel in Harrogate? Look no further than Rudding Park. This Grade I-listed Regency country house is easily the area’s most outstanding accommodation having been voted within the top three Best Hotels in the UK for the 10th year running in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2016.
On arrival, it’s easy to see why: you’ll find stylish bedrooms, an award-winning restaurant, spa, gym, 18 hole course and 14 seat cinema – all set among beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland.
What we love about Rudding Park is that the property refuses to rest on its laurels. The picturesque retreat has undergone constant development over the last 21 years and the owners continue to reinvest in the property with a £9M development of the existing spa to open in spring 2017.
Ham Yard Hotel, London
Designed by husband and wife team, Tim and Kit Kemp, Ham Yard Hotel took three years to materialise but trust The Sybarite when we say that this £100 million boutique hotel – located on Soho’s last undeveloped Blitz bomb site – was worth the wait.
Make the most of the balmy temperatures by eating and drinking al fresco – either on the hotel’s terrace or up on the charming roof top garden that offers sweeping views of the London skyline. However if the weather everts to type, panic not. Simply curl up in the lovely ground floor library with its honesty bar, oversized Chesterfield sofas and shelves stocked with carefully curated books by literary expert, Philip Blackwell. Or watch a film in the190 seat theatre – we love the tangerine orange leather seats – before retiring to the Dive bar (named in honour of a 3ft neon lit lady diver that hangs on the far wall) for a nightcap. But Ham Yard Hotel’s biggest headline grabber has to the bijoux 1950s bowling alley – imported pin-by-pin from Texas.
Barnsley House Hotel & Spa, Cotswalds
Planning on joining the Chipperton North set in the Cotswold Hills this simmer? Check into Barnsley House… Situated in the centre of the Cotswold village of Barnsley, this 18 bedroom luxury hotel is a firm favourite with not only with politicians and the media elite, but also with horticulturists. Barnsley House is set in exquisite landscaped gardens designed by Rosemary Verey – who helped design a border at Prince Charles’s Garden at Highgrove – that are worth a day out in their own right. Make no mistake: the Barnsley House Garden has been featured on television many times. Elsewhere film buffs will adore Barnsley House’s boutique cinema, replete with luxurious two-seater pink leather armchairs. Someone has done their homework here and it shows: gold star.
Coworth Park, Ascot
Three cheers for Coworth Park! This luxurious country house hotel – the sister of The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane – on the borders of Windsor Great Park, offers high-end style without the stuffiness. It’s an idyllic place for a romantic retreat and a favourite with stressed out Londoners seeking a relaxing break with a dash of adventure, only 45 minutes commute from the capital.
For Georgian style with an eccentric decorative flair, stay in the Mansion House. However if you prefer a little more seclusion, opt for the self-contained converted Stables and Cottages.
Sybarites staying at Coworth Park can take part in quintessentially English activities – think tennis, croquet and horse riding – or take polo lessons with Guards Polo Club on one of Coworth Park’s two professional polo fields. Alternatively become an exclusive member of The Spa at Coworth Park, which allows you to use all the facilities as well as walk, jog or cycle around this peaceful haven.
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
Headed to Edinburgh for the annual International Fringe Festival this August? Be sure to stay at The Scotsman.
Built in 1905, The Scotsman – as its name suggests – resides in the former baronial offices of The Scotsman Newspaper on the city’s historic North Bridge. The first word in luxury, the last and most of those in between, The Scotsman is the only hotel in Edinburgh that can boast views over Edinburgh Castle, The Firth of Forth, Leith, Princes Street and Calton Hill – all of which are within walking distance. Further draws include a sumptuous spa and health club, private cinema and award winning restaurant. Little wonder then, that this five is five-star boutique has been voted one of the best hotels in the whole of Scotland. We’ll see you in the Scottish capital…
By Kaye Holland