One Night Wonders: Britain's best hotel escapes in an hour's reach of city-dwellers

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When you live in a city it can be easy to forget how close you are to the great outdoors – so we’re here to remind you.

These ten fabulous country and coast getaways are all within an hour’s drive (traffic permitting) of some of the UK’s biggest smokes – perfect for a night away to forget about city life. 

Words: Katharine Busby

  • Amberley Castle, West Sussex

    If you live in… Brighton

    Go toAmberley Castle

    A proper, bona fide castle only 22 miles from Brighton – with gorgeous rooms and delicious food – is just waiting for you to come and reign for a night. Amberley also has amazing gardens and some charming residents in the form of two peacocks and a pair of alpacas.

    Why go? You will feel like royalty, of course. If you need more to persuade you, it’s a stunning setting, the food is excellent and there are even rooms with their own log fires.

    While you’re there: If you want more than a beautiful castle and the chocolate-box village of Amberley, why not have a trip out to Goodwood, just 11 miles away. You may even win enough on the horses to stay another night.

    Rooms from £175 per night

  • Llangoed Hall, Powys

    If you live in… Cardiff

    Go toLlangoed Hall

    This 23-room boutique hotel in the Wye Valley is perfectly located to help you quickly forget the chaos of city life for 24 hours. With 17 acres of landscaped gardens and the Brecon Beacons on your doorstep, this is the ideal escape for outdoorsy city folk.

    Why go? For a full-on countryside experience without the chintz, this is the place. They even offer a Laura Ashley afternoon tea, featuring elderflower Champagne and floral teas.

    While you’re there: Pop your intellectual head on and make the trip to Hay-on-Wye for a snoop around the many bookshops. If you want to be there for the famous literary festival, it’s on this year from May 26 – June 5

    Rooms from £175 per night

  • Rutherford House, Edinburgh

    If you live in… Edinburgh

    Go to… Rutherford House

    A rural yet cool bed-and-breakfast offering standard and deluxe rooms, this is in such a quiet location you’ll be surprised by how close you are to Edinburgh city centre (a 25-minute drive). Breakfast is a hearty Scottish treat, and for lunch or dinner, head into the local village of West Linton for proper pub fare, a tearoom and an organic farm shop and restaurant.

    Why go? With little in sight apart from rolling countryside, you’ll be in wind-down mode in an instant. 

    While you’re there: Take an artisan bread-making course in a charming village farmhouse, run by Bread Matters

    Rooms from £90 per night

  • The Peacock at Rowsley, Derbyshire

    If you live in… Manchester

    Go to… The Peacock at Rowsley

    If you live in Manchester and haven’t yet visited the Peak District you need to do so asap –  it’s lovely; and you’ll feel all Madonna-The-Guy-Ritchie-Years as you pretend The Peacock is your very own country estate. The hotel even runs guided country walks, so pack your tweeds and wellies.

    Why go? The hotel bar is cosy and country-pub-like but has a full wine list as well as a cocktail menu. The best of both worlds, then.

    While you’re there: Enjoy the grandeur and gorgeousness of Chatsworth House stately home, featured in films such as The Duchess and Pride & Prejudice. You can buy tickets for both the house and stunning gardens, or the garden alone – and as a guest at the Peacock you’ll get a discounted price.

    Rooms from £180 per night

  • The Talbot Inn, Somerset

    If you live in… Bath

    Go to… The Talbot Inn

    Considering the reasonable rates, you might be surprised at the attention to detail and luxury factor of the Talbot Inn. And if you want to relax away from your bedroom there is the Talbot’s Sitting Room, with daily newspapers, magazines, books and board games to keep you occupied.

    Why go? Just reading the hotel’s menus makes us really hungry. Breakfast offerings include hash brown with fried duck egg, while the dark chocolate and salted caramel mousse with peanut butter ice cream would make us happy at the end of any lunch or supper (or breakfast, for that matter, but it’s not actually on the breakfast menu, sadly).

    While you’re there: Unleash your inner hippy with a visit to Stonehenge

    Rooms from £100 per night

  • The Joiners Arms, Alnwick

    If you live in… Newcastle upon Tyne

    Go to… The Joiners Arms

    Venture up the coast just north of Alnwick (home of the famous castle where the first two Harry Potter films were made) and this cosy inn at Newton-by-the-Sea will make you feel like you’re getting a big warm hug. They welcome dogs too, with special canine-friendly rooms for you and your pet, so Fido can get the mini-break he needs as well.

    Why go? Newton-by-the-Sea has a beautiful, rugged stretch of coastline with a proper sandy beach. So when you’ve eaten the hearty food on offer at the Joiners Arms, you can then take yourself for a (often windswept) walk by the sea.

    While you’re there: Take a boat trip out to the Farne islands where you’re likely to see puffins and grey seals in abundance.

    Rooms from £140 per night

  • Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire

    If you live in… London

    Go to… Soho Farmhouse

    The newest member of the Soho House family, this Oxfordshire pile is all converted barns and cosy cabins to sleep in; but don’t get the idea this is shabby-chic – there’s nothing shabby about a cart that comes to your cabin door just to mix you a cocktail, is there?

    Why go? With restaurants, gorgeous lounges to relax in, a 50-seat cinema, a Cowshed spa, horse-riding and a spinning studio, there really is something for everyone. You may find you want more than 24 hours, but unsurprisingly nights here don’t come cheap.

    While you’re there: Have a browse and buy some treats in the farm shop, or pop down the road to Chipping Norton to see if you can spot the posh likes of David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson. (Er, if you really want to.)

    Rooms from £330 per night for non-members

  • Hampton Manor, West Midlands

    If you live in… Birmingham

    Go to… Hampton Manor

    Yes, you CAN be lady of the manor. This gorgeous pile has a Michelin Guide-recommended restaurant and 15 chic bedrooms with opulent furnishings and the odd free-standing bath. Lord/ Lady it up to your heart’s content.

    Why go? Afternoon tea, complete with Champagne, is served daily. It may be hard to leave any space for dinner but do try. And if you’re utterly exhausted from all that eating (such hard work) there’s a full spa-treatment list to work your way through in the manor’s treatment room.

    While you’re there: Work off some of those calories at the Hampton Tennis Club – guests of the manor enjoy access to the club’s full facilities.

    Double rooms from £150 per night

  • The Blue Lion Inn, North Yorkshire

    If you live in… Leeds

    Go to… The Blue Lion Inn

    The Blue Lion’s  pub-with-rooms status may make you think of disappointing grub and noisy bedrooms – but thankfully you’d be very much mistaken. Warm, cosy rooms and a dinner menu offering the likes of slow-cooked pork belly with black pudding Scotch egg are a bit (read: a lot) fancier than your average pub.

    Why go? The Blue Lion won The Good Pub Guide’s Inn of the Year 2014. It’s also scooped Dining Pub Of The Year three times. Clearly they’re doing something right.

    While you’re there: The inn is just down the road from Wensleydale, home of Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese. The creamery has its own visitor centre featuring a museum and – oh yes – tastings.

    Rooms from £94 per night

  • The Bushmills Inn, Belfast

    If you live in… Belfast

    Go to… The Bushmills Inn

    Sitting on the banks of the River Bush, this luxury boutique hotel dates back to the 17th century and now has 41 rooms and suites, as well as a treatment room where you can book yourself in for a massage and enjoy it along with a glass of prosecco. Yes, it is a tough life.

    Why go? Despite being small, it seems this hotel is perfectly formed – it even has its own cinema room, where the screening schedule for 2016 includes Dirty Dancing and Spectre (with a Martini thrown in for good measure, of course).

    While you’re there: Include a trip out to the Giant’s Causeway and – if you’re feeling brave – try crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

    Rooms from £120 per night