From roaring fires to marshmallow-thick duvets, there are plenty of cockle-warming reasons to book a staycation this season.
Is there anything more satisfying than returning from a countryside hike, muscles aching and cheeks glowing from the cold, to bask in front of a crackling fire? Or exploring the nooks and crannies of a new city, as streetlights twinkle in the puddles and a vast, comfy bed awaits you? We think not. Which is why great hotels really come into play in the autumn, when the weather turns chillier, fallen leaves get crisp underfoot and we long to spend our evenings holed up somewhere warm, toasty and welcoming.
With that in mind, here are our tried-and-tested picks of the best cosy UK hotels for an autumn staycation.
Gleneagles - Auchterarder, Scotland
With a reputation even more commanding than its grand, expansive grounds, Gleneagles is truly a Scottish icon. Tucked below the towering Ochil Hills, the glamorous 850-acre estate manages to be regal and luxurious, while also retaining a cosy, warm feel (so you don’t feel uncomfortable trudging through the opulent hallways in your wellies). There are more than 230 rooms here, each of them awash with country-glam interiors, and when you’re not squirreled away inside, you’ll find an endless array of outdoorsy activities on offer, including falconry, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and archery. When it comes to relaxing, there’s an award-winning ESPA spa, four pools and a thermal suite to wade wantonly about in. Dinner is nothing less than sublime either, with eight restaurants to choose from, including the magnificent Andrew Fairlie, the only restaurant in Scotland with two Michelin stars.
Cosiest of all: The tactile fabrics used throughout the hotel - including luxuriously-heavy window drapes, fluffy Persian carpets and pillows (the plumpness of which you can choose when you check in).
From £395 per night; gleneagles.com
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House - Lake District
There’s a reason why Gilpin tops countless ‘best of’ lists. It is a pretty little hideaway, surrounded by rolling Cumbrian hills (and near to the beautiful Lake Windermere) with an absolutely top-notch food and spa offering. That’s pretty hard to beat. Here you’ll find 28 soothing, neutral-hued rooms (many with views of the lake), including private spa suites and a tucked-away six-bedroom boutique Lake House. You’ll want to make the most of the bucolic Lake District while you’re here, so it’s handy that there’s boating and fishing right on your doorstep. Or you can simply stroll around the 100 acres of tranquil countryside owned by the hotel, keeping a lookout for red squirrels, deer and soaring buzzards. Once you’ve decompressed from your ‘exertion’ with a dip in one of the hot tubs, stupendously-good food awaits at whichever of the two restaurants you choose: the pan-Asian Spice or the Michelin-starred HRiSHi.
Cosiest of all: The new private Spa Suites are the perfectly tranquil spot for hiding away when things get gloomy outside. Each comes with its own peaceful walled garden, a private hot tub, steam room, sauna and a separate treatment room, equipped with infrared lounge beds and super high-tech massage chairs – meaning you can indulge in DIY spa treatments without interacting with anyone else.
From £295 per night; thegilpin.co.uk
Forest - Cardigan, Wales
Those in the know are flocking to Fforest Farm, a rural playground where stressed-out city types don their wellies and seek solace in the lush Welsh countryside. There are various accommodation options here – from a farmhouse to garden rooms – but the particularly cosy eco-pods come with wooden floors, twisted oak chandeliers and log-burning stoves. When you’re not lounging in your pod or tucking into seasonal pub grub at the on-site Y Bwthyn, there’s adventure to be had around these parts, and you can spend your days hiking through red-leafed forests, canoeing on the nearby Teifi Gorge or searching for wildlife among the reeds in the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve.
Cosiest of all: Some eco-domes come with their own private Japanese-style onsen bath house, complete with a vast sunken tub, ideal for laying back and stargazing amidst the steam.
From £260 per night; coldatnight.co.uk
Lime Wood - New Forest
Some hotels simply exude elegance – and Lime Wood, in the beautiful, leafy New Forest, is certainly no different. But what’s really exciting is when this elegance comes without an ounce of stuffiness, as a stay at this gorgeous Georgian manor house so wonderfully delivers. Sure, you’ll find formal gardens, checkerboard floors, fancy sconces and twinkling chandeliers, but there’s also real heart to this hotel; a joyful buzz which makes everything feel cocooning and cosy. There are 33 bedrooms tucked away inside, ranging from suites in the main house with bleached oak floors and four-posters, to forest cottages and recently spruced-up pavilion suites, which come with woodland views, forest canopy wallpapers and a sprinkling of antiques. Dining is a highlight, and there are hearty dishes such as pillowy gnocchi and salt-aged beef on the menu at Hartnett, Holder & Co, perfect for fuelling up on before a restorative forest walk.
Cosiest of all: The almost absurdly beautiful Lake Cabin has its own log burning stove, while in the main hotel, the Drawing Room offers a lovely, fireside spot in which to curl up with a book.
From £395 per night; limewoodhotel.co.uk
The Lygon Arms - Cotswolds
The 86-bedroom Lygon Arms is a historical treasure trove of a hotel, situated within the idyllic Cotswolds village of Broadway. With roots dating back to the 14th century, it’s the ideal spot for anyone into heritage chic (and truly beautiful hotel stays). Here, you can sleep in the Charles I suite, where King Charles stayed before battle during the English Civil War in 1649, with a four poster bed fit for royalty, original paintings and a shining coat of arms that sits above a traditional, roaring fireplace. Foodies will be content here, too, and the Lygon Bar & Grill is a celebration of all things Cotswold, with each dish inspired by the surroundings and the seasons. You’ll find nods to history here too, with large ornate windows, open fireplaces and historical portraits dotted across the walls, each telling a story of the inn that once was.
Cosiest of all: You’ll be able to keep your beloved dog (aka a walking hot water bottle) close to you here as the hotel is extremely dog friendly. You’ll even find dog-specific treatments on the spa menu.
From £165 per night; lygonarmshotel.co.uk
The Fife Arms - Braemar, Scotland
This former hunting lodge in Braemar, near Queen Liz’s Balmoral Castle, is a cornucopia of artistic delights. Reinventing the stereotypical tartan-and-shortbread Scottish aesthetic, this is a place where you’ll find bright Picasso paintings on the walls, neon chandeliers in the lobby and a (casual) flying stag above the bar. It’s all down to Manuela and Iwan Wirth, contemporary-art dealer extraordinaires and two of the most influential people in the art world, who – after reimagining Durslade working farm in Bruton and working their magic at Yorkshire Sculpture Park – lent their Midas touch to this little Highland gem. While here, you can spend your time searching for golden eagles in the skies above the stunning Cairngorms National Park, heading out on tours with in-house forager Natasha Lloyd, or kicking back in the bijou little spa. Food in the Clunie Dining room is hearty and brilliant (think Aberdeenshire lamb, girolles on toast and beef and bone marrow burgers) while the tiny and slightly bonkers Elsa’s Bar – dedicated to Italian couturière Elsa Schiaparelli and awash with her trademark shocking pink – serves up exquisitely creative cocktails. Rooms here are quirky and opulent too, with sumptuous, off-kilter suites inspired by all sort of things, from the Jacobite uprising to Victorian botanists.
Cosiest of all: The immense 19th-century fireplace is a work of art in itself. Perfect for warming chilly fingers after you’ve been out exploring the Cairngorms National Park, it’s surrounded by a colossal carved chimney piece, with scenes from poems by Robert Burns.
From £250 per night; thefifearms.com
Grantley Hall - Yorkshire
The 17th century Grantley Hall is a master of reinvention. It’s been everything, from a sprawling family mansion to a convalescent home during the Second World War. Now, after falling into a state of disrepair, it’s been entirely overhauled and reimagined as a truly wonderful Relais & Chateaux hotel, with 47 rooms, a fine dining restaurant and a gym with cutting-edge workout facilities (we’re talking underwater treadmills, cryotherapy chambers and altitude training sessions). Set in the rippling Yorkshire Dales, the hotel is awash with brilliantly-restored period features, such as the Grade II-listed Japanese garden, and the original wood-panelling in the Norton Bar. It’s all about the comfort here, and you’ll find everything from pillow and robe menus to huge Victoria + Albert baths in each of the rooms. There’s a spa too (in case you were in any doubt that this is a place to relax), with a peaceful lap pool, a snow room and treatments from salt scrubs to de-stressing massages.
Cosiest of all: Dinner at Shaun Rankin’s restaurant is a veritable comfort food feast, with a tasting menu inspired by his childhood growing up in Yorkshire, including bread and beef dripping.
From £385 per night, on a B&B basis; grantleyhall.co.uk