Self-catering holidays in the UK are back on the table – hurrah! To help you pick somewhere fabulous for this summer’s staycation, the Stylist team are here with recommendations on the best places we’ve ever stayed.
Getting away on holiday has been a huge talking point for the British public over the last year, as many of us have looked towards this summer with a question mark over what kind of breaks will be allowed.
The ‘will we, won’t we?’ debate is still going on when it comes to holidays abroad, but as far as staycations go, we’re (hopefully) in the clear. This exciting opportunity to get out the house and see some other parts of the country is marked with this week’s milestone, which says that from 12 April self-catering staycations with members of your household are now allowed.
And so, where to go? Rural getaways in shepards huts, cabins and cottages have become booming trends over the last few years with buzzwords like ‘slow living’ and ‘forest holidays’ promising serene weekends away from laptops and offices.
Now, though, while many of us haven’t been battling commutes and long days at the office, we are in need of a reprieve from the four walls of home, which means that staycations are getting booked up.
To help you get in on the action, the Stylist team are here with our recommendations of the best self-catering holidays we’ve ever been on in the UK.
No. 33 Thornham Cottage Two, Norfolk
“As a girl from the Midlands, Norfolk has long been on my radar as a gorgeous place to escape bustling city live and enjoy the sea air. In 2019 I got married in Titchwell and stayed in the next village along, Thornham – both a stone’s throw from Burnham Market and good old Sunny Hunny (Hunstanton).
“We stayed in Cottage 2, Thornham, (owned by 33 Hunstanton), which is positioned opposite the Deli, which is owned by the same company. This little one bed boasts its own private garden, a stunning hand-painted wall in the bedroom and a roll top bath for ultimate luxury. It’s self catering so comes with all the accoutrements one might need for a home stay: a dishwasher, a hamper of goodies on arrival and, the best part, the deli delivered breakfast in the morning (bacon sandwiches all round, no cooking involved).
“Whether you want to mooch around the shops, go cycling around Holkham Hall or pick up fish and chips on the pier at Hunstanton, these lets are in the perfect place. Just grab your sunglasses, throw on your flipflops and get yourself to Norfolk.”
Felicity Thistlethwaite, executive digital editor
Fisherman's Cottage, Whistable
“My favourite self-catered stay ever has to be the time I stayed in a converted fisherman’s cottage in the seaside town of Whitstable, Kent. The town itself was as idyllic and picture perfect as you might expect (even though it was raining), but what really made the difference was the homely feel of the cottage we stayed in.
“Fitted with all the kinds of luxurious features you’d want in a rental property (including a roll top bath and stand to rest a glass of prosecco), the cottage is also incredibly well-decorated and comfy, too. There’s even an adorable little seating area out the back which would work perfectly for sunny summer evenings.
“And the best bit? It’s quite literally a stone’s throw from the beach and situated near to one of the town’s most iconic pubs the Old Neptune, so there’s plenty to explore.”
Lauren Geall, junior digital writer
The Farmhouse's Potting Shed, Whitby
“My partner and I are big Dracula fans so we loved the idea of visiting Whitby, looking out to the bay, exploring the winding streets and discovering the old pubs. But, while the town itself is very quaint, we decided to stay a little bit further out at The Farmhouse in Goatland – and I’m so glad we did.
“The Farmhouse is a less than a 20 minute drive into Whitby where you can feast on fish and chips and even take a trip to the Dracula museum if you’re so inclined, but it’s set amongst the stunning north Yorkshire moors so the scenery is incredible.
“This working farm and boutique hotel also has a selection of self-contained dwellings, one of which we stayed in called The Potting Shed. Sitting right on the other side of the farm, there’s not a soul about and as well as uninterrupted views, you have your own garden to scoff your delicious breakfast hamper in and plenty of peace and quiet.
“The Potting Shed itself straddles that lovely balance between being cosy and luxurious, with a huge, soft bed, swish walk-in shower and well-picked furnishings.”
Megan Murray, senior digital writer
Dragonfly Camping’s Kingfisher Cabin, Pembrokeshire
“I defy you not to come to Dragonfly Camping and within an hour find yourself thinking: ‘Yes. I could do this. I should do this. I am going to own a cabin floating on a pond surrounded by rolling countryside with the sea at the fringes.’
“Dragonfly is a small, eco-friendly campsite on the Cleddau Estuary. Here, you can literally roll out of bed, swing open the doors and jump straight into the water to swim alongside ducks. To say it’s peaceful is to totally downplay it. Nearby villages such as Lawrenny are tiny with the occasional shop and there’s no wifi.
“The cabin is like something from an episode of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. It’s solar-powered, sports a hot shower, gas oven, barbecue, cool box (filled, if requested, with delicious local sausages, eggs with the yellowest yolks I’ve ever seen and salty Welsh butter), wood-burning stove and giant sofa bed that comfortably sleeps two people.
“Other thoughtful touches include freshly cut wild flowers, Welsh cakes and a hammock chair on the deck. Some of the things you may hear when sprawled in said chair: cows mooing (we were convinced one kept giving us disparaging stares), water faintly lapping, bird song, reeds swaying. That’s it.”
Helen Bownass, entertainment director
Fountains Cottage, Ripon
“Fountains Cottage in Ripon is an ivy-clad beauty of an old farmhouse, just moments away from the ruins and grounds of Fountains Abbey – which eagle-eyed movie fans will no doubt recognise from The Secret Garden.
“I loved my stay here for several reasons; firstly, because guests are granted free entry to the abbey at any time (even outside usual opening hours), which means you have plenty of time to explore away from the crowds. Secondly, because it’s surrounded by nature; I saw pheasants, badgers, rabbits, and hedgehogs aplenty during my week there.
“Thirdly, because the spa town of Harrogate is just a short drive away. And fourthly because the house itself is gorgeous; we spent many a cosy night curled up playing board games in front of the log fire, sitting out by the river for breakfast, sipping on a glass of wine in the garden, or spreading out a huge homemade meal over the (frankly massive) dining table. The kitchen is big and well-appointed and a genuine joy to cook in, too, which makes it feel like the ultimate home away from home!”
Kayleigh Dray, digital editor-at-large
Images: Dragonfly Camping / courtesy of brands