Fancy making the most of your Easter bank holiday with a UK break? We thought you might like that idea…
Staycations are what bank holidays were made for. One extra lie-in isn’t always enough to tempt us out of the country, because travelling does somewhat counteract the point of getting some rest. But, with so many gorgeous hotel and spa breaks just a short journey away, it makes perfect sense to explore more of what the UK has to offer.
If you’re anything like us, though, you might not have exactly got your act together and meticulously planned your Easter bank holiday weekend months in advance. Which means, as it gets closer and the stories of your friend’s dreamy sounding weekends get ever-so-slightly grating, the need to book something last minute goes from a nice idea to a must-do.
Enter our list of tried and tested gorgeous getaways, each one worthy of your attention and ideal for an Easter bank holiday weekend break in the UK.
From an Elizabethan manor to Soho House’s most picturesque venue, there’s no need for hours of research to find a hotel last minute. These staycations are exactly what you need…
Links House, Dornoch
There are few places in the UK that can claim to be as beautiful as the stretch of coast that runs alongside the Scottish Highlands. On that coast there is a tiny, impossibly cute town called Dornoch which happens to be the home of luxury five-star hotel Links House.
You see, in our fast-paced and polluted city lives, more and more of us are craving a break away that is both aesthetically breath taking and allows us to slow down the pace for a few days. We’re seeing holiday makers move away from party capitals and instead invest in destinations where they can reconnect to nature. Crucially, people are also looking to access their chosen destinations via more eco-friendly methods of travel, like train.
It’s all these things and (much) more which make Links House an incredible destination for a long weekend away. 40 miles north of Inverness, Dornoch benefits from a microclimate which means it’s one of the driest, sunniest parts of Scotland and with some of the most beautiful, pastel-hued sunsets. This fact makes enjoying all of the wholesome outdoor activities Links House has to offer all the sweeter, starting with the picturesque beach which is literally a two-minute walk away.
While staying at the house you can also trundle down to the tiny town, which is not only quaint but has lots of little boutiques and hearty pubs to explore and none of the hustle and bustle of big city life. If you fancy doing something a little more adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing organised by the hotel. We also couldn’t talk about Links House without mentioning its world-renowned golf course, which is an absolute must-see for golf lovers.
But although there’s plenty to do outside the hotel, we’re not sure you’ll want to venture too far after putting your feet up and experiencing just how accommodating Links House can be. Its traditional Scottish décor will instantly make you feel at home with open fires and big chairs in rich, cosy fabrics, all put together in a design-lead way. Not only are the rooms sumptuously comfortable and the staff are a delight, but the hotel’s new restaurant means you won’t want to go far for your evening meal.
Mara will open in the spring and is inspired by gifts from Scotland’s waters, fields, forests and skies, with a focus on sustainability. Its menu will provide guests with the very best of the Highland’s produce, which for those who have travelled from other parts of the UK, will make their experience all the more special and authentic. Think, for example, lobsters from Portmahomack, Scrabster scallops, Perthshire raspberries and Dornoch lamb… is your mouth watering yet?
No. 131 The Promenade, Cheltenham
No. 131 The Promenade is a Georgian hotel in the Cotswolds, offering a boutique city option for those wanting to explore the surrounding countryside.
Original features and period bathrooms exist alongside super chic interior design throughout the bedrooms, with to-die-for touches like free-standing baths and original artwork from some of the UK’s biggest names. Pick from Cosy, Very Good, and Excellent for your room size, some of which are so spacious we could quite happily call them home forever.
For all your drinking and dining needs there’s the stylish restaurant and bar (we particularly love the Baz Lurhmann-esque neon sign), and you must visit Gin and Juice, the resident cocktail specialist watering hole. With a collection of 350 gins (and growing), we think it’s earned its name.
Elmley nature reserve
A getaway with a difference, Elmley is a 3,300 acre estate and nature reserve based on an island in the Thames. Unlike some of the other all-out luxury names on this list, Elmley is more focused on cute and cosy countryside escapes, with accommodation that lets you get back to nature and looks good on the ‘gram.
Elmley has a selection of staycation options, including a tiny traditional hut with spanning views and a glass-fronted she-shed with outdoor vintage bath tub, and there’s plenty more where that came from. All of the immersed-in-the-wild dwellings come with self-catering options and a selection of treats (like marshmallows and coffee) to get you started, but hot meals can be delivered to your door too. You can now also stay in the beautiful 18th century Kingshill Farmhouse, which is has been undergoing renovation.
Lower Elsford Farm
With a glorious four days off from work, the August bank holiday weekend truly is a time for sitting back, taking the weight off and relaxing. And where better to do that than on a beautiful country farm, away from the rest of the world?
Although we love spa breaks and trying out cute bed and breakfasts, there’s something blissful about having a place to yourself with total privacy. That’s exactly what you get at Lower Elsford Farm, a self-catering cottage on a 32 acre working farm in Devon.
Not only is the farmhouse surrounded by pretty wildlife, but the property has spanning views out to Dartmoor National Park, perfect for gazing upon with glass of wine in hand on a sunny evening.
It sleeps four, making it the ideal spot for a girls weekend away, and there’s plenty of fun to be had while you’re there, too. There’s a heated swimming pool in the garden and games room inside, and in the grounds (which are just asking to be explored) you’ll find a tumbling stream, an ancient stone row and two ponds. Beyond the farm there’s quaint villages to amble around and a reservoir where you can hire boats.
Buried in the depths of picturesque Somerset, Babington House really does have it all.
For those with an eye for design, the eccentric style is sure to wow, from the dusty-pink velvet furniture to the twee, striped pool side loungers. And this sense of luxury (a staple of the Soho House group) is carried throughout the entire venue, which makes choosing a bedroom ever so much fun.
Broken into several parts, overnight accommodation is offered not only in the main house, but coach house, lodge, walled garden, cabin and stable block, too. Each area has its own charms, but all feel decidedly rustic and ensure that any city dweller-anxieties that you might be carrying around will melt away soon after your arrival.
When you’re not lounging around in your room or taking a soak in your free standing bath, there’s also a calming spa and outdoor pool to enjoy, which comes complete with indoor relaxing area (perfect for reading a book and enjoying a coffee) and a selection of Cowshed treatments to try. Outside, be sure to try out the tennis courts, explore the walled garden, take a peek at the chapel and explore the grounds, working up enough of an appetite to try out the delicious menu in The Orangery restaurant.
There are no words to describe the luxuriousness of Cliveden House: spending the weekend at this five star Grade I stately home is akin to taking a staycation at the magnificent Downton Abbey.
As soon as you arrive, the staff rush to greet you, promising you that, from this moment on, you won’t be lifting a finger. Which, let us tell you, after a long week at work is a welcome pledge. Thanks to the rich colour schemes, crackling fires and sumptuous furniture, the house’s communal areas (which include a library bar and Marie Antoinette-style dining room) are ideal spots to relax. But, if you want to truly unwind, we recommend you take a trip to the spa.
Not only is there an outdoor pool (the only listed one in Britain) and hot tub, surrounded by lavender and sitting below an ornate clock tower, but there is also a health-focused spa restaurant, expansive indoor pool, relaxing area with reclining beds and an abundance of treatment rooms. The little touches go a long way here, with well kitted out changing rooms and fluffy robes which you’re invited to pull on before trying an indulgent facial or massage. The spa even uses its own products. The Cliveden body COLLECTION has been created especially by OSKIA for the house and has fragrances and products used in the facials inspired by some of the strong women who have graced Cliveden, like the first female MP to take her seat, Nancy Astor.
And, of course, after you’ve been pampered and preened it’s only right that you should have a fabulous room to head back to, of which we can heartily recommend the Mountbatten Junior Suite. It’s ideal for an authentic English experience, all wood paneled walls, green velvet curtains and stretches out across two levels.
Ockenden Manor and Spa
There’s no need to sacrifice any of your tastes when booking a weekend away at Ockenden Manor, for its two sites offer both sides of the spectrum when it comes to a relaxing staycation.
Over in the main house you’d be forgiven for thinking you were visiting a museum-like stately home, such is the vintage decor and antique furniture. The building dates back to Elizabethan times, having originally being built in the mid-1500s, something the current owners have clearly been conscious to preserve in the dusty-rose pink walls, dark overhead beams and crackling fireplaces.
But, while the manor house feels like the perfect place for a cup of tea and a hearty slice of cake (especially in the Drawing Room which has flawless views of the rolling countryside), a two minute walk will deliver you to one of the swishest spas around.
Set in a huge, cube-shaped, bright orange building, the Ockenden Manor Spa is an exciting contrast - almost making you feel like you’re visiting two venues in one. Once inside, the treatment rooms and two lounging areas fan out around the central pool, which impressively sits half inside, half outside the building with a glass wall allowing for beautiful views.
If you’re looking to visit a spa as a group this is the ideal place as there’s plenty of space to all relax together, and there’s plenty to try out too. Treatment-wise, we recommend the Electric Body Signature Massage which includes body brushing with Thai and Swedish massage techniques. However, you also need to check out the floatation tank and relaxation room.
The Lygon Arms
Four star hotel and restaurant The Lygon Arms is a simply gorgeous place to while away a weekend. There’s a wide range of rooms, from the smaller sized ‘cosy’ to the extravagant master suites, and four other types inbetween. Whatever size you go for you’ll be treated to a great night’s sleep (their mattresses are made in Devon), original artworks and perks like a Nespresso machine.
However, with all the loveliness of The Lygon Arms, we don’t think you’ll be locked up in your room for long. The hotel boasts a grill restaurant, wine bar and lounge underneath its 16th century roof, and the afternoon tea is well worth your attention.
After you’re done filling your boots, make your way to the spa for some serious down time. Not only is there a 13-metre indoor pool swimming pool with a retractable roof and a relaxing spa bath, but a whole host of treatments on offer, too.
Nestled in the New Forest, this Grade II listed building was built in 1852 (although there’s history surrounding the grounds and old manor building dating back to the 13th century) and the owners of the restaurant and rooms have worked hard to capture its history by keeping original features.
Everything about the experience at Burley Manor feels warm and hearty, from the welcoming staff to the huge beds, and the restaurant is no different. Not only does it boast views across Burley Park where you’ll see many a deer, but the chefs know how to whip up some delicious fare, too. We recommend opting for a sharing dish and giving the Moroccan spiced lamb a try, for something that will truly warm your cockles.
And, of course, no relaxing weekend away would be complete without a little ‘me time’, so make sure to book yourself into the spa for a facial or massage to truly forget all of those work-related stresses.
Images: Courtesy of venues