Fancy planning a get-together with family and friends?
With vaccines at last offering a glimmer of hope, maybe it’s time to start dreaming about a short break with family and friends; once again sharing time together after months of being apart during restrictions and lockdowns.
While we still need to play our part and stay at home for now, we can hopefully look forward to joining loved ones for a get-away-from-it-all break… whether it’s an anniversary, birthday, or simply catching up with family and friends.
So, here are a few suggestions for larger cottages, apartments, holiday homes and glamping, perfect for all ages and generations.
A luxury break at England’s greatest Elizabethan house
For centuries, England’s most impressive Elizabethan house has wowed visitors, whether Elizabethan royalty or tourists from across the globe – but now, Burghley’s picturesque parkland offers an exclusive and luxurious place to stay too. Set on the outskirts of Stamford, one of the finest Georgian stone towns in the country, and with Burghley House as a stunning backdrop, The Dairy – a legacy of the 3rd Marquess of Exeter’s nineteenth century model farm – has been renovated and beautifully refurbished as a self-catering property perfect for large groups or families. Sitting at the heart of the sweeping Capability Brown parkland, landscaped during the 1760s and with views across mature parkland and the great lake, The Dairy offers flexible accommodation, either as two houses each sleeping up to 10 people, or opened up as one stunning residence for up to 20 people. The Burghley House Preservation Trust worked closely with international award-winning interior designer, Thomas Hamel, to create the accommodation and wherever possible original features have been kept and reused along with the introduction of antique paintings, prints and furniture from the collections at Burghley House. From £3,313 for a two-night break for 20 people.
Apples, former cow sheds… and Tom, Dick and Harry, the alpacas
What was once a collection of dormant cow sheds at one of Hampshire’s most beautiful, privately owned historic houses, is now a bespoke collection of six individually designed, boutique ensuite self-catering rooms. Named after the apple trees growing in the walled garden orchard of Houghton Lodge Gardens in the heart of the Test Valley, The Apple Rooms are perfect for family gatherings and can sleep up to 12 people, and the two larger rooms can combine together to create a two-bedroom apartment. The rooms are decorated and furnished as if staying in the historic house, which has been in the Busk family for over a century. Mahogany and oak Georgian furniture have been selected to style the rooms, with some pieces over 300 years old. The bathrooms have been designed to a high standard, with automatic lighting, smart mirror, underfloor heating and fluffy white towels. While these are separate apartments with only outdoor communal areas, there’s plenty to enjoy outside. Set above the tranquil waters of the River Test with views across the valley and water meadows, explore both formal and informal gardens, including the traditional kitchen garden, apple orchard (with 32 different varieties of apple tree), herb garden and orchid house. There is also fishing available on the river, within walking distance. And the alpacas? Say hello to ever-friendly Tom, Dick and Harry who roam the natural meadow. For staying guests, there is also exclusive evening access to the walled garden.
Go overboard! Stay on a luxury yacht… without ever setting sail
Here’s one for up to five family members or friends who may have dreamt of enjoying the celebrity lifestyle aboard a luxury yacht, but not so keen on setting sail for an ocean-bound adventure. Head to the picturesque Burton Waters Marina on the outskirts of the heritage city of Lincoln, and a VIP stay on a 42ft luxury yacht can be yours for the night… with no sailing skills necessary. Boasting king-size and queen-size cabins, both with ensuite facilities and a flatscreen TV, as well as inside and outside deck area, and a dining seating area below and above deck, the modern sleek Sealine S450 yacht sleeps up to five adults. Plus, as well as on board shower and toilet, heating and wi-fi, there is also a retractable roof to enjoy the sunshine in the summer season, operated from the captain’s chair. The static yacht – which is also fitted with a fridge/freezer and cooking facilities to provide a self-catering experience – is moored at Burton Waters, close to the historic city of Lincoln. With the outline of Lincoln Cathedral in the distance, this prestigious purpose-built inland marina is set in over 15 acres of countryside, with a variety of on-site shops, services and restaurants as well as residential waterfront homes. While the yacht is permanently moored, guests can explore the surrounding area and follow the towpath and dedicated cycle path for a walk or cycle into Lincoln. Onboard, all bedding, towels and overnight basics are provided, and prices start from £199 per night for the entire yacht.
A thatched cottage, swimming pool… and free roaming ponies
Picture perfect Thatchby Oak sits right on the forest edge with stunning views across Whitefield Moor on the outskirts of the picturesque New Forest village of Brockenhurst, Hampshire. A stunning detached thatched property, with outdoor swimming pool and direct forest access, is located in a peaceful and secluded setting just a mile away from the village and sleeps up to 12 people in 6 bedrooms. It’s brimming with style and elegance… and plenty of outside space. In fact, there’s direct forest access offering guests the chance to join the miles of cycle and walking tracks to fully explore the local area including the Ornamental Rhinefield Drive with the famous Redwood trees. The property’s large lounge with forest views has a Smart TV and google chrome, and for rainy days there is a games room including a pool table, football table, Smart TV and Playstation 4, while the conservatory next door provides a full size table tennis table. And for the summer months, there is always the heated outdoor swimming pool, set to the rear of the grounds. Free roaming ponies, donkeys and cattle will be seen from the house, so guests are asked to please keep the gate shut at all times! From £2,529.
Woodlands, wild swimming… and chickens that need feeding
Nestled between the Caldon Canal and their own wildlife rich lake, Staffordshire’s Foxtwood self-catering cottages are pet friendly and sleep between two and five people. Accommodation for groups is available by linking two of the cottages (Bottom & Seventh Heaven) or more. From relaxing breaks for two to an energetic family holiday, within walking distance you’ll find wildlife, beautiful scenery, great walks from the door, a pub, tearooms and even the Churnet Valley Steam Railway. It’s also ideally located for the attractions of Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries as well as the Staffordshire Peak District. Most of the cottages have a private garden, which are fairly dog secure (depending on your dog!), while outside there is space for games and BBQs – including a shelter where you can sit around a fire pit and relax with family or friends. All this is set within 30 acres of ancient woodlands and flower rich meadows bursting with native birds, wildlife and their own Dexter cattle herd. The Cottages themselves all have woodland, lake or canal views as well as log fires plus outdoor games, a trampoline and chickens to be fed, as well as table football, skittles, table tennis and more. Guests can also have a go at cold water swimming in Foxtwood’s idyllic lake. Prices start from £524 per week high season.
Holiday in a Grand Design
Curved in nature, this inspirational eco building exudes the wow factor. Walls of glass invite the outside in, combining beautifully with oak and limestone interiors, at The Curve, a spacious 21st Century abode. On the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, it sleeps up to 25 people in 11 ensuite bedrooms, featuring a private terrace or balcony with foldaway doors and uninterrupted views over the countryside. Designed from the ground up by a conservation architect with a brief to include cutting edge technology, The Curve Eco House is a unique building created specifically for large party sharing. Boasting smart home technology and biomass underfloor heating, among the highlights are a Neff gourmet kitchen, LED lighting, Italian leather furniture, games room with 9ft American pool table, hot tub spa and a cinema with a surround sound system. Outside there is al fresco dining with BBQ, outdoor table tennis, and children’s grass play area. For those staying a week, and with an interest in music, there is also the opportunity for a guided tour of nearby recording studios used by The Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and Paul Weller to name but a few (www.chapelstudios.com). A weekend stay at The Curve Eco House costs from around £5,500.
Put the Cart before the House to find great self-catering in the Wolds
Head over to the Yorkshire Wolds, and there’s award winning luxury self-catering eco accommodation available at Broadgate Farm Cottages. Boasting views across open countryside, yet just two miles from the historic market town of Beverley, these converted period farm buildings are set in 19 acres of grass and woodland. And the larger cottages are just perfect for a group of friends, or extended family. The High Barn – sleeping up to 12 adults and 1 child – and the Cart House, sleeping up to 9 adults and 3 children, are opposite each other, so work well for an even larger group, too. The High Barn offers six bedrooms – linking the Barn House and Foldyard accommodation – arranged in three different areas, each with two bedrooms and at least one bathroom. Outside you have the choice of a private courtyard garden or a walled garden with lawn, both have garden furniture. The Cart House was converted with larger groups in mind and set on the edge of the paddocks. Perfect for two or three families, a large family group or a get together with friends, the cottage has been developed to the highest standards, with four large ensuite bedrooms, oak flooring, beams, luxury travertine modern bathrooms, stone flooring in the kitchens, underfloor heating throughout and wood burning stoves. Check website for details of group bookings.
Wander a historic ‘lost garden’ all to yourself
For post lockdown freedom, and a chance to get away from it all, how about wandering a historic ‘lost garden’ all to yourself? Lincolnshire’s Easton Walled Gardens, owned by the Cholmeley family for over 400 years, is an ancient 12-acre garden restored from a wilderness after laying derelict for half a century. A garden 450 years in the making, for 50 years the gardens were abandoned to nature until work began in 2001 to restore them to their former historical importance, but with contemporary twists. For those staying in the Estate’s self-catering accommodation – three loft apartments in a converted stable block or one of three holiday cottages, including the Gatehouse Lodge – have free access to Easton Walled Gardens during their stay, even when the Gardens are closed to day visitors. Overlooking the beautiful Victorian Stable Courtyard, the loft apartments form part of the Grade II listed Stable Courtyard at the Gardens, all converted and sensitively designed with a mix of original features and contemporary style. You can wander out from the Lofts into the surrounding rediscovered gardens of the former Easton Hall, and enjoy nearly 12 acres of beautiful grounds, with seasonal highlights from snowdrops to sweet peas, and from tulips and daffodils to roses and meadows. Prices from £80 per night.
Home cinema and a camper van bunk bed in Hampshire
This Edwardian property, minutes from Southsea seafront, just a hop, skip and a jump from Portsmouth, can host 15 – 22 guests in a range of individually designed boutique bedrooms – all ensuite. Alongside a Cinema Room (complete with 85-inch TV), lounge and guest bar, Pear Tree House boasts a hot tub, sauna and outdoor kitchen. Ideal for a special family and friends get together the large dining room and kitchen is the heart of the house, while for the kids, a fun camper-van bunk bedroom with ensuite shower room adds a special touch. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the seafront and its historic and traditional family seaside pier, with views of the Solent and Isle of Wight. If you want to experience Portsmouth like a local, Southsea is a must. The Victorian seaside town is emerging as a top destination in its own right; a thriving, cultural place, with a true independent feel. The house is also a 10-minute drive away from Portsmouth’s attractions, and near to the Hovercraft port for a day out to the Isle of Wight. Whilst most people make the most of the large kitchen, restaurants are close by too, either by a short walk or five minutes by car. From £2,500 for a weekend break.
Thatchby Oak, Hampshire
The Curve Eco House, Lincolnshire
Broadgate Farm Cottages, East Yorkshire
Pear Tree House, Hampshire
Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire