Cocktails in the library nod to the past. The Profumo is richly fruity (lychee and strawberry liqueurs topped with champagne) but we opted for the Prince of Wales, a toned down version with maraschino and bitters. Dinner echoes Cliveden’s initial use as a hunting lodge, with a silky venison tartare among the raw starters, then a surprisingly dainty slow-cooked guinea fowl. Desserts are generally rich with cream, but the lime macaron with lemon sorbet delivers a clean finish. Cooked breakfast is served in the same formal dining room but do venture next door where the continental is beautifully presented in baroque surroundings.
The spa experience
The ‘Profumo pool’ and hot tubs are cloistered by the old stables, which now house the indoor facilities (pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room) in neoclassical style, complete with wafting voile curtains. Massage treatments are administered with lotions specially formulated for Cliveden by Oskia – the Nancy, floral with berries and wild mint, or the spicier Anna Maria with black rose, named after the mistress to the 2nd Duke of Buckingham. Opt for a facial and you’ll be treated to a comforting candle-wax massage between rounds with the Theragun, delivering gentle vibrations and a brightening wash of LED light.
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Rooms from £445 per night including breakfast and spa access. Check availability at clivedenhouse.co.uk or booking.com
Lime Wood, Hampshire
Secluded in its own estate in the heart of the New Forest, Lime Wood is a luxuriously renovated 13th century hunting lodge. The owner’s outstanding art collection adds a contemporary feel to reception rooms, made cosy with squishy armchairs, crackling fires and heaving bookshelves, set around a chic central atrium with retractable roof. Aperitifs at the bar include a trio of arancini paired with refreshing Americano cocktails and a six-strong espresso martini list. The restaurant, Hartnett Holder & Co, has a hushed, elegant ambience, serving Italian dishes such as house-cured Loch Duart salmon with pickled rhubarb, frilly mafalde pasta with slow-cooked ragu, and monkfish in a spiced shellfish and fennel broth. Finish with a dozen delicate madeleines served hot from the oven in their scalloped tray. A breakfast grazing table awaits in The Scullery come morning, laden with homemade pastries, house-smoked salmon, DIY granola bowls and more, while you decide between cooked-to-order plates such as caramelised pear buckwheat pancakes.
The main house features stone fireplaces, Italian marble bathrooms and large sash windows with magical forest views. Other rooms around the estate include Pavilion rooms with forest-fringing patios and rustic-chic forest and lake cabins, the latter perched on the water with a terrace tub and log burner. All are enveloped in country elegance, with upholstered bedheads, Bamford toiletries and mini bars kitted out with New Forest shortbread, Flack Manor Brewery beer and Hambledon sparkling wine.
The spa experience
A night at Lime Wood includes full use of the Herb House Spa, a serene complex nestled on the forest edge. The sauna and hydro pool have windows to soak up the forest zen before a nature-inspired Ground massage ritual. Take a pilates class, work out in the gym or do laps in the indoor pool and cool off on a lounger amongst the aromatics of the rooftop herb garden. Sip cold press detox juices and CBD drinks while picking from nourishing plates at the adjacent Raw & Cured café, including the likes of British-grown quinoa with harissa roasted cauliflower and house-cured sea bass ceviche in a zingy rhubarb dressing.
Rooms from £495 per night. Check availability at limewoodhotel.co.uk or mrandmrssmith.com
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath
Few visitors to Bath see beyond the façade of the magnificent Royal Crescent, the city’s most impressive landmark. And even fewer guess that No 16 extends into beautiful hotel gardens with a lavender path – a haven for birds and butterflies – where you can have afternoon tea, cocktails and light lunches. Chef Martin Blake balances simplicity with on-trend touches. Montagu’s Mews’ evening tasting menu starts with tiny canapés of Bath Blue cheese and avocado mousse with cucumber and borage, then shokupan is served; a soft Japanese-style milk bread with Somerset’s Ivy Farm butter and smoked roe studded with salmon ikura. Hollandaise for beef tartare is spiked with Bath Ale and IP8 (beer) vinegar. A forced rhubarb dessert is softened with olive oil and vanilla. The comprehensive wine list includes confident choices such as a barrel-aged assyrtiko.
Rooms are built for comfort and luxury, some with terraces and views on to the gardens or over the sweeping lawns of the Crescent. Fireplaces in bedrooms may be filled with decorative pinecones, modern art sits alongside vintage portraits and busts, and the outside is brought in with plants and floral displays.
The spa experience
The hotel’s five-star spa includes a heated pool with sauna and steam rooms, tranquil treatment rooms, and a small garden where you can relax after a swim, still in your robe.
Rooms from £300 per night. Check availability at royalscresent.co.uk or booking.com
The Bath Arms, Wiltshire
Established in 1736 and bordering the Longleat Safari Estate (just 35-minutes outside Bath), the dog-friendly Bath Arms instantly envelopes you in its quiet rural setting. Its Elizabethan architecture, open fires and rustic comforts are mixed with an unpretentious chicness; you’re as perfectly placed sipping an RBO gin fizz with Tack Room rhubarb & blood orange as a Beckford Craft Lager in its deep leather armchairs. Five of the house’s 17 country rooms are in the converted stable block, set around a quiet courtyard next to the main house. Siberian goose down duvets, Mozzo cafetière coffee, Prince & Sons tea, and bathrooms stocked with Bramley Bath products create an indulgent haven for retiring.
Guest-dining is an elegant but comfortably unfussy affair, with a seasonally curated menu of estate and locally sourced produce. Heralding from Dartmoor’s hills, venison strip loin is a must-try, served sliced on finely shredded sauerkraut with smoked pancetta, celeriac, confit kohlrabi and finished with poached blackberries. It’s a triumph, cooked with the same care that pairs tender pan-fried pigeon breast with Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut dressing and a split 8-year-old cabernet vinegar. Armagnac prunes bring an adult, jammy richness to the duck egg custard tart with apple purée and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream for pudding. A playful addition to the breakfast menu is eggy bread with maple syrup and bacon. Look out for the DIY Bloody Mary cocktail station, too.
The spa experience
Overlooking The Bath Arms’ beehives and the Somerset countryside beyond, you’ll find the Bramley Treatment Cabin – a new mini spa by the Beckford Group. Its personalised face and body treatments use the locally made Bramley Skin range, founded in 2009 with sustainably sourced and cruelty-free ingredients. Massages are priced from £50 up to £85 for a full body 90-minute therapy. The Apple Peel AHA Facial (45 min, £50) is among four on offer, using glycolic, lactic, and malic acids for rejuvenating skin. There’s even a head-to-toe nurturing treatment for mothers-to-be, to help ease tiredness and reduce stress on joints.
Rooms from £140 per night including breakfast. Check availability at batharmsinn.com or mrandmrssmith.com
Beaverbrook Hotel & Spa, Surrey
Set in the golf courses of the Surrey commuter belt, Beaverbrook is an oasis of luxury where you’ll dine and be pampered to the highest of standards. As the former home of Lord Beaverbrook, minister for War Production during WWII (he saw the potential of the Spitfire aircraft, now a symbol of British victory) and owner of the Express newspapers, there are nods to his famous connections and achievements throughout. Tiny Spitfires adorn the porters’ lapels and cocktail napkins, with the distinctive shape is even used for a bunker on the resort’s golf course. The Elizabeth Taylor Suite once housed the star, while there are photos of Beaverbrook’s friends, Winston Churchill and Alfred Hitchcock, in the library and cinema room. Rooms in the main house are quite special, and all the facilities are close at hand. Guests in the Village (which was opened in December 2023 and feels more family-orientated) have their own golf buggy to drive around.
The four restaurants cover all tastes. Top billing is justifiably given to the gourmet Japanese Dining Room, but even the more kid-friendly fare in newly-opened Mrs Beeton’s is superior – with the dressed crab a highlight and the crunchy triple-cooked chips some of the best we’ve tried. For a real treat, head to breakfast in the Dining Room, where fresh cold-pressed juices, homemade compotes and truffled eggs – complete with chunky silver tableware – are the epitome of indulgence.
The spa experience
Two pools (indoor and outdoor), a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna are available to guests for some relaxation. The outdoor pool is heated to 29C – a toasty temperature for a winter swim. Between the massages, facials and personal training, yoga or pilates sessions – plus the relaxation room with its glass log burner and the spa café with wood-fired pizza oven – it’s easy to spend the best part of the day here. But, if you need a change of scenery, you can walk straight from the grounds out into the surrounding Surrey hills.
Rooms from £553 per night. Check availability at beaverbrook.co.uk or mrandmrssmith.com
Sopwell House, St Albans
Tucked away down a country lane in the historic Roman city of St Albans lies Sopwell House, a modernised Georgian property with a newly refurbished spa, plush bedrooms, and fine dining at its award-winning Omboo restaurant. Omboo offers a sharing menu inspired by the spice routes of Asia and the far east. Highlights include pulled duck, cashew and orange salad, and melt in the mouth miso-glazed black cod. Afternoon tea features tiered stands of delicate cakes (don’t miss the matcha cherry mousse), traditional finger sandwiches and warm scones. Swing by the Octogen bar to discover a little of Sopwell’s history through its carefully curated menu; The Battenberg Wine cocktail is a tribute to Lord Mountbatten, who was a former owner of the estate. The hotel has 128 guestrooms, 16 of which make up the exclusive Mews courtyard – the place to stay if you’re looking for luxury. Rooms are elegant and cosy with duck-feather duvets and super king-sized beds.
The spa experience
A trip to Sopwell wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world-class Cottonmill spa. A spa day includes use of the indoor pool, vitality pools, gym, sauna, steam room and poolside terrace. Upgrade to a Club package for use of the state-of-the-art relaxation rooms, a heated indoor and outdoor infinity pool and spa gardens. Don’t miss the botanical steam room and sensory deprivation pods for the perfect way to unwind.
Rooms from £239 per night including breakfast. Check availability at sopwellhouse.co.uk or booking.com
South Lodge, Sussex
Located in the verdant Sussex countryside is South Lodge, with its dark wood interiors and plush carpets, and the air of a grand private home. The staff here are friendly and attentive, in a way you rarely see in hotels today. There are 88 rooms ranging from smart standards to luxurious suites and cottages. Our room had views over the gardens with a luxuriously large bed, soft pillows, a coffee machine and sizeable bathroom with a bath and Molton Brown toiletries. There was a handy tablet for ordering room service, snacks, fresh milk or late-night desserts. Not to mention a pillow menu, ensuring you get the best night’s sleep.
There are multiple restaurants and bars, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink. Try Camellia, the elegant spot run by MasterChef winner Josh Mann. Or, book at The Pass for intimate Michelin-star dining. Head Chef Ben Wilkinson changes the menu with the seasons – during our stay we enjoyed scallop on a bed of sweet roasted squash with rich almond foam and salty coppa ham, succulent roast venison with liver dumpling, toasted hazelnuts and bitter leaves, and a wonderfully sweet-sour dessert of blackberry, yogurt and lemon thyme. With interesting wine pairings, like crisp Slovenian Pinot Gris, and a course of fantastic local cheeses, this is the kind of meal you won’t forget.
The spa experience
Sweat it out in the sauna, swim lengths in the infinity pool, take a dip in the outdoor pool or watch the sunset from the bubbling jacuzzi. For an extra treat, indulge in a massage, facial or nail treatment. Included in your booking is a meal at the dairy-free Botanica restaurant.
Rooms from £415 per night including breakfast and spa access. Check availability at exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge or booking.com
The Beaumont Hotel, London
Old school opulence and faultless hospitality are the name of the game at The Beaumont. The polished walnut panelling, shiny marble floors and gilded edges set the scene as you walk into the Art Deco-style lobby. Suites are just as plush, with luxurious touches and 5-star attention to detail: Beaumont-stamped chocolate, sweets and snack jars all waited in our room, while sustainable toiletries were by heritage London perfumer D.R Harris. Rooms and suites are stylish, ultra-comfy and peaceful, cocooned from the busy Central London streets below. There’s even a room designed by artist Antony Gormley. The hotel’s Colony Grill is an elevated take on an NYC steakhouse, serving classics done with serious panache. It’s dimly-lit, intimate and elegant, with colourful wall paintings and retro booth seating. Everything on the menu is that little bit extra: the tame-sounding shrimp cocktail arrives as grand whole prawns fanning from a stemmed bowl; the steak is salt-aged in-house and served with whipped bearnaise; you can build-your-own sundae using a fun tick sheet (we added a chestnut and rosemary ice cream to ours). Breakfast is served in The Colony Grill and is just as chic as dinner. We ate smoked salmon, scrambled egg and brioche with house-pressed pomegranate juice, but the made-to-order menu is huge and includes signature hashes, cold breakfasts, pancakes, French toast and eggs served every which way you can imagine. The Viennoiserie table included almond croissant, cinnamon rolls and pain au chocolat, all made in the Beaumont bakery. Service is impeccable.
The spa experience
The peaceful basement spa at the Beaumont has a really fun USP – its range of hammam treatments. We experienced the Signature Hammam which involved an invigorating exfoliation using black olive savon noir scrub and an enriching rose & geranium clay. You can follow up with a massage treatment, or enjoy the facilities which include two steam rooms and one of London’s only cold water plunge pools.
Rooms from £648 per night include Viennoiserie breakfast. Check availability at thebeaumont.com or booking.com
The Tawny Hotel, Staffordshire
The Tawny Hotel guarantees a truly restful experience away from the stresses of modern life. Set on a staggering 70 acres, there’s plenty to explore – stroll around the lake, heave a game of life-sized chess on the hill, or walk deeper into the woods. Welcoming staff are on-hand for a buggy around the grounds.
The Shepherds’ Cottages with log burners are a cosy option, or fully immerse yourself in nature in one of the Hillside Treehouses or Retreats. Botanical embroidered blackout curtains ensure a restful night’s sleep. Land & Water shower and body products feel luxurious on the skin and provide refreshing fragrances of grapefruit, orange and samphire extract. The fluffy white towels and bathrobes are perfect for wrapping up in after a dip. Floor to ceiling windows make the stunning views the central focus of the room, and although there is a TV, guests are encouraged to leaf through books on forest bathing and poetry.
The complimentary mini bar is well-stocked with local beers from Lymestone brewery, carbon neutral soft drinks and celebratory bubbles, as well as an array of ethical organic coffee pods from Cru Kafe (with your own coffee machine) and breakfast and herbal teas. Breakfast and dinner are served at the stylish modern Plumicorn restaurant; if you’re early enough for breakfast, you can watch the sun rise from the double height 180-degree windows. Choose a freshly cooked dish from the menu – including traditional Staffordshire oat cakes – and serve yourself a selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, charcuterie, pastries and fresh juices. At dinner, you’ll find an extensive wine list with traditional and new world wines, local ingredients and options for a variety of dietary requirements. Room service is available if you’d rather not venture out of your calming oasis.
The spa experience
Choose from a variety of personalised spa experiences at the Thatched Cottage, the on-site treatment room. The wellness therapists are trained in the GAIA method, natural skincare products handmade in Britain. Bespoke massages start with a relaxing foot soak and scrub while you pick your massage oil aroma of choice. Calming music, along with the sound of birdsong from outside, create a truly blissful experience.
Afterwards, enjoy a dip in the nearby outdoor pool. Sitting below the Plumicorn, it has the same exceptional views of the lush grounds. Order a poolside drink or simply lap up the incredibly fresh air as you relax in the year-round heated water, set to a warm 31C. Or, relax in the privacy of your own freshwater hot tub on your decking while taking in the magnificent views.
Rooms from £250 per night. Check availability at thetawny.co.uk
The Eastbury, Dorset
Slow down, de-stress and be cosseted at this character-packed hotel in the Dorset market town. Guests can stay in the main Georgian townhouse, Potting Shed rooms in the walled garden or in Eastbury Cottage, with each accommodation offering laid-back vibes and a homely atmosphere. Guests can venture outside the grounds to explore the town’s food and craft markets, as well as Sherborne Castle (and sample The Castle’s wines in the Eastbury’s bar for good measure).
On the menu, Chef Matthew Street works with local suppliers and some further afield to ensure his menus offer the best ingredients: Devon crab from Paignton is served with a chilled cucumber and wasabi soup for starters, followed by satisfying mains such as Japanese braised pork belly with miso broth, and burrata and ricotta agnolotti with parmesan crisp. Alternatively, for a more intimate evening, there’s the option to book the garden pod; a unique glass snug looking out across the lawn, furnished with plump cushions, soft blankets and ambient lighting.
Interior designer Kathleen Fraser balances muted tones of pale blue and green with colourful prints and interesting textures throughout. The new Eastbury Cottage adjacent to the hotel has three delightfully cosy bedrooms, one with a free-standing bath as well as a separate modern shower room. Standout features include the inglenook fireplace, low beams, a well-equipped kitchen, and sunny private garden with hot tub and dining area.
The spa experience
The hotel’s small but deluxe garden spa comes with hot tubs and a steam room for fully fledged relaxation.
Rooms from £250 per night. Check availability at theeastburyhotel.co.uk or booking.com
Homewood Hotel and Spa, Bath
Though it looks like a country house at first glance, this hotel located in Freshford near leafy Bath has a quirky feel – from a wall of Wedgwood-inspired plates, to horse sculptures in the garden, the decor is kitsch through the ages. You’re greeted by a warming open fire which, paired with comfy armchairs in the lounge area, fills you with a sense of home.
All rooms are differently decorated but stay true to the elegant and exciting style of Homewood. Ranging from twin rooms to hot tub rooms, there’s something for everyone, with suites boasting free-standing baths as well as a separate modern shower. Other key features include plush patterned bedframes, Edwardian-style desks and Smeg coffee appliances.
There’s a classic array of breakfast dishes, from a full English to granola, immaculately plated on vibrant stoneware. Dinner can be served in a private glass dome kitted with seasonal decorations to match the menu. A pot of gooey Tunworth cheese in a golden sourdough bowl pave the way for delicate dishes to come. The star of the show was the tender fall-off-the-bone braised lamb shoulder paired with a zingy Moroccan salad and za’atar-stuffed flatbread for mopping up the umami lamb juices. Homewood is just the ticket if you’re looking for a chic escape to the countryside with flavoursome seasonal food.
The spa experience
GAIA treatments include rituals, facials and massages, or pad around the spa complex that includes a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, and a heated outdoor pool with a hot tub that looks out over the gardens and surrounding countryside.
Shepherd’s huts from £240 per night. Check availability at homewoodbath.co.uk or booking.com
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