From the wild and natural to the structured and formal, from small town plot to rolling parkland, dozens of the hotels featured in The Good Hotel Guide offer the very real added pleasure of gardens. Take tea on the terrace, play croquet on the lawn, or simply admire the artistry of some very diverse gardeners.
Askham Hall, Askham, Cumbria
Historic Grade II listed gardens of terraces, topiary and lawns surround Charles and Juno Lowther’s family home, a pele tower cum Elizabethan manor cum hotel on the fringes of the Lake District national park. A 240ft double herbaceous border is bright with unusual flora. There are woodlands and views of the River Lowther, ponds, meadows, garden visits, plant sales, the Kitchen Garden Café with outdoor pizza oven, and fresh produce for the hotel table (01931 712350, doubles £150-£250, askhamhall.co.uk).
Barnsley House, Barnsley, Gloucestershire
Four acres of gardens, laid out from the 1950s by the late Rosemary Verey, surround the former home of that doyenne of English country-house garden style. The brilliant patchwork includes a knot garden, laburnum walk, topiary, statuary, and an ornamental fruit and vegetable garden (inspired by that at the Château de Villandry on the Loire), which supplies the Potager Restaurant at this luxury hotel. Rosemary’s husband, architectural historian David Verey, brought the ‘temple’ from nearby Fairford Park. (01285 740000, doubles £200-£400, barnsleyhouse.com).
Lindeth Fell, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria
The Kennedy family’s Edwardian country house stands overlooking Lake Windermere in seven acres of gardens, with private tarn, laid out in 1907 by landscape architect Thomas Hayton Mawson. From Mawson’s trademark terrace you can gaze out over lawns laid for croquet, and specimen trees, as the grounds open out into the landscape. It’s lovely in all seasons, and especially when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full cry. (015394 43286, doubles £170-£230, lindethfell.co.uk).
Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead, East Sussex
William Robinson, the great exponent of natural garden style, made this Elizabethan manor his home from 1884, and, scorning ‘repulsive’ formal bedding schemes, planted the drifts of narcissus, hosts of daffodils, and a wild garden on south-facing slopes, that give pleasure today. Upon Robinson’s death, wild turned to wilderness, as the property fell into decay. From 1958 it was rescued by hotelier Peter Herbert, and now new owners have embarked on a restoration project to maintain and further Robinson’s vision. (01342 810567, doubles £340-£625, gravetyemanor.co.uk).
Swinton Park, Masham, North Yorkshire
In 2000, Mark and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister bought back the family’s 19-century Gothic castle, amid lakes and 18-century landscaped woodlands. While they set about establishing the hotel, Mark’s mother, Susan, a renowned gardener, took on the challenge of restoring the walled garden, which had been given over to Christmas trees. Hotel guests enjoy the run of the estate, but anyone can sign up to Susan Cunliffe-Lister’s Garden Lunches and Garden Design Days. No fewer than 60 varieties of fruit and vegetables have been planted, as well as flowers for cutting for the hotel. (01765 680900, doubles £156-£460, swintonpark.com).
Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon
Olga Polizzi’s luxury hotel was once a hunting lodge for the Duke of Bedford. The grounds were laid out from 1809 by landscape gardener Humphry Repton, with later additions by Jeffry Wyatville. Formal gardens run down to the River Tamar. In 108 acres there are carriage drives, grottoes, follies, dells, streams, a waterfall, a rose and jasmine walkway, a shell house, and an arboretum with national champion trees. (01822 870000, doubles £215-£350, hotelendsleigh.com).
Millgate House, Richmond, North Yorkshire
Austin Lynch and Tim Culkin have devoted 35 years to the small walled garden they created at their Georgian home off this likeable town’s main square. Overlooked by two of the three guest bedrooms, with views to the River Swale, paths thread through profuse plantings of shrub roses, clematis, ferns. Alan Titchmarsh sings the praises. Open to visitors 1 April-31 October. (01748 823571, rooms £110-£145, millgatehouse.com).
Stone House, Rushlake Green, East Sussex
The ancestral Tudor home of Jane and Peter Dunn sits in extensive grounds, overlooking an ornamental lake, with private woodland. There are mature trees, a rose garden, a croquet lawn, a summer house, a 100ft ‘hot’ herbaceous border, greenhouses, an orchard, and a wonderful early-18-century walled garden to supply fruit and herbs to the kitchen. (01435 830553, doubles £148-£290, stonehousesussex.co.uk).
Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire
This former stately home on the Thames is surrounded by 376 acres of gardens and woodlands, managed by the National Trust. A four-acre parterre, in the style abominated by Robinson at Gravetye, was laid out in the 1850s by head gardener John Fleming, pioneer of ‘carpet bedding’. Themed gardens include an Italianate Long Garden of topiary, from around 1900, and the Japanese-style Water Garden with pagoda, laid out by the 1 Lord Astor in 1893. (01628 668561, doubles £445-£945, clivedenhouse.co.uk).
Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, Llandudno, Conwy
On the slopes of Pydew Mountain, with views of Snowdonia, this 17-century manor stands amid parkland, formal and wild. There are terraces, a walled rose garden, a box-hedge parterre planted with herbs, a croquet lawn, shady woodland walks, a cascade and rare specimen trees. The enclosed kitchen garden has espaliered fruit trees and an area for cut flowers. A sundial is dated 1678. The National Trust presides. (01492 584466, doubles £178-£265, bodysgallen.com).
For a full range of independently-reviewed hotels, pick up a copy of the Good Hotel Guide (goodhotelguide.com).