The Bix Six: English hideaways

From former hunting lodges and potting sheds to 16th century pubs and Georgian townhouses

Water Meadow Cottage, Oxfordshire

This 200-year-old former hunting lodge is situated in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and current home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Recently converted into a two-bedroom holiday let, its opulent but homely interiors reflect the well-heeled history of this illustrious 18th-century estate near Woodstock. Set in woodlands, it has two lounges, with century-old pine floorboards, Chesterfield sofas and Cole & Son wallpapers. Upstairs, a decadent master suite features crystal pendant lamps and antique mirrors, while the second bedroom comes with a beamed ceiling and wrought-iron bed. Guests get a hamper on arrival and the chance to hire bikes, book in-house chefs or organise a tailored spa and fitness programme during their stay.

Water Meadow, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire OX29 9LB (0870 2255 007; watermeadowcottage.co.uk). Nightly from £425. Sleeps four.

The Potting Shed, Kent

This cosy cottage for two is located in the Kent village of Benenden. Once used as a potting shed by plant collector and ornithologist, Collingwood Ingram, today the grounds around the charming barn-style building continue to flourish. In summer, guests can take breakfast at one of two outdoor tables, enjoy a picnic lunch on the village green and head out for dinner at the nearby Bull pub. Afterwards, retreat back to the shed, where wooden beams, colourful rugs, snug sofas and a mezzanine-level bedroom await.

The Potting Shed, Benenden, Kent, TN17 4DL (01580 240 887; thepottingshedholiday let.com). Weekly from £305. Sleeps two.

Pickwell Manor, Devon

In 2008, the Baker and Elliott families clubbed together and moved into Pickwell Manor. Today, their dream of running the elegant house as a collaborative holiday business has been realised. Surrounded by six acres of gardens, a five-minute drive from the long sandy beaches of Putsborough and Woolacombe Sands in North Devon, it now has nine self-catering apartments, with a tennis court, walled garden, orchard and woodlands. For children, there's also a packed games room, Wendy house and sandpit.

Pickwell Manor, Georgeham, Devon EX33 1LA (01271 890 110; pickwellmanor.co.uk). Weekly from £375. Sleeps two-eight.

Natural Retreats, Yorkshire

If you're heading to Yorkshire for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France on 5/6 July, consider a stay at this collection of three-bedroom holiday homes. Located on the première étape of the race, which runs from Leeds to Harrogate, through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, it has 18 timber-framed lodges, with a full wall of glass that affords views of the Swale Valley. Each has space for six, with contemporary sofas and colourful cube seats. Some even have private outdoor fire pits.

Natural Retreats, Kirby Hill, Yorkshire DL10 4SG (0161 242 2970; naturalretreats .com). Three nights from £515. Sleeps six.

The Cottage, East Sussex

The 16th-century Ship Inn has been standing in the East Sussex town of Rye since 1592, when it was used as a warehouse for storing smuggled goods. Now converted into a quirky, characterful pub with rooms, it has expanded its foothold with a 300-year-old, single-storey cottage, half a mile outside of town and a short hop away from Camber Sands. Past the wisteria-wrapped front, it hides metal-frame beds, Orla Kiely linens and an inglenook fireplace, plus an artfully overgrown garden with terraces and a barbecue area.

The Cottage, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7NT (01797 222 233; thecottage.so). Three nights from £400. Sleeps four.

20 Queen Street, Cumbria

To lap up the best of the Lakes, base yourself at this Georgian townhouse in Ulverston. After a day out taking in the waters of Windermere, retire to the vintage-styled drawing room, bedecked with mismatched mirrors, mounted antlers and fire-side armchairs. A neighbouring library brims with books, while the kitchen and adjoining conservatory overlook a courtyard garden. Upstairs, two bedrooms and one single – filled with toys and bean bags for children – are calm and collected.

20 Queen Street, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7AF (07929 828 362; twentyqueenstreet .co.uk). Three nights from £495. Sleeps five.

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