The Big Six: Super-sized rentals
Spitbank Fort, The Solent
Spitbank was built in 1878 as one of four defensive forts in the Solent. Decommissioned in the Fifties, it later became a private house and museum, before being bought by the owner of the Clarenco group in 2009, along with two other derelict forts. Following a £3m renovation, it's now available for exclusive use with nine nautically styled rooms, a rooftop hot tub and fire pit, a private chef and crew, several dining areas and a Laurent-Perrier champagne bar.
Spitbank Fort, Gosport, Solent (01494 682682; spitbankfort.com). Nightly rental starts at £5,000, all inclusive. Sleeps 18.
Stanford Hall, Leicestershire
This historic manor house is set in ancient parkland near Leicester. Built in the 1690s for the parliamentarian Sir Roger Cave, today the property is owned by his descendant Nicholas Fothergill. Its traditional rooms are spread between the main hall and an adjoining stable block, with draped velvet curtains, four-poster beds and 17th-century artwork. Reception areas are equally grand, with roaring fires, snug armchairs and wood-panelled walls.
Stanford Hall, near Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 6DH (01788 860250; stanfordhall.co.uk). Nightly rental starts at £3,720. Sleeps 45.
Hamptons, West Sussex
This Angmering beach house brings Long Island luxe to the Sussex coast. Decked out with a palm-shaded patio and an all-seasons hot tub, it even has a dinky beach hut down by the shore. Rooms in the main house are painted brilliant white, with bunches of bedside tulips, vintage ceiling fans and antique maps combining to create an air of elegance. For children, there's a four-person bunk room and pool table, while grown-ups can browse the antiques shops of Arundel and Petworth.
Hamptons, Angmering on Sea, West Sussex BN16 1PH (07989 404535; luxurycountryrentals.com). Two nights' rental starts at £1,440. Sleeps 14.
Carlton Towers, Yorkshire
Live like an aristocrat in this stately home, which is owned by Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard. The pair inherited the 17th-century mansion near Selby more than 20 years ago, when it was in a run-down state. After incremental renovations, they now invite paying guests to stay in rooms that have been restored to their opulent best. Step behind the ivy-clad Gothic exterior to roam towering hallways, lined with stained-glass windows and art-emblazoned reception rooms.
Carlton Towers, near Selby, Yorkshire DN14 9LZ (0845 389 9582; statelyescapes.co.uk). Two nights' rental starts at £5,253. Sleeps 30.
Little Polgarron, Cornwall
Set back from the rugged sands and rockpools of Booby's Bay, this brand new retreat comes with a cinema room and a range of indoor and outdoor dining spaces to accommodate the shifting seasons. Shell and coral motifs abound throughout its five beachy bedrooms, which come with mosaic wet-rooms or eggshell baths, balconies and telescopes for stargazing. The cobbled streets of Padstow and the Camel estuary cycle trail are a 10-minute drive away.
Little Polgarron, Booby's Bay, Cornwall PL28 8SH (01244 784152; simonescapes.com). Three nights' rental starts at £4,300. Sleeps 10.
Dartmouth House, Devon
A strong contender for the title of ultimate party house, this glitzy Devon delight has eight sumptuous doubles, with vaulted oak ceilings, free-standing tubs and quirky geometric-patterned fabrics. There are two swimming pools and a hammam, a cinema room and snooker table, an in-house bar and an outdoor tennis court. Set back from the coast near Blackpool Sands, it's only a mile from the bobbing boats and seafood restaurants of Dartmouth harbour.
Dartmouth House, Venn Lane, Devon TQ6 OLD (01242 220006; thewowhousecompany.co.uk). Three nights' rental starts at £5,250. Sleeps 16.
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