Five Best: Country Piles Made For Partying
Lucy Gillmore and Sophie Lam find the pads designed for festive fun
Saturday 24 December 2005
Berkeley House, Gloucestershire
Painted entirely in white, this restored Georgian town house provides a blank canvas for owner and photographer Lena Proudlock, whose work adorns the walls and rooms. The house is furnished with denim bean bags, oversized black sofas and shag-pile rugs as well as an Aga in the kitchen and all the amenities you would expect to find in a boutique hotel.
Berkeley House, Bay Tree Court, Tetbury, Gloucestershire (01666 500051; www.lenaproudlock.com). Three nights' rental from £1,800; sleeps 14.
Eilean Shona, Argyll
Owned by Richard Branson's sister, Vanessa, the island of Eilean Shona is just a short boat ride from the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Two and a half miles long by one and a half wide, there are no cars and no shops and there's no television, only white sandy beaches, heather-sprung hills and wooded glades. The sturdy grey stone house was built in the late 18th century; this is where JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan. Inside, the design is eclectic but cosy - one bed's made from driftwood.
Eilean Shona, Acharacle, Argyll (01967 431249; www.eileanshona.com). The cost for three nights' full-board is £3,500 including use of the boats but excluding alcohol; you can bring your own or place an order beforehand. Sleeps 19.
Cliff Barns, Norfolk
This quirky stone barn conversion was conceived by the set designer Russell Hall and is a mish-mash of luxury and kitsch. Named after the Dallas character, it features stag heads, a bed made of branches and a 1970s-inspired bedroom. Luxury comes in the form of free-standing roll-top baths, underfloor heating, Turkish rugs and a hot tub and sauna. Guests can relax in front of the huge log-burning fireplaces. The dining room can seat up to 70 guests and is situated in three acres of private grounds, so you can afford to turn up the volume.
Cliff Barns, Russell Hall, Narford Road, Narborough, Norfolk (01366 328342; www.cliffbarns.com). Three nights' rental from £2,550; sleeps 18.
Wortham, Manor Devon
Wortham Manor once belonged to the wealthy Tudor family of Dinham, who remodelled the building, which is thought to date back to the 15th century. Check out the decorative carving in the north porch and other original features such as Gothic wood-carving and flagstone flooring. Following restoration, little has changed aesthetically, but the house now features underfloor heating, modern kitchen facilities and plush bed-linen. Guests have the run of eight bedrooms, two living rooms and a large dining room.
Wortham Manor, Lifton, Devon (01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk). Three nights' rental from £1,660; sleeps 15.
The Samling, Cumbria
The gabled Samling is cradled by a 67-acre estate. This boutique hotel, with its wood-panelled drawing room, log fire and snooze-inducing sofas, can be taken over in its entirety. Each of its 11 rooms is named after the dialect counting of sheep - yan, tyan, tethera... Five are in the main house, the rest scattered among stone cottages. Fly-fishing lessons can be arranged, or you could just slip into the hot tub and soak up the lake views.
The Samling, Ambleside Road, Windermere, Cumbria (015394 31933; www.thesamling.com). Weekend rate £6,462.50 per night (minimum two nights) including tea, dinner, unlimited wine, champagne and full Cumbrian breakfast. Sleeps 22
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