Stylish stays for everyone

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Don’t settle for standard self-catering. Book a Great British bolthole with real flair

It is so easy these days to plonk yourself safely into a self-catering house that is straight out of a self-catering manual: black leather furniture, steel fittings, wooden floors, Ikea plates and mugs – and probably furniture too – and as much risk of startling you as there is in church. Here, however, are surprises and some tempting choices. Wooden walls, or massive glass walls, recycled spiral staircases, a duckboard walk across the marshes, craftwork from India – you have much to look forward to.

Some hosts give you organic welcome hampers, others a G&T, and some will just leave you alone if that is what you want. Choose between the wildness of the Isle of Skye, the domesticated beauty of the Sussex Downs, a basement in the heart of London, a mill, an eco-extension to a cottage – the list is tantalising. Self-catering really has come of age; these gorgeous places show it, with panache and character.

For information and booking see sawdays.co.uk

1. Hunsett Mill, Stalham, Norwich, Norfolk

By a windmill, on a bend in the river in the Norfolk Broads, is this old-meets-new mill-keeper's cottage. Its cottage-style planting conceals you from passing boats. The ground floor has a high vaulted ceiling and is light-filled with great river views. There's a two-way open fireplace and suspended stairway leading to stylish bedrooms. A boardwalk bears you over the marsh: be in Norwich in half an hour, on the beach in quarter – and you've got your own mooring.

Sleeps nine. From £1,600 per week (07711 005397; hunsettmill.co.uk).

2. Cobbe Place Boutique Barns, Beddingham, Lewes, Sussex

On the South Downs Way, in the grounds of the deeply atmospheric Cobbe Place are three charming flint barns. Each of the three spaces, decorated in whites and warm greys, is filled with lightness and calm, and furniture and objects lovingly chosen. All hug a big south-facing courtyard with a fairylight-strewn pergola, an outdoor fireplace and a table for 10. In colder months, hosts Bryony and Emma are happy for guests to relax in their beautiful drawing room, amid books, games, papers and a great log fire. Their generosity extends to "boutique breakfasts" included in the price – scrumptious, original, organic – while Glyndebourne-goers can ask for a car a picnic and a porter!

From £610 per week for Sailors House, which sleeps two (01273 858 893; cobbeplace.com).

3. Mappleton Manor, Mappleton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

It was in this 1750s Georgian manor that George Eliot penned Adam Bede; now it's a delightful country getaway with pecking chickens, the odd sheep, and horses peeking over stable doors. The front wing is yours, with a sun terrace and garden fringed by roses. Inside, it's lovely to warm your toes by the log burner in a properly traditional drawing room with wingback chairs and horsey ornaments. High-ceilinged bedrooms are just as gracious. There is no noise bar country noises, no people bar Kim and her family in the east wing. She'll greet you with cream tea or G&T.

Sleeps six. From £560 per week (01335 350476; mappletonmanor.co.uk).

4. Mungo's Den, Isle of Skye

A former post office, Mungo's Den now shines brightly in its blue exterior. Everything was rebuilt with the environment in mind: materials were reclaimed, and the glorious mix of furniture was recycled or, in the case of the spiral staircase, rescued from a garden and lovingly repaired. Vintage fabrics, a Bakelite phone and a log-burner add quirk and warmth, while the flat-screen TV and iPod dock bring it all up to date. The kitchen continues the recycled theme with a mix of crockery and Victorian cupboard doors. Downstairs, the bunk room is a riot of colour, the mezzanine has a super king-sized bed.

Sleeps four. From £525 per week (07742 193901; mungosden.co.uk).

5. Wilmington Square, Clerkenwell, London

If you feel like trendy is passing you by or want a weekend harking back to your London heyday, then 5 Wilmington Square is the perfect place to start. Clerkenwell has enough grit among the gentrification to replace chi-chi with urban cool. Inside find a pine-panelled living room with a huge stone hearth, a wood-burner and sheepskin rugs. The retro glass pendants were snapped up from a village hall and look just right, along with the Ercol dining table and travel trunks. The architect owners live and work in the rest of the house, happy to point you towards restaurants, cycling routes, walks and quirky sights. Exmouth Market is a block away.

Sleeps four. From £850 per week (020 7837 6255; wilmingtonsquare.co.uk).

6. The Lighthouse St Ives, Cornwall

Light floods in, waves crash on the rocks and the views dazzle from a large glass balcony over St Ives bay, where dolphins, seals and boats play. The designer lighthouse stands slim and tall on Crab Rock, off a pedestrian street of Cornish cottages, a flip-flop from the beaches and town centre. Enter four storeys of light-bathed tranquillity and quirky retro-1950s design. There's an authentic American dinner set and Smeg fridge in the little kitchen and a proper balcony – the views are seriously beautiful, soaring over the sea to the harbour, town and bays.

Sleeps four. From £488 per week (07889 162 360; thelighthouse-stives.co.uk).

7. The Suffolk Escape, Hintlesham, Ipswich, Suffolk

Imagine opening the doors of a wood-cosy cabin to lakeside decking and Suffolk's big skies. Owners Andrew and Sarah have created a lake from scratch, then added four beautiful retreats, with chill-out decks for barbecues and hot tubs for stars. Inside: toasty oak floors, hand-made mattresses on emperor size beds, sparkling floor lights for romantic bathrooms and lots of lovely space. The attention to detail is amazing, from the board games, binoculars and wildlife books to the designer kitchens. After a day's wandering, it's bliss to come home to the warmth of the wood-burner, the scent of the pine, the hoot of the owl and the lake that laps you to sleep.

Sleeps four. From £700 per week (01473 652149; suffolkescape.co.uk).

8. Llwyncor Trecastle, Brecon, Powys

Llwyncor is a peach of a house for groups wanting to nest in a wilderness. It's not irretrievably off the beaten track, but the majestic prospect of the Brecon Beacons suggests so. The abundant delights include fishing, ruined castles, and walks of all sizes. The Victorian house is a very elegant mixture of new and old and has a great sense of space; certainly it's a house made for hide and seek. Through the porch, the light pillared ground floor is largely open-plan with a big open fireplace and sweeping wooden floors. Bedrooms with beautiful beams are higgledy-piggledy over three floors.

Sleeps 10. From £900 per week (01874 638 031; breconaccommodation.co.uk).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea