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uk staycations

10 of the best English holiday cottages to book this spring

Ianthe Butt rounds up the best cottages to book when the rules are relaxed from 12 April

Wednesday 17 March 2021 16:39
<p>Unique Homestays’ Pomegranate Tree</p>

Unique Homestays’ Pomegranate Tree

According to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, 12 April is the earliest date that stays at “self-contained” accommodation – including campsites, caravan parks and holiday rentals – can restart in England, for one household or social bubble only.

The firm date has kicked off a booking frenzy in the UK, with families desperate to get away.

Here are the best holiday cottages with availability this spring.

Garden Cottage, Staffordshire

Formerly the pump house for a Victorian country house, this three-bedroom cottage on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border, sleeping up to six, delivers rural idyll in spades. In the pretty grounds of Wootton Hall Estate, outside, roses climb across a stone facade, while inside has a refined farmhouse look thanks to wooden floors and botanical line print drawings. There’s a fully kitted-out country-style kitchen, log fire in the sitting room, and a barbecue on the ideal-for-sundowners terrace. The cottage is owned by the team behind Bib Gourmand-awarded pub The Duncombe Arms – which is a short walk – and the jaw-dropping scenery of the Peak District is just minutes away. 

A three-night stay costs from £600

Fisherman’s Cottage, Kingsand, Cornwall

A renovated 17th-century cottage just a short stroll from the sandy beach in Kingsand, on Cornwall’s southeast coast, is a strong seaside pick. Characterful original beams, stone walls and low ceilings rub up against vintage furnishings, painted seascapes and nautical curio which nod to the village’s fishing heritage. Sleeping up to six – four adults, two children, and one well-behaved dog – there’s a freestanding copper bathtub in the master bedroom for wallowing, and a wood-burner in the kitchen to warm up by after days spent rock pooling at shingly Girt beach, surfing at Whitsand Bay or rambling along the AONB-certified peninsula to Rame Head.

A seven-night stay (Friday changeover), through Kip Hideaways, costs from £1,600

The Coach House and The Stables, Worcestershire

A delightful duo in peaceful Broad Marston, just outside Stratford on the north Cotswolds border, are The Coach House (sleeping four) and The Stables (sleeping two). Surrounded by six acres of grounds with killer views of the olive and cut-kiwi-green Malvern Hills, the converted coach house is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom beauty with exposed brickwork, chunky-knit cushions and a contemporary country-look lounge. The smaller Stables – all romantic whimsy, with criss-cross beams in the high-ceilinged bedroom, and a log burner in the living-room-kitchen area – will suit couples after a boutique getaway. Stratford-upon-Avon is a not-too-far drive, as are plenty of cute Cotswold villages for walking and cycling adventures.

A two-night stay at the Coach House, through Luxury Cottages, costs from £482;

A two-night stay at The Stables costs from £350;

Stockman’s Cottage, Foulsham, Norfolk

For a cottagecore hit, this once-upon-a-time cowman’s cottage close to the north Norfolk coast, sleeping four, ticks all the boxes. Expect oak beams, squashy sofas draped with checked throws, an Inglenook fireplace, potted hyacinths atop rustic furniture and a garden where guests can collect fresh eggs. Sleeping-wise there’s a double room with vaulted ceiling, gingham touches and adjoining shower and a cute twin, plus the ground-floor bathroom has a freestanding tub. A welcome package includes tasty homemade cake, and, as for exploring, Wells-next-the-sea, Holt and Holkham are all within easy reach.

A three-night stay, through Sawdays, costs from £390

Fawn Wood, Hartfield, East Sussex

Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh will enjoy this storied property, sleeping up to six, at the edge of Ashdown Forest (aka 100 Acre Wood) in rural Hartfield. Fawn Wood, a striking 17th-century ex-granary building with brick nogging and half-hipped tiled roof, has the look of a smart gingerbread house. Interiors fuse trad flagstone flooring and woods-and-whites with pom-pom cushions, and a striking Cocoon Aeris fireplace hangs in the sitting room. Wellies are provided for rambles through bluebell forests and ancient woodland, and use of an on-site pro golf simulator room can be arranged.

A Monday-Friday stay in May, through Unique Homestays, costs from £1,795

Low Hallgarth, Nr Coniston, Cumbria

Another property with a literary link is this fellside cottage, once owned by Beatrix Potter. A 17th-century charmer sleeps four (in a double and a twin), it has a retro-rustic unfussy feel, with exposed beams, patterned carpets, and a roaring fireplace. An absolute dream for walkers and climbers, with views over Little Langdale Tarn and up towards Wrynose Pass, low-key strollers will enjoy the Tarn Hows, while those after an adrenaline boost can tackle the high fells of the Langdale Valley. The Sticklebarn Pub, a real ale hotspot which is kitted out with board games and blankets and does family film screenings, is close by, while the tea rooms of Coniston, Hawkshead and Ambleside are easy to reach by car.

A three-night stay, through the National Trust, costs from £679

Little Whispers, Lodsworth, West Sussex 

When it comes to style-to-budget ratio, it’s hard to beat Lodsworth village’s Little Whispers in the South Downs National Park. Every interiors decision at this cottage – which is annexed, but next to the owners’ home – has been considered, from the walls – a mix of statement duck egg blue, olive and teal Farrow & Ball shades and zen, off-white hues – to the muted grey Shaker kitchen with curated cookbooks. In the lounge, plum-coloured sofas are piled high with snuggly throws, and, upstairs, bedrooms have goose-down duvets and Egyptian cotton sheets. Expect bucolic views of fields where deer wander and the South Downs. Top-notch pub The Hollist Arms is two minutes away, and both Petworth’s renowned antique shops and Petworth Park House (plus its Capability Brown-designed gardens) are just around the corner. 

A two-night stay, through Cabins and Castles, costs from £260 (children aged 10+)

The Field Barn, Witney, Oxfordshire

Design buffs will adore this grown-up Cotswolds barn conversion in Witney which sleeps four (suitable for babes in arms, or children aged 12+). Dreamt up by a florist and a timber trader, it’s packed with creative touches: think doors upcycled into kitchen units, utility-cool vintage sinks, sliding glass doors that allow the Cotswolds scenery in, and two bedrooms with blackout blinds to ensure restful sleep. The well-equipped kitchen has a cool galvanised tin breakfast bar (goodies for a first morning meal are included), there’s a decked patio area for al fresco feasting, and a wood burner in the lounge. Picturesque Cotswold towns, including Burford and Chipping Campden, are within easy reach by car, as is the Daylesford Organic Farm Shop and Hay Barn Spa.

A three-night stay, through Sawday’s, costs from £660

The Pomegranate Tree, South Molton, Exmoor, North Devon

A truly wild-at-heart hideaway, The Pomegranate Tree is a 16th-century cottage in Devon’s West Anstey which sleeps four (with extras on request). At the fringe of Exmoor National Park, and in Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve, it’s also under an hour’s drive to the golden sands of Blue Anchor Bay. Downstairs, homely living spaces combine colour-popping Cole & Son wallpaper with low-slung timber beams and crackling fires, and a swish kitchen has an aga tucked in a stone alcove. Upstairs, calming, natural-toned bedrooms are decked with stout wooden furniture. After days spent scrambling across tors or wild swimming nearby, there’s an acre-sized garden with a stream-fed pond to retreat to for a BBQ followed by stargazing soundtracked by owls hooting in the trees.

A four-night stay in April (Mon-Fri, for up to four guests, children 13+) costs from £1,595 through Unique Homestays

High Peak, Ravenscar, North Yorkshire

On the edge of the North York Moors, with panoramic sea views out to Robin Hood’s Bay, this dog-friendly stone cottage is a National Trust newbie which offers the best of both countryside and coast. Sleeping up to eight with four bedrooms (two with en-suites), a spacious fern-hued kitchen, several dining spots, and a living room with log burner make it a good choice for larger households. Up front there’s an enclosed garden, while a patio at the back affords wonderful bay views – particularly mesmerising when the sun sets. Time can be filled with outdoor activities aplenty – think cliff-top strolls, bike jaunts along the Cinder Track cycle route, pootling through heatherland on the moors – or guests can drive to Scarborough or Whitby for a seaside hit.

A three-night stay, through The National Trust, costs from £1284.30 (up to two dogs permitted)

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