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Best hotels in Northamptonshire for spa getaways and countryside walks

This under the radar area between London and Birmingham is a treasure trove of lovely spa hotels and quaint hideaways

Graeme Green
Wednesday 19 April 2023 13:57 BST
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Northampton has everything you need for a magical weekend away
Northampton has everything you need for a magical weekend away (The Talbot Hotel)

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Famous for producing shoes (James Bond and Darth Vadar both got their footwear from Northampton) and hosting the Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone, Northamptonshire has oddly remained off the tourist map. But sometimes it’s the quiet ones you have to watch…

Nestled in the heart of England, just an hour by train from London, visitors will find gently rolling countryside, rambling country parks and vast ancient woodlands, all waiting to be explored. There’s a whole bunch of stately homes and ancestral seats to check out, too, including that of the Spencer family at Althorp.

For those who prefer to get around on two wheels, there are miles of cycle paths and trails to pick from, with plenty of open vistas, quiet country lanes and pretty villages with oldy-worldy cosy pubs. Or, take a more laid-back approach, and explore the water-filled county’s labyrinth of viaducts, waterways and canals by barge.

But there’s more to the “Rose of the Shires” than stunning views and sleepy villages. The East Midlands county is home to bustling market towns, offering museums and galleries, indie shops, chic cafes, gastro eateries – and a surprisingly thriving nightlife.

And there’s just as much on offer when it comes to where to stay – from rural retreats and ancient inns to chic town houses and hotels with sumptuous spas. Here’s our pick of the best…

Best hotel for a rural retreat: The Falcon Hotel

Neighbourhood: Castle Ashby

The perfect spot for some afternoon tea
The perfect spot for some afternoon tea (The Falcon Hotel)

Set within the 10,500-acre Castle Ashby estate, The Falcon is a converted coaching inn. Dating back to 1594, it’s now a stylish country retreat with 21 plush, warm rooms. The town centre’s is just 10 minutes away, though you’re more likely to take peaceful country walks and explore historic Castle Ashby’s elegant gardens.

There’s a feeling of nature inside the hotel, as well as outside, with earthy colours and abstract artworks. Eyas fine dining restaurant is pricey but memorable and great for occasions. The wellness centre offers yoga, massages, meditation, nature walks and, for the brave, bracing open-water swims.

Best hotel for eclectic interiors: Flore House

Neighbourhood: Flore

Countryside charm at Flore House
Countryside charm at Flore House (Flore House)

Dating from the early 17th century, Flore House is a Grade II-listed Jacobean hunting lodge, set in 19 acres of parkland and countryside – and it’s a bit of a celebrity in this part of the county. Northampton-born rapper Slowthai used this striking country house – part-covered in greenery and surrounded by neat gardens – in one of his museum videos, as did singer Arlo Parks. It’s also featured in ads for Next and Sainsburys.

Many original period features remain in the house, such as fireplaces and wood-panelling. However, crisply whitewashed bedrooms throw off the shackles of history and instead go with eclectic modern flair, with contemporary art and free-standing bathtubs in bold pink and orange.

Best hotel for glamourous rooms: Fawsley Hall Hotel

Neighbourhood: Fawsley

Unusual architecture marks this country pile out from the rest
Unusual architecture marks this country pile out from the rest (Fawsley Hall)

Fawsley Hall Hotel was previously used for entertaining Elizabeth I and other monarchs. Now, guests get to feel like royalty, strolling through gardens and parkland landscaped by Capability Brown in the 1760s, taking afternoon tea in the Tudor Great Hall, feasting in the popular Cedar Restaurant, or taking it easy in the recently refurbished spa.

Rooms are very smartly furnished – treat yourself to a grand, spacious Feature Room, some of which have huge four-poster beds.

Best hotel for a bit of history: The Talbot Hotel

Neighbourhood: Oundle

Step into the 16th century at the Talbot Hotel
Step into the 16th century at the Talbot Hotel (The Talbot Hotel)

A former 16th-century coaching inn, The Talbot sits at the heart of the characterful market town of Oundle. Fotheringhay Castle – birthplace of King Richard III and final place of imprisonment for Mary, Queen of Scots – is just a few miles away.

The hotel’s inner courtyards are made with stone from Fotheringhay Castle, while the oldest section of the building is medieval. According to (unsubstantiated) Oundle folklore, the staircase leading from the 34-bedroom hotel’s Mary, Queen of Scots Room was the one she descended on her way to execution, and there’s an imprint of her ring in the wood. 

The main restaurant serves sophisticated, hearty meals, and the hotel also does afternoon tea – just about worth losing your head over.

Best hotel for peaceful B&B: The Swallows Rest

Neighbourhood: Brigstock

A boutique B&B with a vineyard next door? Yes please
A boutique B&B with a vineyard next door? Yes please (Swallows)

On a quiet country lane in a pretty village, the Swallows Rest is a boutique B&B overlooking fields and neat lines of vines in the white wine-producing Brigstock Vineyard next door.

Rooms are decorated with leaves, flowers and swallows on walls. Hearty breakfasts with locally sourced ingredients, including the Full English, are served each morning in a bright, airy dining area, or on the terrace looking out over the garden and vines.

Fermyn Woods Country Park is within walking distance, with Titchmarsh Nature Reserve not far away.

Best hotel for indulgent breaks: Rushton Hall Hotel and Spa

Neighbourhood: Kettering

Rushton Hall is the ultimate pamper destination
Rushton Hall is the ultimate pamper destination (Rushton Hall)

Rushton Hall’s a Grade-I-listed country house, with 51 elegantly decorated bedrooms and two refurbished lodges. Sitting in 25 acres of grounds, it’s surrounded by quiet countryside but with Kettering and the shops of Market Harborough close by, as are nature spots Pitsford reservoir, Foxton Locks and Stanick Lakes.

Although you may prefer not to venture far, instead chilling out with a pampering session at the spa, which also has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. Follow that with tea and cake or dinner in one of two restaurants – the casual 1593 brasserie or the three-rosette, fine-dining Tresham Restaurant, which has a seven-course tasting menu.

Best hotel for family trips: Kettering Park Hotel and Spa

Neighbourhood: Kettering

Enjoy a summer’s day in Kettering Park’s outdoor bar
Enjoy a summer’s day in Kettering Park’s outdoor bar (Kettering Park Hotel)

Beyond the hare sculptures at the entrance, Kettering Park Hotel has 119 comfy bedrooms, a fitness centre and a spa that contains a sauna, steam room and a very cool (in appearance, not temperature) and massive indoor swimming pool. There’s also an outdoor bar, The Lawn Club, for when the sun is shining.

The hotel has a handy location for local explorations, including Rockingham Castle, Boughton House and Sywell Country Park, with long-standing theme park Wicksteed Park just minutes down the road.

Best hotel for Art Deco-style: The Aviator Hotel

Neighbourhood: Northampton

A great spot for history lovers
A great spot for history lovers (The Aviator Hotel)

Dating back to the 1930s, this novel hotel, bar and restaurant in the Northamptonshire countryside sits on Sywell Aerodrome, which played an important role during the WWII as an RAF training facility and repair centre for Wellington bombers.

Formerly the officer’s mess, the Aviator’s been returned to its former Art Deco glory, with the 59 en-suite bedrooms (some of which can link up for families) all sporting art-nouveau detailing.

The bar and restaurant have views across the grass airfield, so guests can watch aircraft take off and land. History-lovers and aviation aficionados will want to head to the Sywell Aviation Museum.

Best for a pretty village stay: Staverton Hall

Neighbourhood: Staverton

Staverton Hall is a prime spot for hike lovers
Staverton Hall is a prime spot for hike lovers (Staverton Hall)

Staverton Hall is a Georgian family house on the edge of the pretty Northamptonshire village of Staverton, a few miles outside of Daventry. The solid whitewashed building sits in 12 acres of land, with views out across Warwickshire, green fields and gently rolling countryside stretching to the horizon. 

Rooms have a homely traditional feel, while breakfast is served around one big round table. A place to unwind, there are decent country walks in the area, and plenty of good pubs nearby.

Price: Doubles from £95.

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