Sometimes you just want to get away from it all. But it’s even better if the place you get away to has a few luxuries and home comforts to aid your enjoyment while you’re there. We’ve combed the UK for the best boutique hotels in remote locations – from isle to valley, these are places that will really help you switch off, unwind and leave everyday life far behind.
Our first two suggestions take us to the Isles of Scilly. What could be further away from real life than staying in a castle? The Star Castle (****), pictured top, on St Mary’s island. There are 38 bedrooms split between the 16th-century castle (and, yes, it is shaped like a star) and the cottage garden rooms. If you opt for the former, expect bags of historical charm, from wooden beams to the antique furnishings, while the garden rooms are more spacious, some with private verandas overlooking the sea. The nooks and crannies of the castle plenty of secrets to reveal, such as the two award-winning restaurants – look out for lobster and crab caught that day – indoor swimming pool, tennis court and complimentary golf. Oh, and did we mention the dungeon bar?!
Our second Scilly suggestion is Hell Bay Hotel on the island of Bryher – an island so remote, it’s almost traffic free. The hotel takes the inspiration for its 25 suites from its stunning Atlantic-facing location, with New England style Lloyd Loom furniture and Malabar fabrics and an easygoing vibe. Some have balconies; most have sea views. There’s plenty to keep you well fed and watered while you are there, from dining in the three AA rosettes restaurant to enjoying a drink on the sunset deck. Aside from that, there’s a spa treatment room to rid you of any remaining tensions, along with a heated outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. But the most pleasure you’ll have will probably come from simply exploring the beautiful and deserted sandy beaches.
We’ve another castle up our sleeves with Augill Castle, found in Upper Eden Valley, at the foot of the North Pennines. The 15 rooms (six of which are in the main castle) offer a decadent mix of antiques and contemporary style, from mahogany 6-foot beds to claw-foot baths. All have squishy sofas and armchairs, and modern luxuries such as flat-screen TV with DVD player, hairdryer and tea and coffee facilities. One extra special suite is The Gatehouse, described as their “ultimate couple’s castle retreat”, which occupies the whole of the second tower. Although there’s no restaurant, at the weekend and other special occasions all guests are invited to enjoy the legendary dinner party, sitting together at the long dining tables. Explore the castle and 20 acres of grounds to unearth hidden treasures, from tree houses to a cinema tucked away in a shed. If you want to venture even further, beautiful countryside awaits – Augill Castle is midway between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
It’s easy to track down some peace and quiet in Scotland – check out our guide to some Highlands hideaways. Another hotel that will really help you feel you’re away from it all is the Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island, also in Argyll. For starters, it’s situated on a private island between lochs Linnhe and Creran. Some of the 25 bedrooms are located in the 19th-century mansion, but you’ll also find suites and cottages within the 300 acres of grounds. The Garden cottage suites, for examples, each have a private garden complete with hot tub. The hotel is stuffed full of gorgeous details, from the soft, luxurious decor to the original Art Deco fireplace in the library. You’ll be eating well, as it’s home to a Michelin starred restaurant, and guests are known to be very partial to the 40-strong cheese trolley. Want to burn off a couple of slice’s worth? You can also enjoy a nine-hole golf course, a heated pool, a croquet lawn and a spa, not mentioning the natural attractions, hosting creatures such as otters, red deer and badgers, of the beautiful grounds.
You’ll find the five-star accommodation of Penbontbren, down a country lane in Ceredigion in rural west Wales. Once you get there, any long journeys are all made worthwhile for the wonderful location, with views towards Preseli Mountains and the coast only two miles away. This former livestock farm is unrecognisable from its original purpose, converted into five luxurious suites, each with their own sitting areas and private gardens. The garden room, in the middle of the grounds, even has its own terrace with a covered pergola. It’s the kind of place where you’re encouraged to sit back and relax, with the suites stocked with iPod docks, flat screen TV and King-sized beds, and lovely White Company toiletries.
For more options that are really out of the ordinary, we’ve also tracked down some slightly more unusual options. Check out Chewton Glen treehouses in the New Forest and the Solent Forts off the coast of Portsmouth – you can find more about them both in our piece on hotels offering brilliant experiences. A recent addition to that category is the bubble domes at Finn Lough Lodge in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Situated in the forest by Lough Erne, they’ll help you lose yourself in nature without having to sacrifice on any home comforts. Each dome comes equipped with a bespoke four-poster bed, Nespresso coffee machine and even fluffy robes and slippers. They’ve even got an ensuite bathroom, breakfast is delivered to your door each morning, and there are 360-degree views of the night skies. Little wonder the rooms also come equipped with a telescope!
Author: Frances Ambler