There’s a new wave of seriously luxurious places to stay in the bucolic and beautiful rural areas of the UK. And many of the region’s beloved classic properties have been updated with all of modern luxury conveniences, too. So if you’re looking to get out of the major cities in Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to explore some the rustic charms of the country life, what are the best luxury hotels in the UK countryside right now? Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has the answers.
luxurious places to stay in rural areas of the UK
Unlike its southern neighbors France, Spain and Portugal, the UK can’t boast of vast beaches, months of balmy weather – or even reliable weather, for that matter.
Nonetheless, visitors flock to UK cities like London, Oxford, Edinburgh and Glasgow to visit museums, restaurants, theater and historical landmarks. With so much to see and do, though, major metropolises like London aren’t really a great destination for those looking to relax and unwind. Even during the Christmas season, London and its ilk can be stunningly beautiful – but not necessarily serene.
So where does one go in the UK for a relaxing vacation? Or even just a long weekend off the grid? For hundreds of years, Londoners and other visitors have headed to the countryside. In some cases marked by rolling hills, quaint cobblestone streets and babbling brooks – and in others, craggy peaks and wind-tossed waves – a retreat from town to country is a proven way to treat yourself to a well-deserved respite.
Only a short drive or train ride away from the city streets, at the properties on our list, visitors can experience the classic English (or Scottish, or Welsh) countryside in centuries-old villages, historic houses and sleepy seaside towns.
what are the best luxury hotels in the UK countryside right now?
For some, heading to the countryside conjures up images of quirky inns, B-and-B’s, and family-owned cottages. But for the elite, heading to the country is anything but. Now, thanks to the recent arrival of new hotels and even new luxury estate-booking options, there are more opulent ways than ever to enjoy the UK countryside.
So if you are looking for something new and up and coming, or for a classic spot in which to stay, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 outstanding places to stay in the UK countryside. Plus 2 options that would allow you to rent your own country estate. Get ready to relax by a roaring fire with a cup of tea!
1. The Langley.
One of the most luxurious places to stay in the rural UK is actually not far from civilization. Just 40 minutes from London is the former estate of the Duke of Marlborough, now called The Langley. Over the past five years, this former hunting lodge has undergone a complete multi-million-pound renovation.
The result? An exquisite 41-room hotel and spa, set within 500 acres of idyllic Buckinghamshire countryside. The world class spa by Sisley boasts cutting-edge cryo-therapy treatments, women-only thermal areas, VIP suites with dip pools and a Matt Roberts gym. The rooms feature classic roll-top baths. Some are even set in the estate’s converted brew house, where the owners used to make their own ale. Onsite you can also find an Art Deco cognac and cigar bar and afternoon tea served in a courtyard overlooking the lake.
2. Grantley Hall.
After having spent 300 years as a private home welcoming royalty, politicians and other eminent public figures, Grantley Hall, located near Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, has been transformed.
The property is now a 47-room luxury hotel, schedule to open July 6, 2019. The 17th-century Palladian-designed property, complete with a lake and an English Heritage-listed Japanese Garden, will have seven different drinking and dining venues. They include a restaurant from Shaun Rankin and a champagne bar, as well as the Three Graces Spa, offering a full suite of fitness and wellness options.
3. The Pig at Bridge Place.
Though situated in a tranquil Queen Anne meadow-circled manor house, The Pig at Bridge Place has a serious rock n’ roll past. In the 1960’s and 70’s, it was a favorite haunt for the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
The hotel is the sixth property under the Pig umbrella. And like the brand’s other properties, this one focuses on locally-inspired food for its menus, using produce from its own gardens and from local vendors. The property has maintained the iconic, lush atmosphere that made it a rock favorite. You’ll still find big open fire pits, paneled rooms and cozy corners for hiding away. Alongside the manor house’s 29 rooms are 7 Kentish hop-pickers’ huts on stilts in the water meadows. These sit along the banks of the babbling brook that runs through the grounds , making them perfect for those in search of a little privacy.
4. The Fife Arms.
The area of Aberdeenshire in Scotland has long been a favorite of the Queen. But with the recent opening of the The Fife Arms, it has now plenty more buzz. That’s thanks in part to Prince Charles, who helped to formally open the hotel in January 2019. It’s also because the owners of the property are also the owners of Hauser & Wirth.
Having once been a coaching inn, the hotel now features 46 meticulously renovated rooms. They still feature many of the building’s original fixtures and woodwork, together with lots of tartan, ornate bedding and coats of arms, too. Equally impressive is the 12,000 piece art collection worthy of a London gallery. You’ll find large-scale site-specific commissions by internationally-renowned artists like Zhang Enli, Guillermo Kuitca, Subodh Gupta, and Bharti Kher.
5. Coworth Park.
Set in the stylish, pony-speckled environs of Ascot and just 45 minutes from London is Coworth Park.
While the interiors are a mix of city and country styling, the vibe is pure posh. The room keys are shaped like caviar spoons. The grounds boast polo fields, an equestrian center and of course, horse stables. Other luxe features include a harpist in the tea lounge and a semi-subterranean spa with organic Dr. Alkaitis treatments. Did we mention that Prince Harry opted to stay here the night before his nuptials to the Duchess of Sussex?
6. Lime Wood Hotel.
The Lime Wood Hotel in New Forest has a history dating back to the 13th century, where it began life as a hunting lodge. Since then, it has had an elaborate makeover complete with an indulgent spa, numerous eateries and gorgeously landscaped grounds. All of which makes it a great place to escape from the wear and tear of London. British Vogue recommends dining at HH & Co, helmed by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder. It has an Italian-inspired menu and a lovely conservatory setting.
For those wanting to make the most of the grounds, there are rows of colorful Hunter boots and bicycles to use while exploring, a lush spa with outdoor hot pool, indoor lap pool and hydrotherapy suite.
7. Gravetye Manor.
The English Garden as we know it today was first designed at Gravetye Manor by one time proprietor and famed 19th century garden designer, William Robinson. It’s now one of the most luxurious places to stay in a rural and bucolic space in the UK.
Robinson lived at the house until the early 20th-century and his legacy is still one of the main highlight’s at this intimate 17-bedroom hotel. Thanks to its gardens, the hotel is full of freshly cut flowers, as well as seasonal fruits and veggies in its dining rooms. The rooms inside have also been inspired by the gardens and are elegantly turned out in country chintz to match the foliage outdoors.
8. Chewton Glen.
In the Hampshire countryside in New Forest, surrounded by ivy clad stone houses and crisp croquet lawns is Chewton Glen, one of our favorite luxury hotels in the UK countryside.
This stunning manor features a spa, restaurant and country club that embodies both the old school elegance and modern luxury. One of the main highlights is the spa with Linda Meredith facials, Ila treatments, and the largest hydrotherapy pool in the UK. Another highlight are the Treehouses, a recent addition to the hotel where the suites are literally built into the trees on the property. These units offer stunning views above the treeline. Coupled with a staff-to-guest ratio of two-to-one, it would be hard not to feel like royalty at this haven.
9. SoHo Farmhouse.
Soho Farmhouse, part of Soho House group, opened in Oxfordshire in the Cotswolds in late-2015. It was the members-only club’s 14th property, and is located approximately 90 minutes from London. Soho House members can book a stay directly through their House Seven accounts. Non-members should inquire directly through the website about availability.
The compound of 40 cabins embodies rustic-chic in its highest possible form: many accommodations come with wood-burning stoves, a pair of Wellies and a bike for each occupant. Some have outdoor balconies or outdoor hot tubs. All are well-stocked with products from Cowshed, SoHo House’s proprietary skin care line. A dedicated “farm hand” is also available to tend to your every request. There are three options for dining – two serving traditional British classics, and one serving Japanese cuisine. There’s an indoor-outdoor pool, and a lake for boating if the weather is fine.
10. Cliveden House.
The former home of several Dukes, a Prince of Wales and Nancy Astor, now owned by the National Trust, Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire is a magnificent way to experience a holiday at a country estate. A member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group of properties, it’s one of the loveliest luxury hotels in the UK countryside.
With 38 rooms and suites, each named after a figure from the house’s past and furnished to match, the property is surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. In addition, guests have access to more than 250 acres of National Trust land. While it was once best-known as the location of the Profumo Affair scandal, these days its more famous for a more civilized reason. Meghan Markle and her mom stayed here the night before her Royal Wedding in Windsor.
Renting your own estate.
In addition to these 10 hotel properties, there are two other interesting options for a luxurious place to stay in the rural areas of the UK.
Oetker Collection, a German company known for it’s elite five-star hotels has recently launched a new luxury concept in the UK called Masterpiece Estates. The concept is a collection of unique and historic properties around the British Isles that come with attentive hosts, fine dining, a range of activities and lots of privacy. At the group’s 10,000 acre Glen Affric Estate, in the Scottish Highlands on the shores of a tranquil loch you can opt to go hiking, biking, fishing or hill stalking or simply opt for a Scottish Whiskey tasting. While at the 4,000 acre Farleigh Wallop you can enjoy the beautiful gardens, meals by a Michelin starred chef and a Jane Austen-themed tour of the area.
The Landmark Trust.
If you’re looking for something a step beyond your typical Airbnb when you’re searching out the best luxury hotels in the UK countryside – such as a Medieval moated castle – consider trying one of the properties owned by Britain’s Landmark Trust.
For over 50 years the company has been saving “at risk” historic buildings around the UK and Europe, partially funding their restoration and upkeep by renting them out as holiday homes.
The trust’s eclectic portfolio includes Astley Castle in Warwickshire, which won the Riba Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2013, as well as the 18th century Pineapple in Dunmore, Scotland built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore. If you require a lot of space though, you could always book the entire island of Lundy of the coast of Devon. Do note that none of these homes come with staff, but how often do you get a chance to call a whole castle, let alone an island all your own for a weekend?
That’s it – our take on the best luxury hotels in the UK countryside. They’re among the most luxurious places to stay in the rural areas of the UK.
So what will it be? A trip to a tried and true favorite or are you game for something new? We’ve got our eye on the Oetker Collection’s Glen Affric Estate. In addition to all the outdoor activities, rumor has it that Kate Middleton’s brother, James Middleton is the estate’s on site guide.
join our community!
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. Jillian lives in NYC and is married with three young children. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.
Join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.