Boggled by air bridges? Anxious about flying during a pandemic? Embrace the Great British summer and make the most of beautiful Blighty instead, whether you’re holidaying with friends, the entire family or going solo
The Blue House, Camber Sands, East Sussex
Best for… big families
Who needs to dream of Malibu when you can stay here? This stunning modernist glass four-bedroomed property is found slap bang on a beautiful seven-mile stretch of sandy beach with breathtaking views of the sea. The area has become increasingly chi-chi in recent years with great gastropubs and restaurants nearby. There’s also a barbecue on the terrace – oh, and you can take the dog too (for an additional fee). Be warned: you will fight over who gets the main bedroom with the best sea view in town.
Stella loves: The wood burner for cosy summer nights in.
Out and about: Visit nearby picture-postcard perfect town of Rye and enjoy its historic winding streets with quirky shops. A five minute walk from The Blue House is The Owl pub, which serves great family food and is dog-friendly too.
From £1,500 a weekend (sleeps eight), self catering; camberholidaycottages.co.uk/thebluehouse
Manor Court, Nr Bath, Cotswolds
Best for… groups of friends
There are pure Jane Austen vibes when you arrive at this spacious Grade II-listed farmhouse in the grounds of a manor on the outskirts of the Cotswolds. Surrounded by farms (we popped to one to get eggs for breakfast), it was so peaceful, all we could hear was the birds tweeting. It’s perfect for groups or friends, with an enormous kitchen complete with an Aga-style cooker, plus a whopping big living room with an open fireplace and squishy sofas, ideal for after-dinner games of charades – though the highlight is the private swimming pool. Upstairs, the four bedrooms, which are big enough to fit cots and lots of children’s toys, have idyllic views – all stone barns and cottages plus those picture perfect fields which make you feel like you’re in another, beautiful world.
Stella loves: The gorgeous swimming pool and nearby clubhouse, which is stocked with lilos and inflatables. (It can be used privately, by prior arrangement with the owner.)
Out and about: It’s a 15-minute drive from the chocolate box village of Castle Combe which looks like something from a children’s storybook – a pretty little river runs through. There are lots of good pubs, which have been closed during Covid-19, though the charming Salutation Inn, which dates back to the 17th Century, has been offering a takeaway service if you’re sick of cooking – don’t miss the delicious breaded fishcakes.
Two nights from £1,240, (sleeps eight); cottages.com
Stanbrook Abbey, Worcester
Best for… couples
Set on a preened 26-acre plot in the Malvern Hills near Worcester, the Grade-II listed, 16th-century abbey was recently overhauled with a £4.2 million renovation and the result combines historic charm with a modern touch – think vaulted ceilings, glass balconies and halls decorated with suits of armour. Explore the hotel grounds (look out for the dappled pond and pretty vine-twisted swing set) and the Malvern Hills beyond to work up an appetite, then take dinner back at the hotel – the restaurant is in the nuns’ former dining hall. The tangy salt and pepper squid is worth trying, as is the succulent Welsh lamb, with sommelier-paired wines.
Stella loves: The cosy bedrooms – ours had plush armchairs and a particularly inviting freestanding bathtub.
Out and about: Set on the outskirts of Worcester, the abbey is well-placed for walks in the beautiful Malvern Hills and along the Cotswold’s Way. Nearby is the Great Worcester Maize Maze, a giant hedge maize and series of outdoor games which are perfect for kids. In the city, The Commandery civil war museum gives a taste of its 800 year history and brings to life the Battle of Worcester of 1851.
Rooms from £200 a night, b&b, (minimum two night stay); handpickedhotels.co.uk
Read the full review: Stanbrook Abbey
The Forest Side, Grasmere, Lake District
Best for… solo trips (with the dog)
Ditch the family, pack your walking boots, take the dog… This place is walker’s heaven. Set on a hillside overlooking Grasmere, home to Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, the hotel building is an early Victorian Gothic mansion, which is cosy and chic in perfect ratio. The highlight is dinner, courtesy of head chef Paul Leonard. Choose from the four-course and eight-course dinner menus. The staff are unpretentious and chatty, the food delicious, from Cumbrian hogget to smoked bacon broth with clams. The bar and lounge are closed for now because of Covid-19 but you’ll find it hard to pull yourself back there, with so much countryside to explore, plus the rooms (some of which allow dogs) are beautifully inviting with spectacular views and very high-end bathrooms. Bliss…
Stella loves: Waking up to a view of the mist-covered fells
Out and about: This is the Lake District, so walking is the order of the day. Take your hiking boots in any direction and you’re spoilt for fells to climb. The less ambitious can take a gentler stroll around the lakeside of Faeryland . Don’t forget to stop by the teeny-tiny but world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop, which has been selling its special recipe since 1854 and has now reopened once again post-Covid. One bite and you’re hooked.
From £159 a night, room only; theforestside.com
Read the full review: The Forest Side
Edited by: Laura Powell. Reviews by: Marianne Jones, Laura Powell, Cara McGoogan and Stacey Thompson