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A staycation once conjured up images of weathered caravan sites, leaky tents and stale sticks of Blackpool rock. But in place of tired B&Bs there’s been an upward revival of smart, British boltholes championing British heritage. Restored manors, farm shops, long walks and gastropubs are all on the agenda at these brilliantly British hotels.
1. The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
Part of Daylesford’s organic empire, The Wild Rabbit hides out among Kingham’s quaint church and village green. Muddy boots are welcome and wellies are provided should you forget yours. Alternatively, borrow a bike and meander through the wildflower meadows surrounding the gastropub and rustic lodgings. Placing a heavy emphasis on sustainability, four-poster bed frames are handmade using fallen birch tree trunks, mattresses are made from horse hair and surfaces are plastered in natural lime- and almond-coloured Cotswold stone. Elsewhere, you’ll find potted lavender plants, tartan rugs artfully strewn over wooden toadstools and roaring fires. A few fields away (or a five-minute jaunt in the on-hand Land Rover) is the renowned Daylesford organic farm shop and deli, as well as Bamford Haybarn Spa. Book yourself in for a signature body treatment to fully rid yourself of city stresses.
2. Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
Lord over Devon’s coastline from Lympstone Manor, a vanilla-coloured Georgian mansion that has been rejuvenated by chef Michael Caine. Gold-plated bathtubs, tall, elegant windows and jewel-coloured feature walls decorate the rooms, each named after a type of seabird. The Kingfisher suite is a striking palette of sapphire blues with enviable sunset vistas, perfect for sinking the complimentary G&T’s that are stocked in the room. Bumble along one of the surrounding coastal paths until you reach River Exe Café, where a steaming portion of fish and chips doused in vinegar awaits. Pepper seaside, newspaper dinners with the eight-course tasting menu that is served up at the manor. The heavy seafood influence comes from locally caught scallops, mullet and crab.
3. Artist Residence, London
In Pimlico, an area filled with has-been hotel chains, the smart, striped awnings of Artist Residence stand shine a little brighter than the rest of the uniform-white regency houses. The third outpost carries all of the charm and eclectic style of the other two (located in Brighton and Penzance) and is within skipping distance of all of London’s most famous attractions. In the rooms, authentic milking stools have been refashioned into bedside tables, retro biscuit tins conceal jelly babies and rotary dial phones sit atop weathered desks. After admiring the original works of contemporary art scattered across the gallery-cum-lobby, retreat to the luscious Clarendon Cocktail Cellar. The drinks menu reads like a who’s who of Tate’s greats – Andy Warhol, George Seurak and Edvard Munch have all been reimagined into alcoholic works of art. If you’re not staying at the hotel, this dimly lit bar is an excellent place to have up your sleeve in a part of town with a surprising dearth of good watering holes.
Housed in an immaculate Georgian mansion, tucked away from the tourist crowds that clatter along Marble Arch, you’ll find the lair of Wicked Uncle Seymour. Cross the threshold into the whacky and whimsical world of the eclectic family member filled with eccentric antiques, Grand Tour trinkets and wind-up gramophones. All 24-rooms have a distinctively British feel (think dark-wood four-poster beds, chocolate-brown leather sofas and vintage Union Jack flags) but its Lear’s Loft that steals the show. Accessed by its own staircase and occupying the whole of the fifth floor, Uncle Seymour leaves little to the imagination with the opulent alfresco bathtub. Should you be feeling extra naughty, slink off to Seymour’s Parlour for tipples orchestrated by cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro. We’ve developed a penchant for Le Sphinx, a mischievous mix of orange neroli, ambrette bitters and champagne.
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