Discover the best places to stay in the UK
Looking for a little Saltee staycation getaway and not sure where to stay? Well, we have teamed up with Muddy Stilettos, the urban guide to the countryside. Experts in witty, super-useful insider guides to the very best food, walks, boutiques, day trips, hotels, interiors and events to give you the ultimate insider guide to the best places to stay in the UK. With something for everyone, we hope to inspire your next adventure, a little closer to home.
Traditionally the tourist crowds flock to the North Norfolk Coastal towns and villages, and why not? They’re awash with boutique hotels, glamp sites and self-catering cottages. However, with 90 miles of coastline and 125 miles of waterways there are plenty of cool ‘off the beaten track’ stays to be had and, good news, Muddy knows them all!
Norfolk has flint cottages and thatched farmhouses in abundance and you’ll find some of the best at staycation specialists Norfolk Cottages – over 550 properties from traditional fishermen’s cottages and beach huts to luxury townhouses and converted barns. If you’re looking for something extra special and high spec – … a lodge on the Holkham Estate for example? – go straight to their SALT range.
For sustainable modern design – check out Shangri-la House, below, tucked behind the dunes at Waxham beach. Far away from the North Norfolk crowds, this high spec eco build has bespoke fixtures and features throughout and is the perfect ‘friends’ getaway.
Room for two – Spinks Nest Cottage in the village of Wiveton in North Norfolk is the definition of rustic luxe. It’s fabulously bijou but every space has been utilised to maximise purpose from the perfectly-formed and high-spec kitchen with zinc worktop to the Japanese inspired sunken micro-cement bath-for-two.
Tiny but terrific – the beautifully-appointed Spinks Nest Cottage
For a cool family stay on a budget, The Pig Shed, below, is an eco friendly motel in the Breckland area and a great base to explore the surrounding countryside if you don’t mind jumping in the car.
Drink, eat and sleep in the company of Hollywood royalty at No. Twenty 9 in Burnham Market, or if country chic is more your thing, celeb hang out The Hoste Arms is perched on the same idyllic village green. This 17th Century boutique pub and hotel has a spa, below, an award winning restaurant and its own cinema room.
Girly spa getaway – Congham Hall in West Norfolk and Park Farm Hotel in Heathersett are top of our list. City break culture vultures – head to Norwich and the recently renovated Maids Head Hotel. Reputed to the be the oldest hotel in the country, it counts Queen Catherine of Aragon and Queen Elisabeth 1 as former residents.
Escape and unwind at Muddy Award-winning boutique hotel – The Norfolk Mead in Coltishall. Set in eight acres of gorgeous grassy meadows, a lake and frontage onto the River Bure, it’s pretty ruddy special.
The Norfolk Mead
Inbetweeners wanting the quaint country experience but with a bit more ‘to do’ on your doorstep – head to Byfords in the North Norfolk market town of Holt. Café, deli, pub, restaurant, ice-cream parlour plus 16 high spec Norfolk like this one, including a family apartment.
New kid on the block – The Harper in Langham should have opened in April and promises a contemporary country escape with lots of luxurious laid back style. Spa, bar, restaurant and outdoor yard with fire pit – we have them on speed dial as soon as it opens.
The Control Tower
Step back to the 1940’s and enjoy a relaxing weekend in a WWII Control Tower, on the edge of the former RAF base at North Creake. This Art Deco styled B&B is a cross between your Nana’s house and a museum – full of fabulous wartime art and memorabilia. Continuing with the retro vibe, The Dial House in the pretty market town of Reepham in mid Norfolk is fabulously ’70’s funk luxe. Cocktail bar, secret dining areas and a record player in every room.
West Lexham is a boutique glamping retreat site with seven treehouses hidden away in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. Think hippie eco chic meets Little House on the Prairie, it’s a magical experience.
If you fancy a festival style escape with friends and family, The Fire Pit Camp in Wendling is available for exclusve hire and includes six bell tents, a warehouse bar, Leila the Retro Double-Decker Bus and Priscilla the Vintage Mini Caravan. Plus pièce de résistance, The Wren’s Nest – a two storey dome structure made of hazel branches and one of only two in the world that you can stay in.
Voewood near Holt is a beautiful arts and crafts style party pad. Imagine Kate Moss with her buddies on a country jaunt and you’ll get the gist. Or for a super-sophisticated country retreat, Mount Amelia in Ingoldisthorpe is a Grade II-listed country pile with a sweeping drive, spacious grounds, a games room and a huge country kitchen. Perfect for large family getaways.
Where to start? The Norfolk bump is bulging with bell tents, shepherd huts and lodges. For an off-the-grid experience, Gorsey Meadow is a bijou eco glamp site where the kids can run feral in meadows, woodland and rivers. Amber Bell Tentshas a range of small, family friendly sites across Norfolk including Mannington Hall, Wiveton Hall, Hoveton Hall Estate (next door to BeWILDerwood) and Walcis Farm. Each offers something a little bit special from wild swimming to fruit picking.
Putting the sexy into camping, Bumble Bell Tents, below, is the glamping equivalent of a pop up hotel. You find the location and your fully dressed tent magically appears with luxurious touches including high spec bedding, faux fur and a little macrame magic. They offer a range of bell tent hire options from Basic Bee to Queen Bee and my personal favourite – a festival Bee Hive for friends and family.
Wild Luxury has a mix of Serengeti & Zambezi Lodges and bell tents at three private North Norfolk camps – Thornham Bay, The Hideaway and The Wild Camp. Tons of things to do for the kids on site, including a tree swing, volleyball and a zip line. Ladies; For the ultimate glamp experience there’s a ‘Pamper Pod’ at Thornham Bay with hairdryers/straighteners, make-up stations and spa treatments available upon request.
It’s a big county, the UK’s fourth largest, so we’d recommend you set your compass for one of five areas: the South Hams for golden sandy beaches and the upmarket harbour towns of Salcombe and Dartmouth (above); the wilder and less busy North Devon coast – a mecca for surfers which stretches from dramatic Hartland Quay to Lynton and Lynmouth; the cathedral city of Exeter and finally, Dartmoor, a National Park the size of London for dark star-filled skies, wild ponies and its famous granite tors.
If you’re a city gal, hotfoot it to Exeter’s only boutique indie Southernhay House (they’re taking bookings from 6 Aug) – it’s a five-minute trot to the cathedral green and shopping hub. For a zhuzhy gastro stay just nine miles out, Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines’ Lympstone Manor (pictured above) is tentatively taking bookings from 4 July.
Want to wake up to sea views? Book into a luxe beach hut at award-winning Cary Arms & Spa at Babbacombe or the uber-cool yet family and dog-friendly Gara Rock (above) on the cliffs near Salcombe. If it’s windswept beaches and surfer waves you crave, go North to Saunton Sands Hotel & Spa (and there’s two hours free child care a day, just saying).
Take your pick of self-catering beauties across the county with Toad Hall Cottages, or book in a family beach stay for up to 8 at Beam Ends at Beesands (it has a great pub and takeaway fish and chips a two-minute walk down the sand-strewn road). Want the best of both worlds? The Pig at Combe (opening for lunch and stays 6 July) has three self-catering cottages with kitchenettes and the option of tucking into the hotel’s home-grown fayre.
Fancy living the Devon dream? Check out Adam’s Orchard, a thatched cottage for four in the uber-charming village of Stoke Gabriel – where Muddy wants to live and not just because it has two pubs (honest).
Get off grid
Keeping yourself to yourself? You can’t get more remote than a tiny stone bolthole in your own private cove, one of six holiday cottages off the beaten track near Plymouth at Carswell Farm.
For high-flung adventures in the woods, Pickwell Manor near Braunton has just launched its third eco-treehouse (above), and this one is family-friendly with two bedrooms including a king-sized double (yep, you heard right) and a set of bunks. Nestled into picturesque fields in East Devon is Lower Keats Glamping: six safari tents complete with loos, power showers and gas hobs. Sooocivilised.
For a back-to-nature bolthole with lashings of luxury head for the spectacular treehouses at The Fish Hotel in Broadway. Expect underfloor heating, hot tubs, a Nespresso machine and a friendly welcome for dogs.
The Severn Vale on the edge of the Cotswolds is great for walkers and The Glamping Orchard offers bell tents and a restored 1950’s Warwick Knight Caravan that has starred on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. Sleeping a family of 4, with your own gin terrace on top.
Amazing Spaces stayover in the Severn Valley
Over in Painswick, as soon as it reopens, The Mill Pond Pod is a private getaway perched on the edge of a fishing lake, a short stroll from the artsy old wool town of Painswick, ‘The Queen of the Cotswolds’ with its galleries and pretty lanes.
Stay near pretty Painswick
Head to Far Peak near Northleach where you can stay in shepherd huts, tipi tents and eco-domes. The site has its own fabulous 30ft climbing wall (kids love it), bouldering course and acres of outside space for dedicated den-makers.
Or stay in a 4 person eco-yurt in your own glade at Abbey Mead Farm in Cirencester – with the Organic Farm Shop next door doing amazing Sunday lunches, for some home comforts. Both are reopening in the first week of July.
Cotswold Farm Park, owned by Countryfile celebrity farmer Adam Henson in pretty Guiting Power, has eco-pods and Morroccan-themed tents- the king-sized double beds and bunk beds making them perfect for a family getaway. There is even an on-site pizza delivery service currently. You’ll want to visit the tourist-bucket-list villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter just nearby too.
The cosy Cotswold Farm Park pods
On the Cotswold fringes at Lower Mill Estate in Somerford Keynes, stay at one of the Grand Design-style eco properties (with private kayaks for the lake). Or the luxe Cotswold Water Park Retreats, waterside lodges that are dog-friendly with hot tubs too.
Riverside r&r at Cotswold Water Park Retreats
Cowley Manor is a luxurious getaway, this Grade II-listed Regency hotel has the largest suite in the Cotswolds with a giant, wrap-around balcony. Head for the Cotswold House Hotel with its award-winning spa in charming Chipping Campden, or into Worcestershire, Broadway’s Lygon Arms which has great courtyard suites and an indoor pool.
The sensational C-side Spa at Cowley Manor
Daylesford in Kingham, on the Oxfordshire side, will be your nirvana if you seek the ‘hipster’ Cotswolds. It has several restored cottages to stay in, and you can get delicious food from the organic Farmshop – much-loved by locals and celebs alike. The famed Soho Farmhouse is just a 10 minute trip over the border from here, although as a members-only club getting in might take some forward planning, or some well-connected friends (ask the Beckhams, they’ll help you out).
The lovely village of Kingham also has The Wild Rabbit and The Kingham Plough, both great, modern country pubs with rooms to stay in.
Hipper than hip Daylesford Organic Farm
For self-catering cottage stays, check out these 12 stunning self-catering escapes, including the ideally placed Flower Press and Cart Shed.
Located in Bibury (famously called the ‘most beautiful village England’ by William Morris’) Bibury has a new, socially-distanced, ice cream parlour plus lots of riverside walks to enjoy. Or head to the lovely, thatched Orchard Cottage in Broadway with metro-feel Chipping Campden just around the corner.
St Ives! Falmouth! Padstow! All beautiful harbours and picture perfect towns but among the more popular (and crowded) places to stay. If you’re drawn to a town with a harbour, we’d recommend Bude, Looe, Mevagissy, St Mawes or even Newquay, which has shaken off the stag party image but is still vibrant.
Get off grid
For a secluded stay, showcasing the best of the Cornish landscape you can’t go wrong with camping – but don’t run away yet – these options are cool, quirky and much more glam than your average tent with pegs. Kudhva (above), in North Cornwall, is home to treetop architectural hideouts overlooking Tintagel and the site also has it’s own reservoir for wild swimming. Botelet, near Lostwithiel, is an ancient farm with a yurt, meadow camping and beautiful holiday cottages complete with original wooden staircases and slate floors.
At Hideaway Huts, above, near Looe, you can stay in traditional Shepherd huts (with the added luxury of a private bathroom) and The Beach Hut, near Bude, is a renovated 1920s tea hut located by a secret surfing beach. Elsewhere, there’s Bodrifty Roundhouse, an Iron Age hut deep set within dreamy pastoral Penwith Moors, between Penzance and Zennor.
A 10 minute drive from pretty Padstow you’ll find brand new The Pig at Harlyn, set in one of the county’s most historic houses. The Pig group’s newest outpost was set to open in March, but will now (fingers crossed) be opening late summer – expect rustic glam interiors, panoramic views and bags of quirks and character.
In the South Cornish village of St Mawes, there’s Hotel Tresanton – no need to request ocean views, each of the 30 individually decorated rooms overlooks the sea and features some of the best local artwork. Also a dead cert for stunning seaside views is Watergate Bay Hotel (above), in Newquay, a stylish hotel and spa with activities to boot.
Take your pick of self-catering beauties across the county with Latitude50. If Rock is too obvious a location, try Trebetherick or even Polzeath where six-bedroom holiday home Carn Mar (above) overlooks an excellent surfing beach, as do the company’s new surf flats.
Naughty weekend away for two? Clapperboard beach cottage, The Cotton Tree, situated by the rolling dunes of Holywell Bay and Polly Joke beach offers a little luxury with a hot tub and hamper of fresh local produce on arrival.
Wherever you’re planning your staycation this year, ensure you have Saltee by your side. Here’s to memorable Saltee adventures, a little closer to home.