Deepdean the Cockerel, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Visitors staying in this converted 17th-century barn may spot some unusual other guests in the grounds, including zebras, meerkats and alpacas. The owner runs a private animal sanctuary, and the income from the holiday lets (there are also two one-bedroom cottages) is invested in the animals. Another highlight is the shared outdoor pool, heated in July and August. The barn has whitewashed walls, kitchen-diner and mezzanine lounge, and two en suite doubles. It is set in nearly 25 hectares of gardens and woodland three miles from Ross-on-Wye.
• Sleeps 4, from £1,031 a week in summer holidays, holidaycottages.co.uk
The Barn in Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Formerly part of the Lanyhdrock Estate, this single-storey barn is now a holiday home with National Trust parkland and gardens on its doorstep. The living/dining/kitchen area has beams, exposed stone, a woodburner and a range cooker; and two of the three bedrooms are en suite. The barn is just south of Bodmin in central Cornwall, equidistant from the north and south coasts – it is less than half an hour’s drive north to the beach at Padstow or south to Charlestown Harbour. Closer to home, Cardinham Woods is about five miles away, and has walking and cycling trails.
• Sleeps 6, from £1,210 a week in summer, luxurycoastal.co.uk
Boathouse Cottage, Kingsbridge estuary, Devon
The waterside setting is the star of this cottage in Frogmore, in the South Hams. Its lovely three-tier garden runs down to a private shore-side terrace by Frogmore Creek, an inlet of the Kingsbridge estuary. Inside, there is a sitting room with woodburner, a kitchen and dining room with doors on to the garden, three bedrooms (double, twin and bunk) and a bath/shower room. Frogmore village has a pub and bakery, and is three miles from the nearest beach, four from Slapton Ley nature reserve and six miles from the cliff walks around Start Point. Salcombe and Dartmouth are each about a half-hour drive away.
• Sleeps 6, £1,293 a week in summer holidays, simplyseaviews.co.uk
Oak House, Yetminster, Dorset
The perfect retreat for history buffs. This Grade II-listed three-bedroom house is one of the oldest in the limestone village of Yetminster. A panel above the door is inscribed with the date it was built: 1607. Inside it’s spacious and filled with paintings, books and antique furniture, and there’s a good-sized enclosed garden. A 15-minute drive away, Sherborne’s history can be explored at its Abbey and two castles, the 12th-century ruins and a “new” one built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594. Also nearby are the Cerne Abbas chalk giant, and Mapperton House and Gardens. Coastal gems such as West Bay (Broadchurch) and Lyme Regis are under an hour’s drive.
• Sleeps 6, £1,924 for seven nights in summer, classic.co.uk
NORTH AND NORTH-WEST
Hinterlandes Cabin, Lake District
Hidden away in a woodland glade in the Lorton valley in the western Lakes, this Scandi-sleek black timber cabin with wood-fired tin bath surrounded by ferns, feels fresh for the Lakes. There’s no phone signal, thank heavens, but there are board games, an iPad loaded with music and films, a fire pit and the countless trails and wild swimming spots of one of the finest parts of the Lakes right outside. It’s also only two miles from renowned hikers’ pub the Kirkstile Inn. Food hampers and bike hire can be arranged, and the owners also have a revamped bus to stay in.
• Sleeps 4 (2 adults, 2 children), £1,139 a week in school summer holidays, canopyandstars.co.uk
Weathercock Holiday Cottage, Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales
Once home to the butler of Ingmire Hall Estate, which is just across the field, this 17th-century cottage now belongs to a nearby farm and is let to walkers who come for the knockout scenery of the Howgill Fells, between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales. The 80-mile Dales Way is a five-minute trot from this cosy hideaway, which stands next to a mid-Victorian stone chapel with bellcote. The bathroom may be the most enticing room in the house, with woodburner, roll-top bath, landscape mural and exposed stone walls, though the outdoor hot tub, games room (with dartboard) and secluded garden are also nifty.
• Sleeps 7, £1,349 a week in summer holidays, weathercockholidaycottage.co.uk
Seldom Seen, Lake District
Seldom Seen’s location has to be seen to be believed: its leafy garden, where red squirrels play, tumbles down towards Ullswater, and there are paths up Helvellyn, Glenridding Dodd and Great Dodd, with Ambleside and Windermere just over the Kirkstone Pass. This traditional stone terraced miner’s cottage with exposed beams, woodburner and flagstone floors lies at the end of a single track lane, close to the village of Glenridding, a hiking hotspot. A double and a bunk room make it a good option for families, though little ones may struggle with the steep ladder-style stairs.
• Sleeps 4, from £817 in summer holidays, sykescottages.co.uk
Hedgerow Luxury Glamping, Ribble valley, Lancashire
Torn between the Lakes and the Dales? The Ribble valley to the south is within driving distance of both and near the also-tempting Forest of Bowland. Lots of joyful little extra touches bring a sense of fun to these three glamping pods: hot tubs with inflatable trays for your bottle of fizz; tub-side bar table and stools; outdoor fairy lights and bunting; and a stargazing window above the bed. The kitchen has a coffee machine, woodburner, slow cooker and hob, and guests can order in breakfast, barbecue and campfire kits.
• Sleeps 2 (over-18s only), from £680 a week, coolcamping.com
West Cottage, Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales
It’s the views that make West Cottage a winner: the purple heather and fielded flanks of the Dales, dotted with stone cottages and sheep, can be admired over a local ale from its grassy garden, enclosed by a drystone wall. Inside this Grade-II pad, part of a barn renovation, are smart simple rooms with white linens and the occasional vibrant textile, plus an inglenook fireplace with woodburner. Swaledale is the loveliest of dales, fantastic for walking, running and river dips, and handy for visits to Crackpot Cave, the sweet village of Gunnerside and the pubs and tearooms of Reeth.
• Sleeps 5, from £845 a week in summer holidays, yorkshire-cottages.info
North Farm, Teesside, County Durham
The Teesside retreat of star interior designer Rita Konig – known for her refined-but-maximalist use of colour and pattern offset by perfectly chosen antiques and art – is newly available as a holiday rental. While you might expect to find a top designer’s pad in Somerset or the Cotswolds, she opted for this lesser-known but wonderful area, whose draws include High Force waterfall, hikes into the show-stopping North Pennines, newly revamped Auckland Castle and the now infamous Barnard Castle (and who doesn’t want to get a selfie there?). Most will come, though, for Konig’s genius: patterned wallpapers and incredible textiles, artful arrangements of vintage furniture, antique glassware and kilims… It’s a treasure trove for design lovers.
• Sleeps 14, from £4,200-£5,600 a week in July and August, northfarmdurham.com
Windley, Bamburgh, Northumberland
Bamburgh Castle Estate has added several new holiday properties, including Windley, a 1950s house brought to life with retro-tinged decor – geometric prints and fabrics, angular lamps and rooms painted rich hues of teal, rust and dark green. Two doors up, the RNLI Grace Darling Museum tells the story of a brave local woman who rowed out to rescue sailors from a wrecked steamer. Visits to Lindisfarne and walking the endless white sands of local beaches can be supplemented with kitesurfing and surfing at Beadnell Bay and mountain biking in Northumberland national park.
• Sleeps 4, £1,485 a week in summer holidays, crabtreeandcrabtree.com
Doxford Cottages, Alnwick, Northumberland
All the highlights of Northumberland are on the doorstep of Doxford Cottages, from the inventive Alnwick Gardens to the beaches and seaside towns of Craster, Embleton and Seahouses. Nine comfortable cottages of different sizes sit on a 1,000-hectare private estate, and while their interiors won’t make Elle Decor, they are cosy and comfortable, with flagged sun terraces and lawns leading to a wooded glade on the fringe of the estate’s lake. The most recent addition is the Doxford Dairy, with its own grounds.
• Cottages sleep two to eight. Doxford Dairy Sleeps 6, £2,070 a week in summer holidays; premiercottages.co.uk
EAST AND SOUTH-EAST
The Space at Milestone House, Norfolk
Inspired by Scandinavian design and modernism, the chic, sleek Milestone House, with tea-coloured plywood walls and a handmade kitchen, feels like somewhere a Swedish Don Draper would go to get his hygge. Mid-century furniture and ceramics, and lots of cocooning wood create a warm and utterly stylish haven. Guests can relax in the adjoining meadows and orchard, go birdwatching on the salt marshes, potter round the cool cafes and independent shops of Wells-next-the-Sea or Burnham Market, and relish the space and skies of the north Norfolk beaches.
• Sleeps 4, £1,300 a week in summer, norfolkmilestone.co.uk/the-space
Apple Tree Cottage, Suffolk
The prettiest daisy-flecked lawn, colourful flower beds, a tiny dining room with low, beamed ceilings, a bushily thatched roof … Apple Tree Cottage is the sort of fairytale home where you might expect to find a family of fully-dressed hedgehogs in residence. Dating from the 16th century, the welcoming single-storey cottage is well-placed for exploring the picturesque medieval wool towns of Lavenham, Clare and Long Melford. There’s a timber summerhouse in the garden, which borders open countryside.
• Sleeps 4 (best for a family as it’s a little small for 4 adults), from £652 a week in summer holidays, suffolkcottageholidays.com
Black Robin Farm Cottages, Beachy Head, East Sussex
Staking a claim as the only self-catering accommodation at Beachy Head, these newly refurbished cottages sit in a peaceful spot in the South Downs national park land above the UK’s highest chalk cliffs. They make a brilliant base for those wanting to tackle the South Downs Way and the walking trails of the Seven Sisters coast. Two simple cottages (each with one double and one twin bedroom) have a kitchen, office (with extra double pull-out sofabed), board games and William Morris textiles, plus gardens overlooking the South Downs, with views to Eastbourne and Hastings. They are minutes from lovely beaches with shallow waters for swimming and paddling, such as those at Birling Gap, and a secret spot at Cow Gap where you can walk to the lighthouse at low tide.
• Sleeps 4, £170 a night in summer holidays (two night minimum), visiteastbourne.com
Sunray, Dungeness, Kent
It takes a certain sort of person to enjoy Dungeness – to spend days wandering across the shingle and saltmarsh, visiting Derek Jarman’s Garden, nibbling lobster rolls from Dungeness Snack Shack, snooping around the architectural curiosities and designer beach houses scattered like driftwood along the shore and Instagramming the power station in eerie moonlight. Those who appreciate such things will enjoy Sunray, a cabin-like single-storey pad built around one of the old railway carriages that were discarded here in the 1920s. Sunray’s airy rooms are wood-panelled and full of mid-century furniture, with doors on to a wooden terrace right by the beach.
• Sleeps 6, a week costs £1,915 in summer, cottages.com
The Arbour, Whitney on Wye, Herefordshire
The owners bought this former chicken farm in 2018 and have since been restoring the ancient orchards and hedgerows, and rewilding the land. They have also built two holiday cabins, 30 metres apart in the same orchard, each with a kingsize bed, woodburner, simple kitchen and en suite facilities. The cabins have picture windows framing the hillside view, plus a veranda and firepit each. The site is on the 150-mile Herefordshire Trail and a mile from Offa’s Dyke Path; the River Wye is a short walk away for canoeing; and Hay-on-Wye is an easy cycle ride away. Birdwatching can be done right from the sofa: regular visitors include buzzards, red kites and a sparrowhawk. There are two pubs within a mile’s walk although it’s uphill on the way back.
• Each cabin sleeps 2 (not suitable for children), 2 nights from £255 in May/June and £285 in summer, canopyandstars.co.uk
Garden Cottage, Wootton, Staffordshire
Wootton Hall – where philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived for a time in 1766 – was demolished in the 1930s, but its former pump house remains. This is now Garden Cottage, a three-bedroom stone holiday home surrounded by trees in the grounds of the estate. There is a sitting room with log fire, a country kitchen and separate dining room, and a garden with terrace and barbecue. Wootton is close to the Peak District and attractions such as Thor’s Cave and the Manifold Way (an eight-mile walking or cycling route); lesser-known places to visit include the Weaver Hills and the remains of Croxden Abbey. The estate’s restored woodland gardens are right on the doorstep and the Duncombe Arms pub, owned by the same people as the cottage, is just up the road.
• Sleeps 6, 3 nights £600, 7 nights £1,200 from May-8 September, duncombearms.co.uk
The Nut House and Leverets, near Ludlow, Shropshire
These two wooden lodges are in the grounds of the owners’ smallholding, a mile from the foodie market town of Ludlow. Both are recently built but have a cosy cottage feel. Each as an open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge with woodburner, one double and one twin bedroom and veranda. The garden is visited by lots of birds, squirrels and rabbits (hence the names). There are walks right from the hamlet, Ledwyche, or longer treks in the Shropshire Hills to viewpoints such as the Stiperstones, Long Mynd or the Clee Hills. The nearest pub and shop is a 15-minute stroll away.
• Each lodge sleeps 4, 7 nights from £949 in summer holidays, sheepskinlife.com
The Hen House and Hop Pickers’ House, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire
Brook Farm, just outside Tenbury Wells, has two lovely cottages for two surrounded by gardens, meadow and woodland. Hop Pickers’ House is a refurbishment of the old travelling hop pickers’ barn accommodation. Downstairs is an open-plan living room/kitchen/diner with woodburner, and upstairs is a bedroom with a four-poster and a bathroom with a rolltop bath. The Hen House, part of the old stables and granary, is all on one level, and has a private garden with steps leading up to a sunset view. Tenbury Wells, known as “the town in the orchard”, is a good place to sample the local cider; and the Teme valley has lots of walking trails.
• Each cottage sleeps 2, Hen House from £180 for 2 nights, Hop Pickers’ from £265, furtherafield.com
Old Oak Barn, near Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
This family-friendly barn conversion is on a 30-hectare farm near Laugharne. There are lots of children’s books, games and toys, plus swings in the garden; and kids can collect eggs from the farm’s free-range chickens and play in the adjacent private wood, home to 50 species of bird. The barn has a large living room, kitchen, one double bedroom and a twin (a cot or camp bed can also be provided). There are french doors on to the patio and garden, which has a barbecue and chiminea. If children tire of the woods, the Gwili steam railway is nearby, and it is half an hour’s drive to the beach – guests can borrow buckets and spades, fishing nets and boogie boards.
• Sleeps 5, £850 a week in summer holidays, oneoffplaces.co.uk
Mountain Cottage, Llithfaen, Llŷn peninsula
Reached down a farm track nearly 300 metres up a mountain, this remote cottage was rebuilt from a ruin and retains its uneven stone walls and original shutters. It now has a double-storey, open-plan living area with beams and a huge inglenook fireplace, a kitchen with a Rayburn, and two bedrooms (one with an extra single bed) with great views of Snowdonia and Cardigan Bay. There is also a big garden with a swimming pond. Being on the Llŷn peninsula, it’s handy for a choice of coastal and hill walks, and Snowdonia is a 20-minute drive away. There is a pub in Llithfaen, and Pwllheli is the nearest town.
• Sleeps 5, £1,300 a week in summer holidays, sawdays.co.uk
Cargo Cabin at Trelan Farm, Cilcain, Flintshire
A shipping container has been converted into this cosy cabin for two on a north Wales farm. The corner sofa turns into a double bed, and there is a compact kitchen and dual-aspect windows for country views. Outside is a terrace with seating and a barbecue and, best of all, an outdoor bath. The farm is in the foothills of the Clwydian rangea rea of outstanding natural beauty, and a half-hour drive from the north Wales coast and Chester. A second, larger cabin will be ready by March, built on a reclaimed wagon chassis – and also featuring an alfresco bath.
• Sleeps 2 (2-night minimum), from £122 a night in May/June and £135 in summer holidays, trelanfarm.co.uk
Tŷ Jac, Porthgain, Pembrokeshire
Moments from the tiny harbour of Porthgain, this former fisherman’s cottage is an ideal spot for active families. The coastal path runs through Porthgain, and it’s a four-mile walk to popular coasteering spot Aberreidy and its blue lagoon, a former slate quarry. For a break from self-catering, the Shed bistro, with an à la carte menu and takeaway fish and chips and seafood, and the 270-year-old Sloop Inn (high-end pub grub) are minutes from the house. The 404 Strumble Shuttle coastal bus service connects Porthgain with St Davids and Fishguard.
• Sleeps 6, £1,915 a week in summer holidays, underthethatch.co.uk
Woodland Cottages, Cairngorms
After a day romping over the heathers and up the crags of the Cairngorms, a cosy nook to hunker down in with a book and a dram is imperative. Two new Woodland Cottages on the Dell of Abernathy forested estate in the Cairngorms national park fit the bill and are typical of a new generation of smart Highlands stays, pairing contemporary design and luxuries with wilderness. Fireplaces with woodburners and piles of logs, plenty of candles, records and games, and stylish interiors bring the atmosphere; the on-site grocery store has ready meals and meal kits, plus bikes to hire. Children can roam the large grounds (where there are several other holiday properties) and discover the woodland zipline or look out for pine martens and red deer– the BBC’s Springwatch filmed here recently.
• Sleeps 6, £1,540 a week in summer holidays, plus website membership (£10 a year or £1.99 a month), kiphideaways.com
The Bothy, Glen Dye, Aberdeenshire
All the best holiday homes these days have an outdoor bath, and The Bothy, one of the latest additions to the cool Glen Dye estate’s collection of six cabins and cottages, is no shirker. The Swedish wood-fired hot tub isn’t the only natty touch at this dinky two-person beaut: a record player and vinyl, a Big Green Egg barbecue and Margaret Howell lights raise the style game. Shared extras include a wood-fired sauna, a garden produce store and a tiny BYOB “pub” with roaring fire in the old stone sawmill. It sits amid 12,000 hectares of wilderness and moorland beside the River Dye, and for those who want to venture further, there’s walking, running, fishing, swimming and castle-visiting in the surrounding area.
• Sleeps 2, from £1,045 a week or £785 for 3 nights, glendyecabinsandcottages.com
Newhall Mains, near Inverness
Mustard walls with copper antiques and hot pink flowers, orange lampshades and vintage floral headboards against F&B blue backgrounds … Colour clashes give the contemporary interiors of the just-launched Newhall Mains cottages and suites a substantial dollop of pizazz. After three years of work, this revamped farm estate has five holiday cottages, with underfloor heating, smart kitchens and woodburners (plus four double bedroom suites in the main house) that can be booked individually or as one property accommodating 28 people. On the Black Isle peninsula, 30 minutes’ drive north of Inverness, Newhall Mains is handy for the NC500 road trip route, dolphin spotting on the Moray Firth, whisky tasting at Glenmorangie and the seafood restaurants of Cromarty.
• Cottages sleep 2-6 to six, 4-berths from £1,680 a week in summer holidays. Suites for 2 are £130 a night, newhall-mains.com
Eastwood House, Dunkeld, Perthshire
This pink Victorian villa sits in glorious surroundings on the banks of the River Tay, and is usually available for parties of 20, though has been pared back to cater for smaller groups for the first part of this year at least. Smaller parties can also book the newly refurbished three-bedroom Gardeners Cottage in the grounds, with mossy green timber panelling, sitting room with woodburner, shelves of books, vintage furniture and views over the river and to Birnam Hill. Nearby Dunkeld is considered a gateway to the Highlands, and has lovely independent businesses and (in normal times) a thriving arts and music scene.
• Sleeps 6, from £800 a week or £560 for 3 nights in summer holidays, eastwoodhousedunkeld.com
The Bakers Cottages, near Seaforde, County Down
A former bakery in the Down countryside has been converted into a stylish three-bedroom cottage with luxurious touches such as a rolltop bath. The various outbuildings have also been repurposed: one is now the hot tub house, with a six-seater tub and a sitting area with a woodburner. Sliding doors lead to an outdoor dining area. The grounds also have a wildflower garden, a covered barbecue area, a firepit, play equipment and a restored well. It is a 10-minute drive to the foot of the Mourne mountains and 15 minutes to Murlough and Tyrella beaches, which are both nature reserves. The bright lights of Belfast are half an hour away.
• Sleeps 6, from £1,000 a week in summer holidays, thebakerscottages.co.uk
Magherintemple Lodge, Ballycastle, County Antrim
The Irish Landmark Trust has refurbished this gatehouse to Georgian Magherintemple House. Built in 1874 in the Scottish baronial style, the lodge now has one double bedroom and another with bunkbeds (for under-12s), a cosy sitting room with open fire, a large kitchen/diner, a hidden reading nook at the top of the house and a garden backed by fields and woodland. Just outside the seaside town of Ballycastle, the lodge is a five-minute drive (or easy cycle ride) to the beach, and close to lots of North Antrim’s attractions, such as the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills whiskey distillery.
• Sleeps 2 adults and 2 children, £870 a week, £408 for 3 nights in summer holidays, irishlandmark.com