If it’s time to get your gang together again for shindig, try these big group houses for size. Sleeping 10 or more guests, they come with pools, hot tubs, karaoke rooms, croquet lawns and more besides.
While availability for the height of summer is very limited, even for larger properties, there’s plenty of scope to book September short breaks or longer autumn escapes. You just need to decide on the guest list.
Polpier, Mevagissey, Cornwall
A big outdoor pool, a sea-view location near one of south Cornwall’s most treasured fishing harbours, a tennis court, croquet lawn and a superb outdoor timber bar with pizza ovens – Polpier has everything going for it, except the fact you have to wait until October to get in. But when the main hall doubles as a disco room, there’s a snooker room, cricket pitch and a home cinema, it might be worth the wait – especially as the pool is heated from the first week of October.
Available from October for four nights midweek for £4,550, or £7,750 a week, sleeps 16, thewowhousecompany.com
Rock View and Sandpiper, Lizard, Cornwall
Here’s a good tip. The website groupaccommodation.com has an excellent late-deals page, showing last-minute availability due to cancellations (of which we might possibly expect more, now that foreign travel is opening up as an alternative to staycationing). Among those hot on the books right now is Rockview and Sandpiper, two neighbouring apartments rented as one let on the stunning Lizard peninsula. Simply styled they may be, but what they lack in interiors pizazz they make up for with location and views, overlooking the glossy sea of Polurrian Cove.
Available from 30 July for £2,000 for a week or £3,750 for two weeks, sleeps 10, groupaccommodation.com
Yew Tree Farm, Kent
Get in quick for this one – it has that rare thing, summer availability. Brilliant for families, its garden would put most public playgrounds to shame, with sunken trampolines, treehouse with climbing wall, and climbing frame with tube slide. Adults can hit the gym, soak in the hot tub, then prop up the dining room bar. Late nights are nothing new here – a cottage in the grounds used to be a recording studio engaged by Bob Marley and Desmond Decker, who partied in the farmhouse. Do get up before nightfall though, to go walking in the North Downs.
Available from 23 July for £4,075 a week, sleeps 14, or from £3,575 a week in September and from £3,075 in October, bloomstays.com
Craigston Castle, Aberdeenshire
This grand Scottish castle in 100 hectares (250 acres) on the north-east coast has been the family home of the Urquharts since 1604… so it’s about time they shared it with you and your mates. Five elegant bedrooms are donned with patterned wallpapers, huge oriental rugs and four-poster beds, while furnishings in the reception rooms include gilded mirrors from the Palais de Versailles – it’s that sort of place. Act posh with croquet on the lawn, horse riding and golf, or hit the coast.
Available from September from £2,600 a week or £1,600 for a weekend, sleeps 10. Space for six more people in the nearby North Lodge cottage, from £440 a week, craigston-castle.co.uk
Goodnestone Park, Kent
Cottages.com has a few more summer weeks left than most providers. If there’s 18 of you, and you can stump up £689 a head, you could lord it up to the max at Goodnestone Park in Kent, a grand stately home fit for the nobility, and indeed, Jane Austen. Her brother married into the incumbent family, leading her to visit often and to gain inspiration for Pride and Prejudice. The Palladian house has been snazzied up with contemporary colour, but garden games, champagne receptions and plenty of gossip and scandal (maybe) are still par for the course.
Available in July and August for £12,400 a week or in September for £9,310 a week, sleeps 18, cottages.com
The Beach House, Hayling Island, Hampshire
Probably the sundeck, with striped loungers overlooking Hayling Island’s vast beach, is the Beach House’s best feature. Then again the garden, and coastal-cool bedrooms – with their roll-top baths, seagrass rugs and whitewashed timber – are pretty natty too. If you don’t know Hayling Island, you’ve been missing one of the south coast’s finest beaches, great for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Stay a while and you might pop to the steam railway, wildlife park and mini golf too.
Available from September from £2,800 a week, and from October from £1,500 for a three-night weekend, sleeps 11, cabinsandcastles.co.uk
Belle Isle Castle, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh
It’s a huge one this, a vast, opulent castle with wings, set in a 190-hectare estate which incorporates eight islands in Upper Loch Erne, where guests can go boating and fishing. Dazzling patterned wallpapers, a tower and a huge, high-ceilinged banqueting hall painted a fetching coral are sure to make Belle Isle Castle a memorable venue for a big get-together – especially if someone does something entertaining on the minstrels gallery. The local pub is only a mile away, though snifters beside the open fire in the lounge (so what if it’s summer?) may be your preference.
Available from July, from £4,355-£5,994 a week sleeps 26, coolstays.com
Honeybridge Estate, Somerset
Pick herbs and fruit from the apple and pear trees, blackberry bushes, buy supplies from the local farm shop and bottles from the nearby Wiston Vineyard, turn your setting to Good Life mode, and relax. That’s how to kick things off at the new Honeybridge Estate, home to three different high-spec properties: the Cottage (sleeps five), Barn (sleeps 12) and House (sleeps 16). The House has a pool in a modern extension, the Barn a hot tub and games room, and the estate gardens feature a big treehouse, fishing lake, zip wire and a home office in a shepherd’s hut for the party poopers.
Available from September for £4,500 a week, sleeps 12 in the Barn, or £6,875 for all three properties sleeping 33, honeybridgeestate.co.uk
Forter Castle, Perthshire
With its turrets, spiral stone staircases, stained glass windows and walls hung with swords and taxidermy, the luxurious Forter is as classic a Scottish castle as you could hope to find. Set in the Cairngorms national park, all the best of the country’s outdoor action is nearby, though it’s just as tempting to stay local and book sessions to try archery, cross-bow shooting and axe-throwing in the grounds. Make sure you do that before the whisky-tasting by the log fire.
Available from September from £4,725 a week, sleeps 12 (plus there’s an attic room sleeping an extra four in single beds), fortercastle.com
The Forest House, West Sussex
Built in the 17th century with a thick thatched roof in a bucolic setting near one of the highest points in the Sussex Weald, the Forest House feels a world away from surprisingly close London. Deer scamper in the gardens, the local village, Turners Hill, is a conservation area and has three pubs, yet somehow the Three Bridges railway station is only a five-minute drive away.
Available from August 31 for £2,500 a week and from September for a three-night weekend for £1,100, sleeps 10, cabinsandcastles.co.uk
Box Barn, Monmouthshire
For an inside-outside break with friends, stay in a rustic cabin with a festival vibe at the Box Barn near Raglan. A wood-fired hot tub can be lit for your arrival, there’s a pizza oven on the outdoor wooden deck, a big seating area around a firepit, and a covered but open-sided bar with a tin roof to while away the evening. Even the bunk room is fun and stylish, with six single box-beds with curtains, creating a Tokyo-pod-hotel-meets-country-house vibe.
Available at end of September and through October, for £1,495 for four nights, sleeps 12, canopyandstars.co.uk. Up to eight extra guests can stay in a caravan sleeping two or bring their own tents, from £10pp a night
The Long Barn, Appleton le Moors, North York Moors
In the village of Appleton le Moors, this Grade II listed barn has been luxuriously restored, with original stone walls and beams intact, and seven en suite rooms. Techy touches include a Sonos music system and wine fridges, while a another barn has an LCD projector for film nights, table tennis and table football. Hiking round here is fab of course; Rievaulx Abbey and Castle Howard are nearby, and the local Moors Inn pub is renowned for its friendly vibe and steak pies.
Available for midweek four-night breaks in September for £2,120, sleeps 14, townendfarm.org.uk
Bradshaw Hall, West Yorkshire
In an isolated countryside position between Manchester and Leeds and seven miles from Huddersfield, this huge converted pub party pad is ready to host the get-together you’ve been dreaming of since March 2020. Super shiny floors in the living areas invite disco knee-slides, velvet sofas are grouped by huge windows for cocktail-fuelled catch-ups, there’s a club area for dancing (complete with pole) and a karaoke cellar with stage. A hot tub, sauna and two games rooms add to the fun. The scenery is nice too, but you probably won’t have time for that.
Available for one-night breaks on a few dates in July and August for £2,115 and from September for five nights from £6,215, sleeps 22 (extra guests £160pp, up to 30 guests), partyhouses.co.uk
St Curig’s Church, Snowdonia
Praise be – a quirky pad for a big group in an excellent location for hiking, biking and adventure in Snowdonia’s gnarly landscapes. St Curig’s Church in Capel Curig may have been converted into a holiday home, but there’s no doubting the origins of the building’s existence, with a divine golden mosaic dome and stained-glass windows displaying religious imagery. The organ, though, has been replaced by a grand piano and pool table, plus there’s a harp, because, why not? One bedroom features the original stone pulpit, and you can anoint yourself wholly in the hot tub.
Available from September for £3,990 a week, sleeps 16, independentcottages.co.uk
Battel Hall and Oast House, Kent