After months of staying indoors with many trips cancelled, the UK received a glimmer of hope with the announcement of a gradual ease in lockdown restrictions. Though international travel will still be a complicated situation, many of us are setting our sights more locally in hopes that the summer holidays will allow for an opportunity to discover the best that the UK has to offer.
“In the last week we have seen a 60% increase in enquiries to hotels in the UK countryside compared to last week indicating UK travellers will be staying close to home post lockdown and exploring more of our own backyard,” shares Rebecca Masri, founder of members only travel club Little Emperors.
By providing members with exceptional rates and benefits at over 4,000 hotel partners around the world, Masri and her team have built a loyal following of both luxury travel enthusiasts and top-rated properties across the globe.
“Lockdown has taught us many things, how to slow down, the importance of daily exercise and keeping connected and how to appreciate the natural beauty of our own country. With uncertainty around travel bans and with travellers wanting to escape to the country whilst also staying close to home, post lockdown is the perfect time to explore more of our own backyard,” she adds.
Lucy Acton, from leading travel booking website Staycations UK, also predicted a bumper period for the domestic travel sector when lockdown restrictions were finally eased. She says: “From March, the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to international travel to and from the UK. With international travel a cause for concern, and domestic travel potentially the most viable option for a holiday in 2020, Staycations UK expects to see unprecedented demand for UK holidays when lockdown is lifted. Locations such as Yorkshire, Devon, Cornwall and Scotland are set to top the popularity charts.”
From a 12th-century castle in Wales to a high-end treehouse in the Cotswolds, luxury travel writer Ina Yulo Stuve rounds up the best escapes in the UK for post-lockdown planning.
It’s nearly summer sport season and there’s no reason why you can’t combine a holiday with a round of golf—even more so if it’s on a championship golf course on the Scottish Borders. Formerly owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, the historic castle also offers fly fishing on the River Tweed or perhaps you’d like to try your hand at archery, tomahawk throwing, or clay pigeon shooting at the Roxburghe Shooting School? Oh and don’t worry about leaving your lovable pooch at home – at SCHLOSS Roxburghe dogs are welcome, and they’ll even have some special arrangements waiting in your room just for Fido.
Keen to get back to nature but not quite sure about roughing it? Enter Fforest. The 200-acre property in the Welsh countryside takes glamping to another level with their six rural accommodation options that are kitted with Scandi-inspired interiors. Choose to stay in a Georgian farmhouse, a kata cabin tipi tucked in the trees, traditional bell tent, crog loft with underfloor heating, a dome with a Japanese onsen, or any of the hill or garden shacks for groups. And if you don’t think you’ll last on marshmallows around a bonfire, fear not—there’s an on-site pub, café, takeaway pizza, and special fforest breakfast hampers that can be delivered to your doorstep.
Can’t make it over to Italy just yet? The Baglioni Hotel in Kensington promises to satisfy your desire for la dolce vita. Wake up to the scent of an authentic espresso, enjoy a traditional risotto Milanese at the Brunello Bar and Restaurant, and book yourself into a one-on-one masterclass to learn how to make one of the hotel’s signature cocktails. With its location right by Hyde Park, going for a stroll in the sunshine could lead you to the beautiful Italian Gardens or for a visit to the masters of the Italian Renaissance at the V&A Museum.
The White House Hotel
Get away from it all and truly disconnect at The White House Hotel on Herm island. Just 20 minutes away from Guernsey by boat, Herm is an oasis with no crowds or cars, making it the perfect place for kids to roam freely on the idyllic beaches. The White House Hotel has no televisions, clocks, or radios in the rooms which encourages more opportunities for all members of the family to bond and enjoy the outdoors in a safe and tranquil environment. What better way to spend your days than with an island as your playground?
Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Tired of looking at the same four walls and feeling like you just want to break free? Pack your bags and head to the self-proclaimed wild side of Scotland, Alladale Wilderness Reserve. Stay in the reserve lodge or in one of the remote cottages and breath in the fresh air of the Scottish Highlands as you go spotting for golden eagles, take part in an aquaponics vegetable workshop, or try your luck at brown trout fishing. The reserve is also perfectly located for day trips to Cromarty Firth for dolphin watching, the Balblair distillery for a whisky tour, or the cultural attractions of Inverness.
Pan Pacific London
City slickers who yearn to get back to the hustle and bustle of London will be pleased to hear that the first European outpost for the Pan Pacific Hotels Group will be opening at the end of this year in the Square Mile. Pan Pacific London, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, is an urban sanctuary just 2 minutes away from Liverpool Street Station. With a focus on Asian hospitality and modern luxury, the 237-room and suite property is the ideal choice for a swish city break.
The Fish Hotel
If you thought the Cotswolds was all about quaint little English cottages, you clearly have not been to The Fish Hotel. The award-winning property sits on the 400-acre Farcombe Estate and—after a four-million-pound renovation a couple of years ago—now includes sophisticated shepherd huts, luxury treehouses, and new rooms and suites for groups in The Coach House and The Farmhouse. Book yourself in for a Tipsy Tea with house-blended tea-infused cocktails, grab a seat at the screening room for the monthly film and supper club, or walk over to the main lodge and enjoy a meal at seafood-inspired Hook.
If a staycation in the capital is what you’re looking for, you can’t get more central than The Londoner, opening later this year. The 16-storey Preferred Hotels & Resorts property is in the heart of theatreland in London’s Leicester Square and will have 350 rooms, suites, and a panoramic tower penthouse. Guests will be spoilt for choice with six concept dining destinations including a signature Mediterranean restaurant and rooftop outlet serving Japanese small plates.
Monkey Island Estate
Lying on the banks of the Thames, Monkey Island Estate sits on a private island in the picturesque village of Bray. The Berkshire estate is set over seven acres and houses 40 guest rooms and a Grade-I listed suite designed by award-winning New York firm Champalimaud Design. Steeped in history, the estate has had its share of distinguished guests from Hall of Fame Formula One driver Sir Stirling Moss to a slew of monarchs, writers, and aristocrats. New in 2020, six private residences will be added to the estate’s accommodation options making for the perfect hideaway for families or groups looking to reconnect.
If you’re a “go big or go home” type of person, then the 12th-century Roch Castle should fit the bill. Situated inside Pembrokeshire’s Coastal National Park, Roch Castle can be booked exclusively for up to a dozen people. Promising a staycation fit for royalty, the Grade-I listed castle features restored stone walls, a winding staircase, and turrets that bring guests back into a forgotten world. Get comfortable in the sprawling Court Room or gaze out at the rolling landscape from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the Sun Room. If you’re looking for a chance to stretch your legs, go for a stroll at the nearby Newgale beach or for a walk on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. The Coastal Cottages’ concierge service can even book you a private chef or stargazing experience.
The Boat House
Rothiemurchus is often considered the gateway to the Cairngorms. The Scottish Highlands estate is chock-full of lochs, rivers, and mountains just waiting to be explored. To get the most out of your stay, why not check in to The Boat House in Aviemore? Offered by Independent Cottages, the 16th-century luxury cottage is dog-friendly and benefits from a private garden and three king-sized en-suite bedrooms. The Boat House will be reopened only when restrictions are lifted in Scotland and it is safe to do so.
Black Moon, St. Ives
Heading off to the seaside? St. Ives in Cornwall was recently voted Britain’s top seaside resort and it’s not hard to see why. Surf spots, art galleries, fresh seafood, and golden sand beaches are just some of the reasons tourists flock to the coastal town every year. For a more intimate retreat away from the crowds, Sand and Stone Escapes presents Black Moon, a one-bedroom private apartment with sweeping views of St. Ives bay and the Gwithian lighthouse. A trap door in the living room can also be lifted to reveal a hidden cave where you can safely watch the sun setting over the waters at the end of the day.
The Culloden Estate and Spa
Getting truly pampered and spoilt is something many of us have been missing whilst in lockdown. Perched atop the Holywood Hills and overlooking Belfast Lough, The Culloden Estate and Spa, part of the Hastings collection, is a 5-star luxury hotel that benefits from its secluded woodland location despite being only 10 minutes from Belfast city centre. The Spa at Culloden was recently named the number one spa in the UK and features a range of ESPA treatments like the enzyme facial which uses rose quartz crystals, or why not try the signature Celtic Dream for a full body experience that includes an exfoliating and hydrating ocean wrap, a hot stone massage, and a relaxing scalp massage.
The Lost Orangery
Explorers, unite! The Lost Orangery, offered by Luxury Cotswold Rentals, allows couples, families, or groups to enjoy Sir Walter Raleigh’s old hunting lodge estate in Euridge, Chippenham. The grounds were designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners Julian and Isabel Bannerman making leisurely walks around the estate a dream. The interiors of the property feature antique four poster beds, a stone grotto-like fountain, coral walls in the living room, and pops of colour from the many indoor plants. Whilst The Lost Orangery has its own private roof terrace, guests are welcome to explore the entire estate including the Folly Mount, tennis court, and boating pond.
Why limit yourself to one place when you can have an entire island at your feet? Off the Cornish coast on the Isles of Scilly you’ll find the family-owned island of Tresco. At just two and a half miles long, Tresco is an idyllic getaway where visitors can enjoy the local fauna, clear blue waters, and untouched beaches at their leisure. Accommodation options include nine one-bedroom sea garden cottages, New England-style flying boat cottages with private gardens, traditional fisherman’s cottages, a pub with a four-star B&B offering, or if you plan on making Tresco a regular holiday haunt for your family, you can jump on an island share agreement and reserve a week at your chosen property for the next 40 years.
It doesn’t get more iconic than the legendary Rocco Forte hotel, The Balmoral at Number 1 Princes Street in Edinburgh. The historic property first opened in 1902 with its imposing clock tower now a true symbol of the Scottish capital. From its 188 rooms and suites, to its award-winning spa, to the Michelin-starred Number One restaurant, The Balmoral cleverly fuses traditional Scottish culture with contemporary luxury. With Scottish oak triptych by Adam Ellis, dishes such as Highland Wagyu beef and North Sea cod, spa products by Isgha (along with Irene Forte’s own line), and a selection of over 500 whiskies, guests at The Balmoral will leave having had a true taste of luxury Scotland.
Main image – The Culloden Estate and Spa