If you want to get away for a break but you don’t want to be packed on a plane or stay in a busy hotel, head for a staycation in the countryside instead. Whether you want to camp, glamp, sleep on a houseboat or stay in a treehouse, these are the best country retreats to relax at.
Elmley Nature Reserve
Located on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, Elmley Nature Reserve is a breeze to get to from London. The shepherd huts, essentially hotel rooms on wheels, are dotted around the reserve so that you have all the feeling of being out in the wild camping but with all the home comforts you need. The cabins are cosy, but they manage to fit in a full double bed, small kitchen, and bathroom with shower. Some even have an outdoor tub too. They’re decorated very nicely too, with whitewashed walls and chunky wooden fixtures. The huts are fine for self catering and as long as you’re not doing anything too adventurous but Elmley does offer a bit of food – breakfast sandwiches, plus packed lunches and a two course set menu in the evenings. We think it’s more fun to make your own however, and then sit outside your hut in the evening by the fire pit toasting marshmallows (each hut has a ready supply).
Elmley, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, ME12 3RW
Brownber Hall & House
Brownber Hall & House in the Yorkshire Dales has had a refurb and is now running as a private rental, so you can have either of the properties to yourself. The Hall, which can sleep 8-15, is a thoughtfully decorated Victorian country house with William Morris wallpaper, a woodburner and plenty of space for socialising with two sitting rooms and a large dining room. The smaller House, a renovated farmhouse on the estate, can sleep up to 8 and is similarly well designed. You can have the fridges stocked with local produce and homecooked meals, as well as ordering breakfast hampers, picnics and even private catering during your stay.
Newbiggin-on-Lune, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, CA17 4NX
Belle Grove Barns
Located on the borders of Suffolk and Norfolk, Belle Grove is a collection of five luxurious, boutique barns surrounded by beautiful countryside. Being fully self-catered and only hosting a few people at a time, Belle Grove is truly a peaceful escape from the city. The style is a mix of English country house and exotic, decorated with many Asian and African artefacts the owners collected over the last 30 years when they ran a travel company in Tanzania. The barns may have a rustic style but each one is seriously kitted out. The kitchens have more gadgets than you could ever wish for including a huge cooker and fridge; the marble-clad bathrooms have huge tubs; there are four-poster beds in the rooms; and, best of all, under-floor heating everywhere.
Belle Grove Farm, Lower Common, Westhall, Suffolk IP19 8QU
Kudhva, which means ‘hideout’ in Cornish, is a campsite that encourages you to go off-grid and immerse yourself in the landscape. The 45-acre site is set in an abandoned quarry with a wild swimming lake, waterfall and grassland. There are three different types of shelter on offer; the Danish cabin, which merges indoor and outdoor living thanks to sliding walls and doors; there’s the smaller Kudhva that also stand above the ground; and there’s the tree tents, which can be pitched between the trees if you want to really get back to basics. There’s also a fire pit, hot tubs and a bar on site for everyone to access.
Sanding Road, Trebarwith Strand, Tintagel, Cornwall, PL34 0HH
If you want all the fun of a treetop location with all the luxury of a five-star property, then the Treehouse in Somerset is the place for you. Located on a small farm, the Treehouse can sleep up to five and includes a hot tub, wood burning stove, underfloor heating, an octagaonal master bedroom at the top of a spiral staircase, a rolltop bath and use of an on-site indoor swimming pool. You can pre-order breakfast and BBQ food hampers to arrive at the house but if you really don’t want to lift a finger, you can arrange to have a fully catered three course meal during your stay.
Halse, Taunton, Somerset
Scottish campsite Comrie Croft may be all about communal living but there’s plenty of space for you to cosy up in your own secluded spot of countryside. Camp in the wild, minus the hard work, by staying in one of their Nordic katas – tipis with wood burning stoves, a large alpine-style sleeping areas and campfire pits outside. There’s a tea garden and farm shop on site so you don’t really need to leave the croft, but with lots of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area you’ll want to get out and explore.
Braincroft, Crieff, Scotland, PH7 4JZ