Ten of the best resorts with a range of accommodation
by Abigail Flanagan (May 2013)
There’s no denying it, choosing the perfect getaway can be downright stressful. First you have to decide where to go… then there’s the whole hotel/self-catering/B&B dilemma to deal with. But what if you could just select a top-notch location and then take your pick of accommodation to suit? Self-catering, say, with all the benefits of a five-star hotel? Hmmm, now there’s a thought. Read on for a pick of UK resorts where the choice really is yours.
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With an Olympian array of more than 60 activities to choose from, even the most petulant teenager could never be bored at Crieff Hydro. Laser quest; tornado rides; quad biking; high ropes and Super Hero training (!) are just some of the more unusual distractions on offer, but there really is something for everyone here, including a rather plush adults only spa. Whether you’re a lone traveller or a brood twice the size of Brangelina’s, you’ll find accommodation to suit. Choose between the hotel – where rooms range from standard doubles to family suites – or self-catering chalets and 5-star luxury lodges, the largest of which can sleep 16.
Crook Road, Windermere
Indecisive? Then look away now, for this family-run Lake District gem comprises not one temple to relaxation, but two. As if choosing between the Gilpin’s luxurious bedrooms (Hmmm – spa bath or hot tub?) wasn’t hard enough, there’s the über secluded Lake House to get all a dither about, too. Set in 100 acres of classic Cumbrian countryside, overlooking its own lake, the House features just six stunning suites, so at times it can feel like you’re the only souls for miles. The spa with its indoor pool, salt snug and outdoor hot tub, scores full marks on the tranquility ticker – but if you’re still to shake the city, on-call therapists can pamper you into serenity in the privacy of your own room.
North Bovey, Dartmoor
Not bad for a newsagent’s son, Bovey Castle as it’s now known was built by Frederick Smith at the turn of the 20th century. (Ok, so Fred’s dad was WH Smith II, but still, come on!) Today this lavish Neo-Elizabethan mansion is renowned for its hospitality and refreshing lack of pomposity. Families are positively welcome, with fun galore for kids, including survival skills, wildlife encounters and a LEGO room service. That said, there’s an inspired activity menu for adult tastes, too. (Deer stalking - well, you are on Dartmoor - or sloe gin making, anyone?) The hotel boasts 64 individually designed bedrooms – including four exceptionally fine Grand State suites – but larger groups should look to the 14 resort lodges, each sleeping eight. Brilliant equipped for self-catering breaks, lodge guests still have access to all the hotel facilities and housekeeping services. “Win win”, say I.
Christchurch Road, New Milton
Set in 130 acres on the edge of the New Forest, just a short stroll from the sea, Chewton Glen’s location alone is deserving of accolades aplenty. Add legendary service (the hotel’s promise is to consistently “wow” its guests); divine food and accommodation, and a world class spa and it’s no wonder that this multi-award winning hotel is considered one of the UK’s finest. Last summer Chewton Glen raised the bar even further, with the launch of its truly extraordinary Treehouse suites. Forget glamping: this is modern architecture meets nature at its most harmonious, beautiful best. 5-star facilities, vast picture windows and wrap around balconies with hot tubs ensure a stay here is like no other. Breakfast is delivered by hamper each morning and, if you really don’t feel like moving (and who would?) spa therapists will come to you, too. I defy anyone not to want to move in permanently. Wow indeed.
Leeds Castle, Maidstone
With 900 years of history to explore, and a fun-packed events calendar that ranges from jousting competitions to supercar sieges, Leeds Castle’s long been heralded as a majestic day out for all the family. But guess what? You don’t have to go home. From the super swish B&B rooms in the 16th century Maiden’s Tower to the five delightful self-catering cottages, accommodation here offers a stonking blend of period gorgeousness and contemporary convenience. But for a more Medieval experience, albeit minus the Crusades’ crustiness, the brand new Knight’s Glamping village takes some beating. The eight gaily-striped tents, each with four-poster, crisp cotton bedding and log burning stove, sleep a maximum of two adults and two children.
Is there a discerning adult who hasn’t heard of Cliveden? Lord & Lady Astor; Frederick, Prince of Wales; Queen Victoria; Churchill; Roosevelt: the long list of dignitaries who’ve either owned or stayed here is worthy of its own Debretts. Set in 376 acres of National Trust grounds, Cliveden today is no less distinguished, offering sumptuous accommodation to suit even the pickiest politician. Best of all, though, is the fairytale Spring Cottage, where Stephen Ward and Christine Keeler were ensconced when the Profumo scandal broke. Set on the banks of the Thames, what was once the Countess of Orkney’s summerhouse is now the ultimate self-catering retreat, but if you don’t feel like lifting a finger a Personal Butler is also available.
One for water babes, this Loire Valley style chateau has fantastic views over the Menai Strait, with glorious gardens leading directly down to its private beach. If you want to get out on the water a variety of exhilarating RIB tours are available direct from the shoreline, from one-hour tours of Puffin Island, to a full day out along the Anglesey coast. The Chateau has 21 bedrooms to choose from, but for longer stays opt for either the Coach or Gate Houses. Situated just moments from the Chateau, they offer luxury self-catering accommodation for four to six guests.
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