Seemingly set in the middle of nowhere in the Lakes (but actually only a few miles from Bowness), the main hotel at the Gilpin is a glamorous, boutique-style Georgian house. So far, so stylish and cosy. But what makes this stunning get-away-from-it-all spot deliciously different are both its lovely garden suites (done out in classy Eastern tones and with their own private hot tubs) and its stunning spa suites, which sit on the edge of the site and allow you to totally switch off from modern life. You get your own hot tub, sauna, steam room and Sonos system and the floor-to-ceiling windows equal stunning fell views.
Who doesn't want to spend the night in a posh treehouse? Chewton Glen is rightly renowned for its dedication to luxury (think country house, snooker-table-smooth lawns, world-class spa and award-winning restaurant) but it goes the extra mile with its 14 contemporary treehouse suites that sit on stilts up in the tree canopy. Unpack, grab a beer and drink in the scenery and your beverage from your hardwood private deck then retreat inside to chat long into the night by your wood burning stove as you view the forest through the floor to ceiling windows. Can't be bothered to walk to the main hotel for breakfast? No problem, an electric buggy will ferry you back and forth...
I love a bit of bohemia in a hotel and this place has it in spades. Firmly part of the funky Penzance vibe, the Artists Residence – a Georgian house bang in the centre of town – gently sings la-la-ness while managing to offer up top notch service at the same time. Quirky bedrooms designed by artists invite you to just hang out and take a chill pill, the cool bar lounge and beer garden are very hard to tear yourself away from (you may well become engaged in conversation with any one of the delightful staff) and the food a masterclass in relaxed eating. Think amazing coffee and pastries or American pancakes at brekkie to ribs or lobster in the hotel's own smokehouse come dinner time.
A windmill that you can stay in! With views over seal-clotted Blakeney Point – what is not to love? Cley Windmill has been on the map since the early 19th century but is decidedly 21st century in décor and service. There are three rooms in the actual tower or you can stay in the former store rooms and miller's accommodation. Once you've got over the novelty of your lodgings, wander out to the shingle beach or bring your binocs and feast yourself on the wonderful birdlife that swoops and skirls over the saltmarshes towards Blakeney Harbour. Return at dinner for a three-course menu at 7.30pm at a small candle-lit table (tip – do not miss out on pre-ordering locally smoked kippers or haddock from the village smokehouse).
Fancy your supper in a bejewelled dining room in the style of the Alhambra? Course you do. Well then check into the Rhinefield House hotel in the New Forest. This spectacular mock Tudor country house just off the A35 is reached via the ornamental drive (lined with giant Redwoods and dazzling azaleas) and is, in one word, palatial. Think decorative chimneys, ornamental ponds and fountains outside and wood panelled, real fireplace loveliness inside. Built by a colliery-owner's daughter in the late 19th century, the house has a walk-on part in some of DH Lawrence's novels. Book it now!
St Paul's has seen a bit of action over the years. Sitting on the charmless Hammersmith Road in London, it's wonderful gothic appearance (it was created by the same Victorian architect who designed the Natural History Museum) stands as a beacon of London's urban history. It started life as St Paul's School (it was the head's house) until 1968 and was used by Churchill when planning the D-Day landings – he presented his plans for the final invasion to General Eisenhower in the lecture theatre. These days you probably won't bump into any iconic world leaders or military generals but the rooms are smart and comfortable, the Melody restaurant serves great food and the bar staff will produce a mean Old Fashioned cocktail.
More a pub with rooms than a hotel, the Gurnad's Head is the sister alehouse to the fabulously popular foodie pub The Felin Fach Griffin near Hay-on-Wye. In an impossibly idyllic setting overlooking Cornwall's Atlantic Coast, this bright yellow establishment is the centre for all things relaxing. Book a foraging walk (the clifftops are minutes from the front door), bring your dog (they don't mind if Rover stays in your room, and at no extra cost) or settle into the church candle-lit dining room for locally-sourced nosh. And guess what – there are no TVs! Now that's proper quirky…
If your 2018 doesn't have enough magic in it yet, you need to pop off to Chateau Rhianfa – a real life fairytale castle overlooking the stunning scenery of Snowdonia. Modelled around the French Renaissance Chateau Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, this confection of architectural loveliness is glamour all the way – it's even got its own beach. The chateau was built in 1849 by the Baronet of Bodelwyddan as a gift for his wife Lady Sarah (Rhianfa means lady's abode) and, impressed by the architecture in the Loire while visiting, she embellished it to its present gloriously crazy state.
OK, it's not strictly a hotel (in fact it's a self-catering apartment) but I just HAD to mention Craster Tower because I have stayed there and the place is DELIGHTFULLY quirky. The owners, part of the Craster family which have owned this beautiful Grade II listed building for the last 900 years or so, will welcome you with open arms, direct you to this sumptuous suite of rooms (five bedrooms, a kitchen, a sitting room, a drawing room and a gallery (yep) and may or may not mention the friendly family ghost you'll be sharing with. Walk through the woods and field to the village of Craster (where the queen has her kippers smoked) to meet the locals, visit nearby Alnwick Castle (where Harry Potter films were shot) or build sandcastles on Emberton Beach.
This last one is devoted to quirky animal nuttiness – and you'll love it. The bar at the Egerton opens its arms to not just dogs but cats and rabbits too so do not be surprised to be sharing the attentions of the bar staff with Fido, Bugsy and Mr Tiddles. It's even been said that the odd bird or two has been known to chirrup beside hotel punters. Look out for the canine afternoon teas where tiered doggy bowls grace the bar top and chicken and beef meatloaf is served before a choice of doggy ice creams. Woof!
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