Joanna Reeves

Back to Inspirations
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.' So Samuel Johnson famously said. But maybe, in this day and age, we're just tired of a 24-7 connectivity and blurred boundaries between work and home life. Maybe we just need to hit pause for a few days. From foodie havens to spa hideaways, these boutique hotels are escape-it-all retreats to rest and recharge in – so you can return to the capital with renewed vigour.
Eckington Manor

Best for foodies

Eckington Manor is an epicurean enclave set on a 260-acre working farm, with a gastronomic restaurant and cookery school. A smattering of former barns and outbuildings is home to 17 bedrooms; some with freestanding bath tubs, others with gas-fired stoves – one with walls clad in hand-painted silk. The main hotel is set in a medieval timber-frame hall, where an inglenook fireplace warms a cosy sitting room. Elsewhere, a converted Dutch barn is where the culinary magic happens: husband-and-wife team Sue and Mark Stinchcombe – winner of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2015 – give the traditional field-to-fork menu a creative spin. Standouts include Eckington beef tartare, followed by hay-smoked lamb and apricot soufflé served with toasted almond ice cream. Best of all, the farm is just a two-hour train journey from London, on the northern fringes of the Cotswolds.

Widbrook Grange

Best for gin-lovers

With golden stone draped in trailing ivy, Widbrook Grange is the quintessential country house retreat in Bradford on Avon. There's more to this boutique gem than meets the eye though. This model farm-turned-hotel has a secret drinking den: The Gin Bar, lined with bottles containing 160-plus varieties of the juniper-based spirit. There's also a Hungarian MasterChef winner (Sandor Szucs) behind the menu, and a large indoor pool for leisurely lengths. The 19 bedrooms are tranquil cocoons, with exposed brick and beamed ceilings; the best with roll-top bathtubs. Quirky finishes add a fun twist – think paint boxes upcycled as little tables, and decorative farmhouse equipment as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the building's origins.

Burley Manor Restaurant & Rooms

Best for wildlife-watchers

Burley Manor is tucked away among eight glorious acres, on the outskirts of postcard-pretty Burley. Overlooking a deer sanctuary, the grand old manor house has been lovingly restored with second-to-none attention to detail. A small spa offers bespoke treatments – book the heavenly Drift Away massage – while an outdoor pool is open from June to September. Forty individually designed rooms are spread across the main building and converted stables. Interiors are classic country with a quirky edge – think bold colours (moody blue, mustard yellow, pale teal), accented with patterned curtains and retro telephones. After a day walking or cycling through the New Forest, make a beeline for the restaurant, an enchanting space with olive trees and eclectic furniture, to feast on tapas and Mediterranean-leaning dishes.

Cotswold House & Spa

Best for bucolic wannabes

This honey-stoned bolthole is housed in a Grade II-listed Regency building, lining the main street of the chocolate-box village of Chipping Campden. Original beams and crackling fireplaces warm the interiors, while a recent refurb has given rooms a fresh new look. The 28 guestrooms are splashed in shades of duck-egg blue and pistachio green, with six scattered throughout the outbuildings – two have outdoor hot tubs, three have stunning oval stone baths. Pretty gardens wrap around a terrace, while to the back a former coach house has been transformed into a Decléor spa, with an indoor swimming pool and steam room. Modern British cuisine is on the menu at Fig restaurant, while a brasserie-bar, Bistro on the Square, is a more casual spot to eat.

Hurley House Hotel

Best for golf lovers

This restaurant-with-rooms is on the fringes of Hurley, a quaint riverside town half-hour from London and close to a golf course. Hurley House was built from scratch in 2016, but if you want history, the village is home to England's oldest inn. It may be young but its style is far from juvenile – think wooden floors, leather sofas and lots of exposed brick. The 10 guestrooms are tucked away to prevent any road noise disturbing sleep, each with the all-important freestanding bathtub. Ask for one of the two rooms with a furnished outdoor patio. The restaurant scooped two AA rosettes within a year of opening, with everything from homemade truffle pasta to chateaubriand on the menu. The bar spills out onto an outdoor heated terrace – the perfect spot to linger over a pint of real ale after a day's golfing.

Tudor Farmhouse

Best for outdoorsy types

This farmhouse-turned-hotel is located in the historic village of Clearwell. The 20-room Tudor Farmhouse sits within a 14-acre meadow, carpeted with rare plants – a protected Site of Scientific Interest. Staff can arrange foraging, cycling, canoeing and salmon fishing, while the surrounding Forest of Dean is a hiking and biking hotspot. Walking maps are available from reception and there's cycle storage. There's a flower-lined courtyard and a lounge with an open fire, while the restaurant rustles up dishes using organic, 20-mile ingredients, flavoured by local herbs and served with vegetables from the kitchen-garden. Highlights include Gloucester Old Spot pork belly and lavender-glazed duck breast, but try to time your visit with Sunday lunch – the longhorn rump of beef is incredible.

The Manor House Hotel

Best for dog owners

The Manor House Hotel is set in a 16th-century coaching inn with a secret up its sleeve: a hidden garden. Set in the bustling town of Moreton-in-Marsh, the charming mansion has the quintessential Cotswold stone and a lovely inner garden, home to a 300-year-old mulberry tree whose fruit is still used to make jam for breakfast and cocktails. Dogs are more than welcome here, with a Beagle Bar that pays homage to the small scent hound. A labyrinth of corridors leads to 35 antiques-peppered bedrooms, some with four-poster beds. But the room to book is Apple Cottage, a spacious standalone suite with its own garden and outdoor hot tub. Beagle Bar offers everything from cocktails to afternoon tea, while a brasserie serves comforting classics. The more formal restaurant has an eight-course tasting menu or modern British a la carte options.

The Cottage in the Wood

Best for music fans

The Cottage in the Woods clings to the east flank of a forested ridge, its white façade peaking out from the dense trees. The hotel's lofty position affords it excellent views over the Severn Vale and the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is Elgar country, with concerts galore at the Festival Theatre in Malvern and surrounding venues, while six miles east is the riverside Upton-upon-Severn, which hosts the annual Jazz, Folk and Blues Festival. A huddle of three buildings includes the Main House, with a bar and two-AA-rosette-awarded restaurant; the four-room Beech Cottage; and, 150 yards away, The Coach House with 19 more bedrooms.

Poets House Hotel

Best for history buffs

Poets House is not in fact named after a poet, as you may rightly assume, but author and one-time resident Sybil Marshall. Arranged around an inner courtyard, the trio of handsome townhouses is set on the fringes of the Ely Cathedral precinct. Front-facing rooms overlook the spires and towers that loom over the city, and all come with a copper roll-top bathtub, some of which are located in the bedroom for a decadent soak. Not just a popular day trip from Cambridge, this refined town has a pretty waterside, thriving markets and a fine Topping bookshop. Not to mention those Oliver Cromwell associations; Poets House squares up to the 17th-century icon's half-timbered house in all its honey-stoned glory.

Artist Residence Oxfordshire

Best for bohemians

Just five bedrooms and a standalone suite at this Oxfordshire hideout create an intimate vibe. This isn't your standard hotel: classic country interiors are shunned in favour of a bohemian, artsy vibe. The 18th-century thatched farmhouse has been turned into a welcoming pub, with stone mullion windows and flagged stone floors. Eclectic Lucy Sparrow sculptures dot the bar while bold artwork rubs shoulders with decorative pitchforks. In the restaurant, diners feast on local game and meat, infused with foraged herbs. After dinner, join locals in the bar and sample guest beers from six tap. Later, retire to your pad where you'll feel right at home thanks to personal touches like wild flowers in jam jars and coffee-table garden books.