The 10 Best Places to Travel in 2019 / Jake Hamilton / The i-escape blog

By Jake Hamilton, i-escape Editor

No dodgy decor. No hidden fees. Definitely no weird hosts. These secret UK rentals are NOT on Airbnb. (See our full collection below)

This boathouse in the Lakes

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / the-boathouse-at-knotts-end
The place: This utterly private boathouse perched on the shores of Lake Ullswater must be the UK’s most romantic hideaway. The interior is peppered with Moroccan lamps and bright cushions. The bijou kitchen is well-equipped and the modern bathroom is spotless. As for the exquisite bedroom, it has arched French windows framing a private lakeside balcony. Ideal for breakfasts or stargazing.

The location: Just imagine: No neighbours, no passing cars, a private waterfront and your very own rowing boat. Great local restaurants, too.

The owners: Created for maximum privacy by Jennifer Bogdany, the friendly local caretakers can help you with where to eat, where to shop and where to explore.



2  This hovering house in Wales

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / ty hedfan

The place: Ty Hedfan is a spectacular, award-winning home cantilevered over a babbling brook in the Brecon Beacons. Called the ‘hovering house’ (in Welsh), sliding glass doors open onto a terrace where you float at tree-canopy-height. At the end of the cantilevered arm is one of the most gorgeous light-filled rooms we’ve ever seen. The four impeccable bedrooms have the genuine warmth of a family home.

The location: The Brecon Beacons boast some of the finest hills in the UK. Go hiking, biking, kayaking or swimming in the River Ysgir straight from your garden.

The owners: This stunning family home is owned by architects Sarah Featherstone and Jeremy Young. It’s a rare chance to stay in a truly unique house.


This designer cottage in Cornwall

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / fallen angel Cornwall

The place: Fallen Angel is a one-bedroom designer cottage set above gorgeous Mousehole harbour. Outside, it’s a striking, rubber-clad structure spilling down Zen-inspired gardens. Inside, you have a uniquely designed brushed-steel kitchen, an egg-shaped wood-burner, a freestanding steel bathtub, and a kingsize bed gazing over picturesque rooftops. If you fancy a movie night, duck into the cosy TV snug at the back of the house.

The location: Mousehole is one of the most charming corners of Cornwall. It’s packed with traditional cottages, tempting restaurants and art galleries. Head to Porthcurno beach (voted the best in Cornwall by the Cornish) for turquoise waters straight out the Med.

The owners: Once a derelict building, Fallen Angel is the vision of friendly owners Mark and Jane. They know Cornwall inside out.



4  This craft cottage in Dorset

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / the dorset craft house

The place: This beautiful 19th-century cottage hidden deep in the Wiltshire countryside is a living homage to British craftsmanship. A Russell Pinch sofa, a Melin Tregwynt blanket, David Mellor kitchenware – everything is carefully chosen. Its three bedrooms showcase blush walls accented by mustard handmade beds, mint Anglepoise lamps and framed Lucienne Day fabrics. There’s a loft-style one-bed annexe next door (available as an add-on).

The location: Set in the sleepy village of Semley, this is a corner of rural England where the closest thing to a noisy neighbour is the dawn chorus. Explore Old Wardour Castle, or visit the famous Stourhead gardens, which are beyond picturesque in spring and autumn.

The owners: Ed and Amanda Bannister provide a welcome hamper – the longer you stay the ampler it becomes. The honesty fridge is filled with homemade chicken pies. Amanda also offers traditional makers’ courses.


This incredible outpost in the Hebrides

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / coillabus isley hebrides

The place: If you want to get away from it all, head to Coillabus. This is a pair of luxurious yet unpretentious eco-lodges tucked away on Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. Overlooking the Oa peninsula, these stone-walled lodges are pure escapism. Outdoor double-ended bathtubs will immerse you in the landscape, but the glorious bedrooms and underfloor heating will keep you toasty warm.

The location: With nine whisky distilleries, a coastline of incredible beaches and Golden Eagles flying overhead, it’s easy to see why Islay is called the Queen of the Hebrides. The islanders are super-friendly, too.  There are daily direct flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The owners: Hester goes to incredible lengths to ensure every little detail is taken care of, right down to the Single Malt Myrtle soaps and shampoos supplied by a local soap maker.


These stylish apartments in Falmouth

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / Star & Garter Falmouth Cornwall

The place: These three great-value apartments in the heart of Falmouth come with glorious views and an award-winning pub downstairs. The romantic top-floor Crow’s Nest has a wood-burning stove and open-plan living and kitchen area. The Penthouse has brilliant views of the Fal estuary and a huge dreamy bedroom. Starboard, on the first floor, has a generous bedroom and stylish shower. Expect a welcome hamper of fresh bread and cakes.

The location: On the south coast of Cornwall, Falmouth was voted one of the best places to live in England. It boasts a vibrant mixture of cafes, galleries and bars – none better than the Star & Garter. Seriously, they do the greatest Sunday roast you’ll ever try.

The owners: Becca and her chef husband Elliot had long fantasised about running their own restaurant-with-rooms in Cornwall. Miraculously, they found this waterfront pub for sale and the rest is history.


This townhouse on the Isle of Wight

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / etchings isle of wight

The place: This beautifully decorated townhouse is perfect for a large family, plus dog. It’s a vibrant three-bedroom rental with beautiful design flourishes. Think pale-painted floorboards, pink Anglepoise lamps, bold wallpapers and bright scatter cushions. Outside is a small courtyard with a raised suntrap garden. Soak in the clawfoot tub or snooze in the authentic Chinese teak daybed. It’s all bliss.

The location: Ventnor is arguably the prettiest coastal town on the Isle of Wight, and the sunniest. The shops and emerging gastro-eateries are just a short walk away, as is the gold-shingled beach. Wonderfully, its mild microclimate has spawned thriving Mediterranean gardens.

The owners: Samantha bought the townhouse in 2017, and it bears the hallmarks of her stints in Hong Kong, Singapore and India. Her generous touches include an honesty spirits bar, washer-dryer, and local hiking maps.


8  These glamping cabins in Devon

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / glamping starbed hideaways devon

The place: Now this is glamping. Starbed Hideaways consists of two beautiful shepherd huts hidden in National Trust woodlands in Devon. Set far apart from one another, each double oak-clad cabin is completely private, with a stunning roll-top bath, a beautiful galley kitchen and a luxury kingsize bed with a curved skylight for gazing at the stars. There’s a log-burner and sheepskin rugs to keep things snug.

The location: You’re surrounded by woodland seclusion in an of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the edge of the Tamar Valley. We’re talking total privacy, save an occasional passing owl. Bonus points for no WiFi.

The owners: Bertie and Bryony have seriously raised the glamping stakes. Their level of detail and care is extraordinary. But this still feels like your own private world.



9  This big house rental in Cornwall

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / tregulland Cornwall

The place: Arguably the best big house renovation in Cornwall, Tregulland is a total show-stopper. Sleeping up to 26, it’s made up of a stunning stone barn, a large cottage and outbuildings. Interiors are elegant and eclectic, with vintage finds and stylish designs creating a quirky, homely English feel. Every bedroom is ensuite with a rainfall shower (some have roll-top baths, too). The incredible indoor freshwater pool is the first of its kind in the UK.

The location: Close to Bodmin, you have some of the best beaches and fishing villages in Cornwall on your doorstep, but Tregulland has so much outdoor space you’ll barely need to leave.

The owners: Owners Ken and Illona have a bespoke service, offering chefs, massages, yoga, even bushcraft. Their amazing team is headed up by Bonny and Sarah, who work tirelessly to make everything just perfect.



10  This farmhouse in the Dales

i-escape blog / best homes rentals not on airbnb uk / middleton lodge yorkshire dales

The place: Middleton Lodge is a Georgian estate with 29 stylish rooms, two gourmet restaurants and 200 acres of woodland. But its glorious farmhouse is unlisted on Airbnb. Its six ensuite bedrooms have contemporary four-posters and elegant headboards. The fabulous kitchen and dining area seats 12, and the comfy lounge has a fireplace. A private chef can be arranged if you’re celebrating.

The location: It’s weekend-break perfect. Hike in the nearby Yorkshire Dales, or just hole up in the estate and enjoy the blooming gardens and woodland walks. There are bikes to borrow, plus croquet and clay-pigeon shooting on site.

The owners: Lovely owners James and Becky have a team of knowledgeable staff who go above and beyond to make your stay special.


Explore all our UK Rentals Not on Airbnb