This summer has seen i-escape staff traversing the south west in search of welcoming country retreats. As ever, this charming corner of the UK did not disappoint. From an indulgent Georgian hotel to beautiful period cottages, we’re smitten with these new finds.
Hidden along a quiet Wiltshire lane, The Craftsman’s Cottage combines a 19th-century 3-bedroom cottage with a loft-style 1-bedroom annexe next door. Take your pick or book them together for a big group getaway. Both are high-end Arts & Crafts-inspired retreats paying homage to William Morris’ famous motto, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Owner Amanda Bannister has taken real care designing the interiors, as well as the overall guest experience. You can pre-order food from her favourite local shops, and rates include membership to Pythouse tennis club, just a mile up the lane. Spend an afternoon at nearby Messums art gallery and be sure to take a cross-country walk to Old Wardour Castle – choose a route from the books provided, and borrow wellies from the utility room. The area has plenty of tempting gastropubs and restaurants, too. We love Pythouse Kitchen Garden, The Beckford Arms and The Riverbarn.
What happens when you combine a classic country pile with a bit of independent West Country spirit? You get Backwell House – a 9-bedroom boutique hotel with a cool bar, a fantastic restaurant and an infectious sense of fun. Owner Guy Williams spent a year redesigning and renovating this Georgian property, adding everything from handmade bedheads to a concrete sink cast into an old suitcase. The requisite in-room luxuries are all present, too – from Hungarian goose-down bedding to Bramley products and drenching rain showers in the bathrooms.
The restaurant menu was one of the most original and creative we’ve seen for some time. Every plate was well-balanced and delicious, from the smoky BLT-style appetisers to the tangy deconstructed rhubarb-and-custard pudding.
Outside, the surrounding countryside is incredibly green and peaceful; there’s a rose garden in the grounds and plenty of walks from the door. If you fancy combining rural relaxation with bright city lights, buzzing Bristol is just a 15-minute drive away.
Set in peaceful rural Somerset, the beautiful 3,000-acre Dillington Estate is an instant antidote to city life. Amongst its rolling green fields, 2 beautiful and spacious self-catering cottages await. We stayed in the larger option – the 4-bedroom Dairy House, which has its own pretty garden and a cattle grid to deter uninvited sheep from the surrounding fields!
Inside, the living area, dining table and kitchen are combined into one big open-plan space, with a warming log-burner in the huge fireplace. It all felt very peaceful, despite being just a 5-minute drive from the market town of Ilminster. We encountered terrible weather during our visit, but couldn’t have been happier relaxing indoors, playing board games as a family and cooking hearty suppers.