Anyone who spent lockdown cooped up in the capital will be desperate for some fresh air and new horizons once restrictions lift. Here are 10 quarantine-busting escapes within 2 hours’ drive or train ride – all of which we’ve visited recently, and loved!
1 Artist Residence, Brighton
Vintage features, arty interiors, a 10-course tasting menu and one of the coolest bars in town; what’s not to love about Artist Residence Brighton? Think colour-splashed bedrooms with exposed brick walls and upcycled furniture. The quirky vibe here captures the essence of Brighton perfectly.
By train: London Victoria to Brighton (1hr 15); the hotel is a 10-minute walk from the train station. By car: Parking in Brighton is a nightmare. Luckily, there’s an underground car park in front of the hotel.
2 Blue Door Barns, Sussex
This magical bolthole, set among the lovely South Downs, combines the bonus of a hotel-style concierge – courtesy of hands-on owners Bryony and Emma – with the ease of self-catering. All 4 suites and cottages at Blue Door Barns are independent, with their own sitting areas; some have kitchens, too. Walk the Seven Sisters sea cliffs, visit arty Charleston House, explore the artisan boutiques of Lewes.
By train: London Victoria to Lewes (1hr) and then a 5-minute taxi ride. By car: Easy access just off the A26 & A27; plenty of parking space.
3 The Sun Inn, Essex
Get set for a quintessential English getaway at this homely pub-with-rooms. Set in the sleepy village of Dedham, at the heart of picturesque Constable country, it’s well placed for long walks and boat tours on the Stour. Retreat to the inn for excellent local fare, craft beers and plump beds with goose-down duvets.
By train: London Liverpool Street to Manningtree (1hr); the hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride away. By car: There’s a small car park at the hotel.
4 The Miller of Mansfield, Berkshire
Rock up on a Friday night and sit down to cocktails in the convivial bar followed by an extravagant 7-course dinner. Divine. This romantic pub-with-rooms sits on the banks of the Thames, and is excellent value. Rooms are smart and colourful, the terrace is a delight in summer, and the surrounding countryside beckons to be explored.
By train: London Paddington to Goring & Streatley (1hr); the hotel is a 10-minute walk from the station. By car: Arrive early, there are only 3 parking spaces! If you’re out of luck there’s a cheap car park close by and free on-street parking at weekends.
5 Cotswold Boutique Hideaways
Picture an idyllic English cottage and you’ll probably imagine something identical to these gloriously quaint rentals for 2-6. Set in twee Cotswold villages, they feature cosy living rooms with exposed beams and wood-burners, big country kitchens, roll-top bathtubs and private gardens with barbecues.
By train: London Paddington to Kingham (1hr 15); the cottages are all within 3km from the station so just grab a local taxi. By car: There’s on-street parking for 1 car at each cottage.
6 The Rectory, Cotswolds
How about a grand country house on the edge of the Cotswolds? This spoiling retreat features plush velvet sofas, cosy window seats and clawfoot bathtubs. Outside, there’s a heated outdoor pool among manicured gardens. Wake up to breakfasts served in the light and airy Glasshouse, then spend your days exploring delightful Crudwell and the surrounding countryside.
By train: London Paddington to Kemble (1hr 15); the hotel is a 5-minute taxi ride away. By car: The hotel has its own car park.
7 Timbrell’s Yard, Wiltshire
Set among the honey-stone buildings of Bradford on Avon, this riverside townhouse makes for a tranquil getaway. Its Nordic-style rooms feature super-soft beds, the fabulous restaurant is headed up by a former River Cottage chef, and the peaceful terrace is perfect for riverside dining in summer months (there’s a wood-burner inside for winter).
By train: London Paddington to Bradford on Avon (1hr 45); the hotel is a 2-minute walk from the station. By car: There are 2 public car parks next to the hotel, but you’ll have to pay.
8 No 15 Great Pulteney, Bath
You’d never imagine such a zany hotel could hide behind the smart façade of this classic Bath townhouse. There are displays of all sorts of knickknacks – musical instruments, shoes, dolls houses. Rooms are just as quirky, with bold colours, wall paintings and chandeliers. Downstairs, there’s a small spa with a hot tub and sauna in oversized barrels.
By train: London Paddington to Bath Spa (1hr 30); the hotel is a short taxi ride or a 10-minute walk away. By car: There are a few off-road parking spots and some on-road permits, but make sure you ask the hotel in advance.
9 Number Thirty Eight, Bristol
From its elevated position in hilly Clifton, Bristol’s most upmarket neighbourhood, this elegant bolthole enjoys impressive views: pastel-coloured streets one way; leafy parkland the other. Bedrooms are smart with muted colours and retro pieces, and breakfast is divine – have it brought to you in bed for maximum pampering.
By train: London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads (1hr 40), the hotel is a 20-minute taxi ride away. By car: Parking is tricky; you’ll either have to pay for metered parking or ask to go on the hotel’s permit wait list when booking.
10 Lime Wood, New Forest
If you’re after full-blown luxury, this country-house hotel will deliver. Set in the heart of the New Forest, it’s a classy (but unstuffy) retreat with pristine lawns, handsome bedrooms (all unique, no duffs), imaginative Anglo-Italian cuisine, and one of the finest spas in the country. Kick back, relax and be utterly spoilt.
By train: London Waterloo to Ashurst (90 mins); the hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride from the station. By car: There’s free on-site parking and a valet service.