No matter what the season, there’s nothing more satisfying than making a break for the rolling hills and chocolate-box villages of our green and pleasant land. Ideally travelling in a convertible sports car and wearing a silk headscarf and sunglasses (so what if it’s raining?). And why do we think a bit of fancy rural respite is so special? Let us count the ways…
Playing lord and lady of the manor
When your usual manor is a mid-terrace in Surrey, sometimes it’s nice to play pretend and pack your finest weekend bag for a few days of lounging around in some creaky little fairytale inn or imposing Elizabethan pile. Lord it up in a big old bed and take in the views whilst rolled up sausage-style in the crisp white sheets, with a glass of something fizzy and visions of grandeur. You’re there for a good time, not a long time.
Now, we’re not saying that it’s good to gloat, but when everyone else is getting on with the humdrum at home, it’s a good feeling to slip into that free-standing bubble bath without a care in the world, knowing that you are living the life of Riley! It also adds a bit of pizazz to your response to Monday morning’s “what did you get up to at the weekend?” question. Catch the weather on a good day during your country sojourn and it’ll provide you with some serious Instagram material, too.
Real, roaring, crackling fires. We all love an open fire, right? Looking at them, prodding them obsessively because we’re not sure if they’re going out or not, sitting by them and then realising we’re too warm. They’re cosy as hell and we want to be near one, so unless you’re lucky enough to be living the dream with a log-burner at home; a country house hotel with a proper fire is just the thing to get you in the mood for stockpiling marshmallows and sipping whisky on the rocks.
It’s just like the movies
When you escape to the country, it feels like you’re living the key scenes from all of your favourite films. We’re talking Pride and Prejudice, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Secret Garden. Those high-ceilinged hallways, sweeping staircases and ornamental hedges really do transport you to the movie settings that you love. If you lust after the idyllic cottage in The Holiday, then a sweet country inn would scratch that itch, and if rowing on a boating lake a la Bridget Jones’s Diary before collapsing into a four-poster is more your thing, then we have just the historic manor for that.
Tucking into a brilliant Michelin starred dinner in a grand dining room or incredible home-cooked grub in a snug little pub certainly beats slaving over a hot stove at home. There’s something magical about having dinner in a country bolthole, especially because you can just roll upstairs to your room when you’re full and in need of a post-food nap.
Boutique country hideouts are a nightmare for leaving you desperate to buy new fluffy towels, a squishy upholstered armchair for that unused space in your lounge and replacement tiles for the bathroom. Just when you’re perfectly happy with what you’ve created at home, you stay in a lovely rural retreat and leave with grand plans to gut the house and start again. If you’re looking for interiors inspiration, coffee table books are good but a real-life escape is better.
Countryside hideouts are the last word in romance. Not to say you can’t have a perfectly lovely time with a friend or even your mum, because you definitely can, but a romantic rendezvous is what country piles and acres of green space were made for. Those oversized beds, the waffle robes, no chores to argue about, the blissful hand-holdy walks and the exploring to be had. It’s just a recipe for public displays of affection.
Sometimes, you just need to run away from it all and where better than a little (or very large) place with absolutely no work, no racket from the builders next door, no traffic – just the sound of birdsong, miles of undisturbed green loveliness to clear your mind and a beautiful bedroom to call your own. Hang that do-not-disturb sign, switch off your phone and do absolutely nothing. And, if you’re not relaxed until you’ve been face-down on a massage table, many country hotels have an on-site spa with a swimming pool and treatment rooms, so look out for a hotel with wellness facilities if you want to sneak a little spa break into your weekend away, and why wouldn’t you?
Exploring the great outdoors
If you live in the city (and even if you don’t) strolling through the manicured grounds of a whopping rural mansion or meandering around winding country lanes is always a lovely thing to do. For a start, it’s free, but it’s also a great reason to gawp at the gorgeous great British countryside whilst indulging in a spot of exercise and breathing in plenty of fresh air. Usually, the country hotels you’ll find on Secret Escapes will be near sweet little towns and villages, so there’s a good excuse to break up your walk with a visit to a local coffee shop.
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