We all want something different from our weekends. You could be the active type jumping out of bed in the mornings for a 5 mile run before learning to play polo. Or struggling to get out of bed before the strongest cup of coffee has come your way promising a morning of reading the papers by a roaring log fire. Some of you may be willing to drive hours for the finest pork pie. The key is plotting your route before the weekend takes hold. I’m afraid spontaneity is best put to one side if you are wanting to keep all parties happy and that’s where we come in. Here are a small selection of affordable but luxurious UK weekend retreats to make the choice easy for you. It’s what we do best.
The Wheatsheaf in Combe Hay is a stone’s throw from Bath and combines affordable accommodation with a luxurious twist. Rooms are small but perfectly formed and cost £150 a night inclusive of breakfast at the weekends. With all the little touches that make a weekend away (expect proper coffee in your bedroom – no UHT milk here), you could just head out to enjoy the country walks nearby popping into the Mulberry outlet store round the corner. Bring the wallet. Or head in the car to nearby Bath and book in for a day of pampering at the Thermae spa. If you haven’t already been spoilt with the food by Ramsey protegee Eddy Rains and wanting to keep driving to a minimum, you could book an evening at Charlton House for a very special meal or a day at their spa.
The Swan Inn at Swinbrook is slap bang in the heart of Cotswold rolling hills. Add to this a history of family running it with much love and attention and you have a reliably comfortable weekend away. With the last remaining Mitford sister as their landlady, the Orr-Ewing’s have welcomed Downton Abbey to film scenes at the Swan so your cultural box is ticked on visiting. Endless muddy walks await so take your wellies and settle in for a weekend of fantastic food (sourced from all the local gamekeepers the menu comes with a hefty side of authenticity) and country sports. On Saturday, book in at the nearby shooting school for £75 per person. Add rooms for £120 per night inclusive of breakfast and you’ve got a wonderfully chic weekend for those on a budget.
With rooms starting from £150 a night you can barely believe that you get to stay in the nautical bolthole that is Idle Rocks. Recently re-opened after a masterful renovation, expect the coastal air to add to the romantic atmosphere. You won’t be forgiven if you never leave your room. Seeing as most of them come with stunning sea views and nautical designs, you could just pretend you’ve been to the seaside and come home again. We would however recommend packing your bathers for the beach, booking a local boat trip and dining in the restaurant downstairs stocking up on the oh-so-locally sourced oyster, crab and prawns on offer. Be sure to book into the Michelin starred Driftwood hotel in nearby Rosevine before heading for the train back from St Austell.
The Inn at Whitewell has a rich history in keeping guests extremely happy. It’s the kind of place you can imagine Dick Turpin roaring through, settling in for one of the local ales and never leaving. The bedrooms have features galore: exposed wooden beams, restored Victorian roll-top baths and working fireplaces. With locally sourced food (pheasant and grouse on the menu comes from the nearby Dunsop shoot) it’s nice to know you can find some old-fashioned comfort for £150 a night. For the more active you can play golf at Clitheroe, fish for trout and salmon in their 20 miles of river or just wind down by the log fires scattered throughout with a good book. This is a weekend for exploring or not, dependant on your mood.