Who doesn’t love hunkering down for the night in front of a burning log fire in a cute, cosy cottage or luxurious accommodation nestled in the middle of acres of beautiful countryside, a quaint village or coastal clifftop? Having been locked down for months on end we are all dreaming about our own slice of mindful escapism to restore the mind, body and soul. With a number of new and exciting boutique stays opening this year we hope our pick of some of the best will help to inspire you, turning your virtual dreaming into reality, just as soon as it is safe to travel again
The Harper, Norfolk
The Harper is a brand new 32-bedroom boutique hotel catering for residents and members only – personal, private and never overrun. Like so many others on our list The Harper was made to close its doors before a customer had even set foot inside having initially planned its opening for April 2020. Almost a year later the team has regrouped and are feeling ready to welcome their first guests with great enthusiasm. And I don’t blame them – it’s a rather exciting launch – there’s so much to explore both inside and out! It’s unique too, taking residence within Langham’s famed old glass blowing factory, the rugged, chic interiors are light, airy and dotted with locally-crafted artisanal glass features playing quiet homage to its heritage. Bedrooms are spacious going on huge, there’s a double height living area (named Ivy’s, after Sam’s late grandmother) with deep, soft sofas, wine fridges, huge wood-burning stove and custom-made stained glass, stylish bar, den with pool table and movie night projector – not to mention an outdoor courtyard with fresh pizza and BBQ’s from the hotel’s outdoor kitchen and Ofyr firepit. The Harper’s setting ‘where land meets sea’ is beautifully reflected in the food in Stanley’s (a classic dining space), The Yard, The Den, or wherever you fancy (anything goes, here). The pantry offers up seasonal fare, which makes visiting throughout the year essential. Think local produce but cosmopolitan menus – a distinctive Norfolk twist with seafood a particular speciality. Stanley’s is named after founder Sam’s grandfather – whose middle name happened to be Harper. From top to bottom this family-run hideaway has been lovingly designed, combining natural materials in an artfully mismatched yet harmonious design. Only a short drive from the picturesque coastal haven of Blakeney, The Harper nestles in the quaint and typically British village of Langham, North Norfolk and even boasts its own Harper Hikes walking routes, taking in the best of North Norfolk’s bucolic settings and the area’s famous pubs. North Norfolk is known for its big skies, beautiful churches and one of the country’s most unspoilt coastlines. In parts, this area is very much an undiscovered gem with a dearth of laid-back luxury.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Pack your swimmies and book a massage! Make time to enjoy the beautiful indoor pool with hot tub, sauna and steam room, before heading to one of the two treatment rooms for some well-earned relaxation therapy.
Rooms will start at £175 per night (incl. Harper Breakfast – some additional items priced accordingly)
The Star Inn, Alfriston, East Sussex
Following in family tradition, Olga and Alex have certainly got what it takes to renovate a striking grade II Listed 15th century building into Olga’s inimitable signature-style 30-bedroom hotel – daughter and granddaughter to Lord Forte, one of Britain’s most renowned hoteliers, and sister and niece to Sir Rocco, the chairman of Rocco Forte Hotels, designing and running hotels should be in their DNA. If you have ever stayed at Hotel Endsleigh in Devon, or Hotel Tresanton in the South Cornish village of St Mawes, you will know Olga already runs and owns two highly successful boutique hotels. The Star Inn is the third in Olga’s Polizzi Collection, spreading her wings from the south west to the south east coast, and her first official joint venture with her daughter, Alex Polizzi, presenter of Channel 5’s, The Hotel Inspector. Scheduled to open in May 2021 (after significant delays caused by Covid 19) The Star Inn is located in the medieval village of Alfriston near the Seven Sisters and in the South Downs National Park, close to the historic town of Lewes and to both Glyndebourne Opera House and Charleston.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: If you can’t stay go for the day! The front of the hotel will open onto the High Street offering relaxed all day dining with local beers, open fires and oak beams, so if you are not wishing to stay overnight, plan your walk or cycle ride with a lunchtime stop at Alfriston to experience the Polizzi pizzazz instead. There’s a lovely spot for warm weather dining too – a large restaurant with its own inner courtyard is being created at the heart of the hotel.
Bookings will be open in February 2021. Rates at The Star will be available from £190 Bed and Breakfast
The Pig in the South Downs, West Sussex
With the latest launch of The PIG in the South Downs becoming the eighth addition to THE PIG hotel family, you will now be able to stay in a PIG in every south coast county! It has been fascinating watching the master of boutique, kitchen-garden rustic and rural idylls expand since opening their very first PIG in Hampshire’s New Forest just over a decade ago. The distinctive character of each of THE PIG’s locations, with their unique combinations of ancient woodland, agricultural farmland (some within casting distance of the sea) has meant they have had access to some of the freshest local fish, hand-picked fruits, amazing meats, award-winning cheeses and English wines in the country.
This has ultimately been their winning formula, their love of good home-grown food, together with a greater awareness in ethical hospitality and sustainable tourism, has seen us fall in love with the PIG brand.
The Pig in the South Downs, West Sussex, is a Grade II-listed Madehurst Lodge near Arundel nestled into the folds of the South Downs National Park. Dating back to the 1770s the house benefits from high ceilings with an abundance of natural light throughout. There’s a study and snug complete with open fireplace and inviting sofas and armchairs ideal for guests to curl up in. There are two further lounge areas and beyond that, The Pig’s signature greenhouse restaurant.
As with every PIG, the picturesque kitchen gardens (and restaurants) will be the beating heart and the largest of any Pig at nearly an acre in size. Coastal fishing villages Rustington and Eastbourne will help to deliver the fresh catch of the day – and anything that can’t be grown in the gardens will be sourced from the best producers within a 25-mile radius. There will be around 30 bedrooms in the main house, to include cottages in the courtyard, dotted around the Stable Block to include the Chicken Shack and Chicken Coop as well as a collection of Garden Wagons located in and around the kitchen garden. From every window of the house and outbuildings there are beautiful views across the Downs.
Now with eight PIGs in the litter their obsessive commitment to home grown and local produce is both influential and admirable – they produce around 17 tons of their own fruit and vegetables, cure their own meats, have our own beehives, grow their own mushrooms on spent coffee grounds, publish a collection of PIG book recipes, support the English Wine industry as well as being award-winning members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Visit ready to celebrate! Previously used for grazing alpacas, the two-acre South West facing field directly in front of the main restaurant of the hotel is where the team is creating the group’s first vineyard. The free draining chalky subsoil with silt and clay, together with the elevation and orientation, offers excellent conditions for planting the varietal vines of Champagne and Burgundy.
Rooms will start from £155 per room per night
Clifftops, Portland Dorset
How do you like the sound of staying in your own luxury clifftop lodge with uninterrupted sea views from your private terrace – nestled in the rugged landscape of Dorset’s UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast? Until now it would have required you hiring all of Pennsylvania Castle’s 9-bedrooms on an exclusive-use basis to stay overnight at this special estate on the Isle of Portland. This year, with the launch of Clifftops, five beautifully designed lodges hewn out of the cliffs just below Penn Castle, you can now stay inviting only yourself, or your nearest and dearest to enjoy this peaceful escape. Each lodge is angled out to face the natural environment, individually named and styled to reflect the surrounding environment that created Clifftops; Blue, Stone, Copper, Silva and Ope. Each of the lodges have been designed from the natural Portland stone for which the Island is famous for (cut just minutes away from Penn Estate). Inside, the beautiful timber and stone set off the stylish modern living spaces complete with fireplace, hand planted cliff-edge gardens and underfloor heating. Outside, the clifftop flora has been recreated to attract the local butterflies and visiting birds and ancient fossilised sea creatures can be seen captured within the stone walls.
With all the Isle of Portland has to offer on your doorstep, including cycle paths, walking routes, rock-climbing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddle-boarding this is not only the height of luxury in a secluded haven, but the perfect coastal base in which to explore the local area.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Go alfresco and book Ope – the largest lodge and only one to have an outdoor hot tub, and kitchen which continues through the Portland Stone and out onto the patio for outside entertainment. Open the sliding kitchen window and wander in and out to prepare dinner on a warm summer’s evening while enjoying the views over Rufus Castle and the sea. Located directly above Church Ope Cove, once the hub of the Island, with two Castles, an historic Church and history that includes the first Viking landing in England and local smugglers.
Lodges from around £585 for a three-night stay
The Farmyard at the Newt
The Farmyard is set to open this summer as a new hotel within the impressive Newt estate and Georgian country home which first opened in Somerset in the summer of 2019. Hidden in a secluded corner of the estate and accessed through traditional cyder orchards, The Farmyard is an ambitious renovation of the adjacent former dairy farm, Shatwell House. The Farmyard will offer a further 17 self-contained farmstead bedrooms and suites housed within historic buildings including a Farm House, Cyder Mill, Apple Loft and Cheese Barn – complementing the existing accommodation at The Newt (to include luxurious bedrooms in the main house and a collection of cottages and stable lofts within the converted horse yard.)
This ambitious renovation is set to be every bit as special as the Newt with touches of modern luxury to rustic buildings made of Hadspen limestone the colour of burnt orange, oak beams silver-grey with age, and blue lias flagstones.
Yet another launch delayed due to covid – the original plan was to open in 2020, but it certainly looks like it will have been worth waiting for! The Farmyard will launch with an indoor swimming pool, bar and games room and an authentic farm-to-table culinary experience and central courtyard with Soho House style (boho-chic) interiors. Guests will have access to the wider estate and Hadspen House – including the main restaurant, spa, gardens, Cyder Cellar and The Story of Gardening experience centre. Lose yourself in a book from the Library, sample the selection of teas in the Drawing Room or float away in the tranquillity of a heated indoor-outdoor pool. Clear your breathing passages in the Himalayan salt room and unwind with a spa treatment. Feast on homegrown fare in The Botanical Rooms, or get together in the Bar or Croquet Room, choosing from the collection of wines from vaulted cellars, while looking out across the immaculate lawns and out to the idyllic Somerset landscape.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Arrive early, check-in is not until 3pm but you are welcome to take a ramble around gardens and grounds where they hand-picked the restaurant’s seasonal fruit and vegetables, or learn about cyder-making on a tasting tour.
The Mitre, Hampton Court
The Mitre dates back to 1665 and was originally used as ancillary accommodation for guests of King Henry VIII. In a new chapter for an age-old story The Mitre has re-opened as a relaxed and sophisticated 5-star boutique hotel on the banks of the River Thames – the closest hotel you will find to Hampton Court Palace – now that’s a prestigious location! The 36 luxury guest rooms showcase the property’s historical significance – each is named after a historic reference from the area, to include King Henry VIII’s wives, The Gardener’s Hut, Penny Farthing and Catharine Parr Suite, and subtle design touches play homage to King Henry VIII’s reign. Some rooms have private terraces with jacuzzis overlooking the Thames, others have hand forged copper bathtubs, private courtyards and fire pits. Book a stay at The Mitre and you could watch the sun go down while boats sail by along the River Thames from the world’s first stand-alone Whispering Angel Hut, or (from The Mitre’s own riverside jetty) hire a boat and enjoy a perfect picnic and gentle jaunt along this beautiful stretch of the river. Richmond-Upon-Thames up to the Tower of London perhaps?
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Bring your four-legged friends with you – they are welcome at The Mitre. Stay in one of their dog friendly rooms on the Ground Floor with outside terrace access. Resident dogs are greeted with a welcome pack, dog bed, pooh bags and treats. You can dine with your dog in the Coppernose restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and with The River Path and Bushy Park on your doorstep there are great walks for you and your dog to enjoy!
Rooms start from £200 a night, with suites from around £800 a night
Jessica Way is an award-winning travel journalist, Editor of British Travel Journal and Dream Escape Magazine. She spends most of her time visiting extraordinary cityscapes, countryside and coastlines across the British Isles