Need inspiration for a short break? We’ve gathered together ten of the most unique luxury experiences available to try this autumn, from exclusive backstage tours at the opera to guided hikes on the Lake District’s most photogenic fells.
1. Wild foraging in Abergavenny
The Angel is an historic inn at the centre of Abergavenny’s foodie-friendly town and a base for foraging walks at the foot of the Black Mountains. Local wild food expert, Adele Nozedar, is the author of the The Hedgerow Handbook and will lead the walks, aiming to equip foragers with the knowledge to help them find and eat their own wild food. On selected dates in October she will help visitors discover autumn berries – including hawthorn, rosehips and sloes – as well as mushrooms and green wild food. Abergavenny is bursting with quality farm shops, cafes and restaurants, while The Angel offers not only hotel rooms but two comfortable cottages and a lodge in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle too.
One night’s B&B at The Angel costs from £167, including a foraging course.
2. The Lake District’s best hikes
How can you be sure to see the best of the Lake District’s spectacular landscapes on a short break? Linthwaite House is offering guided, all-day hikes to some of the region’s most photographic spots led by Steve Watts, an experienced fell walker and runner who has an in-depth knowledge of Lakeland life. The hikes are tailored to walkers’ individual interests and abilities and are followed by dinner at the hotel’s restaurant Henrock afterwards, which is under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan. Linthwaite House has far-reaching views over Lake Windermere, and has a small lake within the grounds that is suitable for rowing boats.
A one-night Making Memories package from Linthwaite House costs from £830, based on two sharing, including dinner and a packed lunch and flask.
3. Off-roading in the Yorkshire Dales
Luxury spa hotel The Coniston is offering guests an adventurous way to experience the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, by tackling its scenic rough terrain in a Land or Range Rover. The hotel’s specially designed escorted tours will thrill passengers, overcoming both rocks and water in order to access the best viewpoints. The vehicle will be packed with luxury food and drink for the journey. Choose between a romantic trip to proposal-worthy spots, a relaxing picnic and Prosecco drive or a pies and pints tour that calls in at some of the Dales’ finest pubs. The hotel has 70 bedrooms, plus an outdoor hot tub and rolltop baths for a soak with lake views.
One night’s B&B at The Coniston with a picnic and Prosecco tour costs from £228 per person.
4. Metal detecting in Suffolk
Not far from the ancient Anglo Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo, detectorists are curious as to what else lies beneath the Suffolk soil. Metal detecting tours give visitors a chance to uncover special finds in this area, which is renowned for its important historical and archeological discoveries. Offered by Butley Priory, the gatehouse for a former 12th-century Augustinian monastery, the metal-detecting tours explore pasture and farmland at different sites over three days. Included in the package is a stay at a Grade II-listed Butley Abbey Farmhouse, which is a mile from the filming location of the 2021 Netflix film The Dig. Talks from historians are scheduled each evening and all equipment can be hired at an extra cost.
Three nights metal detecting at Butley Abbey Farmhouse in September costs from £950, allinclusive.
5. Wild picnics in Perthshire
With rugged hills meeting the eye in all directions, the remote, wooden lunch hut on the Straloch Estate is a dramatic spot for a fresh-air feast. Picnic guests are either driven in a Land Rover up to the solitary hut, which is kitted out in sheepskins and stands in a fold of Perthshire hills, or they can take an hour to walk up there, on paths through heather and gorse. The gourmet pies, soups, sandwiches, brownies and pudding pots, all whipped up by the estate’s chef, can feed up to ten people. The estate offers guests a three-bedroom house and a two-bedroom keeper’s cottage to stay in and, from late September to October it is common to hear the roar of rutting stags. Guided walks and kayaking on the loch are also possible.
Three nights in a Straloch Estate cottage with a wild picnic costs from £180, based on full occupancy, excluding transport and drinks.
6. Watersports in the Scottish Highlands
Adrenaline seekers should consider the water sports available from boutique hotel Airds this autumn. With a focus on white-water rafting in particular, Airds offers a range of craft to tame the river rapids on Scotland’s West Coast. Solo guests can give ‘river bugging’ a go, or a pair of adventurers can try ‘funyakking’ in a small, inflatable kayak. Canyoning, gorge walking and coasteering are all also possible. The sports suit teenagers as well as active adults and the hotel, part of the Relais & Châteaux group, has views that stretch across Loch Linnhe to the Morvern Mountains. For anyone wanting to stay dry, the hotel can also recommend memorable cycling and hiking trips from its doorstep, as well as gardens to visit and whisky tasting in Oban.
A two-night B&B stay at Airds costs from £590 based on two sharing, with water-sports activities priced individually.
7. Apple pressing and glamping in Cornwall
Autumn is harvest time, with apples, plums and gages all ripe and ready for plucking from the boughs at The Fir Hill Estate near Newquay. Guests at this carbon-neutral yurt glamping site are being invited to help with fruit picking in the expanded orchards this season. The owner is keen to try a new cider press also, so guests who would like to make their own apple juice can take their haul to the cider house and create a bottle to take home. The 62-acre historic estate overlooks the Porth Reservoir and has 15 Mongolian-style yurts that are lined with sheep wool felt and come with personal firepits and barbecues. Free entry to The Lost Gardens of Heligan is possible, where the barn fills with rainbow pumpkins at this time of year.
Three nights in a yurt at The Fir Hill Estate costs from £330 based on two sharing until 31 October 2022.
8. Wye Valley electric biking
Nestled deep in the Forest of Dean, chic boutique hotel Tudor Farmhouse has come up with an ideal way for guests to enjoy autumn displays of colour in the surrounding trees. Electric bikes can be hired at the property to take along various trails nearby. The valley should be a blaze of russet and gold leaves at this time, with views afforded across the River Wye on one trail and the chance to spot peregrine falcons on another. There is also a nine-mile loop suited to families. Massages are available post-ride, as the hotel has its own shepherd’s hut spa cabin. Other opportunities to commune with nature include river swimming, picnics, forest bathing, wildlife safaris and guided stargazing.
A two-night e-bike safari with Tudor Farmhouse costs from £650, with dinner, B&B, a packed ‘power’ lunch and one day e-bike hire.
9. Backstage at the opera
For opera lovers, a private backstage tour of the Royal Opera House hits all the right notes. An exclusive peek behind the scenes is offered by the hotel NoMad London, a smart, culturally sophisticated, boutique property that is located close to the internationally renowned opera house in Covent Garden. Guests will receive two tickets to the opera of their choice, as well as a tour of the Opera House prior to the performance, two cocktails back at the hotel and a signed Royal Opera House Picture Book. Major shows for the autumn season include Salome, Aida, Mayerling and La Boheme. The NoMad has artwork inspired by the Opera House throughout its Grade II-listed building, which used to be Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.
A Night At The Opera, through The NoMad Hotel costs from £525 B&B, with a minimum 30-day booking lead time.
10. A shopping butler in Jersey
Travellers who love collecting beautiful things can benefit from personalised retail therapy on Jersey island. The Club Hotel & Spa has a butler dedicated to shopping who can treat guests to a one-to-one consultation before they even set foot in a boutique. Laura Morel, a qualified stylist, will discuss guests’ individual tastes with them before revealing how to make the most of the island’s tax-free shopping opportunities. She knows where to find the best boutiques and markets, and will have access to exclusive discounts for designer department stores. Once back at the hotel, guests can relax in the world-class spa or try a tasting menu in Michelin-starred restaurant Bohemia.
Two nights at The Club Hotel & Spa costs from £519, based on two sharing, and includes the butler experience (available Friday and Saturday) and a tasting menu for two.
Text by Natalie Paris