From boat trips on serene rivers and meditative forest walks to luxurious vineyard escapes, wild gardens and horse rides across historic parkland, it’s time to rediscover the natural world. All you need to do is select your British bolthole, between these seven sweet addresses.
Wild Awakening – Gravetye Manor, West Sussex
Gravetye’s exquisite historic gardens are a joyous assault on the senses. Planted in the 1880s by former owner William Robinson – pioneer of ‘wild gardens’ that celebrate rather than control nature – they blossom into life during a tour with Head Gardener, Tom Coward. From meadows offering ever-changing tapestries of wild blooms to a bright, dynamic flower garden, fruit orchards and a prolific kitchen garden established in 1901, they’re all guaranteed to heighten guests’ appreciation of the natural world.
Natural Immersion – Lympstone Manor Hotel, Restaurant and Vineyard, Devon
Swaddle yourself in nature by staying in one of the rustic yet luxurious shepherd huts, slipped discreetly into woodland on Lympstone’s magnificent waterfront estate. Each hut, named after a local forest creature, blends sweeping views across the vineyard to the Georgian mansion, or through trees to the Exe Estuary, with private outdoor decks, some hosting al fresco baths and showers, others with Scandinavian-style hot tubs. All provide fire pits for memorable evenings under star-drenched south coast skies.
Cruise Control – Cliveden House, Berkshire
Can London’s bustling streets really lie just 45 minutes away? It seems impossible when you’re cruising sedately along the River Thames in soft spring sunshine beneath Berkshire’s steeply wooded chalk hills. To evoke a more relaxed, less frenetic era, board one of Cliveden’s vintage wooden launches – Suzy Ann, built in 1911 or Belmont, from the 1930s – for a champagne picnic in the divine setting that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s childhood classic, The Wind in the Willows.
Horse Power – Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Wiltshire
Whether combining spa and saddle or cream tea and canter, there are few healthier ways to explore Lucknam’s 500 acres of verdant parkland than on horseback. It supplies a glorious taste of Georgian aristocratic life as you ride along the mile-long avenue of 400 lime and beech trees, planted in 1827 as an approach to the honey-hued mansion. Dismount to visit the sculpted yew hedges within the hotel’s walled garden and its arboretum’s rare and unusual trees.
Serene Stroll – Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire
Take a deep calming breath and embark on a meditative stroll through Grantley’s woods accompanied by a skilled therapist. You won’t regret it. Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) is known to reduce blood pressure, improve creativity and boost immunity. The practice originated in Japan and the hotel offers the ideal spot for a tranquil contemplative walk – its famous Japanese Garden, constructed around 1910 by Lady Jane Furness, with a stream bisecting a man-made ravine amidst maple trees, ferns and bamboo.
Roman Revitalization – Farlam Hall Hotel & Restaurant, Cumbria
England has few more romantic landscapes for wild windswept walks than the untamed countryside around Hadrian’s Wall: the Roman Empire’s north-western frontier. Nearby Farlam Hall is perfectly placed for visiting the central stretch of wall – the best-preserved section of the UNESCO site, home to Housesteads fort – where the ancient stones overlook vast ripples of moorland vanishing towards the horizon like ocean waves. It’s equally mesmerizing after dark with blizzards of stars decorating the country’s darkest, clearest skies.
Highlands, Islands and Sunsets – Airds Hotel & Restaurant, Argyll, Scotland
One of the West Coast’s most handsome lochs, Loch Linnhe’s dramatic surroundings includes 1,345m Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. Boats trip on Linnhe, famed for sublime sunsets, often encounter seals, dolphins, even golden eagles. Airds offers private tours of 15th-century Castle Stalker, five minutes from shore on a petite island.