FEELING OF end-of-year burnout?
Relax in luxury in one of these mansions of character.
Burleigh Court, Cotswolds
Stylist Jess Evans and her fiancÃ© Jack had some fun
THE PAD: This Grade II listed boutique hideaway in the heart of the Cotswolds combines the rustic, laid-back charm of the English countryside – roaring log fires – with touches of sheer luxury. Set in beautiful, well-tended gardens, the hotel offers panoramic views of the golden countryside. It’s easy to see why the Beckhams chose to lock themselves in their neighboring house. Inside, curl up in a plush four-poster bed and reflect on the most difficult decision you’ll have to make during your stay: what to eat at the on-site gourmet restaurant.
TO EXPLORE: Whet your appetite as you explore the lush valleys, ancient forests and hills that surround Burleigh Court – hotel staff can help with directions and give you maps of self-guided walks. And no need to leave your four-legged friends at home, they are welcome in one of the hotel’s huge dog-friendly rooms. Just a 15-minute drive away, the Gothic Revival masterpiece Woodchester Mansion is a must visit. This unfinished and slightly spooky building is said to be right across the street from Kevin McCloud. Adult entry costs Â£ 8.50, children under 16 are free (Woodchestermansion.org.uk). The picturesque market town of Stroud is just around the corner. Visit on a Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to stroll around the farmers’ market. Special thanks to the amazing brownies at the Baked by Beth booth (Fresh-n-local.co.uk/trader/stroud).
REFUELING: The hotel restaurant with two AA Rosettes, run by the talented James and Corinna, is a showcase of the best local produce. At Â£ 24.50 for three courses, lunch is excellent value for money. Start with a charcuterie board, followed by a pork belly with candied potato, and a pear and ginger cake dessert with whips of cream. Do you prefer plants? There are loads of tasty options, including potato and pea samosas with eggplant caponata, Â£ 9. Head to the super cool bar to toast your stay with a drink (or three) – you can even enjoy a glass of wine or beer from the nearby vineyards and breweries.
DO NOT MISS : Burleigh Court offers incredible experiences without even leaving the hotel, including wreath making or the new wild foraging experience, Â£ 65 per person.
RESERVE: Double rooms cost from Â£ 119 per night including breakfast (Burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk).
The Miter, Hampton Court
Fashion director Tracey Lea Sayer and her daughter Frankie, 18, enjoyed a trip worthy of royalty
THE PAD: Situated in a prime location opposite Hampton Court Palace on the banks of the River Thames, this boutique hotel dates back to 1665. Originally built for palace visitors, The Miter underwent a complete overhaul during lockdown and features a gorgeous hand-painted De Gournay wallpaper, a cozy library and a lively bar. From the glass of sparkling wine offered upon check-in to the bag of freshly baked cookies hanging on your door handle, the details are all delightful. Our elegantly designed bedroom’s huge four-poster bed, super comfy sofa area, and plush bathrobes are all designed for a most enjoyable stay.
TO EXPLORE: It would be rude not to visit the Hampton Court Palace next door. Appreciate Henry VIII’s private apartment and kitchens, all hosted by actors who give a live history lesson. After a walk in the beautiful gardens, you will feel inspired to grow more flowers yourself. Tickets cost Â£ 23.50 per adult and Â£ 12.60 for children over five (Hrp.org.uk). Meanwhile, thrill seekers can shake things up with a trip to Chessington World of Adventures, just a 20-minute drive away. The new Croc Drop merry-go-round takes you 25 m into the mouth of a giant crocodile. Tickets cost from Â£ 34 per adult (Chessington.com).
REFUELING: You can feast like King Henry VIII himself at The Miter restaurant, 1665. Sitting on a terrace overlooking the sparkling Thames, Frankie and I started off with cocktails – mine a mojito, Â£ 11, and his a martini with passion fruit, Â£ 12. After succulent Devon squid entrees, arugula and chili salad, Â£ 12, and seared sesame tuna sashimi, Â£ 15, we sampled exceptional Cornish lemon sole meuniÃ¨re with new potatoes, Â£ 27 , and roast sea bass in miso broth, Â£ 25. Make sure to save room for the caramelized lemon pie desserts, Â£ 8, and the Nutella and raspberry-filled donuts called bomboloni, Â£ 8. Delight.
DO NOT MISS : If the weather is on your side, pack a picnic, hire a small motorboat from Martin’s Boat Hire, and soak up the scenery along the river, Â£ 90 for two hours (Martinsboathire.com).
RESERVE: Double rooms cost from Â£ 178 per night including breakfast (Mitrehamptoncourt.com).
The Director, York
Lead video producer Rachael Clarke and boyfriend Stuart found the story, the food and the fun
THE PAD: Just steps from the train station, this grand Victorian hotel is the ideal starting point for exploring this vibrant historic city. Set in peaceful gardens, the hotel overlooks York Minster, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country (Yorkminster.org). It’s quite a sight to wake up! Inside, the atmosphere is “just like home”, with comfortable lounges, chic but calming decor and a huge heated indoor pool.
explore With its cobbled streets and old-fashioned storefronts, you could easily spend an entire weekend in York, but it’s still worth going further. York Cycling Tours will take you off the beaten track on a two-hour pedal, Â£ 48 for two adults, to reveal the city’s fascinating hidden history (Yorkcyclingtours.com). Not just for the kids – although they’ll love it – the York Dungeon is a must see to see some of the city’s most gruesome stories come to life thanks to some terribly funny actors. Tickets start at Â£ 17.55 (Thedungeons.com/york).
REFUELING: Start your day off right with delicious, freshly baked pastries from the hotel’s breakfast buffet. If you think the city’s food scene is all about Sunday roasts and Yorkshire puddings, think again. It has turned into a serious foodie destination. Grab a table at CafÃ© 21, which serves hearty, mostly plant-based comfort food. We loved the Eggplant Parmigiana, Â£ 13.50 (Cafe21york.co.uk). Stop by the Pig’s Cave for top-notch glasses of wine with gourmet treats such as Rockefeller oysters, Â£ 3.50 each, or a medium sourdough margherita pizza, Â£ 7 (Caveducochon.uk). For afternoon tea, Plush CafÃ©’s outsized affair – with bottomless tea, of course! – will satisfy more than Â£ 19.95 per person (Plushcafe.co.uk).
DO NOT MISS : Do you like to be afraid? Join Dorian Deathly (yes, really!) For a 90-minute nighttime walk through Europe’s most haunted town, Â£ 8 (Doriandeathly.co.uk).
RESERVE: Double rooms cost from Â£ 200 per night including breakfast (Theprincipalyork.ihg.com). Plan your trip on Visityork.com.