Here at The Handbook we spend most of our time focusing on all the best hotels London has to offer (that’s pretty much a full time job in itself) but what if you want to escape London for a weekend? We have rounded up 15 stylish/historical/grand (delete as applicable) hotels all within about 2.5 hours of London, so dig out your car keys, pack your overnight bag and get ready to fill your lungs with fresh air…
Cambridge’s latest hotel, the Tamburlaine is ideal if you’re looking for a mini break close to London and you want everyone to know about it. Why? Because the rooms are perfect for Instagram – think dusty pinks, trailing plants, Cambridge blues and marble bathrooms. There’s an excellent gym and a library which is ideal for cosying up in with a glass of wine and a good book. When it comes to eating they’ve got a restaurant, deli and garden room (possibly the one you’ll want to # the most) of course, you’ll want to stop by the bar first.
Boutique Hotel in Buckinghamshire Parkland
In the amount of time it takes you to get across London (especially if you’re on the District Line), you could leave the city behind you, leave the packed tubes, the pollution, the noise and find yourself in Stoke Place, a country house sat in 26 acres of Buckinghamshire parkland. The house was initially built in 1690 as a family home for the royal chef, Patrick Lamb. Chef fact fans, he cooked Kings James II’s legendary coronation feast at Westminster Hall. Until the 1900s it passed through generations of aristocrats and military families, until in 1962 it was sold to South Bucks District Council and it became a hotel. Luckily they didn’t give it a sixties make over and the hotel still has the high ceilings, sash windows, uneven walls and low doors. Ranging from the Standard Garden Room to the Junior Suites, there are 26 rooms all with individual character and period features as well as a gym and restaurant, The King & Lamb.
Hampshire's Boutique Inn
In the time it takes to get from some parts of London to another you could be at The Huntsman of Brockenhurst, tucked away in the depths of the New Forest. The boutique inn which has been open just over a year, is home to 13 bedrooms, each one named after at traditional game animal – a nod to the past when the forest was a royal hunting ground. With soft earthy tones, fine cotton bed linen, botanical details, luxurious wool rugs and patterned fabrics the rooms are quintessentially British. In the restaurant you’ll find mismatched wooden furniture, copper furnishings, hexagonal tiling and a menu full of seasonal dishes. If you’re particularly hungry then go for the 35oz Bull’s Head – a double bone-in rib-eye steak to share that has been butterflied to mimic a bull’s head. As well as a terrace and pretty cottage a garden the boutique also has its own skittle alley for rainier days when you can’t walk in the woods.
1 hour 36 minutes from London
Heckfield Place is cushioned amongst 400 acres of rolling greenery, and a wander around its vast perimeter plays out somewhat like a Jane Austen novel; Emma Woodhouse clothed in white expected any minute to wander, book in hand, out of the towering front doors. The country house resides just an hour outside of London amongst secluded Hampshire landscape, as a Georgian property owned by billionaire Gerald Chan. The distance makes for an idyllic getaway from the hustle, bustle and tube chimings of London, without travelling for miles with the likelihood that you’ll be back just in time for an early bed and bath come Sunday evening.
Launching in the late summer of 2018, Heckfield Place oozes country home, cosy log fire and plush sofa vibes, with a comfort throughout that comes as no surprise, seeing as designer Ben Thompson worked previously at Studioilse on projects such as Stockholm’s laid-back arts-and-crafts Ett Hem. Heckfield Place is not shy of cosy beds, boasting 38 rooms, six Signature suites and a cottage all in all. There are also numerous fun things to do in the surrounding area, including refreshing country walks, runs or cycles and, if you’re feeling punchy, why not take a swim in one of the lakes? You’ll stumble across Marle and Hearth restaurants during your stay,Both restaurants offer a wholly pared by style of cooking and, in keeping with the theme of the hotel, a grand use of seasonal and fresh ingredients taken from the biodynamic farm on the estate.
Unapologetic Seaside Luxury
The House of Hastings is a home-from-home just five minutes from the beach in Hastings. Unapologetically luxurious, the five storey regency town house has just five rooms, so there’ll only be a maximum of ten guests, so it’s perfect when you want to escape city life, hunker down and switch off. Mixing vibrant contemporary touches with vintage furniture, the hotel is the work of renowned interior designer and co-owner Shaun Clarkson. Whilst it may be small that doesn’t mean they aren’t mighty. Whether you want a helicopter ride, a picnic on the beach, a private chef or fancy going riding they can organise it for you. There’s also a cinema room and a fernery garden and terrace for soaking up the sun with a cocktail. Stay in the Admiral Suite which takes up the entire second floor and with its huge bay window you can watch the sun rise over the horizon.
1 hour 38 minutes from London
Recently Refurbished Boutique Exeter Escape
Escape further afield and head down to Exeter – their newest boutique hotel to be precise. City Gate hotel has undergone an extensive refurbishment and now boasts 14 luxurious rooms with interiors inspired by the city’s rich history of the docks and the extensive textile past. Lavish bathrooms add hotel standard luxury and unique, quirky touches in each room makes the space feel your own. The hotel’s dining room and conservatory showcase seasonal cooking from breakfast right through to dinner, with a mean Sunday roast. Make time to visit The Cellar Bar – a secret bar downstairs – for a cocktail or craft beer.
3 hours 30 minutes from London
Get 30% off food, drink and accommodation when you quote ‘The Handbook’ when booking via the website: www.citygatehotel.com or by calling 01392 495 811. Offer valid until Tuesday 2nd May.
5 Star New Forest Retreat
A quick scroll on Instagram has probably revealed a photo of Lime Wood Hotel at some point or another. The immaculate Regency era building, reached via sweeping driveway, is a favourite spot for a weekend getaway in the heart of the New Forest. De-stress in the spa’s mud house, your room’s huge bathtub or curl up with a book by a roaring log fire. Want to get outside? Borrow bikes or go on a long walk. You’ll be needing wellies for that; good news then that the hotel’s welly room is packed with Hunter wellies in every colour.
2 hours 29 from London
Georgian Grandeur in the Heart of Cheltenham
The beautiful Georgian townhouse, situated at the edge of Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens is perfect for a respite from hectic London. Each bedroom is individually designed, so no stay will be the same, though that is not to say your experience will be diminished in any way! You can choose a room overlooking the gardens, or perhaps you’d prefer a room tucked away in the quietest corners of the hotel. In the morning, we would strongly advise a visit to the restaurant – it’s had rave reviews and we’re not surprised. Enjoy the Cornflake & cinnamon French toast with Neal’s Yard crème frâiche or the grilled Severn & Wye kipper with grilled tomatoes & anchovy butter whilst sat in your tourquiose leather seat, admiring the chandeliers and artwork.
English Countryside Estate Escape
Situated on a 5,000 acre private estate, Wilderness Reserve is not a single hotel, rather, it’s a collection of cottages, farmhouses and manors. So, for example, you could choose to stay in the Moat Cottage which sits atop a hill 15 minutes away from the main estate, or maybe you’d choose to stay in The Clockhouse, which formerly were the estate’s stables, complete with a private gated courtyard. The estate offers 50 bedrooms in total. Fill your day with a swim in the pool, a round of golf or simply a cycle around the grounds. This is English country estate at its finest.
2 hours 17 from London
Set amongst lush English gardens, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire ignites excitement from the off as you drive up to a grand 18th-century manor, positioned on 500 acres of rolling grounds. Inside, you’ll discover a family-friendly, dog-friendly home that houses snug and sophisticated eateries, from afternoon tea in The Library, British seasonal fare at Wild Carrot, or energising juices at The Spa’s Café Santé – there’s something for all! Also on site you’ll discover a luscious spa ablast with fitness classes, pools and more, to be enjoyed perhaps after a wander around Windsor Great Park or a day trip to the home of Downton Abbey.
Traditional Country Club
Stoke Park became UK’s first ever country club and hotel in 1908 and has won all sorts of awards ever since. It’s located in the middle of gardens, lakes and monuments while the inside has been furnished with art, antiques and handmade furniture. The bedrooms are nothing short of luxurious but you won’t be spending much time in your bedroom as there’s a golf course, tennis courts, a spa, and award winning restaurants. As a bonus, it’s also served as a location for lots of films, like Layer Cake, Bridget Jones’s Diary and James Bond’s Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies.
54 minutes from London
A Sussex Spa Break
When it comes to luxury spa breaks, Alexander House is where you want to be. Their Utopia Spa has won awards and is reminiscent of a Graeco-Roman bath house, with a wide range of treatments on offer. Other than that, the hotel has trekking trails, tennis courts and a state of the art gym. The rooms themselves are individually designed but all offer beautiful views over Sussex’s countryside.
And you can arrange for chocolate dipped strawberries and chilled Champagne to be waiting in your room – who can say no to that?!
55 minutes from London
A Royal Stay
Firstly, who wouldn’t want to stay in a castle?! Besides that, Thornbury Castle is set in the middle of acres of landscaped grounds while the hotel itself brings together modern excellence and historic, traditional decor. Think four-poster beds, open fireplaces, a grand hall and a dungeon dining room. Guests can step back in time and learn the basics of falconry or archery and if not there’s always the spa. It’s surely a majestic place to stay, plus it was once the home of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn, and that’s pretty cool if you ask us.
The hotel was maintained as a family home until 1987 when it opened it’s doors to the public. Take advantage of the 500 acres of land it possesses with horseback rides – the hotel has an equestrian centre and 35 horses. Or perhaps take a trip to Bath, or Stonehenge, or Castle Combe. The hotel’s restaurant has a Michelin star, but if you’d prefer a relaxed meal, there’s the Brasserie. Treat yourself to a spa treatment or take a course at the cookery school. You’ll need more than just a weekend for this one.
2 hours 24 minutes from London
Cliveden House is like something from Downton Abbey. Built in 1666 for the Duke of Buckingham, Cliveden is today a National Trust property which doubles up as a hotel so don’t be surprised when you spot non-guests wandering round the oak panelled Great Hall and historic French Dining Room. Woodlands and gardens sprawl for miles, as does the house itself, so you’ll be wanting a four poster bed to rest in at the end of the day…
40 minutes from London
Converted Cotswold Barns
Think of The Cotswolds and you think chocolate-box villages and postcard-perfect stone-washed houses. Boutique hotel Thyme ticks all the boxes on that front – throw in the 15 stylish bedrooms, purpose-built cookery school and 150-acres of farmland and you have the full package. Head across to The Swan over the road for a bite to eat or perch on a bar stool in ‘The Baa’ before retiring to your beamed bedroom or private cottage for an uninterrupted sleep.
2 hours from London
Tree House Luxury
Tree house living has got to be up there on your bucket list. Whilst the first venue that may spring to mind is probably a luxury lodge in Zimbabwe, Hampshire’s Chewton Glen shouldn’t be far off. Indulge in room service 30 feet above the ground in one of the hotel’s tree house studio suites or if you’d rather be back down to earth, bag a coach house suite or croquet lawn room and get involved in the 9 hole par 3 golf course, tennis courts, outdoor pool, croquet lawn or mountain bikes.
2 hours 40 from London
Grand But Cosy
Hampshire has no shortage of boutique hotels. There’s just something about a few days away that has you returning ready for a new chapter, reaching for the paint charts. Cosy and chic, The Pig is a 30-bedroom country house that prides itself on being homely and inviting – being on your best behaviour isn’t all that fun so don’t worry about muddy boots here. We love the spa rooms, built into converted potting shed and shepherds hut, and Berts Box lodge; a self-contained lodge for serious privacy.
2 hours from London
45,000 sq.ft. of Spa Facilities
5 star Pennyhill Park is just a 45 minutes from central London, just off the A3 in leafy Surrey. Home to a Michelin-starred restaurant (Matt Worswick at The Latymer), book in for a tasting menu during your stay. More relaxed dining takes place in the hotel’s brasserie and relaxation really is the order of the day here; the spa sprawls over 45,000 sq.ft. with a whopping 8 pools and expansive selection of beauty treatments. Sound tempting? You can visit for a spa day and save the overnight stay till another time.
45 minutes from London
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