LITTLE COTTAGE, CORNWALL
You’d think houses right on the beach would be as plentiful as summer sandcastles, but they are surprisingly hard to find. Little Cottage is steps from a blissfully uncrowded stretch of Praa Sands, a beach popular for surf, white sands and the Sandbar restaurant. It’s the Cornish family holiday home of Soho Farmhouse architect Alex Michaelis. From the floor-to-ceiling windows to the front-garden hot tub, everything about its sleek design makes the most of the views. The look is sleek, but with playful and cosy touches including table football, hammocks and a wood-burning stove. Local eggs will be waiting in the kitchen, and there are boards to borrow. Just bring your own wetsuits.
From £281 per night
LULWORTH HOUSE, DORSET
You’re in Enid Blyton territory in this quintessentially English part of Dorset, with its rolling farmland, hidden coves and prehistoric fossils to uncover while you gaze at the famous Durdle Door Jurassic arch. While your typical olde-worlde thatched properties might look cute, they’re usually configured for an age when a family sharing a monthly bath was the norm. In this new-build version, all ten rooms are en suite, with individually controlled underfloor heating. There’s a tick list of country luxe must-haves: bar, boot room, indoor heated pool with bi-fold doors opening onto the garden, plus games and cinema rooms.
Three-night weekends from £6,995
CAMEL QUARRY HOUSE, CORNWALL
It’s a good sign to find lobster picks, oyster shucks and an A-Z of cookbooks in the kitchen. Because you can then rest assured the other little details will be taken care of in similar style. Camel Quarry House perches above the Camel Estuary. Spy on Padstow in the not-so-distance while contemplating your good fortune on being away from the crowds, but with easy access to everything everyone loves about north Cornwall. Six double bedrooms are all en suite; two have freestanding baths. The media room is Netflix and Sky central, and the gym includes kayaks and SUPs. A cedar hot tub and a fire pit sit in a garden designed by Chelsea gold medal-winner Mary Reynolds. With curvaceous dry stone walls, this one looks – in the very best way – like something from Hobbitown.
3 nights from £2,850
THE MIGHTY MILBORNE, CHELSEA
With seven bedrooms and ten marble bathrooms, there’ll be no getting-ready fights at this Chelsea bolthole. The Mighty Milborne’s dimensions are so big it has its own lift. There’s also a contemporary summer house, and a cinema room with vast TV and even more vast lime-green sofa. The look is a satisfying blend of 50s furniture, contemporary paintings and colourful upholstery in textured fabrics. The Chelsea location offers Sloane Street shopping, plentiful brunch options and river walks.
£1,395 per night
HOME FARM, COTSWOLDS
Home Farm sits deep in the Cotswolds. Even the pool house is crafted from that famous honey-coloured stone. Chipping Campden, Morton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold are all within striking distance; and if Kate Moss rocked up, juggling Samantha Cameron and a Daylesford Organics hamper, you wouldn’t be surprised. This former farmhouse has been recently renovated into a contemporary but cosy space with green oak beams, open fires and log burners, and a vast kitchen/dining room. As well as media and games rooms, indoor and outdoor sound systems, there’s a tennis court, heated outdoor pool and even a cricket net. It doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll also get use of the Cotswold Concierge, which can answer any question about anything before and during a stay, and the Cotswold Passport, packed with exclusive offers for local spas, florists, pubs and more.
One week from £16,000
COLLETON HALL & EAST WING, DEVON
If you tell someone to get lost here, it might be hard to find them again. With 38 acres of private woodland, parkland and manicured garden, Grade II-listed Colleton Hall dates back to Elizabethan times and is undeniably grand. There are stately high-ceilinged rooms, chandeliers, gothic arched windows and a grand piano, but it’s all done with a light touch. The outdoor terrace is straight from an Umbrian postcard; the squidgiest of beds and sofas are strewn with cushions; and the bathrooms are designed for serious wallowing. Dartmoor, Exmoor and endless beaches are within easy reach, and there are foodie finds to be made in the nearby market towns of Tiverton, South Molton and Barnstaple. Just don’t forget your wellies.
Three-night weekends from £2,836
OAKLEIGH HOUSE, NORFOLK
In the centre of bustling Swaffham, this doll’s house writ large dates back to the 16th century. Recently renovated with a funky members-club vibe, expect a mix of beeswax-scented brown furniture and gilt-framed landscapes, with B&B Italia sofas and contemporary black-and-white photographs. There’s Sonos in all public rooms, and four garden areas, including a delightful courtyard with BBQ. One word to the wise: there are ten bedrooms but only four bathrooms, so be quick to bag one of the two bedrooms with their own roll-top copper and nickel bath.
Three-night weekends from £3,300
DUKES PAD, LIVERPOOL
Liverpool is the world’s third most visitable city, according to Rough Guides, and it’s almost impossible to stay when there isn’t a music, film, fashion or arts festival going on. Duke’s Pad is three apartments over three floors of a townhouse. It has a serious industrial-chic edge of exposed brickwork, upcycled furniture and plenty of lived-in leather sofas. The design is all about keeping a big party crowd happy: lights are low, TVs big, tables the right size and height to deposit drinks or rustle up a game of cards. And a chef is on call for an extra charge.
Two-night weekends from £5,000