It’s great to get away from it all for a few days to pick up the spirits and refresh the mind and body with new places, people and experiences. There is, of course, a virtually infinite array of possible locations for a UK short break but we think we’ve hit on some of the best right here.
For luxurious home-from-homes in the south of England check out the high end options from Short Stay Homes. The company has sumptuously furnished properties in Dorset, Devon and Hampshire’s share of the New Forest National Park. They range from the quaintest thatched cottage to a thoroughly modern eco-house, all in delightful sought after locations. For choices, prices, reviews and bookings visit www.shortstayhomes.co.uk.
For self catering holidays literally right on track for rail enthusiasts, Railway Retreats offers a unique experience of staying in cleverly converted carriages at the working Northian Steam Railway Station on the Kent/East Sussex border. Steam trains pull up 20 feet away.
The MK1 carriage, a GWR Toad brake van, sleeps up to six people and has a veranda overlooking the track. Two adapted goods wagons each sleep four.
As 2018 draws to a close there’s just time for a rejuvenating Christmas get-away and Brook Meadow is just the place. This idyllic holiday site has three chic, centrally heated lakeside lodges and well serviced camping & caravanning pitches which offer year-round peace and tranquillity in idyllic Leicestershire countryside. A sumptuous safari-style glamping tent is also available April to October.
Family-run Brook Meadow is a 400 acre working farm where guests can relax among woodland, pasture and a large fishing lake which is a magnet for wildlife. Situated in Sibbertoft, near Market Harborough, the accommodation has earned this magazine’s Award of Excellence as our Retreat of the Year 2019. It has also been shortlisted for the Visit England Go Leicestershire regional finals for most enjoyable stay, self catering.
Christmas guests will find a festive hamper waiting, while local towns and villages have many charming seasonal events on their calendars. Welford Christmas Tree Farm even has some of Santa’s reindeer staying until December 17.
Available for stays of three nights or more, the boutique lodges overlook the lake and are impeccably furnished and equipped, combining comfort, cosiness and an unbeatable sense of freedom.
Contemporary good taste is evident in every corner, from the nature-themed décor to the glowing fires. Each lodge sleeps four people in a double and twin bedroom. Two also have a double sofa bed. All have a spacious bathroom, a kitchen with fridge, microwave and oven, living area with TV, DAB radio, Wi-fi and veranda with outdoor seating.
Lake views may well include owls, bats, kingfishers, the resident swans and some enormous carp, tench and perch. The site is environmentally friendly and constantly evolves to foster wildlife conservation.
The campsite has modern toilets, showers, laundry facilities and firepits. Many pitches have electric hook-ups.
Children love playing in the pirate-themed play area and collecting eggs from the roaming hens. Brook Meadow was founded by Jasper and Mary Hart and is run by their daughter, Claire, an architect and interior designer who masterminded the lodge interiors from botanical wallpapers to the bird in flight-like light fittings.
“I believe being next to water has a great impact on health and wellbeing, strengthening the connection to the natural world and one another,” says Claire. “The interiors of our lakeside retreats bring the outside in through design, with botanical references wherever you look, to enhance the very real benefits of holidaying next to water.”
Relax with nature in one of the prettiest parts of Wales at Cefn Crib glamping and caravan site, a picturesque sheltered haven overlooking the Dyfi Valley and Estuary, the mountains of south Snowdonia and grazing cows, sheep and horses.
The spot is roughly four miles from Cardigan Bay, famous for dolphins and long, lovely beaches. It is within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere recognised for natural beauty, diverse wildlife, clean water and dark skies.
Four spacious bell tents provide cosy glamping for couples and families, each with a double bed and double futon, stacks of blankets and cushions, rugs, lanterns and a kitchenette with gas camping stove, pots and pans. One has electricity, running a heater and fridge. Each tent has decking and a firepit perfectly placed for keeping warm while you watch the sun go down.
Nearby is a flush toilet and a short walk away a heated shower block with three family-sized cubicles.
The site is run by Sian and John Breese with their grown up children Megan, Ieuan and Gwenllian.
“It’s a very pretty spot,” says Sian. “The Coastal Path is right by our entrance and we are only four miles from the little fishing village of Aberdovey. Our local town, Machynlleth has excellent shops, bars and restaurants and there are many attractions within easy reach.”
Wildernest is wildlife-rich haven of peace in the coastal hills above Cardiganshire’s picturesque Aeron Valley. Formerly run as an ashram for people on spiritual retreat, it now offers unique, comfortable and quirky accommodation to self-catering holidaymakers who relish being close to nature.
Ancient farm buildings have been converted to delightful accommodation by their owners, architect Hugh Crawford and his wife, Jude. There are two snug cottages, one for two people, the other for four. Nearby, The Stoep has an all-purpose living space, a shower room and a South African-style veranda. There is also a 1964 American Airstream Overlander, refurbished with modern features including a wetroom shower, flushing toilet and wood-burner.
The 16 acres of surrounding meadow, woodland, ponds and wetlands around Wildernest is being managed as a sustainable wildlife habitat and attracts a host of regular visitors including voles, mice, owls, bats and numerous bird species from woodpeckers to red kites. Thousands of starlings meet there in winter.
If guests wish, their hosts can ensure there are sumptuous supplies of locally produced breakfast and dinner ingredients waiting for when they arrive.
“We are inland about six miles from Aberaeron,” says Jude. “All the beaches and coves along this coast are beautiful and unspoiled. You can see dolphins, go out on boats and perhaps visit the family seaside resort of New Quay.”
Bradley Hall Rural Escapes is an adults only site offering the chance to relish upmarket glamping and caravanning in quiet, unspoilt countryside on the border of England and Wales.
Bradley Hall is a 106 acre farm in South Cheshire, within a half hour’s drive of Shrewsbury, Chester & Llangollen. It is one mile from the Sandstone Trail and near Cheshire Cycleways with lots of nature reserves and local walks.
Owners Anthony & Jane keep a herd of Hereford suckler cows and use some of their picturesque land to provide four luxurious en suite glamping pods. There is also a Certified Location caravan site open April to October. with a dedicated shower and toilet.
The glamping pods are fully equipped and designed for year-round cosiness. Their high quality amenities include underfloor or wall mounted heating, kitchenettes, double beds and sofa beds with bedding and towels provided and bathrooms with shower, sink and toilet. They have TV, Wi-Fi, patios, outdoor furniture and barbecues. A communal area will be ready from spring for people who like to socialise with their neighbours.
Anthony & Jane even provide welcome packs of bread, butter, milk, a sweet treat and essentials to ensure a stress-free start to your break.
“This is a very peaceful site,” says Jane. “We want our guests to feel relaxed and refreshed.”