We get it; ‘Best Hotels’ lists are often dominated by over-exposed and over-priced options. We, however, like to think we’re a fair bunch. We look at what sets the UK’s best properties apart, and where – whether spendy or spend-thrifty – you’ll truly feel like the bill is justified. Here’s our pick of pads, from affordable guesthouses in Powys to classy Chelsea townhouses.
The best hotels in the UK are:
Best for luxury: Beaverbrook Townhouse, London, Beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk
Best for romance: Heckfield Place, Hampshire, Heckfieldplace.com
Best for an ethical stay: Saorsa 1875, Pitlochry, Saorsahotel.com
Best for a city pad: Artist Residence, Bristol, Booking.com
Best for impressive grounds: Grantley Hall, Yorkshire, Booking.com
Best for foodies: Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall, Coombesheadfarm.co.uk
Best for families: Port Lympne, Kent, Booking.com
Best for spa: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District, Booking.com
Best for adults: Callow Hall, Peak District, Booking.com
Best for budget: The Royston, Booking.com
Best for luxury: Beaverbrook Townhouse
Sure, its sprawling sister estate in Leatherhead has topped many a best hotels list in its day, but if you’re inclined to go against the grain, you’ll be more impressed by what’s behind the unassuming doors of this swanky Sloane Street pied-a-terre. This is where you’ll find one of London’s best Japanese restaurants – The Fuji Grill, which easily gives Roka and Zuma a run for their money – as well one of the city’s most quietly chic cocktail bars. The best thing, though? Fourteen deceptively large rooms, named after London’s best theatres, each of which includes access to one of Chelsea’s most exclusive residential green spaces, Cadogan Gardens. Ask for ‘The Coliseum’: an entry-level room that easily outdoes some of the more expensive ones, in both size and décor.
Price: Doubles from £600, room only
Best for romance: Heckfield Place
If this sexily decorated country pile feels like it’s giving ‘story-book romance’, you might well be onto something. Amid sprawling green hectares near Jane Austen’s Hampshire home of Chawlton, you’ll find a quietly swanky members club and cinema, a farm-to-table restaurant from Skye Gyngell, and utterly seductive hotel rooms: think spacious roll-top baths, stacks of books, cloud-like beds and personalised keys. It’s the kind of manor that Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy would be proud to call home. Between the full-scale biodynamic farm, afternoon walks around the on-site orchard and woodland, and free afternoon tea – a hefty wedge of scrumptious homemade cake and refillable cuppas – this 18th-century estate is a brilliant backdrop for modern love stories.
Price: Doubles from £450, room only
Best for an ethical stay: Saorsa 1875
Although countless hotels ham up their sustainable credos nowadays, few tend to deliver under the magnifying glass. However, this homely 11-key pad – which became the UK’s first ‘vegan hotel’ when it opened in the Scottish Highlands in 2019 – comes out swinging. Not only does it exclusively use cruelty-free suppliers – whether that’s the Glaswegian food co-op advocating for human rights or the property’s fairtrade textiles (not a hide of leather in sight) – but it also demonstrates a strong environmental commitment, from powering the stoves using offcuts of the birch wood on-site to planting a tree in the UK’s most deforested areas for every meal served. Which brings us to the food: forget what you think you know about vegan restaurants or communal dining. This might just be the most exciting ‘plant-curious’ cooking in the country.
Price: Doubles from from £198, room only
Best for a city pad: Artist Residence
The newest member of Britain’s most creative hotel group may well be its best. Credited with being one of the first hotels to showcase local artists, the five-strong Artist Residence group – which began when co-owner Justin Salisbury overhauled his family’s Brighton B&B – is also known for repurposing both furnishings and buildings to create lived-in interiors. It’s something that its Bristol outpost (a former boot factory and Georgian townhouse in Stokes Croft) does brilliantly; it’s an ode to the city’s community. Its artwork is by Bristolians – including internationally acclaimed Rose Vickers, as well as members of staff – and the property’s approach throughout is almost entirely sustainable, meaning the community is key to its progress, whether that’s a healthy and happy workforce or buying local. While each of the 23 bedrooms are unique in design, the ‘Lookout’ is split-level and has a beautiful four-poster bed. You won’t want to miss the all-day café and bar, though; this is where the hotel’s ‘Best of Bristol’ approach comes into its own – from musicians to craft gin.
Price: From £125, room only
Best for impressive grounds: Grantley Hall
This honey-hued stately home exudes such a palpable sense of tranquillity, your shoulders drop as soon as you walk through the door. Located on the banks of the River Skell, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, you’re surrounded by rolling heather-covered hills, acres of forested parkland and a pretty flowered stream – as well as the property’s pastoral showpiece, one of the country’s oldest Japanese gardens. Little wonder, then, that the hotel works hard to preserve the environment and uplift the community around it; from BREEM-standard architecture to operating a distinctly luxurious outfit under strong ethical principles.
Price: Doubles from £448, room only
Best for foodies: Coombeshead Farm
When two celebrated British chefs came together in 2016 to turn a 66-acre Cornish dairy farm into an eco-friendly guesthouse, they unknowingly created the blueprint for fantasy foodie stays. Straddling the Devon border in sleepy Lewannick, this working farm harks back to both Tom Adams’ and April Bloomfield’s zero-waste roots; almost everything – from the exceptional pork loin and the warm, buttered sourdough to the cosy blankets and colourful pottery – is made on-site, sourced locally or repurposed. What’s more, it’s utterly gorgeous to look at. Think quirky-but-comfy antique furniture, as well as nine unique rooms split between the old farm and grain houses. If you request no.9, we’d recommend making time for the freestanding rolltop bath underneath the eaves – it’s got seemingly limitless views of rolling green farmland.
Price: Doubles from £145, room only
Best for families: Port Lympne
Who said you had to leave the UK to go on safari? Certainly not the folks at this 600-acre Kentish ‘savannah’, that’s dedicated to conservation and helps to re-populate endangered wildlife. While you can expect to spend your days spotting everything from giraffes and rhinos to zebras, the decision gets slightly trickier when it comes to where you lay your head at night. There’s everything from bubble pods to treehouse suites, which not only means an achingly cool holiday for children but a sliding scale on the cost for the parent(s) picking up the tab. As it turns out, you really can please everyone.
Price: From £199 for a camping pod
Best for spa: Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
Location: Lake District
On the eastern side of the National Park, behind Lake Windemere, you’ll find one of the most serene spas in the country. You’ll want a Spa Suite – tricked-out cedar cabins, perched six feet off the ground with convertible treatment rooms and unbelievable views of the Lake District fells – or one of the five slick spa lodges that come with their own hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas and treatment rooms with infra-red beds, as well as pretty walled gardens. Here, it feels like you’re in another world – such that a quick visit to the main hotel (an Edwardian house with a blingy take on Scandi design) even feels jarring. And, if you really want to up the ante on the seclusion front? The Gilpin Lake House, with its own spa facilities and indoor pool, sleeps 12.
Price: Doubles from £294, room only
Best for adults: Callow Hall
Location: Peak District
The first five-star hotel in Derbyshire’s Peak District – a restored gothic Victorian manor with acres of woodland and meadows, magazine-worthy interiors, first-rate food and drink and thoroughly decent spa – comes with a remarkably unstarry price tag. But such is the premise of Wildhive: a hotel group that aims to bring tourism cash to areas of the country that may need it, through the lure of a photogenic and sustainably minded luxury hotel (of which the newly-opened Callow Hall acts as the flagship). But forget what you know about stuffy country piles; here, staff and guests are on a first-name basis and everyone’s about hiking the nearby Tissington Trail, before kicking off their Hunter wellies (on loan from the hotel, natch) and sipping cocktails in front of the fire. The best bit? The thoughtful amenities in the rooms; whether you stay in “The Big House” or in one of the pretty stilted cabins on the grounds, you’ll want to make a beeline for the hotel’s homemade honey.
Price: Doubles from £199, room only
Best for budget: The Royston
We’d wager that this chic guesthouse in the lush Cambrian countryside – about an hour’s drive from Shrewsbury – is enough to tempt even hardened city folk into lacing up their hiking boots. Near Snowdonia National Park and the Cardigan Bay coastline, most visitors plan to head out in search of the area’s impossibly pretty waterfalls and woodlands. But with mesmerising views of Powys’ rolling hills, and lip-smackingly good flatbread pizzas (all food is prepared and served by owners, Rob and Clive, largely using ingredients grown on-site), many end up staying put in the lounge or alfresco at the fire-pit – setting the world to rights by way of the honesty bar. Not that we’re judging; between the original fireplaces, the antique furniture and the cosy linen in each of the seven bedrooms, even making it downstairs seems impressive.
Price: Doubles from £131, room only
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