Staycations the A-list love — from Romeo Beckham to Alexa Chung

Staycations the A-list love — from Romeo Beckham to Alexa Chung

Updated: 9 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes, 53 seconds ago


he UK’s staycation scene is booming, and it’s not simply a symptom of 2022’s travel bans but is testament to the varied topography, splendid architecture and soft, bucolic countryside of our Fair Isles.

It is also considerably more sustainable than hopping on a flight to Europe or further afield and, while the sunshine may be less generous than the South of France, the UK’s trove of stays, from village gastro pubs-with-rooms to the full bells and whistles country pile with polo stables. A handful of A-listers are flying the staycation flag, from Eddie Redmayne’s Skye hideaway to Romeo Beckham’s back-to-nature Lake District cabin…

Jack Whitehall — The Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton Saint George, Somerset

The beating heart of the soft, weathered village of Hinton Saint George, the thatched drinking den is a ruddy-faced, crackling-fire bolthole for urbanites, as well as a beloved local. Low slung beams, gnarled by the centuries and quirky nooks and crannies have been carefully preserved during a gentle renovation, clinging onto its 16th century time warp appeal. Framed paintings of country gents line the old stone walls, brass candlesticks stand tall on dark wooden tables and scuffed rugs warm the tar-like wooden floorboards. Seasonality is the guiding force for the menus, which show off Somerset’s agricultural spoils with plates such as pork, prune and pine nut terrine with beef dripping toast, or baked Brixham plaice with new potatoes lathered in ginger butter sauce. While much of the veg is plucked from the garden and Somerset’s own breweries are given ample air time, the wine list wouldn’t look out of place in a Mayfair restaurant, nor would the glass-encased cellar as you enter the pub. The surrounding walks are pure West Country poetry: thick mists collecting in the hills, lanes flanked by blackberry-studded hedges (hares darting between them) and woods lining endless emerald green fields. Long country wanderings can wind up in one of the inn’s six cosy rooms where remarkably comfortable beds, seagrass carpets and roll top baths strike a chic country note.

Rooms from £95;

Lord Poulett Arms

The Prince and Princess of Wales — Dolphin House Tresco Island

Famously understated, our future King and Queen chose to stow away with their family on Tresco in the Scilly Isles (rather generously dubbed the UK’s Caribbean), with the firm-owned (but rentable to the public) old rectory, Dolphin House, as their base. Ensconced in a tropical tangle of gardens, with fine views over an impossibly turquoise sea by British standards and towards Round Island Lighthouse, the symmetrical granite building certainly enjoys a privileged perch. Downstairs, ceilings are sweeping and walls are decorated in contemporary paintings of the island, with a vast dining room to enjoy long family suppers in. But it’s the bedrooms (including a fun attic room) that enjoy the best watercolour views over Tresco’s rolling green fields and the sea, frothing against the rocks and winking in the morning sun. The house is well positioned for exploring the Scilly’s second most populated island, whether hiking to the pretty Pentle Bay for a dip in the calm waters or delving into English Civil War history at the weather-beaten forts lining the north-east coast. Two of Tresco’s most popular eateries are also within sandal-shuffle distance: the New Inn with its desert island riff on classic British pub fare, and the Ruin Beach Café, where bare-footed guests munch wood-fired pizzas and hearty pasta dishes as the kayakers pootle in the water just beyond the beach.

From £4,865 per week;

Dolphin House Tresco

Eddie Redmayne — Kinloch Lodge, Isle of Skye

Eddie Redmayne’s not the only one smitten by Skye’s melancholic landscape, its wild, seasonally-charged food scene and loch-fringed hotels, such as Kinloch Lodge. Steeped in Macdonald clan history, this reimagined hunting lodge now packs the floral wallpaper, mahogany dresser, thick curtain punch of a refined country home. And along with the extraordinary, no-nonsense food highlighting the region’s land-and-sea treasures, the refreshing lack of stuffy laird formality and malt-by-the-fire rituals, it’s the thrilling prick of isolation that makes this Loch na Dal dame so special. The hotel is dramatically positioned for views across the glassy water, which laps ochre and racing green shores and from which the glens surge ahead – their peaks often lost in the low-hanging clouds. As far as road trips are concerned, this is as scenic as it gets, with roads snaking through pixie green valleys, along the banks of still lochs and into pastel-hued fishing villages. But guests would be forgiven for keeping the engine off for a few days spent sampling whiskies, mopping up the garlic and white wine sauce from a plate of Drumfearn mussels with granary bread, or reminiscing with friends over Kinloch s’mores (warm dark chocolate brownies with melted marshmallows).

Doubles from £360;

Kinloch Lodge

Alexa Chung and Judi Dench — Fife Arms

Our national treasure, Dame Judi Dench and fashion pin-up Alexa Chung both chose to ring in the New Year above the border at Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s reimagined coaching inn, the Fife Arms. Art’s power couple have cleverly riffed on the rich, tartans, taxidermy curios and deep merlot hues that recall the stone walled innards of a Laird’s weather beaten pile, while layering on their thrilling art collection and warm contemporary flourishes to ease it into the 21st century. Romps into the magnificent Cairngorm hills – all craggy and wild purple profusion – are well rewarded in Bertie’s whisky bar, a veritable trove of malts winking amber from glass cabinets in the brooding, club-like room. Those who’ve had time for a long soak and even a late afternoon snooze in their four poster can layer on the glad rags for martinis in the Art Deco-styled Elsa’s bar, before bedding in for a drawn out supper of Invercauld Estate venison loin and birch ash salted chips in the Clunie Dining room, with its trippy cubic mural.

Doubles from £250;

Sim Canetty-Clarke

Aimee Lou Wood — The Gallivant, East Sussex

Sex Education star Aimee Lou Wood is just one of the Londons set in on the Gallivant secret. Peering over the blonde, sweeping Camber Sands, this beach house-style bolt hole has been given the Hamptons treatment, with Mediterranean flourishes and perfectly English fireplaces. The overall look is a refined spin on coastal chic, with rooms spilling onto the dunes, libraries lined with sofas and dimly lit for stormy evenings and frosted crittal windows dividing the communal spaces but allowing that nostalgic Southern light to flood the rooms. This is a hotel that speaks to millennials and Generation Z, who expect complimentary morning beach yoga, afternoon English wine tasting, and herbal tea turndown with lanterns guiding them home from the sands to bed. Rooms span cosy, cabin-style hideouts to spacious digs that open directly onto the dunes. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Gallivant is its cosmopolitan menus – all of which are seasonally led and locally sourced (the chefs know the fishermen and local farmers well). Ears ringing from the wind, skin tight from the sun, guests can dig into sharing plates of burrata with radicchio treviso and purple sage, or Maldon Rock oysters, before the main event: wood roasted gurnard fillet or Kentish blue cheese beignets with tablehurst Farm carrot puree. It’s a chichi spin on seaside living, which is precisely what the punters came for.

Doubles from £165;

The Gallivant

David Beckham — The Talbot, Mells

Not far from Frome (a West Country favourite with the Notting Hill set,) Mells is one of those picturesque villages you dream of escaping to when the Big Smoke wears you down. Occupying the old bones of a 15th-century coach house, The Talbot Inn is where welly-booted villagers and wide-eyed urbanites (with David Beckham among them) convene over local ales and proper pub grub, dialled up with the Beckford Group’s trademark foodie fairy dust. Sublime takes on the hearty ploughmans and Brixham fish and chips sit alongside posher plates of pan roasted halibut and fried sea bass with chorizo – all staying true to their roots without the froth or foam of a swishy restaurant posing as a pub. The renovation didn’t stray too far either from the pub’s heritage, preserving its lumpy white walls, aged beams and oxblood tiled flooring. Maps lining the wall trace a Dickensian Somerset while outside, Mediterranean-style parasols and wrought iron chairs scatter the cobblestones of the original stableyard. Following a few too many Thatcher’s Rascals or Whisky Macs (a courageous Stones ginger wine and Famous Grouse concoction), guests can climb up the pub stairs to fresh country–style rooms where contemporary white four posters, cosy armchairs and roll top baths await.

Doubles from £140;

The Talbot Inn

Emma Radacanu — Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire

This red brick Georgian pile is a mere hour’s chug from London, with 500-acres of manicured grounds playing host to clay pigeon shooting, falconry, fishing and two all-weather tennis courts, which appear to have champion Emma Radacanu’s seal of approval. Resoundingly family-friendly, the hotel doesn’t appear anxious to blot its flawlessly fresh country aesthetic and Art Deco-inspired rooms with ‘Sharkie’s Reef’ – a Disney-style pool children fall head over heels for – or the warren-like outdoor climbing frames. Those without sprogs (or a babysitter) can swing a croquet stick in the landscaped gardens, hop on the saddle for an exhilarating canter through the woods or lean into the spa’s dizzying treatment menu, with Neom destress and sleep massages for the taking, using candle wax and hot stones. The Wild Carrot bar is a buzzy spot for an evening cocktail, while the main restaurant recalls a 1920’s New York steakhouse, with its banquettes, dark woods and table lamps. Upstairs and in the hotel’s extension buildings, rooms are a contemporary take on the traditional aristocratic boudoir – with statement cushioned headboards, thick mustard curtains and pocket-sized tables and chairs for tea rituals or penning wistful letters.

Doubles from £365;

Four Seasons

Priyanka Chopra — Coworth Park

It may be a mere 45 minute dash from London, but Coworth Park is deep in polo and racing country, where days are dictated by afternoon tea, gallops through wild flower meadows and 7pm gin and tonics on the terrace or in the frosted glass bar. Modern rooms nod to the area’s equine spirit with tanned leather chairs, chestnut-shaded cupboards and headboards, and in places, horseshoes lining bathroom walls. As well as the superlative stables and Jilly Cooper-worthy polo club, where guests can book in for a beginners session, the spa is a reason in itself to zoom into leafy Berkshire (joining celebrities with the same idea, such as Indian actress and producer Priyanka Chopra). The futuristic glass building is sculpted into a sloping lawn, with a wooded backdrop and herb-carpeted roof. Clad in fluffy white dressing gowns and slippers, spa-goers float from the vast indoor pool to the therapy rooms for ishga or Carol Joy London facials, before slipping deliriously into an afternoon snooze in the relaxation room. Those with privacy high on their staycation agenda will be wise to swipe up the North Lodge – a Grade II listed cottage on the fringes of the estate, with three bedrooms, a cosy country sitting room with a crackling fire and its own private garden for roasting marshmallows over the firepit at night.

Doubles from £545;

Coworth Park

Stanley Tucci — The Pig, Harlyn Bay

He may have taken us on an edible tour of Italy, but Stanley Tucci clearly has a soft spot for British fare, checking into the Pig in Harlyn Bay for its 25-mile menu showing off Cornwall’s spanking fresh bounty. Dimly lit rooms, flagstone floors and Suffolk gate latches revealing secret dining nooks feel marvellously Dickensian, with the Pigs’ right-on rustica renders all corners highly Instagrammable. This is candle-lit Poldark country, where waves crash against flower-strewn cliffs, natural pools form in summer’s warm, turquoise breath and blustery walks are rewarded with Cornish bitters and Colwith Farm gin cocktails. Amid the choreographed simplicity of the dining room spaces, dotted with cut flowers from the gardens and well-walked guests, Scott Martin’s pigeon breasts in balsamic sauce, line caught Newlyn Sea Bass in winter fish stew and garden mizuna pesto pappardelle with shaved Cornish kern spread out in home-spun splendour. Come summer, people spill out of the coastal pile into the gardens for Camel Valley Sparkling Wine and Porthilly oysters, with views across the camel Estuary and easy access to surfer-peppered Harlyn Bay below. The surrounding grounds are a bucolic slice of northern Cornwall, where rabbits and butterflies emerge from patches of dandelions and birds fill every inch of the day with a cacophony of chirps, interrupted now and then by an overzealous seagull. In classic Pig style, guests can saunter down from their brooding, velvety bedrooms, rummage for their size of welly and march out the front door for spectacular coastal walks via sleepy Cornish fishing villages.

Doubles from £150;

The Pig

Harry Styles — Soho Farmhouse

‘It’s the urbanites country dream’ – that may be the case, but Soho House’s polished spin on rural capers is just the ticket for London’s stylish set, including, it turns out, Harry Styles. The odd red trousered RAC member has been known to quietly clinch a membership and swallow their muddy-welly integrity at the Chipping Norton bolthole’s sushi restaurant door. It may read as gimmick, or a posh take on Centre Parcs, but its lavender-fringed lawns, retro bikes to pootle around the grounds in and rustic cabins fitted with roll top baths are simply too good to resist. Weekends here can turn raucous, in the barns that feel more Colorado than Oxfordshire, with woven sofas and the odd dubious set of antlers hung on the wall. Guests can hop in rowing boats with naughty poems, or swim up to the edge of the delightfully warm pool that appears to drift into the lake beyond it. Virtuous sorts may wish to start the day with a yoga class and a green detox juice – easily done in this Cotswoldian borough of London – or while away the afternoon in the spa with Nicola Joss facials and steam before negroni-o-clock.

Doubles from £350;

Soho Farmhouse

Romeo Beckham — The Vale, Keswick, The Lake District

The secluded, back-to-nature appeal of the humble cabin has proliferated over the past few years, particularly those plonked in the wild stretches of the UK, on the edge of forests, or say, along the lakes. Romeo Beckham opted for the latter with his girlfriend Mia Regan, hunkering down in a self-catered, luxxy cabin on a working farm in the heart of the Lake District with the craggy hills of Blencathra and Helvellyn peering down over it. Hand-crafted from Douglas Fir, the Fawn cabin lures its occupants outside to stew in a wood fired hot tub under the stars and floor-to-ceiling windows peel back yolky sunrises over the Lakelands, which can be marvelled at from a cosy bed, which was knocked together by the owners from wood previously used for lambing pens. Mornings here are all about cooking sausages over the firepit, or nursing a coffee as the landscape and surrounding wildlife slowly wakes. A ten minute stroll away, the Horse and Farrier puts on a proper pub lunch, washed down with Lakeland ales, and if cabin fever ever strikes, nearby Keswick offers plenty of buzzing restaurant and bars. But the real beauty of this cabin is its splendid isolation, with scenic walks along the Threlkeld to Keswick old railway line or a canoe paddle where two rivers, St. Johns Beck and the Glenermackin, meet.

From £330 for a minimum of two nights;