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Hotels (and B&Bs) have become outrageously expensive after the pandemic. Some of the most luxurious in London charge more than £1,000 a night; Elsewhere, £400 is becoming normal. And that’s before you’ve even snuck up to the bar in search of a sharpener.
But there’s still something special about spending a night away from home, with no cooking required, no dishes to wash, and a breakfast to keep you going all day.
This selection includes places with just a few rooms and some grander options that require a fat wallet.
This fabulous family-run hotel sits in a dip behind a pond, surrounded by ancient woodland and sky-blue hydrangeas. There are no ugly signs; no framed AA Rosette awards; no brochures. Just a beautiful and somewhat quirky house, parts of which date back to the 14th century. The restaurant has a Michelin star.
Doubles from £201 grovenarberth.co.uk
The Grove of Narberth is a beautiful and somewhat quirky house, some of which date back to the 14th century.
The Lamb’s Inn
Arriving here amidst the chatter of happy diners spread across various nooks and crannies, with flagstone floors, a creaking bar and five discreet rooms, is a life-enhancing upgrade. Good value too. Two thirtysomethings, Peter and Tom, are in charge and offer a magnificent menu (don’t miss the anchovy toast). Antique furniture and sumptuous bedding await you when it’s time to say goodnight.
Doubles from £99, thelambshipton.com
The Lamb of Shipton offers an excellent menu (don’t miss the anchovy toast)
Ebury St, London
This exceptional B&B located in a double-fronted Belgravia house is one of London’s best kept secrets. There are 27 rooms, all renovated in the last three years.
It has a private country house feel, with plush sofas, bright cushions and a pretty walled garden. The only thing missing is a golden retriever lying in the hallway. Breakfast is served at the Buttery next door, where residents get a 10 percent discount.
Doubles from £220, limetreehotel.co.uk
The luxurious Lime Tree Hotel
Miami Beach is coming to Bournemouth in the form of this stylish hotel that they just spent £25 million on. Your spirits will be lifted as you enter the sunny Art Deco-style lobby, with palm tree-themed art and fun touches like a Playboy pinball machine and foosball table.
Opt for a room with sea views and don’t miss the basement spa. The outdoor pool, flanked by cabanas, quality lounge chairs and sunken fire pits, is the most elegant Miami has to offer.
Doubles from £155, thenici.com
Miami Beach comes to Bournemouth at The Nici
After opening two years ago, Callow Hall, on the edge of the Peak District, has won all kinds of plaudits. Justly. It’s very trendy, with Penny Morrison fabrics, Robert Kime wallpaper and Fermoie lampshades. The house dates back to the 1850s and the cedar near the front door is 800 years old. A fabulous glass box at the back of the building houses the bar and restaurant.
Doubles from £224, wildhive.uk
No one claims this 185-room establishment is a gem, with an entire floor set up for conferences, a ballroom, a huge, elegant bar and a New York-style restaurant in the basement. Some £45 million has been spent reviving it, and it works. Look for the wide staircase with Corinthian columns. Great, by the way.
Doubles from £199, thegrandhotelbirmingham.co.uk
The olive branch
Ben Jones, who has worked at both Hambleton Hall and Gravetye Manor, bought this closed pub in 1999 and later acquired the pretty cottage opposite, where there are now six bedrooms. The atmosphere is cozy (Ben’s father used to work in the antiques trade), the food absolutely delicious. A perfect stay.
Doubles from £175, theolive Branchpub.com
The atmosphere is cozy at The Olive Branch.
The pig on the wall
The Pig is a great brand. This is the smallest and cheapest, with just 12 rooms in an exquisite turreted building within Southampton’s medieval walls. The space on the ground floor is reserved for old wooden tables and comfortable upholstered armchairs. There is no restaurant as such, but there is plenty to eat in the deli and some daily specials.
Doubles from £159, thepighotel.com
The Elcot Park Retreat
The young Hector Ross’s Signet Collection has taken over this former Mercure hotel, which once belonged to the poet Percy Shelley’s mother, and has been transformed. Spa, swimming pool, bakery, wine shop, delicatessen and hair salon are located on site. There are two restaurants, including a pan-Asian one. Don’t miss the ‘Crispy Cauliflower Popcorn’ with teriyaki and soy.
Doubles from £216. retirementtelcotpark.com
The Signet collection of young Hector Ross has taken over this former Mercure hotel, which belonged to the poet Percy Shelley’s mother.
It’s easy to mock Lord and Lady Bamford’s sprawling Daylesford empire, but this latest renovated 12-room pub won’t disappoint. Every corner works. There are at least three crackling chimneys; the wood paneling and artwork (including a wall of pressed flowers and herbs) have a sense of place; all the staff are friendly. the food is fabulous.
Doubles from £176, thebellatcharlbury.com
Locanda at the dam
Portlock Dam, Somerset
There are only four rooms, three of which face the sea. The building is set back from the main street, which attracts visitors throughout the summer. It was bought six years ago by a former Italian urban merchant and his designer partner. Dinner is the most important thing: fresh, creative and beautifully presented.
Doubles from £225, locandaontheweir.co.uk
It looks like Balmoral from the outside, albeit with a huge newly built spa at the back of the building. It used to be owned by the Duke of Roxburghe before being sold to a German company.
Fabulous rooms with high ceilings, antique furniture and two restaurants. Locals say around £50 million has been invested in this resort hotel in the Scottish Borders. Sample.
Doubles from £194, schlosshotel-roxburghe.com
Locals say around £50m has been invested in this resort hotel in the Scottish Borders
The bottle and the glass
This is a small thatched pub in the Chiltern Hills, which has been extended to create a large eating area and three rooms in an adjoining building. You come here for the atmosphere and the food. Value for money too.
Doubles from £120, Bottleandglassinn.com
Accommodation in Middleton
A Georgian house designed by John Carr is the centerpiece, but there are 41 rooms spread across the converted stables, dairy, orchard and wall garden. You’re just a few minutes from the A1(M), near Scotch Corner, but it feels like Provence.
The staff is cheerful; the food is locally sourced; Wines carefully chosen and at fair prices. Some rooms have their own wood stoves. Take a stroll through the gardens before you leave.
Doubles from £245 b&b, middletonlodge.co.uk
At Middleton Lodge, the staff is cheerful; the food is locally sourced; Wines carefully chosen and at fair prices.
It’s not the healthiest area, but once you’re cocooned in this fabulous Jacobean house (built by Thomas and Margaret Boys in 1616), all is well.
The rooms are large and elegant, some with separate bathrooms. The restaurant is a barn-like conversion at the rear with a large fireplace.
There are no TVs except one in the pub, hidden in the main lobby.
There are currently seven rooms, but more are planned, some in garden cabins.
Doubles from £180, boys-hall.com
The rooms are large and tasteful at Boys Hall in Ashford, Kent.
This Grade II listed mansion near Cornwall’s spectacular north coast was in a terrible state when the owners bought it in 2014.
Today, it’s a fantastic B&B, with generosity of spirit (complimentary cakes at tea time), self-service bar and 25 acres of grounds.
All rooms are named after local beaches.
It’s not cheap but always cheerful.
Doubles from £180, trewornanmanor.co.uk
Trewornan Manor is not cheap but always cheerful.