4 five-star retreats for a fantastic escape to the countryside
Pull off your climbing shoes and go back to nature … in five-star fashion, for sure
North, Blackburn, Lancashire
Very good …
THEalong the Ribble Valley of Lancashire, the place is an excellent viewing destination – the hotel can accommodate the route (from 1.6km to Clitheroe Castle to another 11km climb to the famous Lancashire hill). There are also bikes and e-bikes to rent (try the 63km Hodder Valley route). Back at the hotel, it’s all about food. Managing director Lisa Goodwin-Allen (judge of MasterChef and director of the Michelin restaurant, which has been in the business for 20 years) uses ingredients made from manufacturers and artisans. Six delicious meals that also included a pudding called ‘Flavor of Eccles Cake’ during our visit. You can’t find Lancashire more than that.
Stella loves: Good-boiled eggs and soldiers served for breakfast.
Outside is nearby: With the Bowland forest, a beautifully selected physical location, so far away, there’s no reason not to miss a great meal. In the nearby town of Clitheroe you will find Holmes Mills Bowland Food Hall, with local ingredients from Burnley’s Batch gin to pies from Accrington and cheese from Butler’s of Inglewhite, the pioneer of Blacksticks Blue, among many others (holmesmill.co . uk).
£ 215 per night, b & b; ninja.com
Read the full expert review: Northcote
• Best place in Lancashire
Lodges, New House Farm, Sussex
Very good… love
Settled in the middle of the Sussex suburbs, this restaurant comes with the best-selling local restaurants – upstairs toilets, local decor and decorating outfits. The decoration was restored, adding an unmistakable beauty – consider the white walls and solid house. The local farm consists of chickens, llamas and a small pony. After a day of exploration, roll over a wood-burning stove – or more, head to the moon in a hot pot, overlooking the meadow.
Stella loves: the idea of peace and tranquility – and seeing a glorious world.
Outside is nearby: Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest are 15 minutes away. It has some great non-stop competition and lots of fun trails. And Bell in Ticehurst is a shopping site sent from heaven (thebellinticehurst.com).
From £ 95 a night on the one-bedroom Pool Lodge, or from $ 145 a night on the Garden and Stable Lodge bedroom. The farm is also available for use only – sleeps up to 45 people. To call 07544 489698 or visit nhfcountryretreat.com.
• Best location in East Sussex
Samling, Lake Windermere, Nyanja District
Very good… room for ideas
Located on the side of the hill overlooking the Windermere Lake, Samling is an ancient and modern design, ranging from a large but cottage room to a dining room with low windows to ceilings that offer lunch or dinner. Try a menu with wine tasting and enjoy a wine cellar or cafeteria. Well-maintained gardens make you feel like you are in a quiet place, while these rooms offer a great opportunity. There are a lot of unusual challenges, but art lovers are very grateful for the paintings of Matisse and Picasso hanging around the bar and restaurant.
Stella loves: Tropical, with amazing views of the sea – write a private section.
Outside and around: With the sea at your doorstep and the falls that start at the back of the hotel, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, boating or kayaking. The Beatrix Potter Hill Top house and the Arts and Crafts Blackwell home are both slow moving.
Rooms ranging from $ 230 a night, b & b, depending on two sharing rooms. Go to thesamlinghotel.co.uk or call 015394 31922
Read the full expert review: Samling
• A correctional area within the Sea
Lough Erne Restaurants, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Very good … real escape
Once you leave the 600-acre island and see the Fermanagh Lakelands, you can live a million miles from the edge of everyday life here. But calm is easy to get used to and there is a lot that can keep you busy, not to mention two competitive sports. Stop by the best Thai spa, which overlooks the water and the forest. And then go for a great ‘G and Tea’ evening tea – delicate sandwiches, cream scones and Irish cakes, followed by gin.
Stella’s favorite: The best looking corner in Northern Ireland that is sometimes overlooked.
Outside is near: A boat trip to Lough Erne can be booked from the hotel – which is important because of the local history. The water town of Enniskillen is very close to noon, with some remote areas of the Marble Arch Caves, an underground network filled with rivers, waterfalls and rocks.
Rooms from $ 115 a night, b & b; loukatchiwi.com
Read the full expert review: Lough Erne Resort
Edited by Laura Powell. Comments by Bethan Holt, Stacey Thomson, Peter Naughton and Rosa Silverman.