There’s something about a short break at a riverside hotel nestling by the riverbank that really adds another dimension to a holiday. Strolls by the water, picnics in the sun, and a leisurely pace of life all seem to go hand in hand with a waterside location. But which are the best riverside hotels to visit for such an experience?
Take for example The Arrochar Hotel in Scotland. On the banks of Loch Long, the 19th century hotel is in an enviable location that combines the tranquil waters with the surrounding mountainous landscape in the kind of idyll that fairy tales are made of.
However, for those after something a little closer to London, there’s also the aptly named Bridge Hotel in Chertsey. Just 30 minutes from the buzz of the city, this riverside hotel sits quietly on the banks of the River Thames with spectacular views over the hotel’s own tributary, as well as the main river and the far reaching meads beyond the historic Chertsey Bridge.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” So the thinking goes in The Wind in The Willows, and so it is that where there’s a river, one hopes there is a boat to sail away in as well. Which is precisely the case at Stonehouse Court in the glorious Cotswolds.
This 17th century manor house sits in six acres of stunning grounds overlooking the Stroud Water Canal and rolling hills of the Stroud Valley. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, including a croquet lawn for a quintessentially British summertime experience, it’s also a wonderful spot for walking, picnicking, taking a boat trip, or hiring your own and pottering along the canal at a more leisurely pace.
The summer offers so many wonderful possibilities for whiling away the time in beautiful outdoor bliss, but whether it’s cities, countryside or somewhere near the coast, a little water goes a long, long way.
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Easter is a lovely time of the year to get away to one of the UK Bespoke hotels. It’s the first holiday when it really starts to feel like spring, and with any luck the sun will come out, the daffodils will be in full bloom, the days begin to get significantly longer, and the clocks will be changing.
All in all, there’s a positive feeling in the air and long, lazy summer evenings to look forward to. Just because we’re enjoying the same time of year however, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we’re all looking for the same things in our Easter break. So here are five hotels to visit for very different experiences over the bank holiday weekend.
Spring gardens: hopefully the Easter weekend will bring blue skies and warmer weather, and if you’re anything like us then one of the great joys of this time of the year is getting out into the fresh air. After all those winter months of cuddling by log fires (because of course that’s what we spend all our time doing from November to March), now is the time for walking in the garden, smiling at the daffodils, and watching the blossom as it scatters from the trees.
With that in mind, Cotswold House Hotel and Spa in Gloucestershire, with its tranquil gardens that lead to the spa at the end of a cobbled path, is an idyllic place to spend the weekend. It probably goes without saying given that the Cotswolds as a rule are chocolate box perfect, but peace, quiet, tranquility, and exceptional food coupled with gardens that are just manicured enough without being pretentious makes for an escape that encapsulates the best of British.
Sunday roast: food is one of the great priorities at Easter, and whatever you find yourself doing on the Saturday, there can surely be no debate that Sunday is about the perfect roast lunch before tucking into that chocolate egg… With a spectacular view of both Lake Ullswater and the Helvellyn mountain range, the aptly titled Inn on the Lake in Cumbria from Bespoke Hotels has won Cumbria Tourism Awards for Large Hotel of the Year as well as Outstanding Customer Service. It has 15 acres of grounds sweeping to the shores, and five star standards in addition to the awe-inspiring location.
Food is every inch as important as all the other details at this hotel, and as such the Lake View Restaurant has two AA Rosettes and emphasises local produce. Of particular note on this occasion, you guessed it, is their Sunday lunch, which features a traditional roast with a luxurious touch complete with all the expected trimmings for a perfect Easter weekend.
Romantic mini-break: as it is a school holiday it’s always a little bit of a juggling act between finding hotels that are suitable for families and those who want to get away for a long romantic weekend together, but few things spell romance quite like a castle befitting a role in the best loved fairytales. Tulloch Castle in Scotland fits just that bill. Dating back to the 12th century it has a lively history of changing fortunes and scandalous intrigue.
These days it’s all a little calmer without the Chief of the Clan ruling the roost, but with painstakingly restored original features, a 250-year old paneled great hall and 20 well-appointed bedrooms filled with character and charm, not to mention fantastic food, it’s an escape to the country that’s ideal for couples who want some peace and quiet over the weekend.
Spa break: despite the abundance of chocolate eggs at this time of year, spring is a brilliant time to clear away any remaining cobwebs from the winter months and make yourself feel fresh as a daisy for all those summer holidays that you’re doubtless looking forward to. For that reason, a spa break over the Easter weekend can prove the perfect way to simply start feeling better, especially with a few more days to play with than your average weekend allows.
The Lifehouse Spa and Hotel in Essex is surrounded by 12 acres of English Heritage gardens, and combines a historic background (including visits from the likes of JM Barrie and Winston Churchill), with a contemporary glass building. It’s light, airy and the spa itself is overseen by naturopath Sue Davis who curates spa breaks with her expert eye to make sure you achieve what you want to, whether that’s simple time out and feel good factor, a full-on detox, or tackling a particular health concern. The knowledge on hand is extensive without being domineering, making it ideal for everyone from seasoned spa goers to those who are quite literally dipping their toe in the water.
Family friendly: of course, nothing beats happy smiling faces on Easter morning, and with school holidays in full swing it’s about quality time for families where everyone can relax and unwind – not always an easy thing to achieve, but let’s give it a go. Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire combines a fantastic location on the edge of Sherwood Forest with contemporary design and a welcoming atmosphere, family friendly restaurant, and their New Leaf Spa as well.
Crucially there are plenty of activities available on site for guests of all ages, as well as others nearby such as pony trekking, cycling, walking, and the Clumber Jungle, which offers everything from archery to laser tag and Segway trails. Suffice to say, there really is something to make sure everyone has a happy Easter!
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The Cotswolds is one of England’s favourite destinations, famous for its rolling hills and idyllic villages. The quintessentially English towns that dot the region boast fairy-tale names like Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh, with Chipping Campden always on the tourist route. You’ll also find thatched cottages, twisting footpaths and honey-colour limestone villages in a beautiful rural setting filled with fabulous country house hotels .
Plan Your Visit
Plan ahead for your visit to this part of the English countryside. You can walk over hills or through idlyllic villages and head out on cycle paths with the family. Stop at a Cotswold pub for lunch or browse outdoor foodie and artisanal markets before returning to your idyllic country house hotel for a great meal and a good night’s rest.
This part of the gently undulating and seemingly evergreen countryside is enough to send Anglophile tourists into rapture
However, long before the tourist invasion, the Romans left their legacy in Cirencester, and the remains of villas and forts can be seen from Bury Hill to Woodchester.
Chipping Campden – a great Cotswold Village
Chipping Campden is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the Cotswolds . It is ideal for that short break. The location in the North Cotswolds is an ideal base for your accommodation for a touring break.
You can enjoy this charming old wool merchants’ town, and the nearby surrounding shire counties of Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
Every year, the scenery around Chipping Campden delights visitors to this ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds‘. From snowdrops pushing through the snow in winter; bluebells in the woodland in springtime; to the fields carpeted with poppies in early summer. As summer progresses, you can take some short walks around the hills surrounding Campden and view the fields of lavender. Finally, Autumn sees the fields of bales of hay and trees and fields turn gold.
“Chipping” means market or market place from the old English “Ceping”. Campden was already established in the 7th century and derives its name from the Saxon “Campa-denu” or “Campadene”, meaning a valley with fields or enclosures of cultivated land.
Chipping Campden was a rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages enjoying the patronage of wealthy wool merchants. Today it is a popular Cotswold tourist destination with old inns, a country house hotels, specialist shops and restaurants. The High Street is lined with honey-coloured limestone buildings, built from Cotswold stone, and boasts a wealth of fine architecture. In the town stands the Market Hall with its splendid arches, built in 1627. In 1970 the High Street and much of the rest of the town was officially designated a conservation area to preserve the ancient town for centuries to come.
Other attractions include the grand wool church of St James – with its medieval altar frontals and vast and extravagant 17th-century monuments – as well as the Court Barn near the church is now a museum celebrating the rich Arts and Crafts tradition of the area
There are two famous and historic gardens nearby: at Hidcote Manor Garden, owned and managed by the National Trust, and at Kiftsgate, privately owned but open to the public.
As you can see, the Cotswolds and the area around Chipping Campden make a perfect place to visit. Whether in summer or winter, there’s always something to fascinate you.
Stratford upon Avon’s country house hotel isn’t short on reasons to visit, but nonetheless it doesn’t do us any harm to have one more, and on 24th, 25th and 26th April it comes in the form of a series of operatic favourites, a first for one of our country house hotels.
You don’t have to be an opera enthusiast to appreciate the finer qualities of La Traviata, Tosca and Madame Butterfly; they are, quite simply, beautiful stories. So while it is always an uncompromising joy to see opera performed on the stage at the Royal Albert Hall or London’s Covent Garden Opera House, there is something rather poetic about the tales being told in the sociable and relaxing surrounds of such an elegant hotel.
The Love: Lost and Found collection is performed on the Friday night by soprano Melinda Hughes, tenor Jonathan Stoughton and pianist Jeremy Limb, and the evening is a sensual feast of Champagne, fine wine and good food; all the ingredients needed to be suitably sated and relaxed in one of our country house hotels.
A weekend of entertainment
However, the evening’s love-in is followed by a morning of serenading over breakfast on the Saturday where the trio pickup on a more eclectic mix entitled Operetta to Cabaret (think West Side Story, Merry Widow and The Mikado). Then sit back for another evening of decadence with a musical backdrop, and a leisurely Sunday breakfast.
So, are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…