43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

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For more staycation inspiration, see our guide to the best cabins in the UK and the best party mansions to rent in the UK.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    1. Ukiyo, Coverack, Cornwall

    Ukiyo translates from Japanese as ‘the floating world’. It’s a fitting title for a place that seems to hover over the Lizard Peninsula and the sea that swooshes and swirls around it. A Sixties former family home, it was transformed into a modernist, eco-friendly dream house following an exhaustive makeover in 2019. Now it combines influences from Japan, California, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, yet maintains a simple, pared-back feel with earthy, neutral furniture and fittings, largely crafted by Cornish locals.

    The main focus of the interior is, quite rightly, the ever-changing view, with huge, attention-grabbing single windows in the sitting room and master bedroom that frame the vista like a picture. Choose to stare out at it meditatively from either the enormous walk-in shower or free-standing bath, while inhaling the refreshing scent of the Land & Water products. The lighting throughout is extremely sophisticated (it may take a while to work out which switch controls exactly which corner), walls and doors are kept at a minimum, and there’s a central, show-stopping floating staircase, all making for an airy space with lots of light. And while the cool, copper-heavy kitchen is boutique, it probably contains more glasses and kitchenware than your own at home. Likewise, the smaller second bedroom neatly packs in a smart shower room and clever storage details, such as a line of nostalgic wooden pegs along the wall.

    The palm-tree-lined side garden then works as an extra outdoor room, with a ready-to-dip-in hot tub, Adirondack chairs and firepit, kept private from the footpath just below by beautiful grasses that dance around endlessly, revealing the direction of the breeze. With its silvery cladding and urban look, Ukiyo stands out proudly next to the coastguard cottage on the cliffs of dinky Coverack, a charming village with a retro grocery store, the Paris Hotel which serves an excellent roast and the contemporary – and deliciously eerie – Terence Coventry Sculpture Garden, located 10 minutes’ walk up the hill. Our top tip? Arrive by night, tuck into the bacon, eggs and prosecco from the generous, locally sourced hamper, then leave the bedroom blinds open, allowing the view to slowly unveil itself to you come morning.

    Sleeps: Up to four

    Price: From £1,450 per three nights (up to four guests)

    Book your stay

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    2. The Angmering-on-sea Beach House, West Sussex

    This is an incredibly good-looking beach house, covered in Hamptons-y clapboard. The style is very cool and swanky, with endless pale wood, mirrored chests, all sorts of chandeliers, brass nautical lanterns, a huge elephant made out of driftwood and a mass of white leather sofas. And yet it is somehow hardy enough that you can bring your children and not freak out.

    Inside it’s so big the kids could, and do, play hide and seek all day. There are plenty of TVs, which might be just the thing you are trying to avoid; but late in the day when the wind is whipping up, it’s no bad thing setting up one gang round the PlayStation and another in front of the football.

    Outside, there’s a bubbling hot tub facing the sea, which everyone is in from dawn to dusk. And right there, at the edge of the deck (so many decks – decks to sunbathe on, decks for eating lunch, decks for sunset drinks), is the beach. This stretch of the south coast is shingly and pebbly, wild and empty but for the occasional rootling dog and galloping horse.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    3. Moorland View, North Bovey, Devon

    One of the most beautiful villages in the UK, North Bovey is a living snapshot of straw roofs and stone longhouses; there’s a 14th-century parish church, a groomed green and an authentic country pub, the Ring of Bells.

    It’s an old-fangled place where community spirit is as alive as it was when Moorland View was built in 1705 as part of a row of thatched workers’ cottages. What the original tenants would make of today’s Georg Jensen salad bowl fashioned into a sink in the mother-of-pearl-tiled downstairs loo is anyone’s guess.

    The Grade II-listed cottage’s flagstone floors, lath-and-plaster walls and wooden beams are part of the restored interiors. Sophie Conran crockery, Brissi linens and pastel Colefax & Fowler prints bring a feel of modern-day Provence by way of Notting Hill.

    In warm weather, sit in the garden surrounded by the scent of roses and jasmine. On a chilly afternoon, make a start on the supply of marshmallows to be toasted on the log fire.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    4. The Cottage, Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland

    A little Borders village beneath a cross commemorating the largest battle ever fought between England and Scotland doesn’t seem a likely setting for a weekend break. But beyond Flodden Field is a world where sheep graze, bracken and pine-forested hills roll to the sea and chocolate-box two-up, two-downs line the streets.

    The Cottage in Branxton would probably once have housed a whole family; today it’s a sweet homespun hideout for two, dotted with antiques and trinkets. Beyond the garden’s white picket fence are rooms made for hunkering down – on a puffy-cushioned sofa and leather armchair beside the open fire, around an antique oak table in the dining room lined with a tempting wall of books (alas faux), or in the pretty pink-and-white bedroom.

    If the weather’s unkind, the Shaker-style kitchen is well equipped for whipping up a feast (or heating up a local cook’s delicious home-made meals if you’re feeling lazy). There are games, books and a DVD player while you wait out the rain and, when the sun shines, a little garden with summerhouse and barbecue. That is, if you aren’t drawn away by beaches, walks in the Cheviot Hills, the castle at Holy Island, country pubs and the Old Dairy antique shop, where a van might be required to get purchases home.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    5. The Cabin at Bliss Blakeney, Norfolk

    Right on the edge of the salty marshlands just outside Blakeney village, this chic seaside shack is a new breed of hideaway. Built in just seven weeks out of sheets of Scandinavian pine and spruce wood that were laminated together like a Jenga puzzle, the finished cabin is an eco-warrior’s dream.

    It’s incredibly well insulated and energy efficient. Designed by husband-and-wife team Lisa and Daniel Broch (the man who brought sofas and cocktails to the London cinema scene with the Everyman), the property has a clever, hotel-style flexibility.

    If there are just two of you, rent the master bedroom, which comes with a scoop-shaped, free-standing bath and suntrap of a private terrace, and use the open-plan kitchen and sitting room with its flashes of pink (bright cerise cupboards, candy-painted chairs, a coral-coloured record player), cocktail kit and log fire.

    Or if the whole brood is in tow, there are three other double bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms, floral Arne Jacobsen wallpaper and groovy local furniture finds that you might want to take home – which can be arranged. The most covetable are the vintage bedspreads and industrial lampshades from Nixey and Godfrey in Holt.

    The living space is very well thought out, the poured-concrete and latex floors are great for sandy feet, and rather than the traditional welcome hamper there’s a brown paper bag overflowing with artisanal produce: quail eggs, sloe gin and freshly picked strawberries from Wiveton Hall farm.

    There are masseuses on call, a fire pit and an outdoor shower in the garden. And beyond that, high jinks on the coast: crabbing and mud sliding in Blakeney harbour at high tide, trips out on the afternoon boat for seal-spotting in the afternoon and long walks on nearby Holkham Beach.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    6. Calder Cottage, Northumberland

    This compact one-bedroom cottage opposite the village pub in Embleton has a crisp simplicity that perfectly complements the ascetic beauty of the Northumbrian coastal landscape it sits in. Half-panelling, a cast-iron wood-burner and the sort of sofa that invites sprawling create a cosy living space that’s particularly welcome after a day striding the wind-scoured beaches and dunes. An Alexa smart-speaker, a hamper full of DVDs and a shelf of boardgames will keep visitors entertained when it’s a little too wild to venture out. The bathroom is sleek and warm, and the sunny, sea-facing kitchen is perfectly equipped down to the knives, which are robust and sharp enough to meet the approval of a chef.

    The bedroom’s calmly muted colour scheme is enlivened by a stylish Ercol chair with bright, geometric-fabric David Hicks cushions. The owner, local farmer Guy Douglas, provides eggs from his free-range hens and a welcoming beer or two from one of the excellent local craft breweries. He can also lay on tasty home-cooked ready meals from The Stable Yard in nearby Craster. Calder Cottage has charm and dozens of perfectly chosen touches – posters of exhibitions by the artist Victor Pasmore, who spent most of his working life in Northumberland, and – who else? – Alexander Calder; ticking fabrics by Ian Mankin; kilim rugs. Ultimately though, as Douglas himself cheerfully admits, no interior, however finely judged, can compete with the views from the rear windows, or the outside decking where you can eat breakfast if you wrap up warmly, gazing across the rolling fields to the poetic ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle. A place for Byronic romance. By Harry Pearson

    7. 57 NORD, SCOTLAND

    At first sight, the glass and larch exterior of 57 Nord has such distinct and careful simplicity you might think it was an individual yoga studio or hallowed new meditation space. It sits on a jag of private land in the north-west Highlands leading down to the shores of Loch Duich, in the shadow of the Kintail mountains, and its view is possibly the most evocative and immutable from any holiday cottage in the UK. Reeds and moss along the loch’s edge glister with the scarlet stabs of irises. A two-masted sailboat moves alone on the great immensity of water, where the poetic 13th-century Eilean Donan Castle glowers down the centuries along a stone-piered bridge (the Clan McLeod marched to battle across here in the movie Highlander, swathed in tattered tartan, beating ominous drums).

    The new, one-floor house is a masterpiece of crisp, clean luxury. Interior colours are both muted and luminous, reflecting the morning mist outside and the astonishing bursts of dappled light on distant perilous peaks, rowan trees jutting dramatically from fissures. A large warm-boarded living room is mostly glass, giving onto an infinitely private-seeming bedroom and (perfectly stocked) bathroom – but all the doors between can be pulled open to make one rolling, gentle space. A pillow-piled and immense four-poster bed is impossible to not retreat near-permanently to, especially when the weather comes down and rain surges against the powder-coated steel roof, and the windows beyond. You fall asleep here to the crooning of wind and water. Owner and designer Mumtaz Lalani trained as a sommelier, and spent much of her youth in Norway and Finland: her Scandinavian influence is evident (pale boards, Danish wood burner, a firepit in the garden) but her welcoming provisions are all perfectly chosen, purely local touches. Moist, moreish seed bread slathered in a monolith of salted butter comes from a bakery, Manuela’s, just across the fields (which also sells home-distilled gin infused with angelica roots and meadowsweet that hits the frontal lobe like a late-summer firework.)

    Fisherman Duncan in the shed by the loch will bring you langoustines (very fat and sweet) if you ask. There’s a wine fridge full of prized, minerally whites by Manni Nössing that Lalani has selected to pair with seafood. This part of Ross-shire – at the edge of the area known as Wester Ross – is very close to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye, and not far from Applecross or the stunning Ratagan Pass. Inverness Airport is less than two hours away. And yet when the lane bends down towards the house you feel so immediately filled with landscape, so caught up in its ever-changing stage backcloth of distant waterfalls and its loch banks the colour of amber, it’s as though you never saw a town or city in your life. A place of deep and continuous seclusion, and romance. By Antonia Quirke

    Address: 57 Nord, Sky House, Upper Ardelve IV40 8EY

    Price: Three-night stay from £900

    Website: 57nord.co.uk

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    8. The Craftsman’s Cottage, Wiltshire

    A chocolate-box cottage that is anything but chintzy inside. Owner Amanda Bannister has created a living, breathing celebration of home-grown craft loveliness within these 19th-century Shaftesbury-stone walls. Designs from British ceramicists, English cartographers, Irish carpet-makers and Welsh painters are set alongside Victorian chests and Edwardian consoles in rooms decked in William Morris wallpaper. It feels cosy, clever and modern. Practically everything you can sit on or pick up can be bought – with a little discount too – but it’s not just a matter of style over substance. There’s a Roberts radio at every bedside (there are three bedrooms in the main house and a one-bed studio next door to spill over into), gorgeous Bramley products in the bathrooms, a gadget-stocked Shaker-style deVOL kitchen and Netflix in the sitting room. You’ll also find a bookcase of classic paperbacks, tweed Guillotine gilets hanging under the stairs to be borrowed and a knock-your-socks-off hamper on arrival, packed full of artisan food and drink, such as a homemade chicken pie and just-pulled vegetables (chard and carrots from the garden) plus freshly baked bread and freshly laid eggs (both still warm) and butter and milk from the farm over the road. This is charming country living done to the highest spec.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    9. The Malthouse, Devon


    After a cup of tea and a lie-down to recover from the windy journey to this glorious part of the world, you can start to appreciate the architectural trickery going on inside this 200-year-old building. Owners Misha and Lucy Smith bought the forlorn-looking property four years ago. The house, part of a terrace a short walk from the Kingsbridge Estuary, dates back to 1800 and was in need of a total rethink. Devon-raised Misha, who quit his architect’s job in London to concentrate on the project, took on most of the construction, adding windows, extra floors and a courtyard garden, bringing in light and a sense of space to previously dark corners.

    Then came the fun bit. Former chef Lucy, previously of London’s River Café and Moro, filled the house with vintage rugs from Spain found on Etsy, linen bedding from Australian brand Castle and paintings by Dartmouth-based artist James Stewart. Anything that wasn’t bought was handmade by Misha, including the bedframes and the kitchen table. All that wood, plus the colourful accessories, work with the polished concrete floors and calming paint scheme – a mix of brilliant white emulsion, Farrow & Ball Middleton Pink and Purbeck Stone – to produce a successful meeting of style and practicality. Let the kids draw on the blackboard walls in the kitchen while you prepare some locally sourced eggs and bacon from Stokeley Farm Shop (near the stunning Start Bay). For eating out, you’re right in the heart of Kingsbridge, a proper ’ansum South Devon town. After crabbing by the quay, have a tapas lunch near the river at The Old Bakery or a good Indian at Kerala Delicacies and on the way home stop for coffee and cake at Coasters.

    Sleeps: 4 (plus 2 children)

    Price: From £591 for three nights

    Book your stay

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    10. Salt Cottage, Norfolk

    This one-up-one-down bolthole is the latest addition to the seriously smart collection of cottages in a former cartshed at Sharrington Hall. Walls are freshly painted in a split of contrasting colours to reflect the shifting horizons of the north Norfolk coast just 15 minutes down the road. Upstairs there’s a huge bathtub at the end of the sleek four-poster. And on the bed are thick white towels tied with a ribbon – yours to keep because owners Steve and Katie King don’t think anyone should have to use a stiff old towel on holiday. Interior designer Katie is responsible for the coastal aesthetic: bleached driftwood floors, salt-washed linens, sea-grass rugs and wicker lampshades, as well as potted succulents and blush velvet cushions. Clever mirrored accents in the alcoves draw sky and leaf in from outside, and ancient timbers reclaimed from the Kings’ home (Jacobean Sharrington Hall) were used to create cupboard doors. Downstairs a vintage oak butcher’s table is tucked neatly into a nook, creating the perfect breakfast spot for two.

    Days should be spent walking from the vast UK beaches at Holkham to Wells-next-the-Sea, where The Globe Inn, on a handsome, tree-lined square, is the place for fish and chips. Or head for the marshes at Morston and stop off in the garden at Stiffkey Stores for a flat white, served in the prettiest illustrated paper cup, and a still-gooey brownie. Then stock up on provisions from the Back to the Garden farm shop, which has everything you’d expect from a good butcher’s, wine, fresh fruit and vegetables to home-baked cakes, and hunker down for the evening under a blanket in front of the enormous log-burning stove (laid and ready to be lit on arrival).

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    11. The Granary, Gloucestershire

    Temple Guiting Manor is not terribly big but it is so remarkably beautiful that it has been called ‘one of the finest of the smaller Tudor manor houses’ by those who can claim to measure such things. It reveals itself incrementally. You get peeks here and there of 15th-century gabled roofs and mullioned windows through the trees, from Jinny Blom’s joyful gardens of velvety, heavy-headed peonies, irises and lavender humming with bees. There are Wonderland shapes in clipped yew and sudden gateways to more gardens: wild with a shepherd’s hut; formal with an exquisite pond; walled with a tennis court, the umpire’s chair wedged into the flowerbeds. The five-bedroom manor itself has been available to rent for some time; now the owners have been doing up other buildings on the estate to rent out, too, most recently, The Granary. What a surprise its interiors are: cool and contemporary, grown-up dark greys and white, monochrome with art and photography on a vaguely African theme.

    On the stairs, an oversized tribal portrait hangs next to a delicate stool. Nevertheless, it is furnished like a home: no mean miniatures here but Cire Trudon candles and big bottles of Green & Spring.

    Three bedrooms have deep high beds. The top-floor room is the one for dreamers – a copper rolltop bath in the bathroom, a vintage typewriter on the most perfect little desk at the attic window. Early risers can open the coops to find eggs in the straw; late risers can find them in the fridge. Signposts down the lane point to Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, the Slaughters, but we are staying put.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    12. Sheepscombe House, Gloucestershire

    This place is a beauty, the sort of postcard-perfect country house that people earmark when buying a lottery ticket. It ticks all the clichéd boxes expected from a honey-hued, wisteria-draped Georgian residence.

    The façade is mesmerisingly symmetrical, with regimented sash windows overlooking the Cotswolds countryside. The pale-grey-painted Devol kitchen is straight from a Pinterest board, with a double butler sink, four-door Aga and brass-knobbed, French-style oven. The attached garden room is flooded with sunshine during the day and becomes especially pretty at night when the fairy lights are on.

    The rest of the house is substantial (there are five big bedrooms, a grown-up double sitting room and massive cinema room), but it feels fantastically comfy: Aubusson-style rugs, deep-cushioned sofas, animal hides and battered leather club chairs against a backdrop of the owner’s extensive modern-art collection.

    Behind a thick laurel hedge is a heated swimming pool and a wood-burning pizza oven for homemade Margheritas. There’s a field full of alpacas that trot over when called and a grass tennis court cut into the hillside; it’s an adventure having to retrieve wayward balls from the neighbouring field of waist-high wildflowers.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    13. Crailing House, Near Jedburgh, Scottish Borders

    James Paton, an East India Company official, built Crailing, a glorious rosy-stone Regency house with soaring ceilings, in 1803, although the estate predates it by several hundred years. An 1881 census shows that the Patons employed a flurry of maids, a gardener and cook, who resided with their own families downstairs in the servants’ quarters. There’s still an air of Downton Abbey: the live-in housekeeper Linda Coles tiptoes around the ground floor under a cloak of invisibility, removing all traces of the previous night’s supper before guests have woken up.

    Botanical-print Designers Guild fabrics have been paired with carefully chosen antique pieces of furniture, and centuries-old portraits hang side by side with a stormy John Walker canvas. Sprigs of heather in vases, china elephants on mantelpieces and horsey sketches and sculptures add quirky touches. Double-height windows frame dreamy James Norie scenes of sheep grazing on a sloping, clover-speckled field. Apples ripen in the orchard down by the river.

    Come here with family and friends, the labrador and pony (there’s a stable and a paddock). This is a holiday house as home: it may be smart but it’s comfortable, too. Little girls will make a beeline for the rooms with stripey beds, patchwork quilts and statement lilac and turquoise walls.

    There’s masses of space to spread out into the sitting room, drawing room and study, but inevitably everyone will tend to gather in the huge kitchen-dining room. The industrial-size Everhot range is big enough to make Sunday lunch for the entire village, or forget the oven gloves and pick up the silkiest salmon from the Teviot Smokery and homemade fruit tart from Floors Castle in nearby Kelso.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    14. Hex Cottage, Sibton Park, Suffolk

    An absurdly romantic hideaway, this forester’s cottage right in the middle of the woods is surrounded by foxgloves and cut off from everything and everyone. There’s no electricity, and heating and hot water comes from an Esse wood-burning range that needs regular stoking (there’s a well-stocked log store outside the stable-style backdoor), so even in the height of summer the warm, tickly smell of wood smoke pervades.

    Gothic-style leaded windows and a gnarled veranda add to the Hansel and Gretel feel. Walls are plastered not painted, floors are laid brick (except in the bedroom, which is decked in pitch pine with sheepskin rugs bedside the canopied bed), and the interiors mix rustic auction-house finds with contemporary staples.

    The cottage sits on the 4,500-acre Wilderness Reserve, where woods are intrinsic to the ethos of conserving the parkland and encouraging it to return to a more biodiverse landscape. With more than one million native trees planted, gone are the electricity pylons, arable crops and modern barns, while the indigenous bats, owls and insects are coming back. Book a barbecue breakfast to study moths with resident ecologist Matthew Deans, and be awed by the beauty of these creatures.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    15. The Parisian, Stamford, Rutland

    Stamford, Rutland

    Glowing golden in the evening sun and used in many of Cambridge’s older colleges, the stone of Rutland is as magnificent as that of the Cotswolds, but the area is largely unknown to visitors.

    This cottage once formed the stables of the elegant Georgian rectory next door and was renovated by heritage builders Dovetail & Capstone. It’s a Farrow & Ball Tardis, opening onto a lavender-scented terrace which looks over lawns and mature chestnut trees – a sheltered spot to stretch out on wicker loungers, read a book or sit with a glass of prosecco watching swallows loop the loop.

    The sitting room is filled with books, throws and antiques from local expert Hester Cresswell. Oak stairs curve up to the one gorgeous bedroom with its soft-grey-painted rafters. Under the wool-and-alpaca-filled duvet there’s a Westin Heavenly mattress, imported from the USA because the well-travelled owners believe that a good night’s sleep is half the holiday.

    In the morning, nip out to nearby Stamford to pick up croissants from British Baker of the Year Julian Carter at the Hambleton Bakery or go to Otters Smokehouse and Deli in Oakham for home-smoked salmon. Afterwards, stroll it off on the Four Counties Walk. For more ideas, see our guide to the best things to do in the Cotswolds.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    16. Number One, Dartmouth, Devon

    This is a riverside retreat with a distinctly slick, urban vibe. Instead of cottagey cuteness or coastal bucket-and-spade styling, it looks as if Kelly Hoppen has been through here with her bronze-and-taupe moodboard, a van-load of silk-covered cushions and vases of orchids.

    The sitting room, with its high ceilings and pale parquet floors, is full of whizzy boys’ toys: a remote-controlled gas fire, electric blinds and a sound system with in-ceiling speakers. But for all the gadgetry, there’s no forgetting the seaside location. When the windows are open, the cries of seagulls and the morning marina chorus flood in. It’s right on the River Dart: look out to the swirling waters from the bathtub or watch boats sailing up the estuary from a rattan chair on the terrace.

    The house is run by the Dart Marina Hotel, so tap into the spa (excellent massages and an indoor pool) and restaurant (mackerel and crab straight from the sea). The daily maid service means beds are made, laundry is whisked away and Elemis bath products are topped up in the blink of an eye.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    17. The Cob, Holsworthy, Devon

    Here is an unexpectedly contemporary house set in the middle of a working farm. Children are encouraged to collect eggs from the resident hens, make dens in the treehouse in the woods, pick organic vegetables from the kitchen garden and run wild in the orchard and flower meadows – if you can tear them away from the steady supply of toys and DVDs.

    This seven-acre smallholding was rescued from ruin by its current owners and the derelict stone and cob barn, previously a 200-year-old milking parlour, was brilliantly reimagined by architects Feilden Fowles. The original building has been extended and transformed, cattle troughs replaced by polished-concrete worktops, straw and mud on the ground upgraded with underfloor heating.

    Flashes of vivid colour have been introduced throughout the bright-white-painted, light-flooded rooms, with funky Eames chairs, lime-green blossomy wallpaper and a satsuma-hued Fifties desk lamp.

    It feels urban and crisp rather than rustic rough-and-ready, although there are traditional touches: a wood-burning stove in the sitting room, painted beams in one of the bedrooms and a farmhouse sink in the kitchen, but thankfully not a horse brass in sight.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    18. Monnington House, Herefordshire

    It has been a three-year labour of love to deck out this 18th-century, red-brick manor for a new generation. The cleverest thing was the addition of new windows, including a double-height pane of glass halfway up the staircase to bring light to previously dark corners.

    The interiors are country chic, a mix of Oka-esque fresh and new with old family pieces, velvet Day Birger et Mikkelsen cushions on herringbone wool sofas and an oak dining table that seats up to 18 (handy when you take the adjoining three-bedroom cottage at the same time).

    The bounty left on the kitchen counter is more than thoughtful: bottles of Chablis, quail eggs and celery salt, locally churned butter, bread and a basket of fresh walnuts. Bedrooms are big and no one gets a bum deal, even the two up in the attic feel spoiling, and each has its own bathroom.

    This is cider land and the village is surrounded by apple-tree orchards. Hereford and its soaring cathedral is 15 minutes’ drive in one direction and Hay-on-Wye the same distance in the other, which explains why the house is booked up months in advance for the literary festival.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    19. Astley Castle, Nuneaton, Warwickshire

    It’s not often that a weekend rental comes with arrow-slit windows, battlements and a moat. A sorry wreck for 30 years, Astley Castle has been stunningly restored by the Landmark Trust. The effect is bewitching.

    Its mellow ruined walls now shelter a beautiful dwelling which won last year’s Stirling Prize, the Oscar of British architecture. Medieval England lies through the arch in the curtain wall, in the roofless banqueting hall where fires are lit at night.

    The bedrooms retain the feel of a fortress, with 800-year-old masonry, huge doors and a windowless bathroom like a small keep. There’s a modern take on a baronial hall, with light streaming in from three sides.

    It’s a place to cook, sprawl and nose through the visitors’ book, a feature of Landmark houses and often beautifully illustrated. The castle is booked well into 2015, so get snappy for a stay next summer.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    20. Millbrook Cottage, Black Mountains, Wales

    Right on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park with the heather-covered Black Mountains on its doorstep, the village of Llanvihangel Crucorney is a curious peek back in time. The local pub, the Skirrid Mountain Inn, claims the title of Wales’ oldest public house and this cottage, an Elizabethan Monmouthshire hall house, has heritage-heavy bones.

    Stuffed with original features, including a gorgeous studded oak front door, age-smoothed flagstones, panelled walls and low-beamed ceilings, it seems as though everything should be wonky and creaky – and ducking to get through the doorways is a reminder of how diminutive our ancestors really were – but, in fact, the building is wonderfully solid. Wooden floorboards are softened with Turkish rugs and the three double bedrooms, all as good as each other, have crisp white sheets topped with colourful throws.

    Outside there’s a large lawn (freshly mown into stripes prior to each stay and brilliantly flat for games of croquet), which catches the sun all day long so it’s as good a spot for breakfast as it is for end-of-the-day gin and tonics. For anyone not tired out by long walks in the surrounding hills, there’s a table-tennis table, badminton kit and boules set to mess about with. And on a damp day, pick a film from the DVD library, slump into one of the huge sofas or play board games by the wood-burning stove.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    21. Natural Retreats Residences, John O’Groats, Scotland

    Although destined to be eternally monopolised by Lycra-clad cyclists taking photos next to the John O’Groats signpost before the epic ride to Land’s End, the north-eastern tip of Scotland has now received an injection of style.

    After buying the 1870s John O’Groats Hotel, the Natural Retreats group set about adding a Norse-style extension and a fleet of stand-alone eco-lodges. Made from Scottish-larch timber, topped with living sedum roofs and propped up by teepee-style poles, the three-bedroom houses are positioned to take in the drama of the North Sea through floor-to-ceiling glass.

    Inside, they’re tricked out with homespun yarn: tartan rugs thrown across beds, heather-coloured cushions on the sofas and locally made pendant lights. Rain-style showers, under-floor heating and a log burner will sort everyone out after wet walks to craggy Dunnet Head, the northernmost point of the British Isles.

    The Natural Retreats RIB goes seal-, dolphin- and puffin-spotting, there’s a little spa in the hotel for a Swedish massage and the Storehouse café serves seafood platters, extra-large hot chocolates and still-warm-from-the-oven cakes.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    22. Home Farm Cottage, Barnsley, Gloucestershire

    The village of Barnsley is already a hotspot. The exquisitely pretty Barnsley House has long been one of the loveliest hotels in Britain, with a garden designed by Rosemary Verey, a terrific restaurant where the lamb cassoulet is comfort itself, and a spa where slots of Time Out are booked rather than specific treatments, so you pick what you feel like when the moment comes.

    Across the road, The Village Pub is low-key but polished, with wholesome food and sweet rooms for the night. And now there’s a new draw: a three-bedroom family cottage for those who worry that their rowdy crew will disturb other people’s bubble, or for anyone craving privacy and space while still being able to dip into all the treats at hand.

    The look is elegant, Cotswolds charming: a shaker-style kitchen; two sitting rooms with tweed sofas, oil paintings and striped rugs (one is kitted out with board games and a PlayStation). The larder comes filled with essentials and breakfast can be ordered in: croissants, organic eggs, homemade jams and hams.

    Children will love playing on the swings at the end of the sloping garden (there’s also a barbecue and a decked terrace) or borrowing bikes to scoot around the village. An added boon is that the Barnsley House chef can be called upon to whip up supper.

    Read our full review of Barnsley House

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    23. Grey Gables, Lake Windermere, Cumbria

    Owned by moneysupermarket.com founder Simon Nixon, this is a statement house: big and ballsy, with a heavy oak frame soaring skywards and thick stone walls anchoring it to its impressive lakefront setting.

    It could almost have been too much, too razzamatazz, but Lancashire architects Campbell Driver have cleverly inserted massive panes of glass, so that light bounces in off Lake Windermere on even the most leaden Cumbrian day.

    The whole place is finished to the highest spec, with Ralph Lauren and Andrew Martin furniture, a stainless-steel Gaggenau kitchen and hotel-standard mattresses in the five bedrooms. The interior designer Jill Stein, former wife of chef Rick, has gone for a luxe-lodge look with plenty of oomph: antler light fittings and mounted skulls on the walls; fur throws draped over sofas; mountains of logs to frame the stone- clad fireplaces.

    The downside to this part of the southern lakes is its manicured, somewhat suburban qualities; the upside is accessibility, seriously good restaurants (the Gilpin, L’Enclume, the Drunken Duck) and plenty to do around Bowness-on-Windermere (fishing, flying, caving).

    Grey Gables probably has too many sharp edges and slippery floors for families with boisterous young children, but with a huge sitting room, open-plan kitchen, games room and cinema, it’s fantastic for a grown-up house party.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    24. Calfshed at Upcott Farm, Croyde, Devon

    Wholesomely good-looking owners Ben and Sarah Lambert live in Upcott’s 500-year-old farmhouse with their two golden-haired girls. Chickens lay fresh eggs, fruit ripens in the orchard and there’s a vegetable garden from which to help yourself to raspberries and rhubarb, lettuce and leeks.

    The Calfshed, a converted barn, is a long, open-plan slice of this good life, where the only alarm clocks are skylights. Dashes of dove-grey, souvenirs of the sea and a wood-burning fire bring a wonderful warmth to the space in which The White Company photographed its catalogue.

    The kitchen has it all: egg cups and mixing bowls and rabbit-shaped jelly moulds; herbs grow right outside in the pebbled courtyard. A stack of cookery books give a clue to who comes here – Sophie Dahl more likely than Delia Smith – not that you’ll follow any recipes; local pub The Rock Inn serves a fish pie that’s as creamy as it is comforting.

    All the holiday essentials are here, too: a boules set, picnic basket and a barbecue to take to the beach. Surfers ride the waves at nearby Croyde Bay. From here, you can walk up to Baggy Point (the dramatic views inspired author Henry Williamson), stopping for scones and strawberries at National Trust tea room Sandleigh, or take your pick from some of Devon’s best pubs nearby.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    25. Old Crofftau Cottage, Brecon Beacons, Wales

    According to the map, Old Crofftau is in the middle of nowhere, the nearest ‘road’ a farm track. What it’s actually in the middle of is the greenest and most breathtakingly beautiful valley, the peaks of the Brecon Beacons rising up all around into a dramatic sky. And the feel of the house is in keeping with the soul of the place: rugged and homely.

    Entering into the double-height hallway feels like walking into a private home, until you notice the visitors’ book on the antique table along with photo albums and maps and books, everywhere books.

    It’s pet-friendly, mud-friendly; a dozen pairs of wellies range from tiny to galumphing; on hooks hang souwesters for those who don’t want to ruin their own Barbours out in all that Welsh weather. Cartwheel chandeliers swing from the ancient beams; under-floor heating warms the centuries-old flagstones. Handstitched patchwork quilts are thrown over brass or carved-wood beds, and heavy curtains keep out the morning sunlight, though you might want to open them, let it in, start the day with that uplifting view.

    The outlook is even better from the loft – an open-plan cooking-dining-living space with long arrow-slit windows to let in the mountains and, at night, a sky streaked with the Milky Way (the Brecons national park is a Dark Sky Reserve). There’s even a telescope for stargazing, and a 1960s Wurlitzer loaded with rock’n’roll 45s.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    26. Restormel Manor, Fowey Valley, Cornwall

    This perfectly proportioned manor is where the Prince of Wales sets up camp when he comes to the Duchy and the setting is suitably majestic, with the ruins of Restormel castle a short scramble away and the River Fowey rushing past the back door (rods are provided).

    The house sleeps 18 but is cleverly divided into three wings that can be opened up as required. Subtle regal reminders are everywhere: Duchy crests on the crockery, the Prince of Wales insignia on bathroom tiles and old black-and-white pictures of the royal family at work and play. The Middletons have stayed here too – it’s all in the visitor’s book.

    Annabel Elliot (Camilla’s sister) kitted out the interior, with wafty organic linen curtains, pretty floral sofas and antiques mixed with a spot of Oka. The bedrooms are bliss; vases of fresh cut flowers and Mitre Welsh sheets. The Prince’s organic ethos is firmly in place, too, with compost bins and a wood-chip burner that also heats the indoor pool, next to a tennis court and play area (cleverly constructed with recycled materials).

    Some of the best beaches in Cornwall are close by, as is Lostwithiel, the antiques capital of Cornwall and home to Fran’s Pantry, an Aladdin’s cave of delicious cheeses.

    Sleeps: 6 in one of the three wings; 18 in whole house

    Price: From £600 a week

    Book your stay

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    27. The Potting Shed, Daylesford, Gloucestershire

    For foodies, few other cottages can compare. Because where you are sleeping – in a chic, two-bedroomed bolthole – is secondary to what you will be munching on.

    This is the joy of being a hop and a skip from Daylesford’s rural outpost, where there are Scotch eggs as big as your fist, exquisite homemade cheeses, a café with extra-healthy salads and a cookery school with courses in everything from bread-making to butchery (scarily hands on).

    After a day spent chopping and whisking, retreat to the Potting Shed where even the simplest of objects (geranium-scented candles, chunky radiators, a bright white Aga, cashmere-covered hot-water bottles) takes on a particular beauty.

    There are two double bedrooms (one also has a bunk bed), a sitting and dining room with thickly woven rugs and a fire (logs provided) and a small office stuffed with cookery books (Salad Leaves for All Seasons, Don’t Sweat the Aubergine). Clothes cupboards are hidden behind linen curtains and apple carts used as storage drawers. And you can always retreat to the Bamford Haybarn Spa for a holistic massage or yoga class.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    28. The Garden House, Lilycombe, Somerset

    Now this is a welcome: chocolate cake, Champagne on ice and three inquisitive cows, peering over the gate from under long lashes as you crunch up the drive.

    Garden House is deep in the Mendip Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where patchwork fields are seamed with drystone walls, rabbits run and bluebells grow. Still, it’s tempting to ignore all that and ensconce yourselves in an interior of outstanding natural beauty instead.

    No horse brasses here; owner Jane Clayton is an interior designer, and has turned her old dairy barn into a stylish but comfortable place to stay. Granny’s wardrobe and other family heirlooms are mixed with contemporary sofas and Bertoia-inspired wire chairs; in the open-plan living space, a film projector is tastefully hidden in an antique basket.

    Bag the master suite, the biggest of the four bedrooms, with its seven-foot-wide bed, picture wall of bird prints and two arched French windows leading out to the courtyard garden. And, set high in one wall, the original door to the barn loft, the kind that can only lead to a roll in the hay.

    But perhaps more exciting than all these things: a pool. A proper, bathwater-warm swimming pool, with a treatment room for massages, and poolside daybeds scattered with a mass of cushions for when you get pruney.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    29. Silverholme, Graythwaite, Cumbria

    Silverholme is a knockout. The Georgian manor house was recently refurbished with every conceivable luxury: eight blissful bedrooms, cashmere-soft carpets, bespoke wallpapers, roaring log fires, library, a hi-tech kitchen and wraparound views of Lake Windermere that makes it hard to concentrate on your Cumberland sausage at breakfast.

    For added gravitas, estate owners the Sandys family have raided the antiques collection at Graythwaite Hall, their ancestral seat just across the road (even the Colonel’s gun boxes have been recycled as side tables). But it’s the setting that’s really worth raving about.

    The house commands sweeping views over vales and hills and the gardens roll down to a private jetty over the silvery waters. Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top House and museum are just up the road at Hawkshead, a beguilingly pretty village that’s also home to The Sun Tea Rooms, the most devilish cake shop in Cumbria.

    The house manager, Katarina Stacey, is unflappable and can organise anything from zip-wiring to private chefs. But just stick to a simple walk in the estate grounds and you won’t be disappointed – misty mornings and big starry skies make this place a glorious getaway.

    Sleeps: 16, plus two in adjoining cottage

    Price: Three-night weekend from £3,087

    Book your stay

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    30. Trevone Farm, Padstow, Cornwall

    Designed by Jill Stein (business partner and ex-wife of the King of Padstow, Rick), this cluster of contemporary houses in the village of Trevone is the newest addition to the Stein empire.

    Each of the four stone-and-glass cottages has terraces overlooking the sweeping cliffs of Trevone Bay (the sandy beach is just a minute’s walk away).

    Jill has nailed what you need at a Cornish holiday house: toasty warm flagstone floors for little feet chilled by paddling in the Atlantic, enough wine glasses to have the whole village round for drinks, and welcome hampers with homemade jam and chutney, fresh farm eggs and even a blanket for the dog.

    The coastal-themed interiors have nautical stripes, sackcloth cushions and fishy artwork. And fish is what it’s all about here: two miles down the road is the Padstow Seafood School, where lecturer Keith Brooksbank will teach children how to extract a pesky digestive tract from a prawn using only a cocktail stick, and fillet slippery squid; grown-ups can try their hand at getting live lobster from the tank to the plate. Or leave it to the professionals and book in for supper at The Seafood Restaurant – the Singapore Chilli Crab is a messy, spicy sensation.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    31. Rhoscolyn House, Anglesey, Wales

    Getting to this converted fisherman’s cottage on a tiny headland in north-west Wales is half the fun. When the tide is in it can only be accessed by navigating a short stretch of rocky beach, so you really feel like you’re staking a claim on a private, salty-aired plot (complete with flagpole).

    Once you’ve made it to the large, rambling house, the sense of adventure amps up: a kitchen island for your crew to gather around and ogle the fabulously kitsch collection of lobster-themed crockery; a red-floored sitting room with sailboat-patterned curtains and squishy sofas; five nautical bedrooms, including a lookout loft and a plush master suite.

    Through a little gate in the hedge you’ll find a lovely sheltered cove; dash here for an early-morning dip and return swaddled in the fluffy robes that hang in each bedroom. Braver souls can dive off the jetty at Rhoscolyn’s own boathouse. This is a place to come for afternoon shell-seeking missions on the strand, for long walks along Holy Island’s meandering lanes, and for evening drinks on the terrace watching a neon-orange sunset.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    32. Cartshed Cottages, Sharrington Hall, Norfolk

    The four cottages at Sharrington Hall – Shell, Sky, Seal and Samphire – are like a Farrow and Ball colour chart. Each comes with its own palette of soft greys, pale lilacs, dusty pinks, muted and chic. With painted floorboards, claw-footed baths, deep butler’s sinks and French linens on the beds, they’re the country crashpads on your Pinterest page, the holiday hideaways of a rainy day’s plans.

    Swoop into the local farmshop deli Back to the Garden just up the road at Letheringsett for supper’s organic ingredients. On a summer evening you can stroll to the nearby strawberry farm, fill up your punnet, then slip freshly picked fruit into a glass of Prosecco and sit on the private terrace watching the sun go down.

    The owners leave a bottle of decent red and a plate of home-made brownies on arrival, as well as a useful basket full of lists and leaflets of what to do and where to go in the area. Just outside the front door are a cluster of villages brimming with antiques and vintage clothing yards. A long walk along the wide, flat sandy beaches at Holkham or across the marshes at Stiffkey where the sky meets the sea might put you in the market for one of the candyfloss-coloured beach huts that speckle the coastline, but it equally might lead to one of the many microbreweries to try a pint of the native Adnam’s.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    33. Cotmandene house, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

    This late-Victorian townhouse two blocks back from the sea is incredibly stylish, with crisp white bed linen and Designer’s Guild fabrics, delicious-smelling ILA bath products and really good iPod docks. But none of this is at the expense of practicality.

    It can house the most complex of groups – an inspired choice for a gang of friends and their sprats – with three double bedrooms, one single and another with bunk beds, two single beds and still room to spare for travel cots (provided for free, as are stair gates, baby monitors, wet wipes, changing mats and hot-water bottles). You will live like kings, dining around the huge oval table in the blissfully well-equipped kitchen, starting with the welcome hamper that includes all the makings of a seriously good breakfast, before venturing out to local favourite Lawson’s Deli for pork sausages, the Golden Galleon for fish and chips or to one of the several fishermen’s huts on the beach for freshly smoked mackerel, squished onto warm buttered toast back at the house.

    The layout is brilliantly considered. While there’s a pretty living room with a working fireplace and a pool table room at the front of the house, for example, there’s also a sort of ante-chamber off the kitchen with a deep, outsized sofa, soft wool throws, a TV and stacks of toddler-pleasing DVDs, where the little ones can sprawl out while you cook, chat and drink wine next door, able to check they’re happy in a glance. Clever.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    34. Thyme House, Southrop, Gloucestershire

    The village of Southrop has to be one of the prettiest in the county. The church dates back to the 12th century and every rose-clad house looks as if it’s been dipped in honey but, refreshingly, it’s handsome rather than cutesy.

    The Southrop Manor Estate has a fantastic cookery school as well as some meticulously restored cottages; take the whole place and you can sleep 34 for the best country-house party ever. Otherwise, star of the show is the eight-roomed Thyme House, which has a look that is both grand and quirky: proper paintings, huge dining tables, tapestries, glittery chandeliers and curtains so heavy it’s almost a workout closing them.

    You’ll march about the place inspecting every mirror, every bath and every armoire while asking the same question: where did they find it? You may stumble upon the laundry room (which you’re probably not meant to see), but guess what? That too is a picture, painted in perfect French blue, smelling of soap suds and with notepads on the sideboard covered in shipshape lists.

    The magic trick here is that you don’t have to lift a finger. The cooking is done by discreet Australian couple Carolyn and Tom. Baked eggs with prosciutto for breakfast, light lunches in the walled garden (designed by Bunny Guinness) and for dinner a choice between a three-course, dress-up affair or something more casual – homegrown radishes dipped in goat’s cheese, perhaps, followed by a one-pot-wonder stew and pudding.

    The Swan is a moment away, with food that people drive for, and don’t forget to stock up on the estate’s delicious Asian-style chilli jam and crab-apple jelly.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    35. The Secret Holt, Dartmoor, Devon

    A little cabin in the middle of the woods, surrounded in spring by a sea of bluebells, this is fairytale enchanting without being too twee, with wooden hearts and goat bells dotted around, sheepskin throws over comfortable armchairs and a slightly battered leather sofa.

    There are two bedrooms: one with reclaimed Parisian apartment doors and a bedside-table book entitled Hints on Etiquette and a Glance at Bad Habits; the other with a carved four-poster bed from Vietnam. A wood burner takes centre stage in the sitting room, piled high with logs and impossible to resist prodding. There are thick blankets for curtains at the windows, a selection of wines available to buy for £5 and marshmallows for toasting.

    Dartmoor, with its steep craggy tors and shaggy-haired ponies, is right there on your doorstep, and a walk through the woods brings you to the Rock Inn for chicken-and-chorizo risotto and the most incredible homemade Bakewell tart.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    36. Strawberry Wood Barn, Black Mountains, Wales

    At the end of a dirt track in the middle of farmland, the approach may be a bit rough and ready, so beg, borrow or steal a four-wheel drive if you can. But getting to Strawberry Wood is just part of the adventure.

    The pair of rosy-walled barns have been impeccably put together, with a wing each for two families. Inside all is fresh and crisp and clean, with Shaker-style design, tongue-and-groove cladding and underfloor-heated flagstones. Upstairs, perfectly pressed white sheets are topped with Suzie Watson wool blankets, pots of primroses are placed on distressed chests of drawers and there’s quirky Quentin Blake parrot wallpaper in the loo.

    But for all that smartness, this is a family house. The playroom, with its mass of toys and DVDs, is a brilliant bad-weather den; outside there’s a ping-pong table, a trampoline and a swing. With stunning views across the valley and a cushioned daybed on the west-facing terrace for drinks after bath and bedtime, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere (though Waitrose in Abergavenny is just 15 minutes’ drive away).

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    37. Mulberry Cottages, Blakeney, Norfolk

    Blustery Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast is a Swallows and Amazons sort of spot with winding walks through the marshes to the sea, boat trips to see the seals and children dangling lines over the quayside trying to catch crabs. Here is a trio of love-nests right in the heart of the village.

    The one-bed, pebble-clad, fend-for-yourself Mulberry and Slipway Cottages are charming, but the Boat House goes one better and, because there’s no kitchen, has breakfast delivered each day (croissants still warm from the local deli, fresh fruit and yoghurt). The stunning open-plan studio, converted from a rundown outbuilding, is shabby chic with oatmeal coloured walls, polished floorboards and French-style country charm. The large double bed is up on a mezzanine, there’s a TV, Wi-Fi and an iPod dock, as well as interior-design coffee-table books on every surface.

    Outside, wisteria hangs heavy over the little courtyard, a glorious spot for a morning coffee in the sun, taking in the surroundings. Head to the White Horse for a hearty lunch (pie of the day or fish and chips); for the more serious foodies, the Michelin-starred Morston Hall is just a mile down the road.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    38. The Shed, Isle of Skye, Scotland

    With quite possibly the window seat to end all window seats – taking in breathtaking views of the cloud-cosseted Cuillin Mountains – The Shed is as good as a rural retreat gets.

    Essentially a home from home, albeit in a coolly contemporary, polished concrete kind of way, this hillside-hugging haven is architectural catnip for frontier-spirited families or friends looking to chill out, or indeed cycle, kayak or walk under big skies.

    Accessible by a single-track road about 10 miles from the ferry harbour at Armadale, The Shed was designed by Skye-based architect Mary Arnold-Forster. It’s a simple yet beautifully detailed four-bedroom timber-and-glass house, cocooned against the whirly salty winds by underfloor heating and a wood-burning stove. There’s Danish Modernist furniture in the big, sociable, ground-floor living space; upstairs, a sofa-strewn snug is perfect for post-hike curling up or after-dinner lolling. Tip-off Mary before your arrival and she can arrange for the local fisherman, whose bobbing boat can often be seen from the front porch, to drop off squat and velvet crab, langoustine and lobster.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    39. Coachmans House, Coniston, the Lake District

    Set in the very best walking country, at the base of the Old Man of Coniston and 10 minutes from Coniston Lake, this little upside-down cottage with its fresh, pale green paintwork is a peach. There are shades of white from top to bottom, from the linen in the pristine bedrooms and painted floorboards (not ideal for muddy boots) all the way up the white staircase to the sitting room with floating muslin curtains and blinds.

    It’s not a ‘don’t touch’ showroom though: underfloor heating makes the kitchen cosy and upstairs there’s a wood-burning stove, a vast (beige!) sofa, squishy armchair and woollen blankets. Stock up on amazing cakes (lemon curd loaf or coffee and hazelnut) at Chester’s in nearby Skelwith Bridge – it’s the Lake District’s answer to Ottolenghi.

    After a bracing walk around the lake, stop off for a pint of Bluebird (named for Donald Campbell’s ill-fated boat) at the Black Bull pub. The walk back at night is spooky at first but gives way to a dazzlingly romantic star-filled sky.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    40. Hive Beach House, Chesil Beach, Dorset

    Here is a hideaway in the most phenomenal location, right on the edge of the smooth-shingled Jurassic Coast, steps from the English Channel and practically next door to the hugely popular Hive Beach Café.

    It is not your regular summer rental. The clean and graphic lines of the wooden exterior, with a hot tub set into the decking, showcase the brilliance of its design – thoughtful, considered but with a low-key demeanour. Owner Phil Georgiadis has been fantastically restrained with the interiors, in a Scandinavian way. There’s a deeply desirable Another Country day bed, a zinc-topped breakfast bar and tongue-and-groove walls.

    Well equipped with boogie boards and a RIB on request, there are subtle nods to its location throughout including nautical bed linen, a life buoy hanging from the stepladder to the bunk room and a kitchen that’s not dissimilar to a ship’s galley, albeit with Kitchen Aid coffee maker and all mod cons. The three bedrooms have spectacular views, especially the bunkroom with its ocean-going lookout; Cowshed products and under-floor heating make up for the shared bathroom. At night, the dim lights of fisherman blink from out at sea and you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves.

    This is a house that won’t be here for the next generation, as the National Trust can’t protect the building or the immediate area – so come here before the sea claims it.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    41. Cappele Cottage, Snowdonia, Wales

    This far-flung farmhouse is tucked into a hillside covered with sheep, its bright red front door like a beacon in the Welsh wilderness. Rustic roughness is tempered with an almost urban sleekness inside. There are reminders of the house’s history – a cowbell hanging on the wall and a pair of old wooden milking pails full of logs by the fire – alongside Anglepoise lamps, digital radios and fantastically smart bathrooms. The kitchen has everything from teabags and freshly ground coffee to milk and butter, as well as a welcome hamper filled with antipasti.

    Make sure you take the swooping, circular, eight-mile walk from outside the cottage door – you probably won’t see a soul but you might meet a friendly sheepdog. And on your return disappear into the roll-top tub – there’s a holder for your wine glass and a stand for your book (there are plenty of Austen and Bronte novels dotted around if you need one to borrow). Perhaps it’s the location or waking up to fresh tulips by the bed or the views of the Welsh hills outside: but here you will sleep deep.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    42. Little Polgarron, Trevose, Cornwall

    This is so close to North Cornwall’s foamy Atlantic coast that only sleeping on the sand will get you nearer. Wake to pearly blue sunlight on the waves (you’ll never draw the blinds), throw open the glass doors and hear the thrum of the surf, then slip through the gate and stride straight out on the coastal path. Set above the gloriously named Booby’s Bay, this place is all about the sea.

    The house is a vast affair: swathed in glass and with huge timbered gables, it’s cleverly angled so every room can watch the water. Inside, all is unfussy, elemental and on a giant scale: sweeps of golden floorboards, huge driftwood lampstands, oversized storm lanterns. Sunny colours, fishy motifs and raw materials – linens, leathers, wools – soften the mood. Downstairs is one big playroom. Kick off your shoes, slide through the main hall with its glass-topped teak dining table and slump into the huge sofas in the sitting room. Kids have the cinema room at the other end, with its 20-seater sofa and Fatboy beanbags. Upstairs, raftered bedrooms are furnished with deckchair colours, bleached wood and funky tree-trunk stools; the polished-pebble bathrooms have egg-shaped baths.

    Once you’ve sampled the beaches, rock-pooled at Trevone, golfed and hiked, browsed the in-house library (Rabelais to Grisham), you might not be bothered to work the shiny Gaggenau kitchen, so chefs can be summoned. Or eat in nearby Padstow and Rock (best book ahead). This place takes the beach house to a whole new level.

  • 43 of the best holiday cottages in the UK

    43. Lake District Love Shack, Ambleside, Cumbria

    The approach from the road is deceptive: park up by a tractor and take a set of wooden stairs behind another house. It doesn’t seem remotely remote. But then, when you reach the top of the steps, you see the standalone wood-and glass-cabin on three levels zig-zagging up the hill to a sensational lookout over Lake Windermere.

    The shack is not a shack at all, it’s an architectural beauty straight out of the Design Museum, brimming with an eclectic mix of furniture, from the Heron chair and stool by Ernest Race, backed with a smart dogtooth blanket, to the 1950s Vanson dining chairs. Urbanites will love its gadgets: the Vita iPhone dock, Sky TV, the hubcap shower. And there’s a fox mounted on an oak wall. Not any fox, but a romantic, vintage fox (bagged on 14 February 1914) from Churchill’s Chartwell estate.

    Basil oversees kitchen proceedings – it’s terrifically well-equipped, with its Parmesan grater, an unexpected Bialetti-style coffee pot and wooden-handled, brushed-chrome kettle as well as a bottle of Laphroaig in the hospitality bar hiding in the desk.

    The simple, upstairs bedroom has a white double bed and a small crystal vase of daffodils, in tribute to Wordsworth; in the morning, remote-controlled blinds open smoothly to the vision of trees, twitching and swaying gently in the breeze, views of the sun rising over eco-grassy rooftop of the sitting room below.

    When tourist honeypot Windermere calls, take the five-minute crossing to Bowness-on-Windermere to explore the east side of the lake.

    Contributors: Suzy Bennett, Matt Buck, Peter Browne, Tania Cagnoni, Harriet Chubb, Jessica Diamond, Jake Eastham, Caroline Ednie, Olivia Falcon, Daisy Finer, Laura Fowler, Lisa Grainger, Iain Hutton-Jamieson, Debbie Jeffrey, Tabitha Joyce, Juliet Kinsman, Fiona Lintott, Hazel Lubbock, Grainne McBride, Caroline Metcalfe, Gabriele O’Rorke, Helen Pickles, Issy von Simson, Melinda Stevens, Francesca Syz, Martin Wainwright, Alice Walker, Pete Winterbottom

    This feature first appeared in the August 2013 issue of Condé Nast Traveller and was updated in September 2014 and April 2019.

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