In the deep of winter, a weekend away is a necessary indulgence, if only to pause and properly appreciate the beauty of our seasons in Britain. We’ve picked out five of the cosiest places to stay indoors when it’s cold outside.
Millgate House, Yorkshire
Tim Culkin and Austin Lynch have owned this elegant B&B for 40 years now, their three-storey Georgian terrace tucked sweetly down a narrow lane in the north Yorkshire market town of Richmond.
In spring and summer, passersby often drop in to admire the RHS award-winning walled garden that spills downhill out the back of the property, yet during winter the six lamp-lit bedrooms, each decorated with a quaint mismatch of art and antiques, provide a cosy home from home. Tuck into a full English breakfast the next morning and retire to the Regency drawing room.
If you must venture outside, the cascading Richmond Falls on the River Swale just behind the house have an austere beauty in winter months.
Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Isle of Skye
Sheltered on the edge of a sea loch on the Sleat Peninsula, this 16th-century hunting lodge was the former home of the renowned Scottish cookery writer Lady Claire Macdonald, who built the business here with her clan chief husband and presided over the kitchen for 40 years. The couple’s daughter, Isabella, runs the lodge today,
the giant beds and roaring fires ideal for recharging the batteries.
As one might expect, the breakfasts are excellent with locally-caught haddock kedgeree a favourite and an oatmeal porridge that has won awards, no less.
Stay for Sunday lunch and you’re encouraged to sip a wee dram of whisky in the hotel bar after the meal and relax by the fire with the Sunday papers.
Stapleford Park, Leicestershire
If you’ve ever wanted to sample life as a retired English country lady or gentleman, this Midlands country house hotel might be just the ticket.
Want to don your Barbour jacket and try your hand at archery and falconry in the shadow of a 14th-century mansion? This is your place. Keen to play a game of chess while relaxing in leather armchairs by the fire under the watchful eye of a taxidermy deer? You got it. Have an urge to stare out of floor-to-ceiling windows at a sprawling, landscaped estate filled with grazing sheep? The answer here is a resounding yes.
Such grandeur doesn’t detract from the cosiness of the 55 rooms, with thick, plush drapery allowing you to draw the curtains tight and hibernate until spring.
Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall
Many visitors flock to England’s most south-westerly county for the coastline yet the warm climate also makes for lush countryside inland too. Coombeshead Farm sits outside the tiny village of Lewannick, ideally located between Dartmoor National Park and the foodie haven of Padstow.
This 66-acre working farm has its own kitchen garden and a bakery in a converted barn, meaning that the smell of fresh sourdough is ever-present and wannabe bakers can enjoy Sunday bread workshops.
Five double bedrooms are available Thursday to Sunday, giving access to the farmhouse’s book-lined drawing room and vast, well-stocked honesty bar. A warm welcome and a bustling farmyard completes the idyllic wintry picture.
Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, Sussex
Part of the fun of a stay on this 30-acre estate is having friends guess the age of the main manor house. The mismatched stonework and quarry windows would suggest this is a medieval relic, when in fact it was designed as recently as 1927 for Walter Guinness, the 1st Baron Moyne and director of his great-great grandfather’s Irish brewing empire. The nearby 13th-century chapel does at least point to the historic origins of the estate which is just a few minutes’ walk from Climping Beach.
The 39-room hotel is divided between several buildings. The Baylies suite overlooks the rose garden and boasts twin rolltop baths for romantic relaxation, while many of the other rooms have open fires and oversized four-poster beds.