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A Romantic Break in the UK

Author: Lauren Coleman

James and I celebrate our fourth anniversary next month and so I’ve started to think about our annual weekend away.

For year one, we spent a night at the Runnymede-on-Thames in Egham. We had a smashing time in the modern spa hotel, enjoying afternoon tea and a scrumptious dinner next to the banks of the River Thames. (Inside obviously as November can be a bit chilly). On the Sunday afternoon we explored Windsor, stopping in at the castle for a tour before heading home. It was great to have such a relaxing trip when so close to the M25. Though Runnymede feels slightly ‘businessey’ we were both really impressed by our friendly and attentive the staff were.

To celebrate year two we crashed our friend’s engagement celebrations down in Brighton and heartily tucked in to the best meal I’ve ever eaten in the UK at Havana Spoon (which sadly no longer exists). The next day we drove along the coast to Hastings arriving just before sunset. There was a great vibe in Hastings on the Sunday evening as we went off to tuck into a delicious thai meal in an old book shop(!) We laid down our heads for the evening at The Swan House; an absolutely stunning boutique hotel dating back to 1490 with elegant and sophisticated rooms and a colour palette to die for.
On the Monday I dragged James excitedly into the centre to visit some of the boutiques and antique shops but sadly found most of them were closed. I would love to go back and have a mooch around again.

Last year we headed down to Berkshire to explore Marlow and Little Marlow, stopping by Home Barn to peruse their fabulous collection of vintage interiors accessories and furniture. We spent the night at The Olde Bell in Hurley, a modern-day coaching inn with period features and very contemporary styling. Our meal was pleasant but we both felt it was exceptionally expensive for what we had to eat. Breakfast was far better! We stayed in the main building in a toasty warm room. It was great to relax in the bar afterwards by a roaring fire rather than have to step outside before heading up to bed.

And now on to year four. I have no idea where to go so I’m hoping you may have some recommendations. I’d like to think we’re not particularly fussy but here are a few pointers.

  • Our friends and family live all over the UK so we have to travel a lot. Ideally this hotel would be within an hour and a half of Junction 15 of the M1.
  • We’d prefer more of a rural location than a city one.
  • It would be great to have a good restaurant very nearby so we don’t have to wander too far after dinner.
  • Thanks in advance of all your suggestions. I am really looking forward to hearing your recommendations. Feel free to make any suggestions outside of my criteria so this becomes a useful post for anyone looking for a romantic break away.

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    68 thoughts on “A Romantic Break in the UK

      1. Thanks Kimberley. It looks so cosy!
        I see they do a good Sunday Dinner and Room special offer. I’ll have to try and get the Monday off work! x

    1. Oh my goodness, we are struggling with this very predicament for our first wedding anniversary, which falls on NYE.
      We want a country retreat cottage, somewhere that accepts Hairy Babies (the dog!) self catering with an open fire that we can crash in front of with a class of wine after long dog walks in the country.
      So many places are already booked up or have extortionate rates over NYE 🙁
      Have you tried the Sawdays website?
      Somewhere I really want to go (but is booked for our dates) is the Tin Chapel in Shropshire. Google it!! I’m in love!
      Good luck with your search and sorry I can’t help more.

    2. We have just spent the weekend at ockenden manor in East Sussex and it was fab! I’m not sure if it fits your distance requirement but the hotel is lovely, set in beautiful countryside, great spa with an outdoor hot tub from which you have beautiful views and an amazing Michellin starred restaurant! I did a DBB package for my other half’s birthday and it was fairly reasonable for everything you get! I would recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing night away! X

    3. We stayed at The Drawing Room in Builth Wells for a weekend in September. Gorgeous food, lovely location in the Élan Valley; can do walks along the reservoir, visit the red kites at Gigrin Farm or pop into the antiques shops in Hay-on-Wye. Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves & have promised my mum we’ll take her there for her 60th as we’ve talked about it so much!

      1. Though having just googled (my English geography is pretty poor!) it might be further than you want to travel… We flew Aberdeen to Birmingham and hired a car, so it’s certainly do-able but might eat into your time x

    4. I know I sound like a broken record, but stay at the Bath priory hotel and eat in their restaurant OR the manor at Castle Combe (my local! when i am back in the UK!) x

      1. I like your broken record! Castle Combe is amazing Jess. We stayed there a few years ago. It’s so picturesque. x

    5. Oo wow I love the look of The Swan House Lauren! Might have to add that to the never ending list of places to go and stay…
      In terms of recommendations, we spent our first anniversary last year at a place in the Cotswolds called the Lords of the Manor which has an amazing Michelin star restaurant (we’re both proper foodies) and very attentive staff. Just about in your hour and half radius and definitely ticks the rural location – the Cotswolds are beautiful – it wasn’t cheap but because it was a Sunday night I think we got a good deal and we did get a free room upgrade when we arrived (always worth mentioning its for your anniversary when you book places just in case!!). Good luck with your search Lauren and let us know where you end up going! x

      1. Thanks Ali. Definitely agree the mention of the special occasion is always worth it.
        The Lords of the Manor looks amazing! So very grand!
        The Swan House was gorgeous – definitely one to add to your list. x

    6. Hi Lauren,

      Well I get married next month so will be joining you with anniversarys in November! Ive heard fantastic things about ‘The Pig’ franchise..The one near Bath is fantastic and whilst you are in the area you should take a trip to The Ethicurean. Its an absolutely fantastic restaurant set in the walls of a victorian market garden..all the food has either been grown their, foraged for or shot by their amazing barman (They make their own Vermouth for Negronis..need i say any more!) – Hunter and can make fantastic cocktails! What ever you do im sure that you will have a fabulous get-a-way. Clare xx

      1. Thanks so much Clare and huge congratulations on being a November bride. It’s the best time to get married in my opinion 😉 x

    7. We recently took a break in Yorkshire – near Howarth. the location was beautiful, lovely country walks (the Bronte trail takes you to the top of Wuthering heights so you can go all Kate Bush should you wish!) and small towns close by with lots of lovely independent shops, cosy pubs and places to eat. We were so lucky with the weather so I guess that played a part in the overall enjoyment BUT the cottage we stayed in was just beautiful and had its own private hot tub (does it get much better!) overlooking open countryside as well as a lovely log burner.
      The owner had chilled prosecco, strawberries and chocolates waiting for us on arrival. We felt totally spoilt!
      http://www.higherscholescottage.co.uk/

      1. Amy, I love Howarth! I remember going there when I was little.

        Love you had chilled prosecco waiting for you – my idea of heaven! x

    8. We’ve stayed at the Feversham Arms, Helmsley, North Yorks. It is an absolutely beautiful spa hotel in the middle of a little rural market town. The restaurant is great, we went for the tasting menu – so much food! Definitely recommend.

      1. I second the Feversham Arms – lovely place!

        Definitely worth perusing Sawdays website – and their glamping site Canopy and Stars is pretty cool.

      2. Looks like this would be perfect anytime of year Liz and Victoria – outdoor pool and indoor snugs. Perfect!

    9. I was going to take your rural theme and reccomend a yurt weekend… my best friend moved in to look after my children and sent me and Joel off for a surprise weekend in a beautiful yurt near york. We were cooked for, had loads of gorgeous outdoor space, york to visit in the day, kept warm with our own fire – it was so different and totally beautiful. (I’ve just checked their website though and they’ve packed up and gone to run yurts in spain!!) Otherwise my other reccomendation, a little further than you want to go I think is Augill Castle (stayinacastle.com) The website doesnt do it justice… its just so beautiful. I’ve not actually stayed there for a night but used it for a video shoot a couple of years ago and got to have a good nosy around and used one of the rooms – Its the kind of place you would want to visit as many times as there are rooms, at least, so that you could try them all out and pretend you are a princess in each of them. The grounds are just stunning. Its not grand and echoey but pretty and cosy too. The owners are also really lovely people who’ve donated nights for our charity auctions lots of times… always good to know you’re paying a thoroughly-nice person 🙂

      1. Amanda, I think we nearly booked a yurt near York for my Mum’s 60th. We were put off by the lack of indoor facilities though. I’m such a wimp when it comes to camping and glamping!
        Auguill Castle looks immense. I’ve just been reading about spending Christmas there. How incredible would that be? x

    10. Not within your distance requirement but The Randy Pike in the Lake District is uber special, decor to die for, three room only boutique hotel. Owners are dog lovers and will drive you to and back from their divine hotel in town! Wish I lived there 🙂

      1. I’m desperate to go back to the Lakes Sophie. The six hour journey we had to endure last time took the edge off slightly but from the look of the Randy Pike rooms I could be swayed 😉

    11. This does not come within your catchment area as it is a much further drive but I think it’s worth it! The Swan at Newby Bridge in the Lake District is just gorgeous http://www.swanhotel.com/. I stayed there recently with my husband and his family for his parents wedding anniversary and it was a wonderful break. The hotel is beautiful – very nicely decorated with incredibly comfortable rooms. There is a lovely bar with a roaring fire to sit by in the evenings and a marvelous restaurant on site. The breakfasts were great too (how a hotel does a breakfast is always very important to me!). There is also a spa if you fancy a pamper. It would be very easy to stay in the hotel for an entire weekend, but it is located at the southern tip of lake Windermere so there are plenty of activities to do if you can be tempted to leave! Obviously there are beautiful walks and plenty of outdoor pursuits however we opted to take the boat across Windermere and then visit the town of Bowness which was lovely.

    12. Not sure how far it will be from you, but last year we went to the church street hotel in Stratford upon Avon, we booked through Mr+Mrs Smith and got free champagne in our room, which was quaffed upon arrival, before having a few beers in the bar downstairs, then we had a wonder around (a few of the other pubs…) before going to http://www.lambsrestaurant.co.uk for a lovely meal. The menu in the hotel also looked awesome, and husband still rates it as one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve had. It was also the best hotel bed we have ever stayed in.
      I could recommend many places in the lakes and Yorkshire dales, but they definitely would be too far for you

    13. I recently had a weekend in Cheltenham, which was lovely and we had drinks at this hotel as recommended by RMW Adam – http://www.no131.com/, the decor was to die for and the food looked amazing! Cheltenham had lots of lovely little shops and boutiques to wander around x

      1. Ooooh No 131 looks lovely Lisa.
        I would like an invite to Cheltenham but Adam doesn’t seem to get the hint. I have heard very good things about the shops and bars…. x

    14. I was thinking Cotswolds too! (That;s where I am from originally!) Have heard great things about Cowley Manor and Calcot Manor (near Tetbury which is lovely!)

      Rx

      1. Rachie, you’re so lucky coming from the Cotswolds. I love it there.
        I am very much liking the sound of all these Manors. I’m off to take a closer look x

    15. It’s a little bit further Lauren, but you absolutely MUST look at The Pig near Bath. Mr P and I stayed there for our wedding anniversary and it was simply fabulous from beginning to end.

      It’s about 10 minutes from Bath and set in the rolling countryside. I think you’d love the decor of the rooms/hotel, the staff are fantastic and the restaurant really is first class. They have their own allotments so something on every dish on the restaurant menu is grown on their doorstep and the rest is sourced locally.

      A must visit!

      1. A friend of mine has been to the Pig and raved about it. Definitely somewhere I would love to go.
        This is getting really tricky now. So many fabulous recommendations! x

    16. I can recommend the Talbot Inn in Mells (www.talbotinn.com). It is rural in a nice little village. It has its own restaurant with delicious food and it is near Bath for a shopping trip. In every room you find their own, handmade bath and body products, which were really nice. We stayed there on our Mini-Moon this year in june and I hope we will have the chance to go there again some time.

    17. Oh, I miss UK mini-breaks. Everywhere is so beautiful!

      I took my Mum for some daughter bonding time to Babington House for a night in September – it is expensive but we honestly so got our money’s worth at the free tea and cake table – a big, chunky wooden high table – full of cakes and naughties is served every day from 3-5pm. Even after you’ve checked out (which is a late check out – brilliant) you can still join in the tea time treats and enjoy the grounds – amazing! Mum and I sat around and ate SO much on both days and chatted to all the lovely guests – was FAB! The cowshed spa is also amazing there, we had a few treatments but the mud thing for 2 with a soak was just amazing, me and mum had a real giggle but would be so lovely and romantic too! http://www.babingtonhouse.co.uk/

      Also, stayed here for a friends wedding this year – was incredible – we had a smaller room but it was so luxurious, four post princess and the pea bed and the food in the pub was fantastic. http://www.thevillagepub.co.uk/ They have quite a few hotels in the area, my friend stayed here http://www.barnsleyhouse.com/rooms/room-tariffs/the-secret-garden-suite – mega expensive (it was their wedding and was perfect to get ready in as we had the consvertory and lounge!) But the food there is also awesome!!! The Cotswolds are definitely popular aren’t they!

      I have heard great things about the Pig places, Katie, would love to try one out too

      Congrats and let us know where you go!

      1. I would LOVE to stay at Babington House Nicola. My friend has just been a BM at a recent wedding there and the photos I’ve seen are epic! x

        1. OH wow!!! There was a wedding setting up there the day we were leaving, the most stylish bunch ever, i bet your friend (and her friends) had the most perfect day. The little chapel there is sooooo cute!

    18. I’d recommend a few areas rather than places to stay. Ludlow and Shrewsbury both very lovely and pretty and foodie too, if that’s your thing? Stamford is gorgeous, very picturesque, allegedly the best place to live in England!
      If I had to recommend actual places they’re a bit outside your area, so maybe not. There is a pub called the Cock O Barton not far from Chester, which is so good I’d stay nearby just to be near it! Carden Park spa hotel is nice, and the Pulford Grosvenor is supposed to be nice too.
      The other place is Rudding Park just outside of Harrogate. There is nothing about it not to like, just a fantastic hotel. We went there the night we found out my husband’s cancer hadn’t spread (yippee!) and it was a 5* experience two emotionally wrung-out people really needed! It’s expensive, but worth every penny. Anf=d Harrogate is a lovely little town too, AND you could go to Bettys!!
      Hope you find somewhere fantastic, and Happy 4th Anniversary! x

      1. Faye, what a great way to celebrate such fabulous news. Hope your husband is doing well now.
        Harrogate is such a beautiful place. We stayed there a few years ago before my cousin’s wedding and really enjoyed it x

    19. You should try the Howard Arms at Ilmington, nr Stratford upon Avon. It’s a pub with rooms (very nice rooms) and the food is amazing. As in “stuffed full but still have to have a pudding” amazing. I’ve not been for a few years but will hopefully be going back for a mini break next year.

      1. Love the phrase ‘stuffed full but still have to have a pudding’ or in my case ‘stuffed full but still room for a full cheese board’ 😉 x

    20. Cowley Manor is AMAZING – the grounds are beautiful and the spa is great. There are lots of little touches which make it special and the food is incredible – probably the best meal I’ve ever had. We booked through Mr and Mrs Smith, which gets you a really lovely Green and Spring product, but we also had a bottle of champagne waiting for us in the room because we mentioned it was my birthday. The bathtubs are huge, there are lots of magazines everywhere and the cocktails are amaze. We liked it so much we went and stayed again a month later and can’t wait to go back again – imagine it’s lovely in colder months 🙂

    21. It’s not in the country but St Albans is close to your place and always a lovely place to visit regardless of the weather x

    22. I second a lot of the recommendations there : Cowley Manor in particular is my favourite and they are so relaxed that you can go with or without children and still have a great time;

      Have been to several of the places listed there and they are all great reco.

      In addition, I recently found some well priced but still stylish places for my sister’s road trip around Bristol, Bath, Somerset and Devon so you might like looking at these too:
      http://fromthepoolside.com/hotels-exmoor-north-cornwall-dartmoor/

      http://fromthepoolside.com/5-bb-in-bath-england/

      and

      http://fromthepoolside.com/road-trip-hotels-somerset-bath-exeter-holiday-challenge/

      You are really spoilt for choices ! Looking forward to reading where you’ve been.

      1. Aww Lizzie, the good old days of our year six leavers trip to Howarth Youth Hostel 😉
        Tom Kerrige’s place looks amazeballs but isn’t the waiting list about a year long? x

    23. Just caught up with this blog post and was excited to see you visited Marlow – that’s where I live! Small world! 🙂

    24. Late to the party on this one but we spent a weekend in Somerset recently, on the Friday down thee for business as we’d been invited to stay at Maunsell House for a wedding showcase – bonkers place but I think it’s only exclusive use not a hotel. But then we moved onto Mells, stunning tiny village, we dined at The Talbot Inn, amazing food in the restaurant, huge sharing platter of meat cooked from an open grill, long table dining, deep dark walls and romantic candlelight, the pub looked fab too and you can also dine in there. We couldn’t get a room unfortunately as they have a 2-night min over the weekends so we stayed at a fab airbnb house just 5 mins walk from the pub. Great soot for exploring the local area, Hauser & Worth gallery is a must visit, it’s about 30 mins away and a creatives paradise, try Roth Grill at the gallery but book ahead as it’s always packed out. We also visited Bruton, a gorgeous little village and ate at At the Chapel, this place is incredible, set inside a converted chapel, it’s bursting with atmosphere, has an immense cocktail list, onsite bakery etc and wood fired pizzas (delicious) and perfect for two to share over lunch. They also do rooms. Email me if you’d like any more details. X

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