These spots make for a welcome autumn retreat, says travel journalist Ianthe Butt
As summer fades and the leaves begin to crunch underfoot, our minds (and wardrobes) are shifting into autumn mode. ‘Tis the season of chunky jumpers, cable knit socks, boots with literally everything and (best of all) the promise of a soothing weekend away. From cosseting interiors and woodland walks to autumn feasting and roaring fires, there’s no better feeling than being snug and that’s the name of the game for these UK stays…
The Gallivant, Camber Sands, East Sussex
Camber Sands – with its white-gold beach and undulating grass-topped dunes – is one of England’s prettiest beaches. For a stay as uplifting as the surroundings, adults-only boutique hotel The Gallivant sits just a shell’s throw away. The experience is start-to-finish cosy; spaces aglow with ‘Camberfornication’ candles, amenable staff proffering fuzzy blankets for post-sea warmups, and flasks of sleepy tea delivered before bed. As well as coffee table books and cushion-heaped sofas, there’s a restaurant decorated with retro swimming costumes where seasonal dishes – including ribboned courgette with labneh and zhouk – are served alongside English wines. The bedrooms to book are the luxury Garden Rooms, with deep bathtubs behind sliding panels, Bamford toiletries, fern-coloured clapboard-style walls and lavender-filled terraces. If the prospect of sea buckthorn martini beach sundowners, a peaceful yoga session, or knockout Turkish Eggs brings you joy, all your bases are covered.
The Wilderness Cabins, Oban, Scotland
Scotland’s west coast is synonymous with wild romance, a visual fiesta of rugged cliffs and shoreline. Just fifteen minutes from Oban, this trio of design-led bothies are tucked at the oak-fringed shores of Loch Nell. Ringed by private farmland, it’s all about escapism here; arrival is via a speedboat jaunt across the loch, and you’ll need your best firemaking skills to heat up water for the outdoor shower, or your Argyll Roasters morning coffee, as the bothies are completely off-grid. Chic and uncluttered cabins feature ash kitchens stocked with local produce, tactile Argyll pottery, furry throws draped over Homer sofas, and attractive log burners. Adventurous holidaymakers can fish for their supper or take to the loch by kayak, looking out for white-tailed eagles soaring overhead (paddling is particularly spectacular on misty mornings). Or pootle around the woodlands soaking up Iron Age history, or retreat to the lochside sauna.
Sawcliffe Manor, Lincolnshire
Scunthorpe mightn’t scream wild-at-heart break, but just ten minutes’ drive from the industrial town in High Risby is Sawcliffe, a handsome mediaeval manor and cottages on a sustainably-minded farm reimagined in eccentric rural farmhouse style. A great pick for group getaways – rentable in its entirety for 48 guests, at weekends – several of the manor house bedrooms and a trio of bucolic cottages are available Sunday to Thursday. Our pick is Rose Cottage, where each bedroom has its own charm; one with oak-leaf adorned wallpaper, while another has a raised bed, tucked behind a curtain. A spacious kitchen provides the backdrop for candlelight suppers of Aga-warmed pies and melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondant, while an antiques-filled lounge is ripe for post prandial fireside chatter. Welcoming hosts Reg and Jana lead pizza making and archery classes with infectious enthusiasm, there’s a natural spa for copper bath soaks (in milk, a la Cleopatra) and a wood-fired hot tub, plus Exmoor ponies wander in the nature reserve next door.
The Pig in the South Downs, Madehurst, West Sussex
A grand Georgian house wrapped in the rolling South Downs National Park, the latest addition to the PIG hotels portfolio delivers warm-hearted hospitality at its best. Interiors are a masterclass in artful mismatchery; bedrooms with avocado-coloured enamel freestanding tubs, vintage beds with barley twist bedposts and richly-patterned Persian rugs. Aside from the main house, a series of flint and timber-clad stable buildings and a handful of wagons make for appealing slumber spots. After rootling through Arundel’s antiques shops, or tramping along the South Downs’ leafy trails (wellies provided), indulge in a warming seaweed, ginger and orange VOYA Organic mud wrap, flop on floral-patterned sofas by the fire, or toast sunset views over the vineyard with quince-infused cocktails. A locavore heaven (all ingredients are grown on-site or within 25 miles), feast on the likes of sweetcorn and sage risotto and sticky marmalade at the rustic greenhouse restaurant.
Halvana Forest Shed, Cornwall
With wooden walls, fairy-light wrapped beams and a basin hewn from river stone, this brand new eco-friendly cabin in Altarnun offers a dose of the rural good life on the northern fringes of Bodmin Moor. Through-and-through tree trunk chic, there’s a record player to spin vinyl, and a wooden ladder leads up to a mezzanine loft, ideal for birdwatching or a Scrabble marathon. Outside, a swing, hammock and firepit – with marshmallows provided – invite evenings spent fireside feasting or snuggled up stargazing. Surrounded by fields where the owners’ sheep, chickens and friendly pony roam, days can be spent togged up on moorland wanders, admiring ancient stone circles, cycling the Camel Trail, or getting a beach fix in Bude, about half an hour’s drive away. For those who don’t fancy cooking, the nearby King’s Head pub does an excellent roast.