Hotels for a reviving Spring break

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5 minutes

By Rose Shepherd

It’s been a long, testing winter, with snow and ice for some, but soon trees will be blossoming, bulbs will be starting to flower, and it is time to make plans for a reviving spring break. Here are a few of our readers’ favourites, from small B&B to grand country house – and a ‘cottage’ built for a duke, in a dream landscape.

Graveytye Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex

Come at tulip time to this romantic Elizabethan country house, and you can enjoy the spring plantings in gardens laid out in 1885 by William Robinson, exponent of the natural English garden style, through the glass walls of the restaurant, where produce from orchard and kitchen garden feature in Michelin-starred dishes. Many of the traditionally styled bedrooms have a lake or meadow view. Luxury doesn’t come cheap, but it’s a pleasant drive from London for lunch, with Ashdown Forest and the Bluebell Railway nearby.

Gravetye Manor

The Pig Near Bath, Pensford, Somerset

Tucked away in the Mendips, this part-Georgian mansion surrounded by a deer park was the third hotel to open in Robin Hutson’s Pig collection. It has the signature shabby-chic interiors (more chic than shabby), a friendly, easy-going vibe, and imaginative menus sourced largely from a prolific kitchen garden and within 25 miles. Bedrooms range from snug to ‘big comfy luxe’. ‘The Hide’, in the kitchen garden, is set over two floors, with a wood burner, monsoon showers and free-standing bath. Here, too, you’ll find the Potting Shed treatment rooms, for a rejuvenating massage.

The Pig, Pig Near Bath

Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon

A fishing lodge built for John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, and his Duchess, Georgiana, in fairy-tale cottage orné style, is run with elan by Olga Polizzi, doyenne of hotelkeepers. It stands in gardens and parkland laid out by Humphry Repton on the east bank of the River Tamar, an Arcadian landscape of follies, grottos, rockery, waterfalls, steam and dell, champion trees, quarry, crag and cascade. It’s utterly magical, a place to escape from the rat race and recharge, to dine on elegant, unswanky fare and to sleep under a pitch-dark, star-filled sky.

Shallowdale House, Ampleforth, Yorkshire

On the edge of the North York Moors national park, a south-facing 1960s house in two-acre hillside gardens commands sweeping views to the Howardian hills through big picture windows. With just three bedrooms, hosts Phillip Gill and Anton van der Horst have plenty of time to spoil their guests, laying on complimentary tea and treats in the afternoon. Bedrooms are bright and contemporary. Breakfast brings organic eggs, Craster kippers, local sausages, home-made preserves. Given notice, Phillip will cook dinner, beautifully presented, with fresh flowers and crisp linen.

Shallowdale House

The Royal Oak, Tetbury, Gloucestershire

Fun, friendly and casual, this 18th-century Cotswold village pub can be buzzy, with quiz nights, vintage jukebox and piano, but the six bedrooms are located in an outbuilding, so peace is assured. Three are dog friendly, including the accessible Garden Room, which has a separate seating area and opens onto the courtyard. The menus mix seasonal pub grub with more imaginative dishes, including veggie options. A visit to nearby Westonbirt Arboretum – home to 15,000 trees and shrubs and 2,500 species – is a must, when magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons are in their pomp.

The Royal Oak

The Montagu Arms, Beaulieu, Hampshire

The New Forest is wonderful in springtime, when bluebells carpet the forest floor, and ponies and their foals, donkeys and deer roam free. On the edge of the forest, overlooking the Beaulieu river, this village hotel makes the perfect base for exploring. Some bedrooms and suites overlook a Gertrude Jekyll-inspired garden. If you want to bring your dog, book a courtyard studio, overlooking a courtyard garden, with its own private terrace. There is a choice of fine dining in the Terrace restaurant, and pub grub in Fido-friendly Monty’s Bar.

The Montagu Arms

Storrs Hall, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria

No poem more memorably evokes spring flowers than Wordsworth’s ‘daffodils’, and you’ll find them in profusion around Lake Windermere, where this Grade II* listed Georgian mansion sits in leafy seclusion, with lawns running down to the water’s edge. As well as main-house bedrooms, contemporary, adults-only lakeside suites have glass walls opening onto a private terrace with cedar hot tub, so you can listen to birdsong and watch for red squirrels as you luxuriate. Dine on classic cuisine in the restaurant, or more informally in the bar. Go biking in Grizedale Forest, or step aboard the hotel’s skippered Thames pleasure boat for a two-hour jaunt.

Storrs Hall Hotel

Pen-Y-Dyffryn, Oswestry, Shropshire

A morning newsletter with your breakfast is one of the charming personal touches at the Hunter family’s Georgian rectory in lush gardens, in the Shropshire hills, within sight of the Welsh border. Several of the bedrooms – some in the coach house – have a spa bath, some a private patio. The service is warm and personal. In the restaurant, a short, imaginative nightly menu is locally sourced. Some rooms are dog friendly (max one, except by arrangement), with no extra charge. Walkers can join the Offa’s Dyke long-distance footpath.


Plas Tan-Yr-Allt, Tremadog, Gwynedd

A young Percy Bysshe Shelley completed ‘Queen Mab’ while staying at this Georgian villa in Snowdonia, with views to the Glastlyn estuary and Rhinog mountains. Built for William Madocks, founder of Tremadog, it is run as a B&B by welcoming hosts Howard Mattingley and Mark White. The bedrooms are named after Shelley, Madocks, and another former resident, Hilda Greaves, whose nephew, Sir Clough Williams Ellis, commissioned the mural of ‘The Temple of Neptune’. An Edwardian cream tea by the drawing- room fire, or on the wisteria-draped veranda, is a highlight. In season, azaleas and rhododendrons are ablaze in the gardens, with ancient woodlands, lily pond, waterfall and wildlife.

Plas Tan-Yr-Alt

Viewfield House, Portree, Isle of Sky, Highland

A Victorian country house built for Lord Macdonald and steeped in family lore, in 20-acre grounds overlooking Loch Portree on the Isle of Skye, is run as a hotel by Iona Buxton (née Macdonald, of course), and husband Jasper. Antiques, ancestral portraits and hunting trophies adorn public spaces. The ethos is old-fashioned, with a home-from-home feel. Inexpensive, light suppers are served in the dining room, in a house-party atmosphere – soups, cheese, sharing platters. In the morning, after breakfasting on porridge, kippers, or a full Scottish, you can take a half-day sailing trip, skippered by Jasper, aboard the yacht Breeze.

Viewfield House

See more of our favourite hotels for Spring