After what feels like a century of winter, it’s time to get serious about summer.
Jetting off is a no-go until at least May 17 (who wants a return quarant-inn stay with nothing but the M4 to look at anyway?), but staycations are now permitted as of April 12. It’s time to plan.
This year it’s all about a self-catering staycay. Low-impact and less travel intensive, self-catering means greater safety (no suspect buffets to reckon with), more privacy and a break from the tyranny of socially acceptable meal times. Brunch past midday, midnight grilled cheeses, breakfast BBQs are all on the table.
Feast your eyes on our favourite self-catered staycation hot spots.
Soak up the sun at the Water’s Edge luxury digs between Newquay and Padstow. It gets an A+ for glorious ocean views. Follow the path to Mawgan Porth beach for sundowners on the sand, or drink it all in from the outside dining table set on the deck. Sleeps 10, from £1719.
Chargrill every meal at Larkrise Camber, just outside Rye. The dog-friendly property is nicely kitted out, with bi-fold doors leading to a secluded beach garden and a weathered timber deck for BBQs. Three nights from £1,477 total, plus £20 extra for pooches.
If calm lochs and epic views appeal, these Scottish staycations will have you running, holdalls packed, for the hills. Watch herons hunting for breakfast at The Boathouse, a self-catered waterfront retreat in the Highlands or bag charming Milovaig House, perched cliffside on the Isle of Skye - fingers crossed for the Northern Lights. Sleeps 6, from £150 per night.
A stay in Bond Island Windmill once owned by Sir Roger Moore will leave your Instagram feed shaken and stirred. Spy epic scenery from 360 views, and enjoy fishing and boat trip action on the cinematic broads. Three-nights from £305pp, dogs welcome.
Treehouse on the Lake in Clowance, Cornwall, sleeps four in the height of luxury. Explore magical surrounds before a well-earned soak in the outdoor tub, G&T in hand. Book now for early check-in and chilled Taittinger on arrival.
Drop anchor at UNESCO-site Charlestown Harbour where you can stow away on moored sailing boats in the 18th century port. Try Anny, a 1930’s Topsail Schooner (sleeps eight) or Mascotte, a former Bristol Chanel Pilot Cutter, sleeps 10, both with on-board kitchens, from £200pn.
Glide along some 4,700 miles of UK waterways with app GetMyBoat, which offers luxe houseboats and canal barge rentals (captain included) as well as kayaks by the hour.
What good is sleeping under the stars if you can’t see them? Feel (slightly) closer to the cosmos in Dabinett Treehouse in Fenny Orchard, near Glastonbury village. Not your typical treetop den, it comes with a kitchen, king bed and open-air bath. Visit the neighbouring vineyard for a drop of something special.
Dog-friendly Hex Cottage in leafy Suffolk is a Disney fairytale made real. The thatched escape offers a ‘digital detox’ with no electricity and candle lit nights - bliss after months of screen overload. Use the rustic kitchen to rustle up wholesome meals in sweet serenity, or book a local chef to do the graft for you.
Nordic-cool comes to Denbighshire via Rivercatcher Lodges which offer a hygge at home experience. Think wood burners, kitchens (including outdoor gas-fired facilities), plush king beds and apex windows framing mighty Snowdonia. Slip into the hot tub and feel a million miles away. From £940 for two.
The big reunion
If, and when, regulations allow multi-household gatherings, Harrogate’s Chapel of Rock is a top spot. Set in rolling Yorkshire countryside, it sleeps 10 (dogs welcome) and features an Americana-style kitchen to keep your crew fed and watered. Spend evenings jukebox jiving, crooning by the baby-grand piano and playing board games in the cosy warmth of the lounge’s wood burner.
Your very own private island? The only way is... Osea. Sleeping 20, the Edwardian Mansion in Essex is accessible only twice a day via a causeway - hello, uninterrupted peace and quiet. There’s a pool, gardens and beach, with a Clubhouse nearby for more activities. From £2,000pn.
There’s not a scrap of tartan at Highland Lodge in Aberfeldy, where Scandi-themed interiors capitalise instead on the wide open spaces. The 720sqm rental includes a colossal dining room and lounge (perfect for long-awaited reunions) and Italian-tiled kitchen, with a BBQ for summer cookouts. A produce-packed hamper awaits on arrival, and hire includes butler service. Call concierge for white-knuckle rides, from mountain biking to whitewater rafting as well as whisky flights in Dewar’s Secret Bar where Ed Sheeran is a regular. Sleeps 20, £2,390pn, minimum stay two nights.
Host your headline event at East Afton Farmhouse on the Isle of Wight, which sits on the site of the festival. With room for 14 (18 with the annex), there’s a cinema room, roof terrace, fireplaces and a games area, as well as a full kitchen. Bring wristbands for true festival vibes. From £350 per night. Eastaftonfarmhouse.com
Delight in tourist-free London and become a temporary resident in the country’s swankiest postcodes. The spectacular Bvlgari Suites are your fantasy lottery-win home with grand dining rooms, a butler (handy for post-banquet washing up) plus spa access. Nowthis is living.
From SW7 to E8, Dalston is welcoming aparthotel Kingsland Locke to the neighbourhood this spring. The studio apartments will sit above an on-site gin distillery and microbrewery; that’s the celebratory drinks sorted. From £115pn.
Forty minutes from London, Berkshire’s Monkey Island offers period properties with fully-loaded fridges on arrival. Step back from the stove and order doorstep deliveries like a proper roast from Jack Blumenthal, progeny of Heston. Nearby Bray Nature Reserve makes an idyllic picnic spot. The private cottages are moments from the hotel (open July 31) should you require expert pampering. Three-night stay min over summer, from £400pn.
For a stay with real horsepower, hot foot it to the Horse Hut, which has a Lotus Elan sports-car-turned-jacuzzi parked in the drive (yes, really). The spot, just outside Medstead, Hampshire, may look rustic, but inside you’ll find a four poster bed, kitchen and en-suite loo.
Our homes are our castles, but if you’re sick of the sight of yours, it’s time to gallop, wind in hair, to more majestic vistas. First to Neville Tower, set in the ex-Norman stronghold of Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland. Gaze at beach-and-country views, best seen from the dining area beside the fully-equipped kitchen. Four nights from £896 (four sharing).
Palatial penthouse suite The Endeavour is poised to open this spring in Ayrshire’s Glenapp Castle. Expect regal lodgings for parties of 16, complete with a grand dining room, sauna - even a private massage room. Naturally, it comes with a butler and private chef who can whip up meals in the period kitchen.
Posh pig sty The Old Piggery (sleeps four) in Kent has had a Cali-cool upgrade. Interiors are sleek; think polished concrete and plywood, textured furnishings and space to breathe in the open plan layout. Canterbury is close, along with Hythe and Folkestone for fish suppers by the sea. Seven-nights from £740.