10 Of The Best Spots For A Summer Staycation In The UK And US
The Lodge, Thyme, Gloucestershire. Photograph by Ms Rachael Smith, courtesy of Thyme
As the August Bank Holiday and Labor Day both reappear on the horizon and the travel industry tentatively tiptoes back into the frame, isn’t it time you embraced the dog days of summer in style? Before both sides of the pond fall into autumn, sweaters reappear from wardrobes and boots from shoe closets, there’s still one final opportunity to get away, relax and enjoy the last of the summer sun (and, indeed, wine). On whichever side of the Atlantic you’ve been locked down, this is your chance to escape before summer scarpers. These are our expert picks for a holiday without the quarantine.
01. Thyme, Cotswolds, UK
Left: The Lodge, Thyme, Gloucestershire. Right: peaches, almond and perroche at Ox Barn, Thyme, Gloucestershire. Photographs courtesy of Thyme
A self-styled “village within a village” at the heart of the Cotswolds, Thyme features a warren of cosy rooms spread within a cluster of honey-stone buildings. These include a former rectory and an old farmhouse, as well as a multitude of neighbouring cottages and barns – all beautifully restored, repurposed and restyled. Don’t miss the award-winning Ox Barn restaurant and serene Meadow Spa – the profoundly calm core of this perfect rural idyll.
Best for: the ultimate epicurean country retreat; thyme.co.uk
02. The Newt, Somerset, UK
Left: views over the gardens at The Newt, Somerset. Right: interior at Hadspen House, The Newt, Somerset. Photographs courtesy of The Newt
Many claim to be the ultimate country retreat for London’s cognoscenti: Babington House, Cliveden House and Soho Farmhouse for starters. But this unassuming Somerset beauty has the potential to leapfrog them all. The Newt is, quite frankly, one of the most exceptional country house hotels in Britain. Stroll its well-orchestrated grounds and deep orchards, dive into its wild swimming ponds and sample the delicious fresh fare from The Botanical Rooms (its world-class restaurant), before returning to your well-appointed room in the 17th-century manor and getting some well-earned rest.
Best for: embracing the English countryside in style
03. Shou Sugi Ban House, The Hamptons, US
Left: firepit at Shou Sugi Ban House, The Hamptons. Right: dumplings at Shou Sugi Ban House, The Hamptons. Photographs by Ms Fredrika Stjarne, courtesy of Shou Sugi Ban House
The Japanese practice of shou sugi ban involves preserving wood by scorching it with flames, then finishing the charred slabs with oil. Burnt-out New Yorkers can sympathise with that feeling, but now there’s a new sanctum where they can take their cauterised minds and bodies to recover. The Hamptons’ first wellness retreat and destination spa, Shou Sugi Ban House is an outpost of healing and relaxation just two hours from Midtown, with deliciously restorative food courtesy of Noma co-founder Mr Mads Refslund.
Best for: taking a New York minute for yourself
04. The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, UK
Left: Lookout Room Two at The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall. Right: The Terrace at The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall. Photographs by Mr Jake Eastham, courtesy of The Pig
Situated on Cornwall’s fashionable north coast, this is the seventh Pig in Mr Robin Hutson’s design-driven pen – and it’s as delightfully welcoming and laid-back as its peers. Positioned on a grassy outcrop above pretty Harlyn Bay, the 15th-century house boasts a total of 30 rooms – including a cluster of idyllic shepherds’ huts with additional outdoor rainwater showers. Within the grounds, potting sheds have been transformed into treatment rooms for massages and facials, while the Lobster Shed is already garnering a reputation as an outstanding alfresco dining spot.
Best for: an effortless British seaside break
05. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California, US
Left: Ocean House interior at Post Ranch Inn, California. Right: Jade Pool at Post Ranch Inn, California. Photographs by Mr Kodiak Greenwood, courtesy of Post Ranch Inn
You’ll struggle to find better views of the Californian coastline than from Post Ranch Inn – a top-end eco-resort in Big Sur that many in the industry consider among the best hotels in North America. A magnificent setting atop a 1,200ft coastal ridge affords uninterrupted views of both the roiling Pacific below and the towering Santa Lucia mountains above, while the fine dining restaurant, Sierra Mar, serves some of the best locally sourced dishes this side of San Francisco. There are three heated infinity pools secreted among the cliffs, with guests staying in a collection of charming cottages strung out along the ridge, offering total seclusion under clear, starry skies.
Best for: splendid isolation on the Californian coast; postranchinn.com
06. SCHLOSS Roxburghe, Scotland, UK
Left: exterior of SCHLOSS Roxburghe, Scotland. Right: interior of SCHLOSS Roxburghe, Scotland. Photographs by Mr Christian Laukemper, courtesy of SCHLOSS Roxburghe
Set in the rolling countryside of the Scottish borders, this 300-acre estate has plenty of options to keep you occupied, from clay pigeon shooting and a championship golf course to fly fishing and tomahawk throwing. The house itself sets a perfect “Lord of the Manor” tone, with lofty ceilings, oak panelling and sweeping staircases, best enjoyed from a comfortable armchair by the fire, glass of whisky in hand.
Best for: a slice of Scottish baronial grandeur
07. Amangiri, Utah, US
Left: view from the sand dune at Amangiri, Canyon Point. Right: pavilion and swimming pool at Amangiri, Canyon Point. Photographs by Mr Ken Hayden, courtesy of Aman
An architectural dream, Amangiri looks like an unborn billionaire’s luxury lunar retreat. Today’s terrestrial luminaries are no strangers to this extraordinary property either. They come here – to this 600-acre sanctuary in southern Utah – for the food, for the Navajo-inspired spa treatments, for the sweeping desert views and for the sheer undiluted tranquillity (Amangiri is Sanskrit for “peaceful mountain”). The owners, Aman, have been busy during the pandemic too, adding Camp Sarika – a luxe glamping spin-off a short distance from the main property.
Best for: escapism and pure luxury; aman.com
08. Beaverbrook, Surrey, UK
Left: Beaverbrook House, Surrey. Right: the hallway at Beaverbrook House, Surrey. Photographs courtesy of Beaverbrook House
Named after the legendary press baron who once called this impressive stately pile his home, Beaverbrook is a paltry 18 miles from central London, but feels a world apart. There are deft nods to the property’s early 20th-century heyday, with rooms named after famous house guests from Sir Ian Fleming to Sir Winston Churchill, and staff suitably attired in 1920s waistcoats, braces and flat caps. But the interiors are very much 2020s, masterminded by Ms Susie Atkinson of Soho House fame. The grounds encompass an impressive some 400 acres, making social distancing a breeze, and the views could hardly be greener or more bucolic, despite the ridiculously close proximity to Zone One.
Best for: a splash of Gatsby glamour; beaverbrook.co.uk
09. Blackberry Mountain, Tennessee, US
Left: views from Blackberry Mountain, Tennessee. Right: the restaurant at Blackberry Mountain, Tennessee. Photographs by Ingalls Photography, courtesy of Blackberry Farm
Blackberry Farm, the five-star “healthfulness” retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains, has long been a top-end pit stop for the A-List – and now it’s added an elite sister-resort, Blackberry Mountain, to the mix, too. Just seven miles up the road from the original, this sleek spin-off is set amid 5,200 forested acres of biking and hiking heaven, with deluxe lodging and an incredible subterranean spa at its heart. (The proprietor encourages guests to think of it as “your own private national park”). As the name suggests, it’s built on some pretty steep terrain, too; from the hilltop Firetower restaurant, you can soak up panoramic views of Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Best for: cleansing mind, body and spirit
10. Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming, US
Left: exterior of Anglers Camp at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga. Right: horses at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga. Photographs by Mr Dan Ham, courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch
If you’re urgently looking to hit pause on the stresses of urban lockdown, where better to escape than the wild open pastures of Wyoming? At Brush Creek Ranch, you could be helping to round up cattle on horseback at one point, then enjoying a yoga session or hot stone massage the next. Set on 30,000 acres in the Sierra Madres, this is the dude ranch concept done properly – with lashings of luxury, skill and style. (And with plenty of home-grown Wagyu beef to boot).
Best for: galloping into a calming sunset