In the countryside
The Harper, north Norfolk
Carved out of a former glass-blowing factory in the pretty village of Langham, new boutique hotel the Harper brings a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. While you can quietly kick back in the streamlined bedrooms – which offer a refreshingly unstuffy take on countryside-chic – days are best spent exploring the great outdoors.
Order a Harper Hamper filled with locally-made goodies such as sourdough from Pastonacre bakery and Baron Bigod cheese from the Cheese Truckle, then head off to trample across the Stiffkey Saltmarshes. You’ll weave through muddy creeks carpeted with samphire, crossing wooden bridges to draw in the salty air. Or why not arrange to go seal-spotting at one of the many wide and unspoilt beaches along the heritage coastline? The hotel also has bikes for hire, so you can peddle around nearby beauty spots, including Holkham or Blakeney.
Back at the hotel, Norfolk’s coastal-countryside charm exudes from every part. Bedrooms have a supply of real coffee from Norfolk roasters Grey Seal and bathrooms are stocked with locally made, seaweed-infused beauty treats, while relaxed indoor and outdoor dining celebrates the abundance of artisan produce found nearby – crab and mussels from fishermen Andy and Martin Frary; pork from Swannington Farm to Fork; crisp leaves and pea shoots from Johnny Cupitt, a young farmer from Blakeney; and marmalade by Simon’s Table, an artisan food producer in Norfolk. How very satisfying.
In the woods
Lympstone Manor, Devon
Set in 28 acres of immaculate grounds, chef Michael Caines’ Lympstone Manor has been a champion of laid-back, rural living since it opened in 2017. New for 2021, and placing guests in the heart of the estate, amid woodland, ponds and fields of wildflowers, is a collection of artfully designed shepherd’s huts.
Boasting views of the Exe Estuary and the hotel’s vineyard, each little outpost has been named after a different wildlife resident of the hotel – Hare’s Rest, Otter Holt and Hedgehog Row, for instance. The new additions have been expertly and uniquely designed by Blackdown Shepherd Huts – with features such as outdoor bathtubs, damson-red kitchenettes and wood-fired ‘Hikki’ hot tubs. Artist Rachel Toll has painted whimsical floral murals behind the beds, which are piled with bright, botanical-print pillows and faux-fur bed-throws, and there are eco soaps and creams by Natural Spa Factory. At night, you can stargaze through the ‘sky windows’ above the bed, while morning brings breakfast courtesy of a special Michael Caines hamper, stocked with freshly-baked breads, pastries and honey made by the resident bees.
Days can be spent exploring the Jurassic Coast, or foraging with a local expert in search of berries, wild garlic and nettles found in the hedgerows and Devon banks. As the sun dips, order a sundowner from the bar and head to your decked terrace – look up to see kingfishers and avocets swoop over the estuary – and revel in your very own sanctuary.
On the beach
Three Mile Beach, Cornwall
Tucked behind the reeds and sand dunes on Gwithian Beach, the new Three Mile Beach collection – made up of 15 Hamptons-style beach houses – offers the ultimate in barefoot living. The white clapboard interiors are brightened with candy coloured accents – think mint-green stools at the kitchen bar, baby-pink bedspreads, pastel-blue sofas and silvery zinc bathtubs. Wood-burners warm the homes in cooler months, while wrap-around terraces, complete with sunken cedar hot tubs, barrel saunas and barbecue grills, mean you can make the most of long summer nights in St Ives Bay.
Elevating the concept of self-catering, there are private chefs on-tap for lavish meals, or you can nip to the street-food truck for a quick, wholesome bite to eat. Alternatively, home cooks can pick their own produce at the nearby Trevaskis Farm, or – for something different – you can head down to Gwithian Beach for a summer ‘cookout’ event by foodie collective Hungry Horsebox (ideal after a day spent surfing).
Nearby is the Southwest Coast Path, the longest National Trail in the UK, peppered with heritage sites and unique geology. Or why not head to Godrevy Point, where high cliffs shelter sandy beaches below, for the ideal place to blow away the cobwebs?