At the end of the week, why not buckle up your seatbelts and head straight to the countryside for a weekend retreat? Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, as well as sharing their Shire titles, also boast a conveniently close proximity to London. This, combined with their stunning scenery, makes these spots the ideal counties to escape to. Below is a roundup of the most idyllic hotels to stay in for a weekend away from the city.
Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, Suffolk: 2 hours drive from London
Bedford Lodge Hotel is 4 star hotel in Suffolk and is home to a popular 2AA rosette winning restaurant – The Squires Restaurant, as well as a more casual environment in the Roxana bar. They have very strong ties with the local horse racing industry, they’re actually situated just a very short walk to the famous Newmarket racecourse. You can find out more about this here. In addition to this wonderful hotel, there is also a spa on-site. The spa is 5 Bubble rated and features a beautiful hydrotherapy pool, rooftop hot tub, modern sauna and steam room as well as decadent relaxation rooms. They offer a range of spa breaks including a stay at the hotel. Details of breaks can be found here.
Port Lympne, Kent: 90 minutes drive from London
Port Lympne Reserve is home to over 700 animals and 88 species and there is more than enough time to see all of these magnificent animals during your stay. There are an array of animals, from rhino, wolves, bears, giraffe, zebra and many more. We were so impressed with this place from the moment we arrived, staff were attentive, we were given an itinerary for the day and before we knew it we were whisked off on our private safari tour.
Our trip to Port Lympne consisted of a private safari, a stay in their decadent Rhino Lodge, toasting marshmallows in the Treehouse Club, feeding the giraffes lunch, meeting Rosie the Rhino and whizzing round the park on our very own golf buggy. It really was a weekend we will NEVER forget! Alongside the safari, there is also sections of the zoo to walk on foot, including visiting the gorillas, lions and tigers, or you can visit the landscaped gardens and maze, take in the views from the Trojan stairs and even visit their new attraction Dinosaur Forest (Theo was thrilled, as you can see further down the post!). Read more here.
Careys Manor Hotel, New Forest: 2 hours drive from London
Careys Manor Hotel is located in the New Forest, in the south of England. Conveniently located within an hour and a half from London, 20 minutes from the centre of Southampton and with the rest of Hampshire and the M3 easily accessible – Careys Manor Hotel is the perfect place to enjoy truly relaxing short breaks, luxurious spa weekends and delicious dining. The location was also great for during your stay as it meant there was lots to do in the surrounding area including Brockenhurst, which is a short walk away, Lymington, which is only a 10-minute drive and the whole of the New Forest at your fingertips with walking, cycling and animal encounters at every corner.
From the moment we arrived I was instantly impressed with the location, and the drive up to the valet parking at the front of the hotel. As we arrived, we were welcomed in to the hotel, where our bags were taken to our room. We checked in and headed up to our room, after a super useful talk from the receptionist who gave us a run through of the hotel grounds, spa and timings for our booking. We then explored the hotel, before heading to a fun wine tasting in the main restaurant with a selection of other guests. It was a lovely way to begin a stay at the hotel, getting to meet the staff, and try a few of their wonderful wines. Read more here.
Barnsley House, The Cotswolds: 2 hours drive from London
The Cotwolds has always been one of my favourite places, the rolling hills, access to countryside and how you can feel at one with nature. I stayed at Ellenborough Park last spring and loved being back there so I was suitably excited when I booked a stay at Barnsley House. Barnsley House plays host to landscaped gardens, tennis courts, a helipad, holistic spa with hydrotherapy pool, private 30-seat cinema, DVD library, traditional restaurant and 18 stunning bedrooms, ranging in size, bathroom features and style. And the grounds are suitably beautiful, just like the house, with an array of plants, fauna and trees, making you feel a million miles away from the chaos of everyday life.
Our bedroom for the night was stunning; a deluxe attic room with gorgeous views of the famous kitchen garden out the back of the property with a spacious lounge area and open plan bedroom with en-suite bathroom, with the most stunning bath tub, and walk-in shower. From the moment we stepped inside our room I felt like I had come home. Once we had unpacked our bags and boiled the kettle for a cup of tea, we pulled on the wellies and raincoat, and headed out for a walk around Barnsley and the surrounding villages, to both explore and get a feel for an area of The Cotswolds we had never visited before. Read more here.
The Mews at Sopwell House, Hertfordshire: 1 hour drive from London
Originally an old stable block, the newly renovated Hertfordshire oasis comprises 16 Mews set within the 12-acre grounds of the stunning Georgian manor house, Sopwell House. With the choice of studio, one bedroom and duplex mews houses, each of the properties is styled in a quintessentially British manner. The glamorous retreats benefit from full use of the Sopwell House Hotel’s elegant restaurants and award-winning spa. The Mews surround a stunning communal botanical garden with a hydrotherapy pool, designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist Ann-Marie Powell. Many have their own private terraces with sunken hot tubs. Read more here.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire: 2 hour drive from London
This escape needs no introduction. Belonging to one of the most exclusive group of members clubs in the world, there’s no wonder why Soho Farmhouse has been frequented by the likes of Henry Holland, Princess Eugenie and Alexa Chung. The charming seven-bedroom farmhouse is set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside and the retreat boasts a four-bedroom cottage as well as 40 additional cabins. Activities on offer include pony hacks across the fields, tennis on the all-weather courts, boating from the boathouse pontoon and football on the five-a-side grass pitch. Read more here.
Coworth Park, Berkshire: 1 hour drive from London
Located in acres of picturesque parkland– this luxurious country house hotel on the borders of Windsor Great Park boasts high-end style coupled with a countryside ambience. As part of the prestigious Dorchester collection of hotels, the retreat comprises a Georgian style Mansion House and self-contained converted Stables and Cottages. An understated palette of subtle colours lends an air of calm to the spacious rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a spa as well as equestrian and polo facilities. Read more here.
What other hotels would you recommend within 2 hours of London? Let me know in the comments!