The Best Hotels in the UK You Need to Visit

The UK is home to some beautiful country hotels that show off its history
The UK is home to some beautiful country hotels that show off its history | Courtesy of The Bell / Expedia
Photo of Callum Davies
16 December 2020

From the hills of Scotland to the white-sand beaches of Cornwall, a trip to the United Kingdom is nothing if not varied. The same can be said for the hotels – the nation’s history is on full display in its accommodation options, from 15th-century-style inns to hypermodern aparthotels. Here are Culture Trip’s picks for the best hotels to stay in across the UK.

Assembly Hotel London

Budget Hotel, Hotel
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Assembly Hotel London
Courtesy of Assembly Hotel London / Expedia
You could be forgiven for thinking that London’s world-famous Leicester Square would only offer prohibitively expensive hotels, but there are more affordable options that allow you to really experience the nation’s capital, and Assembly is most definitely one of them. With Central London on its doorstep, great care has been taken to model Assembly to reflect the city’s fashion-driven contemporary history, with rooms that pay tribute to luminary designers such as Stella McCartney (the pink bunny stalls are especially Instagram-worthy). The Bourne and Hollingsworth Garden Room is a bright and airy place to eat, and you can gaze across the city lights in style at the rooftop bar.
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The Bell in Ticehurst

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel, Independent Hotel, Hotel
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The Bell - Ticehurst, East Sussex
Courtesy of The Bell / Expedia
Set against the backdrop of Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling’s former home, The Bell couldn’t get more stereotypically English if you were handed a bowler hat and a cricket bat at the door. The small town of Ticehurst is a gateway to both London and the Sussex countryside, including the gorgeous High Weald area natural beauty. Inside you’ll be met with fun decorations such as neon Oscar Wilde quotes, before heading up to one of the rooms, each with its own character. Some even have a private garden with a wood burner. Other comforts include copper baths and rainfall showers, but just to offset all this Englishness, the restaurant primarily deals in South American cuisine.
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Mimi’s Hotel Soho

Boutique Hotel
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Mimi’s Hotel Soho
Courtesy of Mimi’s Hotel Soho / Expedia
Another great option if you’re looking for a comfortable bolthole in Central London, Mimi’s is hidden behind an unassuming facade in the middle of Soho, a few doors down from Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. The interior is far more modern than the exterior, and houses small but comfortable rooms with underfloor heating, marble bathrooms and excellent sound and heat insulation – meaning that you can have a comfy, quiet sleep no matter how cold or lively it is outside. The Henson’s bar has a great atmosphere, and packs out on Friday and Saturday evenings, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for a full meal. Mimi’s is a hotel to stay in if you want to get out and experience London, rather than one to spend most of your trip inside.

The Vermont Hotel

Hotel
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The Vermont - Newcastle Upon Tyne
Courtesy of The Vermont / Expedia
Newcastle is one of the UK’s great cities, pulling the Northern England trick of offering urban vibrance and natural splendour all at once. If you’re headed that way, there’s no reason not to bed down in style and luxury, which is exactly what The Vermont Hotel is touting. With views over both the Tyne River and the Castle Keep, the location is ideal, and the neoclassical vibe means that you’ll be just as happy with the view when you turn away from the windows. The rooms blend glass panelling and tartan upholstery, but really you’ll spend most of your time gawping at the views over the city and surrounding countryside. If you get peckish, the choice is between a brasserie or a more typical pub menu at the bar, and you can break a sweat in the gym or invite a more gentle one in the sauna.
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Staying Cool at Rotunda

Hotel, Apartment
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Staying Cool - Birmingham
Courtesy of Staying Cool / Expedia
Aparthotels are a great choice for a more relaxed stay, and Birmingham’s status as the UK’s second city makes it an ideal place to seek one out. Staying Cool lives up to its name: the old ‘60s Rotunda building has been transformed into a cutting-edge complex of 35 self-catering apartments, featuring tripod lamps, big walk-in showers, spacious living areas and sleek Scandi-style kitchens. In perhaps the most ingenious twist, guests can order a Cooking Cool set with ingredients for a recipe designed by Alex Claridge, owner of legendary Brum restaurant The Wilderness, so you can create your own gourmet meal right there in the room.
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Didsbury House Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
Map View
Courtesy of Didsbury House / Expedia
If you’re visiting Manchester, you’ll find hotels of all shapes and sizes, but none can rival Didsbury House for style and comfort. Named after the South Manchester suburb in which it resides, the hotel manages to strike the ideal balance between quiet and convenience, with the centre of town just a 30-minute tram journey away. The space is Victorian both inside and out, with an inviting lounge area where you can sit and relax or help yourself to a classic British meal – albeit more thoughtfully prepared than you might find in a local pub – and a range of spa treatments can be ordered up to your room. Speaking of rooms, they are brimming with character, evoking a 19th-century traveller vibe, including suitcases, cast-iron radiators and well-stocked bookshelves. The modern touches exist where they’re needed though, with Sky TV, monsoon showers and Nespresso coffee machines.
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Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa

Spa Hotel
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Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa - York
Courtesy of Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa / Expedia | Courtesy of Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa / Expedia
York is one of the most ancient cities in England, so it stands to reason that one of the best places to stay there is a converted country manor dating back to the 18th century. Middlethorpe elegantly honours this heritage with features such as carved wood doors, oil paintings and a ring of gardens on the perimeter. The rooms are spread between the main house and the old stable block, with a selection of fruit, home-made biscuits and fresh flowers waiting for you when you step into yours. There’s real antique furniture too, and, while pricey, the restaurant’s set menus are to die for.
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Hotel Tresanton

Hotel
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Hotel Tresanton - St. Mawes
Courtesy of Hotel Tresanton / Expedia
Of all the most attractive spots lining the southernmost tip of England, St. Mawes is surely one of the most desirable. It almost doesn’t matter where you stay, the shimmering coasts – kissed by the gulf stream – offer the nearest thing the UK has to a tropical escape, but if you really want to lap it up, you could do a lot worse than the Hotel Tresanton. Rather than a single building, the hotel is split across a small group of coastal cottages, with gardens, a beach club and even a private yacht. Inside the cottages there’s a blend of art, sculpture and rustic comforts, all sourced from local artisans. There’s a Beach Club for summer and open fires for winter, and the function room even doubles as cinema. The Italian-style restaurant once again sources everything locally, and cooked breakfasts can be ordered directly to your room.

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  • Charlotte Street Hotel

    Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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    Charlotte Street Hotel, Soho
    Courtesy of Charlotte Street Hotel / Expedia
    Kit Kemp founded Firmdale Hotels in 1985, and since then the interior designer has been designing properties across the UK capital, which universally secure critical adoration. Charlotte Street opened in 2000, beckoning visitors keen on shopping in Oxford Street, visiting the British Museum or combing the West End. Kit Kemp’s signature style of fractal patterns and statement wallpaper is evident everywhere, and the rooms are absurdly well outfitted for vegging out, with Bose sound systems, record players with a mini vinyl library and even a second TV attached to the bath tub if you’re lucky. The restaurant offers a strong, varied menu with highlights including duck and squid.
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    citizenM Glasgow

    Hotel
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    CitizenM, Glasgow
    Courtesy of CitizenM / Expedia
    Scotland’s second-largest city might be best known for its history and character, but two minutes inside citizenM and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Rotterdam. The chain prides itself on its award-winning blend of Dutch design and futuristic quirks, and while such a thing might sound gimmicky, it just works. The staff are even called Ambassadors without it feeling forced. The minimalism of the rooms disguises a level of comfort befitting a far more expensive hotel. There’s a grab-and-go canteen for a quick bite and a late-closing bar, but the central location is ideal for exploring the culinary delights Glasgow has to offer, so why not get out there and roam.
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    Hotel Indigo Cardiff

    Chain Hotel
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    Hotel Indigo
    Courtesy of Hotel Indigo / Expedia
    Situated on Cardiff’s visitor-friendly Queen Street, this enormous hotel might look like a standard block of rooms from the outside, but inside there’s a boutique approach befitting a smaller, more exclusive establishment. Occupying a once-grotty arcade building, the Indigo stands as a testament to the urban revival Cardiff underwent in the early 2000s, and inside you’ll find neat design choices including upcycled lights, colourful tiling and slate etching on the hallway walls. The Cwtch offers an attractive lounge area with a roaring open fire, and a high-end steakhouse ensures guests are well fed. The rooms are themed, with three variations – Music, Welsh Industry and Made in Wales, but really all of them celebrate Welsh icons and culture.
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    The Varsity Hotel & Spa

    Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel, Hotel
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    The Varsity Hotel & Spa - Cambridge
    Courtesy of the Varsity Hotel and Spa / Expedia

    Chances are, if you’re visiting Cambridge, you’re keen to discover the university. And at the Varsity, your exploring needn’t stop at check in, with college memorabilia lining the hallways, geometric wallpaper in the spacious rooms and even bicycles adorning the lounge area. On top of this, the hotel overlooks the Cam, and sits just yards from the punt station, so you can join students on the water. If you’re feeling a bit less outgoing (or the weather isn’t agreeable), there’s also a gym, spa, rooftop bar and a restaurant with options to suit all tastes.

    Brighton Harbour Hotel & Spa

    Spa Hotel
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    Harbour Hotel - Brighton
    Courtesy of Harbour Hotel / Expedia
    Harbour Hotels have locations across the UK, but Brighton is perhaps the most fitting place for them to set up shop. This property sits right on the seafront, between the two piers and tantalisingly close to the Pride parade route. If you still need persuading to make a booking, the hotel offers a range of relaxing ESPA spa treatments – and a great seafood restaurant. The nautical theme flows into the rooms, with blues and greens every which way. And you’ll receive a warm welcome as you drop your bags, with bottles of gin and sherry provided on arrival.
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    These recommendations were updated on December 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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