The Cosiest Winter Retreats in the UK

The Artist Residence Penzance is just fancy enough to feel indulgent, while maintaining a welcoming feel
The Artist Residence Penzance is just fancy enough to feel indulgent, while maintaining a welcoming feel | Courtesy of Artist Residence Penzance / Expedia

Editorial Manager

As many of us are coming to terms with the prospect of a winter heavily impacted by Covid-19, Culture Trip’s travel team have picked out some of the cosiest destinations in the United Kingdom to help you enjoy an end-of-year staycation. Treat yourself, you deserve it!

London

Winter shopping in London is a popular pastime for many. That whole experience is going to be very different this year, but even at the best of times it can be a daunting prospect. If you’re really after a great experience in London, avoid the crowds and head to the quieter side streets off major thoroughfares. There are festive lights pretty much everywhere you look, and once you’ve spent the day out you’ll really appreciate a relaxing night in.

1. Hazzlit’s

Boutique Hotel

The lounge in the Duke of Monmouth suite at Hazlitt’s, with plush red furnishings and a painting of a horse and dogs
Courtesy of Hazlitt’s / Expedia

Just off Oxford Street in Soho, this sumptuous property oozes regal elegance in every room. It’s ideally situated for guests looking to stay in the heart of the city, but is also a calming oasis away from all the bustling crowds and noisy traffic.

Peak District

The Peak District is a designated national park – the oldest such area in England, in fact. It’s popular with ramblers and hikers, covering such a large area that millions of Brits live within an hour’s journey of it. The rolling green hills are particularly lush in winter, and you’ll find yourself taking in some of the best views in the country when you get to the top of Kinder Scout – the national park’s tallest peak.

2. Fischer’s at Baslow

Hotel, Luxury

Fischers Baslow Hall
Courtesy of Fischers Baslow Hall / Expedia

An award-winning restaurant and luxury hotel set in the stunning Peak District countryside, Fischer’s at Baslow is designed to help guests feel at one with nature. There are seasonal menus on offer that make the most of the local ingredients, while each room is individually designed to give the unique ambience Fischer’s is known for.

Cardigan

Cardigan is regularly voted one of the best places to live in Welsh surveys, so it’s only fitting that you visit for a short weekend break this winter. The quaint historical town is close to the coast, and has managed to preserve many of its ancient landmarks to a remarkable standard. If you do end up here, make sure you explore the iconic castle which is the birthplace of Eisteddfod, the biggest cultural festival in Wales.

3. Harbourmaster

Hotel

Harbourmaster
Courtesy of Harbourmaster / Expedia
With 13 rooms spread across three historic buildings on the Aberaeron coast, the Harbourmaster offers stunning sea views. If you want a family escape this winter, the private cottage is a great option but you’ll also find spacious rooms in the converted warehouse space. The property is run by a local family and is a source of pride in the community.

North Devon

The wider North Devon area is popular with retirees, but the township of Barnstaple is particularly well-liked. The parish town attracts locals and out-of-towners alike to its modern shops and traditional market stalls selling a wide variety of goods. Be sure to take your walking boots if you end up here; the surrounding area is perfect for long country walks and hilly hikes.

4. Kentisbury Grange

Chain Hotel, Hotel

Kentisbury Grange
Courtesy of Kentisbury Grange / Expedia

Exmoor National Park is a stone’s throw from Kentisbury Grange, making this luxury hotel an ideal starting point or base for exploring one of the UK’s best nature spots. The chic hideaway boasts timeless glamour dating back to 1894, when it first operated as a gentlemen’s residence. Today, you’ll find yourself in one of the best places to stay in all of Devon – and you don’t have to be a gentleman to qualify.

Scottish Highlands

The remote and spellbinding wilds of Scotland take all sorts of shapes and sizes, but the Scottish Highlands leave an especially beautiful imprint in your memory. An important part of Scottish folklore, they have have been romanticised for centuries and have been a source of inspiration for many a novelist, poet and screenplay writer. Incredible mountains with snow-dusted peaks transport you to a different world. It might be very chilly in winter, but you’ll want to stay awhile to make the most of this glorious landscape.

5. Iverlochy Castle

Boutique Hotel

A four-posted bed with pink bedspread, and a pink armchair next to a bottle of champagne on ice in a hotel room at Iverlochy Castle
Courtesy of Iverlochy Castle / Expedia
If you’re going to visit the Scottish Highlands, you might as well go the extra mile and stay in a castle. Queen Victoria once spent a week here on her way to her official royal retreat Balmoral, no doubt taking in the breath-stealing scenery in the foothills of Ben Nevis. Social distancing won’t be a problem either, as the sparsely populated Highlands are cut off from the rest of the country.

Lake District

The Lake District sits in the most visited national park in the country. Broadly known as the Lakes, the rolling region is a veritable adventure playground for lovers of the great outdoors. Besides climbing into a rowing boat and taking to the lakes themselves, you can also explore unspoiled forests and mountains at your own pace, taking all the time in the world to appreciate why the area was awarded with Unesco World Heritage status in 2017.

6. Low Wood Bay

Independent Hotel

Sauna area at Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa, Windermere, with patio flooring, a chimney, and logs of wood for burning
Courtesy of Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa / Expedia

A family-friendly property on the banks of Lake Windermere, Low Wood Bay is great for a winter holiday. Its indoor pool means you can still take a dip regardless of how cold it is outside, while the views themselves have inspired poets, artists and writers for centuries. The lake can get busy in the summer, so a winter trip is ideal to avoid crowds.

Cotswolds

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Cotswolds is made up of gorgeous natural landscapes and stone-built villages. There are numerous hills that give the area a distinctive look, while small towns like Ashton under Hill and Bourton-on-the-Water attract tourists from around the world. If you really want to stretch your legs, make sure you take a walk along the Cotswold Way, which leads all the way to Bath.

7. Lygon Arms

Boutique Hotel

Tables set for dining in the restaurant at Lygon Arms, with portraits on the walls
Courtesy of The Lygon Arms / Expedia

Each town in the Costwolds is bursting with character, and we think Broadway is one of the most captivating. What’s more, the cobbled streets and honey-stoned exteriors lead to the Lygon Arms – an ideal spot for a winter staycation. What really makes this hotel stand out, though, is the way in which it celebrates everything to do with the Cotswolds by celebrating local attractions such as Broadway Tower.

North York Moors

Heading over to the east coast, the North York Moors are made up of barren moorland and deep valleys. The location and terrain make for a great winter destination, as the climate here is mild throughout the year (although snowfall is also not uncommon in the colder months). The Moors are easy to navigate on foot, but you still have to do your research before heading out as you’re unlikely to run into anyone else on the trail.

8. The Talbot Malton

Hotel

The Talbot Malton
Courtesy of The Talbot Malton / Expedia

You have plenty of options when looking for places to stay in the North York Moors, but we’re big fans of the Talbot Morton. It’s not as remote or isolated as other properties you can find here, but the fantastic rooms on offer set it apart from the competition. Malton also claims to be one of the most dog-friendly towns in the UK, so it’s no surprise that the Talbot also welcomes four-legged friends.

Amersham

This market town in Buckinghamshire is another great option if you want to stay somewhere within easy reach of London. If you aren’t driving, you can even reach Amersham by jumping on the tube and heading to the farthest reaches of the Metropolitan Line. To get a sense of what it’s like here, trawl through the ITV archives and stream a few episodes of Midsomer Murders – several episodes of the popular daytime TV series were filmed on location in Amersham.

9. The Crown Inn

Hotel

The Crown
Courtesy of The Crown / Expedia

The Crown is an old coaching inn, which are some of the oldest hotels in the world. This particular example is great for short breaks from London, but Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar might be able to persuade you to extend your stay with his fine-dining offerings in the hotel restaurant Hawkyns. This is a great option for Londoners looking for a mini-break or those looking for a temporary pitstop before heading into the city itself.

Cornwall

Cornwall is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK. It’s hardly a hidden gem today, but there’s still something special about a trip down to the southwest coast that makes the journey worth the effort. And when you do finally arrive, you’re in for a magical stay – especially if you head there in the quieter winter months.

10. Artist Residence Penzance

Hotel

Cosy apartment with log-burning stove, wood floors and large blue sliding farm door to bedroom at Artist Residence in Penzance
Courtesy of Artist Residence / Expedia
Pitching itself as a cosy home-from-home experience, this neat property is just fancy enough to feel indulgent, while maintaining a genuinely welcoming feel. You’ll want to head here before influencers find out about it though, as every corner of the boutique hotel looks like it belongs on a trendy Instagram account. And we mean that in a good way!

Kent

If you’re looking for a little quiet time, but don’t want to stray too far from London, then a short stay in Kent – also known as the Garden of England – comes highly recommended. You’re close to the capital but also not too far from France thanks to regular ferry crossings. Think of all that tax-free wine you could fill your car boot with over the border.

11. Rocksalt

Pubs with Rooms

Rocksalt
Courtesy of Rocksalt / Expedia
If you decide to stay in Kent, a visit to Rocksalt is a must. The restaurant serves up local seafood with a side of exquisite sea views, while upstairs you’ll find a collection of fine bedrooms. Folkstone is a fully operational harbour, so if you want an authentic winter retreat by the sea, this is the perfect place to stay.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The cobbled streets and Victorian townhouses highlight the heritage of the city, but there’s more to it than Medieval castles and eerie anecdotes. JK Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter during her stay here, and you can ring in the new year at the famous Hogmanay Hootenanny. The huge street party is likely off the cards for 2020, but just soaking up the atmosphere of the city in winter is an unforgettable experience.

12. Dunstane Houses

Hotel, Luxury

The Dunstane Houses
Courtesy of The Dunstane Houses / Expedia

Bringing the spirit of the far-flung Orkney Islands to the heart of Edinburgh, the contemporary rooms available at Dunstane Houses are the ultimate in modern comfort. Interiors are unfussy, making for a relaxed environment that you will want to explore at your leisure, while the restaurant offers superb Scottish cuisine.

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