The Winkworth Arboretum serves up a big helping of fresh air and green spaces. A restorative pit stop on the way from London to the coast, it was founded by Dr Wilfrid Fox in the run-up to World War II, but the National Trust now keeps the woodland in ruddy health. Stay nearby in a country-house hotel or village inn – bookable on Culture Trip.
Neatly trimmed creepers frame the 17th-century brick frontage of the Stag on the River like a hipster moustache, but the interior is a more mature undertaking. Rooms with angles created by old wooden beams have been tastefully revamped with geometric drapes, piles of plump cushions and beautiful wallpaper. Framed by a curve of the River Wey, it’s close to the A3 but far enough away for a peaceful slumber.
Barnett Hill is effortlessly refined, like an English country gent who made it big in stocks and shares and took some city sophistication back to the countryside. Screened by a ring of mature woodland, this lavish country pad was once the home of the grandson of travel agent Thomas Cook, and its wings sprawl beneath a forest of chimneys. Inside, the rooms are opulent but understated, decorated in mixed tweeds and confident colour palettes, with free-standing tubs and large windows letting in natural light.
Named for a 17th-century politician, the Richard Onslow brings a flash of style to High Street in pretty Cranleigh village. The cosy dining room features tones of red and leather, while the bedrooms under the eaves have unique shapes from the old timbers, along with original fireplaces and free-standing tubs and brick-pattern tiling in the best bathrooms. The pub menu is great, too, with lots of local roasts, poultry and fish.
Even the name of this sprawling country-house spa suggests extravagant living, and it’s certainly fabulous in the flesh. Fronted by a tranquil lake, the house emerges wing by wing from 160 acres (65ha) of verdant landscape. Accommodation is available in everything from lavish suites – tastefully decorated in modern themes – to cosy shepherd’s huts on the grounds, but the focal point for most is the spa, which has everything from saunas and spa baths to a mud chamber and a snow room.
Slotted in by the village church, the Spread Eagle is a pub with pedigree. The inn dates back to 1430 when it catered for stagecoach traffic bound for London or the coast. Today, its 39 rooms and suites are a flurry of wood beams, brick fireplaces and four-poster beds, with stylish modern bathrooms bringing the experience up to date. There’s fine food, too, and a swish spa in a Nordic annexe attached to the historic main building.
With front-row views of Frensham Great Pond (famed for its Green Flag-rated freshwater beaches), this country-house hotel feels a bit like an American country club teleported to the Surrey countryside. It’s grand but not a show-off; large, leather- and timber-lined rooms have giant beds and a mid-century tone. There’s fine dining indoors and afternoon teas on the waterfront outside, plus a spa with all the trimmings.
Four centuries have treated Wotton House kindly. It was once the home of an eccentric vegetarian botanist, and its lush gardens were the first Italianate gardens in the country. After wandering through endless acres of grounds or reading in the shade of a fantasy temple, you can dine on modern British cuisine in one of the loveliest dining rooms in Surrey, then retire to gasp-inspiring rooms full of old maps and contemporary design. The best of these are the suites, accessed via a sweeping, 17th-century staircase.
OK, we know there’s no harbour in Guildford, but the Guildford Harbour Hotel does the brand proud with sleek, silky rooms decorated in shades of black and burgundy, and a full hand of luxe hotel facilities. There’s a no-indulgence-spared spa with a stone sauna, a mud rasul and a crystal steam room. The guest rooms keep the luxury dialled up with 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen, 24-hour room service and the White Company toiletries – it’s a surprise find in the Surrey suburbs.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.