This popular pocket of British countryside consists of chalky grassland, verdant woodland and deep valleys – just half an hour from London – so pack your walking boots and switch off as you stomp through the scenery.
In an area abundant in country houses and historic buildings, there’s fierce competition to stand out from the crowd. While the charming location is a given, these are the hotels, B&Bs, manor houses and restaurants-with-rooms that make it difficult to leave – now bookable on Culture Trip.
Always wanted to be part of a country club? The Lodge at Kingswood gives you all the access without burning a hole in your pocket. And speaking of, the championship golf course on site has just attached a new winding creek at the first hole – adding a new challenge to teeing off. Just off the M25, the community of return visitors are a testament to its popularity as a stay-and-play location in Surrey.
This impressive country house-turned-hotel is quintessential in its Englishness. The red brick gothic architecture gives way to an oak-panelled grand hall with stained glass windows and the grounds consist of an immaculately manicured English country garden. Book in for afternoon tea on the terrace – plump little scones and bite-size cucumber sandwiches come with pots of steaming tea and, should you wish, bottomless Prosecco.
Amid a 470-acre estate, Beaverbrook is made up of 29 bedrooms spread out between two buildings – plus a private coach house that guests can take over completely. Having opened as a hotel in 2017, the Victorian mansion’s heritage has been playfully honoured by designer Susie Atkinson – the brains behind Soho House’s beauty, plus the Pavilion Suites at Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest. There’s plenty of character here: from the secret door in Churchill’s room and the UK’s first home cinema to the alfresco restaurant set beneath stationary hot air balloons.
After a £4 million refurb in 2018, the White Horse became a charming Charles Dickens-themed coaching inn. The author wrote The Pickwick Papers here and while he might recognise the original beams and stable rooms today, the new interiors by Squid Inc – who turned Hotel Gotham in Manchester into the punky, playful place it is today – would be less familiar, but all the more impressive.
A short walk from Dorking’s high street, this listed building-turned-B&B is cosy and comfortable, with country-cool interiors and plenty of light. Overlooking Denbies Wine Estate and Ranmoor Common, there’s a beautiful outdoor terrace where owner Maggie serves her famous freshly-baked cakes and makes you feel right at home. Bedrooms are bucolic but stylish – finished with Sanderson woodland-print wallpaper, antique brass headboards and fully functioning fireplaces.
Sip on a sustainable G&T made with Warner’s Gin from Northampton whilst taking in the panoramic views of Carshalton Ponds at the Greyhound Hotel – where a sun-trap beer garden, live music, pop-up shops and sports screenings make it a fun place to be, whatever the weather. It’s grown-up but spirited, with a modern mix of textured interiors: rattan lampshades, diamond-brocade knit blankets and velvet-studded chairs.
With pub grub, swift service and a superb setting, the Duke’s Head is a big-hitter among those who want to dine in and drop off without leaving the premises. For a Young’s-owned business, the Georgian building retains its own unique character – and the menu offers a feast of locally sourced ingredients from Nutborne tomatoes and Dorset lamb to Quickes cheddar and Shropshire chicken. Book out the Lavender Lounge hut in the garden and fill it with friends and family for an evening of good food, fun and planning forays into the surrounding Box Hill, Epsom Downs and the magical Mayfield Lavender Farm.
At the foot of Box Hill, the lively Red Lion is not your average pub. There’s a Saturday street food menu with rotating themed productions – Asian night includes build-your-own bao buns, Korean fried chicken and Thai corn cakes – put on by Half Cut theatre and Burns nights comes complete with bagpipes. Toast marshmallows over the enchanting laser-cut steel fire pits outside, then retire for a movie marathon with a bottle of bubbles – one of the en-suite bedrooms has a giant 75” TV.
Size matters at Hartsfield Manor: the misleadingly-named annexe bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a mere fraction of the 16ac gardens – and there’s endless space for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. The afternoon tea is a highlight, with freshly-baked scones and Cornish clotted cream – plus delicate sandwiches with classic fillings, such as smoked salmon and cream cheese.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
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.