Hattie Lloyd 21/07/23
You love your friends, you really do.
But sometimes three’s a crowd, and that’s never truer than in a hot tub.
So here’s a list of – frankly – outrageously good-looking properties just made for two. We’re talking Japanese-inspired clifftop cabins with cedar wood tubs and fairytale wagons in a forest of bluebells; a treehouse in the grounds of a country hotel (where you can order drinks from your outdoor bath) to a shepherd’s hut accessible only by boat.
So next time you fancy quality time with someone special – and that might be yourself – here are the perfect cosy getaways to book…
Firefly | Cornwall
Rolling up to Firefly feels like you’ve just stumbled on a woodsman’s cottage, albeit one with a penchant for quality linens and a good sound system. The focal point of this compact cabin is the sheltered deck, where you can enjoy a sundowner as your dinner crackles away over the outside fire (or in the Aga indoors). There’s also a scenic pond teeming with wildlife, and when you’re ready to unwind, you can soak in the outdoor hot tub (on a verandah leading right off the bedroom). Inside, meanwhile, is the definition of rustic luxury, with corrugated iron rooves and wood-boarded walls tempered by velvet sofas, a king-sized bed and a double-ended bath. There’s plenty of board games and old leather-bound books to peruse – plus wi-fi and a hidden telly for when you want to just dip your toe back into modern life.
Location: Firefly sits in the hamlet of Trebudannon, which doesn’t threaten to distract you too much from your blissful retreat (though there is a cracking owl sanctuary nearby). But if you do want to head out to explore, there’s lots of walks to be had – plus it’s a 20 minute drive from Newquay, the picturesque St Agnes, and the charming fishing villages of Mevagissey and Fowey.
Transport: It’s about a five-hour drive from London, or the same on a direct train from Paddington to Truro, where you’ll need to get a half-hour cab.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? Around £1,150 for a short break; £1,450 for a week
Suki | Cornwall
Perched high above Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, Suki is a masterclass in luxurious minimalism. There’s nary a trinket or work of art to be seen in the place, and yet it’s wholeheartedly cosy, inviting, and romantic. Inside the shack’s charred wooden exterior is a soothing haven of rosy plastered walls and plate glass windows looking out over the sea – as does the deck, complete with a dining table, a pair of loungers, and a steaming hot cedar wood tub.
Location: Make your way to the bottom of the cliffs to plunge into the Celtic Sea, take surfing lessons… or just book a massage on the deck.
Transport: Whitsand Bay sits on a miniature Cornish peninsula, and you’ll feel (amazingly) isolated while you’re here. That said, it’s a short ferry ride across to Plymouth, where you can hop a train and return to London in just over three hours.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? Around £1,395 for a short break; £1,850 for a week
The Walled Garden | Bath
Show your significant other you care by taking them for a romantic getaway in an old potato house. The Walled Garden was once a vegetable store for the nearby stately home, but – being built by fanciful Georgians – it’s a hell of a lot more than a garden shed. Inside is all very grown up – neutral linens and White Company toiletries – with a wood burner, board games, and a sleek, modern kitchen. But as you’d expect, the garden itself is the star attraction: you can pick your own fruit for breakfast from the surrounding orchards, take a rowboat along the river beyond the garden gate, follow it all the way to the waterfall, or relax on sun loungers by the decorative stone pool.
Location: You’d need a seriously good reason to go any further than the grounds, but there are two: being perched on the fringes of the Cotswolds there’s some gorgeous scenery to explore, and you’re also close to Bath if you fancy a bit of bustle.
Transport: You can drive there in 1h15m, or hop a short train to Hatfield and take a half hour bus or cab from there. You’ll be relieved to know you can also land your helicopter directly in the grounds.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? £1,295 for a short break; £1,750 for a week
Blyth Rise Iglu Huts | Suffolk
If Bilbo Baggins had a pied-à-terre in Hackney, it would probably look like this. These woodland Igluhuts are like airstream caravans that have just sprung up in the woods, with scaled wooden exteriors and surprisingly roomy interiors. They pack in a proper bathroom, fully fitted kitchen, living area and double bed, with plenty of luxe touches like fresh cotton sheets, bluetooth speakers and toiletries from Norfolk Natural Living. Outside you’ll find a BBQ, firepit… and birchwood saunas nestled away in the woods.
Location: It’s a peaceful spot just outside the tiny and ancient village of Laxfield (which has a co-op and two pubs, handily). Dozens of walks lead directly off the site, but you can also drive to the coast at Southwold in 35 minutes.
Transport: A three hour drive, or a 1.5 hour train directly from Liverpool Street to Diss, and a 20 minute taxi.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? No, but good 4G and a hotspot at the honesty shop on-site | Rates? From £370/night, or £550 for a lakeside lodge
The Old Railway Station | Petworth, South Downs
The idea of travelling on the Orient Express sounds romantic and all, but a) statistically speaking, someone’s going to get murdered, and b) the cabins are actually really tiny and awkward. If you’re travelling in the budget, £3,300pp garbage carriages, that is. A more comfortable option, then, is this converted railway station in the South Downs. You can stay within the old building itself (they serve cream tea on the old platform), but the best rooms are the restored Pullman train carriages. They still have the original wood-panelling inside for a touch of old railway glamour, but come with the modern necessities of en-suites (with a bath) and breakfast in bed.
Location: You’re in the South Downs, so if you only have time for areas of outstanding natural beauty, you’re in luck. You can also visit quaint villages like Petworth, Midhurst, Amberley and Arundel, or head into Chichester for dinner and a show.
Transport: There used to be a station in Petworth, but now you’re staying there. So your best bet is to take a 1hr20min train from Victoria to Pulborough, and it’s a 12 minute drive from there.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? £165/night for the King Carriage
The Pig | South Downs
Few hotels are as synonymous with luxury as The Pig. They don’t have rainfall showers, they have monsoon showers. They don’t have minibars, they have larders stocked with local produce and spirits. So when they do ‘wagons’, you can bet they’re not really just wagons. Instead, they’re bespoke little boltholes hidden away in the fields and kitchen garden of the main building at their South Downs hotel. Traditionally built, they’re lined with reclaimed timber and rustic touches, while the king-sized beds, cosy throws and free-standing baths remind you that you’re still at one of the UK’s swishest hotels. There are log-burners and comfy sofas inside too, as well as your own private terrace to soak up the views over the Downs. And just a short stroll away is the hotel’s buzzy restaurant and bar spaces, plus spa treatment rooms in the old potting sheds.
Location: The South Downs are generally considered quite beautiful. You can go on long walks and bike rides during the day, hit the beach, or go wine-tasting – there are a lot of vineyards nearby.
Transport: It’s a two hour drive, or you can take the train from Victoria to Pulborough and a 15 minute cab.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? From £320/night
The Fish | Cotswolds
The Fish is one of the loveliest places to stay in the Cotswolds. It’s set across a 400-acre country estate, and is really more like a small village than a hotel. As well as the rooms and suites of the main building, it’s also littered with shepherds huts and treehouses where you can enjoy total seclusion… while also enjoying the ability to summon staff bearing drinks and snacks directly from your outdoor tub. One of the huts (Boaty McBoatface) is even set across a lake with its own paddle boat and a private island with a romantic terrace for two, perfect for asking that age-old question… will you join me at the hovercraft piloting session later?
Location: You’re in the famously beautiful village of Broadway, and it’s easy to get along to other quintessential honey-stone hotspots if you’ve got a car. And if you don’t? You could always do it the old fashioned way and take in the stunning scenery – ugh – on foot.
Transport: Take a 1h45 minute train to Evesham, then a 17 minute cab – or just drive the whole way in 2.5 hours.
Dog friendly? Only in certain huts/treehouses | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? Huts from £350/night, treehouses from £550
Tillingham | Rye
Tillingham is one of our favourite vineyards near London, and it makes for an excellent day trip. It’s entirely feasible, though, that… circumstances… may render you unable to get back to the city for the night. Best to book ahead – just in case – and stay over either in the converted hop barn, or in your own bell tent in the grounds, kitted out with a king-sized bed, wood-burner, fire pit, and outdoor loo-with-a-view.
Location: The vineyard’s got two restaurants and a regular roster of activities and workshops on offer – but you can also venture into Rye for famously picturesque streets and low-beamed pubs. It would also make a nice end to a weekend in Hastings & St Leonards.
Transport: You’ll likely need to drive all the way, or train down to Hastings and get a 35 minute taxi.
Dog friendly? Some of the bedrooms only | Wi-fi? No, but decent 4G | Rates? From £170 midweek
Abbey Gatehouse | Tewkesbury
The Landmark Trust
If you’re after a retreat from modern life, the Abbey Gatehouse will not only take you out of London, but out of the 21st century (by about 500 years). The gothic gatehouse sits at the entrance to Tewkesbury Abbey, with its one room accessible by spiral stairs and a tiny wooden door in the brickwork. Inside you’ll find comfy armchairs to curl up in by the fire, a well-fitted kitchen, a giant tub to soak in, and a bed tucked away upstairs, right under the beams propped up by carved angels.
Location: The town centre’s just a few minutes walk away, with charming little medieval streets to wander through, or you can hire your own boat to see Tewkesbury from the water.
Transport: A 1h45m train, then a half hour bus or taxi – or a 2h45m drive.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? No, and 4G’s a bit patchy inside – but good in the town. | Rates? From £400 for 4 nights
Walkwood Wagon | Sussex
Walkwood isn’t so much a shepherd’s hut as a magical cabin lifted right out of a goddamn fairytale. In the spring it’s surrounded by carpets of bluebells; the rest of the time you’ll have to make do with the Swedish-styled outdoor bath and cooking over the crackling campfire. Inside is a real retreat from tech – you won’t have much power in here, but who needs it with the cosy fairy-lit bed looking up at the flowery eaves…
Location: The wagon is parked within National Trust woodland, so there’s plenty of good walks to set off on. You can also hop on a 19th century steam train, or head down to Charleston, the Bloomsbury set’s artsy country house.
Transport: Take an hour’s train from Victoria to East Grinstead, then ride the steam train (a.k.a. the Bluebell Railway) pretty much directly to the wagon. Or you can drive it in two hours if, you know, you hate whimsy.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? Nope | Rates? From £190
Wildwood Spa | North Devon
This place pretty much packs an entire spa retreat into about 500 sq ft. The scenery of the surrounding Devonshire countryside is all English, but the cabin itself feels like a little slice of Japan or Scandinavia. Glass and timber walls mean you can enjoy the views from indoors while soaking in the freestanding bath or watching a film on the bedroom’s projector, but you’ll probably be spending most of your time outside. Unless, of course, an infinity hydrotherapy pool, sun loungers, and a covered deck with fluffy throws and a log fire don’t remotely appeal.
Location: You’re spoilt for good walks round here, plus you can head down to Woolacombe beach for amazing white sand, waves, and rentable beach huts.
Transport: You’re looking at four hours, two trains and a half hour drive. But you wanted a getaway, right?
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? £540-600 a night, minimum stay 2 nights
The Dugout | Herefordshire
It feels entirely possible that a band of woodland creatures built this home, a cute little bungalow with a turf roof and hand-cut stone floors, where even the towel rails have been crafted from real twigs and branches. From your own private hilltop garden you can look out across three counties as you huddle around the fire pit, or head inside for a candlelit soak in the library bath. And since the owners used to live there themselves, they’ve kitted the place out with everything you could possibly need (from the Sonos sound system to logs for the fire) and even run workshops on the farm, in everything from lambing to cheese-making.
Location: Stroll through the Forest of Dean or take a dip in the river in the shadow of Skenfrith Castle; go antique-hunting in Leominster or crawl the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye. And if you’re a sucker for chocolate box villages, follow the Black and White trail through some of the county’s most historic hamlets.
Transport: It’s a 3.5 hour train from London to Hereford (via Birmingham or Newport), then you’ll need a 20 minute lift. Or, you can drive it in just over 3 hours.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? £570 for a 2 night minimum stay
Looking Glass Lodge | Hastings
Treehouses don’t get much better than this (which is probably why the Looking Glass Lodge has been completely booked up since opening in October 2022). So if you’ve just had a great first date, start planning your honeymoon in this sleek apartment on stilts, set in the middle of a private nature reserve. You can curl up by the suspended fireplace when it’s chilly and work through the vinyl collection, or take a Knoops hot chocolate in the stone bath to soak up the view. Speaking of which, those windows are all fancy electrochromatic glass – which means while you can enjoy floor-to-ceiling nature, you don’t need to worry about the deer creeping on you.
Location: It’s a 20 minute walk to the exceptionally charming village of Fairlight (don’t miss a pub lunch at The Cove while you’re there). From here you can also enjoy a coastal walk through Hastings Country Park to end up in the vibrant seaside towns of Hastings & St Leonards.
Transport: Take a two-hour train to Hastings and cab it, or two trains to Rye and take a bus almost door-to-door. In the car, it’s just over a two hour drive from London.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? Yes | Rates? £590 for a two-night minimum stay
Clavell Tower | Dorset
For a romantic getaway in colder months, nothing could be more atmospheric than a tower on the cliffs. Clavell Tower stands on the Dorset coast, not quite in its original location, since the eroding coastline was threatening to topple it into the sea. Now its four circular storeys are set back from the cliffs and are much more secure – so you can cosy up by the fireside and listen to the waves thrash against the rocks without worrying it’s going to end in an unwanted immersive experience. Once a reverend’s observatory, it’s said that Thomas Hardy courted a local coastguard’s daughter here – and that’s before it had a hot shower installed.
Location: Extremely remote. But the panoramic views are amazing, and you can soak them up as you take the coastal walk east to Swanage or west to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, or head inland to clap eyes on the romantically ruinous Corfe Castle.
Transport: This is one you’re going to have to drive to – cars have to stop about ten minutes up the drive and the approach is mildly perilous on foot, especially if it’s been raining. Bring wellies.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? No | Rates? £640 for four nights
The Bath House | Stratford-upon-Avon
If you feel an 18th century fit of the vapors coming on, make haste to this octagonal bath house tucked away in the woods of Warwickshire. It was constructed for the nearby country pile in 1748, and has just two main rooms: downstairs, in the cellar, you’ll find an icy plunge pool fed by health-giving spring water, and upstairs, the recovery room decked out handsomely with shells. It feels basically unchanged from its Georgian heyday, with the exception of a cosy double bed and a small kitchen so you can hole up there for an entire weekend.
Location: Stratford-upon-Avon has a shedload of Shakespeare-related attractions, plus one very old church with a medieval mural depicting what goes on in hell (a lot of orgies, apparently).
Transport: Trains go from Marylebone to Royal Leamington Spa, then it’s a half hour taxi, or just over two hours to drive the whole way from London.
Dog friendly? No | Wi-fi? No | Rates? £444 for four nights
St Winifred’s Well | Oswestry
Admittedly, St Winifred’s Well doesn’t have romantic origins. The cottage is actually an old chapel built over a sacred spring, where pilgrims came to wash and venerate poor St. Winnie. And for those of you a little rusty on your medieval saints, she was a 7th century Welsh princess who was decapitated by a spurned lover. The good news is that her uncle, St. Beuno, brought her back to life and she went on to commit many a miracle. This chapel has been revived too, and it’s the definition of charming – a rustic cottage with a high, pitched-roof, original beams and a wood-burner to dry off in front of after a dip in the healing waters.
Location: You’ll feel totally cut-off here, with only the foxes and kingfishers for company – but by some divine intervention, the pub is only 15 minutes’ walk away.
Transport: Three hours and two trains to Gobowen, via Chester, or a four hour car trip.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? No | Rates? From £354 for four nights
Shepherd’s Huts at Lympstone Manor | Exmouth
If you’re someone who wants to spread out, the shepherd’s huts dotted around the grounds of luxury hotel Lympstone Manor offer all the cosiness of a compact space… but are actually surprisingly roomy. The more luxe you go, the more they squeeze in – from king-sized beds with skylights for stargazing, to log fires; double-ended copper baths; and hot tubs out on the deck. And if you need any more space, well, the 28 acres of rolling parkland, the Exe estuary and the 11 acre vineyard should do it (the fruits of which you can enjoy in the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant).
Location: The hotel has plenty of grounds to explore, lounges to hang out in and activities to tackle, but you can also hit the beach or take a walk along the estuary.
Transport: 2.5 hours on two trains, then you can walk for 20 minutes or take a quick cab. Driving the whole way takes the best part of four hours.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? In the main building | Rates? £530/night
The Withywindle | Devonshire
A pint-sized bolthole for when you want to set off for the middle of nowhere, and stay put for a few days. The Withywindle somehow packs in a double bed, a decent kitchen and a cosy dining nook into its hut-like exterior, with – hallelujah – a really nice bathroom. Like, hotel-level. That said, you won’t be in there – or the kitchen – much, because you’ll be slinging your own pizzas in the outdoor Ooni oven, and devouring them by the firepit under the stars before dipping into the outdoor Swedish tub for two and drying off in the double hammock.
Location: You’re literally in the middle of a field, but local village Cheriton Fitzpaine has a farm shop and The Ring of Bells pub. Plus, you can hit the coastal paths or set off across Dartmoor.
Transport: Take a 2 hour direct train from Paddington to Tiverton Parkway, then a half hour cab, or buy snacks and set off on a 4 hour road trip.
Dog friendly? Yes | Wi-fi? No, and no phone signal | Rates? From £145/night
Looking for more inspiration? Peruse these lovely Edinburgh hotels
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