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When the sun turns up, British summers are the best in the world. Clement weather and long days combine with rolling countryside, lively market towns and charming coastal spots to make for fantastic holidaying.
For those who prefer town to country, No. 131 in the heart of Gloucestershire spa town Cheltenham will keep you stylishly snug. Soak up its Regency-meets-rock'n'roll vibe at bar and eatery Crazy Eights - one of the town's hippest new hangouts. Foodies and families can run wild at one of the Pig Hotels group's latest openings, The Pig Near Bath in Somerset, with sprawling grounds and farmyard environs complete with kitchen gardens and livestock.
Finally, adventure seekers can get well off the beaten track at the mainland's most northern coastline at The Inn at John O'Groats. Breathtaking Scottish landscapes, epic views and considered contemporary design are sure to blow away any cobweb.
THE INN AT JOHN O'GROATS, Caithness
The lowdown A revamped 19th-century inn with stunning sea views.
Best for Bracing walks and wildlife in eco-friendly surroundings.
Built in 1875 as the John O'Groats Hotel, The Inn has been carefully restored by Manchester-based creative studio NoChintz. Interiors are contemporary and spacious, but warm and cosy too. Local materials such as Caithness stone and Scottish larch have been used to lend rooms rugged good looks and lighting has been given a Highlands flavour with antler chandeliers. Although The Inn is a B&B, the one-, two- and four-bedroom apartments have self-catering facilities - the most spectacular is the Jan De Groot suite in the turret of The Inn, with its freestanding copper bathtub and panoramic views. On-site, you'll find co-operative store and café
The Storehouse stocks locally sourced provisions and The Outfitters can set you up with gear for exploring the area by boat, bike, or horseback.
THE PIG NEAR BATH, Somerset
The lowdown A whimsical, relaxed country escape in the Mendips.
Best for Carnivores in need of a spa day.
Twenty minutes outside Bath, surrounded by fields, hens, quail and deer, the Pig is the definitive rural idyll. A winning combo of period drama and mod cons, the 29 moss green or mushroom-coloured bedrooms are equipped with rain showers, Nespresso machines and ‘larders'
(think fancy minibars with gourmet snacks). Downstairs in the lounge, snuggle by the fire with a cocktail infused with herbs from the garden. All bare wood tables and mismatched cutlery, the Victorian greenhouse restaurant serves hearty British fare and is a big hit with locals on Sundays. The Pig grows most of its own ingredients (the rest are sourced within a 25-mile radius) - dishes depend on what the forager or kitchen gardener deems right that day. For a pampering Bamford facial treatment, wander through the garden to the quirky Potting Shed spa - probably the only shed you'll never want to leave.
NO. 131, CHELTENHAM, Gloucestershire
The lowdown Cultivated British style in a beautiful Georgian villa.
Best for Urbanites in search of the chic side of the Cotswolds.
Set on Cheltenham's elegant main promenade, No. 131 is an expertly curated mix of home-from-home intimacy with a London member's club feel. The building has been lovingly restored by owners Sam and Georgina Pearman (of the acclaimed Wheatsheaf Inn in nearby Northleach) into an 11-bedroom oasis of quirky reclamation finds, vintage lights and plush velvet button-back chairs just made for lazy weekends. Head next door to restaurant and bar Crazy Eights, which specialises in steak (there's a staggering 16 different cuts on the menu) and cocktail recipes dating back to 1803. Bedroom walls are adorned with works by British artists including Sir Peter Blake and find botanical toiletries from English apothecary 100 Acres in the bathrooms. As a final cosy flourish, designer cotton bed linens from Three Thieving Magpies are topped off with hand-knitted hot-water bottle covers.
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