5 last-minute getaways for the half-term break

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  • With the schools shut for half term, Livingetc rounds up a selection of chic hotels across the UK perfect for adults and children alike

    There’s no need to fret about keeping the young ones occupied with these delightful bolt holes, as every hotel on the list has been tried and tested by Livingetc‘s style explorers – and always with assorted Little Livingetcs along for the ride.

    Dragging them back to school after a spell spent in these fab escapes is inevitably more of a chore than getting them there in the first place, so if you want to enjoy a chic, boutique hotel in the UK that will allow you to put your feet up and relax while the kids run off and play, here’s our recommended selection…

    1. The Pig near Bath, Somerset

    The lowdown A whimsical, relaxed country escape in the Mendip Hills.
    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 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.

    Beauty-wise, if you fancy 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.

    Book it
    Double rooms from £139 (thepighotel.com).

    2. 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.
    Book it Double rooms from £70 (naturalretreats.com/uk/john-ogroats).

    3. 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 members’ 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 artwork 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 linen from Three Thieving Magpies is topped off with hand-knitted hot-water bottle covers.

    Book it Double rooms from £150 (no131.com).

    4. The Idle Rocks, Cornwall

    The lowdown A super-relaxing beach-side retreat.
    Best for Families shattered by the work-life/school-life balance.

    The Idle Rocks is one of the grandes dames of the British seaside, having been in business since 1913. But its relaunch in 2013, following a total revamp by its savvy new owners, brought it to the attention of the boutique-hotel-hopping crowd. And while it’s now a must-visit for cool couples, how about this for a recipe for the perfect family holiday? Twenty coastal-inspired bedrooms decked out in an ocean of blues and soft creams and nearly all with amazing water views, a magical kids’ playroom, children’s high tea at the ‘chef’s table’, plus a baby-listening service.

    Food-wise, think local, seasonal fare such as pan-seared sea bream and yummy puds like baked Alaska. Max out on the fun by booking interconnecting rooms – you can always lock the door! After a few days of this relaxed bliss, the school run will be a breeze.

    Book it Family rooms from £325, including breakfast (idlerocks.com).

    5. Ham Yard Hotel, London

    The lowdown A charming eclectic British stopover near Piccadilly Circus.
    Best for Design fans and urban trekkers.

    This 91-room hotel in Soho is fresh, witty and has designer Kit Kemp’s trademark style stamped all over it. Quirky fabrics, bespoke chandeliers from India, hand-painted furniture and vintage posters make this Firmdale group hotel a statement of eccentricity and charm. Check out the original Fifties bowling alley downstairs, complete with karaoke bar and dancefloor. Journey up to the magical fourth-floor roof terrace, with its stunning views. And don’t miss the mesmerising 135-dial digital clock wall in the floodlit lobby as you walk in.

    Enjoy the ground’s Ham Yard Village, with 13 personally selected retail stores, including cosmetics shop Brummells of London and jewellery designer Anabela Chan. There are even more great shopping opportunities to be had around Ham Yard, including French brand ELEVENPARIS, interiors gallery space and café 19 Greek Street and specialist camera shop Lomography.

    Book it Double rooms from approx £310 (firmdalehotels.com).

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