6 Last-minute UK escapes
Updated: Sep 26, 2019
✨ FREDDIE HUTCHINS
So, never let it be said we didn’t have a summer. This one was the real-deal: six weeks of (almost) uninterrupted sunshine, with accompanying good vibes to boot (Royal Wedding / World Cup / Flossing galore). I’ve even been fortunate enough to grab some time away – heading Stateside for some Long Island sunshine, staying with friends in the Hamptons. It’s a tough life.
However, all that being said, I have to say that I’m absolutely bloomin’ cream-crackered. I don’t know whether it’s the lack of sleep resultant from all those hot summer nights, or else the fact that travelling is always pretty tiring (I realise I’m playing a pretty tiny violin right now) – but whatever the reason, I’m one wonderful summer down, and still fantasising about a relaxing break somewhere easy to get to, quiet, and really, really chilled.
I figure I can’t be the only one, so have gone and done some homework as to the best ways to grab a last-minute getaway that ticks those boxes, and hopefully does what so many summer plans actually fail to do: recharge the batteries.
1 - 🌳Canopy and Stars🌳
This website is the ultimate in Cabin Porn – which, for the uninitiated, is a totally SFW activity involving drooling over the uber-hygge getaways you don’t own, but totally wish you did. Vouchers for Canopy and Stars are my go-to wedding present, and have been for several years: it’s a break that even the most city-dwelling of couples can enjoy: quirky yet comfortable, totally unique, and really restful. No, I couldn’t live in a shepherd’s hut in a field in Hampshire, but do I want to escape to one for a long weekend? Yes, yes I do. Hand me the car keys.
2 - 🌳iEscape🌳
If you haven’t discovered iEscape yet, you’re welcome. This website really knocks it out of the ballpark in terms of special, otherwise unknown but always totally fabulous places. It’s not always cheap, but you can easily see what you’re paying for.
Coupled with some really honest reviews and a clear website rating listing the Highs and Lows of each place, iEscape makes it really easy – and really fun – to splash out on somewhere special. And you know that if it’s listed here, it really will be special.
3 - 🌳The Landmark Trust🌳
We hired a Landmark Trust property for a family party down in Devon a few years ago, and have never looked back. If you’ve ever wondered how you might actually, genuinely go about achieving your dream to play at owning your very own Pemberley / Gosford Park / Downton Abbey, then this is the site for you. I’ve got my eye on a Scottish Castle listed on their books for my birthday next year, but it’s St Winifred’s Well that just screams last-minute, total escapism – a place to retreat to dream up the novel you never knew you could write.
4 - 🌳Kate and Tom’s🌳
If there are lots of you, or you’ve left it perilously last-minute to arrange that family party / wedding anniversary / large-scale celebration, then this is the site you need. I’ve used it twice, and been delighted both times. With thunking, thundering great properties listed both at home and overseas, a perusal of this site is not only great fun, but really makes you realise that life is short, and occasions for getting together all too few. Grab life by the horns and book yourself a family get-together weekend to remember. Also worth saying that while prices might seem steep, if you can fill the 20 / 30 bedrooms usually on offer in any one place, the price per person can be outrageously reasonable. Lucy attended a truly fabulous hen do in a Kate and Tom’s location last year and agrees with my appraisal whole-heartedly.
5 - 🌳The Pig🌳
There are a few of these dotted around the country now, and we keep finding our own new personal favourite – whether it’s the seclusion of the New Forest, the cosy grandeur of Bath or the windswept charm of Dorset. The Pig at Devon is next on our list, with three more opening soon in Kent, West Sussex and Cornwall. Which all goes to show – there’s clearly something right about the way things are done at The Pig. It’s all so easy, from check-in to booking treatments to curling up by the fire, and the food is always nothing short of sensational – with all of it either grown on-site or sourced from nearby. I love these hotels and recommend them to friends all the time – and never hear anything but great things on their return.
6 - 🌳Babington House🌳
I’m just showing off now, because you need to be a member, or friendly enough with one to accompany them, to stay here. It also needs no recommendation and is often very difficult to snag a room last-minute. But I’m leaving it here, at the end of an otherwise very select list, as a shiny, gold-plated example of a little pocket of blissful escapism, reachable from London in a car journey that won’t leave you on your last legs. And even if you are when you get there, it’s alright, because then you’ll be at Babs. Bliss.
God speed recovering from the summer that no-one expected!