Thursday, 19 July 2012

nothin' but the holiday cottage

Last month I was fortunate enough to reside at a different rented residence for a week, a stunning converted barn in the Lake District to be precise. I've had a lot of British holidays over the years, staying in lovely cottages up and down the country, but I have to say this was quite the best. Beautifully converted, and well furnished, the attention to detail was quite amazing, so much so, that I felt it was worth sharing. The guestbook was full of compliments on the owners choice of interior finishes and it was clear that for the majority of people who stayed here, it was more than just a place to sleep at the end of a day's exploring.

The barn has two bedrooms and the main bathroom on the ground floor, the living/dining room on the first floor, with the kitchen. The top floor has the master bedroom and en-suite. I have to say I fell in love with the kitchen. Black cabinets, no wall cupboards, wood & tile mix floor and a half-door leading to a tiny terrace with steps down to the garden, which was halfway between the ground and first floors.

The barn is available through Sykes Cottages.


I think holidays in Britain are very underrated. OK, the weather is unpredictable, but there are so many wonderful places to see close to home that are passed over in favour of a bog standard hotel room and a beach full of people somewhere sunny abroad, which is a real shame. So whay not consider escaping to the country for a week, or a weekend and see what Britain has to offer? There are plenty of rose covered chintzy cottages out there, if that's what you like (I don't!) but there are also some contemporary homes you can rent and even some architectural wonders. So why not book up somewhere a little more unusaual and get some home style inspiration too? Here are my favourite getaways, check out the websites and get booking for 2013!

Shingle House - Dungeoness (Kent)

Image source: NORD

Perfect for architecture aficionados, Living Architecture (a venture by Alain De Botton) puts award winning architecture within reach of everyone, for a long weekend at least. There are five properties in the portfolio, with another coming next year. Sleeping 8 or 10 people (the London property sleeps 2) the houses are great for a family get-away or a weekend with friends. The Shingle House was designed by Scottish architects NORD and is a RIBA award winner no less. It offers stunning views across the shingle and out to sea. I have friends who've stayed here and they raved about it. The interior is minimal but inviting with picture windows that frame the surrounding environment. There's even a sudy if you want to work so it's perfect for a creative retreat. It costs from £657 for a four night break (just £84 per person if there are 8 of you!) but special offers are available occasionally. You can also book for an entire week, but get in early for next year as all the houses in the portfolio get booked quickly!

The Hope Loft - Mousehole (Cornwall)

Image source: The Hope

If your style is more traditional coastal-but-cozy, The Hope Loft could be the holiday let for you. This one bedroom property is in a converted 17th century net loft in the beautiful Cornish village of Mousehole (I've been there, it's stunning!) It's not too touristy and the pubs and restaurants are superb. The loft itself is located right on the wharf with sea views and inside is all whitewashed walls and cosy grey textiles. Very calming and cool in summer, but I can imagine cozying up here in winter too. The loft is owned by a photographer, whose house, decorated in the same way, featured on the cover of Junes LivingETC. Prices range from £300 for a two night break in low season, to £1000 for a 7 night stay in the height of Summer and over Christmas.

Upper Tarn - Mokerkin (Lake District)

Image source: Sally's Cottages

Upper Tarn is a new build just North West of Loweswater and Buttermere and a great base for exploring the Lake District. The house is all on one level, with an open plan kitchen/dining/living room, a separate sitting room, three doubles and one twin bedroom all with en-suites. The bedrooms are furnished in a more traditional style, while the rest of the house is very sleek. The barn is yours for £820-£1460 a week depending on the season (just £102-£182 per person per week if there are 8 of you) and occasionally for short breaks as well.

The Alnmouth Boathouse - Alnmouth (Northumberland)

Image source: Coastal Retreats

This tiny but amazing house has clever open plan accomodation for two, featuring a ground floor garden room, with all other rooms being on the first floor. It's contemporary build contains a more traditional interior, furnished with well chosen furniture and a kingsize bed. Perfect for a romantic get-away, the house is situated on a lane leading down to the beach. The Alnmouth area is beautiful and if you can bear to leave the house, there's plenty to do nearby, including Alnwick Castle & Gardens which I highly recommend (but allow a day visit for each!) Prices range from £490-£915 for a full week and from £430-£810 for a short break, depending on the season.

Barn Cottage - Devon

Image source: Mr & Mrs Smith

Fancy some bright Scandi chic? This 100 year old red brick barn 10 minutes from Bude in North Devon is the holiday let for you then. Run by the brilliant Mr & Mrs Smith group, the two bedrooms (one double and one twin) are on the ground floor, with open plan living room & kitchen on the top floor. It has a wood burning stove, a private deck and is situated between two nature reserves. Great for a couple (with or without kids) or a small group of friends the barn costs from £650 - £1150 a week with short breaks available off season.

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