For a British break with a twist, stay in a historic house

HAVE you ever slept in a Tudor folly? I have, and very enjoyable it is too. Thanks to the Landmark Trust, the building conservation scheme that uses proceeds from guests to renovate and maintain old buildings, I stayed in one near Ipswich this summer. Organisations like the Landmark Trust and the National Trust, which also rents out its properties to holidaymakers, would tell you that no hotel can ever match the personality, charm and sheer fascination of staying in a restored historical jewel.

The UK is blessed with architectural riches from the old to the ancient and they make exquisite places to stay – what could beat waking up in Hampton Court Palace, for example, as the National Trust enables you to do? Or a Yorkshire chateau, wind-blasted house in Cornwall, or a castle in Northumberland as the Landmark Trust allows? The properties are not kitted out luxuriously, but they are neat, clean and comfortable – the buildings themselves are the star of the stay. When you’ve got turrets, extensive landscaped gardens, gargoyles or stained glass windows, the frills that are the hallmark of luxury hotels are less important. It is self-catering accommodation, and mostly there are very richly provisioned kitchens that make cooking a joy.

It’s a great excuse to toddle along to whatever local farmer’s market is nearby and try the delights of the area. And there’s bound to be a great pub in the area.

There are other ways to arrange a far-fetched place to stay – Rural Retreats is one private company that specialises in quirky holiday cottages. It is particularly proud of its lighthouses, though it also has a good range of farmhouses and other types of cottages that make it perfect for a trip with another family – the residences sleep from two to twenty-four, although whether that would count as a holiday is another question.