IT’S finally started: deluges of volcano-friendly holidays. Yesterday our inboxes were indundated with ways to get round the awful ash cloud.
Certainly, if your far-flung trip has been postponed, holidaying in Britain need not be a trial. The UK?is packed with idyllic places to stay, from the cosy and rustic and the majestic and palatial, to the coastal and elegant. Whether you’ve been affected by the ash cloud or not, it’s certainly given most people food for thought about the necessity of flying, if only in the name of avoiding hassle. So if you’re still planning a springtime getaway, why not consider some of our homegrown retreats.
If you do want to go further afield, companies such as Black Tomato have launched packages that go as far away as Bilbao by boat and Switzerland by car. For ideas go to www.blacktomato.co.uk.
BOVEY CASTLE, DEVON
Hunter wellies at 8AM, golf spikes at 3PM and Manolo Blahniks for dinner is what the opulent Bovey Castle promises. Set in Dartmoor National Park, you can stay either in a villa (still more) away from it all, or in the glamorous marble and richly carpeted hotel. Take advantage of the ash crisis with a spring of two nights in classic room and a three course dinner each evening (supp £35 per person), while a full English in the morning will set you up for golf, archery, walking or pampering in the spa. Offer available Sunday-Fridays. Rooms start from just £109.00 per person per night until the 30th April 2010. www.boveycastle.com or call 01647 445000.
NATURAL RETREATS, THE YORKSHIRE DALES
Head to a 680 square-mile national park in Yorkshire for a dose of crystalline air and beautiful countryside. Luxury eco company Natural Retreats has several contemporary self-catering properties there with award-winning design, open-plan living and sustainable building – the idea is to blur the boundaries between the living area and nature. Each residence has three en-suite bedrooms, flat screen TV, beds with?Egyptian cotton, natural toiletries and even wildlife ponds. The park is a haven for recreation – moor walks, mountain biking and riding to name a few. Bliss. £350 for two nights, reserve at booking.naturalretreats.com.
ROSE COTTAGE, COTSWOLDS
Leave it all behind – but not too far behind – with your loved one in a two-bed Grade II-listed 18th century stone thatched cottage. Lush rosebeds and a garden in the back give a sense of seclusion; while the nearby village of Ebrington is one of the most lovely in the northern Cotswolds. Go for a pint and a roast (if you tire of using your fully kitted-up and very cosy kitchen) at the Ebrington Arms, two minutes’ walk away. Interiors are the height of country charm. Ahh, who needs France anyway? Seven nights from £297. For more information or to book visit www.ruralretreats. co.uk or call 01386 701177.
HELL BAY, SCILLY ISLES
Lap up Britain’s own seaside paradise at the ironically-named Hell Bay, where the Caribbean meets Martha’s Vineyard meets England. Rooms, in shed-style structures, reflect the rustic maritime surroundings, with light wood, spare but elegant furnishings and lots of light. There’s plenty to be getting on with in the crystalline sea. Boat trips with excursions round the islands, fishing, diving, sailing, snorkelling and water sports are all on offer – or just opt for a lazy afternoon relaxing around the outdoor heated pool. Four nights at Hell Bay in the Scilly Isles with ferry crossings from Penzance from £699 per person with www.blacktomato.co.uk.
LIME WOOD, HAMPSHIRE
This immaculate, super-stylish new country house hotel in the New Forest has brought unprecedented lashings of glamour to Hampshire (Sophie Dahl chose it for her wedding to Jamie Cullum). Think coach houses with ensuite fireplaces that a porter will light for you, a gourmet restaurant with Michelin-star talent and an interior (of the main hotel) designed by restaurant designer du jour David Collins (who also did the Wolseley). There is archery, foraging, riding nearby and plenty more to do – that is if you can bear to leave the superbly soft beds, beautiful spa and the great bar. Rooms from £180. www.limewoodhotel.co.uk.