I love looking for holidays — just browsing is half the fun, right? But when you’ve actually got something in mind Google can be a bit vast, and Instagram, though great, can often just show a golden highlight reel of places, not the real ins and outs of what you’re looking for. I love that people message me asking for suggestions for cabins, campsites, and cute hide-in-the-countryside getaways but I figured it would be easiest and most helpful to just pile everything into one blog post, so…here we are.
Going forward, Ed and I are consciously trying to make more of what we’ve got on our doorstep. See more of the UK through day trips, holidays and staycations. And whether it’s a cabin, a tent, a boutique hotel or a holiday cottage, there’s no shortage of magical places to enjoy a UK staycation. But where do you find them? Read on for my favourite places to discover perfect stay-cay spots, from off-the-grid campsites to first-class hotels, plus a few of the places I’ve got on my list…
CANOPY AND STARS
My absolute go-to when it comes to looking for super special staycations. All of Canopy & Stars’ listings (and they have a lot) are all rooted in nature and promise to get you closer to the great outdoors. From shepherd huts to yurts with hot tubs, treehouses hovering in the sky, Scottish bothies and luxe cabins on private lakes, they’ve got all the options with plenty of places to suit all budgets — some spots are seriously good value. All the info on the site is super useful, most properties have loads of reviews to read through for reassurance, and, should you be looking further afield, they’ve got heaps of ‘glamp-sites’ across Europe too. We stayed at the ultra cool and cosy Ditchling Cabin back in Jan — ultimate cabin porn!
Kip Hideaways is a bit like a member’s club for staycationers. They’ve got a small but growing diverse portfolio of holiday homes to hire out, ranging from beachy houses in Whitstable to converted train carriages in Somerset, and charming Cornish cottages. Their houses range in size, sleeping 2-6, and you can filter your search down in various ways, including ‘near a train station’ — very handy for those who don’t drive. Earlier in the year, we stayed at this gorgeous Peak District Barn, a gorgeous stone barn in Alstonefield, and it really was stunning and so serene. It definitely impressed us so we’d absolutely use Kip again.
If you’re a keen camper (or maybe just keen to give camping a go), Cool Camping is the ultimate online resource for finding and booking tried-and-tested campsites. There’s all sorts on there, from family-friendly sites to off-the-grid pitches, and places to camp in the middle of the woods. I actually have the Cool Camping UK book which I’d recommend too — it fills me with wanderlust to just flick through and dream of that slowed-down pace that camping gives you.
Similarly, Pitch Up is another great online site for finding and booking great campsites. I’ve found places tend to get booked up less fast on Pitch Up so it’s a good place to hunt if all the campsites you’ve contacted so far have said ‘full, sorry!’. It’s easy to use, the facilities are easily outlined, and the whole country is well covered.
If you’re less about communal shower blocks and more about roll-top bath tubs at the end of the bed, Smith Hotels is where you want to look. Always, always my first port of call when I’m thinking about beautiful boutique hotels, be it for a city break, a far flung adventure or a cosy countryside retreat. They’re got heaps of beaut options in the UK — some slightly out of the price range — but some great, luxe affordable options too. The Rose in Deal is high on my list, as is The Scarlet, an ever-s-slick eco beach pad.
Airbnb needs no introduction but I always forget about it when thinking of UK staycations. It’s actually great, especially for bigger groups or family get-togethers with so many larger house options in all sorts of beautiful places. I also just love the ease of the site and how everything saves so nicely in the app, which I’d definitely recommend.
Cool Stays is all about unique and unusual stays. How about a fishing hut on the Scottish borders? Or a mill keeper’s cottage in Norfolk? Whilst some on the sightlier whackier end of the scale, there are loads (and I mean, loads) of ultra gorgeous, super chic places — lots of romantic spots for couples and also great open-plan houses for get-togethers and family trips. I want to get the fam together and stay at The Cob — a super sharp barn conversion near Bude.
SAND AND STONE ESCAPES
If you’re looking for somewhere swish to escape the city, Sand and Stone Escapes has a compact collection of unique holiday cottages, big and small, scattered across Cornwall, Devon and The Cotswolds. Their places are seriously plush with proper dreamy interiors, and surprisingly well priced too — especially for larger groups. Bledington Barn is at the top of my list — a sustainably-minded converted old dairy in the Cotswolds which sleeps six. As for ultimate wow-factor, check out Little Cottage — a seriously slick open-house home in Cornwall with sea-views and space for 10.
[photos taken on 35mm film on Olympus AF10, and provided by Sand and Stone Escapes]