Inspired Luxury, Inspired Experiences

6 of the best luxury countryside retreats in the British Isles

6 of the best luxury countryside retreats in the British Isles

Discerning travellers from around the world visit the British Isles for a taste of the renowned scenery, rolling hills and pastoral idylls, but one needn’t compromise on luxury; some of the best hotels can be found in the heart of the British countryside.

Whether you’re looking for country chic or the ‘real outdoors’, the UK and Ireland has it all. Once in the countryside, be sure to try your hand at quintessential British pursuits: clay-pigeon shooting, fishing, tennis, riding, croquet, archery… tally-ho!

Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Fort William, Scotland

This majestic property has lured many a notable guest to its stunning Scottish countryside surrounds; just 10 years after opening its doors in 1873, Inverlochy welcomed Queen Victoria herself, who cited that she had never seen ‘a lovelier or more romantic spot’.

It was not until 1969, after a century of private residency, that Inverlochy Castle was transformed into Scotland’s finest country house hotel. Cradled in the foothills of Ben Nevis, the property boasts remarkable views of glen, loch and mountain and the quintessentially British activities, such as hunting, fishing and golfing, all make the most of this rugged backdrop.

It is unusual to find such service and accommodation in such a rural haven, from the option to dine at the acclaimed restaurant, Albert and Michel Roux Jr at Inverlochy Castle, to tucking up in one of the individually designed rooms. Guests feel like kings and queens in their own dominion and a silent and sound night’s sleep is just a fluffy pillow away.


Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford, England

This grand mansion must make any discerning traveller’s list of the most charming and comfortable country house retreats. (At Ampersand, we are sure that there are not many hotels that call pre-arrival to enquire on a guest’s pillow preference.) Whatever season one is lucky enough to visit Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, there is always a unique aspect to enjoy.

The kitchen gardens are second to none and boast their own Mushroom Valley and Fugetsu-An Tea House. It is these beautiful grounds, offering up 90 types of vegetables and 70 varieties of herb, that supply the hotel’s restaurant. Described as a ‘twist of imaginative genius’, the dishes on offer are truly mind blowing, accompanied by the bounty of a cellar stocked with 1000 different wines from around the world.

Amidst the lawns, flower borders and orchards, owner and celebrated chef Raymond Blanc, has created an experience that will stay with you forever.


Lime Wood, New Forest, England

If you want the countryside coupled with glamour, then it is Lime Wood that you should visit. Set in 375 square kilometres of ancient heath and woodland this is the only five-star property in the New Forest National Park.

The attention to detail is exquisite; from the oak doors to the free-standing baths, it’s not hard to feel you could stay forever. Revelling in the indulgent comfort, despite being surrounded by countless opportunities to head into the trees, you will struggle to tear yourself away from the option of a yoga class on the rooftop herb garden, or a Forest Escape Ayurvedic Treatment.

Lime Wood also provides all guests with the perfect start to the day: warm-from-the-oven bread and an array of compotes, seeds and fresh fruit to top your natural yoghurt.


Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland

Second to none with its standards of service, the most amazing thing about Ballyfin is its ability to provide the most superb and indulgent environment while making each and every guest feel as if they are in their own home.

Curl up on a sumptuous sofa by one of the log-burning fires, or take a walk around the property’s own lake – whatever your mood, there is something to suit at Ballyfin. Your inner country lady or gentleman will be in heaven from the moment you are met at the breakfast table with a bowl of steaming, steel-cut Irish porridge oats, topped with seasonal fruit and a drizzle of honey from the estate’s own hives.

With discretion, privacy and personal service, this house has long been admired as the most lavish Regency mansion in Ireland. The ideal escape from the stresses of the modern world, Ballyfin is a uniquely historical and romantic destination surrounded by the tranquillity of nature.


Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District, England

Glamorous boutique hotel meets country pile; historical charm meets modern style – Gilpin Hotel & Lake House is all about kicking back in an environment that perfectly blends the old with the new. This is a year-round peaceful haven that maintains a humble and unpretentious approach.

Having said that, guests have the option to experience a treatment in the Swedish-style therapy room at Jetty Spa, positioned three metres into the canopy of the trees, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a small but perfectly formed private lake.

By coupling the magnificent Lake District surroundings with the passion and memories that the Gilpin team will create, visitors to this delightful property will leave feeling that they have a new joie de vivre.


Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Wiltshire, England

Described as the Rolls-Royce of country house hotels, Lucknam Park is refined English style at its best. Each of the 42 supremely lovely bedrooms are styled individually and contain antique furniture, alongside contemporary detailing.

The Gardens and Estate have been meticulously designed and a summer visit will see the herbaceous borders overflowing with English blossoms. As guests roll up the long drive that stretches to 18th-century Lucknam Park, their truly is a sense of embarking on a Downton Abbey adventure, and being treated like Lord and Lady Grantham is a given at a destination where hospitality is sixth sense.

From exploring the estate on horseback to luxuriating in the Aromatic Steam Room, a weekend getaway will timelessly slip past in a munificent hotel where treasures abound.


by James Jayasundera

Ampersand Travel specialises in luxury tailor-made travel to the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia and the Far East, creating journeys that fully engage the senses and constantly surprise and delight. With over 13 years of experience, James Jayasundera and his team understand that everyone is unique, and they place great emphasis on getting to know their clients. They handcraft exceptional luxury holidays for individuals and small groups, combining the perfect mix of experiences and hotels in unforgettable ways.