The 4 greatest resorts in England for a waterside staycation
From a romantic lakeside retreat to a dazzling yacht hotel in the capital, these four quiet retreats will transport you into the New Year
Fowey Hall Hotel, Fowey, Cornwall
Best to … entertain the kids
T.The view alone is worth the drive to this cliff-top hotel that overlooks the fishing village of Fowey and its postcard-perfect harbor. Wind in the Willows writer Kenneth Grahame was here once, and it’s rumored that the iconic building was the inspiration for Toad Hall. Today it’s newly renovated and full of family-friendly activities, including a fabulous outdoor children’s play area and game room opened by David Walliams. The biggest attraction, however, is the beach, which is just a 10-minute walk away. There’s a relaxing spa to retreat to later, and the extensive cocktail menu will keep parents happy too.
Stella loves: The crab linguine (so good we ate it three evenings in a row). The lobster (ordered 24 hours in advance) is very special too
Out and about: Fowey is a short but steep walk away – make sure you pack sensible shoes. The hills are well worth it as there are plenty of fudge shops and tea rooms for a Cornish cream tea (fowey.co.uk). The Eden project is also worth a visit – only 17 minutes by car from the hotel (edenproject.com)
Rooms from £ 249 per night, b & b; luxusfamilyhotels.co.uk
Read the full expert review: Fowey Hall Hotel
• An insider’s guide to Cornwall
Cary Arms and Spa, Babbacombe, Devon
Best for … turquoise water
This charming inn is located directly above the turquoise waters of Babbacombe Beach and is as close as the Côte d’Azur in Great Britain (the region is not called the English Riviera for nothing). The hotel itself has a clean white New England feel to it. Pack your wetsuit and brave an early morning swim. The water is so calm that it is also great for paddling. We stayed in a Beach Suite, a self-contained apartment with a terrace, a large living room and ocean views from the bed. The view is best enjoyed from the hydrotherapy pool in the hotel’s small spa. The walls are made of floor-to-ceiling glass so you can watch the ocean while being massaged by underwater jets. The cozy pub-style restaurant, decorated in a nautical way, serves an excellent Sunday roast of giant Yorkshire puds that are worth the trip on their own.
Stella loves: The box of delicacies in the suite, filled with biscuits, chocolate bars, hearty snacks and hot chocolate mixes for cozy afternoons. Better yet, it is replenished daily.
On the go: Right on the beautiful Shingley Babbacombe Beach, it is ideal for swimming, paddling and sailing in the cold water. There are also divers in the area (englishriviera.co.uk). The neighboring Oddicombe Beach with its distinctive red sand is less than a 10-minute walk from the coast. Make a stop at the little cafe that serves a mean hot chocolate and is the perfect vantage point to watch the rolling waves and watch cruise lines. To really find your way around, book a tour with English Riviera Walking Tours – the local guide Graham was both informative and entertaining. Highly recommended is his Agatha Christie hike in nearby Torquay which is fascinating for fans of Miss Marple and Poirot (englishrivierawalkingtours.co.uk; tours £ 10 per person).
Rooms from £ 269 per night, b & b; caryarms.co.uk
Read the full expert review: Cary Arms & Spa
• The best beaches in Devon
Sunborn London, Royal Victoria Dock, London
Best for … French Riviera glitter
It may be permanently moored to the Thames, but as soon as you step on the Sunborn you will feel like you have arrived in St. Tropez. With glamorous spiral staircases, mahogany paneled walls, and a crystal chandelier centerpiece, everything is fabulously dazzling – but with an appropriate touch of kitsch. Our elegant suite has a sun deck and a bathroom decorated with mosaics, as well as a wonderful whirlpool. But the USP is Lands End Restaurant, which offers diners a fresh perspective on London, with views of the water, Docklands and beyond – and an inspiring international menu.
Stella loves: Morning coffee on deck in front of a busy Thames backdrop.
On the go: Just a stone’s throw from the Emirates Airline cable car, it offers unparalleled aerial views of the London skyline day and night (tickets from £ 3.50, pre-order at emiratesairline.gttix.com) If you land on dry land across the river, you’ll find yourself next to the Emirates Sky Experience, complete with flight simulators and interactive airline exhibits. From there, hop on a water taxi and London is your oyster.
Rooms from £ 118 per night, sunbornhotels.com/london
Read the full expert review: Sunborn London
• The best things to do in London
Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, Borrowdale, Lake District
Best for … romance by the lake
Overlooking majestic Derwentwater and the Skiddaw and Catbells fells, this 87-room hotel is imposing with its gabled Victorian slate and tower, but there is a warm welcome behind the door. There has been a hotel in this quaint location for 150 years, but a Scandi-style spa was added in 2018 – it blends seamlessly with the rugged Lakeland backdrop. Slip into the steaming outdoor infinity pool and enjoy the scenery. For dinner, enjoy Pan-Asian dishes in the stylish Mizu Restaurant or the Lake View Restaurant for more traditional dishes.
Stella loves it: Sipping Pink Infin under the stars in the infinity pool while being massaged by underwater jets.
On the go: Enjoy an eight-course lunch and marvel at the culinary creativity at L’Enclume, which has been awarded two Michelin stars. Chef Simon Rogan serves organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers that are grown on the restaurant’s own farm. It’s the 90-minute drive from the hotel. The Cottage in the Wood Restaurant is closer and also spectacular; Book a table in advance (Cottageinthewood.co.uk). Burn it down with a 3.5 mile Catbells hike. The views of Keswick, Derwentwater and Borrowdale are unrivaled on a clear day.
Rooms from £ 240 per night, full board; lakedistricthotels.net/lodorefalls
Read the full expert review: Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa
Edited by Laura Powell. Reviews by Caroline Barrett-Haigh, Laura Powell, Naomi Greenaway, and Emily Allen
Before you travel, check local lockout restrictions and keep up to date with hotel policies, including spa and restaurant rules, on individual hotel websites