Friday, April 1, 2011

The English Countryside Getaway

The English Countryside is an awfully romantic and mysterious place, remarkably unchanged over the years. Even if your life is complicated in the city, you can uncomplicate it with a trip to the rolling hills of England. While things have become more convenient and more accessible, the British countryside is still an oasis of calm. Maintaining the look of the past, English getaway destinations are more than simply manicured manor houses--they’re a balance of the past and present.

CNN recently profiled top destinations in the English countryside, and many of their selections are featured on as luxury accommodations with perks. As CNN says, “Crumbling estates have been restored into plush, contemporary hotels. [...] Such is the mood afoot in England, with old-fashioned pubs serving inventive cuisine and upscale stores and spas catering to a cosmopolitan crowd. Today, Wilde be damned, the English countryside is very tempting indeed.”

Places to Go in the English Countryside

Hay Barn Spa Daylesford, Gloucestershire
The Hay Barn Spa is located on an outstanding 1,500 acres of land, which is home to an organic farm and a "tiny" day spa. Much of the buildings and products on the property are sustainable or organic, making your footprint lighter in the countryside.

CNN Says: “Daylesford now has a café, a cooking school and a clothing store, and it's become a destination for a certain London sort (Kate Moss, Liz Hurley, Kate Winslet) who makes the 90-minute drive from the city or has a country home nearby.”

Hix Oyster and Fish House Lyme Regis, Dorset
Located three hours from London, this restaurant is one of the places to go in the countryside to try some of England's local delicacies--nettles, anyone? Try the balcony seating for lunch, and perhaps some cod or sole.

CNN Says: “Perched above the horseshoe-shaped harbor, the restaurant has drawn a discriminating crowd, and Hix also hosts cooking demonstrations and supper clubs led by well-known writers, artists and chefs.”

Giffords Circus Cirencester, Gloucestershire
This 1930s recreation of a touring circus is an intimate affair, and the performances have been going on for a decade now. Expect dancing horses and acrobats for $35 per adult ($20 children).

CNN Says: “With just 360 spectators, the performances have a magical intimacy, the storytelling appealing to adults and children alike, and after evening shows, guests are invited to dine with the cast in a fairy light-strewn tent.”

Amberley Castle Amberley, West Sussex
Mistletoe Lodge provides a private dining space for just a couple, surrounded by the gardens that have made Castle Amberley famous. This Cotswold spot should be reserved in advance, of course, but it's worth the trouble to dine under a thatched tree house, in poplar trees. Do you think the server has trouble making it up and down to deliver the delicious English meals?

CNN Says: “The British love of garden follies -- fountains, aviaries, pavilions -- has had a resurgence in recent years as a spate of fanciful creations have emerged across the country.”

Cary Arms Babbacombe Beach, Devon
The Cary Arms is said to have a "New England feel," and that itself is intriguing. This vacation destination is enjoying a revamped popularity with locals and travelers alike.

CNN Says: “But the UK coast is back with this 1920s seaside inn that's been redone by its new owners, Lana and Peter de Savary. The de Savarys clearly know luxury -- Peter reconceived Scotland's Skibo Castle as a lavish members-only club -- and they've injected some panache to the modest inn.”

Places to Stay While Exploring

Royal Crescent Hotel
This hotel is a good transitional stay while you’re moving from one countryside location to another. Located in Bath, the Royal Crescent feature “secret gardens” and wonderful English afternoon tea for enthusiastic explorers who need sustenance before the next expedition.

Summer House Country House and Spa
Now’s your time to relax in the countryside, surrounded by quiet and luxury. This former private home has charm and quiet to offer those checking out the Dorset countryside, and those who need a day in can play croquet, swim in the heated indoor pool, or visit the health spa.

Old Government House Hotel
This luxury hotel is a perfect place to finish up a trip touring the English countryside. You can visit plenty of beaches while you stay at the Old Government House Hotel, and you’ll even be able to view the outline of the French coast from private gardens. Hope for a clear day to top up your tan while you’re there!

Radisson Edwardian Manchester
Need a break from the country for a night? The Radisson Edwardian Manchester is in the city center and retains the Halle Suite, which was originally where the Halle Orchestra used to strum and croon the night away. It’s now a special events room, making the Edwardian a perfect place to stay for those attending conferences and shows at the hotel.

Exploring the English countryside is great, but you know what’s even better? Staying in a luxury hotel after a day tromping through the fields and riding horses on the trails. Plan whatever suits your fancy in the English countryside knowing that, when you retire, you can get re-charged and rejuvenated in just a night’s rest.

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