Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Britain's most beautiful hotels in national parks

The UK’s 15 national parks are our pride and joy, offering wide open spaces, amazing native biodiversity and plenty of fun activities to get stuck into - and did you know you can stay in some beautiful hotels in national parks, too?

Whether you’re exploring independently, with a loved one, as part an activity group or with the family, Britain’s national parks are a spectacular setting for getting some fresh air, exercise and bonding time - or even trying more niche activities like bird-watching and stargazing.

Our national parks welcome more than 100 million visitors every year, and each one of these areas of natural beauty is distinct in its landscapes and history.

In 1951, England’s oldest national park, the Peak District National Park, was designated as a protected public space. In the heart of England, it reaches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Meanwhile, England’s newest national park is the South Downs in Sussex, popular for its chalky hills and stunning valleys. Although national parks welcome people for a day visit, to really make the most out of the scenery and character of these natural beauty spots, you can spend a night (or two) inside, where you can get cosy at a lovely hotel surrounded by nature and wildlife.

Staying in a national park means more time for activities - like cycling, walking, water sports, photography and stargazing - as well as indulgent comforts like steaming hot tubs and excellent dining. Plus, you can stay in some of the oldest manor houses and luxury pubs around.

Here's our pick of the best hotels in or near the UK’s national parks for a nature-packed staycation this year.

1. Two Bridges Hotel, Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park is made up of wild, open moorlands, old forests and deep river valleys - it’s where the Dart and the Teign rivers begin. A great way to explore Dartmoor is staying at the Two Bridges Hotel, which holds Devon heritage close to its heart.

The rural setting is serene - equally magical on a summer’s day with its perfect views of the moors, or on a winter’s evening as the mist descends and you cosy down to log fires and candles. You'll find warm, old-school charm, dog-friendly bedrooms and locally-sourced food to enjoy, too.

2. Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

With a stunning rooftop infinity pool overlooking Loch Lomond, an 18-hole championship golf course, a spa with no less than 17 treatment rooms plus a resident motor cruiser boat, we couldn’t leave Cameron House off this list.

There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant on site, as well as the Cameron Grill which serves up fresh salmon and local beet and the Boathouse seafood restaurant overlooking the Loch.The five-star hotel is undoubtedly the best for experiencing Scotland’s epic landscapes and lies on the gateway to the Highlands, home to red deer and endless oak woodlands.

3. Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa, Lake District National Park

Almost a mini-resort, with a spa, pool, wildlife park and heaps of space to while away the time over newspapers or afternoon tea, Armathwaite Hall is great for a family holiday or lazy getaway in the Lake District. With a 16-metre infinity pool, a woodland path that takes you straight to the shores of Bassenthwaite - one of the largest lakes in the national park - and a charming lounge from which you can view the lake and grounds over a stiff drink, it’s perfect for relaxing.

Look out for wildlife - hundreds of birds including the rare osprey migrate to the lake and Atlantic salmon come to Bassenthwaite to spawn. Children can be kept entertained at the wildlife park and with outdoor activities, plus there’s a fabulous kids' menu at the Courtyard Bar and Brasserie.

4. Rhinefield House Hotel, New Forest National Park

From the moment you turn into Rhinefield's ornamental drive - with its giant redwood trees and colourful rhododendrons - you begin to realise you're heading somewhere special. Rhinefield House is located right in the heart of the New Forest, with country walks, woodland and wild ponies all around.

The best feature - besides the health club, swimming pool and gardens - is the ornate Alhambra Room, which you can book for private dining for a special break. It’s encrusted in mosaic, with Venetian glass, beaten copper and Prussian onyx, to look like the famous Islamic palace in Grenada.

5. Cross Lane House, Exmoor National Park

If you’re looking to stay within Exmoor National Park, the small but charming Cross Lane House sits in a hamlet on a National Trust estate by the sea. It’s perfect for spending a few days on Exmoor’s wild moors and storm beaches and offers great cocktails and good food.

Look out for wild red deer, otters, butterflies and bats within the park’s varied habitats, and don’t forget to look up - Exmoor offers gorgeous clear skies perfect for stargazing.

6. Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Peak District National Park

Upmarket Baslow on the River Derwent is an ideal village to stay in when exploring the Peak District National Park, and Fischer’s Baslow Hall is one of the area’s finest hotels, an ideal choice for romantic weekends and special occasions. You’ll feel totally pampered with luxurious bedrooms, excellent food and very pleasant surrounding gardens.

There are plenty of opportunities to connect to the land here too - not only through walking nearby, but also at the dining table. Vegetables and fruit featured on the menu are grown on site or foraged nearby, and honey is sourced from local hives.

For something seriously fancy in Baslow, try the modern country house hotel, The Cavendish. Located on part of the Chatsworth estate, it’s perfect for exploring Chatsworth House and treating yourself to a spot of bubbly.

7. The Grove of Narberth, Pembrokeshire National Park


Just a few miles from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, in a fairytale location overlooking the Preseli Mountains, The Grove of Narberth is a luxurious 18th-century country house surrounded by meadows. Although technically a 'restaurant-with-rooms', this superb property has won national awards as the ‘Best place to eat and stay in Wales'.

You'll find modern art, vintage carpets and ornate fireplaces, not to mention deep iron baths, under-floor heating and designer toiletries. If you want to push the boat out, opt for an in-room massage (available on request).

8. Forest Lodge Hotel, New Forest National Park

Set in the heart of the New Forest, Forest Lodge was once a Georgian town house but has now been extended. You’ll find classic period charm inside, in sparkling chandeliers and grand fireplaces. Try one of their popular afternoon teas on the terrace or bag a sofa in the cellar to relax inside.

The indoor pool is heated and its mural of the forest brightens the walls and celebrates the beauty of the surrounding national park. Just a five-minute stroll into the centre of Lyndhurst, where you can peruse boutique shops and bars and pick up a souvenir or two, this is a great location for exploring the New Forest.

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