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18 Feb 2022

Escape to the country: 6 stunning UK cottage stays for spring

From Cornwall's stunning east coast to the rolling hills of Yorkshire, discover cottages in the best Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a spring staycation.

The British countryside comes into its own in spring, with brighter days, fresh air and everything in bloom. So if you're thinking about booking a staycation during the blossom season we've handpicked s idyllic cottages near some of the UK's top rated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

In a recent survey of 5,813 people, Which? readers voted for their favourite AONB and scored each out of five for scenery, walks, wildlife, peace and quiet, food and more.

All of the cottages selected are near an AONB which scored at least four stars for scenery and accommodation so you're guaranteed a room with a stunning view. Each property is listed with a holiday provider that treated its customers well during the pandemic so you can feel confident making a booking.

From a family beach holiday along the rugged Causeway Coast, to a cosy couple's getaway in the Yorkshire Dales, see where you could retreat to for some much-needed rest and relaxation this spring.

Dog-friendly cottage for two near Torpoint, Cornwall

Orangery Lodge, sleeps 2, £174 per night (£87 pppn)

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Home to 12 AONBs in total, Cornwall isn't short of scenic spots. Which? readers particularly like the east of the county, rating it five stars for accommodation and four stars for scenery.

Orangery Lodge near Torpoint offers couples a romantic getaway near some of east Cornwall's AONBs. This homey cottage is a Grade II listed building which overlooks Plymouth Sound. And it's listed with Which? recommended provider Classic Cottages.

It comes with a fully equipped kitchen and dining area, so you can enjoy a home cooked meal next to the wood burning fire. There's a lounge to sit back and admire the views.. Upstairs, the one and only bedroom features a four-poster double bed, dressing room, and fireplace (for those chillier evenings). You'll find the bathroom downstairs, which has a contemporary step-in shower.

Orangery Lodge is located just outside of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, where there are hundreds of acres of rolling fields, woodland, beaches, and listed gardens to explore. And within a 15 minute drive down the coast, you could be discovering Rame Head AONB, which is known for the medieval chapel at the edge of the cliff. A little further away, you'll find Tamar Valley AONB.

This property has limited availability in March and April. Pets are welcome.

Book now with Classic Cottages.


Looking for somewhere different to walk? Find easy walking routes near you.


Family cottage holiday in South Devon AONB

Apple Barn, sleeps 6, £149 per night (£25 pppn)

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South Devon AONB was rated five stars for accommodation and four stars for scenery by Which? readers. The AONB covers nearly 400u33a2 of stunning coastline and Apple Barn from Which? recommended provider Rural Retreats is right at the heart of it.

This beautiful barn conversion comes with a fully equipped kitchen and dining table, cosy lounge featuring a wood burning fireplace, and a south facing terraced garden with barbeque for some scenic al fresco dining.

The property sleeps four comfortably, but it can sleep up to six with additional futon beds. The master double bedroom is on the ground floor and the twin bedroom can also be made into a double.. Additionally, the loft space can sleep two more guests on futon beds. The main bathroom, with a power shower and bath, is on the ground floor and there's an additional WC upstairs.

Apple Barn is ideal for walkers. It's just a 15-minute walk away from several beautiful beaches and you can also join the South West Coast Path. Salcombe estuary and Mill Bay are also reachable by a short walk. From here, you can hop on a ferry across to Salcombe and rent a boat, do some shopping or enjoy some fish and chips on the seaside. There's also three golf courses within a 40 minute drive from the house.

Got a furry friend who loves paddling in the sea? Dogs are welcome to stay at Apple Barn with a small additional fee.

Book now with Rural Retreats.

Family beach cottage in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Strand House, sleeps 5, £260 per night (£52 pppn)

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The Antrim Coast and Glens in Northern Ireland made it into the top ten AONBs in our survey. Readers awarded this alluring region five out of five stars for scenery and accomodation. And we've found just the place to stay and take it all in.

Strand House is a secluded country cottage sat right on Cushendun Beach. Step out of its bold red door and immediately feel the sand between your toes, or soak in those sea views from the comfort of your bed. Game of Thrones fans might recognise the dramatic landscape surrounding Strand House from the hit series.

The property sleeps up to five, with one master double bedroom, a twin room, and a small single room. There's also a cot and highchair if you're bringing little ones. With a well equipped kitchen, dining table, washing machine and tumble dryer, you can be completely self-sufficient. On warmer days, you might like to eat al fresco at the picnic table in the garden. The living room features a wood burning fireplace and a TV, for cosy evenings in. And the contemporary bathroom comes with a shower and bath.

Strand House is perfectly placed to explore the Antrim Coast and Glens either on foot or by car. Just south of the cottage is the National Trust village of Cushendun, built in 1912. Here, you can potter around the shops or sit and admire the historic surroundings.There's also Ballycastle just a 30 minute drive away.

Strand House is listed by Which? recommended provider National Trust.

There are only a few dates left in March and April and the property is fully booked throughout May.

Book now with National Trust.


We researched eight UK trust memberships, including National Trust, Cadw and Historic Scotland to find the best ones.


Romantic, dog-friendly cottage near Forest of Bowland

The Shippon, sleeps 2, £195 per night (£97 pppn)

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The Forest of Bowland in Lancashire is another top-scoring destination for accommodation and scenery, with five and four stars in those categories. If you're a couple wanting to get away from it all, The Shippon could be just what you're looking for.

This freshly refurbished barn conversion is a home from home with its contemporary, open plan design and all of the creature comforts one desires. And yet a glance out of the floor to ceiling windows will remind you that you are indeed on holiday, with spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

The property is accessible for disabled guests as it's all on one level and has an entrance ramp. It has a fully equipped kitchen, dining table, and a stylish living area. The bedroom features a double bed, flat screen TV and more stunning views of the surrounding area. The bathroom has a walk-in shower cubicle. Outside, there's an enclosed patio area with a table and chairs.

Located in the village of Arkholme, The Shippon is just far enough away to get some peace and quiet while still being conveniently near the motorway to head out and explore further afield. The Forest of Bowland, the Yorkshire Dales, South Lake District and Lancashire are all within reach by car while Kirkby Lonsdale is the nearest town to nip to for shopping, eating and walking.

The Shippon sleeps two people and one pet. However, if you're looking for a big family getaway, its sister property, Gowan View, on the same site can sleep up to six and combined booking options are available.

English Country Cottages is another cottage holiday company rated highly by Which? readers. It scored five stars for customer service, description matching reality and cottage cleanliness, and four stars for value for money.

Book now with English Country Cottages.


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Cottage with hot tub for a family in Nidderdale, Yorkshire

Blue Plain Dairy, sleeps 4, £234 per night (£59 pppn)

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Sandwiched between two AONBs (Nidderdale and the Yorkshire Dales), the Blue Plain Dairy offers the ultimate rural retreat for up to four guests. Which? readers awarded Nidderdale five stars for accommodation, which, if this property is anything to go by, is no surprise.

This barn conversion is finished with a relaxing, contemporary colour scheme and features all of the mod cons for a restful stay. It has one king size bedroom with an en-suite and one twin room (which can also be made up as a super king-size), making it ideal for families or couples. Each bedroom comes with a TV and, of course, views of the surrounding countryside. The en-suite comes with a walk-in shower cubicle while the second bathroom comes with a freestanding bath tub with shower head.

The kitchen is fully equipped and in addition to a dining room, there's also a breakfast bar and living area. Outside, there's a private hot tub, patio, barbeque and hand built stone fireplace ready for some al fresco dining on those warm spring evenings.

Just a short stroll away is Pateley Bridge village, home to England's oldest sweet shop. And with two AONBs on your doorstep, there are plenty of walks and other outdoor activities to choose from. The Victorian spa town of Harrogate isn't too far either, if you fancy a bit of retail therapy.

The Blue Plain Dairy is listed with WRP Holiday Cottages and scored five stars for description matching reality, and four stars for customer service, cleanliness and value for money.

Book now with Holiday Cottages.


Planning a UK staycation? Find a holiday cottage with a Which? recommended provider: Rural Retreats, National Trust, Classic Cottages.


Romantic cottage for two in the Shropshire Hills

Bramley Barn, sleeps 2, £107 per night (£54 pppn)

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Shropshire's hilly landscape has been rated five stars for accommodation options and four stars for scenery by Which? readers. We've selected Bramley Barn from Holiday Cottages for a cosy couple's retreat.

Snuggle up next to the wood burning fireplace with your partner and gaze out over the Shropshire Hills from Bramley Barn, which sits on the grounds of a listed manor house. Guests can expect an open plan kitchen and living area and upstairs, a bathroom with a walk-in shower and spacious double bedroom.

Step straight onto one of the many walking or cycling trails from the house or just a 20 minute drive away is Ludlow, a charming medieval town which was voted one of the best UK towns and villages to visit by Which? readers. There's also the Unesco world heritage Ironbridge 45 minutes away.

Can't get the dates you want at Bramley Barn? It's also worth checking out the newly built Russet Barn on the same site, which again sleeps two. However, furry family members can't come and stay in either property.

Book now with Holiday Cottages.

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