Sod’s Law says that whenever you have the time and the budget to book a British mini break, you can’t think of anywhere nice to go.

According to current research, the market size of the hotel industry in the UK in 2022 reached £16.42 billion, up from £11.28 billion the previous year. Sure enough, some fabulous big hitters have thrown open their doors in recent years, from The Beaverbrook to Heckfield Place to The Newt. Their exquisite interiors, manicured gardens and high-end spas come with a price tag to match, though, which rules them out for lots of us lots of the time.

Let’s turn our attention instead to the smaller boutique hotels that charge a bit less for their trouble. Here are six beauties that are thriving now.

The Double Red Duke


This 17th-century Cotswolds idyll has 19 exquisite rooms, a top-notch restaurant with an open-fire kitchen and more awards than you can shake a stick at. It is luxurious, cool and cosy all at once and the cognoscenti are raving about it. House & Garden says: ‘The Double Red Duke offers an amplified version of all the comforts we associate with staying at an inviting country pub.’ It is managed by the brilliant hospitality group Country Creatures, who also have a string of pubs in London. Everything they touch turns to gold and we can’t wait to see what they do next. Book it.

No 1 Bruton

No1 Bruton cottage

If you close your eyes and imagine a perfect 12-bedroom hotel, set around a courtyard, comprised of a Georgian townhouse, a forge and a row of little cottages, what you will get is No 1 Bruton. The team calls it: ‘a true retreat from city life, with a devotion to Somerset’s craft heritage, artistry and culture at its heart’. Bruton is so hot right now, you’ll need to book a long way ahead of time. Book it.

Artist Residence, Bristol

Artist Residence

Filled with curios and unique artworks, this kooky hotel exudes character and fun. The Artist Residence group’s most recent opening, which was delayed by Covid, is housed in a former Boot Factory and spills over into a listed Georgian townhouse. It has a very special vibe, one that leaves you feeling as though you have the run of your eccentric aunt’s house for the weekend. Other corkers in the group include hotels in London, Oxfordshire, Penzance and Brighton. Book it.

The Rectory

At this blissful Cotswold bolthole, the WIFI password is ‘goforawalkinstead’. As you’d expect, the walks from its doorstep are marvellous. Inside, think dark paint colours, overstuffed sofas, Roberts radios piping classical music and moreish cocktails in the elegant bar. Tatler says: ‘If the Grade II-listed Rectory in Wiltshire is anything to go by, it’s no wonder Anthony Trollope’s clergymen fought so viciously to be given a plum parish. Now a hotel, it more than hits the sweet spot for a country idyll. Its secret? It doesn’t try too hard.’ Book it.

The Gunton Arms


Head to this grown-up Norfolk pub for Robert Kime and Martin Brudnizki interiors, an ex-Mark Hix chef and Tracey Emin artworks on the walls, all in a glorious deer park setting. The art dealer Ivor Braka bought this place in 2011 and radically transformed it with a crack team and truly excellent taste. To us, it is the exemplar of the boutique hotel. Book it.

Killiehuntly Farmhouse


Tucked away in the stunning Cairngorms is this magical farmhouse hotel with its Scandi-influenced interiors and unparalleled hospitality. A typical stay looks like this. Wake up, take down a hearty breakfast, borrow a thick fisherman’s sweater, walking boots and a knapsack from the hotel, pick up your picnic from the dining room table, set off on an unforgettable walk and return hours later, both invigorated and exhausted. Pour yourself a Negroni from the jug on top of the honesty bar, head up for a bath and… relax and repeat. This place is perfect. Book it.

By Becky Ladenburg
April 2023