Words: Cheryl Caira
Why go: A rural haven for A-listers like Kate Moss and Elizabeth Hurley, the designated Area of Outstanding National Beauty covering five counties is the English countryside at its most picturesque.
Where we headed: We packed our snug cashmeres and headed for the four-bedroom Reid Villa on Lower Mill Estate in Somerford Keynes, Gloucestershire. The feeling is high-end holiday home chic – as soon as we arrived we dove into the enticing corner sofa and spied a log burner for cosy lounging later in the evening. The interiors are sleek but also homely, with floor-to-ceiling windows that fill the open plan space with light.
Tell us more: Once you’re ready to retire to your boudoir, you’ll find comfy beds with inviting cushions and bedding to sink into and two contemporary en suite bathrooms with spacious showers. The two larger rooms also have private balconies for contemplating the tranquil lake nearby. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and the dining table sits up to eight, but if you’re not in the mood to cook, the estate can arrange your own private chef. We particularly enjoyed having a glass of red on the patio at sunset, and there’s also a BBQ if the weather’s on your side.
Highlights: Peace, peace and more peace. The Estate’s lakeside retreats are essentially set in their own private, 550-acre nature reserve, so you’re surrounded by wildlife and the scenic outdoors, including otters, beavers and gliding water birds. We were feeling energetic so opted for a run round the private grounds, but you can also cycle, stroll and picnic, or kayak on the lake during the summer. After some fresh air, it was time for a relaxing dip at the spa, which has an indoor and outdoor heated swimming pool, a lily filtered eco-pool, a steam room, sauna and treatment room – there are over sixty therapies, including luxurious hot stone massages, body wraps, facials, pedicures and manicures.
Verdict: If you’re in pursuit of some quiet time and quality head space but also keen to explore the Cotswolds, you can’t really go wrong with Lower Mill’s combination of ambience and location. It’s family-friendly, while still ideal for a break away with friends.
Stay at the Reid Villa from £675 for three nights. Go to habitatescapes.co.uk for info.