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The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

The best country house hotels in Britain

The British country house hotel was born in 1949, brought to us in the pink and frilly shape of Sharrow Bay, overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. Presided over by a splendid couple, Francis Coulson and his partner Brian Sack, it came complete with a gargantuan afternoon tea, and Sack’s famous Icky Sticky Toffee Pudding and Coulson’s bedtime poems on the pillow. People adored it. There had been leisure hotels in Britain before, of course, but this was the first where you could be assured of being personally pampered in beautiful rural surroundings, with a committed owner at the helm offering a warm welcome, decent food, peace and quiet. Hundreds of characterful country house hotels have followed, and today there’s a bewildering amount from which to choose. Here we present the cream of the crop. While some continue to offer no more than the pleasures of a beautiful old house, a roaring fire and a cup of tea, others cater to our increased demands: for spas, cookery courses and activities such as foraging. All these hotels share in common comfort, excellent food and the joys of the English countryside. England Lime WoodNew Forest, Hampshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating It’s the attention to detail throughout Lime Wood that makes it special. The oak doors are thick and stylised sitting rooms melt one into the other, pale lemon into lilac into mint green, each with an open fire. As for the food, that most grounded of all celebrity chefs, Angela Hartnett, has joined forces with existing Lime Wood chef Luke Holder and to produce Italian inspired dishes that are as informal, yet polished as their surroundings. Read expert review From £245per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Gravetye ManorEast Grinstead, West Sussex, England 9Telegraph expert rating An authentic Elizabethan edifice, all mullioned windows and red-brick chimney stacks. Its mottled stone façade is like a proud scar — a testament to a history that spans four centuries. Inside, the past doesn’t echo; it booms. Instead of chairs expect 16th-century-style thrones, carved from oak; instead of radiators, gigantic fireplaces, engraved with Tudor flowers and coats of arms. The restaurant has a Michelin star and is one of the most pleasurable places to dine in the country. Read expert review From £208per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in West Sussex • Find exclusive UK hotel and restaurant offers from Telegraph Travel Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'SaisonsOxfordshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The style is a happy marriage between stately Oxfordshire and eccentric French fancy. The honey-coloured Manor house creates an attractive focus around which an eclectic mix of 15th-century ponds, Provençal lavender rows, a Japanese garden, kitsch sculptures and a wild mushroom patch can all co-exist. Seasonality is king in its two-Michelin starred restaurant. A 1930s-style bar serves comforting cocktails and the wine cellar stocks a French dominated list of more than 1,000 different wines. Read expert review From £556per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best country house hotels in Britain Lympstone ManorExmouth, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Britain's most exciting new country house hotel in decades, with double-Michelin-starred BBC Great British Menu icon Michael Caines MBE at the helm. The man himself takes the time to greet guests and can often be spied striding through the halls in his white chef overalls. Don't miss the eight-course tasting menu dinner. Many chefs get bogged down in zany experiments with foams and moleculars. Michael prefers to bravely poke at the booby-trapped boundary between sumptuous and sickly. Book a room with an outdoor bath overlooking the golden syrup sunsets of the Exe estuary. Read expert review From £290per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com The best hotels in Oxfordshire Save up to 70% on hotel deals via our partner Secret Escapes ClivedenTaplow, Berkshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating This has to be one of the loveliest spots for a hotel, overlooking a spectacular 19th-century parterre and surrounded by acres of ancient woodland running down to the Thames. Contrary to its appearance, Cliveden is not in the least bit stuck up and doesn’t mind whether you turn up in a Ferrari or a Fiat. The house has witnessed much intrigue over the years – it was the setting for the infamous Profumo affair – and a hint of naughtiness remains. Read expert review From £340per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Berkshire Chewton Glen HotelNew Forest, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel has lovely grounds and guests can follow the stream through the woods to emerge at Naish Beach, with a view of the Needles rising from the sea. Facilities are legion: a lavish spa, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis centre, nine-hole golf course and many activities, from archery and buggy riding to duck herding. Bedrooms and suites, in many different styles, display astonishing attention to detail, down to the stamped postcards on each desk. Read expert review From £315per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire Hambleton HallRutland, East Midlands, England 9Telegraph expert rating Beautifully decorated by Stefa Hart, who with her husband Tim has owned and run Hambleton Hall since 1979, the house exudes a feeling of controlled and carefully orchestrated wellbeing without ever feeling unnatural or overly theatrical. The flowing country house good looks are matched by the surrounding gardens and the beautiful view of Rutland Water from the lovely flower filled terrace. The cooking of Aaron Patterson, who began here as a 16-year-old sous chef, easily deserves its long held Michelin star and is rooted in local and seasonal produce, charmingly presented and always delicious. Read expert review From £265per night • The best hotels in Rutland Gidleigh ParkChagford, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Perched atop a bank overlooking private woodlands traced by a boulder-strewn river, Gidleigh’s location is wild and dramatic. The décor is stylish if a little straight-laced, with everything you’d expect in an English country house hotel: antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces and elegant bouquets of flowers. The 24 bedrooms are decorated individually in a classic English country style, with supersized beds, roll-top baths, televisions, L’Occitane toiletries, spring water from the Gidleigh Estate, bowls of fresh fruit and complimentary decanters of Madeira. Read expert review From £248per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon Askham HallPenrith, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating A mixture of family furniture and paintings have been combined with more modern, or quirky pieces to create something both charming and unusual. The whole place feels part stately home, part private club, but mostly unique. Richard Swale is a gifted chef who draws his influences from, amongst others, Magnus Nilsson of Faviken restaurant in Sweden and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree, in Wales. Richard’s food is locally grown, or personally preserved and tastes correspondingly fresh and interesting. Read expert review From £150per night • The best hotels in Cumbria Calcot ManorTetbury, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating A weathered stone manor house and farm building that’s grown to house 35 guest rooms, a gorgeous spa, a function centre in a converted barn, an Ofsted-registered crèche in the kids’ Playzone and two restaurants. Double rooms are in the manor; family rooms overlook the outdoor pool. There’s something incredibly relaxing about this hotel, with 'country modern’ bedrooms that manage to be both cosy and elegant, soothing and spoiling, natural and sophisticated. When it was time to go home, we refused to leave, cancelled everything and booked for another night. It’s honestly that good. Read expert review From £204per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Augill CastleKirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England 9Telegraph expert rating Augill Castle stands in 20 acres of grounds in the beautiful upper Eden Valley, within striking distance of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The owners have created a highly individual hotel with minimal rules, a great sense of relaxation and welcome to all – unusual and imaginative with a 'family friends’ feel. The 15 bedrooms are eclectic and slightly eccentric with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces and an array of unusual and pretty bedsteads. Dining is a social occasion. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Cumbria Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & SpaEvershot, Dorset, England 9Telegraph expert rating Decoration and style tends towards the feminine and the flouncy with fabric covered ceilings and padded fabric walls, pictures of dogs, plenty of cushions and so on but they add up, in general, to a feeling of spoiling indulgence and do not, mercifully, overwhelm. The drawing room, designed by the poet and author Thomas Hardy, is admirably classic in style, now painted a pretty blue, and the bedrooms are divinely pretty and comfortable. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Dorset Cowley ManorCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna. Read expert review From £195per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Gloucestershire Gilpin Hotel & Lake HouseLake Windermere, Lake District, England 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is a characterful Georgian house, built in 1901 and owned by three generations of the Cunliffe family. That’s not to say it’s a creaking relic — the décor is glamorous boutique meets country pile. Life at the Gilpin is all about kicking back — and that’s helped by the service, about which it’s hard to say anything negative. Everyone smiles, everyone says hello — yet it’s not overbearing. Fishing, shooting, horse riding, mountain biking, paintballing and treasure hunts can also be organised on-site. Read expert review From £215per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Four Seasons Hotel HampshireWinchfield, Hampshire, England 8Telegraph expert rating Built in the 18th century as a manor house, the hotel is set amid 500 acres of green fields and paddocks full of grazing horses. Inside, it’s all slick and stylish, a blend of traditional and contemporary, as befits a metropolitan, cosmopolitan Four Seasons hotel set in English countryside. Bedrooms are sophisticated and elegant, traditional in style but with high-tech amenities and large marble bathrooms, and flexible sleeping options for families. The fine dining restaurant, Seasons, is very elegant, and there is a more casual bistro, a bar with open fire and library for afternoon tea. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Hampshire The Pig at CombeGittisham, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Sexy and fun as well as romantic. The 27 rooms are some of the most charming, traditional yet stylish (larders and minibars cleverly hidden inside antique cupboards; some televisions disguised as antique mirrors), comfortable, practical, quirky and soothing of any hotel bedrooms in the land. Head chef Dan Gavriilidis is responsible for the Devon version of the Pigs’ informal '25 Mile’ menu, featuring the produce of the kitchen gardens and poly tunnels and the best locally-sourced ingredients. Read expert review From £170per night Check availability Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith • The best hotels in Devon Barnsley HouseCirencester, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating What a beauty. With its golden stone, gables and mullion windows this is a dreamily romantic house. But for all that, the building is magnificently upstaged by its garden. There are four acres of formal gardens including a knot garden and a potager. Cream furnishings in the rooms enhance engaging artworks, all based on the theme of nature – a row of bird houses; a chandelier cleverly created out of flower pots. Everything about the restaurant has been calibrated to convey a sense of pleasing simplicity – although of course that requires much painstaking effort. Read expert review From £181per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds Ellenborough ParkCheltenham, Gloucestershire, England 8Telegraph expert rating A group of honeystone buildings is set around a historic Cotswold manor house that was embellished with castle-like towers in the mid-19th century. The 60 generously sized bedrooms are a world away from the shabby-chic looks or the pared back minimalism that are now the norm in other rural retreats. With stripy wallpaper and sprucely comfy armchairs, and with swathes of linen chintz in some rooms, panelling in others, the interiors are a contemporary take on traditional British country style. Read expert review From £173per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Lake District Lucknam ParkWiltshire, England 9Telegraph expert rating The hotel sits within a 500-acre estate that encompasses meadows, paddocks and woodland. The main building is a beautiful, symmetrical, creeper-covered Palladian mansion dating from 1720. Its public rooms are opulent and elegant, with a traditional country house feel. They include a panelled library, a drawing room with a corniced ceiling, an ornate fireplace as well as tassled curtains and sofas, and The Park Restaurant, laid out with white-clothed tables under a sky-painted ceiling. Read expert review From £230per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wiltshire Lords Of The ManorUpper Slaughter, Cotswolds, England 8Telegraph expert rating The oldest parts of this mellow-stone manor house date from around 1649, with gables, wings and bay windows added in later centuries. Traditional rather than style-conscious, the public rooms are furnished with antiques. The 26 rooms in total split into five categories, comfortably furnished with embroidered silk throws on beds and soft lighting. The Michelin-starred restaurant is a key reason for staying at this hotel. The £69 three-course dinner menu may include starters of squab pigeon or foie gras with smoked eel and mains of Gloucestershire Old Spot suckling pig with rhubarb or local venison. Read expert review From £150per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in the Cotswolds   Wales Gliffaes Country House HotelBrecon Beacons, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating What’s not to love? Down a rural track, Gliffaes reclines peacefully in 33-acre grounds in the shadow of the Black Mountains and on the edge of the River Usk. With antique dressers, floral drapes, retro Roberts radios, and carpets you can sink your toes into, the look is traditionally elegant, never twee. Excellent restaurant. Read expert review From £110per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Bodysgallen Hall and SpaLlandudno, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The medieval core of a fine 16th-century mansion, the tower was built as a lookout for Conwy Castle. The higher you climb, the older its spiralling staircase becomes: Victorian at the bottom, 13th-century at the top. The encircling view is enthralling. As you turn, first Conwy Castle, then Snowdonia, then the sea and Anglesey, then Great Orme, catching the golden light, and lastly Llandudno, with the promise of its marvellous 19th-century promenade, come into view. Read expert review From £185per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The most romantic hotels in Wales Llangoed HallPowys, Wales 9Telegraph expert rating The house itself, redesigned by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1912, has great presence. Later bought and restored by Sir Bernard Ashley, widower of Laura, family photographs, as well as his fine collection of early 20th-century British paintings, including a collection of prints by James McNeil Whistler abound. Guests are encouraged to relax, curl up on sofas and play the piano. Read expert review From £99per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales Hotel EndsleighTavistock, Devon, England 9Telegraph expert rating Built in 1812 as the holiday home for the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, this wildly romantic, chintz-free country estate, run by Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, is steeped in royal history. It’s a verdantly gardened, Grade 1-listed Eden between Dartmoor and Exmoor, with shell houses and hidden glades for romantic tête-à-têtes. The cream teas are worth the journey alone: a help-yourself affair of just-baked scones accompanied by massive urns of clotted cream and fruit-laden strawberry jam. Breakfasts, too, are a cut above the rivals. Read expert review From £198per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Devon The GroveNarberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales 8Telegraph expert rating The hotel is set in 26 acres of grounds amid deep countryside, with distant views of the Preseli Hills. The main building is a handsome three-storey residence with Georgian proportions and distinctive Arts and Crafts panelling and fireplaces. The lounges – cosy yet elegant, with real fires, window seats, plush sofas and modern prints and paintings of coastal Pembrokeshire – set the tone of the whole property. There are 26 rooms in total. Expect treats such as the softest of sheets, posh toiletries, thick towels and house-made biscotti. Read expert review From £145per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Wales   Scotland The Gleneagles HotelAuchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating Built in the 1920s as a railway resort hotel, the design is Scottish Baronial meets French chateau, with all the opulent comfort of a grand country house on steroids. (A dull-looking modern addition to one side is easily ignored). It’s so big you need the map provided when you arrive, but this five-star formality comes with a splendid sense of ease: time seems to slow from the moment the kilted doorman welcomes you to the hotel. Read expert review From £265per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels in Scotland Inverlochy Castle HotelFort William, Highlands, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating No bows to passing fashions here. Moving with the times means waterfall showers, Bang & Olufsen stereos and televisions, while the unashamedly country house style - all swags, gilt, silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood and an all-pervading sense of time suspended, remains. Nowhere else makes grandeur so cosy, combining Jacobite rose wallpaper, Venetian chandeliers and French Empire-style ceiling frescos with perfectly judged élan. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a delightfully light-handed five-course menu with a distinctly Highland accent. Read expert review From £295per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • Top 10: the best Scottish castle hotels Isle of Eriska HotelArgyll & Bute, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating Calm and solitude are assured in a haven of herons and badgers, where the loudest sound is likely to be a fishing boat puttering over tranquil water. The trappings of Victorian wealth and privilege pervade drawing rooms filled with deep sofas, fireplaces and books in the imposing granite and red sandstone Big House. Elegant and comfortable without being stuffy, the ambiance is warm and welcoming, with soft, bright furnishings and piles of wellingtons by the front door of the oak-panelled hall. Carry on, Jeeves. Read expert review From £330per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com • The best hotels for spa breaks in Scotland Killiecrankie HotelPerth and Kinross, Perthshire, Scotland 9Telegraph expert rating With direct access to the beautiful Pass of Killiecrankie, the deep river gorge formed by the River Garry, the whitewashed 1840s house has been a hotel since 1939. There are 10 pretty and homely rooms, with antique pieces, thick curtains and very comfortable beds. No two are the same: they are all shapes and sizes and some of the bathrooms are very small. You’ll find a vase of fresh flowers and the Egyptian cotton sheets will be turned down while you are at dinner. Read expert review From £220per night • Scotland hotels: the best places to stay on Scottish lochs The Roxburghe Hotel And Golf CourseKelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland 8Telegraph expert rating The drawing room at The Roxburghe feels like a private house, with its family portraits and photographs, books and ornaments, and its welcoming groups of sofas and armchairs. Elsewhere there are tartan carpets, collections of whiskey and gin, plentiful open fires and the homely smell of woodsmoke. Bedrooms, some of which were designed by the Duchess of Roxburghe, are all different and decorated in traditional country house style. Three rooms have open fires, with coal and logs provided - the greatest luxury in a country hotel bedroom. Read expert review From £125per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

It's the little things that remind me of you...

"Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas," Rachael Prior wrote on Twitter last weekend. It had been a red jumper, to be precise, that had stirred powerful memories of her late father, Lynton. “It was the sort of thing he would love,” she said. “I’d have picked it for him and I could imagine his face in that moment.” Sharing that simple memory has led to an outpouring of similar stories on social media ever since, with moving tales of everyday reminders of grieving for lost loved ones being traded. Here, Telegraph contributors share the little things that make them miss the ones that matter most.   Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and critic The scent of Elnett hairspray immediately transports me back to my childhood, sitting in my maternal grandmother’s bedroom in Sussex. She was Rosalind Shand, and she died when I was 19. As a child, I would hang about talking to her as she got ready to go out in the evenings and I thought she was very glamorous and cool. Whenever I catch a glimpse of the distinctive tall gold Elnett can, I always smile. A can of Elnett Margaret Mountford, businesswoman Whenever I hear the Salvation Army band, it immediately conjures us a wonderful Christmas feeling and takes me right back to when I was a little girl growing up in Northern Ireland. My father was a clergyman and my mother loved Christmas so it was a really special, happy, important time. Back in those days, the band would come round all the houses and we would gather on out doorsteps enjoying the music and then give them a donation. In my memory it was always crisp and snowy rather than grey and drizzly of course, but that’s the joy of nostalgia! Jenni Murray, broadcaster It’s eleven years since the death of my mother, Win Bailey, and, while I think of her often and miss her giddy chatter and absolute adoration of my two sons - how she would have loved to see what splendid young men they’ve become - it’s the phone that brings that piercing sense of loss to my heart. Not the mobile - she never called me on that - but on the increasingly rare occasions the landline rings, just for a second, I still imagine it will be her voice on the other end. Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 11, 2017 She had a very particular telephone tone and it’s one of those inherited traits I recognise in myself. When I called her, I heard a rather taut, studied, posh, clipped: "Barnsley 291188, Winifred Bailey speaking..." I would say, “Hello Mum, it’s Jen.” She hated Jenni, saying it reminded her of a cow she’d known on her aunt’s farm as a child. I only ever got Jennifer when she was cross with me. As soon as she realised it was me, she would slip into her warm Yorkshire burr, “Ooh, ‘ello luv. How you doin’?” We would chat for hours, exchanging gossip, recipes, moans and groans. I will never hear her voice again, but, just for that second, as the phone rings, I will always fancy I might. A child in a sweet shop Ben Fogle, adventurer I’m a smelly person. Not in a stinky kind of way but in an emotive way. Smells catapult me like a time machine to my childhood. The smell of sweetshops always reminds me of my late grandmother, Jean. She lived alone in Brighton in a tiny little cottage called Smugglers Cottage. My grandfather (her husband) died when I was almost too young to remember, so it was always Grandma and her little Norfolk Terrier. We would often visit for the weekend and as a treat she would take my sisters and me to the small sweet shop near her house. Lined with jars of multicoloured sweets like something out of Willy Wonka. That smell takes me back to that shop. The delicious decision. Which sweets would I go for? We would spend ages debating the merits of each kind. Flying Saucers dissolved on the tongue too quickly. Shrimps never fulfilled anticipation. Invariably, I would go for the acid drops or some pink ball of a sweat that left pink powder on my finger tips. I can still hear the clank of the sweets as they tumbled into the metal weighing dish before being poured into a little paper bag with blue stripes. There aren’t so many traditional sweet shops anymore, but occasionally we stumble across one as a family. I find myself mesmerised and lured in by that unmistakable smell. It always reminds me of grandma Jean with her little Norfolk terrier sipping a cup of tea. Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster Whenever I see the colour turquoise or smell lily of the valley, I am flooded with a rush of loss and sadness. They remind me so strongly of my mother who died 22 years ago aged just 57 and I feel such longing it pulls me up short. My mother was an hugely intelligent, enigmatic character who was always coming out with snippets of recondite information and I miss her every day. My daughter Saskia had lily of the valley in her wedding bouquet because that way my mother could be part of her happy day. Susannah Constantine: 'With the first snow of winter, I am suddenly a child again' Credit: ian west / Alamy Stock Photo Susannah Constantine, novelist and makeover queen I can scarcely describe the emotional impact the first snow of winter has on me; the silence, the expectation, the crystalline chill. I am suddenly a child again feeling liberated because the normal rules of everyday life have changed completely. I used to sit on the window seat in my nanny’s room, drink hot chocolate, eat treats and watch the flakes spinning down to earth, all the while imagining the adventures that I would have. I named my first novel After the Snow because I love how exhilarated those flurries made me feel. Even now, I chase everyone outside when it snows; I want to pass on those associations of freedom and recklessness to my own children. Victoria Hislop, novelist  My grandmother used to ask me for the same present every year: Yardley lipstick in Cherry Red. I bought her one of these each year from when I was eight years old until eighteen, when she died in the early 80s. By Christmas the one she had was worn down to a stub, so in the nick of time she unwrapped a new one and exclaimed with surprise. The casing was heavy and gold and the lipstick itself had a sweet, waxy smell. It seemed like a really glamorous present (always purchased from the same department store in Tunbridge Wells) and I knew it would be applied carefully and frugally once a day until the following year. It’s a colour that’s very on trend again now, and every time I walk past the shiny cosmetic counters at Christmas, I think of her. Cartes Postales From Greece, by Victoria Hislop, is published by Headline Libby Purves, journalist It is a privilege to know someone in their last months and become closer friends than you were before.  It was through her patient project, Health Talk Online (healthtalk.org), that I got to know Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP who spoke out about asssisted dying for terminal patients. The irony is that not long afterwards, she had a final cancer herself. We used to have breakfast together once a month. I got her special order by heart - milk and hot water, soft scrambled egg. And as she became weaker over the year, her spirit became greater. We talked of plays and books and the news, laughed a lot. I had my own troubles - family bereavement, my husband away a lot, the usual frets  - and every advice and insight from Ann was gold. She made me see that life was OK. Even though for her it wasn’t. I shan’t forget our last breakfast: weak, brave, she could still laugh.  

It's the little things that remind me of you...

"Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas," Rachael Prior wrote on Twitter last weekend. It had been a red jumper, to be precise, that had stirred powerful memories of her late father, Lynton. “It was the sort of thing he would love,” she said. “I’d have picked it for him and I could imagine his face in that moment.” Sharing that simple memory has led to an outpouring of similar stories on social media ever since, with moving tales of everyday reminders of grieving for lost loved ones being traded. Here, Telegraph contributors share the little things that make them miss the ones that matter most.   Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and critic The scent of Elnett hairspray immediately transports me back to my childhood, sitting in my maternal grandmother’s bedroom in Sussex. She was Rosalind Shand, and she died when I was 19. As a child, I would hang about talking to her as she got ready to go out in the evenings and I thought she was very glamorous and cool. Whenever I catch a glimpse of the distinctive tall gold Elnett can, I always smile. A can of Elnett Margaret Mountford, businesswoman Whenever I hear the Salvation Army band, it immediately conjures us a wonderful Christmas feeling and takes me right back to when I was a little girl growing up in Northern Ireland. My father was a clergyman and my mother loved Christmas so it was a really special, happy, important time. Back in those days, the band would come round all the houses and we would gather on out doorsteps enjoying the music and then give them a donation. In my memory it was always crisp and snowy rather than grey and drizzly of course, but that’s the joy of nostalgia! Jenni Murray, broadcaster It’s eleven years since the death of my mother, Win Bailey, and, while I think of her often and miss her giddy chatter and absolute adoration of my two sons - how she would have loved to see what splendid young men they’ve become - it’s the phone that brings that piercing sense of loss to my heart. Not the mobile - she never called me on that - but on the increasingly rare occasions the landline rings, just for a second, I still imagine it will be her voice on the other end. Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 11, 2017 She had a very particular telephone tone and it’s one of those inherited traits I recognise in myself. When I called her, I heard a rather taut, studied, posh, clipped: "Barnsley 291188, Winifred Bailey speaking..." I would say, “Hello Mum, it’s Jen.” She hated Jenni, saying it reminded her of a cow she’d known on her aunt’s farm as a child. I only ever got Jennifer when she was cross with me. As soon as she realised it was me, she would slip into her warm Yorkshire burr, “Ooh, ‘ello luv. How you doin’?” We would chat for hours, exchanging gossip, recipes, moans and groans. I will never hear her voice again, but, just for that second, as the phone rings, I will always fancy I might. A child in a sweet shop Ben Fogle, adventurer I’m a smelly person. Not in a stinky kind of way but in an emotive way. Smells catapult me like a time machine to my childhood. The smell of sweetshops always reminds me of my late grandmother, Jean. She lived alone in Brighton in a tiny little cottage called Smugglers Cottage. My grandfather (her husband) died when I was almost too young to remember, so it was always Grandma and her little Norfolk Terrier. We would often visit for the weekend and as a treat she would take my sisters and me to the small sweet shop near her house. Lined with jars of multicoloured sweets like something out of Willy Wonka. That smell takes me back to that shop. The delicious decision. Which sweets would I go for? We would spend ages debating the merits of each kind. Flying Saucers dissolved on the tongue too quickly. Shrimps never fulfilled anticipation. Invariably, I would go for the acid drops or some pink ball of a sweat that left pink powder on my finger tips. I can still hear the clank of the sweets as they tumbled into the metal weighing dish before being poured into a little paper bag with blue stripes. There aren’t so many traditional sweet shops anymore, but occasionally we stumble across one as a family. I find myself mesmerised and lured in by that unmistakable smell. It always reminds me of grandma Jean with her little Norfolk terrier sipping a cup of tea. Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster Whenever I see the colour turquoise or smell lily of the valley, I am flooded with a rush of loss and sadness. They remind me so strongly of my mother who died 22 years ago aged just 57 and I feel such longing it pulls me up short. My mother was an hugely intelligent, enigmatic character who was always coming out with snippets of recondite information and I miss her every day. My daughter Saskia had lily of the valley in her wedding bouquet because that way my mother could be part of her happy day. Susannah Constantine: 'With the first snow of winter, I am suddenly a child again' Credit: ian west / Alamy Stock Photo Susannah Constantine, novelist and makeover queen I can scarcely describe the emotional impact the first snow of winter has on me; the silence, the expectation, the crystalline chill. I am suddenly a child again feeling liberated because the normal rules of everyday life have changed completely. I used to sit on the window seat in my nanny’s room, drink hot chocolate, eat treats and watch the flakes spinning down to earth, all the while imagining the adventures that I would have. I named my first novel After the Snow because I love how exhilarated those flurries made me feel. Even now, I chase everyone outside when it snows; I want to pass on those associations of freedom and recklessness to my own children. Victoria Hislop, novelist  My grandmother used to ask me for the same present every year: Yardley lipstick in Cherry Red. I bought her one of these each year from when I was eight years old until eighteen, when she died in the early 80s. By Christmas the one she had was worn down to a stub, so in the nick of time she unwrapped a new one and exclaimed with surprise. The casing was heavy and gold and the lipstick itself had a sweet, waxy smell. It seemed like a really glamorous present (always purchased from the same department store in Tunbridge Wells) and I knew it would be applied carefully and frugally once a day until the following year. It’s a colour that’s very on trend again now, and every time I walk past the shiny cosmetic counters at Christmas, I think of her. Cartes Postales From Greece, by Victoria Hislop, is published by Headline Libby Purves, journalist It is a privilege to know someone in their last months and become closer friends than you were before.  It was through her patient project, Health Talk Online (healthtalk.org), that I got to know Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP who spoke out about asssisted dying for terminal patients. The irony is that not long afterwards, she had a final cancer herself. We used to have breakfast together once a month. I got her special order by heart - milk and hot water, soft scrambled egg. And as she became weaker over the year, her spirit became greater. We talked of plays and books and the news, laughed a lot. I had my own troubles - family bereavement, my husband away a lot, the usual frets  - and every advice and insight from Ann was gold. She made me see that life was OK. Even though for her it wasn’t. I shan’t forget our last breakfast: weak, brave, she could still laugh.  

It's the little things that remind me of you...

"Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas," Rachael Prior wrote on Twitter last weekend. It had been a red jumper, to be precise, that had stirred powerful memories of her late father, Lynton. “It was the sort of thing he would love,” she said. “I’d have picked it for him and I could imagine his face in that moment.” Sharing that simple memory has led to an outpouring of similar stories on social media ever since, with moving tales of everyday reminders of grieving for lost loved ones being traded. Here, Telegraph contributors share the little things that make them miss the ones that matter most.   Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and critic The scent of Elnett hairspray immediately transports me back to my childhood, sitting in my maternal grandmother’s bedroom in Sussex. She was Rosalind Shand, and she died when I was 19. As a child, I would hang about talking to her as she got ready to go out in the evenings and I thought she was very glamorous and cool. Whenever I catch a glimpse of the distinctive tall gold Elnett can, I always smile. A can of Elnett Margaret Mountford, businesswoman Whenever I hear the Salvation Army band, it immediately conjures us a wonderful Christmas feeling and takes me right back to when I was a little girl growing up in Northern Ireland. My father was a clergyman and my mother loved Christmas so it was a really special, happy, important time. Back in those days, the band would come round all the houses and we would gather on out doorsteps enjoying the music and then give them a donation. In my memory it was always crisp and snowy rather than grey and drizzly of course, but that’s the joy of nostalgia! Jenni Murray, broadcaster It’s eleven years since the death of my mother, Win Bailey, and, while I think of her often and miss her giddy chatter and absolute adoration of my two sons - how she would have loved to see what splendid young men they’ve become - it’s the phone that brings that piercing sense of loss to my heart. Not the mobile - she never called me on that - but on the increasingly rare occasions the landline rings, just for a second, I still imagine it will be her voice on the other end. Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 11, 2017 She had a very particular telephone tone and it’s one of those inherited traits I recognise in myself. When I called her, I heard a rather taut, studied, posh, clipped: "Barnsley 291188, Winifred Bailey speaking..." I would say, “Hello Mum, it’s Jen.” She hated Jenni, saying it reminded her of a cow she’d known on her aunt’s farm as a child. I only ever got Jennifer when she was cross with me. As soon as she realised it was me, she would slip into her warm Yorkshire burr, “Ooh, ‘ello luv. How you doin’?” We would chat for hours, exchanging gossip, recipes, moans and groans. I will never hear her voice again, but, just for that second, as the phone rings, I will always fancy I might. A child in a sweet shop Ben Fogle, adventurer I’m a smelly person. Not in a stinky kind of way but in an emotive way. Smells catapult me like a time machine to my childhood. The smell of sweetshops always reminds me of my late grandmother, Jean. She lived alone in Brighton in a tiny little cottage called Smugglers Cottage. My grandfather (her husband) died when I was almost too young to remember, so it was always Grandma and her little Norfolk Terrier. We would often visit for the weekend and as a treat she would take my sisters and me to the small sweet shop near her house. Lined with jars of multicoloured sweets like something out of Willy Wonka. That smell takes me back to that shop. The delicious decision. Which sweets would I go for? We would spend ages debating the merits of each kind. Flying Saucers dissolved on the tongue too quickly. Shrimps never fulfilled anticipation. Invariably, I would go for the acid drops or some pink ball of a sweat that left pink powder on my finger tips. I can still hear the clank of the sweets as they tumbled into the metal weighing dish before being poured into a little paper bag with blue stripes. There aren’t so many traditional sweet shops anymore, but occasionally we stumble across one as a family. I find myself mesmerised and lured in by that unmistakable smell. It always reminds me of grandma Jean with her little Norfolk terrier sipping a cup of tea. Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster Whenever I see the colour turquoise or smell lily of the valley, I am flooded with a rush of loss and sadness. They remind me so strongly of my mother who died 22 years ago aged just 57 and I feel such longing it pulls me up short. My mother was an hugely intelligent, enigmatic character who was always coming out with snippets of recondite information and I miss her every day. My daughter Saskia had lily of the valley in her wedding bouquet because that way my mother could be part of her happy day. Susannah Constantine: 'With the first snow of winter, I am suddenly a child again' Credit: ian west / Alamy Stock Photo Susannah Constantine, novelist and makeover queen I can scarcely describe the emotional impact the first snow of winter has on me; the silence, the expectation, the crystalline chill. I am suddenly a child again feeling liberated because the normal rules of everyday life have changed completely. I used to sit on the window seat in my nanny’s room, drink hot chocolate, eat treats and watch the flakes spinning down to earth, all the while imagining the adventures that I would have. I named my first novel After the Snow because I love how exhilarated those flurries made me feel. Even now, I chase everyone outside when it snows; I want to pass on those associations of freedom and recklessness to my own children. Victoria Hislop, novelist  My grandmother used to ask me for the same present every year: Yardley lipstick in Cherry Red. I bought her one of these each year from when I was eight years old until eighteen, when she died in the early 80s. By Christmas the one she had was worn down to a stub, so in the nick of time she unwrapped a new one and exclaimed with surprise. The casing was heavy and gold and the lipstick itself had a sweet, waxy smell. It seemed like a really glamorous present (always purchased from the same department store in Tunbridge Wells) and I knew it would be applied carefully and frugally once a day until the following year. It’s a colour that’s very on trend again now, and every time I walk past the shiny cosmetic counters at Christmas, I think of her. Cartes Postales From Greece, by Victoria Hislop, is published by Headline Libby Purves, journalist It is a privilege to know someone in their last months and become closer friends than you were before.  It was through her patient project, Health Talk Online (healthtalk.org), that I got to know Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP who spoke out about asssisted dying for terminal patients. The irony is that not long afterwards, she had a final cancer herself. We used to have breakfast together once a month. I got her special order by heart - milk and hot water, soft scrambled egg. And as she became weaker over the year, her spirit became greater. We talked of plays and books and the news, laughed a lot. I had my own troubles - family bereavement, my husband away a lot, the usual frets  - and every advice and insight from Ann was gold. She made me see that life was OK. Even though for her it wasn’t. I shan’t forget our last breakfast: weak, brave, she could still laugh.  

It's the little things that remind me of you...

"Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas," Rachael Prior wrote on Twitter last weekend. It had been a red jumper, to be precise, that had stirred powerful memories of her late father, Lynton. “It was the sort of thing he would love,” she said. “I’d have picked it for him and I could imagine his face in that moment.” Sharing that simple memory has led to an outpouring of similar stories on social media ever since, with moving tales of everyday reminders of grieving for lost loved ones being traded. Here, Telegraph contributors share the little things that make them miss the ones that matter most.   Tom Parker Bowles, food writer and critic The scent of Elnett hairspray immediately transports me back to my childhood, sitting in my maternal grandmother’s bedroom in Sussex. She was Rosalind Shand, and she died when I was 19. As a child, I would hang about talking to her as she got ready to go out in the evenings and I thought she was very glamorous and cool. Whenever I catch a glimpse of the distinctive tall gold Elnett can, I always smile. A can of Elnett Margaret Mountford, businesswoman Whenever I hear the Salvation Army band, it immediately conjures us a wonderful Christmas feeling and takes me right back to when I was a little girl growing up in Northern Ireland. My father was a clergyman and my mother loved Christmas so it was a really special, happy, important time. Back in those days, the band would come round all the houses and we would gather on out doorsteps enjoying the music and then give them a donation. In my memory it was always crisp and snowy rather than grey and drizzly of course, but that’s the joy of nostalgia! Jenni Murray, broadcaster It’s eleven years since the death of my mother, Win Bailey, and, while I think of her often and miss her giddy chatter and absolute adoration of my two sons - how she would have loved to see what splendid young men they’ve become - it’s the phone that brings that piercing sense of loss to my heart. Not the mobile - she never called me on that - but on the increasingly rare occasions the landline rings, just for a second, I still imagine it will be her voice on the other end. Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 11, 2017 She had a very particular telephone tone and it’s one of those inherited traits I recognise in myself. When I called her, I heard a rather taut, studied, posh, clipped: "Barnsley 291188, Winifred Bailey speaking..." I would say, “Hello Mum, it’s Jen.” She hated Jenni, saying it reminded her of a cow she’d known on her aunt’s farm as a child. I only ever got Jennifer when she was cross with me. As soon as she realised it was me, she would slip into her warm Yorkshire burr, “Ooh, ‘ello luv. How you doin’?” We would chat for hours, exchanging gossip, recipes, moans and groans. I will never hear her voice again, but, just for that second, as the phone rings, I will always fancy I might. A child in a sweet shop Ben Fogle, adventurer I’m a smelly person. Not in a stinky kind of way but in an emotive way. Smells catapult me like a time machine to my childhood. The smell of sweetshops always reminds me of my late grandmother, Jean. She lived alone in Brighton in a tiny little cottage called Smugglers Cottage. My grandfather (her husband) died when I was almost too young to remember, so it was always Grandma and her little Norfolk Terrier. We would often visit for the weekend and as a treat she would take my sisters and me to the small sweet shop near her house. Lined with jars of multicoloured sweets like something out of Willy Wonka. That smell takes me back to that shop. The delicious decision. Which sweets would I go for? We would spend ages debating the merits of each kind. Flying Saucers dissolved on the tongue too quickly. Shrimps never fulfilled anticipation. Invariably, I would go for the acid drops or some pink ball of a sweat that left pink powder on my finger tips. I can still hear the clank of the sweets as they tumbled into the metal weighing dish before being poured into a little paper bag with blue stripes. There aren’t so many traditional sweet shops anymore, but occasionally we stumble across one as a family. I find myself mesmerised and lured in by that unmistakable smell. It always reminds me of grandma Jean with her little Norfolk terrier sipping a cup of tea. Vanessa Feltz, broadcaster Whenever I see the colour turquoise or smell lily of the valley, I am flooded with a rush of loss and sadness. They remind me so strongly of my mother who died 22 years ago aged just 57 and I feel such longing it pulls me up short. My mother was an hugely intelligent, enigmatic character who was always coming out with snippets of recondite information and I miss her every day. My daughter Saskia had lily of the valley in her wedding bouquet because that way my mother could be part of her happy day. Susannah Constantine: 'With the first snow of winter, I am suddenly a child again' Credit: ian west / Alamy Stock Photo Susannah Constantine, novelist and makeover queen I can scarcely describe the emotional impact the first snow of winter has on me; the silence, the expectation, the crystalline chill. I am suddenly a child again feeling liberated because the normal rules of everyday life have changed completely. I used to sit on the window seat in my nanny’s room, drink hot chocolate, eat treats and watch the flakes spinning down to earth, all the while imagining the adventures that I would have. I named my first novel After the Snow because I love how exhilarated those flurries made me feel. Even now, I chase everyone outside when it snows; I want to pass on those associations of freedom and recklessness to my own children. Victoria Hislop, novelist  My grandmother used to ask me for the same present every year: Yardley lipstick in Cherry Red. I bought her one of these each year from when I was eight years old until eighteen, when she died in the early 80s. By Christmas the one she had was worn down to a stub, so in the nick of time she unwrapped a new one and exclaimed with surprise. The casing was heavy and gold and the lipstick itself had a sweet, waxy smell. It seemed like a really glamorous present (always purchased from the same department store in Tunbridge Wells) and I knew it would be applied carefully and frugally once a day until the following year. It’s a colour that’s very on trend again now, and every time I walk past the shiny cosmetic counters at Christmas, I think of her. Cartes Postales From Greece, by Victoria Hislop, is published by Headline Libby Purves, journalist It is a privilege to know someone in their last months and become closer friends than you were before.  It was through her patient project, Health Talk Online (healthtalk.org), that I got to know Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP who spoke out about asssisted dying for terminal patients. The irony is that not long afterwards, she had a final cancer herself. We used to have breakfast together once a month. I got her special order by heart - milk and hot water, soft scrambled egg. And as she became weaker over the year, her spirit became greater. We talked of plays and books and the news, laughed a lot. I had my own troubles - family bereavement, my husband away a lot, the usual frets  - and every advice and insight from Ann was gold. She made me see that life was OK. Even though for her it wasn’t. I shan’t forget our last breakfast: weak, brave, she could still laugh.  

John Stones compared to Jerome Boateng and Gerard Pique by England manager Gareth Southgate

There was a time when you wondered whether, for all his efforts, the demands John Stones was making of himself, let alone those made of him by his new manager Pep Guardiola, were simply beyond the ability of a talented but error-prone English centre-back. For a long time Stones was the man who simply refused to put the ball into safety if a risky pass was on and it cost him many times. In just his third appearance as a centre-back for England in March 2016 against Holland at Wembley, he dithered on the ball and was robbed by Vincent Janssen. The Dutch attacked and while the first shot saved but a penalty subsequently conceded by Danny Rose gave the opposition a goal. Last season Stones became a byword for Guardiola’s militancy about possession, trying to preserve it at all costs, in all positions and with many different outcomes - although things feel different now. It would be premature to say that Stones has put the days of errors behind him because his style will always put him in positions where calamity is just a heartbeat away, but he is at least being talked about in a very different way by his England manager. Gareth Southgate, a former England centre-back himself, compared the boy from Barnsley to the likes of Jerome Boateng and Gerard Pique and this time, no-one in the room was obliged to suppress a chuckle. The hope is that Stones has served his apprenticeship, that the errors have been spent, and he will be a part of the England team for some time to come, part of a new style. “I’ve always said to him people will talk to you about just kicking the ball out,” Southgate said. “For me if you want to do that, that’s fine. You’ll be the same as many others. But if you want to play for me with the Under-21s, I want you to keep doing the things that make you different. And I think he is different. He has as much composure as any defender I’ve seen in Europe. Southgate and Stones (R) during England training on Thursday Credit: PA “I saw Boateng at Manchester City when he was a kid and nobody would have predicted him going on to do what he has done. I saw Pique at Middlesbrough when he was playing at Manchester United and he was at fault for a couple of the goals. You never would have seen him being where he was a couple of years later. And John has attributes that those guys have. He has presence in the opposition penalty box now. He has the mind-set that he wants to learn and improve. He’s got a really bright future and he’s the type of defender we want playing for our country.” Stones, with 20 caps in all, has started England’s previous two games and if Southgate is to use the three-man defence in the World Cup finals then the 23-year-old would be a natural candidate to do so. He is an Englishman who holds his own in what is currently the best side in the Premier League. “You've seen a different me, I suppose [this season],” Stones said. “That's through the hard work of last season, pre-season and trying to bring that into this season. It's difficult to say: I'm looking to improve in every game, and we've had a great start in Premier League and Champions League. It's about maintaining that, and keeping learning every day. There's always something I can learn, and coming here gives me a different insight, too. The manager here might say different things, things I'm not noticing at my club. So it's a different challenge.” Southgate said that defenders tend to mature later than strikers, for whom the job is more instinctive than the learned art of their defensive brethren. Stones was originally a right-back for Southgate in the Under-21s. “Players like Stones, players like [Eric] Dier who can really use the ball from the back,” Southgate said, “I think they are where we have to head and where the top teams are at.”

John Stones compared to Jerome Boateng and Gerard Pique by England manager Gareth Southgate

There was a time when you wondered whether, for all his efforts, the demands John Stones was making of himself, let alone those made of him by his new manager Pep Guardiola, were simply beyond the ability of a talented but error-prone English centre-back. For a long time Stones was the man who simply refused to put the ball into safety if a risky pass was on and it cost him many times. In just his third appearance as a centre-back for England in March 2016 against Holland at Wembley, he dithered on the ball and was robbed by Vincent Janssen. The Dutch attacked and while the first shot saved but a penalty subsequently conceded by Danny Rose gave the opposition a goal. Last season Stones became a byword for Guardiola’s militancy about possession, trying to preserve it at all costs, in all positions and with many different outcomes - although things feel different now. It would be premature to say that Stones has put the days of errors behind him because his style will always put him in positions where calamity is just a heartbeat away, but he is at least being talked about in a very different way by his England manager. Gareth Southgate, a former England centre-back himself, compared the boy from Barnsley to the likes of Jerome Boateng and Gerard Pique and this time, no-one in the room was obliged to suppress a chuckle. The hope is that Stones has served his apprenticeship, that the errors have been spent, and he will be a part of the England team for some time to come, part of a new style. “I’ve always said to him people will talk to you about just kicking the ball out,” Southgate said. “For me if you want to do that, that’s fine. You’ll be the same as many others. But if you want to play for me with the Under-21s, I want you to keep doing the things that make you different. And I think he is different. He has as much composure as any defender I’ve seen in Europe. Southgate and Stones (R) during England training on Thursday Credit: PA “I saw Boateng at Manchester City when he was a kid and nobody would have predicted him going on to do what he has done. I saw Pique at Middlesbrough when he was playing at Manchester United and he was at fault for a couple of the goals. You never would have seen him being where he was a couple of years later. And John has attributes that those guys have. He has presence in the opposition penalty box now. He has the mind-set that he wants to learn and improve. He’s got a really bright future and he’s the type of defender we want playing for our country.” Stones, with 20 caps in all, has started England’s previous two games and if Southgate is to use the three-man defence in the World Cup finals then the 23-year-old would be a natural candidate to do so. He is an Englishman who holds his own in what is currently the best side in the Premier League. “You've seen a different me, I suppose [this season],” Stones said. “That's through the hard work of last season, pre-season and trying to bring that into this season. It's difficult to say: I'm looking to improve in every game, and we've had a great start in Premier League and Champions League. It's about maintaining that, and keeping learning every day. There's always something I can learn, and coming here gives me a different insight, too. The manager here might say different things, things I'm not noticing at my club. So it's a different challenge.” Southgate said that defenders tend to mature later than strikers, for whom the job is more instinctive than the learned art of their defensive brethren. Stones was originally a right-back for Southgate in the Under-21s. “Players like Stones, players like [Eric] Dier who can really use the ball from the back,” Southgate said, “I think they are where we have to head and where the top teams are at.”

Modern heroes: Who has done most for your club in the last 20 years?

Some clubs' heroes from the past 20 years are obvious. They are the standout player who served with distinction for a decade, the trophy-winning manager, or the chairman who steadied the ship. For others it's a more difficult decision. Some are blessed with many candidates. Others, very few. Nevertheless we asked our writers a simple question: Which single person has had the greatest positive influence on their club since 1997? Here are their responses, for every club currently playing in the top two flights.  PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp Credit: ACTION IMAGES Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira could all lay claim to this accolade, but Dennis Bergkamp just shades it.  Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal in 1995 heralded a new direction for the club, and he retired 11 years later with three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups to his name.  More than just winning titles though, Bergkamp was a joy in everything he did at Highbury. The vision, the exquisite technique, the spectacular goals - Bergkamp got the Arsenal fans not just off their seats but frequently shaking their heads in disbelief.  His team-mates were - and remain - similarly in awe, and if you want reminding of Bergkamp's genius, watch his superlative hat-trick against Leicester in 1997.  Charlie Eccleshare AFC Bournemouth Eddie Howe Credit: GETTY IMAGES Eddie Howe's association with Bournemouth remains the stuff of fairytale. Became manager in 2009 at the age of 31 when he somehow reversed a 17-point deficit to keep the club both in existence and in the Football League. Despite a transfer embargo, he then won the first of his promotions before leaving for a spell at Burnley. Upon his return in 2012, Bournemouth have been promoted twice, reached the top flight for the first time in their history, and finished ninth in the Premier League last season. His influence is felt at every level of the club. Jeremy Wilson Brighton and Hove Albion Dick Knight Credit: ALAMY Without current chairman Tony Bloom's money, Brighton's Amex Stadium and top-class training ground wouldn't have progressed beyond dreams, but Dick Knight deserves recognition as the club's spiritual saviour in the near-death years of the late 1990s. With extraordinary persistence, Knight fought battles with planners, politicians and pessimists to keep the supporters believing in salvation. An ad-man by trade, he sold the rebirth idea with a smile. Paul Hayward Burnley Sean Dyche Credit: ACTION IMAGES It simply has to be Sean Mark Dyche, the throat-sore "Ginger Mourinho" who got Burnley promoted to the Premier League not once but twice and is showing every sign of keeping them in the division the second time around. It takes a lot to get a team through the 46-game epic that is the Championship season but then to go back and do it a second time, harnessing all that is best about this famous Lancashire club, took guts and intelligence. A special mention also to the former chairman Barry Kilby, now the vice-chair. His investment of £3 million in January 1999, when he became the largest single shareholder, saved Burnley and helped lay the foundations for the club it is now. Sam Wallace Chelsea Roman Abramovich Credit: AP Chelsea were on the brink of financial crisis before Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a European superpower in 2003. The Blues were likely to default on a £75million loan, but, ironically, it was their perilous financial position that attracted Abramovich, who had also weighed up bids for Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Chelsea were relatively easy to take over and within two years of buying the club, Abramovich had spent over £100million on new players. His spending has meant that in 14 years, Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. Matt Law Crystal Palace Wilfried Zaha Credit: GETTY IMAGES Steve Parish and his consortium saved Crystal Palace from extinction, but Wilfried Zaha has breathed new life into the club since his debut in 2010.  South London born and bred, 'Wilf' is the talisman and poster boy for a club that prides itself on developing young talent from the local community. Player of the year for the last two seasons, no-one has beguiled, hypnotised and enthralled Palace fans more than the man about which they sing 'he's just too good for you'.  Callum Davis Everton David Moyes Credit: PA David Moyes has been the victim of historic revisionism in recent years. When he took over at Everton in 2002 the club had been consistently stuck in the bottom half of the table. Over 10 years he re-established a top six position and even broke into the top four. A guard of honour bid him farewell when he left for Manchester United. He was accused of not being ambitious enough – harsh given financial restraints he worked with. The circumstances around his departure (private meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson) have soured memories of his reign, but future generations will recognise his positive contribution.   Chris Bascombe Huddersfield Town Dean Hoyle Dean Hoyle meets his adoring public after Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League Credit: REUTERS Every morning at 8am at 24 schools more than 1,000 children eat a healthy breakfast paid for by Huddersfield Town. The scheme is the brainchild of club chairman and owner Dean Hoyle, a lifelong fan who joined the board in 2008 and is full of forward thinking initiatives while he has transformed Huddersfield and taken them into the Premier League for the first time in their history. He offered £100 season tickets to long-standing fans if the club ever reached the top-flight and has been good to his word and the sight of him collapsing with joy after their Championship play-off win at Wembley, on penalties, was one of the images of last season. Jason Burt Leicester City Claudio Ranieri Credit: PA It can be only one man, after the most remarkable story of the past 35 years, since Nottingham Forest's European Cup triumphs. Ranieri guided a team built by Nigel Pearson to the Premier League title, utilising intuition and shrewd management, with a permanent glint in his eye. It all went awry the following season, and many will argue over whether Ranieri simply inherited an outstanding set-up, but his name will forever be etched into Leicester - and football - history. John Percy Liverpool Steven Gerrard Credit: PA If Steven Gerrard had not been born a Liverpool fan, the recent history of the club would look very different. He scored in the victorious Uefa Cup final, League Cup final, FA Cup final and, of course, the Champions League final. Managers Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez got the best from him, but as every club in Europe tried in vain to lure him from Anfield, Gerrard’s loyalty kept Liverpool competitive during an often tumultuous period off the pitch. Chris Bascombe Manchester City Sheikh Mansour Credit: AFP Okay, so the Arab billionaire did not buy City until 2008 but has anyone done more to entirely reshape the fortunes of the club over the past 20 years? The answer, of course, is no, and with Pep Guardiola having presided over the most electrifying start to a season yet, City could be on the brink of a new era of success after Premier League title triumphs in 2011/12 and 2013/14. The days of Jamie Pollock and former manager Stuart Pearce parading his daughter's treasured "Beanie horse" in the technical area are long gone. It is not just the team and club Sheikh Mansour's petro dollars have transformed either. East Manchester has been revitalised by his benevolence. James Ducker Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Credit: AP An obvious choice, yes, but the only choice. Some wondered if the man who masterminded United's unprecedented treble success of Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup in 1998/99 had outstayed his welcome when United went three seasons without the championship between 2004 and 2006. But Ferguson reacted to the rise of Chelsea, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich's billions, and then later Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, at a time when United's own purse strings were being tightened by the Glazers' controversial ownership, by presiding over the most successful period in United's history. Sir Alex Ferguson reveals the secrets of his success 03:31 As well as winning five Premier League titles between 2006 and his retirement in 2013, he also claimed a second Champions League crown with one of the most exciting sides in the club's era. James Ducker Newcastle United Alan Shearer Credit: ACTION IMAGES Turned down the chance to sign for Manchester United to return home to his beloved Newcastle in a then world record £15m move from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 when he was at the peak of his powers and could have signed for any club in the world. Carried the team on his shoulders for more than a decade, breaking Jackie Milburn’s goalscoring record in the process, eventually retiring with 206 goals in 404 games for the Magpies. The former England captain may not have won any trophies on Tyneside, but he earned something more important to him, the love and admiration of his own people. He is genuine when he says he has no regrets. Luke Edwards Southampton Markus Liebherr Credit: GETTY IMAGES The time-frame takes in a more peripheral phase of Matthew Le Tissier’s Southampton career. Other hugely influential players from his era were Jason Dodd and Francis Benali before the recent rise that was inspired by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte. Yet underpinning everything was the 2009 takeover by Markus Liebherr that rescued the club. His executive chairman Nicola Costese played a huge but sometimes divisive role in pushing the team forward and changing the culture and, with Katharina Liebherr taking on a more visible role, the club have remained successful since his departure in 2014. Jeremy Wilson Stoke City Peter Coates Credit: PAUL COOPER After returning to buy the club in 2006, Peter Coates has presided over a glorious period in Stoke history. As chairman he masterminded the return of Tony Pulis, with promotion to the Premier League swiftly following, and has transformed the club from its squad to the training ground with his financial backing. His son John has also played a huge part in Stoke's progress but Coates Senior is probably the best chairman in the Premier League right now. His love for all things Stoke City can never be doubted. John Percy Swansea City Leon Britton Credit: GETTY IMAGES Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and later Brendan Rodgers may have cultivated the idea of possession football in south Wales, but it was Leon Britton who brought the vision to life.  The London-born playmaker has been Swansea's beating beating heart in their journey through the ranks of the football league: from the bottom of the fourth tier to established Premier League outfit. His expert ball retention saw him become one of Europe's most unlikely pass-masters in the early part of this decade, with statistics regularly rivalling those of Xavi and other more glamorous names. His legacy will live on at the Liberty Stadium long after he eventually decides to retire. Callum Davis Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino Credit: REX The influence of chairman Daniel Levy should not be understated, yet what Pochettino has done to change Spurs in just a few years is utterly remarkable. He has given the team a new identity, and has transformed consistently average players into very good ones while making his best players world-beaters. As a result, Spurs are now one of the most exciting teams on the planet. Most importantly, he has made Tottenham fans feel something they haven't for a very long time: optimism. For that they will be forever grateful. Alistair Tweedale Watford Gino Pozzo Credit: PA A common misconception outside of Watford is that the club somehow 'lost its identity' following the Pozzo family's takeover in 2012. But the Hornets were teetering on the brink of ruin under the contentious ownership of Laurence Bassini before the Italian job brought stability and success. The team are already an established Premier League presence with an exciting turnover of talented players. But Gino Pozzo's reign as owner is as much defined by the progress off the pitch; a vastly improved Vicarage Road and a commitment to community and heritage that has always been a part of Watford's fabric. Tom Hoggins West Bromwich Albion Kevin Phillips Credit: GETTY IMAGES For obvious reasons it can’t be Lee Hughes and the exemplary ‘Super Bob’ Taylor falls just outside this arbitrary time frame so it has to be Kevin Phillips who scored 46 goals over two seasons, firing the Baggies to the play-off final in 2007 and then promotion in 2008. The monotonous caution and conservatism of the Roy Hodgson and Tony Pulis regimes ignore one crucial thing. Safety and certainty, shunning risk and reward, anaesthetises the soul. But goals make the people happy and for two years Phillips made the Baggies boing once more. Rob Bagchi West Ham United Paolo Di Canio Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine you are playing one of those quick-fire answer games, where you have to respond to a question immediately, without giving it second thought, and you are asked: “What is the defining image of West Ham’s modern existence?” Paolo Di Canio’s volley against Wimbledon. Next. The flying scissor kick was the strike of a lifetime, and is surely the Premier League’s finest goal. And yet Di Canio was so much more than that. As well as the goals, it was the passion and the ego, the ups and the downs, the tattoos and the tears.  It was everything West Ham have lacked since they moved to the soulless London Stadium. How they must crave a player a player of his creativity and devotion now. Sam Dean CHAMPIONSHIP Aston Villa Stiliyan Petrov Credit: GETTY IMAGES Signed in 2006, Stiliyan Petrov quickly made himself a vital member of the Martin O’Neill squad that had Aston Villa challenging for Champions League qualification. He was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2009, but three years later he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. In tribute to Petrov, Villa fans clapped in the 19th minute of every home and away game to support the midfielder, who wore the number 19 shirt, in his battle against illness. In August 2012, it was announced Petrov’s leukaemia was in remission but he announced his retirement from the game just under a year later. Petrov has been described as an inspiration for the way he handled his illness and will forever be cherished by Villa supporters. Matt Law Barnsley Adam Hammill Credit: GETTY IMAGES There are slim pickings at a club that has had 17 permanent managers since 1997 and yo-yoed between English football's second and third tier. But few players can boast of scoring in a Wembley final, let alone two in the same season. That is why winger Adam Hammill is Barnsley's modern hero. The former Southampton player has had two spells at Oakwell, making 155 appearances, and things peaked in the 2015-16 season when Barnsley won the FA Trophy and League One play-off final at the national stadium with Hammill scoring in both.  Dan Zeqiri Birmingham City Barry Ferguson Credit: GETTY IMAGES Birmingham have never had a problem taking on troubled players looking to prove themselves, Barry Ferguson was no different. After leaving Rangers under a cloud of controversy following a drinking - and subsequent swearing - session on Scotland duty, City gave him the chance to prove himself at the highest level. His classy displays in anchoring the midfield helped achieve a ninth-placed Premier League finish and also secure a second major trophy. Ferguson played more than 70 minutes of that League Cup final with a broken rib, something that endeared him to Birmingham fans and left them yearning for somebody of his quality ever since. Chris Quinn Bolton Wanderers Jay-Jay Okocha Credit: PA Never before or since have Bolton had a superstar quite like Jay-Jay Okocha, whose four-year stay at the Reebok Stadium between 2002 and 2006 was even more magical than the club's supporters had dreamed of.  Okocha‘s beguiling flicks and tricks were so effortless, so natural, that at times he looked like a kid having a bit of fun in the school playground. Okocha was no show-pony however - he also provided a number of crucial goals and assists, and captained the side in a halcyon period when they reached the League Cup final and finished eighth in the Premier League.  As Bolton fans used to say, Okocha was "so good they named him twice." Charlie Eccleshare Brentford Matthew Benham Credit: EMPICS Brentford's modern hero? Beyond any question, owner Matthew Benham. The Brentford fan, and professional gambler, has saved the club from the scrapheap, pumped in £45million and is bankrolling a new stadium. (Warning: strong language) The team are playing their most exciting football in living memory, they are in with a real chance of going up, and these feel like the good times at Griffin Park. Even axing popular manager Mark Warburton could not cool the fans’ ardour: Bees are walking in a Benham wonderland. Alan Tyers Bristol City Gary Johnson Credit: PA After taking over as manager in 2005, Gary Johnson soon became a cult hero for City fans, who had endured a series of playoff heartbreaks in the early 2000s and were seemingly marooned in Division Two. After eight years of trying to reach the second tier of English football, City finally reached the Championship in 2007, two years into Johnson’s reign. Less than a year later, a second successive promotion was a genuine possibility as Johnson guided the side to the top of the Championship. They eventually finished fourth, their highest finish since 1980, but were thwarted in the play-off final by Hull City and 39-year-old Dean Windass. The club spiralled into decline following Johnson’s departure in 2010, and they were relegated back into League One in 2013. Now, though, they are back in the Championship and have started the season brightly under Lee Johnson, who just happens to be Gary’s son. Sam Dean Burton Albion Nigel Clough Credit: DAVE EVITTS In an 11-year spell as player-manager then manager between 1998 and 2009, Clough led Burton from the league below the Conference to the brink of promotion to the Football League. Has since returned to take them up into the Championship - their loftiest ever position - in his first season back. A club legend who has done more than anyone else to make Burton Albion a force in English football, for the first time in their history. Alistair Tweedale Cardiff City Neil Warnock Credit: PA With a nod to Andy Campbell, which scored the winning goal in the 2003 play-off final which ended the two-decade spell in the lower two divisions, it is difficult to know where Cardiff City would be had Neil Warnock not arrived last season to haul them from the bottom three. Would Vincent Tan had hung around and seemed so positive in League One? Would the club’s future appear more uncertain than ever? The answer to latter is a resounding yes, after two decades of controversial foreign ownership under first Sam Hammam and now the colour-swapping Malaysian. Instead, the club, riding high in the top three, has not felt so united for years. James Corrigan Derby County Peter Gadsby  Credit: ALAMY Derby's home Pride Park opened in 1997, and it still looks every inch a Premier League stadium. Derby's then lead director and property developer Peter Gadsby was the brains behind the operation, drawing up plans within 10 weeks and delivering the new ground for approximately £18 million.  As well as a state-of-the-art training ground at Moor Farm, Gadsby returned in 2006 to take control of the club after it had been misused by Jeremy Keith who was later convicted of fraud and false accounting. Despite many near-misses, Derby have failed to return to the top flight since their dismal 2007-8 campaign, but if they do they'll have Gadsby to thank for bequeathing them fantastic infrastructure.  Dan Zeqiri Fulham Roy Hodgson Credit: AP On Thursday 18 March, 2010, a Juventus team featuring Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet, and with Alessandro Del Piero coming off the bench, came to Craven Cottage and were beaten 4-1 in the second leg of Europa League round of 16 tie, 5-4 on aggregate, having at one point led the tie 4-1. Because it is Fulham, most of the supporters are just too polite to make much of a fuss but the man in charge for their extraordinary drive to the Europa League final, Roy Hodgson, deserves for it to be mentioned much more often. Hodgson gave Fulham fans the season they will never forget. They had been to an FA Cup final in 1975 and won the Championship in 2001 but otherwise this is a club that Juventus fans would otherwise only know if they spotted the stadium from a Thames river cruise. Mohamed Al-Fayed put the money in, but it was ultimately Hodgson who sprinkled the magic. Which is not to say the football was much to watch. The results, however, were incredible.   Sam Wallace Hull City Dean Windass Credit: PA The club legend had three stints at Hull, his hometown club, after being released as a YTS trainee. The striker was given a second chance, scoring 57 league goals in 176 matches, before being sold to Aberdeen for £700,000 in 1995. And then a third chance as Windass returned, after a journeyman career, in January 2007. The rest, for Hull, is history with Windass scoring the only goal that took them into the Premier League, into the top-flight for the first time in their history, to beat Bristol City in the Championship play-offs in 2008. Windass hung up his boots aged 40, but not before he became Hull’s oldest ever goal-scorer, scoring in the Premier League at the grand old age of 39. Jason Burt Ipswich Town Matt Holland Credit: GETTY IMAGES Nicknamed Captain Marvel by George Burnley, the ever dependable Matt Holland only missed one league match in six years at Portman Road. Even then it wasn't injury which ended his 223 consecutive league appearances, but an international call-up. Always the last player to leave the pitch whatever the result home or away, family man Holland was the perfect fit for the Ipswich family.  A loyal servant, Holland rejected a move to Aston Villa when Ipswich were relegated having led them to a fifth-place finish the season before and narrowly missing out on a Champions League berth.  Vicki Hodges Leeds United Leeds Fans Remembrance Tributes to fans killed in Instanbul at the Billy Bremner statue  outside Elland Road Credit: ACTION IMAGES Twenty years of profligacy, penury and being exploited as a publicity vehicle by various blowhards - an era which may now, hopefully, have come to an end - Leeds supporters have no heroes but themselves and particularly Leeds Fans Remembrance, set up to honour the memories of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight who were murdered in Istanbul in April 2000 on the eve of Leeds’ Uefa Cup semi-final tie. The pain endures because more than 17 years on justice has not been served on the killers. Nonetheless this inspirational campaign has raised thousands for Candlelighters, the Leeds’ cancer charity, and helped to build a play pavilion for the children’s cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary. Rob Bagchi Middlesbrough Juninho Juninho gives Newcastle's Philippe Albert a telling off Credit: GETTY IMAGES The thought of a Brazil international signing for a club like Middlesbrough would have been fanciful before the creation of the Premier League, but Juninho did, arriving from Sao Paulo in 1995. He actually left in 1997, following the club’s relegation to from the top flight, but made an emotional return two years later on loan before signing another permanent deal to play for the Teesside club in 2002.  He fell in love with the club and the club fell in love with him. Widely regarded as Boro’s best player of the modern era he brought skill, flair but also sweat to the cause. He was so revered, the club even renamed the Cheeseburgers sold inside the stadium “The Juninho.” Luke Edwards Millwall Neil Harris Harris (right) with Tim Cahill en route to the FA Cup final in 2004 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Former striker and current manager has done enough in three spells in Bermondsey to fill several Roy of the Rovers annuals.  Arrived at the club in 1998 and was the top scorer in any English league during the 2000/01 season before being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Recovered to lead his team to Wembley for a scarecly believable FA Cup final appearance in 2004. In his second spell at The Den, Harris became Millwall's all-time leading goalscorer and has since steered his club back to the second tier as their manager. What more could you possibly ask for? Thom Gibbs Norwich City Delia Smith Credit: PA It’s not all been plain sailing under Delia Smith’s stewardship but without her Norwich could be in a far stickier position than they currently find themselves. Without the financial support of Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, administration would have been a real possibility. Instead there have been three separate stints in the Premier League, with four promotions and as many relegations since 2003. Smith is a fan first and foremost, and although her future position is unclear she has acted as a custodian of the club, doing so very much for the right reasons. Julian Bennetts Nottingham Forest Chris Cohen Credit: ACTION IMAGES There has been 20 years of underachievement, false dawns, questionable ownership and 17 managers, since Forest's relegation from the top flight in 1999. Hope for the future is there, after the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis and the tangible progress under Mark Warburton, but the one constant during recent turmoil has been Chris Cohen. The midfielder has suffered three serious knee injuries but returned through resilience and determination, a player to be highly admired for his loyalty. John Percy Preston North End Sean Gregan Credit: ALAMY If you can look back at your career in the knowledge that you were given the nickname of ‘God’, you can be sure that you have done something right. That’s certainly the case for Preston legend Sean Gregan, who was twice named the club’s official player of the year and was the heartbeat of the impressive side which came so close to reaching the Premier League under David Moyes. Having joined the club from Darlington in 1996, Gregan went on to captain the side to the old Second Division title in 2000, before helping Preston to the First Division play-off final the following season, when they lost to Bolton Wanderers. Sam Dean Queens Park Rangers Ian Holloway Credit: ACTION IMAGES QPR's best players in the past 20 years only sparkled briefly. Paul Furlong, Lee Cook, Adel Taarabt, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora all shone, but not for long. About six seconds at Wembley in 2014 in Zamora's case. None eclipse Ian Holloway's body of work at Loftus Road. He arrived at the club in 2001 with relegation to the third tier beckoning. It couldn't be avoided, and the following summer Holloway was left with just six senior professionals before QPR's Division 2 campaign. With astute signings and sheer force of his "unconventional" personality, Holloway galvanised his side and eventually the entire club. Promotion back to the second tier in 2004 was his crowning glory. Now back in W12, again in challenging circumstances and looks unlikely to repeat the trick. But no QPR fan will ever regard Hollway as less than heroic. Thom Gibbs Reading Graeme Murty Credit: PA Reading's all-conquering 2005/2006 campaign in the Championship was backed up by finishing seventh in the Premier League the following season, and it's impossible to look past captain Graeme Murty's role in the club's rise over that period. Murty in total made over 300 appearances for the Royals in a stellar 11-year career between 1998 and 2009. His match-winning penalty against QPR - just his second goal for the club - clinched the record for the most points in a Championship season with 106. Ben Coles Sheffield United Neil Warnock Credit: PA The obdurate Yorkshireman oversaw United's most successful period in recent history by leading the club to the semi-finals of the FA and League Cups in 2003 and promotion to the Premier League in 2006. He was largely responsible too for the building of United's academy from scratch, one which produced Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka among others. A passionate and effervescent character, the Blades' controversial relegation a season later, however, left the outspoken Warnock drained and led to his remorseful resignation.  Vicki Hodges Sheffield Wednesday Dejphon Chansiri Credit: GETTY IMAGES Not exactly a vintage 20 years for Owls fans. Aside from nice guy Drew Talbot scoring in the playoff final v Hartlepool, moments of on-pitch joy have been extremely limited. The most significant individual has probably been Dejphon Chansiri, who has pumped a ton of money into the club. As a Thai tuna magnate, he’s not exactly the most reliable figure for fans, but if he continues to invest, who knows? Perhaps the club will one day dine again at English football’s captain's table. Alan Tyers Sunderland Niall Quinn Credit: ACTION IMAGES It would be tempting to select his strike partner Kevin Phillips, given he won the Golden Boot for the European football top goalscorer as Sunderland finished seventh in the Premier League, but it was Quinn who galvanised the supporters and allowed them to dream of becoming a major force again. He wrote in his autobiography: “I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland."  Sunderland supporters still sing about his “disco pants” two decades later and his hard work and love for the club has become the benchmark for all Sunderland players since. Quinn also became club chairman in 2007 under the Drumaville Consortium before stepped down in 2012 after a falling out with new owner, Ellis Short. Luke Edwards Wolverhampton Wanderers Sir Jack Hayward Hayward celebrates a playoff final victory in 2003 with then-Wolves manager Dave Jones Credit: GETTY IMAGES There is only one choice for this award at Molineux and that man is ‘Mr Wolves’, Sir Jack Hayward. His popularity was such that thousands lined the streets for his funeral when he died aged 91 in January 2015, just recognition for having sunk £70m of his own money into the club between 1990 and 2007. On his watch Molineux was transformed and the South Bank stand is now named after him, while there are plans for a statue of Hayward outside the ground.  Julian Bennetts   Have we missed your personal favourite modern hero? Give us your nominations and why they deserve the status in the comments section below.

Modern heroes: Who has done most for your club in the last 20 years?

Some clubs' heroes from the past 20 years are obvious. They are the standout player who served with distinction for a decade, the trophy-winning manager, or the chairman who steadied the ship. For others it's a more difficult decision. Some are blessed with many candidates. Others, very few. Nevertheless we asked our writers a simple question: Which single person has had the greatest positive influence on their club since 1997? Here are their responses, for every club currently playing in the top two flights.  PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp Credit: ACTION IMAGES Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira could all lay claim to this accolade, but Dennis Bergkamp just shades it.  Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal in 1995 heralded a new direction for the club, and he retired 11 years later with three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups to his name.  More than just winning titles though, Bergkamp was a joy in everything he did at Highbury. The vision, the exquisite technique, the spectacular goals - Bergkamp got the Arsenal fans not just off their seats but frequently shaking their heads in disbelief.  His team-mates were - and remain - similarly in awe, and if you want reminding of Bergkamp's genius, watch his superlative hat-trick against Leicester in 1997.  Charlie Eccleshare AFC Bournemouth Eddie Howe Credit: GETTY IMAGES Eddie Howe's association with Bournemouth remains the stuff of fairytale. Became manager in 2009 at the age of 31 when he somehow reversed a 17-point deficit to keep the club both in existence and in the Football League. Despite a transfer embargo, he then won the first of his promotions before leaving for a spell at Burnley. Upon his return in 2012, Bournemouth have been promoted twice, reached the top flight for the first time in their history, and finished ninth in the Premier League last season. His influence is felt at every level of the club. Jeremy Wilson Brighton and Hove Albion Dick Knight Credit: ALAMY Without current chairman Tony Bloom's money, Brighton's Amex Stadium and top-class training ground wouldn't have progressed beyond dreams, but Dick Knight deserves recognition as the club's spiritual saviour in the near-death years of the late 1990s. With extraordinary persistence, Knight fought battles with planners, politicians and pessimists to keep the supporters believing in salvation. An ad-man by trade, he sold the rebirth idea with a smile. Paul Hayward Burnley Sean Dyche Credit: ACTION IMAGES It simply has to be Sean Mark Dyche, the throat-sore "Ginger Mourinho" who got Burnley promoted to the Premier League not once but twice and is showing every sign of keeping them in the division the second time around. It takes a lot to get a team through the 46-game epic that is the Championship season but then to go back and do it a second time, harnessing all that is best about this famous Lancashire club, took guts and intelligence. A special mention also to the former chairman Barry Kilby, now the vice-chair. His investment of £3 million in January 1999, when he became the largest single shareholder, saved Burnley and helped lay the foundations for the club it is now. Sam Wallace Chelsea Roman Abramovich Credit: AP Chelsea were on the brink of financial crisis before Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a European superpower in 2003. The Blues were likely to default on a £75million loan, but, ironically, it was their perilous financial position that attracted Abramovich, who had also weighed up bids for Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Chelsea were relatively easy to take over and within two years of buying the club, Abramovich had spent over £100million on new players. His spending has meant that in 14 years, Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. Matt Law Crystal Palace Wilfried Zaha Credit: GETTY IMAGES Steve Parish and his consortium saved Crystal Palace from extinction, but Wilfried Zaha has breathed new life into the club since his debut in 2010.  South London born and bred, 'Wilf' is the talisman and poster boy for a club that prides itself on developing young talent from the local community. Player of the year for the last two seasons, no-one has beguiled, hypnotised and enthralled Palace fans more than the man about which they sing 'he's just too good for you'.  Callum Davis Everton David Moyes Credit: PA David Moyes has been the victim of historic revisionism in recent years. When he took over at Everton in 2002 the club had been consistently stuck in the bottom half of the table. Over 10 years he re-established a top six position and even broke into the top four. A guard of honour bid him farewell when he left for Manchester United. He was accused of not being ambitious enough – harsh given financial restraints he worked with. The circumstances around his departure (private meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson) have soured memories of his reign, but future generations will recognise his positive contribution.   Chris Bascombe Huddersfield Town Dean Hoyle Dean Hoyle meets his adoring public after Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League Credit: REUTERS Every morning at 8am at 24 schools more than 1,000 children eat a healthy breakfast paid for by Huddersfield Town. The scheme is the brainchild of club chairman and owner Dean Hoyle, a lifelong fan who joined the board in 2008 and is full of forward thinking initiatives while he has transformed Huddersfield and taken them into the Premier League for the first time in their history. He offered £100 season tickets to long-standing fans if the club ever reached the top-flight and has been good to his word and the sight of him collapsing with joy after their Championship play-off win at Wembley, on penalties, was one of the images of last season. Jason Burt Leicester City Claudio Ranieri Credit: PA It can be only one man, after the most remarkable story of the past 35 years, since Nottingham Forest's European Cup triumphs. Ranieri guided a team built by Nigel Pearson to the Premier League title, utilising intuition and shrewd management, with a permanent glint in his eye. It all went awry the following season, and many will argue over whether Ranieri simply inherited an outstanding set-up, but his name will forever be etched into Leicester - and football - history. John Percy Liverpool Steven Gerrard Credit: PA If Steven Gerrard had not been born a Liverpool fan, the recent history of the club would look very different. He scored in the victorious Uefa Cup final, League Cup final, FA Cup final and, of course, the Champions League final. Managers Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez got the best from him, but as every club in Europe tried in vain to lure him from Anfield, Gerrard’s loyalty kept Liverpool competitive during an often tumultuous period off the pitch. Chris Bascombe Manchester City Sheikh Mansour Credit: AFP Okay, so the Arab billionaire did not buy City until 2008 but has anyone done more to entirely reshape the fortunes of the club over the past 20 years? The answer, of course, is no, and with Pep Guardiola having presided over the most electrifying start to a season yet, City could be on the brink of a new era of success after Premier League title triumphs in 2011/12 and 2013/14. The days of Jamie Pollock and former manager Stuart Pearce parading his daughter's treasured "Beanie horse" in the technical area are long gone. It is not just the team and club Sheikh Mansour's petro dollars have transformed either. East Manchester has been revitalised by his benevolence. James Ducker Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Credit: AP An obvious choice, yes, but the only choice. Some wondered if the man who masterminded United's unprecedented treble success of Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup in 1998/99 had outstayed his welcome when United went three seasons without the championship between 2004 and 2006. But Ferguson reacted to the rise of Chelsea, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich's billions, and then later Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, at a time when United's own purse strings were being tightened by the Glazers' controversial ownership, by presiding over the most successful period in United's history. Sir Alex Ferguson reveals the secrets of his success 03:31 As well as winning five Premier League titles between 2006 and his retirement in 2013, he also claimed a second Champions League crown with one of the most exciting sides in the club's era. James Ducker Newcastle United Alan Shearer Credit: ACTION IMAGES Turned down the chance to sign for Manchester United to return home to his beloved Newcastle in a then world record £15m move from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 when he was at the peak of his powers and could have signed for any club in the world. Carried the team on his shoulders for more than a decade, breaking Jackie Milburn’s goalscoring record in the process, eventually retiring with 206 goals in 404 games for the Magpies. The former England captain may not have won any trophies on Tyneside, but he earned something more important to him, the love and admiration of his own people. He is genuine when he says he has no regrets. Luke Edwards Southampton Markus Liebherr Credit: GETTY IMAGES The time-frame takes in a more peripheral phase of Matthew Le Tissier’s Southampton career. Other hugely influential players from his era were Jason Dodd and Francis Benali before the recent rise that was inspired by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte. Yet underpinning everything was the 2009 takeover by Markus Liebherr that rescued the club. His executive chairman Nicola Costese played a huge but sometimes divisive role in pushing the team forward and changing the culture and, with Katharina Liebherr taking on a more visible role, the club have remained successful since his departure in 2014. Jeremy Wilson Stoke City Peter Coates Credit: PAUL COOPER After returning to buy the club in 2006, Peter Coates has presided over a glorious period in Stoke history. As chairman he masterminded the return of Tony Pulis, with promotion to the Premier League swiftly following, and has transformed the club from its squad to the training ground with his financial backing. His son John has also played a huge part in Stoke's progress but Coates Senior is probably the best chairman in the Premier League right now. His love for all things Stoke City can never be doubted. John Percy Swansea City Leon Britton Credit: GETTY IMAGES Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and later Brendan Rodgers may have cultivated the idea of possession football in south Wales, but it was Leon Britton who brought the vision to life.  The London-born playmaker has been Swansea's beating beating heart in their journey through the ranks of the football league: from the bottom of the fourth tier to established Premier League outfit. His expert ball retention saw him become one of Europe's most unlikely pass-masters in the early part of this decade, with statistics regularly rivalling those of Xavi and other more glamorous names. His legacy will live on at the Liberty Stadium long after he eventually decides to retire. Callum Davis Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino Credit: REX The influence of chairman Daniel Levy should not be understated, yet what Pochettino has done to change Spurs in just a few years is utterly remarkable. He has given the team a new identity, and has transformed consistently average players into very good ones while making his best players world-beaters. As a result, Spurs are now one of the most exciting teams on the planet. Most importantly, he has made Tottenham fans feel something they haven't for a very long time: optimism. For that they will be forever grateful. Alistair Tweedale Watford Gino Pozzo Credit: PA A common misconception outside of Watford is that the club somehow 'lost its identity' following the Pozzo family's takeover in 2012. But the Hornets were teetering on the brink of ruin under the contentious ownership of Laurence Bassini before the Italian job brought stability and success. The team are already an established Premier League presence with an exciting turnover of talented players. But Gino Pozzo's reign as owner is as much defined by the progress off the pitch; a vastly improved Vicarage Road and a commitment to community and heritage that has always been a part of Watford's fabric. Tom Hoggins West Bromwich Albion Kevin Phillips Credit: GETTY IMAGES For obvious reasons it can’t be Lee Hughes and the exemplary ‘Super Bob’ Taylor falls just outside this arbitrary time frame so it has to be Kevin Phillips who scored 46 goals over two seasons, firing the Baggies to the play-off final in 2007 and then promotion in 2008. The monotonous caution and conservatism of the Roy Hodgson and Tony Pulis regimes ignore one crucial thing. Safety and certainty, shunning risk and reward, anaesthetises the soul. But goals make the people happy and for two years Phillips made the Baggies boing once more. Rob Bagchi West Ham United Paolo Di Canio Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine you are playing one of those quick-fire answer games, where you have to respond to a question immediately, without giving it second thought, and you are asked: “What is the defining image of West Ham’s modern existence?” Paolo Di Canio’s volley against Wimbledon. Next. The flying scissor kick was the strike of a lifetime, and is surely the Premier League’s finest goal. And yet Di Canio was so much more than that. As well as the goals, it was the passion and the ego, the ups and the downs, the tattoos and the tears.  It was everything West Ham have lacked since they moved to the soulless London Stadium. How they must crave a player a player of his creativity and devotion now. Sam Dean CHAMPIONSHIP Aston Villa Stiliyan Petrov Credit: GETTY IMAGES Signed in 2006, Stiliyan Petrov quickly made himself a vital member of the Martin O’Neill squad that had Aston Villa challenging for Champions League qualification. He was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2009, but three years later he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. In tribute to Petrov, Villa fans clapped in the 19th minute of every home and away game to support the midfielder, who wore the number 19 shirt, in his battle against illness. In August 2012, it was announced Petrov’s leukaemia was in remission but he announced his retirement from the game just under a year later. Petrov has been described as an inspiration for the way he handled his illness and will forever be cherished by Villa supporters. Matt Law Barnsley Adam Hammill Credit: GETTY IMAGES There are slim pickings at a club that has had 17 permanent managers since 1997 and yo-yoed between English football's second and third tier. But few players can boast of scoring in a Wembley final, let alone two in the same season. That is why winger Adam Hammill is Barnsley's modern hero. The former Southampton player has had two spells at Oakwell, making 155 appearances, and things peaked in the 2015-16 season when Barnsley won the FA Trophy and League One play-off final at the national stadium with Hammill scoring in both.  Dan Zeqiri Birmingham City Barry Ferguson Credit: GETTY IMAGES Birmingham have never had a problem taking on troubled players looking to prove themselves, Barry Ferguson was no different. After leaving Rangers under a cloud of controversy following a drinking - and subsequent swearing - session on Scotland duty, City gave him the chance to prove himself at the highest level. His classy displays in anchoring the midfield helped achieve a ninth-placed Premier League finish and also secure a second major trophy. Ferguson played more than 70 minutes of that League Cup final with a broken rib, something that endeared him to Birmingham fans and left them yearning for somebody of his quality ever since. Chris Quinn Bolton Wanderers Jay-Jay Okocha Credit: PA Never before or since have Bolton had a superstar quite like Jay-Jay Okocha, whose four-year stay at the Reebok Stadium between 2002 and 2006 was even more magical than the club's supporters had dreamed of.  Okocha‘s beguiling flicks and tricks were so effortless, so natural, that at times he looked like a kid having a bit of fun in the school playground. Okocha was no show-pony however - he also provided a number of crucial goals and assists, and captained the side in a halcyon period when they reached the League Cup final and finished eighth in the Premier League.  As Bolton fans used to say, Okocha was "so good they named him twice." Charlie Eccleshare Brentford Matthew Benham Credit: EMPICS Brentford's modern hero? Beyond any question, owner Matthew Benham. The Brentford fan, and professional gambler, has saved the club from the scrapheap, pumped in £45million and is bankrolling a new stadium. (Warning: strong language) The team are playing their most exciting football in living memory, they are in with a real chance of going up, and these feel like the good times at Griffin Park. Even axing popular manager Mark Warburton could not cool the fans’ ardour: Bees are walking in a Benham wonderland. Alan Tyers Bristol City Gary Johnson Credit: PA After taking over as manager in 2005, Gary Johnson soon became a cult hero for City fans, who had endured a series of playoff heartbreaks in the early 2000s and were seemingly marooned in Division Two. After eight years of trying to reach the second tier of English football, City finally reached the Championship in 2007, two years into Johnson’s reign. Less than a year later, a second successive promotion was a genuine possibility as Johnson guided the side to the top of the Championship. They eventually finished fourth, their highest finish since 1980, but were thwarted in the play-off final by Hull City and 39-year-old Dean Windass. The club spiralled into decline following Johnson’s departure in 2010, and they were relegated back into League One in 2013. Now, though, they are back in the Championship and have started the season brightly under Lee Johnson, who just happens to be Gary’s son. Sam Dean Burton Albion Nigel Clough Credit: DAVE EVITTS In an 11-year spell as player-manager then manager between 1998 and 2009, Clough led Burton from the league below the Conference to the brink of promotion to the Football League. Has since returned to take them up into the Championship - their loftiest ever position - in his first season back. A club legend who has done more than anyone else to make Burton Albion a force in English football, for the first time in their history. Alistair Tweedale Cardiff City Neil Warnock Credit: PA With a nod to Andy Campbell, which scored the winning goal in the 2003 play-off final which ended the two-decade spell in the lower two divisions, it is difficult to know where Cardiff City would be had Neil Warnock not arrived last season to haul them from the bottom three. Would Vincent Tan had hung around and seemed so positive in League One? Would the club’s future appear more uncertain than ever? The answer to latter is a resounding yes, after two decades of controversial foreign ownership under first Sam Hammam and now the colour-swapping Malaysian. Instead, the club, riding high in the top three, has not felt so united for years. James Corrigan Derby County Peter Gadsby  Credit: ALAMY Derby's home Pride Park opened in 1997, and it still looks every inch a Premier League stadium. Derby's then lead director and property developer Peter Gadsby was the brains behind the operation, drawing up plans within 10 weeks and delivering the new ground for approximately £18 million.  As well as a state-of-the-art training ground at Moor Farm, Gadsby returned in 2006 to take control of the club after it had been misused by Jeremy Keith who was later convicted of fraud and false accounting. Despite many near-misses, Derby have failed to return to the top flight since their dismal 2007-8 campaign, but if they do they'll have Gadsby to thank for bequeathing them fantastic infrastructure.  Dan Zeqiri Fulham Roy Hodgson Credit: AP On Thursday 18 March, 2010, a Juventus team featuring Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet, and with Alessandro Del Piero coming off the bench, came to Craven Cottage and were beaten 4-1 in the second leg of Europa League round of 16 tie, 5-4 on aggregate, having at one point led the tie 4-1. Because it is Fulham, most of the supporters are just too polite to make much of a fuss but the man in charge for their extraordinary drive to the Europa League final, Roy Hodgson, deserves for it to be mentioned much more often. Hodgson gave Fulham fans the season they will never forget. They had been to an FA Cup final in 1975 and won the Championship in 2001 but otherwise this is a club that Juventus fans would otherwise only know if they spotted the stadium from a Thames river cruise. Mohamed Al-Fayed put the money in, but it was ultimately Hodgson who sprinkled the magic. Which is not to say the football was much to watch. The results, however, were incredible.   Sam Wallace Hull City Dean Windass Credit: PA The club legend had three stints at Hull, his hometown club, after being released as a YTS trainee. The striker was given a second chance, scoring 57 league goals in 176 matches, before being sold to Aberdeen for £700,000 in 1995. And then a third chance as Windass returned, after a journeyman career, in January 2007. The rest, for Hull, is history with Windass scoring the only goal that took them into the Premier League, into the top-flight for the first time in their history, to beat Bristol City in the Championship play-offs in 2008. Windass hung up his boots aged 40, but not before he became Hull’s oldest ever goal-scorer, scoring in the Premier League at the grand old age of 39. Jason Burt Ipswich Town Matt Holland Credit: GETTY IMAGES Nicknamed Captain Marvel by George Burnley, the ever dependable Matt Holland only missed one league match in six years at Portman Road. Even then it wasn't injury which ended his 223 consecutive league appearances, but an international call-up. Always the last player to leave the pitch whatever the result home or away, family man Holland was the perfect fit for the Ipswich family.  A loyal servant, Holland rejected a move to Aston Villa when Ipswich were relegated having led them to a fifth-place finish the season before and narrowly missing out on a Champions League berth.  Vicki Hodges Leeds United Leeds Fans Remembrance Tributes to fans killed in Instanbul at the Billy Bremner statue  outside Elland Road Credit: ACTION IMAGES Twenty years of profligacy, penury and being exploited as a publicity vehicle by various blowhards - an era which may now, hopefully, have come to an end - Leeds supporters have no heroes but themselves and particularly Leeds Fans Remembrance, set up to honour the memories of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight who were murdered in Istanbul in April 2000 on the eve of Leeds’ Uefa Cup semi-final tie. The pain endures because more than 17 years on justice has not been served on the killers. Nonetheless this inspirational campaign has raised thousands for Candlelighters, the Leeds’ cancer charity, and helped to build a play pavilion for the children’s cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary. Rob Bagchi Middlesbrough Juninho Juninho gives Newcastle's Philippe Albert a telling off Credit: GETTY IMAGES The thought of a Brazil international signing for a club like Middlesbrough would have been fanciful before the creation of the Premier League, but Juninho did, arriving from Sao Paulo in 1995. He actually left in 1997, following the club’s relegation to from the top flight, but made an emotional return two years later on loan before signing another permanent deal to play for the Teesside club in 2002.  He fell in love with the club and the club fell in love with him. Widely regarded as Boro’s best player of the modern era he brought skill, flair but also sweat to the cause. He was so revered, the club even renamed the Cheeseburgers sold inside the stadium “The Juninho.” Luke Edwards Millwall Neil Harris Harris (right) with Tim Cahill en route to the FA Cup final in 2004 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Former striker and current manager has done enough in three spells in Bermondsey to fill several Roy of the Rovers annuals.  Arrived at the club in 1998 and was the top scorer in any English league during the 2000/01 season before being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Recovered to lead his team to Wembley for a scarecly believable FA Cup final appearance in 2004. In his second spell at The Den, Harris became Millwall's all-time leading goalscorer and has since steered his club back to the second tier as their manager. What more could you possibly ask for? Thom Gibbs Norwich City Delia Smith Credit: PA It’s not all been plain sailing under Delia Smith’s stewardship but without her Norwich could be in a far stickier position than they currently find themselves. Without the financial support of Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, administration would have been a real possibility. Instead there have been three separate stints in the Premier League, with four promotions and as many relegations since 2003. Smith is a fan first and foremost, and although her future position is unclear she has acted as a custodian of the club, doing so very much for the right reasons. Julian Bennetts Nottingham Forest Chris Cohen Credit: ACTION IMAGES There has been 20 years of underachievement, false dawns, questionable ownership and 17 managers, since Forest's relegation from the top flight in 1999. Hope for the future is there, after the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis and the tangible progress under Mark Warburton, but the one constant during recent turmoil has been Chris Cohen. The midfielder has suffered three serious knee injuries but returned through resilience and determination, a player to be highly admired for his loyalty. John Percy Preston North End Sean Gregan Credit: ALAMY If you can look back at your career in the knowledge that you were given the nickname of ‘God’, you can be sure that you have done something right. That’s certainly the case for Preston legend Sean Gregan, who was twice named the club’s official player of the year and was the heartbeat of the impressive side which came so close to reaching the Premier League under David Moyes. Having joined the club from Darlington in 1996, Gregan went on to captain the side to the old Second Division title in 2000, before helping Preston to the First Division play-off final the following season, when they lost to Bolton Wanderers. Sam Dean Queens Park Rangers Ian Holloway Credit: ACTION IMAGES QPR's best players in the past 20 years only sparkled briefly. Paul Furlong, Lee Cook, Adel Taarabt, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora all shone, but not for long. About six seconds at Wembley in 2014 in Zamora's case. None eclipse Ian Holloway's body of work at Loftus Road. He arrived at the club in 2001 with relegation to the third tier beckoning. It couldn't be avoided, and the following summer Holloway was left with just six senior professionals before QPR's Division 2 campaign. With astute signings and sheer force of his "unconventional" personality, Holloway galvanised his side and eventually the entire club. Promotion back to the second tier in 2004 was his crowning glory. Now back in W12, again in challenging circumstances and looks unlikely to repeat the trick. But no QPR fan will ever regard Hollway as less than heroic. Thom Gibbs Reading Graeme Murty Credit: PA Reading's all-conquering 2005/2006 campaign in the Championship was backed up by finishing seventh in the Premier League the following season, and it's impossible to look past captain Graeme Murty's role in the club's rise over that period. Murty in total made over 300 appearances for the Royals in a stellar 11-year career between 1998 and 2009. His match-winning penalty against QPR - just his second goal for the club - clinched the record for the most points in a Championship season with 106. Ben Coles Sheffield United Neil Warnock Credit: PA The obdurate Yorkshireman oversaw United's most successful period in recent history by leading the club to the semi-finals of the FA and League Cups in 2003 and promotion to the Premier League in 2006. He was largely responsible too for the building of United's academy from scratch, one which produced Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka among others. A passionate and effervescent character, the Blades' controversial relegation a season later, however, left the outspoken Warnock drained and led to his remorseful resignation.  Vicki Hodges Sheffield Wednesday Dejphon Chansiri Credit: GETTY IMAGES Not exactly a vintage 20 years for Owls fans. Aside from nice guy Drew Talbot scoring in the playoff final v Hartlepool, moments of on-pitch joy have been extremely limited. The most significant individual has probably been Dejphon Chansiri, who has pumped a ton of money into the club. As a Thai tuna magnate, he’s not exactly the most reliable figure for fans, but if he continues to invest, who knows? Perhaps the club will one day dine again at English football’s captain's table. Alan Tyers Sunderland Niall Quinn Credit: ACTION IMAGES It would be tempting to select his strike partner Kevin Phillips, given he won the Golden Boot for the European football top goalscorer as Sunderland finished seventh in the Premier League, but it was Quinn who galvanised the supporters and allowed them to dream of becoming a major force again. He wrote in his autobiography: “I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland."  Sunderland supporters still sing about his “disco pants” two decades later and his hard work and love for the club has become the benchmark for all Sunderland players since. Quinn also became club chairman in 2007 under the Drumaville Consortium before stepped down in 2012 after a falling out with new owner, Ellis Short. Luke Edwards Wolverhampton Wanderers Sir Jack Hayward Hayward celebrates a playoff final victory in 2003 with then-Wolves manager Dave Jones Credit: GETTY IMAGES There is only one choice for this award at Molineux and that man is ‘Mr Wolves’, Sir Jack Hayward. His popularity was such that thousands lined the streets for his funeral when he died aged 91 in January 2015, just recognition for having sunk £70m of his own money into the club between 1990 and 2007. On his watch Molineux was transformed and the South Bank stand is now named after him, while there are plans for a statue of Hayward outside the ground.  Julian Bennetts   Have we missed your personal favourite modern hero? Give us your nominations and why they deserve the status in the comments section below.

Modern heroes: Who has done most for your club in the last 20 years?

Some clubs' heroes from the past 20 years are obvious. They are the standout player who served with distinction for a decade, the trophy-winning manager, or the chairman who steadied the ship. For others it's a more difficult decision. Some are blessed with many candidates. Others, very few. Nevertheless we asked our writers a simple question: Which single person has had the greatest positive influence on their club since 1997? Here are their responses, for every club currently playing in the top two flights.  PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp Credit: ACTION IMAGES Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira could all lay claim to this accolade, but Dennis Bergkamp just shades it.  Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal in 1995 heralded a new direction for the club, and he retired 11 years later with three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups to his name.  More than just winning titles though, Bergkamp was a joy in everything he did at Highbury. The vision, the exquisite technique, the spectacular goals - Bergkamp got the Arsenal fans not just off their seats but frequently shaking their heads in disbelief.  His team-mates were - and remain - similarly in awe, and if you want reminding of Bergkamp's genius, watch his superlative hat-trick against Leicester in 1997.  Charlie Eccleshare AFC Bournemouth Eddie Howe Credit: GETTY IMAGES Eddie Howe's association with Bournemouth remains the stuff of fairytale. Became manager in 2009 at the age of 31 when he somehow reversed a 17-point deficit to keep the club both in existence and in the Football League. Despite a transfer embargo, he then won the first of his promotions before leaving for a spell at Burnley. Upon his return in 2012, Bournemouth have been promoted twice, reached the top flight for the first time in their history, and finished ninth in the Premier League last season. His influence is felt at every level of the club. Jeremy Wilson Brighton and Hove Albion Dick Knight Credit: ALAMY Without current chairman Tony Bloom's money, Brighton's Amex Stadium and top-class training ground wouldn't have progressed beyond dreams, but Dick Knight deserves recognition as the club's spiritual saviour in the near-death years of the late 1990s. With extraordinary persistence, Knight fought battles with planners, politicians and pessimists to keep the supporters believing in salvation. An ad-man by trade, he sold the rebirth idea with a smile. Paul Hayward Burnley Sean Dyche Credit: ACTION IMAGES It simply has to be Sean Mark Dyche, the throat-sore "Ginger Mourinho" who got Burnley promoted to the Premier League not once but twice and is showing every sign of keeping them in the division the second time around. It takes a lot to get a team through the 46-game epic that is the Championship season but then to go back and do it a second time, harnessing all that is best about this famous Lancashire club, took guts and intelligence. A special mention also to the former chairman Barry Kilby, now the vice-chair. His investment of £3 million in January 1999, when he became the largest single shareholder, saved Burnley and helped lay the foundations for the club it is now. Sam Wallace Chelsea Roman Abramovich Credit: AP Chelsea were on the brink of financial crisis before Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a European superpower in 2003. The Blues were likely to default on a £75million loan, but, ironically, it was their perilous financial position that attracted Abramovich, who had also weighed up bids for Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Chelsea were relatively easy to take over and within two years of buying the club, Abramovich had spent over £100million on new players. His spending has meant that in 14 years, Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. Matt Law Crystal Palace Wilfried Zaha Credit: GETTY IMAGES Steve Parish and his consortium saved Crystal Palace from extinction, but Wilfried Zaha has breathed new life into the club since his debut in 2010.  South London born and bred, 'Wilf' is the talisman and poster boy for a club that prides itself on developing young talent from the local community. Player of the year for the last two seasons, no-one has beguiled, hypnotised and enthralled Palace fans more than the man about which they sing 'he's just too good for you'.  Callum Davis Everton David Moyes Credit: PA David Moyes has been the victim of historic revisionism in recent years. When he took over at Everton in 2002 the club had been consistently stuck in the bottom half of the table. Over 10 years he re-established a top six position and even broke into the top four. A guard of honour bid him farewell when he left for Manchester United. He was accused of not being ambitious enough – harsh given financial restraints he worked with. The circumstances around his departure (private meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson) have soured memories of his reign, but future generations will recognise his positive contribution.   Chris Bascombe Huddersfield Town Dean Hoyle Dean Hoyle meets his adoring public after Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League Credit: REUTERS Every morning at 8am at 24 schools more than 1,000 children eat a healthy breakfast paid for by Huddersfield Town. The scheme is the brainchild of club chairman and owner Dean Hoyle, a lifelong fan who joined the board in 2008 and is full of forward thinking initiatives while he has transformed Huddersfield and taken them into the Premier League for the first time in their history. He offered £100 season tickets to long-standing fans if the club ever reached the top-flight and has been good to his word and the sight of him collapsing with joy after their Championship play-off win at Wembley, on penalties, was one of the images of last season. Jason Burt Leicester City Claudio Ranieri Credit: PA It can be only one man, after the most remarkable story of the past 35 years, since Nottingham Forest's European Cup triumphs. Ranieri guided a team built by Nigel Pearson to the Premier League title, utilising intuition and shrewd management, with a permanent glint in his eye. It all went awry the following season, and many will argue over whether Ranieri simply inherited an outstanding set-up, but his name will forever be etched into Leicester - and football - history. John Percy Liverpool Steven Gerrard Credit: PA If Steven Gerrard had not been born a Liverpool fan, the recent history of the club would look very different. He scored in the victorious Uefa Cup final, League Cup final, FA Cup final and, of course, the Champions League final. Managers Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez got the best from him, but as every club in Europe tried in vain to lure him from Anfield, Gerrard’s loyalty kept Liverpool competitive during an often tumultuous period off the pitch. Chris Bascombe Manchester City Sheikh Mansour Credit: AFP Okay, so the Arab billionaire did not buy City until 2008 but has anyone done more to entirely reshape the fortunes of the club over the past 20 years? The answer, of course, is no, and with Pep Guardiola having presided over the most electrifying start to a season yet, City could be on the brink of a new era of success after Premier League title triumphs in 2011/12 and 2013/14. The days of Jamie Pollock and former manager Stuart Pearce parading his daughter's treasured "Beanie horse" in the technical area are long gone. It is not just the team and club Sheikh Mansour's petro dollars have transformed either. East Manchester has been revitalised by his benevolence. James Ducker Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Credit: AP An obvious choice, yes, but the only choice. Some wondered if the man who masterminded United's unprecedented treble success of Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup in 1998/99 had outstayed his welcome when United went three seasons without the championship between 2004 and 2006. But Ferguson reacted to the rise of Chelsea, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich's billions, and then later Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, at a time when United's own purse strings were being tightened by the Glazers' controversial ownership, by presiding over the most successful period in United's history. Sir Alex Ferguson reveals the secrets of his success 03:31 As well as winning five Premier League titles between 2006 and his retirement in 2013, he also claimed a second Champions League crown with one of the most exciting sides in the club's era. James Ducker Newcastle United Alan Shearer Credit: ACTION IMAGES Turned down the chance to sign for Manchester United to return home to his beloved Newcastle in a then world record £15m move from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 when he was at the peak of his powers and could have signed for any club in the world. Carried the team on his shoulders for more than a decade, breaking Jackie Milburn’s goalscoring record in the process, eventually retiring with 206 goals in 404 games for the Magpies. The former England captain may not have won any trophies on Tyneside, but he earned something more important to him, the love and admiration of his own people. He is genuine when he says he has no regrets. Luke Edwards Southampton Markus Liebherr Credit: GETTY IMAGES The time-frame takes in a more peripheral phase of Matthew Le Tissier’s Southampton career. Other hugely influential players from his era were Jason Dodd and Francis Benali before the recent rise that was inspired by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte. Yet underpinning everything was the 2009 takeover by Markus Liebherr that rescued the club. His executive chairman Nicola Costese played a huge but sometimes divisive role in pushing the team forward and changing the culture and, with Katharina Liebherr taking on a more visible role, the club have remained successful since his departure in 2014. Jeremy Wilson Stoke City Peter Coates Credit: PAUL COOPER After returning to buy the club in 2006, Peter Coates has presided over a glorious period in Stoke history. As chairman he masterminded the return of Tony Pulis, with promotion to the Premier League swiftly following, and has transformed the club from its squad to the training ground with his financial backing. His son John has also played a huge part in Stoke's progress but Coates Senior is probably the best chairman in the Premier League right now. His love for all things Stoke City can never be doubted. John Percy Swansea City Leon Britton Credit: GETTY IMAGES Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and later Brendan Rodgers may have cultivated the idea of possession football in south Wales, but it was Leon Britton who brought the vision to life.  The London-born playmaker has been Swansea's beating beating heart in their journey through the ranks of the football league: from the bottom of the fourth tier to established Premier League outfit. His expert ball retention saw him become one of Europe's most unlikely pass-masters in the early part of this decade, with statistics regularly rivalling those of Xavi and other more glamorous names. His legacy will live on at the Liberty Stadium long after he eventually decides to retire. Callum Davis Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino Credit: REX The influence of chairman Daniel Levy should not be understated, yet what Pochettino has done to change Spurs in just a few years is utterly remarkable. He has given the team a new identity, and has transformed consistently average players into very good ones while making his best players world-beaters. As a result, Spurs are now one of the most exciting teams on the planet. Most importantly, he has made Tottenham fans feel something they haven't for a very long time: optimism. For that they will be forever grateful. Alistair Tweedale Watford Gino Pozzo Credit: PA A common misconception outside of Watford is that the club somehow 'lost its identity' following the Pozzo family's takeover in 2012. But the Hornets were teetering on the brink of ruin under the contentious ownership of Laurence Bassini before the Italian job brought stability and success. The team are already an established Premier League presence with an exciting turnover of talented players. But Gino Pozzo's reign as owner is as much defined by the progress off the pitch; a vastly improved Vicarage Road and a commitment to community and heritage that has always been a part of Watford's fabric. Tom Hoggins West Bromwich Albion Kevin Phillips Credit: GETTY IMAGES For obvious reasons it can’t be Lee Hughes and the exemplary ‘Super Bob’ Taylor falls just outside this arbitrary time frame so it has to be Kevin Phillips who scored 46 goals over two seasons, firing the Baggies to the play-off final in 2007 and then promotion in 2008. The monotonous caution and conservatism of the Roy Hodgson and Tony Pulis regimes ignore one crucial thing. Safety and certainty, shunning risk and reward, anaesthetises the soul. But goals make the people happy and for two years Phillips made the Baggies boing once more. Rob Bagchi West Ham United Paolo Di Canio Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine you are playing one of those quick-fire answer games, where you have to respond to a question immediately, without giving it second thought, and you are asked: “What is the defining image of West Ham’s modern existence?” Paolo Di Canio’s volley against Wimbledon. Next. The flying scissor kick was the strike of a lifetime, and is surely the Premier League’s finest goal. And yet Di Canio was so much more than that. As well as the goals, it was the passion and the ego, the ups and the downs, the tattoos and the tears.  It was everything West Ham have lacked since they moved to the soulless London Stadium. How they must crave a player a player of his creativity and devotion now. Sam Dean CHAMPIONSHIP Aston Villa Stiliyan Petrov Credit: GETTY IMAGES Signed in 2006, Stiliyan Petrov quickly made himself a vital member of the Martin O’Neill squad that had Aston Villa challenging for Champions League qualification. He was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2009, but three years later he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. In tribute to Petrov, Villa fans clapped in the 19th minute of every home and away game to support the midfielder, who wore the number 19 shirt, in his battle against illness. In August 2012, it was announced Petrov’s leukaemia was in remission but he announced his retirement from the game just under a year later. Petrov has been described as an inspiration for the way he handled his illness and will forever be cherished by Villa supporters. Matt Law Barnsley Adam Hammill Credit: GETTY IMAGES There are slim pickings at a club that has had 17 permanent managers since 1997 and yo-yoed between English football's second and third tier. But few players can boast of scoring in a Wembley final, let alone two in the same season. That is why winger Adam Hammill is Barnsley's modern hero. The former Southampton player has had two spells at Oakwell, making 155 appearances, and things peaked in the 2015-16 season when Barnsley won the FA Trophy and League One play-off final at the national stadium with Hammill scoring in both.  Dan Zeqiri Birmingham City Barry Ferguson Credit: GETTY IMAGES Birmingham have never had a problem taking on troubled players looking to prove themselves, Barry Ferguson was no different. After leaving Rangers under a cloud of controversy following a drinking - and subsequent swearing - session on Scotland duty, City gave him the chance to prove himself at the highest level. His classy displays in anchoring the midfield helped achieve a ninth-placed Premier League finish and also secure a second major trophy. Ferguson played more than 70 minutes of that League Cup final with a broken rib, something that endeared him to Birmingham fans and left them yearning for somebody of his quality ever since. Chris Quinn Bolton Wanderers Jay-Jay Okocha Credit: PA Never before or since have Bolton had a superstar quite like Jay-Jay Okocha, whose four-year stay at the Reebok Stadium between 2002 and 2006 was even more magical than the club's supporters had dreamed of.  Okocha‘s beguiling flicks and tricks were so effortless, so natural, that at times he looked like a kid having a bit of fun in the school playground. Okocha was no show-pony however - he also provided a number of crucial goals and assists, and captained the side in a halcyon period when they reached the League Cup final and finished eighth in the Premier League.  As Bolton fans used to say, Okocha was "so good they named him twice." Charlie Eccleshare Brentford Matthew Benham Credit: EMPICS Brentford's modern hero? Beyond any question, owner Matthew Benham. The Brentford fan, and professional gambler, has saved the club from the scrapheap, pumped in £45million and is bankrolling a new stadium. (Warning: strong language) The team are playing their most exciting football in living memory, they are in with a real chance of going up, and these feel like the good times at Griffin Park. Even axing popular manager Mark Warburton could not cool the fans’ ardour: Bees are walking in a Benham wonderland. Alan Tyers Bristol City Gary Johnson Credit: PA After taking over as manager in 2005, Gary Johnson soon became a cult hero for City fans, who had endured a series of playoff heartbreaks in the early 2000s and were seemingly marooned in Division Two. After eight years of trying to reach the second tier of English football, City finally reached the Championship in 2007, two years into Johnson’s reign. Less than a year later, a second successive promotion was a genuine possibility as Johnson guided the side to the top of the Championship. They eventually finished fourth, their highest finish since 1980, but were thwarted in the play-off final by Hull City and 39-year-old Dean Windass. The club spiralled into decline following Johnson’s departure in 2010, and they were relegated back into League One in 2013. Now, though, they are back in the Championship and have started the season brightly under Lee Johnson, who just happens to be Gary’s son. Sam Dean Burton Albion Nigel Clough Credit: DAVE EVITTS In an 11-year spell as player-manager then manager between 1998 and 2009, Clough led Burton from the league below the Conference to the brink of promotion to the Football League. Has since returned to take them up into the Championship - their loftiest ever position - in his first season back. A club legend who has done more than anyone else to make Burton Albion a force in English football, for the first time in their history. Alistair Tweedale Cardiff City Neil Warnock Credit: PA With a nod to Andy Campbell, which scored the winning goal in the 2003 play-off final which ended the two-decade spell in the lower two divisions, it is difficult to know where Cardiff City would be had Neil Warnock not arrived last season to haul them from the bottom three. Would Vincent Tan had hung around and seemed so positive in League One? Would the club’s future appear more uncertain than ever? The answer to latter is a resounding yes, after two decades of controversial foreign ownership under first Sam Hammam and now the colour-swapping Malaysian. Instead, the club, riding high in the top three, has not felt so united for years. James Corrigan Derby County Peter Gadsby  Credit: ALAMY Derby's home Pride Park opened in 1997, and it still looks every inch a Premier League stadium. Derby's then lead director and property developer Peter Gadsby was the brains behind the operation, drawing up plans within 10 weeks and delivering the new ground for approximately £18 million.  As well as a state-of-the-art training ground at Moor Farm, Gadsby returned in 2006 to take control of the club after it had been misused by Jeremy Keith who was later convicted of fraud and false accounting. Despite many near-misses, Derby have failed to return to the top flight since their dismal 2007-8 campaign, but if they do they'll have Gadsby to thank for bequeathing them fantastic infrastructure.  Dan Zeqiri Fulham Roy Hodgson Credit: AP On Thursday 18 March, 2010, a Juventus team featuring Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet, and with Alessandro Del Piero coming off the bench, came to Craven Cottage and were beaten 4-1 in the second leg of Europa League round of 16 tie, 5-4 on aggregate, having at one point led the tie 4-1. Because it is Fulham, most of the supporters are just too polite to make much of a fuss but the man in charge for their extraordinary drive to the Europa League final, Roy Hodgson, deserves for it to be mentioned much more often. Hodgson gave Fulham fans the season they will never forget. They had been to an FA Cup final in 1975 and won the Championship in 2001 but otherwise this is a club that Juventus fans would otherwise only know if they spotted the stadium from a Thames river cruise. Mohamed Al-Fayed put the money in, but it was ultimately Hodgson who sprinkled the magic. Which is not to say the football was much to watch. The results, however, were incredible.   Sam Wallace Hull City Dean Windass Credit: PA The club legend had three stints at Hull, his hometown club, after being released as a YTS trainee. The striker was given a second chance, scoring 57 league goals in 176 matches, before being sold to Aberdeen for £700,000 in 1995. And then a third chance as Windass returned, after a journeyman career, in January 2007. The rest, for Hull, is history with Windass scoring the only goal that took them into the Premier League, into the top-flight for the first time in their history, to beat Bristol City in the Championship play-offs in 2008. Windass hung up his boots aged 40, but not before he became Hull’s oldest ever goal-scorer, scoring in the Premier League at the grand old age of 39. Jason Burt Ipswich Town Matt Holland Credit: GETTY IMAGES Nicknamed Captain Marvel by George Burnley, the ever dependable Matt Holland only missed one league match in six years at Portman Road. Even then it wasn't injury which ended his 223 consecutive league appearances, but an international call-up. Always the last player to leave the pitch whatever the result home or away, family man Holland was the perfect fit for the Ipswich family.  A loyal servant, Holland rejected a move to Aston Villa when Ipswich were relegated having led them to a fifth-place finish the season before and narrowly missing out on a Champions League berth.  Vicki Hodges Leeds United Leeds Fans Remembrance Tributes to fans killed in Instanbul at the Billy Bremner statue  outside Elland Road Credit: ACTION IMAGES Twenty years of profligacy, penury and being exploited as a publicity vehicle by various blowhards - an era which may now, hopefully, have come to an end - Leeds supporters have no heroes but themselves and particularly Leeds Fans Remembrance, set up to honour the memories of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight who were murdered in Istanbul in April 2000 on the eve of Leeds’ Uefa Cup semi-final tie. The pain endures because more than 17 years on justice has not been served on the killers. Nonetheless this inspirational campaign has raised thousands for Candlelighters, the Leeds’ cancer charity, and helped to build a play pavilion for the children’s cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary. Rob Bagchi Middlesbrough Juninho Juninho gives Newcastle's Philippe Albert a telling off Credit: GETTY IMAGES The thought of a Brazil international signing for a club like Middlesbrough would have been fanciful before the creation of the Premier League, but Juninho did, arriving from Sao Paulo in 1995. He actually left in 1997, following the club’s relegation to from the top flight, but made an emotional return two years later on loan before signing another permanent deal to play for the Teesside club in 2002.  He fell in love with the club and the club fell in love with him. Widely regarded as Boro’s best player of the modern era he brought skill, flair but also sweat to the cause. He was so revered, the club even renamed the Cheeseburgers sold inside the stadium “The Juninho.” Luke Edwards Millwall Neil Harris Harris (right) with Tim Cahill en route to the FA Cup final in 2004 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Former striker and current manager has done enough in three spells in Bermondsey to fill several Roy of the Rovers annuals.  Arrived at the club in 1998 and was the top scorer in any English league during the 2000/01 season before being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Recovered to lead his team to Wembley for a scarecly believable FA Cup final appearance in 2004. In his second spell at The Den, Harris became Millwall's all-time leading goalscorer and has since steered his club back to the second tier as their manager. What more could you possibly ask for? Thom Gibbs Norwich City Delia Smith Credit: PA It’s not all been plain sailing under Delia Smith’s stewardship but without her Norwich could be in a far stickier position than they currently find themselves. Without the financial support of Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, administration would have been a real possibility. Instead there have been three separate stints in the Premier League, with four promotions and as many relegations since 2003. Smith is a fan first and foremost, and although her future position is unclear she has acted as a custodian of the club, doing so very much for the right reasons. Julian Bennetts Nottingham Forest Chris Cohen Credit: ACTION IMAGES There has been 20 years of underachievement, false dawns, questionable ownership and 17 managers, since Forest's relegation from the top flight in 1999. Hope for the future is there, after the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis and the tangible progress under Mark Warburton, but the one constant during recent turmoil has been Chris Cohen. The midfielder has suffered three serious knee injuries but returned through resilience and determination, a player to be highly admired for his loyalty. John Percy Preston North End Sean Gregan Credit: ALAMY If you can look back at your career in the knowledge that you were given the nickname of ‘God’, you can be sure that you have done something right. That’s certainly the case for Preston legend Sean Gregan, who was twice named the club’s official player of the year and was the heartbeat of the impressive side which came so close to reaching the Premier League under David Moyes. Having joined the club from Darlington in 1996, Gregan went on to captain the side to the old Second Division title in 2000, before helping Preston to the First Division play-off final the following season, when they lost to Bolton Wanderers. Sam Dean Queens Park Rangers Ian Holloway Credit: ACTION IMAGES QPR's best players in the past 20 years only sparkled briefly. Paul Furlong, Lee Cook, Adel Taarabt, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora all shone, but not for long. About six seconds at Wembley in 2014 in Zamora's case. None eclipse Ian Holloway's body of work at Loftus Road. He arrived at the club in 2001 with relegation to the third tier beckoning. It couldn't be avoided, and the following summer Holloway was left with just six senior professionals before QPR's Division 2 campaign. With astute signings and sheer force of his "unconventional" personality, Holloway galvanised his side and eventually the entire club. Promotion back to the second tier in 2004 was his crowning glory. Now back in W12, again in challenging circumstances and looks unlikely to repeat the trick. But no QPR fan will ever regard Hollway as less than heroic. Thom Gibbs Reading Graeme Murty Credit: PA Reading's all-conquering 2005/2006 campaign in the Championship was backed up by finishing seventh in the Premier League the following season, and it's impossible to look past captain Graeme Murty's role in the club's rise over that period. Murty in total made over 300 appearances for the Royals in a stellar 11-year career between 1998 and 2009. His match-winning penalty against QPR - just his second goal for the club - clinched the record for the most points in a Championship season with 106. Ben Coles Sheffield United Neil Warnock Credit: PA The obdurate Yorkshireman oversaw United's most successful period in recent history by leading the club to the semi-finals of the FA and League Cups in 2003 and promotion to the Premier League in 2006. He was largely responsible too for the building of United's academy from scratch, one which produced Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka among others. A passionate and effervescent character, the Blades' controversial relegation a season later, however, left the outspoken Warnock drained and led to his remorseful resignation.  Vicki Hodges Sheffield Wednesday Dejphon Chansiri Credit: GETTY IMAGES Not exactly a vintage 20 years for Owls fans. Aside from nice guy Drew Talbot scoring in the playoff final v Hartlepool, moments of on-pitch joy have been extremely limited. The most significant individual has probably been Dejphon Chansiri, who has pumped a ton of money into the club. As a Thai tuna magnate, he’s not exactly the most reliable figure for fans, but if he continues to invest, who knows? Perhaps the club will one day dine again at English football’s captain's table. Alan Tyers Sunderland Niall Quinn Credit: ACTION IMAGES It would be tempting to select his strike partner Kevin Phillips, given he won the Golden Boot for the European football top goalscorer as Sunderland finished seventh in the Premier League, but it was Quinn who galvanised the supporters and allowed them to dream of becoming a major force again. He wrote in his autobiography: “I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland."  Sunderland supporters still sing about his “disco pants” two decades later and his hard work and love for the club has become the benchmark for all Sunderland players since. Quinn also became club chairman in 2007 under the Drumaville Consortium before stepped down in 2012 after a falling out with new owner, Ellis Short. Luke Edwards Wolverhampton Wanderers Sir Jack Hayward Hayward celebrates a playoff final victory in 2003 with then-Wolves manager Dave Jones Credit: GETTY IMAGES There is only one choice for this award at Molineux and that man is ‘Mr Wolves’, Sir Jack Hayward. His popularity was such that thousands lined the streets for his funeral when he died aged 91 in January 2015, just recognition for having sunk £70m of his own money into the club between 1990 and 2007. On his watch Molineux was transformed and the South Bank stand is now named after him, while there are plans for a statue of Hayward outside the ground.  Julian Bennetts   Have we missed your personal favourite modern hero? Give us your nominations and why they deserve the status in the comments section below.

Modern heroes: Who has done most for your club in the last 20 years?

Some clubs' heroes from the past 20 years are obvious. They are the standout player who served with distinction for a decade, the trophy-winning manager, or the chairman who steadied the ship. For others it's a more difficult decision. Some are blessed with many candidates. Others, very few. Nevertheless we asked our writers a simple question: Which single person has had the greatest positive influence on their club since 1997? Here are their responses, for every club currently playing in the top two flights.  PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal Dennis Bergkamp Credit: ACTION IMAGES Arsene Wenger, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira could all lay claim to this accolade, but Dennis Bergkamp just shades it.  Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal in 1995 heralded a new direction for the club, and he retired 11 years later with three Premier Leagues and four FA Cups to his name.  More than just winning titles though, Bergkamp was a joy in everything he did at Highbury. The vision, the exquisite technique, the spectacular goals - Bergkamp got the Arsenal fans not just off their seats but frequently shaking their heads in disbelief.  His team-mates were - and remain - similarly in awe, and if you want reminding of Bergkamp's genius, watch his superlative hat-trick against Leicester in 1997.  Charlie Eccleshare AFC Bournemouth Eddie Howe Credit: GETTY IMAGES Eddie Howe's association with Bournemouth remains the stuff of fairytale. Became manager in 2009 at the age of 31 when he somehow reversed a 17-point deficit to keep the club both in existence and in the Football League. Despite a transfer embargo, he then won the first of his promotions before leaving for a spell at Burnley. Upon his return in 2012, Bournemouth have been promoted twice, reached the top flight for the first time in their history, and finished ninth in the Premier League last season. His influence is felt at every level of the club. Jeremy Wilson Brighton and Hove Albion Dick Knight Credit: ALAMY Without current chairman Tony Bloom's money, Brighton's Amex Stadium and top-class training ground wouldn't have progressed beyond dreams, but Dick Knight deserves recognition as the club's spiritual saviour in the near-death years of the late 1990s. With extraordinary persistence, Knight fought battles with planners, politicians and pessimists to keep the supporters believing in salvation. An ad-man by trade, he sold the rebirth idea with a smile. Paul Hayward Burnley Sean Dyche Credit: ACTION IMAGES It simply has to be Sean Mark Dyche, the throat-sore "Ginger Mourinho" who got Burnley promoted to the Premier League not once but twice and is showing every sign of keeping them in the division the second time around. It takes a lot to get a team through the 46-game epic that is the Championship season but then to go back and do it a second time, harnessing all that is best about this famous Lancashire club, took guts and intelligence. A special mention also to the former chairman Barry Kilby, now the vice-chair. His investment of £3 million in January 1999, when he became the largest single shareholder, saved Burnley and helped lay the foundations for the club it is now. Sam Wallace Chelsea Roman Abramovich Credit: AP Chelsea were on the brink of financial crisis before Roman Abramovich transformed the club into a European superpower in 2003. The Blues were likely to default on a £75million loan, but, ironically, it was their perilous financial position that attracted Abramovich, who had also weighed up bids for Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. Chelsea were relatively easy to take over and within two years of buying the club, Abramovich had spent over £100million on new players. His spending has meant that in 14 years, Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League. Matt Law Crystal Palace Wilfried Zaha Credit: GETTY IMAGES Steve Parish and his consortium saved Crystal Palace from extinction, but Wilfried Zaha has breathed new life into the club since his debut in 2010.  South London born and bred, 'Wilf' is the talisman and poster boy for a club that prides itself on developing young talent from the local community. Player of the year for the last two seasons, no-one has beguiled, hypnotised and enthralled Palace fans more than the man about which they sing 'he's just too good for you'.  Callum Davis Everton David Moyes Credit: PA David Moyes has been the victim of historic revisionism in recent years. When he took over at Everton in 2002 the club had been consistently stuck in the bottom half of the table. Over 10 years he re-established a top six position and even broke into the top four. A guard of honour bid him farewell when he left for Manchester United. He was accused of not being ambitious enough – harsh given financial restraints he worked with. The circumstances around his departure (private meetings with Sir Alex Ferguson) have soured memories of his reign, but future generations will recognise his positive contribution.   Chris Bascombe Huddersfield Town Dean Hoyle Dean Hoyle meets his adoring public after Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League Credit: REUTERS Every morning at 8am at 24 schools more than 1,000 children eat a healthy breakfast paid for by Huddersfield Town. The scheme is the brainchild of club chairman and owner Dean Hoyle, a lifelong fan who joined the board in 2008 and is full of forward thinking initiatives while he has transformed Huddersfield and taken them into the Premier League for the first time in their history. He offered £100 season tickets to long-standing fans if the club ever reached the top-flight and has been good to his word and the sight of him collapsing with joy after their Championship play-off win at Wembley, on penalties, was one of the images of last season. Jason Burt Leicester City Claudio Ranieri Credit: PA It can be only one man, after the most remarkable story of the past 35 years, since Nottingham Forest's European Cup triumphs. Ranieri guided a team built by Nigel Pearson to the Premier League title, utilising intuition and shrewd management, with a permanent glint in his eye. It all went awry the following season, and many will argue over whether Ranieri simply inherited an outstanding set-up, but his name will forever be etched into Leicester - and football - history. John Percy Liverpool Steven Gerrard Credit: PA If Steven Gerrard had not been born a Liverpool fan, the recent history of the club would look very different. He scored in the victorious Uefa Cup final, League Cup final, FA Cup final and, of course, the Champions League final. Managers Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez got the best from him, but as every club in Europe tried in vain to lure him from Anfield, Gerrard’s loyalty kept Liverpool competitive during an often tumultuous period off the pitch. Chris Bascombe Manchester City Sheikh Mansour Credit: AFP Okay, so the Arab billionaire did not buy City until 2008 but has anyone done more to entirely reshape the fortunes of the club over the past 20 years? The answer, of course, is no, and with Pep Guardiola having presided over the most electrifying start to a season yet, City could be on the brink of a new era of success after Premier League title triumphs in 2011/12 and 2013/14. The days of Jamie Pollock and former manager Stuart Pearce parading his daughter's treasured "Beanie horse" in the technical area are long gone. It is not just the team and club Sheikh Mansour's petro dollars have transformed either. East Manchester has been revitalised by his benevolence. James Ducker Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson Credit: AP An obvious choice, yes, but the only choice. Some wondered if the man who masterminded United's unprecedented treble success of Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup in 1998/99 had outstayed his welcome when United went three seasons without the championship between 2004 and 2006. But Ferguson reacted to the rise of Chelsea, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich's billions, and then later Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, at a time when United's own purse strings were being tightened by the Glazers' controversial ownership, by presiding over the most successful period in United's history. Sir Alex Ferguson reveals the secrets of his success 03:31 As well as winning five Premier League titles between 2006 and his retirement in 2013, he also claimed a second Champions League crown with one of the most exciting sides in the club's era. James Ducker Newcastle United Alan Shearer Credit: ACTION IMAGES Turned down the chance to sign for Manchester United to return home to his beloved Newcastle in a then world record £15m move from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 when he was at the peak of his powers and could have signed for any club in the world. Carried the team on his shoulders for more than a decade, breaking Jackie Milburn’s goalscoring record in the process, eventually retiring with 206 goals in 404 games for the Magpies. The former England captain may not have won any trophies on Tyneside, but he earned something more important to him, the love and admiration of his own people. He is genuine when he says he has no regrets. Luke Edwards Southampton Markus Liebherr Credit: GETTY IMAGES The time-frame takes in a more peripheral phase of Matthew Le Tissier’s Southampton career. Other hugely influential players from his era were Jason Dodd and Francis Benali before the recent rise that was inspired by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte. Yet underpinning everything was the 2009 takeover by Markus Liebherr that rescued the club. His executive chairman Nicola Costese played a huge but sometimes divisive role in pushing the team forward and changing the culture and, with Katharina Liebherr taking on a more visible role, the club have remained successful since his departure in 2014. Jeremy Wilson Stoke City Peter Coates Credit: PAUL COOPER After returning to buy the club in 2006, Peter Coates has presided over a glorious period in Stoke history. As chairman he masterminded the return of Tony Pulis, with promotion to the Premier League swiftly following, and has transformed the club from its squad to the training ground with his financial backing. His son John has also played a huge part in Stoke's progress but Coates Senior is probably the best chairman in the Premier League right now. His love for all things Stoke City can never be doubted. John Percy Swansea City Leon Britton Credit: GETTY IMAGES Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and later Brendan Rodgers may have cultivated the idea of possession football in south Wales, but it was Leon Britton who brought the vision to life.  The London-born playmaker has been Swansea's beating beating heart in their journey through the ranks of the football league: from the bottom of the fourth tier to established Premier League outfit. His expert ball retention saw him become one of Europe's most unlikely pass-masters in the early part of this decade, with statistics regularly rivalling those of Xavi and other more glamorous names. His legacy will live on at the Liberty Stadium long after he eventually decides to retire. Callum Davis Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino Credit: REX The influence of chairman Daniel Levy should not be understated, yet what Pochettino has done to change Spurs in just a few years is utterly remarkable. He has given the team a new identity, and has transformed consistently average players into very good ones while making his best players world-beaters. As a result, Spurs are now one of the most exciting teams on the planet. Most importantly, he has made Tottenham fans feel something they haven't for a very long time: optimism. For that they will be forever grateful. Alistair Tweedale Watford Gino Pozzo Credit: PA A common misconception outside of Watford is that the club somehow 'lost its identity' following the Pozzo family's takeover in 2012. But the Hornets were teetering on the brink of ruin under the contentious ownership of Laurence Bassini before the Italian job brought stability and success. The team are already an established Premier League presence with an exciting turnover of talented players. But Gino Pozzo's reign as owner is as much defined by the progress off the pitch; a vastly improved Vicarage Road and a commitment to community and heritage that has always been a part of Watford's fabric. Tom Hoggins West Bromwich Albion Kevin Phillips Credit: GETTY IMAGES For obvious reasons it can’t be Lee Hughes and the exemplary ‘Super Bob’ Taylor falls just outside this arbitrary time frame so it has to be Kevin Phillips who scored 46 goals over two seasons, firing the Baggies to the play-off final in 2007 and then promotion in 2008. The monotonous caution and conservatism of the Roy Hodgson and Tony Pulis regimes ignore one crucial thing. Safety and certainty, shunning risk and reward, anaesthetises the soul. But goals make the people happy and for two years Phillips made the Baggies boing once more. Rob Bagchi West Ham United Paolo Di Canio Credit: GETTY IMAGES Imagine you are playing one of those quick-fire answer games, where you have to respond to a question immediately, without giving it second thought, and you are asked: “What is the defining image of West Ham’s modern existence?” Paolo Di Canio’s volley against Wimbledon. Next. The flying scissor kick was the strike of a lifetime, and is surely the Premier League’s finest goal. And yet Di Canio was so much more than that. As well as the goals, it was the passion and the ego, the ups and the downs, the tattoos and the tears.  It was everything West Ham have lacked since they moved to the soulless London Stadium. How they must crave a player a player of his creativity and devotion now. Sam Dean CHAMPIONSHIP Aston Villa Stiliyan Petrov Credit: GETTY IMAGES Signed in 2006, Stiliyan Petrov quickly made himself a vital member of the Martin O’Neill squad that had Aston Villa challenging for Champions League qualification. He was voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2009, but three years later he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. In tribute to Petrov, Villa fans clapped in the 19th minute of every home and away game to support the midfielder, who wore the number 19 shirt, in his battle against illness. In August 2012, it was announced Petrov’s leukaemia was in remission but he announced his retirement from the game just under a year later. Petrov has been described as an inspiration for the way he handled his illness and will forever be cherished by Villa supporters. Matt Law Barnsley Adam Hammill Credit: GETTY IMAGES There are slim pickings at a club that has had 17 permanent managers since 1997 and yo-yoed between English football's second and third tier. But few players can boast of scoring in a Wembley final, let alone two in the same season. That is why winger Adam Hammill is Barnsley's modern hero. The former Southampton player has had two spells at Oakwell, making 155 appearances, and things peaked in the 2015-16 season when Barnsley won the FA Trophy and League One play-off final at the national stadium with Hammill scoring in both.  Dan Zeqiri Birmingham City Barry Ferguson Credit: GETTY IMAGES Birmingham have never had a problem taking on troubled players looking to prove themselves, Barry Ferguson was no different. After leaving Rangers under a cloud of controversy following a drinking - and subsequent swearing - session on Scotland duty, City gave him the chance to prove himself at the highest level. His classy displays in anchoring the midfield helped achieve a ninth-placed Premier League finish and also secure a second major trophy. Ferguson played more than 70 minutes of that League Cup final with a broken rib, something that endeared him to Birmingham fans and left them yearning for somebody of his quality ever since. Chris Quinn Bolton Wanderers Jay-Jay Okocha Credit: PA Never before or since have Bolton had a superstar quite like Jay-Jay Okocha, whose four-year stay at the Reebok Stadium between 2002 and 2006 was even more magical than the club's supporters had dreamed of.  Okocha‘s beguiling flicks and tricks were so effortless, so natural, that at times he looked like a kid having a bit of fun in the school playground. Okocha was no show-pony however - he also provided a number of crucial goals and assists, and captained the side in a halcyon period when they reached the League Cup final and finished eighth in the Premier League.  As Bolton fans used to say, Okocha was "so good they named him twice." Charlie Eccleshare Brentford Matthew Benham Credit: EMPICS Brentford's modern hero? Beyond any question, owner Matthew Benham. The Brentford fan, and professional gambler, has saved the club from the scrapheap, pumped in £45million and is bankrolling a new stadium. (Warning: strong language) The team are playing their most exciting football in living memory, they are in with a real chance of going up, and these feel like the good times at Griffin Park. Even axing popular manager Mark Warburton could not cool the fans’ ardour: Bees are walking in a Benham wonderland. Alan Tyers Bristol City Gary Johnson Credit: PA After taking over as manager in 2005, Gary Johnson soon became a cult hero for City fans, who had endured a series of playoff heartbreaks in the early 2000s and were seemingly marooned in Division Two. After eight years of trying to reach the second tier of English football, City finally reached the Championship in 2007, two years into Johnson’s reign. Less than a year later, a second successive promotion was a genuine possibility as Johnson guided the side to the top of the Championship. They eventually finished fourth, their highest finish since 1980, but were thwarted in the play-off final by Hull City and 39-year-old Dean Windass. The club spiralled into decline following Johnson’s departure in 2010, and they were relegated back into League One in 2013. Now, though, they are back in the Championship and have started the season brightly under Lee Johnson, who just happens to be Gary’s son. Sam Dean Burton Albion Nigel Clough Credit: DAVE EVITTS In an 11-year spell as player-manager then manager between 1998 and 2009, Clough led Burton from the league below the Conference to the brink of promotion to the Football League. Has since returned to take them up into the Championship - their loftiest ever position - in his first season back. A club legend who has done more than anyone else to make Burton Albion a force in English football, for the first time in their history. Alistair Tweedale Cardiff City Neil Warnock Credit: PA With a nod to Andy Campbell, which scored the winning goal in the 2003 play-off final which ended the two-decade spell in the lower two divisions, it is difficult to know where Cardiff City would be had Neil Warnock not arrived last season to haul them from the bottom three. Would Vincent Tan had hung around and seemed so positive in League One? Would the club’s future appear more uncertain than ever? The answer to latter is a resounding yes, after two decades of controversial foreign ownership under first Sam Hammam and now the colour-swapping Malaysian. Instead, the club, riding high in the top three, has not felt so united for years. James Corrigan Derby County Peter Gadsby  Credit: ALAMY Derby's home Pride Park opened in 1997, and it still looks every inch a Premier League stadium. Derby's then lead director and property developer Peter Gadsby was the brains behind the operation, drawing up plans within 10 weeks and delivering the new ground for approximately £18 million.  As well as a state-of-the-art training ground at Moor Farm, Gadsby returned in 2006 to take control of the club after it had been misused by Jeremy Keith who was later convicted of fraud and false accounting. Despite many near-misses, Derby have failed to return to the top flight since their dismal 2007-8 campaign, but if they do they'll have Gadsby to thank for bequeathing them fantastic infrastructure.  Dan Zeqiri Fulham Roy Hodgson Credit: AP On Thursday 18 March, 2010, a Juventus team featuring Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet, and with Alessandro Del Piero coming off the bench, came to Craven Cottage and were beaten 4-1 in the second leg of Europa League round of 16 tie, 5-4 on aggregate, having at one point led the tie 4-1. Because it is Fulham, most of the supporters are just too polite to make much of a fuss but the man in charge for their extraordinary drive to the Europa League final, Roy Hodgson, deserves for it to be mentioned much more often. Hodgson gave Fulham fans the season they will never forget. They had been to an FA Cup final in 1975 and won the Championship in 2001 but otherwise this is a club that Juventus fans would otherwise only know if they spotted the stadium from a Thames river cruise. Mohamed Al-Fayed put the money in, but it was ultimately Hodgson who sprinkled the magic. Which is not to say the football was much to watch. The results, however, were incredible.   Sam Wallace Hull City Dean Windass Credit: PA The club legend had three stints at Hull, his hometown club, after being released as a YTS trainee. The striker was given a second chance, scoring 57 league goals in 176 matches, before being sold to Aberdeen for £700,000 in 1995. And then a third chance as Windass returned, after a journeyman career, in January 2007. The rest, for Hull, is history with Windass scoring the only goal that took them into the Premier League, into the top-flight for the first time in their history, to beat Bristol City in the Championship play-offs in 2008. Windass hung up his boots aged 40, but not before he became Hull’s oldest ever goal-scorer, scoring in the Premier League at the grand old age of 39. Jason Burt Ipswich Town Matt Holland Credit: GETTY IMAGES Nicknamed Captain Marvel by George Burnley, the ever dependable Matt Holland only missed one league match in six years at Portman Road. Even then it wasn't injury which ended his 223 consecutive league appearances, but an international call-up. Always the last player to leave the pitch whatever the result home or away, family man Holland was the perfect fit for the Ipswich family.  A loyal servant, Holland rejected a move to Aston Villa when Ipswich were relegated having led them to a fifth-place finish the season before and narrowly missing out on a Champions League berth.  Vicki Hodges Leeds United Leeds Fans Remembrance Tributes to fans killed in Instanbul at the Billy Bremner statue  outside Elland Road Credit: ACTION IMAGES Twenty years of profligacy, penury and being exploited as a publicity vehicle by various blowhards - an era which may now, hopefully, have come to an end - Leeds supporters have no heroes but themselves and particularly Leeds Fans Remembrance, set up to honour the memories of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight who were murdered in Istanbul in April 2000 on the eve of Leeds’ Uefa Cup semi-final tie. The pain endures because more than 17 years on justice has not been served on the killers. Nonetheless this inspirational campaign has raised thousands for Candlelighters, the Leeds’ cancer charity, and helped to build a play pavilion for the children’s cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary. Rob Bagchi Middlesbrough Juninho Juninho gives Newcastle's Philippe Albert a telling off Credit: GETTY IMAGES The thought of a Brazil international signing for a club like Middlesbrough would have been fanciful before the creation of the Premier League, but Juninho did, arriving from Sao Paulo in 1995. He actually left in 1997, following the club’s relegation to from the top flight, but made an emotional return two years later on loan before signing another permanent deal to play for the Teesside club in 2002.  He fell in love with the club and the club fell in love with him. Widely regarded as Boro’s best player of the modern era he brought skill, flair but also sweat to the cause. He was so revered, the club even renamed the Cheeseburgers sold inside the stadium “The Juninho.” Luke Edwards Millwall Neil Harris Harris (right) with Tim Cahill en route to the FA Cup final in 2004 Credit: GETTY IMAGES Former striker and current manager has done enough in three spells in Bermondsey to fill several Roy of the Rovers annuals.  Arrived at the club in 1998 and was the top scorer in any English league during the 2000/01 season before being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Recovered to lead his team to Wembley for a scarecly believable FA Cup final appearance in 2004. In his second spell at The Den, Harris became Millwall's all-time leading goalscorer and has since steered his club back to the second tier as their manager. What more could you possibly ask for? Thom Gibbs Norwich City Delia Smith Credit: PA It’s not all been plain sailing under Delia Smith’s stewardship but without her Norwich could be in a far stickier position than they currently find themselves. Without the financial support of Smith and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, administration would have been a real possibility. Instead there have been three separate stints in the Premier League, with four promotions and as many relegations since 2003. Smith is a fan first and foremost, and although her future position is unclear she has acted as a custodian of the club, doing so very much for the right reasons. Julian Bennetts Nottingham Forest Chris Cohen Credit: ACTION IMAGES There has been 20 years of underachievement, false dawns, questionable ownership and 17 managers, since Forest's relegation from the top flight in 1999. Hope for the future is there, after the takeover by Evangelos Marinakis and the tangible progress under Mark Warburton, but the one constant during recent turmoil has been Chris Cohen. The midfielder has suffered three serious knee injuries but returned through resilience and determination, a player to be highly admired for his loyalty. John Percy Preston North End Sean Gregan Credit: ALAMY If you can look back at your career in the knowledge that you were given the nickname of ‘God’, you can be sure that you have done something right. That’s certainly the case for Preston legend Sean Gregan, who was twice named the club’s official player of the year and was the heartbeat of the impressive side which came so close to reaching the Premier League under David Moyes. Having joined the club from Darlington in 1996, Gregan went on to captain the side to the old Second Division title in 2000, before helping Preston to the First Division play-off final the following season, when they lost to Bolton Wanderers. Sam Dean Queens Park Rangers Ian Holloway Credit: ACTION IMAGES QPR's best players in the past 20 years only sparkled briefly. Paul Furlong, Lee Cook, Adel Taarabt, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora all shone, but not for long. About six seconds at Wembley in 2014 in Zamora's case. None eclipse Ian Holloway's body of work at Loftus Road. He arrived at the club in 2001 with relegation to the third tier beckoning. It couldn't be avoided, and the following summer Holloway was left with just six senior professionals before QPR's Division 2 campaign. With astute signings and sheer force of his "unconventional" personality, Holloway galvanised his side and eventually the entire club. Promotion back to the second tier in 2004 was his crowning glory. Now back in W12, again in challenging circumstances and looks unlikely to repeat the trick. But no QPR fan will ever regard Hollway as less than heroic. Thom Gibbs Reading Graeme Murty Credit: PA Reading's all-conquering 2005/2006 campaign in the Championship was backed up by finishing seventh in the Premier League the following season, and it's impossible to look past captain Graeme Murty's role in the club's rise over that period. Murty in total made over 300 appearances for the Royals in a stellar 11-year career between 1998 and 2009. His match-winning penalty against QPR - just his second goal for the club - clinched the record for the most points in a Championship season with 106. Ben Coles Sheffield United Neil Warnock Credit: PA The obdurate Yorkshireman oversaw United's most successful period in recent history by leading the club to the semi-finals of the FA and League Cups in 2003 and promotion to the Premier League in 2006. He was largely responsible too for the building of United's academy from scratch, one which produced Kyle Walker and Phil Jagielka among others. A passionate and effervescent character, the Blades' controversial relegation a season later, however, left the outspoken Warnock drained and led to his remorseful resignation.  Vicki Hodges Sheffield Wednesday Dejphon Chansiri Credit: GETTY IMAGES Not exactly a vintage 20 years for Owls fans. Aside from nice guy Drew Talbot scoring in the playoff final v Hartlepool, moments of on-pitch joy have been extremely limited. The most significant individual has probably been Dejphon Chansiri, who has pumped a ton of money into the club. As a Thai tuna magnate, he’s not exactly the most reliable figure for fans, but if he continues to invest, who knows? Perhaps the club will one day dine again at English football’s captain's table. Alan Tyers Sunderland Niall Quinn Credit: ACTION IMAGES It would be tempting to select his strike partner Kevin Phillips, given he won the Golden Boot for the European football top goalscorer as Sunderland finished seventh in the Premier League, but it was Quinn who galvanised the supporters and allowed them to dream of becoming a major force again. He wrote in his autobiography: “I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland."  Sunderland supporters still sing about his “disco pants” two decades later and his hard work and love for the club has become the benchmark for all Sunderland players since. Quinn also became club chairman in 2007 under the Drumaville Consortium before stepped down in 2012 after a falling out with new owner, Ellis Short. Luke Edwards Wolverhampton Wanderers Sir Jack Hayward Hayward celebrates a playoff final victory in 2003 with then-Wolves manager Dave Jones Credit: GETTY IMAGES There is only one choice for this award at Molineux and that man is ‘Mr Wolves’, Sir Jack Hayward. His popularity was such that thousands lined the streets for his funeral when he died aged 91 in January 2015, just recognition for having sunk £70m of his own money into the club between 1990 and 2007. On his watch Molineux was transformed and the South Bank stand is now named after him, while there are plans for a statue of Hayward outside the ground.  Julian Bennetts   Have we missed your personal favourite modern hero? Give us your nominations and why they deserve the status in the comments section below.

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