The Crown fever has well and truly hit us. So here are four royally standout hotels (including one that a certain Duchess of Sussex once stayed in)
Heckfield Place, near Hook, Hampshire
Best for… serious foodies
A rambling Georgian manor house set in rolling Hampshire woodland, where even the tiniest details have been thought through to make them both beautiful and practical. The decor and grounds are dreamily Instagrammable: rooms are lined with art and filled with overstuffed armchairs, all accented with greenery plucked from the gardens. Breakfast is a three-course indulgence (the home-made hazelnut butter is to die for). Take a map (itself beautifully drawn on fine paper) and walk it off in the walled flower garden and glasshouse, before wandering the paths past a swimming pond down to the farm, where dairy cows provide the milk and butter, and all the vegetables you eat are grown. Book dinner at Marle, where Skye Gyngell is culinary director (we recommend the lamb cutlets), take a thyme negroni out to the terrace and your own personal firepit will be lit for you. No wonder this is where Harry and Meghan went for their babymoon. Heaven.
Stella loves: The hotel’s own line of bath products, the herb-scented Wildsmith, recently extended to include hand sanitisers, which are scattered around for you to use.
Out and about: Book in for a 45-minute private lesson at Wellington Riding, and hack through the woods (from £85). Stop for lunch at the Leather Bottle, a five-minute drive away in Mattingley, all nooks, crannies and excellent elevated pub grub. Inspired by the gorgeous decor at Heckfield? Have a rummage through the enormous Eversley Barn Antiques in nearby Hook, where you could pick up some on-trend brown furniture, and plenty more besides.
Rooms from £350 a night, b&b; heckfieldplace.com
Read the full expert review: Heckfield Place
• The best hotels in Hampshire
Middleton Lodge Estate, Richmond, North Yorkshire
Best for… stargazers
Surrounded by 200 acres of rural North Yorkshire land, this rambling Georgian estate blends the ruddy outdoors with boutique luxury. It has an excellent restaurant, the Coach House restaurant, which offers fusion Mediterranean fare inspired by the Yorkshire countryside (we particularly enjoyed the chorizo soup, lamb and pancetta). There are walking routes aplenty around the hotel land, and a sumptuous spa to chill out in.
Stella loves: The private outdoor hot tub that came with our cottage – perfect for stargazing on winter evenings.
Out and about: If you’re getting the train via Darlington, coffee and a bite at Hatch will set you on your way. Beyond that, there’s little need to leave the estate – potter around the walled garden, try a spot of shooting or borrow one of the complimentary bicycles to explore the estate more fully.
Rooms from £169 a night, B&B; middletonlodge.co.uk/stay
Read the full expert review: Middleton Lodge Estate
• An insider guide to Yorkshire
Storrs Hall, Windermere, Lake District
Best for… literary types
William Wordsworth is among the guests to have stayed at this Grade II-listed Georgian mansion and it’s easy to see why – it sits on the edge of Windermere and has jaw-dropping views of the lake. We chose one of the lakeside suites, which have floor-to-ceiling windows facing it. There are excellent walking routes in the fells – and back at the hotel there’s a hot tub to soak weary muscles afterwards. The restaurant offers dishes sourced from local farms, and decor that reflects the building’s history. Afterwards head to the drawing room – where William Wordsworth once recited Daffodils to fellow guests.
Stella loves: The sheltered lakeside hot tub – it’s a great way to spend a wintery evening.
Out and about: Head to Bowness and from there, explore the lake by yacht – there are plenty of bays to stop in for a picnic. If it’s raining, The World of Beatrix Potter is an excellent way to spend an afternoon – tickets must be prebooked but there are plans to reopen after lockdown, with Christmas Tea Parties available over the festive period. On the other side of Windemere, Grizedale Forest is worth a visit – artists have created sculptures there since 1977.
Rooms from £210 a night, b&b; storrshall.com
Read the full expert review: Storrs Hall
• An insider guide to the Lake District
The Schloss Roxburghe Hotel, Kelso, Scottish Borders
Best for… golfers (and golf widows)
With its log fires, tartan carpets and imposing aristocratic portraits, this hotel – formerly part of the Duke of Roxburghe’s estate – has that magic mix of cosiness and grandeur that only the finest country homes can conjure. There is a championship golf course and country pursuits aplenty (incuding hunting and fly-fishing), or simply laze in the sumptuous lounge and enjoy the fine-dining restaurant – chefs were trained at Michelin starred restaurants and much of the produce is from the estate farm. Bedrooms feel fresh and bright but you could still imagine yourself being a weekend guest of the Duke.
Stella loves: The show-stopping staircase – dress up for dinner and feel like real life royalty.
Out and about: Kelso is a short drive away, with plenty of lovely shops and cafes – visit the Kelso pottery for a souvenir. Floors Castle has a beautiful walled garden and great shop. Stock up on Scottish knitwear with a visit to the outlets in Hawick and while you’re there, drop in to the The Borders distillery.
Rooms from £235, b&b; schlosshotel-roxburghe.com
Read the full expert review: The Schloss Roxburghe Hotel
Edited by: Laura Powell. Reviews by: Kate Bussmann, Will Martin, Bethan Holt and Charlotte Lytton