Lesley Gillilan, The Guardian, January 10, 2012
The Reading Rooms, Margate, Kent
A Georgian townhouse on a quiet garden square within an easy walk of Margate's seafront and Turner Contemporary, the Reading Rooms offers three fabulous bedrooms (one on each floor) with shabby-chic decor (wooden floors, antique mirrors and chandeliers), huge luxury bathrooms and breakfast in bed.
• B&B doubles from £150 (01843 225166, thereadingroomsmargate.co.uk)
Escape B&B, Llandudno, Conwy, North Wales
On the slopes of the limestone headland known as Great Orme in sleepy Llandudno, Escape B&B manages to pull off a camp, rock-meets-retro decorating bonanza without losing its cool. In an ornate wedding-cake villa, the rooms are an eclectic mix of vivid citrus accents, vintage cocktail chairs, gold mosaics, velvets, leathers and Welsh wool. Fabulous. And no children under 10 are allowed.
• B&B doubles from £88 (01492 877776, escapebandb.co.uk)
The Boskerris, St Ives, Cornwall
Overlooking the sandy beach at Carbis Bay, the Boskerris Hotel has sensational views across St Ives Bay to Godrevy Point. The decor is light, fresh and Mediterranean (in various shades of ocean) and there's a fabulous deck to hang out on. St Ives is a 30-minute walk away along the coast path, or you can get there by train from Carbis Bay station on a scenic branch line that connects with the main line (so no need to take the car).
• B&B doubles from £115 (01736 795295, boskerrishotel.co.uk)
The Beckford Arms, Tisbury, Wiltshire
On the Fonthill Estate, the Beckford Arms is a tasty mix of laid-back country pub, foodie restaurant and boutique hotel – all wrapped up in ivy-clad Cotswold stone and garnished with potted bay trees, tongue-and-groove and Farrow & Ball. You get Siberian goose-down duvets on king-size beds, hot-water bottles and (in Room 1) a Juliet balcony.
• B&B doubles from £95 through i-escape.com
Castle Cottage, Petworth, West Sussex
In the wonderful Treehouse room at Castle Cottage, a few miles south of the quaint town of Petworth, couples can snuggle up between the spreading branches of a sweet chestnut tree. A wooden staircase leads up to the thatched treehouse, which has a proper bed (dressed in Tarzan-style leopard print), a glass-roofed shower room and a veranda with swing seats and woodland views. It also offers a Garden Room with its own secret garden and a two storey Barn.
• From £145 a night with breakfast (01798 865001, castlecottage.info)
Aberporth Express, Cardigan Bay, Dyfed
The Aberporth Express has no vehicle access (you cart your luggage along the coast path from a nearby car park) and no luxuries, other than a microwave and a solid-fuel stove, but according to Under the Thatch, people are queuing up to stay in the converted Edwardian railway carriage, named Wendy. It sleeps five people in two compact double beds and one bunk, and offers spectacular views of Cardigan Bay (spot the bottlenose dolphins).
• Short breaks available throughout the summer, from £187 (two people) or £207 (four people) for two nights (0844 5005 101, underthethatch.co.uk)
Luttrell's Tower, Eaglehurst, Hampshire
One of the most popular of the Landmark Trust's 191 historic properties is Luttrell's Tower, a castellated seaside folly (built by Temple Luttrell, an MP but also reputedly a smuggler, in 1803) at Eaglehurst on the Hampshire coast. With views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and Southampton Water, it has two double bedrooms, ornate plaster and shellwork, a top-of-the-tower terrace and a grand double staircase leading to the beach.
• Short breaks from £1,383 for July and August (01628 825925, landmarktrust.org.uk)
Lighthouse cottages, Cornwall, Dorset, Isle of Wight and Kent
Of the 26 dazzling white lighthouse-keeper's cottages offered by Rural Retreats on behalf of Trinity House, the most popular is Sally Port at St Anthony's Lighthouse on Cornwall's Roseland peninsula. It's easy to see why: secluded two-bed cottage, awesome location, the Sunset Inn in nearby St Mawes. But there are plenty of other lighthouse locations to choose from, including four-bedroom Veronica Cottage at Anvil Point near Swanage in Dorset.
• Booked through Rural Retreats (01386 701177, ruralretreats.co.uk). From £460 at Sally Port or £630 for Veronica
PARTY PLACES FOR GROUPS
Cliff Barns, Narborough, Norfolk
A designer hideaway in north Norfolk, Dallas-inspired Cliff Barns is the ultimate hometel – a self-catering party house with a dash of boutique hotel. From humble beginnings (it used to be a tractor barn), it has been transformed into a luxury pad in decadent "Rancho-Deluxe" style (a cocktail of Mexican hacienda, baronial castle, Wild West and retro kitsch). It has a hot tub, Spanish courtyard garden, cowhide chairs, chandeliers, river rock fireplaces, antlers, Aztec rugs and a beach hut at nearby Hunstanton. It sleeps 12 adults and six kids in eight quirky rooms.
• Weeks from £4,290 (0870 850 5468, cliffbarns.com)
Symondsbury Manor/ Old Rectory, west Dorset
In rustic Symondsbury, a perfect little village a mile from the Jurassic Coast, the Old Rectory is a gloriously shabby Georgian house with space for up to 25 people. Across the road, Symondsbury Manor offers room for up to 23 in one wing of an eccentric Jacobean mansion.
• Both houses offer two-night party weekends at £120pp. For information see The Big Domain (thebigdomain.com)
Millbeck Towers, near Keswick, Cumbria
It was built in the 18th century as a wool-trade carding mill; now Millbeck Towers is a spacious National Trust holiday let with six bedrooms (doubles or twins), fairytale turrets, large rooms, some with views of the Northern Lakes, a rambling garden with a pond and a backdrop of Skiddaw mountain. Keswick and Derwentwater are on the doorstep.
• Three-night breaks from £572 (0844 800 2070, nationaltrustcottages.co.uk)
Sheafhayne Manor, Yarcombe, east Devon
This is an enormous Elizabethan pile (the former shooting lodge of Francis Drake's estate) with 11 bedrooms (sleeping up to 24), 10 bathrooms, oak panelling, a games room with pool table, and gardens with hot tub and play areas.
• Helpful Holidays (01647 434063, helpful.com) offers three-night breaks from £1,846
• This article was amended on 10 January 2012. The original referred to Llandudno, Clwyd. This has been corrected.