At House of Coco one of our favourite things to do is travel. Whether that be locally, nationally or overseas – we just love to have a change of scenery every now and then. As much as we enjoy packing our stuff and hopping on a flight, we definitely feel there is enough on offer in the UK to stay put. Here are some of our top autumn breaks that you need to know about this season…
Take a tour – and a tipple – at a Dorset vineyard
Celebrate the autumn wine harvest at an award-winning English vineyard on a hotel break in Dorset.
Visitors enjoy a guided tour of the vineyard and winery followed by a wine-tasting at the Furleigh Estate Vineyard on an exclusive overnight break at BridgeHouse in nearby Beaminster (01308-862200; www.fihotels.com). The family-run hotel, which dates back to the 13th-century, is offering the Harvest Gold Experience on October 19/20 and 22/23. Guests receive a complimentary glass of Furleigh Estate’s sparkling wine on arrival at the hotel and enjoy a three-course candlelit dinner from BridgeHouse’s Taste of the West Gold Award-winning menu. After breakfast the following morning they visit the vineyard where they also enjoy coffee and lunch. Cost is £140 per person sharing a coach-house room for one night. Additional nights are available from £75 per person with dinner and breakfast.
Make up a party and go grand in Suffolk
Longing to experience the Downton Abbey lifestyle? Then get together with some equally aspirational friends for the weekend and move into 14th-century Bruisyard Hall in Suffolk for an authentic taste of aristocratic living (though without the downstairs staff).
Set in a 700-acre private estate and owned by the same noble English family for more than 400 years, the beautiful old house near the traditional coastal town of Aldeburgh sleeps up to 20 people and is available for rental from Suffolk Secrets (01502-722717; www.suffolk-secrets.co.uk). Luxuriously renovated and refurbished, it holds the ultimate gold five-star grading from VisitEngland and is full of period detail and character, with antique furniture and fine old paintings. Features include a grand hallway and dining hall with a long oak table to seat 24, an elegant drawing room with huge log fire, a superbly equipped kitchen, and a games room with billiard table. Most bedroom suites have a fireplace and private bathroom, while two have four-poster beds. There is a clubby bar with a card table on the second floor, (though would-be Lord Granthams will have to serve themselves, rather than ring for the butler). Up to four well-behaved dogs are also welcome and catering can be arranged, as can fishing for trout in the estate’s lake, horse-riding, clay pigeon-shooting, boat trips and archery. Three-night rental this autumn/winter starts at £4,000.
Brush up your cooking skills for the autumn/winter dinner party season on a stay at a luxurious new lakeside venue in Cheshire.
Lakeside Barn (01829-760902 (www.fihotels.com) is a beautifully converted building which offers a bright and airy, state-of-the-art cookery school downstairs, plus two smart, contemporary-style bedrooms above. Overlooking a five-acre lake, the cookery school is run by ex-London Savoy chef Philip Martin who provides hands-on tuition in a choice of specialities such as baking, fish and shellfish, vegetarian cookery, Spanish and Italian food and cooking with chocolate. Day-long courses for small groups take place in a fun and light-hearted atmosphere with everyone sitting down afterwards to enjoy the dishes they’ve prepared with a glass of wine and leaving with their own recipe folder including techniques and tips covered in the class. On selected dates until the end of the year an overnight Cook and Stay package normally costing £495 for two is available for the special introductory price of £345. It includes accommodation in one of the new bedrooms and breakfast, as well as use of a spacious lounge with sophisticated audio and TV system, a garden room, sauna, gym equipment, snooker table and outside seating areas beside the lake. The location, just outside the attractive village of Tarporley, ten miles from Chester, is surrounded by peaceful countryside, with attractive walks from the door.
Give the kids a seaside treat in fabulous Falmouth
Take advantage of all the facilities of a smart seaside hotel while enjoying the flexibility of self-catering on a half-term holiday in Falmouth with Marsdens Cornish Cottages (01503-289289; www.cornish-cottages.co.uk).
Trevella is one of a group of cottages set around a cobbled courtyard in the grounds of the impressive Falmouth Hotel, overlooking Castle Beach. Sleeping six, it has a bright and spacious open-plan living area opening on to a furnished balcony with gorgeous sea views. Families have free use of the hotel’s pool and gym, and can dine in its restaurants. Falmouth attractions include a theatre, ten-pin bowling, indoor leisure centre, medieval castle and the National Maritime Museum. Rental for October half-term week is £812. Alternatively, within a walk of the beautiful Blue Flag beach of Portreath on Cornwall’s north coast is a luxury family cottage enjoying panoramic countryside views from its spacious, beamed living room and private outdoor hot-tub. Sleeping six and costing £670 for half-term week, Greenmount is close to the coast-to-coast cycling track for scenic pedalling and guests enjoy discounts at a local golf course. Sailing, surfing, riding, paddle-boarding and kite-surfing are all available close by, and St. Ives is only eight miles away.
Banish boredom on a half-term break at Foxhills
A host of free children’s activities and a fabulous young people’s club-house means there’s no chance of boredom creeping in on a half-term break at Foxhills Hotel and Resort in Surrey (01932-704500; www.foxhills.co.uk). And with world-class golf courses, a superb health spa, outstanding sports facilities and a choice of dining options, parents won’t be kicking their heels either.
The luxury resort set in 400 acres of parkland near Woking is charging from £295 per night for a family of four sharing a two-bedroom family suite with breakfast, over half-term. Youngsters get free use of country club facilities including a golf driving range, indoor family pool, running trail, tennis and squash courts, adventure playgrounds and junior gym. In addition, the exciting, purpose-built clubhouse features a soft play area, an arts and crafts room and even a girls’ beauty boutique, while hard-to-please teens will be impressed by their own chill-out den equipped with pool, table football, Wii, and vintage computer games. Babies and tots are catered for too, with an OFSTED-registered nursery available for a charge. In addition, young guests are entitled to a 25% discount on the cost of daily half-term activity camps that are held at Foxhills during the week, and on October 31 there is a spooky-themed Halloween party.
Fancy a fright night?
Friday nights are fright nights in two old Suffolk towns during the Halloween month of October. Guided tours revealing their murky, mysterious and murderous pasts are included for guests staying on Fridays at The Angel Hotel in the centre of ancient Bury St.Edmunds, or its sister hotel Salthouse Harbour at the quayside in the county town of Ipswich.
In Bury, they venture down the dark and winding cobbled streets to hear tales of spooky hauntings, murders, raging fire and witches burned at the stake. Meanwhile down among the mists and ghostly ships’ hulls in the harbour at Ipswich they learn spine-chilling stories about the murky past of the docks in the early 1800s. Welcome, warming mugs of hot chocolate greet walkers back at the hotels afterwards. The cost of £70 per person (sharing a standard room at either hotel) includes overnight accommodation and breakfast. An early dinner before the ghost tour is available for £20. Call the Angel, an ivy-clad 18th-century former coaching inn with contemporary urban touches, on 01284-714000. Call Salthouse Harbour, a funky warehouse conversion with a striking art collection, on 01473-226789. Both are members of Fine Individual Hotels www.fihotels.com