Bring in 2016 somewhere a bit different; raise a glass of fizz against the spectacular backdrop of the Isle of Harris, snuggle up by the fire in a thatched cottage in Dorset or take a windswept walk across Offa’s Dyke, tiptoeing the border between England and Wales.
53 Durweston, Dorset
Rural chic at its best! A thatched 18th-century cottage bursting with character and clutter-free style. Dreamy window seats, an inglenook fireplace, oak floorboards and latch doors, exposed beams, cob walls, wood-burners, a rustic antique dining table, a vintage leather armchair… fresh flowers, soft furnishings, candles and contemporary artwork complete the picture. Up the cottagey stairs to the oh-so-pretty bedrooms with two double beds, light and luxuriously carpeted with views of church, water meadows and woods beyond. Fantastic for cycling and chalk ridge walks, and a ten-minute drive from Georgian Blandford. It’ll be hard to leave.
Seaview Cottage, Argyll & Bute
On the banks of Crinan Canal, an old lock keeper’s cottage with wonderful views stretching to the islands of Jura and Scarba. Scottish Canals have restored the 200-year-old building, transforming it into a cosy escape for couples and small families. Accessed across a footbridge, it’s in a peaceful spot; only the sound of water rushing through lock gates disturbs the silence. The whitewashed façade creates a first impression of tradition, but there’s plenty of 21st century style inside; both the double and twin bedrooms have colourful bedspreads and retro furniture. For special celebrations or a decadent alternative to cereal, Crinan Hotel can deliver a Champagne breakfast to your door…
The Manor House Stables, Lincoln
In a lovely setting in Lincolnshire are two holiday homes converted from old stables. On the left, the Hayloft, up stairs; to the right, the ground-floor Bothy. Not only is this restoration eco-impressive – solar panels, wood pellets, sheeps’ wool mattresses, insulated throughout – the interiors are as luxurious as can be. Get cosy amid pretty striped fabrics and wicker chairs, wood-burners, iron sconces, shuttered windows, braided rugs… and a traditional ‘box bed’ that a child will love in Bothy. If you tire of cooking you can walk to two pubs, if you tire of relaxing you can book onto a course: Sherry offers candle making, willow weaving, knitting, crocheting, jam, chocolate… all is possible here!
Crumble Cottage, Cumbria
One mile from the ancient market town of Cartmel – home to the racecourse and a few Michelin stars – and on a quiet no-through lane, sits a lovely 500-year-old Cumbrian longhouse and your cottage attached, a romantic spot for two. From the front door you walk into a fresh, airy, open-plan space painted in soft white, with small-pane windows, wood shutters, thick walls and old beams. You get a basket of logs for the wood-burner, a cosy rug, a comfy sofa, a bistro table, a galley kitchen. Up tiny carpeted stairs is the bedroom, with sweet views from south-facing windows, a bathroom with a glamorous shower and bedding as light as a cloud.
Borve Lodge Estate, Isle of Harris
Looking up to the peaks, down to a near-private beach, the setting, on the Borve Lodge Estate, is unrivalled. As for the architecture, it’s as unique as it gets. The ‘broch’, commanding and charming, is possibly the first watchtower to be built since Roman days. The stones were blasted from the hillside, the timbers reclaimed, the roof topped with grass, and the windows flow up three storeys. Spectacular inside, TVs sit atop stone plinths, log-burners are lit on arrival and boho-chic sofas are a patchwork delight. Nothing but the best: Denby crockery, Delonghi kettles, Gaudi esque touches, books, backgammon, Scrabble, chess, thick tweed curtains to ensure deep sleep and underfloor heating. Fly-fish, sea-fish, spot birds, surf, sail, cycle, dine out, walk in the hills.
Monnow River Cottage, Herefordshire
The Black Mountains are the backdrop to your Herefordshire retreat: this converted bakehouse has all a couple need to escape city life. Inside, tones are neutral, with wheat coloured carpets and soft fabrics in the living room to set off the dark beams above, and a wood-burner stacked with logs. The kitchen isn’t huge but it is well-equipped (and you’ll find some generous basics along with handmade chocolates and local Welsh cakes), so pad through to the conservatory with a coffee, or step out to the sunny garden – both are great birdwatching spots. Two meadows lie just beyond, the start of many footpaths that criss-cross the countryside; the river Monnow meanders by too.
For more special places to spend New Year’s Eve, visit www.sawdays.co.uk.