‘Tis the season to batten down the hatches, don some woolly socks, and snuggle up with your favourite kinfolk, hot chocolate or robust red optional. The Danes call it hygge, we like cosy, but whatever you call that fuzzy winter feeling, we’re all agreed a roaring fire is essential.
To help you get there, we’ve brought together 10 of our favourite fireside escapes, a heart (and toe) warming collection of special places to make you feel toasty both inside and out.
1. Sign of the Angel, Lacock, Wiltshire
Occupying centre-stage in one the prettiest of all Cotswold villages, 15th-century coaching inn Sign of the Angel is a genuine period piece. In the log-fired dining room, everything from the bread to the sorbets is locally sourced and homemade: warm mackerel rarebit; baked tenderloin in local bacon stuffed with pear and Bath cheese; Bramley crumble with toffee apple ice cream. Upstairs, the bedrooms have pretty box windows and wainscoting, thick beams and the chef’s home-made cookies waiting on a tea tray.
2. High Houses, Ireby, Cumbria
Tucked away at the quieter end of the Lake District National Park is this beguiling 17th-century hilltop house – all lime-plastered walls, rustic beams, huge open fires and original flagstones. Bedrooms may prompt some tough decisions – do you choose the room with the roll top bath and the cockloft for kids, or the four-poster with the sofabed and the log fire? Beautiful views reach out from every fine sash window to wildlife-rich farmland beyond 350 private acres, yours to explore.
3. Launceston Farm, Blandford Forum, Dorset
chic in the most glorious of surroundings. The bedrooms are an exquisite blend of contemporary and traditional; two have roll tops in the room itself. Take tea by the open fire or find a secluded spot in the ornamental, walled gardens. Breakfast and candlelit dinner are farm-sourced and deliciously
rustic. Sarah, who was born in this listed house, provides a truly relaxing
stay; son Jimi’s organic farm tours are a must and there are footpaths through the surrounding AONB from the door.
4. Knockinaam Lodge, Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
This beautiful hunting lodge is one of the loveliest country-house hotels in the land. There’s a Michelin star in the dining room, 150 malts in the panelled bar and a spectacular level of service. There’s history, too. Churchill stayed and you can sleep in his room, then climb into the deepest of baths and read his books. Immaculate interiors abound with gorgeous bedrooms and a morning room where the scent of fresh flowers mingles with wood smoke. Remote, beguiling, utterly spoiling – grand old Knockinaam is simply unmissable.
5. The Farmhouse at A Corner of Eden, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
A lovely Georgian farmhouse, set in a glorious valley with infinite sky and distant Cumbrian hills. Layered on to this lovely house is deep comfort and more than a touch of luxury; the hunting lodge-style sitting room has a log fire, antlers and woollen sofas. Bedrooms sport original fireplaces, and have polished wooden floors and gorgeous wallpapers. Arrive to a welcome basket bursting with local goodies and champagne.
6. The Lister Arms at Malham, Skipton, Yorkshire
You’ll be hard pushed to find a finer looking pub in a more gorgeous village. The National Trust’s Malham is a favourite with potholers but there are many surface pleasures to be had. The 17th-century coaching inn was once home to the first Lord of Ribblesdale and very grand it looks too, but stuffy it’s not. Inside are flagged floors, wood-burning stoves, a roaring fire and well-kept local ales. Rachel also puts an interesting menu together using local produce. Staying the night? Choose a new room in the refurbished cottage, or head upstairs to one of the comfy bedrooms.
7. Rennington House, Alnwick, Northumberland
Dream up an occasion and head for Rennington House! Everything at this classic Georgian farmhouse, from boot room to bedroom, has been well thought through. There’s a big, light, relaxing sitting room with huge open fire, a kitchen that lacks nothing, a games room and a dining room with hunting prints and piano. Any amount of catering can be arranged and the beamed barn (with trampoline and table tennis) transforms into a party room at the drop of a hat or two.
8. Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire
Old Downton is a fine old building, a little like walking onto the set of Wolf Hall, with original timbers, mighty crossbeams and beautiful stone walls. There’s a lovely sitting room in the old dairy with a roaring fire and an honesty bar, then a dining room in an 11th-century barn that resembles a medieval banqueting hall. Big bedrooms mix timber frames, stone walls, flagged floors and oak furniture.
9. Inshriach House, Aviemore, Highlands, Scotland
Delightfully bohemian and brilliant value, history buffs or Downton fans will be in heaven. Original central heating, deep cast-iron baths, loos with wooden seats, and a 1920s squash court. Bedrooms have been updated, Mrs Black’s Room is rather posh, the twin is called the Nursery, all have their bell-pulls intact but sadly the servants are no longer. The kitchen has a cosy Aga, there’s a drawing room, two dining rooms, a sitting room with impressive open fire and, in the acre-rich gardens, a sunken snooker table and a bonfire pit.
10. The Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax, Yorkshire
The rambling and beautifully renovated old corn mill is hidden in a tranquil wooded valley overlooking Red Beck, just minutes from Halifax. An unstuffy integrity lie at the heart of Simon Heaton’s welcoming inn, from the front-of-house warmth to the pubby bar where locals gather for a natter over a pint of Shibden Bitter. From the modern British kitchen innovative dishes flow. There are beams and timbers, roaring log fires and stone-flagged floors, deep sofas and soothing colours in the cosy, candlelit bar and dining rooms. Refurbished bedrooms are super comfortable and individual.
Have we left you longing to curl up next to the world’s very first entertainment system, the humble fire? Time to plan a winter escape with Sawday’s… we may have our fingers crossed for snow!