10 Of The Best UK Independent Hotels

The beautiful beachside setting of The Nare

Staying in the UK for your summer break? Then you’ll want to find a hotel that’s ideal for your needs. We asked the Good Hotel Guide to share their pick of the best independent, award-winning hotels around the country, and why you should visit them. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, want a beachside setting, or somewhere you can take the dog with you, there’s something to suit here…

Good Hotel Guide’s Top 10

1.Beach hotel: The Nare, Cornwall

On the Roseland Peninsular in Cornwall, The Nare is an old fashioned hotel in all the best ways.  With impeccable views of Gerrans Bay, carefully tended gardens, and filled with fresh flowers, it is simultaneously stylish, comfortable and welcoming.  Crucially, you will never be short of things to do. Aside from being a stone’s throw from the beach, the hotel’s yacht and elegant motor launch is available for use or skippered charter, and you can take their classic Morgan sports car out for a jaunt.

Cornwall in general is an exceptionally beautiful place to go, but Veryan-in-Roseland is a dreamy village surrounded by a number of beautiful beaches including Carne Beach, Pendower Beach, East and West Portholland Beaches. Characterised by five thatched roundhouses built around 1817, it is close to main transport links at Truro and St Austell stations. This is very much a place to spend time outdoors, cycling, cliff top walking and going to surf school. Alternatively, you might choose to go classic sailing on traditional yachts, visit St Makes Castle – one of Henry VIII’s coastal artillery fortresses, or perhaps take a stroll through Caerhays Castle and Gardens in a sheltered valley overlooking Porthluney Cove.


2.Luxury hotel: Gregans Castle Hotel, Ireland

A bedroom at Gregans Castle

In the otherworldly limestone landscape of the Burren, with distant views across valleys and mountains to Galway Bay, this 18th-century manor house is an absolutely top-rate hotel.  Tables are beautifully set in the dining room for chef David Hurley’s creative modern dishes.  After dinner, retire to one of the stylish bedrooms, each individually decorated in contemporary country house style with antiques and modern artwork.

While it’s tempting to stay at the hotel the whole time, take a little jaunt to visit picturesque nearby villages, Doolin and Kilfenora where you can even have tea at Father Ted’s house. The hotel can arrange horse-riding, golf, cycling, sea kayaking, rock climbing and guided walks. It’s also a great part of the world for food, and favourites in the area include oyster tasting at Flaggy Shore Oysters, bean to bar chocolate at Hazel Mountain Chocolates, a cuddle with the baby goats at St. Tola Cheese Farm or a private tour of The Burren Smokehouse.


3.Beautiful gardens: The Salutation, Kent

A stylish room at the Salutation

This Queen Anne house has been given a luxury makeover by new owners John and Dorothy Fothergill who have created a sumptuous but stylish escape for visitors to Kent.  Step from the fusion of sympathetic contemporary artworks and soft furnishings inside, to the revived beauty of the historic gardens and it is abundantly clear that here, the devil is in the detail.  They have considered everything from the toiletries to the food with careful attention, but it is the warm welcome that’s really the cherry on top. In 2019, they even took a garden design to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and won a gold medal.

The hotel itself offers lots of beautiful courses, including gardening courses, while you’re here, but Sandwich itself also has lots of places to go and people to see.  Visit nearby towns such as Canterbury, Deal, Dover and Thanet where you can go on town tours. There are several golf courses close by – especially Royal St George’s Golf Club. There’s abundant history in the region such as Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre or enjoy the vast swathes of natural beauty at Betteshanger Park for cycling in woodlands, and Pegwell Bay for a nature reserve complete with a replica longboat.


4.Outdoor pursuits: Kinloch Lodge, Scotland

The view from Kinloch Lodge

Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye is a former hunting lodge that has really treasured its sense of history.  You will find a framed letter from Queen Victoria to one of the lodge’s former tenants, while charming details, including the honesty bar, set the tone in the lounge.  Food is a big part of the experience, so in addition to dining on local produce, you can also take part in cookery courses, or go fishing or stalking with the lodge’s ghillie.

From ‘fairy pools’ for wild swimming to ancient castles, the natural landscape on the Isle of Skye is very much part of the enjoyment.  Make sure you get out on foot or on the water to view its dramatic heights and depths.  Walk up to the Old Man of Storr, visit Dunvegan Castle, take a boat to Loch Coruisk or go sea kayaking.  It follows that the wildlife is also awe-inspiring from sea eagles to red deer, otters, dolphin and whales to spot at different times of the year.


5.Luxury B&B: Stoberry House, Somerset

The Stoberry at night

Approached by a drive through parkland, the upmarket B&B, in an 18th-century coach house, is surrounded by gardens planned and tended with love and skill, and viewed from the orangery breakfast room.  Hosts are attentive and welcoming and the hotel is brimming with magazines, books and board games as well as a help-yourself pantry.  Wells is a five-minute drive or 20-minute downhill walk away, while simple evening meals or silver-service group dinners may be served by arrangement.

In this, one of the prettiest parts of the UK, there is much to see and do. Take a day trip to Wells and visit the cathedral, Bristol for boutique shops and to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or Bath for the most historic of spa experiences. Head to Longleat Safari and Adventure Park for a day of wildlife, take a ride on the East Somerset Railway, and of course spend a little time at prehistoric Stonehenge.


6.Michelin Star: The Star Inn at Harome, Yorkshire

The Star Inn's cosy interior

When you’re looking for ultimate cosiness, Yorkshire is amongst the best places to go for excellent food and wrapping up warm.  The Star Inn in Harome is a 14th century inn on the edge of the North York Moors.  It’s brimming with rustic elements and has a congenial ambience.  It combines its sense of cosiness with Michelin star flair in the restaurant and characterful bedrooms – one has a rope-slung bed, another has tartan-walls and a piano.

This special part of the world is made even more magical by the surrounding attractions. The National Centre for Birds of Prey is a real favourite, as is medieval Helmsley Castle in the middle of  the North York Moors National Park.  Yorkshire is a beautiful combination of natural beauty and historic intrigue, so amongst the walks and scenery, take a little time to head to historic houses and ruins including Rievaulx Abbey and Castle Howard.


7.Sea views: Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

The setting of James Sommerin hotel

A Michelin Star restaurant with rooms, Restaurant James Sommerin brings together locally sourced ingredients with flair and style.  It also has nine beautifully decorated rooms, five of which have views over the Severn Estuary with floor to ceiling windows.  Food is of course the theme of the day from the moment you wake up, from the six course taster dinner, bed and breakfast.

In Penarth, a town in the Vale of Glamorgan, the hotel is surrounded by sea views and is only four miles from Cardiff. With abundant shopping, opportunities, a buzzing marina with plenty of stylish bars, the area is offset with activities and natural beauty as well. Head to the Cosmeston Lakes and country park, go white water rafting or kayaking at Cardiff International White Water, stroll in the Penarth nature reserve and take inn the views at Penarth Pier Pavilion.


8.Romantic: Hambleton Hall, Oakham

The stunning gardens of Hambleton Hall

The perfect place to find yourself utterly spoiled, Hambleton Hall in Rutland is a spectacular country house hotel where owners Tim and Stefa Hart provide a warm and friendly ambience and food that’s a joy.  The turn-down service is meticulous, and the Michelin-starred chef Aaron Patterson continues to win acclaim for his wonderful modern dishes, all surrounded by elegant, stately design. Mostly it’s a place where beauty and style come together for real quality time with your partner.

Oakham is a pretty little market town brimming with medieval history and scrumptious traditional food. Spend time shopping in unique boutiques, see osprey soaring at Rutland Water while you’re here and walk in the tranquility of the nature reserve.


9.Dog friendly: Soar Mill Cove, Devon

Soar Mill is set in beautiful surroundings

In one of the most beautiful locations along the South Devon coastline, Soar Mill Cove perches in a dip in the landscape, with uninterrupted views of the sea, and a beach that could almost be considered private.  Like an escape back to a bygone era, it is elegant whilst welcoming families, with plenty to do including tennis courts and a swimming pool and spa.  Many rooms have their own terraces, and lots of space for dogs to relax with their owners.  All they ask is for a a nominal fee of £10 a night per pooch.

In a secluded spot in a valley, with the most impeccable views of the sea, Soar Mill Cove is surrounded by unparalleled clifftop walks stretching towards nearby Salcombe in one direction and Hope Cove in the other – continue as far as you can handle along the South West Coast Path. There’s a beach in walking distance for swimming, body boarding and beach games, but plenty more a short drive away. Bantham in particular is known for its excellent surf.  Meanwhile, Salcombe is awash with pretty shops, restaurants and lots of local produce available. You would be missing out if you didn’t try the ice cream from Salcombe Dairy.


10.Country house hotel: Knockendarroch Hotel, Scotland

Inside Knockendarroch hotel

This Victorian mansion with an impressive baronial entrance tower, holds its own when it comes to grandeur and does country house chic to perfection.  There are log fires and views across the Tummel valley, but inside it has been refurbished with a fresh, modern style.  Don’t forget to visit the Pitlochry theatre while you’re there – it was born in the hotel grounds and is now just across the river.

If you’ve ever visited before, you will know that Pitlochry is blessed with a unique beauty that’s aching to be explored, and Knockendarroch Hotel is in the midst of it all. Go salmon fishing on Loch Faskally, visit the multi award-winning light and sound show at the Enchanted Forest, definitely take a good pair of hiking boots for exploring lochs and glens, go on a day trip to Edinburgh, try canyoning at Bruar if you’re feeling adventurous, and definitely have a tour and a drink at Blair Athol Distillery, one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland.


More travel features here…

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!