When it comes to classic country house hotels, England is pretty tough to beat. There are stately piles dotted up and down the country, but how do you know which ones are up to scratch? Here are four of our favourites.
Best for romance Barnsley House
Anyone wanting a romantic weekend away should look no further than Barnsley House (above). This beautiful property nestled deep in the Cotswolds is perfect. The rooms are spacious with huge comfy four-poster beds ask for Room One when booking, it's the best of the bunch, with fantastic views.
The house dates from 1697, and the fabulous gardens were the work of Rosemary Verey, an internationally renowned gardener. It is well worth going for a leisurely wander to see her work. And while you are strolling you may stumble across the hidden spa, which offers wonderful treatments.
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Try the 115-minute signature treatment you'll be so relaxed you'll struggle to remember your name, never mind the stresses of normal life. Finally, head into the dining room for a candlelit dinner. If this hotel can't inject some extra romance into a weekend away, chances are nowhere can.
A double room starts from £275, including breakfast. Contact: Barnsleyhouse.com, 01285-740 000.
The best for families Four Seasons, Hampshire
If you want a luxurious country break without having to leave the kids at home, book in to the Four Seasons in Hampshire. This enormous stately pile is as good to children as it is to parents. While you relax in the spa or take a turn on the tennis court they will be entertained by the complimentary children's programme.
Alternatively, you can all borrow the hotel's bikes or horses and explore the extensive grounds together. The rooms are luxurious with large beds and sweeping views of the estate. Families can book adjoining rooms with connecting doors, or there are several suites that can sleep an entire family.
A suite sleeping two adults and two children starts from £630, room only. Contact: 01252-853000, Fourseasons.com/Hampshire.
The best for foodies Lime Wood, Hampshire
Anyone on the hunt for some luxury in the countryside and a fantastic menu should beat a path to Lime Wood in the New Forest. As well as offering top-notch bedrooms and a fantastic spa (complete with rooftop sundeck), this gem has one of the finest restaurants in the southeast.
The food is as local as it gets with ingredients foraged from the surrounding forest, grown in the grounds or smoked in the onsite smoke house. Try the squab pigeon or the pork and crayfish. If you are staying two nights, head down the road to sister restaurant The Pig for more delicious delights.
Double rooms start from £245, room only. Contact: 023-8028 7177, Limewoodhotel.co.uk.
The best for scenery The Devonshire Arms, Yorkshire
With a stunning location on the edge of the Duke of Devonshire's 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate in the Yorkshire Dales, the Devonshire Arms is ideal for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. You can borrow one of the hotel's mountain bikes for a bit of energetic exploring, try your hand at rock climbing, or simply explore the many historic sites in the area before returning to the luxury of the hotel.
There you can choose from a range of treatments in the hotel spa, before enjoying a meal at the Michelin-starred hotel restaurant. The restaurant showcases an impressive array of British produce such as Hebridean lamb, and a frankly unmissable cheese trolley, which is stocked with an array of local specialities.
Double rooms from £190, B&B. Contact: 01756-71044, The devonshirearms.co.uk.
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