What do you get a Duchess for her birthday? The Duchess of Cambridge will celebrate hers on 9 January 2018 and she and William are known for their love of relaxing country escapes. Britain is full of perfect places to get away from it all - so how about a birthday weekend in some of the exclusive, luxurious private accommodation? Treat yourself like royalty and escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at one of these luxurious boltholes - choose from suites, castles, or even whole islands!
The Shangri-La suite at the Shard, London
It’s easy to get captivated by the view from this suite, which sits in the Shangri-La hotel on the 39th floor of London’s iconic Shard, but there’s plenty to enjoy inside too. The suite can standalone as a one bedroom, or be combined with an adjacent room to offer two – the latter option offers a total living space of 232 square metres, making it one of the largest suites in the capital. It has slick, sleek interiors with an en suite with a steam shower and jacuzzi bath, lounge, dining area for ten guests, and a private study. It comes complete with a spotting scope and binoculars to help you soak in the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows – you’ll be able to see the Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the River Thames, among other famous landmarks.
Burgh Island Hotel, Devon, south-west England
Getting to Burgh Island Hotel is an adventure all by itself! As the name suggests, the hotel sits on a tidal island, attached to Devon in south-west England by a sandy beach. When the sea comes in the only way across is by a unique sea tractor, designed to carry you above the waves. The hotel itself is design landmark, and considered to be one of the best examples of Art Deco in Europe, but for a more secluded stay forgo the main building and book the Beach House. Originally designed as a writer’s retreat for famous crime novelist Agatha Christie, and where she wrote two of her novels, the beach house offers panoramic sea views and a private sun deck. Want even more privacy? Hire the whole island, with space for up to 50 guests.
Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Wales has more than 600 castles – more per square metre than anywhere else on earth. Want to stay in one? One fine option is Roch Castle in Pembrokeshire, mid-Wales, originally built in 1195. In its long history it been a home to a Norman knight; a royalist stronghold in the Civil War; and was abandoned for more than 200 years. It now operates as a luxury hotel, but also offers exclusive hire with space for up to 12 guests. With the whole run of the building, choose from one of six luxurious en suite bedrooms, and enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside and coast, as well as the castle’s collection of unique British art. The castle is around two hours’ drive from Cardiff.
Osea Island, Essex, south-east England
Why stay in a hotel when you can hire an island? Osea Island on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, is an exclusive private tidal island accessed via a mile-long causeway emerging from the estuary for just four hours a day. Its 380 acres of countryside, pretty village and four miles of beaches and coastline make it feel like another world. There’s a saltwater swimming pool on the island, and you can borrow a bike to cycle around it all. And it’s located surprisingly close to central London, just two hours’ north east by car. There’s a range of accommodation on the island, ranging from the grand Manor House – sleeping up to 20 – to quaint cottages big enough for two.
Belle Isle Castle and Private Island, Northern Ireland
The Belle Isle estate incorporates eight islands, all nestled together in the calm waters of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. On the largest of the islands, around two hours’ drive from Belfast, is Belle Isle Castle, built in the 17th century as a country house. The castle is vast, with thick stone walls and heavy, wooden doors, and can only be hired for exclusive use. Enjoy a day of activities such as fishing and shooting, before having dinner in the banqueting hall as musicians play in the minstrel’s gallery above.
Spitbank Fort, the Solent, southern England
Granite walls more than four metres thick and armour plating guarantee privacy at Spitbank Fort. The unique property sits in the Solent – a stretch of water off southern England which separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight. It’s one of a series of forts built in the same stretch of water in the 1860s to protect from the threat of French invasion. Nowadays, it’s a luxury retreat, available for exclusive hire. It offers eight bedrooms, a fire pit, sauna and hot tub on the roof and, of course, panoramic sea views.
The Island, Newquay, Cornwall, south-west England
Stay on The Island and your only link to the world is a private suspension bridge, which depending on the time of day leads you over white sands or the blue waters of the sea. The three-bedroom self-catering cottage is perched on a small island in Newquay, on Cornwall’s north coast, and overlooks the popular Towan Beach, around three hours’ drive from Bath. It boasts stunning views and stylish, modern accommodation including a romantic master suite with four-poster bed and a large living area with not one but two log-burning stoves. As the night falls, find a quiet spot in the private gardens and enjoy the crash of the waves below.
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