The first thing many of us will want to do when the majority of restrictions end on June 21? Reunite with family and friends we’ve spent minimal time with over the past year. It will finally be the time to celebrate all those missed events: from milestone birthdays to engagements and new additions to the family. The best way to do this is, of course, on a holiday – and the UK has lots of amazing self-catering holiday lets that are perfectly suited to large group gatherings. Think private pools, games rooms and alluring outdoor dining spaces in which to perfect the art of the great British barbecue.
Of course, the roadmap could shift and change, but for now this is a date for the diary you won’t want to miss. Just make sure you have a good cancellation policy with whoever you book with, should you need to amend your stay. And needless to say, things are booking up fast so if you want to secure a coveted school holiday slot you may need to think fast. Find the best options across the UK for summer 2021 and beyond below.
House on the Hill, Sussex
This Grade II-listed five-bedroom property benefits from spectacular sea views and seriously swish interiors that have much more in common with a boutique hotel than a self-catering stay. It’s found in the seaside town of Hastings, with plenty of historic castles, gardens and more to explore nearby. A 6ft projector screen with Sonos sound system is just the ticket for family film nights, and you can dine al fresco in the courtyard garden among ferns.
From £2641 per week (dogs allowed for a fee); holidaycottages.co.uk
Thorington Hall, Suffolk
Thorington Hall is one of Suffolk’s oldest houses. Look out for the intricately decorated Tudor roses on the west staircase and signatures of previous owners mysteriously etched into the windows. Whatever the weather, there’s a space for your family, from a cosy evening in front of one of the log burners to the large, enclosed garden with orchard, stables and even a basic tennis court. Not to mention there are three walks you can do straight from the front door.
Three nights from £2719.00 (dogs allowed); nationaltrust.org.uk
Sea Star, Norfolk
This four-bedroom pretty clapboard beach house overlooks the Norfolk Broad’s Winterton Valley. Picture sea views and easy access to a sandy beach; coastal interiors are the name of the game inside with a blue and white colour palette and seaside-inspired prints. The patio and back garden is a decent size with sun loungers, gas barbecue and deck chairs, and even a small wooden rowboat for any aspiring pirates in the group.
From £1729 per week (dogs allowed); wintertoncottages.co.uk
Dover’s Hill House, the Cotswolds
This charming five-bedroom country house set in eight acres of land is all about its amazing amenities, guaranteed to supercharge family fun. A natural spring-fed swimming pool and fishing lake complete with row boat is perfect for balmier days, and there’s also a pool room, a ping-pong table and a two-hole golf area. Nearby, you can explore the market town of Chipping Camden and the Cotswolds Way.
From £10,000 per week (dogs allowed); luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk
Chapel on the Green, Brecon Beacons
This quirky four-bedroom gothic chapel feels delightfully modern inside; it was last used as a working church in 1998 and now features a rotation of different art works twice yearly for its guests to enjoy. The location is lovely, found in the heart of the Welsh village of Glasbury, near to Hay-on-Wye. Inside and out, you’ll find great spaces to gather as a group from the open-plan kitchen to the large table and benches for summer dining outside that overlook the village green. Nearby, there’s access to mountain biking, climbing, kayaking, walking, and wild swimming.
From £1904 per week (dogs allowed for a fee); holidaycottages.co.uk
The Freeth, Herefordshire
This listed former hunting lodge can sleep a grand total of 18 guests across nine bedrooms; naturally it comes with lots of entertainment spaces including a double-aspect sitting room, dining room for all, and garden with south-facing terrace for eating al fresco. The real winners though are the private indoor swimming pool and the fact it’s part of the same estate as Pensons so you can book in for a Michelin-starred meal in its private dining space for 18.
Three nights from £2,850; netherwoodestate.co.uk
Sunset Cottage, Isle of Wight
A sweet, modern three-bedroom cottage for smaller family gatherings on the Isle of Wight. It’s found in the grounds of Pyle Manor and offers the shared use of its outdoor swimming pool as well as easy access to beaches and a Mediterranean-inspired dining terrace made of reclaimed sleepers. Biking aficionados will be happy to hear it’s on the Island cycle Route and there is plenty of secure bike storage. If you’re booking this trip, you’ll want to nab the master bedroom for the superb sunset views from which the cottage gets its name.
From £853 per week; classic.co.uk
Moat House, Suffolk
This Tudor farmhouse is what children’s dreams are made of – it’s found on its own island with footbridge access and plenty of wide open spaces. There’s even a row boat so that families can paddle their way round their very own moat. Daily activities include walking with the resident ranger, checking nest boxes, fishing, boating and more.
From £921 per night (dogs welcome); fishandpips.co.uk
Ben’s Burrow, the Cotswolds
Ben’s Burrow is the perfect place for families holidaying together who also want to have their own downtime, thanks to the fact it’s split over a main house sleeping seven and a self-contained studio flat for two. There’s also plenty of added extras to keep all the family entertained, including a large pond filled with ducks and koi carp, a private hot tub, an alfresco dining area with charcoal pizza oven and gas barbecue, geodesic dome, daybeds, telescopes, fire pit for roasting marshmallows, and much more.
From £595 per night; winchcombefarm.co.uk
Middle Dean Farmhouse, Dartmoor
A stone farmhouse on the fringes of Dartmoor, with easy access to the coast and Exmoor. The whole place has a lovely rustic feel, but it’s the country-styled open-plan cooking and dining area that is the real centrepiece. On clear nights, you’ll want to make use of the hot tub in the small elevated garden to get gooey eyed with the stars.
From £3431 per week; classic.co.uk
Cleveland House, Norfolk
The piece de resistance of five-bedroom Cleveland House is of course the hot tub in its garden that’s for sole use of the guests. It’s also walking distance from the beach, and comes with outdoor games, beach equipment and more. Large groups will be happy to gather around the huge oak table for 10 in the conservatory, or on rainy days in the front room with the wood burning stove and a good jigsaw puzzle or DVD.
From £1949 per week (dogs allowed); wintertoncottages.co.uk
Godolphin House, Cornwall
A 17th-century manor with pillared porticos, linenfold panelling, a grand formal dining room and six bedrooms. In summer, the romantic garden comes into its prime with large lawns and an outdoor dining table. Plus as a guest here you’re allowed to explore the main gardens of the estate; stroll a bit further from the grounds though and you’ll be rewarded with views over St Ives Bay and St Michael’s Mount.
Three nights from £2599; nationaltrust.org.uk
Lower Farm Great Wolford, the Cotswolds
A five-bedroom village farmhouse that is the very picture of Cotswold living with a honey-hued stone exterior, neatly manicured lawns and trimmed hedges. Children (both in age and in spirit) will love the outdoor heated swimming pool, trampoline and tennis court. A help-yourself vegetable garden is a sweet addition, and four mornings of housekeeping are included (subject to Covid-19 regulations).
From £12,500 per week (up to two dogs accepted at a charge of £100 per dog per week); luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk
The Butlers Cottage, Herefordshire
There are a series of cottages, barns and gatehouse lodges at Lakes Edge on the private estate of Pudleston Court, but The Butlers Cottage has the best availability for summer and comes with its own hot tub and sauna. It also overlooks a small pond and woodland and has a garden with barbecue and private conservatory. There are plenty of walks you can do from the front door, or on rainy days you can dip in and out of antiques shops in nearby Leominster.
From £1,350 for three nights; lakesedge.co.uk
Kingshill Farm Cottage, Buckinghamshire
A traditional Chiltern cottage that’s all on the ground floor, making it a strong choice for families travelling with grandparents with limited mobility. As for things to do nearby, you’ll find plenty of sweet villages, market towns, countryside walks, stately homes, National Trust properties and cycle ways. There’s also a small enclosed garden and bike storage.
From £1,115 for a week; lastminute-cottages.co.uk
Oswestry Church, Shropshire
A converted church near the Welsh borders with a fun, colourful design. Look out for the original wooden church door, rustic beams and vaulted ceilings. There’s plenty of space for congreating too, from the huge lounge with television and underfloor heating to the wooden table in the kitchen.
From £305 per night (dogs welcome); hostunusual.com
The Mill Byre, Durham
A beautiful stone barn within easy reach of Northern England’s most beautiful scenery and historic sites, including the North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales, Durham Cathedral, Richmond, Hadrian’s Wall and the Lakes. There’s even a children’s play area on site, plus toys and games to keep them busy on rainy days.
From £1250 for a week (dogs welcome); premiercottages.co.uk
The Manor, Somerset
A Grade-II listed Georgian manor house with lawned gardens, hot tub, heated swimming pool, gym and games room. Inside, expect large, airy rooms and original artworks on the walls. Luxury Cottages can also arrange caterers for celebration meals, and airport transfers for family members flying in. Should you wish to venture further afield, Bath, Frome and the countryside are all nearby.
From £1,175per night; luxurycottages.com
Seaview House Dunbar, East Lothian
Less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, you’ll find the Dunglass Estate with 5,000 acres of woodland, parkland, sustainable farm and Seaview House Dunbar. The latter is the luxury self-catering farmhouse that comes complete with a summerhouse, children’s play area, swim spa and hot tub. A barbecue and fire pit in the outdoor dining area complete the experience. There’s also a self-contained annexe that’s ideal for those travelling with grandparents in tow.
From £1,880 for four nights in July; crabtreeandcrabtree.com
Sea Break, Cornwall
This lovely coastal house in north Cornwall is walking distance from the beach in the family-friendly seaside town of Portreath. There’s a particularly great outdoors area too, including a three-tiered garden comprising decking and seating for eight guests at mealtimes, sloped grass lawn area, and secluded space for sun loungers.
From £2442 for a week; beachretreats.co.uk