Oh, and it’s adults-only too, which gives it bonus points from me.
Its design would certainly impress Kevin McCloud: modern and full of glass yet unobtrusive, taking in the dramatic landscape at every opportunity and all the bright, open-plan bedrooms look out on to views of the coastline.
There’s a focus on energy efficiency with no kettle or coffee machine in the rooms, but give reception a ring and they’ll happily bring a brew to your door in minutes. (We tried this. Several times.)
Downstairs in the Ayurvedic spa there are free morning yoga classes, a dreamy relaxation space and a light, lofty indoor pool. Or if you’re feeling brave, make like a true local and take a bracing dip in the natural (and unheated) pool outside.
If you haven’t got time for a lengthy spa treatment, book in for half an hour in one of the wooden, clifftop hot tubs and take in the sea and sand below with a glass of fizz in hand.
Some of the best places to stay are in the country, these hotels prove that
The Scarlet, Cornwall, indoor pool
The Scarlet is also a true celebration of Cornwall, from local artwork decorating the walls and Cornish soap in your bathroom to the vast array of regional produce served.
Start with a glass of Cornish prosecco in the cosy bar before enjoying delicious local, seasonal meat, fish and vegetables at dinner, and you’ll even find Cornish tea and apple juice at the breakfast table.
The wine flight at dinner is well worth the extra £30, as our friendly sommelier Jim selected mouthwatering wines that we would never have picked ourselves – including one produced just eight miles from the hotel, which perfectly matched my Cornish crab starter.
If you’re staying for more than one night you needn’t worry about seeing the same old buffet come out each morning – the à la carte breakfast menu changes every day, too.
Ensure that you sample some of Cornwall’s stellar wines
I unintentionally seem to only ever visit this corner of the country during wet, wild weather (although I imagine it can rival the Med on a hot summer’s day), but there’s definitely a certain romance to be found in the wind howling around the bay and huge waves smashing on to the shore.
Don your waterproofs and take the hour-long walk over the jagged clifftops to Watergate Bay, where underneath the towering rock faces you’ll find a wide stretch of sand filled with rock pools, surfers and seaside restaurants, including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.
A short drive in the other direction takes you to the charming fishing town of Padstow, or “Padstein” as it’s known to locals, thanks to Rick Stein’s restaurant, cookery school, deli and guest rooms drawing in the tourists.
But wherever your day takes you, you’re guaranteed to return to a warm welcome back at the Scarlet.
The Kings Head hotel has just the right energy
The Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester
The Kings Head Hotel sits in the bustling market place – the heart of the pretty town of Cirencester, known as the capital of the Cotswolds.
Despite having 45 bedrooms plus an additional five apartments, the hotel still manages to feel quaint and boutique, boasting plenty of original features from the 14th-century coach house it started life as. All the rooms are individually designed and our generous feature room was decorated in an elegant country style.
Exposed brickwork and beams add to the quirkiness, and the large comfy bed made for an extra dreamy night’s sleep.
Although not strictly a spa hotel, The Kings Head offers a variety of treatments and a unique subterranean spa tucked away in its atmospheric basement vaults. My husband and I both enjoyed a full-body massage, followed by a long snooze in the huge day bed area.
The Kings Head is located in the middle of Cirencester’s bustling marketplace
If you’re so relaxed you can’t bear to step out for dinner, the hotel’s excellent restaurant serves tasty dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Breakfast is also an indulgent affair with a sumptuous buffet included with your choice of cooked option. The full English certainly didn’t disappoint.
Flanked by independent shops and an array of cafés and restaurants, the hotel is perfectly placed for exploring the town. Make sure you stop by m.a.d.e: Makers & Designers Emporium on Silver Street for a wealth of treasures sourced from more than 250 small independent British designers, and pop by Made by Bob for a top-notch coffee and cake in their deli.
A 20-minute drive from the hotel takes you to Bourton-on-the-Water. Although busy with tourists at the weekend, this pretty chocolate-box village is known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” as the River Windrush runs through the centre and is crossed by a series of scenic bridges. Take a meander through to soak up the local charm.
For a winning Sunday roast, it’s hard to beat The Wheatsheaf Inn in the historic market town of Northleach. The atmospheric coaching inn offers a great selection of ales and local food and has a cosy dining room and stunning gardens.
And make sure you visit the village of Bibury. The famous Arlington Row cottages, built in 1380 and still lived in today, are probably the most snapped Cotwolds scene.
For the perfect romantic weekend away, the Cotswolds is easy to fall in love with.
Northcote hotel and cookery school, Lancashire
Northcote hotel and cookery school, Lancashire
“Keep at it. You’re getting there. Work at it and it’ll be fine.”
And, unlikely as it seemed, bread guru Emma Lawson was quite right as the sticky gloop coating my hands soon started to resemble something that looked like dough.
My fellow seven wannabes and I took the day-long beginner’s bread course at Northcote Cookery School in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley.
It’s one of several courses offered at Northcote, led by junior tutor Emma and with head tutor Bruno Birkbeck. Fun, relaxed and informal, he chatted away and stopped us feeling like the bunch of amateur bread bakers we were.
Northcote Hotel will also offer you cooking lessons
The previous evening we had arrived to the warmest of greetings from friendly staff at award-winning Northcote.
This 19th-century manor house is in Langho, a small village flanked by the rolling landscape of Tolkien’s Shire and the high, wild moorlands of Pendle Witch Country. It’s within striking distance of the historic town of Clitheroe and its Norman castle, Whalley, with its picturesque ruined abbey, and the Roman village of Ribchester.
After being bowled over by our lodge room’s combination of tasteful luxury and stunning views, we headed off to the Michelin-starred restaurant. We had the five-course gourmet menu, which included rhapsodies in beetroot, sea bass and veal… and a crab apple.
At least that’s what I thought it was, until this Snow White-perfect, red and green “orchard apple cheesecake” exploded in a fruity, chocolatey taste sensation. Definitely a “wow” moment.
On “dough day” my other half disappeared into deepest Lancashire and I got a feel for baking – along with copious tea and biscuits.
Northcote is more than just the hotel, as historic town Clitheroe lives nearby
A highlight of the previous evening’s meal had been a delectable cheese roll, apparently a Northcote speciality, so I was delighted to try making it, along with basic white bread, a wholemeal coburg loaf and English muffins.
Emma explained the principles of bread making, giving tips on mixing, kneading, proving and knocking back and instructed us how to get our loaves soft or crusty. For a good crusty loaf give the top of your dough a fine spray of water – and avoid recipes containing milk.
And so we got stuck in. By hand. No mixers or bread makers for the A-team, oh no. Sifting, rubbing in, mixing and plenty of kneading, all done manually, it was surprisingly therapeutic.
The kitchen soon began ringing with chatter and laughter as we started to relax and got to know each other.
And at last came the pièce de résistance – Northcote Lancashire cheese tear’n’share bread. The result was so gratifyingly professional-looking bread that lasted all of 10 minutes when I got it home. A recipe for success.