The UK’s best woodland and coastal retreats to hole up in this summer

Architecture that’s well worth a ‘staycation’

If your overseas holiday is hanging in the balance, it could be time to put down your passport and plan a staycation. Touring the UK might not feel as glamorous as other warmer locations, but Britain does not lack for dramatic scenery – and it has the architecture to match.

Cross your fingers for dry weather, and choose from these UK holiday homes that’ll make you forget all about jumping on a plane.

Ty Hedfan in Powys, Wales

Ty Hedfan cantilever house in Powys, Wales
Courtesy of Cool Stays

Nicknamed the ‘hovering house’, this eco-friendly cabin in Powys features a cantilevered section that juts into the trees. The Welsh home sits close to the River Ysgir, and two of its three bedrooms open up onto terraces above the water. Bike trails and hiking routes are on the doorstep, and Brecon Beacons National Park is five miles away.
From £1,100 per week via CoolStays

Secular Retreat in Devon, England

Secular Retreat in Devon by Peter Zumthor
Photography: © Jack Hobhouse/Living Architecture

Devon’s famed views shine across this stone and glass home, designed by Peter Zumthor. Its hilltop location was chosen to capture rolling hills and sea views from its huge windows. Zumthor has designed everything inside the house, including a pair of armchairs perfectly positioned to watch the sunset. There’s a writing desk for flashes of inspiration, and enough room for 10 guests to holiday together. South Devon’s coastal walks are a stone’s throw away.
From £3560 for a four-night break via Living Architecture

The Retreat in Kent, England

The Retreat in Dungeness, Kent
Photography: Charles Hosea

Dungeness doesn’t have the soft golden sand that most beach-goers dream of, but it does offer a fascinating assortment of architecture – including this home located right on the shingle. The Retreat comprises three cabins joined together, blending cement, steel and timber. Glazed walls and ribbon windows frame the stony shore, which is contrasted by the building’s clean lines and sleek interiors. Head for the dining nook each morning to soak up views over the horizon.
From £1415 per week via Cool Stays

Life House near Powys, Wales

Tŷ Bywyd in Wales by John Pawson. Photography: Gilbert McCarragher / Living Architecture
Photography: Gilbert McCarragher / Living Architecture

John Pawson designed this minimal home in a secluded spot just outside the village of Llanbister, near Powys. The three-bedroom Welsh house is partly sunken into its hillside site and stretches out across a single level. Interiors feature white brick, pale wood and polished floors, chosen to help guests find some much-needed peace. Bedrooms – themed around literature, music and bathing – are all designed as places for contemplation, assisted by views across the Welsh countryside.
From £1730 per long weekend via Living Architecture

Pump Station in Kent, England

Pump Station in Dungeness
Courtesy of Mulberry Cottages

Once a World War II pumping station, this concrete and timber building has been converted into an open-plan home with enough space to sleep eight. Soft grey furnishings contrast its industrial ceilings, and slices of glass that frame the nearby Dungeness Estate – Britain’s only desert. Guests can dine together at the 10-person table before retreating to the living room to cosy up in front of the log fire.
From £1800 per night via Mulberry Cottages

Backwater in Norfolk, England

Backwater cottage for rent in Norflk
Courtesy of Host Unusual

If you’re longing to be near the water, this serene timber home sits on a private lagoon at the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Platform 5 Architects took cues from local boatsheds to design the home’s exterior; however, there’s a distinct midcentury flavour inside the Norfolk property. Its living room opens onto a sheltered outdoor terrace, where guests can watch the local wildlife glide by. Moor your boat at the deck or borrow the home’s canoe if you want to navigate these narrow waterways.
From £795 for four nights via Host Unusual

Shore Cottage in Sutherland, Scotland

Shore Cottage for rent in the Highlands
Photography: © Peter Welch

Wake up to the sound of water lapping against the loch shore at this barrel-shaped cottage in Sutherland. Designed to minimise its impact on the landscape, Shore Cottage was built using local stone and is powered by solar and wind energy. The sparsely populated scenery of the Highlands is a definite draw for anyone seeking peace and quiet. At the same time, design-lovers will appreciate the blend of rustic and industrial elements that make up the interiors.
From £1980 for seven nights via Urlaubsarchitektur

Seren Mor in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Welsh holiday home designed by John Pardey Architects
Photography: Unique Home Stays

Enjoy a modern take on rustic living at this seaside house, which scooped the award for ‘best building in Wales’ back in 2013. Bedrooms are located at the bottom of the house, with the living room at the top, where views of the hillside can be best enjoyed. On sunny days, doors slide open onto a timber balcony. If it does get rainy, guests can shelter behind the floor-to-ceiling windows, enjoying views over the Newport estuary as well as Skomer Island and its population of puffins and seals.
From £2650 per week via Unique Home Stays

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