The current UK government review into our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has got us thinking.
Visited by 260 million people every year, these are incredibly special places. National Parks and AONBs are living, thriving areas, whose breathtaking landscapes are considered so beautiful that they’ve been singled out for protection by UK law.
So you can expect to enjoy the very best of British nature, surrounded by joyful birdsong, diverse wildlife, and flourishing flora and fauna.
As the government sets out its plans to conserve and enhance these magical places (there are 46 AONBs and 15 National Parks in the UK), we felt the need to celebrate them in typical Host Unusual style!
It’s time to forget about those hectic city escapes, because we’ve got Ten of the Best Beautiful Breaks to show you, each one dreamily set within an AONB or a National Park.
Main image: Longlands | Devon
Longlands (Exmoor National Park, North Devon AONB)
Representing the best of land and sea, Longlands is located along the stunning North Devon Coast, and on the doorstep of Exmoor National Park.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can bring the dog with you to enjoy all the holiday fun!
Friendly and family-run, there are five safari lodges to choose from at the stunning 17-acre site. Each lodge sleeps up to six guests, and you’ll find it surrounded by babbling streams, a sparkling private lake complete with waterfalls, and a wood-fired hot tub with the most idyllic views possible.
Make your acquaintance with the passing deer, badgers, owls and ducks, before lighting the wood-burner and settling in for the cosiest evening of your life.
The Dovecote (Wye Valley AONB)
The Dovecote is a romantic round tower retreat for two, perfectly nestled in the Wye Valley, and featured in The Guardian’s ‘Cool Holiday Cottages’.
Charming and indulgent, you can enjoy the finest country scenery…without compromising on a moment of luxury in the process. With four sumptuous levels of accommodation, the angelic white suite right at the top is equipped with a gorgeous freestanding bath. Bubbles are mandatory!
Gaze at wild deer, who are occasional visitors to the garden from the nearby ancient woodland, as you grab a steaming hot drink and relax. Opulent accessories include glistening chandeliers, an antique pine dining table, and a Rayburn range complete with logs. Pure bliss.
Swallowtail Hill (East Sussex AONB)
Discovered amongst 40 acres of woodland and wildflower meadow, Swallowtail Hill is anything but your common-or-garden glamping site.
Uniquely quirky and eco-friendly, the charming off-grid retreat is home to cosy wooden cabins, cottages-on-wheels, and a rustic Roundhouse. Each naturally idyllic haven features hand-made, upcycled furnishings, and each sleeps up to four guests in perfect comfort.
Wind-up radios, books and games will make you forget all about electricity for a while, and there’s even a glampsite chef on hand if you don’t feel like cooking.
Cley Windmill (Norfolk Coast AONB)
Tired of life? Visit the charming ‘Old Lady by the Sea’, and restore the wind in your sails!
Noted by The Times as one of the best British Autumn Breaks, the five-storey tower mill was built in the early 19th century, now lovingly restored as an elegant guest house.
Choose from six ensuite double or twin rooms, each one boasting its own individual character.
You could also choose to relax in the gorgeous circular lounge, with its bespoke oak fittings – or head out to the upstairs gallery instead (accessible to all guests) and indulge in a spot of birdwatching over the scenic marshes.
Triumphal Arch Lodge (Fermanagh Erne Lakeland AONB)
Nestled on the sprawling Colebrooke Estate, near the shimmering Lough Erne, your scene is perfectly set for an exquisite and stately break.
An elegant, dog-friendly lodge for up to four guests, the Triumphal Arch was originally designed in the 19th Century by Dublin architect William Farrell, who was renowned for his stunning church designs.
Marvel at the building’s intricacies as you arrive at the impressive entrance archway, a fittingly grand introduction to the estate beyond.
Inside, underfloor heating and a roaring open fire will keep you lovely and toasty, while the two beautifully-dressed double bedrooms look out over fresh greenery, for outstanding morning views.
Little Cottage (Cornwall AONB)
Decidedly not little, this grand cottage is a design-led Cornish paradise for group holidays and stylish celebrations alike.
Sleeping up to 11 guests, the cottage was expertly renovated by Soho House architect Alex Michaelis, and is set within Praa Sands – a true surfer’s and sunbather’s paradise.
While away holiday time on the long, south-facing white sandy beach, safe in the knowledge that you’ve got somewhere seriously special to return to.
Jam-packed with high-end appliances throughout, there’s a bespoke games room for challenging your loved ones, while two large, squashy sofas and a giant bean bag set the scene for cosy lounge chats.
Sea-view bedrooms, each with its own indulgent ensuite, complete the stylish picture here (not to mention the bubbling Jacuzzi in the garden!)
Scargill Castle (Lake District National Park, North Pennines AONB)
A 16th century Teesdale palace, Scargill Castle was rescued from ruin in recent years, and duly transformed into the ultimate historic retreat for two.
Close to the invigorating Yorkshire Dales, you’ll make a grand entrance through your very own sheltered courtyard garden, and into a stunning arched hallway.
The dining area is framed by ornate roof beams uniquely carved from trees felled over 400 years ago, while antique furnishings will take you back to soothing times past.
Wake to bedroom-window views of the high moors in the distance – ideal for enjoying over a steaming mug of fresh coffee, then take a long, luxurious soak in the roll top bath. With a wealth of beautiful Pennine Way walks beginning right from your front door, you’ll find plenty to do for the rest of the day.
Chicken Shed Lodge (Cotswolds AONB)
Featuring a Bluetooth-equipped hot tub, and a private geodesic dome for stargazing, it’s fair to say that Chicken Shed Lodge is no ordinary coop!
Sleeping up to five people in sumptuous farmland comfort, here you’ll find everything you need for a luxurious country break, with much more besides (including visits from the friendly resident ponies).
From the huge, furnished wraparound sun deck, to the cosy lovers’ bench that showcases Edgehill in all its glory, it’s clear that indulgent relaxation is paramount here.
Al fresco dining is a must, since you’ll have a charcoal pizza oven and barbecue at your easy disposal…oh, and don’t forget to soak in the amazing hot tub afterwards. Just cue up your favourite songs (along with a bottle of bubbles, of course) and you’re all set.
Short House Chesil Beach (Dorset AONB)
A gorgeous cottage on Dorset’s World Heritage Jurassic Coast, Short House, Chesil Beach is surrounded by National Trust farmland, for truly unbeatable views in every direction.
You’ll also have private access to the famous Chesil Beach, just 400 metres from the house.
A beautifully restored barn, you’ll discover a light and colour-filled space, complete with sumptuous furnishings, sea-view bedrooms, limestone-tiled bathrooms, and all the high-end appliances you could wish for (BOSE Sound Dock, anyone?)
There’s an on-site tennis court to enjoy, and better still, you can bring your dog – or even your horse! – along to enjoy the experience with you.
Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans (Wye Valley AONB)
Nestled in a magical wildflower meadow, Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans is the kind of dream setting you see in magazines, with spectacular views out to the Black Mountains.
Here you’ll find four striking, west-facing vans, each one with its own unique personality, and styled to vintage perfection.
Whichever you pick, you’ll marvel at the exquisite, loving attention to detail paid throughout. Hot water bottles, vintage quilts and blankets are all provided, plus soft feather duvets and plump pillows to ensure you’re kept perfectly snug during your stay.
Twinkling solar lanterns will give your evenings a warm glow, while the crackling communal campfire is perfect for toasting marshmallows with new friends.
So, have we tempted you with a beautiful foray into British nature yet? We’ve got plenty more heavenly stays to choose from…simply browse through our many categories to find your favourite.