The Ferry House, Port Appin
The term unique crops up a lot on the luxury rural property website Sheepskin Life, it seems they’re at pains to emphasise their difference. There is no corporate blandness here. The quality of properties is uniformly high and the service is tailormade, concierge style.
The Ferry House, Port Appin is the company’s first Scottish property and it’s a Highland gem. Situated on the shores of Loch Creran, the Ferry House is the stuff dreams are made of. Seclusion, uninterrupted lochside views, private beach and 66 acres of fields and forest to explore.
Inside the house is decorated in restful muted tones and contemporary style. Log burning stove, and underfloor heating ensure the cosy factor and luxurious little touches include a personal ‘to do’ guide based on your holiday preferences, a jute shopper filled with first world essentials such as extra virgin olive oil and Sheepskin’s own blend roast and ground coffee, plus hotel style robes and iPod docking station.
Worth knowing: Oysters and seafood just along the road at the Creagan Inn.
Ballymaloe Cookery School
If you’ve ever nurtured a dream of running away to domestic goddess school where you learn to whip cream into pillowy peaks and make pastry so light that it floats, then Ballymaloe Cookery School is for you. Nestled on Ireland’s south coast, within easy reach of Cork airport, Darina Allen’s cook school puts every similar enterprise in the shade.
For a start the school is located within the 100 acre Allen family farm. Ten acres are given over to organic market gardens, orchards and greenhouses growing produce for the school, the school itself is housed within the gorgeous old farm buildings and cottages around the estate are available for let to students and visitors. Here it’s a warm, food loving, family affair.
Worth knowing: You can rent Rocket House on the harbour at nearby Ballycotton and pop along for one of the half-day courses.
Hotel du Vin, Cambridge
Cambridge may not immediately present itself as a city break destination in the giddy scheme of things but it has quiet, historic charms and a weekend of poking about its cobbled streets is a restorative treat after a long winter.
Stay at Hotel du Vin, in a former university building in Trumpington Street, right in the heart of Cambridge. There are 41 rooms and suites, roll top baths, big comfy beds and as we’ve come to expect from Hotel du V, a fabby in-house bistro.
If you can drag yourself from the comfort of your room, visit Kettle’s Yard, former home of Jim Ede, curator at the Tate. Together with his wife Helen, Jim amassed a thoughtful collection of artworks and design curios during the mid-twentieth century. His home, now a museum retains the stylistic hallmarks and gentle, Scandinavian design ethos of this period. Take a walking tour of the University and Colleges. Enjoy an off-season punt on the Camb; we understand blankets are available in the chilly season.
Country House Hideouts
At A Hume we love a glamp and applaud the trend that indulges outdoor loving softies. Where’s the honour in spending your hard earned holidays damp in your very bones, or sleepless through the nights as rain beats incessantly against your charmless nylon tent?
We are completely seduced by the Safari style luxury of Country House Hideouts and won us over by their cowboyish Wagon Train cooking carts. Not to mention the uber-barrel bathing tubs and discovery tent kitted out with telescope, microscope and binoculars for budding naturalists. This is the perfect way to slope off to the back woods with your chums or your family.
Country House Hideouts are located in the grounds of three Country House Estates; Layer Marney Tower, Essex; Wryesdale Park, Lancashire and Chesters Estate, Scottish Borders. The main tent will sleep a maximum of six and accommodation can be extended to sleep two more in the Discovery tent at minimal cost. Within the grounds of each property there is endless opportunity to mess about in water, woodland and field, to bike down country lanes, or simply lie back in the long grass and look at the sky.