Lonely Planet Writer

Plan your New Year’s getaway with friends at these incredible UK cottages

Christmas and New Year is one of the busiest periods for travel. The former sees countless numbers of people making their way home to spend time with family, while the latter is always popular for group trips. And with the holiday season now approaching, people looking for the perfect place to ring in 2019 will no doubt be interested in this award-winning selection of British countryside cottages that have proven especially popular with crowds.

Grafton Mill in Worcestershire was recently voted the Best Quirky Property in the Sykes Cottages Gem Awards. Image by Sykes Holiday Cottages

Recently chosen as finalists in the Best for Groups category of the Sykes Holiday Cottages Gem Awards, the properties offer guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the relaxed surroundings of the English countryside and make the most of unique on-site amenities. Concentrating on the nation’s best holiday cottages, the awards had 25 different categories in total, such as Best for Pets, Best for Romance, Best Historic Property and Best for Views, as well as a Customer’s Choice award. It saw thousands of entries from all over Britain and Ireland, all of which were judged on guest feedback on comfort, location and value for money.

High Fellside Hall in Sedbergh, Cumbria.
High Fellside Hall in Sedbergh, Cumbria. Image by Sykes Holiday Cottages

The winner of the Best for Groups category was High Fellside Hall, a detached farmhouse with its own private leisure centre located in Sedbergh, Cumbria. Set across five acres above the Lune Valley, the three-storey holiday home has views of the rugged Yorkshire Dales National Park. The cottage also comes equipped with modern touches that would suit any New Year’s celebration, such as an integrated sound system, high-tech smart lighting and underfloor heating. It even boasts its own fifteen-metre heated swimming pool, steam room, sauna and sunken seven-seater Jacuzzi, as well as a spiral staircase that leads down to a yoga area.

“We love that we get to share [our property] with visitors from around the world. It’s been great getting to know the guests and making them feel welcome with small touches, and it’s a huge boost when you read the wonderful messages guests write in the visitors’ book,” said Diane Handley, owner of High Fellside Hall.

The interior of High Fellside Hall. Image by High Fellside Hall in Sedbergh, Cumbria.

The runner up in the category was Unsliven Bridge Farm in the town of Stocksbridge in Sheffield. Comprised of two houses, the properties can be booked separately or together for larger parties, and can cater for up to 22 guests. The cottage includes an outdoor hot tub, as well as a patio area for barbeques and al fresco dining. Also shortlisted in the Best for Groups category was Jacob’s Lodge in Yorkshire, a spacious house outside Eggleston that has a large, open plan layout.

The interior of Grafton Mill.

For travellers searching for a more relaxed space for a smaller group (it can sleep up to four people), there is Grafton Mill in Worcestershire. A beautiful Grade II-listed watermill near the village of Grafton Flyford, the cottage was voted the Best Quirky Property in the Gem Awards. Visitors enter through a stable door and follow a hallway into a kitchen that includes a breakfast area with original mill-workings and a high beamed ceiling. A better choice for nature-loving travellers looking to celebrate the New Year in a relaxed atmosphere, the property offers quiet walks with an abundance of wildlife.

The full list of winners in the Gem Awards is available at the official Sykes Cottages website.