Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire
Just five miles from Tenby, this 11th-century Norman castle has a commanding position overlooking the beautiful Manorbier Beach with the village nestled behind. It is a glorious mixture of ruins and fully furnished fortification. It’s usually open to the public during the day, but you can have it all for yourself if you stay here. There are three holiday cottages, while Castle House sleeps 12 in great comfort and guests have their own walled garden. The setting for the 2003 film, I Capture the Castleit’s a short walk to the pretty beach and the village pub.
From £650 a night, manorbiercastle.co.uk
Wales’s most otherworldly destination has a beach and 70 acres of sub-tropical woodland, along with a whimsically car-free village complete with cafes and artisanal gelaterie to complement the Italianate styling. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975, and is now owned by a charitable trust. It’s been the location of numerous films and TV shows. If you want to linger longer, there are two hotels and 13 self-catering cottages on the estate, all with access to an outdoor swimming pool and a gentle stretch of golden sand along an estuary of the River Dwyryd.
B&B doubles from £249, portmeirion.wales
Cardigan Castle, Ceredigion
Overlooking the River Teifi in Wales, Cardigan Castle is lovely to hang around once it’s emptied of visitors. Much fought over in the past, now it’s a history-rich community project with medieval battlements and Regency gardens to explore. There is a selection of self-catering apartments, but also some B&B rooms. Head for Gardener’s Cottage which has antiques and atmosphere, or their comfortable apartments in the Castle’s Georgian east wing.
Four nights from £612, cardigancastle.com
Brantwood, Lake District
Brantwood was built on Coniston Water by art critic and social reformer John Ruskin. Day visitors can see his home and his collections, including 2,000 museum-worthy mineral specimens, newly showcased here. There are eight gardens to explore (and a rather good café), but for a more exclusive visit, try one of the three holiday cottages to allow 24-hour appreciation of a view that Ruskin considered the best in Britain, plus access to the lake .
Two nights self-catering at The Eyrie starts at £350 in high season, brantwood.org.uk
Rievaulx Abbey, North York Moors
English Heritage has holiday lets in 20 of its properties, from Osborne on the Isle of Wight to Audley End in Essex. At Refectory Cottage at Rievaulx Abbey, there’s a welcome hamper as well as a powerful torch so you can wander around what was one of England’s most important and impressive monasteries before Henry VIII dissolved it in 1538. Sleeping four in two bedrooms, this cottage may be built on a more modest scale, but the setting is spectacular all the same.
Three nights from £710english-heritage.org.uk
The Georgian House, Hampton Court Palace, London
This stately 18th-century building, full of antique furniture, was once the kitchens and it’s still at the heart of the palace. Next to the real tennis court Henry VIII used, there’s a walled garden that’s yours alone and the attic bedrooms give lovely views across the old roofs and courtyard. Sleeping eight, the accommodation also comes with free entry to the palace during opening hours and the grounds after hours.
Four nights from £1,031, landmarktrust.org.uk
Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire
Come to this garden near Grantham in Lincolnshire in May to see the fruit trees blossom, or in June when the famous sweet peas of Easton start to bloom – more than 50 different varieties can be scented across the garden’s 12 acres. Late summer brings dahlias and autumn fruits. There are three holiday cottages in the estate (plus two more in nearby villages) that give you space to dip into the gardens in early mornings and evenings as well as during the day, plus a tea room and spa.
Two nights from £450, eastonholidaycottages.co.uk
Tiverton Castle, Devon
Besieged by Parliamentarians in 1645, Tiverton Castle, built in 1106, is now a mixture of romantic ruins, walled gardens and a castle that’s still privately owned. A tour will introduce you to its secret passages, medieval toilets and a glimpse of Civil War armour. Walks take you through woodland to the River Exe. It’s even more fun to stay over when the tourists leave. Choose from five holidays lets around the castle, all dripping with ancient charm.
Three nights from £350, tivertoncastle.com
The Round House, Suffolk
Ickworth is one of the National Trust’s most flamboyant properties – an Italianate rotunda with paintings by Velásquez, Titian and Gainsborough. The parkland surrounding it has whimsy, monuments and sheep. You’ll also find the Round House there, which has the same curved walls, plus three bedrooms and a wood-burning stove – and deer grazing nearby. Guests benefit from free entry to Ickworth House.
Three nights from £974, nationaltrust.org.uk
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Perched on its own volcanic outcrop, this is one of the UK’s most famous buildings. It has Anglo-Saxon foundations, a Norman keep and is a survivor of near destruction during the War of the Roses. What’s less well known is that the castle has three self-catering properties. The newest, in the clocktower, provides expansive views of Bamburgh sands and the castle’s cricket pitch, and sleeps five, complete with a corner of the battlements to act as your own private terrace.
A week starts at £3,140, crabtreeandcrabtree.com