The three best UK holidays to reconnect with nature in comfort and style

ESCAPE the everyday with a hotel break that reconnects you with the great outdoors.

From Northern Ireland and the Lake District to the New Forest, the UK has plenty of getaways where you can relax in comfort and style.

Best for alfresco pampering — Galgorm, Northern Ireland

Celebrity Editor Kelly Allen and her sister Jordan relaxed in style in Ballymena.

THE PAD: Located in 163 acres of stunning countryside with the River Maine running through it, Galgorm is the perfect place to disconnect for a weekend of pure relaxation.

From the moment you step into the 18th-century country house’s welcoming reception, your cares float away, with roaring open fires and cosy corners perfect to escape to with a good book.

Staff are full of the famous Northern Irish hospitality and can’t do enough for you, day or night.

Following a huge expansion, the resort is now home to 125 rooms, as well as riverside cabins, cottage suites and brand-new shepherds’ huts nestled within Galgorm Wood, each boasting a mini kitchen and outdoor bath on a private terrace with views of the river.

You won’t be able to update your Insta fast enough. 

EXPLORE: The spa is open until 10pm and has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and an outdoor thermal village, the first of its kind in Ireland.

There are riverside hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, a snow room, plunge pool and even heated loungers.

It’s so big there’s even a map to help you get around – crucial so you don’t miss the outdoor gin bar beside an apple orchard.

No wonder it’s a favourite with the likes of Michael Fassbender and was  a winner at last year’s World Luxury Spa Awards.

Most guests don’t want to leave the spa (why would you?), but Game Of Thrones fans will be thrilled to learn it’s just half an hour’s drive to the Dark Hedges, the magnificent avenue of beech trees called Kingsroad in the hit series. 

REFUEL: The River Room hosts the breakfast buffet – an enormous spread of all your favourites, as well as local must-try potato bread.

Come evening, the space transforms into a fine-dining restaurant championing seasonal ingredients.

The tasting menu is an unmissable blow-out of locally sourced produce, such as smoked venison, roast halibut and salt-aged beef, £80 per person for seven courses.

Meanwhile, Gillies Grill serves classic brasserie fare, like sticky pork ribs, £9, and piled-high nachos, £11, to a backdrop of nightly live music.

Italian restaurant Fratelli offers cicchetti (the Italian equivalent of tapas), including meatballs and arancini rice balls, three dishes for £14.50, and home-made pizzas, from £12.

Enjoy a tipple or two after a hard day in the spa – Galgorm boasts a collection of more than 550 gins.

DON’T MISS: Soak in a private freshwater hot tub in a secluded riverside spot, watching the local wildlife with a bottle of fizz, £80 for one hour.

BOOK IT: Double rooms cost from £233 a night B&B ( Aer Lingus flies from London Heathrow to Belfast City Airport, from £49.99 each way (

Best for breathtaking walks — The Ro, Lake District 

The land that inspired Beatrix Potter captivated writer Veronique Norton, partner Noel and daughter Ida, three.

THE PAD: In the heart of Bowness-on-Windermere, with stunning views across the lake and the fells, this family- and dog-friendly hotel reopened last July after a multimillion-pound makeover.

Combining grand Victorian charm with casual contemporary decor, its bedrooms are fuss-free and bright, and the atmosphere throughout is cheerful and warm.

The Ro stands above the town, but is close enough for everything to be walkable. 

REFUEL: The hotel restaurant serves everything from burgers and fresh fish to salads and veggie dishes, using the best local produce.

We loved the harissa Cumbrian lamb shoulder with aubergine flatbread, £9. Puds are hearty classics, such as sticky toffee pudding, £5.75.

A huge breakfast buffet is served from 7am, perfect for fuelling up for the day ahead, and they’ll even make you a packed lunch to take hiking.

But if you’re hankering after a lie-in, brekkie can be delivered to your door at no extra cost.

Kids are also well catered for with fussy-eater-approved sausage and mash, pasta and more, £5 each.

EXPLORE: Windermere, England’s longest lake, stretches 10 miles between Ambleside and Newby Bridge.

It’s a short walk from The Ro to Ferry Nab, where you can cross to the west shore for £1 per person. It takes just 10 minutes and runs every 20 minutes.

Peaceful countryside awaits, and the hotel can recommend routes.

We set off to find Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, a half-hour walk through landscape that inspired her stories.

Head inside her old home, which she donated to the National Trust, £14 for adults, £7 for kids (

Or visit The World of Beatrix Potter to learn about the books and meet the characters in a magical setting, £8.20 for adults, £4.20 for under-16s (

Before the return ferry, swing by Joey’s Café for a latte or ice cream if the sun’s out. 

DON’T MISS: The oldest pub in Bowness, the Hole In T’ Wall, is also the cosiest. Sample some great local ales beside crackling fires (

BOOK IT: Double rooms cost from £166 a night B&B (

Best for knackered parents — New Park Manor, New Forest

Acting Lifestyle Editor Emma Ledger, boyfriend Alex and two-year-old Annie had a luxurious time.

THE PAD: Set in the heart of the New Forest, this 17th-century hunting lodge balances a child-friendly atmosphere with high luxury, meaning kids are entertained while grown-ups get a proper break.

Youngsters enjoy a complimentary 90-minute session in the crèche each day, freeing up parents to savour a glass of bubbly in the hot tub.

There’s a games room, heated outdoor pool, heaps of games and a cinema room with popcorn.

They even supply baby monitors, puréed food and milk to your room, free of charge, morning and evening.

REFUEL: As well as a breakfast buffet piled high with pastries, cereals and fresh fruits, you can choose whatever you want to be cooked fresh, from dippy eggs and soldiers to a stack of banana pancakes.

Lunch and dinner service is speedy yet chilled, and kids have their own dedicated menu, with classics such as burgers and pizza, or home-made fishcakes for the more adventurous, all £7 each.

The à la carte menu is varied enough to mean you could eat there several times without getting bored.

Try the beef rib with truffle mashed potato and porcini jus, £26, then blackberry and apple strudel with crème pâtissière, £8.

EXPLORE: There are great circular walks from the hotel, ranging from easy ambles to three-hour hikes.

It’s just 45 minutes on foot to The Pig in Brockenhurst. Book in for afternoon cocktails by the fireplace — our pick is the Give Me Goosebumps, with gooseberry gin liqueur and sparkling wine, £9 — while the kids play in the garden (

Boris Johnson’s favourite, Peppa Pig World, is just 15 minutes up the road. Part of the enormous Paultons Park, it has gentle rides, a huge soft play and even the chance to meet Peppa and George themselves.

A day ticket costs £39.75, and children under 1m tall go free ( 

DON’T MISS: A deep-tissue massage, £80, at the hotel’s award-winning spa will leave you feeling reborn.

BOOK IT: Double rooms cost from £119 a night B&B ( 

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