The American autumn travel trend of leaf peeping has hit the UK, and many people are ‘fall-ing’ for it.
With summer soon losing its bloom – ushering in autumn which will bring its own natural palette to Britain’s forests, arboretums, parks and gardens – the UK has become one of the best places in the world to see the falling autumn leaves as they change from bright green to a kaleidoscopic spectrum of red, orange and yellow.
2022 is the year of the staycation, good news for the growing band of “leaf peepers” in the UK, who are now discovering the pleasure and comfort in the turning of the seasons and leaves turning from greens into fiery reds, golden yellows and rich burgundies.
For those keen to enjoy this magical time to the fullest, Pride of Britain Hotels spotlights four of the best places to stay which are right in the middle of the action. From a five-star 17th century mansion to a spa haven near Tetbury, these stunning accommodations have the best views of the leaves turning.
The New Forest, Hampshire
The New Forest is the closest spot going to get to a New England fall this side of the Atlantic. Charmingly, the famous New Forest ponies are transferred to fields during the autumn – with pigs released in their stead to eat fallen acorns per the pannage tradition.
Nearby and looking very autumnal in October is Lainston House, Hampshire, a five-star hotel set in 63 acres of woods and parkland just outside Winchester. Based around an elegant 17th-century mansion, Lainston House offers guests a mix of good food, luxurious accommodation and leafy, open spaces. There’s a choice of two restaurants: the more formal Avenue takes its name from the avenue of lime trees outside, while the Wellhouse offers wood-fired dishes such as skate wing, spiced butternut and venison. Meanwhile, next door, Season is the hotel’s cookery school. All draw heavily on the vibrant kitchen garden.
Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
Autumn goes way over the top at this Cotswold garden and parkland. Westonbirt Arboretum is home to thousands of tree species from all over the globe, and they put on an incredible display of golds, pinks, glowing reds and vibrant yellows as autumn hoves into view. Guests shouldn’t miss Acer Glade or Maple Loop for extra eye-popping hues.
A mere 15 minutes’ drive away is Calcot & Spa, where guests can witness the romance of Gloucestershire in the Autumn. This beautifully created haven near Tetbury provides outstanding facilities for families as well as a serene space for adults, all in glorious 220-acre grounds. It has a wonderful spa, generously designed rooms, and offers sumptuous food in a bistro-pub or fine dining restaurant.
Coombe Hill, Buckinghamshire
One can get a stellar view of the Chiltern Hills in all their autumnal glory from the crest of Coombe Hill. In fact, on a clear day guests can see all the way to the Cotswolds. For keen ramblers, there are many nearby walking trails sweeping through a canopy of golden beech trees or the moss-covered Low Scrubs woodland at the foot of the hill.
Just 10 minutes’ drive away guests can be dazzled this autumn at Hartwell House & Spa, a spectacular country house hotel set in 90 acres of beautiful grounds – with a fine spa, excellent dining, sumptuous rooms and colourful royal history. Owned by the National Trust and stuffed with antique treasures, this is no ordinary hotel, especially in Autumn.
Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Between the 1920s and 1960s, Anglesey Abbey’s then-owner Lord Fairhaven made countless renovations to the house and grounds, transforming its meadows into a Georgian-style garden. Designed to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Temple Lawn in particular, is filled with colourful elms and willows.
For accommodation, nearby and looking very autumnal in October is the four AA Red Star Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, which sits in three acres of secluded, landscaped gardens adjacent to Newmarket’s famous paddocks and horse-racing training stables. The hotel is well-known for its stunning gardens and open leafy spaces for extra eye popping hues.
See you on the other side, summer.