Quick Trips: Weekend Getaways in the English Countryside

For those looking to flee the city, the question becomes which way to go: north, south, east, or west? Here, the best places to spend a long weekend outside London, and beyond.

Courtesy Barnsley House
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The English countryside—still green, still rolling, still packed with charming eccentrics—is more appealing than ever these days, as overwhelmed urbanites are flooding the area in search of a rural idyll. It’s been more than 100 years since Oscar Wilde wrote, “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.” These days, all irony aside, quite the opposite is true. The shires are far from unsophisticated, even if one still must trade Louboutins for Wellingtons when taking those long country walks. The places to stay in the area respect their past, no matter how thoroughly modern they might be. From the dells of Devon to the wooded countryside of Hampshire, from charming Cotswold villages to the Brontës’ wild northern moors, the evidence is manifold. Crumbling estates have been restored into plush, contemporary hotels. Such is the mood afoot in England, with old-fashioned pubs serving inventive cuisine and upscale stores and spas catering to a cosmopolitan crowd. Today, Wilde be damned, the English countryside—a destination that appeals all year round, as well-suited to long walks in the summer as its cozy fires in the winter—is very tempting indeed. —Sophy Roberts