Barnsley House, Gloucestershire
The most spectacular aspect of this 17th-century house is the exquisite garden stretching over 11 acres (see photoshoot on previous pages). Designed by the late horticulturalist, Rosemary Verey (whose clients included Prince Charles and Elton John), her spirit still thrives in a garden that has beautiful herbaceous borders, a laburnum walk and a pretty vegetable plot. Inside, contemporary art decorates otherwise unadorned walls and old beams are left exposed. Each of the bedrooms is luxurious and individual. One has two baths in the middle of the room. Another has a huge glittering disco ball. Make sure you walk through the picture-perfect Barnsley to the Village Pub for top-notch English cooking using fresh vegetables from the hotel's garden. After lunch, head to the recently completed state-of-the-art spa, tucked away in what was once the walled garden. The perfect indulgent weekend. Barnsley House, Cirencester, Gloucestershire (+ 44 (0)1285 740000; barnsleyhouse.com). Rooms cost from £275 per night.
Gilpin Lodge, Lake District
Times have changed mightily since the 1970s when Lake District luxury meant an extra chunk of Kendal Mint Cake. Gilpin Lodge is one of the new breed of hotels luring a younger generation to Cumbria with a winning combination of old-school country-house charm and modern touches, such as Michelin-starred cuisine.
The most romantic spot is the garden suite with a private outside area and hot tub where you can sip Champagne and defy the chilliest Cumbrian evening. The rate includes a five-course dinner, but it's worth paying the £50 surcharge for the outstanding eight-course gourmet menu. Each dish is served with a beautifully matched wine. Make sure you hike up a large mountain beforehand to work up a suitable appetite. Gilpin Lodge Country House Hotel, near Windermere, Cumbria (+44 (0) 1539 488818, gilpinlodge.co.uk). Rooms from £125 per person per night.
Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
One of Britain's most stately of homes, the poet Samuel Johnson paid tribute to Luton Hoo's magnificence, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh honeymooned here and it's one of Britain's most popular film locations (credits include Enigma, Vanity Fair and Bleak House). Built in 1767, it is surrounded by more than a thousand acres of Capability Brown gardens. This month, Luton Hoo reopens as a five-star, 144-room hotel, where guests will certainly feel like royalty. Its opulence is evocative of sumptuous Edwardian taste and the grand Wernher restaurant feels reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles. There will be a spa, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a croquet lawn and a boating lake. You just might need more than a weekend. Luton Hoo, the Mansion House, Luton, Bedfordshire (+44 (0)1582 734437, lutonhoo.co.uk). Rooms from £325 per night.
Ardanaiseig Hotel, Argyll
This hotel in the heart of the Highlands is the perfect bolthole overlooking the craggy beauty of Loch Awe. While keen ramblers will want to don their walking boots, clay-pigeon shooting, stalking and fishing (the loch is famous for its wild brown trout) will also blow away any lingering cobwebs. In winter, there's skiing in nearby Glen Coe and Ben Nevis. But if braving the elements isn't your thing, the views - either of the loch or the hotel's magnificent gardens - are just as breathtaking from one of the 17 bedrooms. For the best vista, book the Boatshed down by the jetty. The hotel's restaurant has excellent local produce, particularly seafood, and don't miss tasting one of the 50 single-malt whiskies from the hotel's extensive cellar. Ardanaiseig Hotel, Argyll (+44 (0)1866 833 333, ardanaiseig.com). Rooms from £53 pppn. BA flies to Glasgow from Gatwick, Heathrow and City. Visit ba.com.
Portmeirion, North Wales
Redefining the Seven Wonders of the World has become a popular pastime. We're not sure there is an official Seven Wonders of Britain yet, but if there is and Portmeirion Village isn't included, there's going to be trouble. It was created by the architect and social reformer, Clough William-Ellis, between 1925 and 1975, when he found an enchanted peninsula in Snowdonia and planted it with exotic foliage and erected fantastical villas.
If you don't stay in the main building, you'll be assigned one of William-Ellis's playful, candy coloured houses. During the day, thousands of visitors descend on the village, a minority of whom are devotees of the cult 1960s show The Prisoner, which was filmed here. After that, the place is yours, and you'll never forget it. Portmeirion, Gwynedd (+44 (0)1766 770228, portmeirion-village.com). Double rooms from £167 a night.
Contributors: Mark Jones, Amit Srivastava, Kerry Smith, Harriet Cooper