Downton Abbey's back: Vacation like a lord or lady in the UK

The latest season of Downton Abbey hits British screens next week, leaving the rest of us waiting (sadly) until January to catch the third season – dreaming, of course, of being the lord or lady of the manor. Get in touch with your inner aristocrat with a stay at one of these fine country piles.

NB: While you can visit Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, it’s sadly not possible to stay.

Hartwell House – Buckinghamshire
Owned and run by the National Trust, this Grade I listed country house is just one hour from central London and two miles west of the historic market town of Aylesbury. It’s Jacobean and Georgian facades sit handsomely in the middle of 90 acres of landscaped parkland, while as you’d expect inside its huge public rooms are decked out ostentatiously with rococo ceilings, antique furniture and paintings.

Middlethorpe Hall – Yorkshire
Like Hartwell, Middlethorpe is one in the National Trust’s Historic Houses collection. The red brick country house near York that dates back to 1699 was rescued from decay and lovingly restored in the mid-1980s. Today it’s an elegant luxury hotel and spa.

East Lodge at Hardwick Old Hall – Derbyshire
Like the National Trust, English Heritage has cottages located on the grounds of a number of its properties. One of the best is situated next to the ruin of the great Hardwick Old Hall in the Derbyshire countryside. Once a service room to the hall (a laundry), the East Lodge is now it’s now a beautifully furnished, two-story cottage that sleeps four comfortably.

Cambridge Lodge at Audley End House ­– Essex
Cambridge Lodge is a Victorian gate house built in 1842 guarding the entrance to Audley End. The first Earl of Suffolk built the main house in 1614 in the hope of enticing royalty to what he considered his very own palace. Today it remains very much active with working kitchens and productive gardens. It’s one of England’s grandest stately homes, not least thanks to the expansive Capability Brown-crafted landscape it’s set within.

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Image: Richard Munckton)