Sometimes one day is just not enough time for an antiques-hunting trip. Take your pick of one of these pretty boltholes in locations dangerously close to an array of tempting shops.
The Black Lion, Little Walsingham, Norfolk
The Black Lion Hotel in Little Walsingham, a pretty village in Norfolk famed for its ruined priory, reopened in July after a hefty makeover.
Today, the decor is all neutral tones and quirky country antiques – think pitchforks, garden sieves, saddles and grain-sack curtains. The six bedrooms are simply styled with William Yeoward cushions, wooden floors and rugs.
In the village, you’ll find the newly opened Holt Antiques at Walsingham Mill, which is connected to Holt Antique Furniture round the corner (63 High Street).
A 20-minute drive away is Holt where you’ll be in for an antiquing treat. Hector’s of Holt (2 Chapel Yard), Richard Scott Antiques (30 High Street; 01263 712479) and Holt Antiques & Interiors Centre (Thornage Road) on the outskirts of town were our favourites.
From £85 for a double room with breakfast. 01328 820235; blacklionhotelnorfolk.co.uk
The Wood Norton, Worcestershire
Nestled in a wooded hillside just outside of Evesham, this Grade II-listed, 19th-century pile was originally built as a hunting lodge for Duc D’Orleans, pretender to the French throne and, with its gothic architecture, its exterior is suitably impressive.
The Wood Norton opened as a hotel just two years ago and, happily, its credentials as a venue are as impressive as its history. Rooms are elegantly luxe – oak panelling, crisp white linens and Miller Harris toiletries – and the restaurant menu satisfyingly hard to choose from (featuring plenty of game).
If the weather’s good, you can take afternoon tea on the lawn overlooking the Evesham vale.
If you can drag yourself away from the plush surroundings, the chocolate-box town of Broadway has a decent smattering of fine art shops (including Hayes Fine Art of Broadway and Priory Gallery Broadway) and is only a short jaunt from the hotel.
Prices start at £99 for a double room with breakfast. 01386 765611; thewoodnorton.com
Ballathie House Hotel, Perthshire
Rarely have we found somewhere more authentically Scottish than Ballathie House Hotel. Even at 7am, weary from the Caledonian Sleeper train with its ludicrously snug duvets, the ever-cheery Ballathie staff were ready to soothe with ‘a wee cup of tea’.
The house is an old hunting lodge steadily being renovated in grand Scottish country style, with a big focus on its food. Skye smoked salmon and heaps of scrambled eggs at breakfast were perfect for sustaining a day’s rigorous antique hunting.
Though antiquing in Perthshire requires a car, driving through the Highlands is a treat. We dropped into the Scottish Antiques & Arts Centre nestled in the foothills at Abernyte, which has both antique and modern pieces.
Homer at The Watermill in Aberfeldy was another pleasure. Set in an old mill, the shop is piled high with Scandi-design and lovely throws. The mill is also home to a café with outstanding cakes: both we and the car returned rather full.
Prices from £150 for a double room with dinner and breakfast. 01250 883268; ballathiehousehotel.com
Russell’s of Clapton, Chatsworth Road, Hackney
‘Antiques, in Hackney?’ we hear you cry. Once famous for its inner-city problems it is now known for its crazy house prices and for being home to the highest concentration of artists in the world.
Set in an unassuming terrace the walls are white, the floors are stripped and the rooms are decorated with reclaimed furniture, vintage lamps and prints and splashes of colourful cushions against crisp white bedding.
From here explore the best of what the new Hackney has to offer, starting with the galleries off Viner Street and Cambridge Heath Road. Also close by are the Whitechapel Gallery, the Geffrye Museum and Spitalfields with its weekly Thursday antique market.
On Chatsworth Road try Shane’s for seasonal modern British food and Triangle for gifts and jewellery. Nearby Paradise Works is an Aladdin’s cave of mid-century furniture and Proper Old by Hackney Downs station is a great place for a rummage.
Prices start from £98 with breakfast. 07976 669906; russellsofclapton.com
Grays Court, York
Wend your way through a warren of ancient cobbled ‘stickleways’ (alleys) in the shadow of York Minster, cross a pretty courtyard, push open a heavy wooden door and prepare to step back in time.
This is Grays Court, a splendid seven-bedroom hotel steeped in history, where all manner of dignitaries have stayed, from kings to archbishops.
We love the stunning Willoughby room, with its William IV four-poster bed and views across the garden to the city wall. There are log fires, inviting window seats, plush carpets – and you’re just a stone’s throw from excellent shops.
Start your antique hunting at Red House Antique Centre, with over 50 dealers and room after room to explore. Head upstairs for Art Deco pieces – we spotted a good range of Clarice Cliff tableware. Nearby, Dave Dee’s eclectic Banana Warehouse is packed to the rafters with second-hand furniture and vintage treasures, from sideboards to deckchairs.
Don’t miss The Antiques Centre, then check out vintage clothing emporium Purple Haze Vintage for fabulously curated fashion. Finish by popping into Sue Ryder on Goodramgate and sneak upstairs to the secret vintage room.
Prices from £166 for a double room and breakfast. 01904 612613; grayscourtyork.com
Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Wales
The owners of Felin Fach Griffin, a restaurant with rooms set between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, believe that a good stay is down to simple things done well.
The pub has low-beamed ceilings, scrubbed wooden tables and deep-hued walls with an Aga in the dining area. The décor includes Welsh blankets and tapestry curtains amid brown furniture.
Food is mostly local and much hails from the organic kitchen garden. For breakfast, apple juice is from nearby Talybont, fish from Black Mountains Smokery and eggs from the village.
Also enjoy bookish Hay for a spot of vintiquing. A town long known for its antiques and vintage offerings, there have been new developments recently. The Old Electric Shop, which opened in larger premises during this year’s Hay Festival, is a funky, well-curated mix of fashion, furniture and storage.
Also venture west into the Beacons to Trecastle on the A40 between Brecon and Llandovery to browse Trecastle Antiques & Salvage Centre.
Prices start from £125 for a double room with breakfast. 01874 620111; felinfachgriffin.co.uk
Trevose Harbour House, St Ives, Cornwall
Tucked away in one of St Ives’ winding lanes, this stylish boutique B&B is cool, calm and collected, with a crisp blue and white theme throughout, softened by the mellow hues of restored wood. The relaxing interiors are a fusion of vintage pieces against a backdrop of minimalist modern luxury.
Home to a thriving arts colony since the 1920s, the creative spirit still burns brightly in St Ives. The town boasts its own Tate gallery displaying British and international modern art, while the fascinating Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden gives you the chance to admire her magnificent sculptures in their natural habitat.
There are also a number of artisan studios to visit and, for collectors, The Vintage Store and Cafe on the harbour front has an ecletic selection of items, while Tremayne Applied Arts is a couple of streets away in Street-an-Pol.
If you’re using St Ives as a base, a visit to David Lay Auctions in Penzance is a must.
Prices start at £160 for a double room with breakfast. 01736 793267; trevosehouse.co.uk
The White Hart, Somerset
With rural pubs shutting in alarming numbers it’s good to see a success story in action. On a chilly Friday evening at 6.30pm, The White Hart was full to its elegantly-unvarnished rafters.
At the heart of the pretty Somerset market town of Somerton, the pub had a style-savvy revamp at the tail end of last year and now boasts an attractive, cosy bar, a beamed restaurant and eight well-decorated ensuite rooms, with real coffee on the room tray and good, locally made toiletries.
After a breakfast of granola and fruit followed by bacon sandwiches, we were off over the road to Market Cross Antiques where 25 dealers sell everything from copper lustre to jewellery, furniture, china and glass. Up to Broad Street and Anne Fisher’s charming shop The Vintage Linen Press was bulging with fabrics and vintage knick-knacks.
Around the corner in New Street is Life, where old and new are mixed with aplomb, with some of H&A’s favourite fabric brands thrown in. Finally, in the unlikely setting of Somerton’s pint-sized industrial estate, Vintage Country Interiors stocks an appealing mix of clothing, gardenalia and statement pieces for the home.
Prices start at £85 for a double room. 01458 272273; whitehartsomerton.com
No. 131, Cheltenham
In the pretty, all-English market town of Cheltenham, it’s a somewhat unexpected treat to come across a hotel that’s more New York cool than Cotswold cosy.
The metropolitan atmosphere is conjured in the Grade II-listed Georgian villa with of-the-moment, quirky decor that combines reclaimed pieces with plush, luxurious upholstery, striking modern art and wow-factor lighting.
Given that there are only 11 bedrooms, it’s exceptionally well served with two restaurant spaces, a bar and two outside seating areas, so you can sip a pre-dinner pisco sour under strings of lights in the garden before sharing a rib-eye Aberdeen Angus steak in the elegant dinning room. As for the bedrooms, these vary in size and decor but all feature a winning combination of old (antique radiators, vintage furniture) and new (Nespresso machine, Apple TV).
Take a cue from the surroundings and shop for a 19th-century industrial table or perhaps an Edwardian chandelier from Blighty Antiques (07970 143907), which is just a 10-minute walk away.
Rooms start at £150 and include a continental breakfast. 01242 822939; no131.com
Compton House, Newark
The first thing you see when you walk into reception at Compton House B&B is a stuffed fox wearing sunglasses and an antique water filter full of walking sticks. Not surprisingly, its location is in the antiques capital of the UK, Newark-on-Trent.
The house welcomes guests – usually on a buying trip in the area – to rooms which are named after the first person to sleep in them (Thomas Hoke, for example, was an antiques dealer from North Carolina).
As well as the Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair a 10-minute drive away, there is also a flea market in Newark on Monday and Thursday.
Prices start at £95 for a double room with breakfast. 01636 708670; comptonhousenewark.com