Nothing seems more relaxing that a countryside escape, surrounded by rolling hills, coastal views or natural woodlands full of wildlife. The UK is full of such locations, with quaint cottages, rural cabins and converted workhouses offering off-grid stays when you're in need of a digital detox.
Whether you want to unwind and enjoy a slow weekend or dream of seeing natural attractions and mountain summits in person, we've found a few of the best off-grid stays the UK has to offer...
10 of the best off-grid holidays
This pint-sized Suffolk hideaway has a hint of The Hobbit about it. Surrounded by shire-like meadows and woodland and topped by thatch, the one-bedroom former forester’s cottage comes with everything weekenders might want (including an open fire, a range cooker and a roll-top bath) but without a connection to mains electricity; evenings are lit by moonlight or candles. On the Sibton Park Estate, outside Peasenhall, Hex Cottage is part of the 8,000-acre Wilderness Reserve. Bikes are included in the rental but a large range of other experiences can be added on, from marshmallow-toasting to paddle-board yoga.
Mrs Higgs Lodge
Some off-grid stays come with so many clever energy hacks you’d hardly know they weren’t on the network. Not this one. Deep in a Herefordshire woodland, there’s a real sense of timelessness at this stripped-back, 200-year-old cottage. With no WiFi, a basic electricity supply from solar panels, water pumped from a spring and heating from wood-burning stoves, it’s truly a place for unplugging (not least in the wood-fired hot tub). Wake up in one of the two bedrooms and, though there’s a gas stove for that morning cuppa, you’ll need to venture to an outhouse at the back of the lodge to find the toilet, and a hot shower.
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One of nine holiday cottages on Eilean Shona, a small, wild-fringed island in the Rough Bounds area of the north-west Highlands, Shepherd’s Cottage is, arguably, the most romantic. Sleeping two, it’s one of three off-grid properties; lamps are lit by gas, while water for the clawfoot tub is heated via a wood-burning stove. Like several of the island’s cottages, it’s decorated with finds from owner Vanessa Branson’s Moroccan travels. For larger groups, there’s Eilean Shona house, a nine-bedroom pile that’s fully-catered; JM Barrie visited regularly in the 1920s and Eilean Shona is said to have inspired Neverland.
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In the village of Ysbyty Ifan in Conwy, surrounded by nothing but countryside for a mile, is Foel Gopun, an off-grid stay offering a total rural escape. Sleeping four guests in two bedrooms, the cottage's interiors have been carefully preserved, exuding period charm and a sense of calm. There is limited electricity, with only a generator providing power, but rest assured the log burner will keep you warm and cosy during the winter months. Further afield, the town of Betws y Coed is an eight-mile trip, home to independent stores and quaint cafes, and for the more adventurous of guests, Mount Snowdon is a short distance away, so don't forget your walking boots!
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If you’re looking for digital escapism, this box-like former signal and watch station on the island of Lundy should hit the spot. Nearly two miles from the main village community (and 12 from the north Devon mainland), there’s no electricity and water has to be specially pumped in. As you’d expect of a former lookout, however, it comes with windswept 360-degree views (apparently you can see 14 lighthouses from its roof on a clear night). Join one of the island’s wardens on a snorkel safari or rockpool ramble, then return to stoke the fire, whisk up a cocoa and drift off to sleep in one of two vintage bunk beds.
Surely the dinkiest cottage on the National Trust’s books, Bird How sits in Cumbria’s Eskdale valley looking not unlike a stone dolls’ house. In this remote corner of the Lake District time has held relatively still, untouched by such luxuries as mains sewerage, or WiFi. Simple yet cosy, with spectacular fellside views, the two-bedroom former cow byre (one bedroom has twin beds, the other a bunk bed) does have electric heating, as well as an open fire, but there’s no bathroom; washing can be done in the kitchen and there’s a camping-style toilet in the shippon, or cattle shed, beneath the building.
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Garth Gell Farmhouse
Overlooking Cader Idris in Snowdonia, this 200-year-old Welsh farmhouse has been sensitively restored by architects Hackett Holland and sleeps six in story-book style. Decorated with antique pieces and family heirlooms, it’s full of charm and warmth without being over-polished; whitewashed walls, flagstone floors and sink-into sofas slung with sheepskins let the property’s beautiful old bones shine. Popular with beach lovers, mountain bikers and hill walkers, it’s one for those who truly want to switch off; basic electricity comes from solar panels, water from a spring and hot water from the AGA.
Surrounding yourself with a private moat is certainly one way to go off-grid. On the miniature island is one of Widerness Reserve's classic Suffolk pink properties, Moat Cottage. The thatched Tudor house sleeps 12 guests, with the addition of a one bedroom cottage on the water's edge, and is only accessible by a single bridge over the moat. This rural retreat offers a more luxury experience than some of the alternatives, with a hot tub, washing appliances, coffee machine and wi-fi all at your disposal, just to name a few.
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Located half way up the Isle of Wight's Mottistone Down, this period cottage offers guests a true off-grid experience, with no power to the cottage other than the solar panels for the lighting. With a cosy wood burner in the living room and cooking and fridge appliances powered by gas, you can really take a break from the digital world and enjoy the picturesque surroundings, including unique views over The Longstone Valley. There's also plenty to do nearby; Mottistone Manor's gardens offer a lovely spot for meandering, or for something more fast-paced, Compton Bay is just a short drive away, a popular surfing location.
Boasting views across the tranquil lake and surrounding parkland, a stay at The Hovel will allow guests to kick back and unwind, and for couples, it's a truly romantic escape. Wonderful arched beams hold up the thatched roof, a statement fireplace dominates the living room and the open plan concept allows for uninterrupted views through the floor to ceiling windows at the front of the property. And the best part? The windows slide open, so you can watch breathtaking sunsets from the comfort of the sofa.
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