In the grand scheme of things, 500 is not a huge amount. It is merely a halfway house on the way to the rather fuller number of 1,000. It was but a tenth of the fighting force of a Roman legion – Boudica would have smiled and sharpened her chariot wheels.
It is not very much in terms of a budget for travel, either. A figure of £500 per person will not buy you a jaunt to Antarctica, a round-the-world cruise, or a journey across Australia.
But it will buy you more than you think as this summer clicks into gear. The following feature looks into the crystal ball of the next three months and finds 50 ways to spend this sum – on beaches, on ships, on bicycles, on foot and on day beds in spa hotels. And it turns out that 500, while never an overblown concept, can be quite a big number after all.
1. Istria, Croatia
When God was pondering how to extract maximum value from time off, he devised the villa holiday – hiring a big luxury property in a lovely location and sharing the cost between all guests. He may even have looked down on Villa Ventura – with its pool set among whispering olive trees, in the village of Sveti Lovrec, on Croatia’s Istria peninsula – and decided it was good. A week’s hire of this property, which sleeps up to six in three bedrooms, arriving on September 15, costs £500 per person at full capacity (£3,000 in total), including Bristol-Pula flights – through James Villas (0808 250 8289; jamesvillas.co.uk).
The splendour of Majorca’s landscape (leafy groves in the interior, the sky-clawing Serra de Tramuntana mountains of the north) is often under-appreciated – but not by Mallorca Farmhouses (0800 121 8992; mallorca.co.uk), which boasts a feast of inviting villas in gorgeous settings. Finca Las Martorell – a farmhouse in northerly Pollença with a pool and views of the peaks – is a case in point. It is available for the week starting Sept 22, for £1,613. Six friends could fill it for a late-summer jaunt, knowing that flights with British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com) from Gatwick to Palma start at around £182 – a basic total of £2,705 (£451 a head).
3. Puglia, Italy
Puglia, the heel to the Italian boot, is a wonderful rural context for a holiday. Such is demonstrated by CV Villas (020 3773 9227; cvvillas.com), and Trulli dei Pini, a property that sleeps eight near Cisternino. Its selling point, as well as its pool and orchard, is that it makes use of four restored trulli – cone-like dry stone structures, once used as agricultural storehouses. The villa is available in the week starting Sept 22 for £1,210. Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) flies to Bari from Liverpool for £123 (with checked bags), and can add a pair of hire cars from £82 a week each, for a maximum-capacity holiday total of £295 a head.
If you can rustle up a group of six willing travellers in the next few days, you can be on the Greek island of Rhodes before the school holidays kick in. Jet2 Villas (0800 408 0778; jet2holidays.com/villas) has an urgent vacancy at Villa Apollo Zeus, which comes with a pool and a sun terrace, at Kolymbia on the north-east coast. In a case of rare value, it can be rented for a week from July 11 for £2,754 (£459 per person at maximum capacity) – a price that includes flights from Manchester, checked bags and two hire cars.
Alternatively, you could ask the same group of six to wait for late summer, then try the forested hills and cave-laced terrain of the French Dordogne. Simpson Travel (020 3468 9847; simpsontravel.com) offers Les Boulvènes, a villa with pool near Sigoulès – and has the “available” sign over the door for the week of Sept 22 for £1,600. This tallies with the Ryanair service from Stansted to Bergerac (10 miles away). Return flights (with checked bags) for £138, plus two hire cars at £149 each per week, comes to £454 a head for six people – or £375pp, if you can stretch the group to the villa’s full capacity of eight.
Those who fancy a more bijou villa break could turn their attention to Italy and Chianti country. To Tuscany (01227 646 040; to-tuscany.com) offers Maggiorana, a little cottage with a pool which sleeps four near the town of Gaiole. Two couples can rent it for a mere £617 in the week starting Sept 15. Vueling (0905 078 1000; vueling.com) flies from Luton to Florence on said day – from £258 return (with checked bags). A hire car to help visit nearby wineries (Domini Castellare di Castellina is on the doorstep; castellare.it) costs £136 (one week from Florence airport; alamo.co.uk). That’s a figure of £446 a head.
7. Marmaris, Turkey
How far can you travel for £1,000 per couple in the summer of 2018? At least to Turkey, where the Aegean will still be splendid in late September. Love Holidays (020 3897 1185; loveholidays.com) can offer breaks to the Orsmaris Boutique Hotel, a pleasant three-star property with pool, by the sea at the south edge of Marmaris. A seven-night stay, including breakfast, transfers and hold bags each way, flying out of Gatwick on Sept 29, starts at £408 per person (two sharing).
Menorca has long been the quiet child of the Balearics, lost in the glow of biggest brother Majorca and soul-of-the-party Ibiza. All the more reason, then, to enjoy its company for a lazy summer trip. A £500-a-head budget will allow you to slip into Arenal d’en Castell, a small resort zone on the north coast. A seven-night all-inclusive stay at the three-star Marina Parc Hotel, flying from Manchester on Sept 22, costs £473 per person, with transfers and checked baggage, through First Choice (020 3451 2720; firstchoice.co.uk).
Tour operators only returned to Tunisia in February after a near-three year absence caused by the terror attacks of 2015. Prices for a stay in a country whose beaches, history and general welcome transcend its recent negative image are therefore still low. For example, a seven-night all-inclusive break at the four-star Sahara Beach Aquapark Resort, on the east coast in Monastir, flying from Gatwick on Sept 14, costs from £498 a head, with transfers and checked bags – with Thomas Cook (01733 224 330; thomascook.com).
10. Hurghada, Egypt
A sum of £500 a head could take you as far as the Red Sea, and into the lap of an Egyptian sun that remains a reliable source of hot weather. A seven-night half-board sojourn at the four-star Labranda Garden Makadi in Hurghada, flying from Gatwick on Sept 20, starts at £489 per person with On The Beach (0871 474 3000; onthebeach.co.uk). This price includes transfers, but assumes you can pack into hand luggage. Checked bags (an extra £52pp) will smash the budget.
11. Ras al-Khaimah, UAE
If you are flexible, £500 a head will also whisk you to the United Arab Emirates. Virgin Holidays (0344 739 6479; virginholidays.co.uk) is currently asking £498 per person (two sharing) for a six-night dash to Dubai’s emirati colleague Ras al-Khaimah – and the five-star Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort, on its west coast. The price includes breakfast. The catch? You need to go this Thursday (July 5) – flying overnight from Heathrow to Dubai.
If you think that a better result of a flight to Dubai is to hunker down on a sunlounger in Dubai itself, then Emirates Holidays (020 8972 8951; emiratesholidays.com) can also offer an on-budget leap to the Middle East’s most beach-facing enclave. A four-night room-only stay at the five-star Hyatt Regency Dubai, which sits in the “old town” district of Deira, flying from Gatwick on September 13, costs £492 a head. The hotel has five eateries – including revolving restaurant Al Dawaar.
13. Galicia, Spain
Spain’s north-west is under-appreciated as a destination, but couples seeking a cosy holiday will find tranquility in abundance in Galicia. Casas Cantabricas (01223 328 721; casas.co.uk) offers Casa de Ramon, a homely house in the farming hamlet of Galdo, 70 miles north-east of La Coruna. It sleeps up to seven – but, available for £600 in the week starting September 22, is great value for a getaway for two. Vueling offers tickets from Heathrow to La Coruna from £89 return (hand luggage only). Add in one week’s car rental at the airport (£165; enterprise.co.uk) for a bargain break at £472 a head.
Couples seeking the basics of September sun and Atlantic breezes can make hay with Tenerife’s competitive pricing as summer starts to slip away. A seven-night self-catering trip to the three-star Arena Suites Apartments at Playa de la Arena, on the largest Canary island’s west flank – costs from £487 per person, including flights from Glasgow on September 15, checked baggage and coach transfers – through Jet2 Holidays (0800 408 0778; jet2holidays.com).
There are at least two reasons to visit Barcelona. One might be a long weekend of culture and history. Another might be to cosy up together in Spain’s most vibrant city. For those who would prefer the latter, Destinology (01204 802 831; destinology.co.uk) can offer a three-night escape (with breakfast) to the five-star Melia Barcelona Sky for £446 a head – flying from Stansted on August 16. The hotel is in the Sant Marti area, a two-mile stroll from the Sagrada Familia. It also has a sun terrace with pool for lazy mornings. Your call.
16. Essaouira, Morocco
Affixed to Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Essaouira has, of late, become a left-field choice for breaks in the North African country – the honey hue of its medina walls at sunset, and the kite-surfing opportunities on its long beach, appealing equally to couples keen to enjoy each other’s company in a destination away from the obvious. A seven-night stay at the five-star (room-only) Sofitel Essaouira Mogador, with flights from Luton on September 15 (including checked bags), costs from a mere £391 per person through easyJet Holidays (020 3499 5232; easyjet.com/holidays).
17. Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Those seeking to drift even further from Morocco’s beaten path may be drawn to Kasbah du Toubkal (01883 744 667; kasbahdutoubkal.com) – which perches at a height of 5971ft (1820m), beneath the stern brow of Jbel Toubkal, the snow-capped beast which stands as the tallest peak in the Atlas Mountains. A three-night stay in September, with breakfast and transfers from and to Marrakech (43 miles north), costs from £298 a head. Return flights to the city on easyJet (0330 3655000; easyjet.com), leaving Gatwick on September 17, start at £188. That’s £486 a head in total.
Often still viewed – rather unfairly – as a last-resort beach zone trapped in a Cold War time-warp, Bulgaria’s Black Sea shore can be a solid choice for an inexpensive coastal holiday. TUI (020 3451 2688; tui.co.uk) serves up breaks at the Hotel Favorit – a three-star with a swimming pool which sits an eight-minute walk from the waves in the aptly named (in summer, anyway) resort town of Sunny Beach. A seven-night sojourn for a family of four (two children under 17) on a self-catering rate, flying from Gatwick on August 20, including transfers and checked bags, costs £1,916 in total – £479 per person.
19. Faro, Portugal
The enduring popularity of Portugal’s Algarve region with British tourists is not hard to explain – a string of comfy hotels, and certain temperatures in the upper Twenties in high summer, in exchange for a flight of under three hours. A seven-night all-inclusive stay for a family of four (children under 13) at the four-star Eden Resort – which lies just outside Albufeira, and has a large pool – flying from East Midlands to Faro on July 18, starts at £1,848 in all (£462 a head) via Teletext Holidays (0189 2254835; teletextholidays.co.uk).
20. Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is a magnet for children in summer, and has extra allure this year due to the “Marvel Summer of Super Heroes”, which has taken over the resort until September 30. A package of direct trains from St Pancras (departing on August 23) and three nights in a family room at the four-star Magic Circus Hotel, for two parents and one child, costs from £802 in total – via Eurostar. Two-day tickets for said three visitors (which provide entry to both the main Disneyland Park and the movie-themed Walt Disney Studios Park) are an added £381 (0844 800 8898; disneylandparis.co.uk). That’s £1,183 – £394 a head.
21. Efteling, The Netherlands
If talking mice and Spider-Man sound too much effort in the heat of summer, the homely Efteling (0031 416 537 777; efteling.com) may be more enticing. This Dutch theme park has big-thrill attractions like its “Baron 1898” dive coaster, but also a “Fairytale Forest” and a classic car ride that sing to younger visitors. A three-night stay – August 16-19 – for two parents and two children in a family-sized room costs £776 (with breakfast and two days’ park admission). A return Newcastle-Amsterdam car-ferry crossing on the same dates is £323 with DFDS (01304 874001; dfdsseaways.co.uk).
Normandy’s siren call as a summer destination never loses any volume. Eurocamp (01606 787 125; eurocamp.co.uk) still has space at the three-star Camping du Golf, at Barneville-Carteret, on the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. The site has waterslides and bikes for hire, and sits by the beach. A one-week package for a family of four, staying in a “Classic” cabin from August 9 to 16, including return Poole-Cherbourg car-ferry services on the same dates, costs from £1,160 in total – £290 a head.
23. The Somme
France’s north-west coast is often underappreciated, and there is an unrushed prettiness to the water’s edge in the Somme department which finds form at Cayeux-sur-Mer. Summer France (020 3475 4756; summerfrance.co.uk) provides holidays at Residence Les Terrasses de la Plage, a three-star complex with a heated indoor pool. A studio apartment ideal for a family of four costs from £562 in the week starting August 11. Return Dover-Calais car-ferry crossings – Calais is 75 miles to the north – for the same dates cost from £178 via P&O Ferries (0800 130 0030; poferries.com), for a total bill of £185 per person.
24. Lille, France
A city break for under £500 a head does not necessarily have to involve a compromise on quality. Luxury long-weekend experts Kirker Holidays will carry you across the Channel (or indeed, beneath it, as the price includes Eurostar tickets, plus breakfast) to Lille, the underrated French city where restaurants fringe the main Place Rihour. A three-night stay at the four-star Carlton hotel costs £412 per person (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com).
If the travel hierarchy of Italian cities reads Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan and onwards in roughly that order, then this is partly because Palermo is less publicised. The capital of Sicily is, though, a bewitching prospect on summer evenings. Cox & Kings (020 3918 2299; coxandkings.co.uk) offers three-night getaways to the four-star Hotel Mercure Palermo Excelsior – from £495 per person in August, with flights, transfers and breakfast.
Brussels is a city of surprising vivacity for those prepared to dip into its charms – not least the Musée Modern Museum (fine-arts-museum.be), which covers art from the late 18th century to the present day, with Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon prominent in the collection. Rail-trip specialist Ffestiniog Travel (01766 512 400; ffestiniogtravel.com) sells the Belgian capital for a song – three-day stays start at £305 a head including train tickets from the UK, and a hotel with breakfast.
27. Krakow, Poland
Susceptible to overcrowding in high summer, Krakow revels in more elbow room come September, when, the elegance of the twin-towered Basilica of St Mary is less lost to a forest of selfie sticks. Riviera Travel (01283 888 952; rivieratravel.co.uk) will take advantage of this on September 16 via a three-night guided group tour to Poland’s second city, beginning with a flight from Liverpool – priced £499 a head (two sharing), including four-star lodging, with breakfast.
Eurostar (0343 218 6186; eurostar.com) has long broadened its gaze beyond Paris, and now offers services from London to Lyon. A direct train out on July 23, with a non-stop return on July 27, costs from £130. A four-night stay for two during this window at Le College Hotel (0033 4 7210 0505; college-hotel.com) – a 40-room boutique retreat in the medieval centre – starts at £288 in total (room only). That’s a mere £274 a head on travel and lodging, leaving budget galore to try one of the city’s many celebrated restaurants.
Is it possible to find a summer break on our home continent which involves none of a big city, a villa or a beach, but still maintains a reasonable price? Yes indeed. Citalia (01293 831 725; citalia.com) offers breaks at Il Borgo di Montereggi and Il Casale – which waits at Montelupo, in the Tuscan countryside, 17 miles south-west of Florence. This is a twin complex of 18 rural apartments, set in a 16th century farmhouse, and framed by a 250-acre estate. A seven-night self-catering stay for two, flying from Heathrow to Pisa and checking in on September 15, costs £359 per person. A week’s car hire from Pisa airport on the same day starts at £90 (rentalcars.com).
Another unhurried incarnation of Italy is showcased by Cities Direct (01242 536 900; citiesdirect.co.uk), which sells a four-night trip through the green and pleasant landscape of north-easterly Emilia-Romagna. Its “Ravenna & Bologna” jaunt ticks off said smaller dots on the map, with fabulous Byzantine mosaics in the former and dinners in the superb restaurants of the latter. The summer-season starting price of £489 a head includes flights.
Spain is rarely reserved when it comes to festivals – but even so, La Tomatina shows the country at its most madcap. Held on the last Wednesday of August (August 29 in 2018), it sees residents (and plenty of tourists) in Bunol (25 miles east of Valencia) pelt each other with tomatoes until the town is one giant maze of purée. G Adventures (0344 272 2060; gadventures.co.uk) has a four-day trip to Valencia (for travellers 18-39) slated for August 27-30, which will visit Bunol for the action. From £254 a head. Returns to Valencia from Gatwick on the same dates with easyJet start at £238 (making a per-person total of £495).
Cruising’s easy style of travel ties in with a £500-a-head budget – and with more glamour than you may expect. Cunard (0344 338 8650; cunard.co.uk) lends its hallowed name to the short-voyages market, and has a three-night dash to Guernsey (cruise Q827) slated to leave (and later return to) Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth on September 28. The second largest Channel Island is an intriguing prospect, its capital St Peter Port alive with historic sites like the 13th century Castle Cornet (museums.gov.gg) and Victor Hugo’s onetime home Hauteville House (maisonsvictorhugo.paris.fr). Berths start at £451 a head.
P&O Cruises will also pull into St Peter Port this summer, but will pause on the European mainland as well via its “Belgium and Guernsey” mini-voyage. This four-day affair on board Oriana – which is scheduled to depart from Southampton on July 20 (and make its way back there on July 23) – will call at Bruges, the medieval city whose characteristic canals make it a realistic claimant to the title “Venice of the North” (even if the prevailing drink is a beer rather than a bellini). Cabins from £499pp (0344 3388003; pocruises.com).
Tui’s cruise brand Marella (020 3451 2682; tui.co.uk/cruise) will also delve into short-trip sailing this summer via “Electric Sunsets – The Eighties Cruise Weekender”. Due to sally out of Newcastle on September 1 (and return to Southampton on September 4), this adults-only jaunt on the Marella Discovery will cool its heels in Bruges and Amsterdam. But it will also focus on music, with DJs – including television presenter Sara Cox – spinning hits from the decade of Madonna, Prince, and Wham!. Cabins from £450 a head.
Hamburg is more than the bar strip where John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete cut their teeth. Germany’s prime port is a cultural bastion – home to the Hamburger Kunsthalle (hamburger-kunsthalle.de) and its wealth of 19th century works by Degas, Monet, Manet and Renoir. Worth seeing by ship? Absolutely. Norwegian Cruise Line (0333 241 2319; ncl.com) will get to the point via a two-day voyage that will cast off from the city on August 23, bound for Southampton. Cabins from £119 a head. That’s enough change for a flight with BA from Heathrow on August 22 (from £70, with checked bags), and a night at the five-star Hotel Atlantic (doubles from £148 – room only; kempinski.com/hamburg).
Bruges can be about more than canals and cruises. It can be a hub for pedal-powered trips which trundle, at easy pace, across the non-hilly contours of Belgium. Flexitreks (01273 410 550; flexitreks.com) sells a five-night “Bruges Cycling Break” that costs from £339 a head during high summer (including accommodation with breakfast). Participants are given four suggested routes, one for every day, each starting out from the city – including a 33-mile jaunt which meets the coast at Den Haan. Return trains from London to Bruges in July start at £100 (en.oui.sncf). Bike rental is £51 extra. That’s £490 per person in total.
37. Umbria, Italy
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066; freedomtreks.co.uk) sells an “Umbrian Escape” – a five-day self-guided cycling jaunt which meanders around “the green heart of Italy” at a slow rate. Specifically, it traces an 89-mile clockwise circle in and out of Assisi, halting in glorious dots on the map like Spoleto on the way. The basic price of £310 a head applies throughout the summer, covering three-star hotels with breakfast, plus luggage transfers. Bike hire is an extra £51. Ryanair flies to nearby Perugia from Stansted. A return ticket, heading out on August 15, costs from £135. That’s an overall amount of £496 per person.
Cycling breaks often go up and down, or round and round, but rarely in an arrow-straight line. This shortfall is corrected by Macs Adventure (0141 530 5175; macsadventure.com) and its self-guided “Great Glen Cycleway” holiday. This is a spectacular 80-mile journey – one the tour tackles in a north-easterly direction along rough trails, from Fort William to Inverness. Prices start at £425 a head, including guesthouse lodging and breakfast. Mountain bikes can be hired.
Anything Scotland can offer, Wales can do just as well. Particularly when it comes to cycling. Saddle Skedaddle (0191 265 1110; skedaddle.co.uk) has a four-day “North Wales Guided Road Cycling Weekend” slated for August 24 – a 132-mile odyssey aimed at experienced riders who want to pit their leg muscles against “challenging climbs and glorious descents”. The first day may be the toughest – a 51-mile slog from Llyn Efrnwy reservoir to Llangynog via Snowdonia National Park. The basic price of £475 per person covers hotel accommodation in Bala, breakfasts and lunches – plus train station transfers.
40. Lake District
Children can also enjoy low-cost energetic travel this summer. Maybe the “Lake District Family Adventure” offered by Activities Abroad (01670 789 991; activitiesabroad.com). This appealing option has a basic foundation – four nights at the Keswick Country House Hotel, at the north end of Derwentwater, on a half-board basis. But it allows participants to build their own itinerary, tacking on activities according to budget. A family of three (child aged 8-13) sharing one room, can book a break in August for £495 a head (£1,485 in total), featuring two activity sessions. These might be gorge scrambling in Stonycroft Ghyll – or climbing a “Via Ferrata” of cables and ladders at the old Honister Slate Mine.
Staying on home shores and removing any need to fly is an obvious way to keep within a lower holiday budget. And there is, of course, much to explore. Inntravel (01653 617 002; inntravel.co.uk) offers “A Taste of Hardy’s Wessex” – a self-guided walking tour through the semi-fictional version of Dorset written into eternity by Thomas Hardy. Across three days and four nights in wayside inn accommodation, the trip ambles from Cranbourne (Chaseborough in Hardy’s world) to Shaftesbury (“Shaston” in Jude The Obscure), via Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Beauty. From £498 a head in July – with breakfast.
42. New Forest
Equestrian Escapes (01829 781 123; equestrian-escapes.com) also looks to the south-west in its short saddle-based breaks in the New Forest. Riders of all ages and experience levels are welcome to opt in to a three-day mini-break which revolves around a family-owned stables on the edge of Hampshire’s leafy national park. The price – £395 a head – includes two nights’ lodging, in a four-star B&B. Extra days can be added.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 818 318; ramblersholidays.co.uk) absorbs the beauty of the Welsh shoreline in its “Ceredigion & The Pembrokeshire Coast” group tour. This six-day jaunt strides the Wales Coast Path via the likes of Gwbert, the Teifi estuary and St Dogmaels, with regular pauses to admire the grand arc of Cardigan Bay. The price – £429 a head – includes half-board accommodation. Departures on August 6, and September 10.
44. The Thames
Explorations with less focus on footfall and more on gentle waterborne progress are possible with Le Boat (023 9280 0357; leboat.co.uk), which rents out small vessels for self-guided odysseys along canals and rivers. Its “Heart of England Short Break” is a fine example – a 60-mile floating foray on the Thames between Benson in Oxfordshire and Chertsey in Surrey, passing Windsor and Eton en route. The company says the trip should take five nights, and suggests as one option a Crusader – a 39ft (12m) boat which sleeps six in three cabins. Six days’ hire from July 25 costs £1,006 – £168 a head at full capacity.
45. Home Counties
A day at Windsor and its castle will also be part of the “Bach to the Future” break sold by Saga (0808 250 6387; travel.saga.co.uk) – although the main element will be evening concerts by pianist Carol Anne Wells, who will turn her hands to the music of Mozart, Debussy and Erik Satie, as well as the titular Johann Sebastian. Scheduled for five days, starting on August 27, and aimed at solo travellers 50 and over, the holiday will be based at the Denham Grove hotel in Buckinghamshire on a half-board basis. From £449 a head.
46. Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
One place where a two-person budget of £1,000 will stretch with ease is a sophisticated hotel in the British countryside. Such as, for example, Luton Hoo (01582 734 437; lutonhoo.co.uk), a five-star property in Bedfordshire that can trace its tale to 1601 – and exists in 2018 with a par-73 18-hole golf course and an elegant spa. A four-night stay with breakfast for two people, checking in on August 22, costs from £918 – £459 a head.
47. Highbullen Hotel, Devon
Highbullen Hotel (01769 540 561; highbullen.co.uk) plays the same winning card of golf and spa, this time at Chittlehamholt in north Devon – with a par-68 18-hole course that chips and putts through 125 acres, and an on-site haven where aromatherapy massages cost from £35. This fits the budget nicely. Double rooms start at £99 in July. A seven-night stay, checking in on July 20, including breakfast, is £812 in total (£406 per person).
48. Gilpin Hotel, Windermere
Pitched on the east shore of Windermere, Gilpin Hotel (01539 488 818; thegilpin.co.uk) soothes the Lake District’s serrated edges via 21 acres of grounds, 25 rooms (some with outdoor hot tubs), a spa and HRiSHi, a Michelin-starred restaurant where chef Hrishikesh Desai produces British-Asian fusion fare. Doubles cost from £275 during September. A three-night stay for two with breakfast from September 12 costs from £826; £413 a head.
49. Rudding Park, Yorkshire
Away on the far side of the Pennines, Rudding Park (01423 844 822; ruddingpark.co.uk) throws out 300 acres of grounds, two golf courses, 90 rooms, a private cinema – and a “rooftop spa” with a hydrotherapy infinity pool (which can be enjoyed for a full day from £81 a head, with lunch). Doubles in September cost from £203. A four-night stay for two (with breakfast), checking in on September 17, costs from £856 in total; £428 per person.
50. Makenay Hall Hotel, Derbyshire
Late-deal specialist Secret Escapes (020 7887 2772; secretescapes.com) is another route to a refined hotel holiday. It is currently running a sale (ending on July 3) on rooms at Makenay Hall Hotel in Derbyshire – with rates reduced to as little as £79. Availability is good for August. Two guests could check in on August 19 for six nights, on a half-board basis, for £560 in all (£280 a head). That leaves lots of cash in the pot for the theatre in Buxton (30 miles to the north-west), strolls in the Peak District (peakdistrict.gov.uk) and pub lunches – at the likes of The Staffordshire Knot in Sheen (thestaffordshireknot.co.uk).