1 Dormy House
Perfectly positioned in a 17th century stone farmhouse in the heart of the Cotswolds, Dormy House has everything you could ask for a short and sweet escape. Rooms hit a nice line between modern and characterful, two restaurant options offer will see you very well-fed on local ingredients, and there's an excellent spa for seeing off any residual hangover from the cocktail menu.
Esquire recommends: Book a table by the window in the Garden Room restaurant before retiring to a fireside seat with a whisky. Now you're talking.
2 Four Season Hampshire
Just an hour and a half drive from the centre of London down the M3, this Georgian mansion set on a 500-acre estate pretty much sets the bar for maximum relaxation in a short break. From the moment you arrive, this is good and easy living. Have a long lunch on the patio, walk it off with a gentle stroll or bike ride along a nearby canal, head to the excellent spa for a sauna and a snooze, before heading back to the house for cocktails and dinner. One night here doesn't come cheap but you'll feel like you've been away for three.
Esquire recommends: Be sure to book a massage even if it's not normally your thing. These guys really now what they're doing and the bespoke body massage is a great way to address any aches and niggles.
From £250 a night, fourseasons.com/hampshire/
3 Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa
There are two big contemporary draws to this traditional country house hotel. One is the quality of the food at the Michelin-starred restaurant. The other is the unashamedly modern and impressive spa, the design of which makes a nice contrast to the Elizabethean manor house that makes up the bulk of the main hotel. It’s all set in nine acres of parkland on the edge of the South Downs, making it a canny nip down the M23 from London.
Esquire recommends: The Spa offers a man-specific treatment menu – the Men’s Grooming Club. Try the ila kundalini back massage for a much-needed antidote to any office worker's week.
4 The White Horse Chilgrove
A classic English country pub and former village local in the heart of the South Downs which now offers up 15 stylishly decked out rooms and a restaurant that puts simple and locally-sourced British food first. This is no typical B&B, more a restaurant with rooms that marries classic country with contemporary touches – sheepskin rugs and four-poster beds alongside vitra chairs and trendy lighting. Head chef Rob Armstrong likes to keep things simple. No foams, fussiness or over-presented spots of sauce here. Just damn good dishes that you'll find yourself hard-pressed to choose between.
If you can, get a booth table at the restaurant for a spot that feels cosy and intimate without losing any of the restaurant buzz. All rooms have private courtyards but there are two ‘Stag’ rooms with one important addition – a hot tub. Surely worth the extra £50, whatever time of year.
5 The Pig In Brockenhurst
If you haven’t made it down here yet, it’s fair to say you’re missing a trick. This formula of shabby chic décor, comfortable rooms and simple food and decidedly unstuffy service and atmosphere is clearly a winner. No surpise there because they do it very well.
The downside is it’s now so popular, weekends are booked up months and months ahead. Weekdays are less busy and potentially more relaxing. This year, however, sees the launch of The Pig On The Beach and The Pig Bath which will broaden your options.
The real draw here is the food – this is essentially a restaurant with rooms. Unpretentious, locally-sourced and hearty dishes, served in a Victorian greenhouse with bare wooden tables and no airs and graces. The bar and reception rooms are well set-up for pre and post-dinner or daytime lounging.
It won't be a surprise to hear that pork features heavily on the 25-mile Menu which changes with the seasons. The Bath Chap – half a pig’s head served on a wooden board makes sets the tone and makes an excellent choice for an event order.
6 Coworth Park Hotel
There’s a decidedly regal feel to this Dorchester Collection country house where everything shouts quality. The 240 acres of grounds make it particularly good for outdoors types where polo, tennis, horse riding, golf, or just a Sunday country walk are all within grasp. Otherwise, head straight for the eco-designed spa (above) before booking a table at Restaurant Coworth Park before tucking into the extensive cocktail menu.
Esquire recommends: If it's a major blow-out you want, then they don't come much bigger than the Derby suite which features incredible views over the formal gardens and beyond.
7 Cowley Manor
This Cotswolds hideaway may look grand from the outside but takes a distinctly laid-back approach inside where the modern décor and unstuffy staff create the perfect atmosphere for a loungey weekend away. Be sure to find the games room, take a stroll through the nooks and crannies of the gardens where you can order a ready-made picnic lunch and then head for the C-side spa which remains one of the best around.
Esquire recommends: The Signature Room at this Cotswolds hotel has a sundeck which stretches before its immaculate secluded English garden backdrop.
8 Lime Wood
It only opened five years ago, but this New Forest country house hotel has already established itself as one of the destination hotels in Britain. Small enough to feel intimate, big enough to merit a great spa and serious food options with an all-day brasserie The Scullery, alongside top-notch fine dining in Hartnett Holder & Co, run by chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder. The emphasis here is on relaxed luxury in a stunning setting. Not cheap, but definitely one to have up your sleeve when you really need it.
Esquire recommends: nip out of the back gate near the spa and you’re in the heart of the New Forest, and with a station nearby there’s no real need to bring the car.
9 The Crown, Amersham
Located in Amersham – a pretty market town at the last stop on the Metropolitan Line – The Crown is a modern coaching inn with 38 large, stylish bedrooms and an excellent restaurant serving locally sourced food. It's a hotel full of charming original features – think timber frames, open fires and a secluded court yard for the warmer weather – with plenty of gorgeous countryside to explore right on its doorstep. Offering fantastic service and very reasonable rates, there aren’t many more relaxing places to stay within an hour of London than this.
Esquire recommends: the partridge and black pudding wellington, our favorutie dish from the excellent dinner menu.
10 Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell
A couple of hours from London by train, this village hotel matches the standards you’re used to in the capital but has a winning advantage: miles upon miles of idyllic countryside. Inside, the rooms are cosy and beautifully finished while the award-winning restaurant is a delight (try the slow roast duck leg). The Tudor Farmhouse is a great excuse to get outdoors and a reminder of just how high standards have risen in rural parts of Britain.
Esquire recommends: sticking around for breakfast. The fry up is one of the best we've had outside of London.