5 places for a staycation in Hampshire
- Credit: Archant
Brits took 57.9m holidays in the UK last year. With temperatures soaring, exploring our own county seems a no brainer
Southern Bell, Hayling Island
Clive Tillbrook and his wife Jo were wandering along the beach at Hayling Island when they spotted an estate agent taking pictures of a house, that Clive described as a "glorified beach hut". He offered to buy it there and then. "The house had been well looked after by the previous owners, but it had no heating or hot water, other than the electric 'over-sink' heaters," says Clive. The fact it had once been an old railway carriage sparked Clive's imagination. He was determined to restore some of its original features: "Inside were false walls and ceilings to hide the carriages and make them more like 'normal' rooms. Wanting to see what was behind those walls added a good six months to the renovation work!"
When the work was eventually finished, the beach house was transformed into a bright, light-filled, modern space with incredible sea views - particularly from the casually hung hammock. Sleeping eight, the property also has its own private access to Hayling Island's Blue Flag beach. The carriage was named Southern Bell with a nod to the fastest steam train of its time - the original Southern Belle that from 1908 took passengers from London to Brighton in an hour.
- Take me there: From £900 for three nights Friday to Monday, or four nights Monday - Friday
No Man's Fort, The Solent
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Sitting in the Solent unperturbed by the swirling sea around it, No Man's Fort was built between 1867 and 1880, on the orders of Lord Palmerston. The fort overlooks the Isle of Wight and was designed as a line of defence against enemy attacks. Arrive by private boat and you'll be struck by the sheer size and scale of this dramatic beast. The Lighthouse - a self-contained, uber-private, two-bedroom penthouse suite - is perfect for those wanting to 'splash' out (sorry). Flooded with natural light, it offers the perfect Solent views and a freestanding bath. Don't miss the circular sitting room at the top of the lighthouse or in the rooftop hot tubs.
- Take me there: The Flash Sale offers a classic or executive room from £299. Current price for the lighthouse is around £850 a night - this reduces significantly during the winter
Located within 100 acres of ancient woodland, high above the banks of the River Rother, you'll find five locally-made 18ft yurts - all equipped with a double bed and duvet, large comfy pillows and a supply of chopped wood for the log burner stove. The newest of the yurts, Willow, has a roll-top bath, with hot running water. Embrace the car-free zone, complete with campfire, long-drop loo, safari kitchen and open-air shower. For a more rustic experience opt for Badger's Bell Tent - set in a private glade with its own picnic table, fire bowl and running water (available July and August only). Families will love the fully-equipped Coppicer's Cabin - where, at the end of a double bedstead, there's a cherry tree for the kids to clamber up to the upper sleeping deck. Stroll to the chocolate-box village of Sheet to sample the gin collection at The Queens Head pub. You can also order a takeaway pizza to feast under the solar-powered fairy lights.
- Take me there: Yurts from £310 for two nights (midweek); Badger's Bell tent from £250 for two nights. Coppicer's Cabin £365 for two nights. Well-behaved pets are welcome.
This cedar-clad riverside lodge sits elegantly on the edge of a small lake, in the New Forest National Park, looking down on one of the most beautiful and best coarse fishing rivers in the UK - the Hampshire Avon. The open plan living area has bi-folding doors that open onto the veranda - which enjoys stunning sunsets across the river, to the water meadows, with an ancient woodland beyond. Take full advantage of the free fishing on the lake, the great local pubs, cycle routes and long forest walks.
- Take me there: From £550 for a minimum of three nights
The Potting Shed, Winchester
Winchester is a solid bet when it comes to holidaying in Hampshire. But if you're looking to stay somewhere a little bit special, you'll find an elegant and utterly charming retreat in a serenely quiet part of the historic city, just a short stroll from the water meadows. The Potting Shed is an oak-framed barn with a secret-garden feel courtyard and is the sort of place you can escape to, switch-off technology and settle down with a good book and endless pots of tea. A real home-from-home abode with fully equipped kitchen and upstairs bedroom and living space.
- Take me there: three nights from £350; seven nights from £650
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