As welcome as a mug of hot chocolate after a kick through autumn leaves, the new season of Downton Abbey started this weekend. Series five opened in 1924; the arrival of a socialist government threatening all that the Earl of Grantham holds dear.
Watch the drama unfold at 9pm on Sundays on ITV.
To start the new season, we’ve rounded up 12 stately hotels in the UK where you can feel like an aristocrat. There is no need for an account at Coutts, valet or lady’s maid.
1. Rushton Hall Hotel and Spa: Kettering, Northamptonshire
- Grade I listed, 16th-century.
- Surrounded by 25 acres of grounds, with a lake, croquet lawn and tennis court.
- Four red stars and three rosettes for dining.
- Gourmet restaurant, full-sized billiard table and the Stable Yard Spa with indoor swimming pool, fitness room and indulgent range of treatments.
2. Melville Castle: Edinburgh, Scotland
- 18th-century country house hotel 20 minutes from Edinburgh.
- Fifty acres of woodland.
- Clay pigeon shooting, horse riding and falconry.
3. Peckforton Castle: Tarporley, Cheshire
- TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014.
- Four-star retreat with a drawbridge.
- Falconry and Land Rover experiences.
4. The Ickworth Hotel: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
- National Trust property dating from early 1700s.
- Guests can explore the grounds on foot or on the hotel’s bikes and can access the exclusive Italianate gardens out of hours.
5. De Vere Slaley Hall Hotel: Hexham, Northumberland
- 40 minutes from the centre of Newcastle.
- Green championship fairways, bordered by woodland.
- Restaurants and bars, including a brasserie and a whisky snug.
- Spa with Germaine de Capuccini treatments, gym and 20-metre pool.
6. Walton Hall: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
- 16th-century residence on 65 acres of parkland.
- Two-time AA rosette-awarded Moncreiffe Restaurant
- Spa, wellness centre (fitness suite, aerobics studio, indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room).
7. Danesfield House Hotel & Spa: Marlow-On-Thames, Buckinghamshire
- Two restaurants and a multi-award-winning spa, with indoor pool, gym and a range of luxury treatments.
- The restaurant is run by chef Billy Reid, and the Orangery has a gourmet menu.
- Views down to the River Thames.
8. Stapleford Park: Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
- Maze-like gardens, sheep-dotted greens and a resident falconer.
- Restaurant, championship 18-hole golf course and a Clarins Gold Spa, with heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
9. Ston Easton Park: Ston Easton, Somerset
- 18th-century Grade-I-listed building on 36 acres in the Mendip Hills.
- Landscaped gardens featuring a grotto fountain, an ice house, Palladian bridges, original Saloon and ancient wells.
- The Sorrel Restaurant uses ingredients straight from the Victorian kitchen garden.
10. De Vere Oulton Hall Hotel: Leeds, West Yorkshire
- On a 300-hectare estate.
- AA Rosette awarded eatery, champagne bar and drawing room.
- Espa spa treatment.
- 27-hole golf complex with Nike Golf Academy and practice range.
11. Holme Lacy Hotel, Hereford
- Grade I-listed mansion in the Wye Valley.
- Past visitors include King Charles I, William Pitt the Elder and Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice.
12. Thoresby Hall Hotel, Nottinghamshire
- Grade I-listed Revivalist structure.
- Part of the Dukeries: a tract of forest land belonging jointly to the Dukes of Portland, Newcastle and Earl Manvers, whose ancestor Robert de Pierrepont accompanied William I during the Conquest of 1066.
- There’s a living connection to Robin Hood in this part of England. England’s most famous tree, Major Oak, stands here. The nearby church of St Mary, Edwinstowe, is where Robin reputedly exchanged vows with Maid Marion.
(Feature image: Nick Briggs/Carnival)