20 best cosy UK cottages for a winter break

From the Highlands to Cornwall, we select stylish boltholes on hills, coasts and in deep, soothing countryside. Come on, light that fire …

Brooke Cottage, Norfolk

Good for: seabirds and snowdrops
This 17th-century brick-and-flint two-bedroom cottage in Great Walsingham looks like a picture postcard. And its cosiness rating is off the scale: there’s a large inglenook fireplace, a wood-burner, exposed beams, a twisting staircase and doors you need to duck to get under. You’ll find inspiration on what to do in the bathroom, which is papered with local maps. For instance, it’s a short amble to Little Walsingham, home to the gastro Black Lion hotel and a ruined abbey known for its dazzling snowdrop displays. And it’s only five miles to Holkham’s endless beach, for the most refreshing winter walks.
Sleeps four, from £435 for three nights or £531 a week, norfolkhideaways.co.uk

Abbot’s Loft, Cornwall

Abbot’s Loft, sitting room

Good for: being slap bang on the water
You couldn’t be any closer to the sea than you are at this former sail workshop, one of Falmouth’s oldest buildings. At high tide, waves smack against the whitewashed walls – especially atmospheric on wild winter days. The bright, vaulted three-bedroom property has lovely nautical touches – portholes, ships’ lanterns and fitting artwork. Best are the crow’s nest lookout and the reading nook, both snug spaces for curling up with a book and harbour views. Falmouth has a train station, with links to the rest of the country via Truro, bracing coast walks nearby, and the St Mawes ferry, which opens up trails on the ravishing Roseland peninsula, runs 364 days a year.
Sleeps six, from £706 for three nights or £960 a week, cornishholidaycottages.com

The Old Ticket Office, Devon

The Old Ticket Office with train going by

Good for: car-free roaming
Too often the best cottages require a car both to get there and to explore. Not so the Old Ticket Office, a cute one-bedroom hideaway that sits on the platform at Eggesford, midway along Devon’s coast-to-coast Tarka Line. Listen to trains roll past as you sit by the wood-burner in the living area of the handsomely converted old station building. Then hop on board one: to riverside Barnstaple (and the sea beyond), to lively Exeter (for its festive Winter Wonderland) or to tackle one of the Tarka Line walks – 60 hikes are mapped out from the railway’s 13 rural stations.
Sleeps two, from £329 for three nights or £400 a week, stayindevon.co.uk

Hare Cottage, Cheshire

The Hare Cottage, sitting room

Good for: falling into the pub
In the Welsh borders village of Farndon, Hare Cottage doesn’t have lovely countryside views – but it does have views of the lovely Hare pub. So no matter the weather, you can hop across the car park to the pub for brunch, last orders or wine on tap (the owners import their own and sell it in good-value carafes). The Victorian cottage makes a cosy base, with a wood-burner, two roomy en suite bedrooms and plenty of books and games. Chester is 20 minutes away by bus. Or try the River to Ridge cycle circuit via the Sandstone Ridge, from which you will get lovely countryside views.
Sleeps four, from £450 for three nights or £1,050 a week, sawdays.co.uk

Blackhead Lightkeeper’s House 1, County Antrim

Blackhead Lightkeepers House exterior

Good for: watching the sea, not the TV
Blackhead lighthouse was built at the entrance to Belfast Lough, just outside Whitehead village, in 1901. Lightkeeper’s House 1, which sleeps five in one double and one triple, sits just behind it, a simple, whitewashed retreat, decorated in pleasingly old-fashioned style, lovingly cared for and rich in maritime details and history. There’s no TV or wifi here – the focus is on taking blustery cliff walks and enjoying the views, which are astonishing from every window, from dazzling winter sunrises to raging storms. However, while there’s a real sense of remoteness, Whitehead is only 35 minutes from Belfast by train.
Sleeps five, from £469 for three nights or £1,000 a week, irishlandmark.com

Brynglas, Carmarthenshire

Brynglas cottage, dining area

Good for: hikes, bikes and beers
Brynglas ticks all the “ideal winter bolthole” boxes. First, it’s a story-filled two-bedroom old cottage, revamped by architect owners in a blend of traditional Welsh and contemporary luxe style. It’s in a dramatic location in Rhandirmwyn village, overlooking the Towy valley, on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains. It has two great pubs – the Royal Oak and the Towy Bridge Inn – within walking distance. And there are many hiking and biking options nearby, including trails at RSPB Gwenffrwd-Dinas (where you’ll probably see red kites) and the Cwm Rhaeadr mountain bike track, which is good and grippy in all weathers.
Sleeps four, from £390 for three nights or £910 a week, brynglascottage.com

The Hog House, Lake District

the-hog-house in green hills

Good for: snuggling into the Lakes
The Hog House was formerly used to shelter sheep from approaching storms on this lofty fellside farm. Now it’s a romantic place for couples to shelter in winter. It’s still pleasingly rustic: there’s a composting loo; a little kitchen but no running drinking water (your hosts will supply plenty); games and a radio, but no TV; no central heating but a cosy wood-burner, and one cute bedroom. There are jaw-dropping Lake District views in all directions and a huge number of possible walks, not least to the Drunken Duck Inn & Barngates Brewery, only 1½ miles away.
Sleeps two, from £425 for three nights or £786 a week, canopyandstars.co.uk

The Doghouse, West Sussex

Sitting room at The DoghouseCastles

Good for: brightening up dark days
If the season is making you gloomy, put yourself in the Doghouse. Formerly the kennels of a nearby manor, this bolthole for two (ironically, no dogs allowed) is like living inside a Prue Leith outfit, in a good way, with hot-pink walls, orange throws, blue-green tiles and sprays of seasonal flowers. It’s all one flowing open-plan space, with the bed to the side of the bijou kitchen, which hides inside an antique French armoire (along with homemade cake). There are plenty of books and games, but it’s worth venturing out. A half-hour walk from Pulborough station, the Doghouse is on the edge of the South Downs national park, ideal for crisp winter walks.
Sleeps two, from £405 for three nights or £945 a week, cabinsandcastles.co.uk

Wicken Rose Cottage, Cambridgeshire

Wicken Rose Cottage, exterior in flat fields

Good for: immersion in the misty fens
Wicken Fen is the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve. In winter, these important wetlands host huge numbers of widgeon and berry-foraging fieldfares, an influx of hen harriers and massive starling murmurations, best seen at dusk. This is easy to do when staying at Wicken Rose, the only cottage on the reserve: you can step from the front door straight into the misty fens. The house has a cosy sitting room with wood-burner, a kingsize bed with views across muntjac-grazed grassland, and a kitchen and breakfast bar overlooking the private garden. If you don’t want to cook, Wicken village has a handy pub.
Sleeps two, from £390 for three nights or £499 a week, nationaltrust.org.uk

Shieling Cottage, Isle of Mull

Shieling Cottage, and coast

Good for: stormy dark skies
“Shieling” was the name folks once gave to the “summering place”, where families stayed with their animals for the season. But this traditional one-bedroom blackhouse cottage – with its biomass central heating, comfy sofas and eclectic furnishings – is a fine wintering place. The views over the stone wall to the sea are fascinating in all weathers, but especially when storms roll in and waves smash the Treshnish headland. Wildlife spotting can be magical here, with good sightings of white-tailed eagles and tawny owls. Walks lead from the cottage up Ben Duill, a good spot to catch winter sunsets.
Sleeps two, from £250 for three nights or £360 a week, treshnish.co.uk

Apple Cottage, Cotswolds

Apple Cottage bedroom

Good for: Bridget Jones Christmas vibe
With its fine church, village pub, central green and rambling honey-stone houses, Snowshill may be the most chocolate-box Cotswolds village going. Hollywood thinks so: it’s where the Christmas scenes in Bridget Jones’s Diary were filmed, and two-bedroom Apple Cottage is right in the middle. It’s a winsome pile of mullioned windows and beams, with an open fire and a terrace enjoying rolling-hills views. It’s just the spot to return to after brisk walks to nearby Broadway and Stanton (both with good pubs). Plus, as the name suggests, if snow is forecast, it settles here first, making for the most romantic winter sight.
Sleeps four, from £762 for three nights or £1,000 a week, ruralretreats.co.uk

Hen House, Worcestershire

Hen house Garden in Snow

Good for: movie nights and mistletoe
The Hen House sits on a delightful 17th-century Malverns farm just outside Tenbury, the mistletoe capital of England. Plan a visit to coincide with the town’s holly and mistletoe markets and festivities, held in November and December. The farm has nine acres of cottage gardens, woodland and meadows, which you’re free to explore if you can drag yourself out of your snug converted barn. Not only does it have a cosy country kitchen, sitting room and bedroom, there’s also a private cinema room, with streaming services and DVDs – perfect for wintry evenings.
Sleeps two, from £365 for three nights or £695 a week, furtherafield.com

Llofft Dau, Snowdonia

Llofft Dau exterior

Good for: the mountains (and cake)
Snowdonia is win-win for winter: on fine days there are spectacular walks to be taken, in bad weather there are slate quarries to descend into. Staying at Llofft Dau comes with extra benefits. This former coach house three miles from Betws-y-Coed is in the grounds of a country house that hosts both a highly regarded Welsh art gallery and a superb coffee shop – simply walk across the lawn for top-notch cake. You’re also free to explore the walled-garden and estate. The two-bedroom cottage feels like a boutique hotel, with original art on the walls and quality furnishings.
Sleeps four, from £384 for three nights or £697 a week, underthethatch.co.uk

Castle House, North Yorkshire

Castle House  living room

Good for: fossil hunting
Lodged high against the cliffs, with a huge bay window, a balcony off the master bedroom and a private terrace, Castle House has arguably the best views in Runswick Bay. It’s perfect for watching North Sea storms roll in, and scouring the beach afterwards for what the winter weather has churned up – this is a prime spot and season for fossil foraging (look for dates of guided walks at fossils-uk.com). The house, which has two double bedrooms and a bunk-bed room, is a real find, with everything you need and all high-spec, from Farrow & Ball colours and fancy appliances to a cracking wood-burning stove.
Sleeps four-six, from £600 for three nights or £1,000 a week, runswickbaycottages.co.uk

Skylark Cottage, Northumberland

Skylark Cottage, fireplace with wood-burner

Good for: bread-making and yoga
There are three traditional farm labourers’ cottages at Laverock Law – Skylark, Swallow and Woodpecker. Each sleeps five and makes a snug home from home, with an emphasis on the eco-friendly: biomass heating, EV chargers, organic bedding and local goodies. It’s an ideal spot for a winter getaway beneath Northumberland’s truly dark skies – you can stargaze around the fire pit outside. You can also join hosts Harvest and Dave for on-site activities including yoga, breadmaking and felt-making classes (for an extra cost). Holy Island is just a few miles east.
Sleeps five, from £295 for three nights,£475 a week, laverocklawcottages.com

The Coach House at Belle Grove, Suffolk

The Coach House in snow

Good for: a touch of Bali
To spice up the season, head for Belle Grove, a working farm-cum-retreat, where a handful of cottages ooze far-eastern flair. Take the Coach House: both double bedrooms – one deep blue, one rich red – have en suites with double-end baths and oodles of wow-factor, while Balinese textiles and exotic antiques sit among the low timbers, squishy sofas and huge fireplace. The grounds beyond are a delight, especially on frosty days, while the community-run Racehorse pub is a mile away and Halesworth’s chef-run Boarding House restaurant is three miles away. Southwold and the blustery Suffolk coast are also close by.
Sleeps four, from £850 for three nights or £950 a week,

Argaty Cottage, Stirlingshire

Argaty table in window with wine

Good for: close-ups with red kites
A stay at Argaty Cottage isn’t just a winter break; it’s an off-season safari. This three-bedroom, dog-friendly bolthole lies on the Argaty Estate, a family farm and award-winning rewilding project 10 miles from Stirling, where reintroduced red kites have been given a safe haven. Cottage guests can enjoy discounts on all-terrain vehicle tours of the estate (home to red squirrels and beavers) and visits to view the kites, which are seen in their greatest numbers in autumn and winter. Afterwards, you can curl up by the log-burner, sit in the private garden or gaze out of the big bay windows at the views.
Sleeps six, from £375 for three nights or £750 a week, argatycottage.com

Smithy Cottage, Highlands

Smithy Cottage exterior

Good for: big nature on the doorstep
Hunker down at stone-built two-bedroom Smithy Cottage to embrace the crowd-free Highlands. Super-cosy inside, with an open fire, wood-burner and abundance of comfy chairs, it’s in the heart of little Kinlochewe – there’s a hotel bar (stocking 125 malt whiskies) and a village store a short stroll away. Kinlochewe is well placed for exploring: it sits near Loch Maree, at the junction of three great glens, with Beinn Eighe national nature reserve on the doorstep. There are options for bracing strolls at all levels, perhaps even a hike up Beinn Eighe – the Kinlochewe hotel can provide winter skills guides.
Sleeps four, from £342 for three nights or £370 a week, sykescottages.co.uk

Beudy Bach, Ceredigion

Beudy Bach living area

Good for: wood-fired hot-tubbing
On a smallholding in the Ceredigion countryside, one-bedroom Beudy Bach (Little Cowshed) is perfect for a winter stay. The stone and slate barn comes with Welsh woollen duvets, books and games, a ladder-accessed snug in the eaves and a log-burner (with unlimited wood). Outside, there’s a fire pit and a wood-fired hot tub, so you can sit in steamy comfort, viewing striking sunsets and star-spangled skies. The on-site honesty shop stocks essentials including bread from the local bakery. Watson & Pratts deli in nearby Lampeter sells everything from organic veg to Dyfi Hibernation gin.
Sleeps three, from £333 for three nights or £587 a week, canvasandcampfires.co.uk

Tom’s Barn, Peak District

Tom’s Barn in the snow

Good for: exploring the national park
Couples may be reluctant to leave this quirky stone pile, where a wood-burner (with unlimited logs) warms the living area, fresh-baked cake waits in the kitchen, a romantic galleried bedroom sits under the old truss roof and the bathroom has a two-seater whirlpool tub. You could get snow in December but don’t let that stop you exploring the southern Peaks – there are OS maps and a folder of walks in the barn, or bikes (including e-bikes) can be hired in nearby Carsington. The Sycamore Inn and village shop in Parwich is a 10-minute stroll.
Sleeps two, from £414 for three nights or £519 a week, premiercottages.co.uk

Sarah Baxter

The GuardianTramp

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