Peak District's Best Hotels

Peak District's Best Hotels
Courtesy of Callow Hall 

In one of the prettiest parts of the UK, here are the top addresses to sleep.

In the last century, the Peak District hasn't seen much mass civil disobedience, at least at first glance. A vast area of protected meadows, mountains, crumpled fields, and lonely summits might look very different if not for a collective trespass.

During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester and Sheffield were newly created belching, smoking cities that were popular day trips for factory workers. The owners of the local grouse hunting moors treated the blue-collar employees and their families hostilely when they traveled here by train in their thousands. The Peak District was awarded National Park status in 1951, the first place in the UK to receive this protected status, after an organised invasion of the moors and privately owned land in 1932 prompted the lobbying process to get the moors and private lands reclaimed.

If they stay on the paths, hikers, strollers, and cyclists need not fear red-faced land owners' wrath. The standard of hotels in the Peak District, however, remained essentially the same over the next 70 years, albeit in a less appealing form.

For many, the Lake District over in Cumbria was a more attractive option for a romantic weekend amid the world of Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth than bare-bones-basic bed and breakfasts or mediocre ‘country house hotels’ which always came with Corby trouser presses in the bedrooms and ridiculously late check-in times.

The Peak District has finally realized how far behind its western rival it was in the hotel stakes, at long last. We've rounded up seven of the best hotels to know about in the Peak District.

Biggin Hall, Buxton

Courtesy of Biggin Hall Country House Hotel

A part of the Peak District may seem strangely familiar if you're familiar with the fictional Brangwen sisters. A certain DH Lawrence (in the hamlet of Middleton-by-Wirksworth, to be exact) wrote Women In Love just ten minutes from this handsome country manor where she lived.

This is a place to unwind Edwardian style amid the warren of limestone buildings topped with slate, so there's not much emotional turmoil here as there is in the novel. If it starts to rain, take to a book or a board game in the plush library if you prefer to play croquet on the lawn. Four poster beds and mullioned windows make the rooms reassuringly traditional without being dowdy. The Tissington Trail offers a variety of sandwiches you can take along on a day trip hike, as well as a self-serve cheeseboard at the end of dinner.

Ensana Buxton Crescent, Buxton

Courtesy of Ensana Hotels 

The graceful Georgian curve of Buxton Crescent in the Roman spa town of Buxton was in such bad shape 30 years ago that the entire row was evacuated due to roof collapse fears. Under the guidance of Ensana hotel and wellness group, the eponymously named hotel has been reborn after an £80 million renovation.

The place has a raffish feel, which is perfect for a town with an annual Gilbert and Sullivan festival. An ancient peat truck squatting in the lobby adds a quirky contrast to the navy and red colors, high ceilings, and sash windows. Three floors of the spa offer hydrotherapy treatments, an indoor/outdoor rooftop pool, a salt cave and an almost bewildering array of roll-top baths and four poster beds in the suites. 

Peak Edge Hotel

Courtesy of Peak Edge Hotel

The grounds of this stout, sturdy 17th-century stone-floored tavern draw swallows, dragonflies, and butterflies - but the swallows may only be here for a look near the koi carp that dwell in the pond that is part of this gracefully landscaped gardens, just a 20-minute drive from Chatsworth House.

There is a James Herriot vibe about this place where locals talk about cattle grazing just as much as speeding drivers on the road into Chesterfield, thanks to a sensitive extension built of sandstone and slate that feels like a seamless evolution from the original, vaulted and snug-filled pub. There are 26 comfortable bedrooms with Hypnos beds, rainforest shower bathrooms, floral bedheads, and stylish, comfortable armchairs. The owner's farm eggs and fresh bread are used in the sumptuous, rustic breakfasts.

Duncombe Arms, Ellastone

Courtesy of Duncombe Arms Hotel

The white-washed 19th-century inn had been abandoned for years before Laura Greenall and former jockey Johnny Greenall reopened it. By creating a high-end pub with rooms without alienating Ellastone village locals who still frequent the main bar for drinks, they've accomplished the near-impossible. Guests can enjoy hand-rolled nettle fazzoletti with young peas and nasturtium flowers at the back, where Laura's imaginative menu goes beyond chops and soups.

Walnut House consists of ten rooms all individually designed though with some modern touches such as exposed walls, Roberts radios, and showers with water pressure that would rival Yosemite. Take in the sunset from your bedroom window as you sit back, relax, and enjoy Peak District contentment.

The Tawny, Consall

Courtesy of The Tawny Hotel 

A former ceramics and pottery factory center, the Churnet Valley is one of the least known areas of the Peak District. It has been impressively re-wilded after many decades of being an industrial blackspot.

There is a major challenge here in finding the Black Lion Inn. One of the UK's most inaccessible boozers can only be reached by foot across two footbridges near a heritage railway line. Celebrate your find by booking dinner and a room at the nearby Tawny, an immense estate of follies, lakes, beech and birch woods that two local couples have brought back from disrepair.

The original main house has been demolished and replaced by a startling, glass-fronted, modern structure that contrasts gracefully with the lawns and woods beyond. Alternatively, you can stay in cabins, shepherd's huts, and treehouses; all have private terraces and tin spa baths. The Plumicorn restaurant, in the main building, offers a restlessly creative menu created by chef Andrew Watts that is backed by floor-to-ceiling windows. The cider-cured salmon with apple, miso, and beetroot, as well as the pigeon breast with hispi cabbage, hazelnut, and blackberries are standouts. 

Wildhive Callow Hall, Mappleton

Courtesy of Callow Hall 

Ashbourne's charming jumble of old stone buildings has long deserved a good hotel, and now Ashbourne has one thanks to Wildhive's newly renovated Callow Hall.

There are some discreetly chic treehouses and cabins you can stay in at this sprawling Victorian country house hotel set amid woodland. There are only 15 bedrooms in the main house, all bedecked in a manner that straddles the fine middle ground between Gothic and gaudy; think pressed flowers and brightly coloured rugs between stone fireplaces and windows overlooking bucolic acres and rabbits and badgers. In an area that desperately needed quality accommodation, this hotel's pleasingly unstuffy service and thoughtful eco credentials make it a real game-changer.

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