stately homes available for exclusive hire honeystone house

To the manor born: Britain’s grandest stately homes available for exclusive hire

01 May 2024 | |By Anya Meyerowitz

Lord it up at one of these glamorous country estates that can be yours – for a night or two

There has long been a fascination with how the English gentry live: sprawling stately homes, manicured country estates and, latterly, all the mod-cons that money and good taste can buy. Our interest in this way of living has only intensified with the myriad entertainment on the subject released in recent years. Think the royal residences featured in The Crown, the sprawling estates of Bridgerton, the raucous lifestyle of the Catton family in Saltburn, and more recently, the ‘problematic’ family estate that Eddie inherits in Netflix’s The Gentlemen. And, while their lifestyles are perhaps not ones we’d want for ourselves, their residences certainly are – and now we can, in small doses at least, as some of the country’s finest stately homes are available for exclusive hire.

So, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, planning an intimate wedding or just fancy an indulgent break, we’ve handpicked the best country estates to rent on an exclusive basis; from the hallowed halls of 700-year-old North Cadbury Court to the French chateau-style of a lavish country house in the West Sussex hills, there’s something for everyone.

Ariabelle, West Sussex

ariabelle estate sussex

Best for: Active staycationers

Found at the end of a sweeping tree-lined drive, Ariabelle – as this lavish country home is affectionately known – is hidden amid its own 40 acres of enchanting woodland, winding waterways and wild meadows. Both the grounds and the house – with its French chateau-style and palatial indoor heated pool – have a whimsical feel about them, with so much to do inside and out that you’ll be hard-pressed to feel an inkling of boredom here. Warm up and unwind in the sauna and steam room, hop into the hot tub, chink glasses at the fully-stocked bar, partake in lively tennis tournaments, play make-believe in the outdoor play house, and toast marshmallows on the barbecue at night, before retiring to one of a myriad open fires for a nightcap.

Sleeps 14, from £14,695 per short break

Bowland Hall, Yorkshire

bowland hall yorkshire

Best for: The full Upstairs, Downstairs experience

Yorkshire is well known for its breathtaking roster of grand stately homes and undulating natural beauty, and Bowland Hall – an enchanting Grade I-listed estate in the clutches of the Yorkshire Dales – is one of its finest examples. The hall, with its 17 bedrooms and grand drawing rooms, has been the cherished home of the venerable Tempest family since 1097 and now, for a short time, your own family can play hide and seek through the oak-panelled hallways or outside, among the 18th-century gardens meticulously crafted by the visionary Andrew Nesfield and embellished with graceful statues, ponds and fountains. Adding to the flavour of high society life here, the hall is rented with a full fleet of staff, so you needn’t lift a finger – except to play a game of billiards or raise a toast.

Sleeps 24, from £7,200 per night

North Cadbury Court, Somerset

north cadbury court estate
Image: Rebecca Faith

Best for: Late-night revellers

This biscuit-hued, Grade I-listed, 16th-century country house sits on the 1,500 acres that make up the Montgomery family’s private estate – and yes, if you recognise the name, it’s because they’re the family behind the world-famous cheddar cheese. As well as the sprawling main house, with its own spa wing, the grounds are peppered with outbuildings and cottages, meaning the estate can sleep up to 80 guests. But where this house really sets itself apart from other stately homes is in its facilities for those who love a party. Beneath the traditional entertainment rooms on the ground floor sits a ‘secret’ underground casino and disco space, while the roof holds a golf tee. If you make it to bed before midnight here, you’re doing it wrong.

Sleeps 80, from £7,500 per night

Honeystone House, Suffolk

honeystone house

Best for: Interior design buffs

Built between 1806 and 1808 for high society gentleman Thomas Charles Scott, this 13-bedroomed country estate has lived many a life: from acting as a summer house and cabinet hideaway for many a model and minister to a Rococoan hideaway for high-net-worth individuals across the country. Now, though, it’s a captivating medley of ‘21st-century newfangledom and Georgian savoir-vivre’, with a state-of-the-art home cinema and outdoor pool with elevated views of the estate’s lush greenery. The rooms have a gothic feel, with low-lighting, hand-painted scenes on the walls, heavy velvet curtains, and antiques and artifacts that wouldn’t look out of place at one of the current royal residences.

Sleeps 18, from £6,950 per short break

Huntlington House, Worcestershire

huntlington house

Best for: Memorable celebrations

This classic 17th-century Jacobean hunting lodge has a story to tell that even the most-practiced raconteurs would be jealous of. Think secret underground tunnels, partying royalty, prisoners of war, and classrooms filled with science students. In fact, those renting this Worcestershire manor will be following in the footsteps of some of history’s most notorious movers and shakers, including, man about town William Ward, the first Earl of Dudley. Today, the house serves as a sumptuous backdrop for those celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or just a love of hedonism, with an indoor wellness area – including a pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub – a maze, children’s climbing area, tennis court, and outdoor kitchen. Guests can enjoy freestanding in-bedroom baths, oversized oak-panelled rooms, and fresh, uplifting interiors that any highfalutin society entertainer would be proud of. Oh, and if you really can’t face leaving? Huntlington House is currently on the market from £3.75 million.

Sleeps 14, £6,495 per short break

Pinkmead Estate, Isle of Wight

pinkmead isle of wight

Best for: Nature lovers

Slightly different from the other properties on this list, Pinkmead – just a short drive from the beautiful Cowes harbour – is a country estate and vineyard that offers a unique retreat experience for nature and adventure lovers. The grounds boast a heritage and natural
splendour that traces back to the Neolithic era, serving as a significant historical crossroads. From stories of Romans and Vikings exploring its inlets to its tenure under Henry VIII’s
reign, and later being bequeathed to Queens College, Oxford, Pinkmead has played host to a mosaic of historical epochs. Nowadays, its 24 acres and modest house offer guests a fully-personalised medley of outdoor pursuits – think kayaking, beekeeping, vineyard tours and wine tasting, biking and all manner of relaxing and rejuvenating wellness activities. Those lucky enough to stay can explore the estate via self-drive golf buggies, paddle in the private lakes and lagoons, or settle in to spot some of the rarest birds in the UK. Taking the dinghy across the river to visit the pub on the other side is a right of passage here.

Sleeps 6, from £3,500 per week

Read more: The UK's finest country house hotels