Prior to 2020 and ye olde Covid, as a South African living in London, my vacation attentions were directed strictly at European jaunts. Being from the southernmost tip of Africa, a European holiday was something you planned months if not years in advance and after moving to London, the novelty of having access to new countries for a £34 one-hour-flight never quite wore off.
Admittedly, this meant I completely overlooked staycations within the UK, and what a shame this was. This list of ‘the best airbnbs to rent in the UK this summer’ is the fruit of my year long efforts to rectify my travel shortcomings. And I hate to toot my own horn, but I believe it’s pretty excellent. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet, virtually exploring every corner of mud island so that you can cut straight to the good bits. From Cornwall to the Isle of Skye and Norfolk, these airbnbs give you direct access to nature, without sacrificing thoughtful design.
And of course it wouldn’t be a Rotaro Real List without recommendations of the ideal summer wardrobe to rent for each holiday. Happy staycationing!
Georgie Hyatt, Co-founder, Rotaro
Romantic Tiny Beach Cottage in Porthgwarra, Cornwall - Sleeps 2
My first recommendation is a cottage I rented last summer for my debut trip to Cornwall. Dubbed “The Mediterranean of the UK”, on a sunny day, it really feels like you could be hiking the cliffs of Majorca. The flora is distinctly tropical, and to reach this beach cottage in the tiny fishing village of Porthgwarra, you have to drive miles down a narrow road brimming with jurassic-like ferns and palms. There are only 18 cottages in this village, and a beach shack that sells Cornish pasties strictly from 11am-4pm (don’t miss otherwise you might go hungry, it’s the only place within 20 miles selling sustenance!). This eco-airbnb is nestled at the end of a lengthy tropical garden that meets the rocks at the seashore. The highlight of this airbnb is the fire pit overlooking the jagged rocks, which on a calm day is perfect for a barbecue, and on a blustery British day, is an excellent perch to observe the angsty Atlantic Ocean.Rent This Cottage
Design-led Cabin On Horseshoe Lake, Gloucestershire- Sleeps 2
Taking top-spot for my staycation Wishlist in 2021 is this Architecturally designed cabin for two perched atop Horseshoe lake. Floor to ceiling windows blurs the lines between the indoors and the outdoors, making this feel like the elevated treehouse of your childhood dreams. Hire kayaks and paddleboards or explore the nature reserve by means of wonderful walks in the area, cycling or riding. There’s also the option to stay-put on your deck and wait for the many species of birds and wildlife to come to you.Rent This Cabin
An Architecturally Designed River Retreat For Friends, Norfolk - Sleeps 14
I have been eyeing out this house for a knees-up in wilderness with my friends since pre-Covid times. The Pumphouse overlooks the river Wissey at the edge of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Wissey Valley Living Landscape reserve. You cannot get closer to nature, or find a more secluded retreat. With 5 bedrooms, an interior spa, and a huge kitchen, this is the ideal place for a family reunion or to get back to nature with friends. Inside its industrial and contemporary with concrete, wood and brick. Outside there is the deck and barbecue, and then just nature. In front of you is the river bank with beautiful walks, and next to you is the nature reserve, teeming with birds. On the track down you will see every kind of animal, from deer to hares to geese and herons - it really is an escape.Rent This House
Togo Sofas and Clifftops in Cornwall- Sleeps 8
I’m leading with these light blue Togo sofas because it’s these two pieces of furniture that sold me on this clifftop property. Everything else, including the incredible views, highland cows and outdoor eating is a bonus as far as I’m concerned. Hendra house is a beautifully restored, centuries old house constructed of traditional Cornish granite with slate roofs. It’s close to Gwenver and Sennen Cove beaches and the elevated position gives stunning views over the sea towards Land's End, the Longships lighthouse and the Scilly Isles.Rent This House
Immerse Yourself In Nature With This Boulder-top Cabin In Birchover - Sleeps 2
Nestled amongst the volcanic boulders and ferns at the top of Eagle Tor this beautifully hand crafted Scandinavian-feel cabin is the ultimate romantic getaway. Relax and get back to nature in the gorgeous wood fired hot tub set on a boulder looking out across the valley, followed by an outdoor shower nestled amongst the rocks. In the cabin soak up the gorgeous 180 degree views from your cosy bed, not to mention the glass roof for star gazing! A covered outdoor kitchen/eating area and a fire-pit to toast marshmallows.Rent This Cabin
Idyllic Stone Cottage For Friends In Bledington, The Cotswolds- Sleeps 6
I have spent a fair amount of time in the picture-book Cotswoldian village of Bledington and can confirm, the Kings Head Inn is one of the most beautiful pubs in the Cotswolds. To get to the pub, you’re required to teeter over a tiny wooden arched bridge, it doesn’t get quainter than that. A few steps away is this gorgeous stone cottage with a private garden brimming with roses for sun-soaked afternoons under the glorious English sun.Rent This Cottage
Big Open Skies In The Isle of Skye, Scotland- Sleeps 5
This newly renovated 19th century crofters house, sits on the beautiful coastline of the Isle of Skye. A true remote haven, this cosy yet stylish house is a perfect escape for a family or group of friends. Whilst sitting in the sun room, you can spot Whales, Dolphins and Sea Eagles all from the stunning Nordic style house. During the winter nights the Northern Lights often make an appearance, and The Swedish log fired hot tub is a perfect viewing point.Rent This Cabin