Literary culture is an essential part of Britain’s identity so it’s no surprise that there are many bookish places to stay in the UK. From country houses to quaint hideaways to elegant hotels, bibliophiles can find a retreat for almost any budget and savour the locations that have inspired some of their favourite authors.
We’ve listed some of the most charming British retreats with literary connections in this blog post. We’ve visited some of these as a family and bookmarked some afor future journeys, but all spark our imagination and we hope that these inspire your future travels too.
(Note: This guide offers a general overview of literary places to stay in the UK and we haven’t personally stayed in many of these yet). Please check the individual properties for the latest Covid-19 updates and reviews before you book)
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The Abbotsford Fairytale – Sir Walter Scott
Let’s start with the dream! The Hope Scott Wing at Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford offers luxury self-catering accommodation for groups of up to 16 people.
The wing was the former home of Sir Walter Scott’s granddaughter, Charlotte Hope Scott and still retains many of its original features, as well original artworks and furniture belonging to the Scott family.
Although we haven’t stayed in the accommodation, we have visited the adjoining country house and gardens (see image) which are absolutely spectacular. This would make a fantastic setting for a big family celebration. Breaks can be reserved via the Abbotsford website.
Other Literary Travel Posts to Explore
If you enjoyed this feature then you might also like the following posts:
- A Literary Weekend in Winchester
- A Day Out in Brontë Country
- Atmospheric Places to Visit in Derbyshire
Gladstone’s Library is the only residential library and a must for book lovers. It’s situated close to the historic city of Chester, lying just across the Welsh border in the picturesque village of Hawarden. The building is famous for its impressive Reading Rooms which were finalised in 1902 and residents have full access to these during their stay.
The rooms are tastefully, yet simply furnished and most have en-suite bathrooms. There’s also a bistro, communal lounge and a garden. If you can tear yourselves away from the books, you can enjoy beautiful walks in the nearby Hawarden Estate (ask at the desk for a pass). You can read more about our stay here.
Eilean Shona – Neverland Found
The car-free private island of Eilean Shona on the west coast of Scotland is thought to be the template for J.M. Barrie’s Neverland in Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie rented Eilean Shona as a summer holiday home and it’s said that he worked on the screenplay for the story while staying on the island.
You can still rent holiday homes on Eilean Shona today and experience its timeless enchantment. It is a haven for wildlife and all income raised from cottage rentals is reinvested into conservation projects.
Agatha Christie’s Greenway
Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway, which is now owned by the National Trust, is one of the most atmospheric places to stay in Devon. It’s open to day visitors but you can also book a holiday in one of the house apartments or holiday cottages in the grounds.
The house is full of Christie memorabilia making it a fascinating destination in itself. Add to this stunning estuary views, gorgeous gardens and a picture-perfect boathouse and you have a recipe for an idyllic getaway, especially when the tourists have left for the day.
If you prefer more a more secluded coastal retreat then the hidden Frenchman’s Creek will appeal. Nestled in private woodland, this Cornish cottage sits on the banks of the magical Helford River and has acted as a muse for several writers. Most famously, it was a setting for Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name.
Now managed by the Landmark Trust, this quaint nook continues to welcome visitors from all over the world – drawn by its peaceful position and ability to inspire.
Ponden Hall – A Brontë Connection
The Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and their brother Branwell were frequent visitors to Ponden Hall. It is said that Emily Brontë based Thrushcross Grange in Wuthering Heights on this ancient farmhouse. There is also a theory that this characterful building was the model for Wildfell Hall in Anne’s novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Today, the farmhouse now offers bed and breakfast accommodation in three unique rooms. There’s also an opportunity to book a self-contained annex. The complex is only a few miles away from Haworth, where the Brontë family lived – making this a wonderful base for a literary holiday.
Sydney Place – Jane Austen’s Bath Bolthole
Janeites will love this stylish Bath bolthole which once belonged to Jane Austen between 1801 and 1805. She started on the novella ‘The Watsons‘ here, but the manuscript was never completed.
The newly-renovated Airbnb apartment has two bedrooms and sleeps three people. With artistic decor and antique furniture, it’s bound to get your creative juices flowing.
The Cottage at Hill Top – Arthur Ransome’s Vantage Point
If you long for the nostalgia of Swallows and Amazons, then The Cottage at Hill Top (not to be confused with Beatrix Potter’s house of the same name) is one for adventurers and dreamers. This beautifully-located farmhouse stands in nine acres of grounds and has panoramic views across the Lake District National Park.
Arthur Ransome spent the last few years of his life in this charming property and is buried in nearby St. Paul’s, Rusland. The current owners have turned a significant portion of the original house into a luxury holiday cottage sleeping 4 people.
43 Cloth Fair – Sir John Betjeman
Savour the literary side of London with a stay in Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman’s former home. Cloth Fair survived London’s Great Fire of 1666 and the 18th-century facades conceal timber frames from the 1600s.
Today the maisonette has been decorated to match Sir John’s original taste with a specially reproduced William Morris wallpaper design called Acorn. The library contains much of his writing for visitors to appreciate while they absorb the historic atmosphere of this unique property in the City of London.
Brown’s Hotel – A London Literary Destination
Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, London has long been associated with the literary world. It’s guest list name checks an incredible amount of classic authors including Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, J.R.R.Tolkien, William Golding, Ben Okri, Arthur C Clarke and Agatha Christie. Rudyard Kipling penned The Jungle Book here and has a suite named after him (a mere snip at from £5000 per night). To add to the bookish pedigree, Stephen King wrote the start of his psychological horror novel, Misery, in Kipling’s seat.
All this history comes with a price tag. However, if you’re looking for an iconic luxury stay with impeccable bookish connections then you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Britain that beats Brown’s Hotel.
The Cabin – Roald Dahl’s Childhood Escape
The Cabin, a first floor apartment, in a Grade II listed building overlooking Tenby harbour was a regular Easter holiday escape for the young Roald Dahl. He visited every year as a child and teen, until just before World War Two and his connection with the property is marked by a blue plaque.
The property has three bedrooms and welcomes children under one and over ten. It can be booked via Coastal Cottages.
1 Elliot Terrace (Apartment 6) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle spent a few months in in this grand Plymouth landmark after starting out as doctor. Although his stay was brief, Sherlock Holmes fans flocked to see a plaque erected to their favourite author outside this Grade 2* listed Italianate building in 2017. Today, you can stay in this fine Grade 2* listed Italianate building and enjoy the amazing views over Plymouth Sound. The apartment has 2 bedrooms and can sleep 6. Bookings via Luxury Coastal.
With all these bookish places to stay in the UK, we feel set for the next 10 years! We’ll be adding to this as we find more literary accommodation so please do let us know if you have any more suggestions for us.