A converted barn, stable and dovecote make up the homely trinity of independent cottage-style stays at Rectory Farm, a family-run country estate that has more than made hay out of its rural roots. Each cottage has its own flavour, but Victorian red-brick façades and views over flower-flecked fields run in the Rectory Farm family. They’re not afraid to rebel against their rustic DNA, though – each boasts bespoke Italian furniture, light-flooded living spaces and the whole gamut of smart-home gadgetry, and all with an eco-conscious bent to boot. We guess it’s hard not to think green when you call a 14-acre estate of watercolour-worthy countryside home, especially when you share it with a neighbourhood of local wildlife that would show up Snow White.
10am. Earliest check-in, 4pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability. If you’re arriving late, self check-in can be arranged using your personal entry code.
Double rooms from £138.34, including tax at 20 per cent.
Guests should note that each room has a separate cleaning fee.
The majority of the furniture might be custom-made in Italy, but that doesn’t mean owner Susan shies away from a spot of design-minded DIY – she hand-crafted the bedside tables in the Cottage from a salvaged church pew.
At the hotel
Free parking, electric vehicle charging. In rooms: smart TV with Netflix and Disney+, Xbox, Amazon Echo, free WiFi, kitchen with induction hob, oven and microwave, coffee machine, Rituals bath products, hairdryer, safe, air conditioning, underfloor heating.
Our favourite rooms
Flocking to the country en famille? The Barn has buckets of space, plus wall-to-wall glass doors in the living room to facilitate unhindered garden frolicking. Those planning a working holiday – or penning the next pastoral masterpiece – should opt for the Loft. There’s workspace aplenty and should writer’s block strike, a stint on the sunlit balcony, tree-fringed pond and fields of butter-yellow flowers below, can’t help but inspire. For a romantic rendezvous, The Cottage, with its blush pink touches and soaking tub made for two, is a seductive prospect.
There’s no spa, but in-room massages, manicures and more can be arranged on request.
Don’t let the prospect of temperamental elements tempt you to panic-pack your whole to-be-read list – between the pre-loaded Xbox and impressive board game collection, there’s more than enough fun to fill a mizzly afternoon.
The Barn is fully wheelchair accessible, with step-free access and a step-free shower in the master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom.
Each apartment has a double sofa bed, as well as at least one super king-size bed that can be split into twin beds on request. Free travel cots are also available in all three.
Babies and up.
All three cottages have the full range of kid-friendly kit, but the Barn is best for bigger groups.
Babysitting can be booked in advance for £15 an hour, and baby-monitoring equipment is available on request.
No need to pack
Don’t feel the need to pack half the play room – there’s a brimming toy box, plus an Xbox pre-loaded with games for all the family.
The farm’s serious green credentials are helped along by a healthy dose of competition. Guests can check their eco rating, based on power and water consumption, on smart screens in each room – keep your score low and a prize awaits. You won’t be without a head start, though – the cottages are 98 per cent carbon neutral, using solar power, air source heating and filtered well water. A single button by the front door makes switching off the lights and heating on your way out a breeze, and all cottages have an electric vehicle charger, so your eco efforts don’t have to stop when you start exploring.
Set near the border of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, this 14-acre private estate is next-door neighbours with the charming village of Clipston.
London Heathrow is under two hours’ drive away; London Gatwick is around a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. Alternatively, you can hop on the train from Gatwick to London St Pancras, then on to Market Harborough all in around two hours.
Direct trains run from London St Pancras to Market Harborough in under an hour. From Nottingham, it’s a little over half an hour, and from Leicester it’s a matter of minutes. The hotel is around a 10-minute drive from Market Harborough. Transfers from the station can be arranged for £30 each way.
Footpaths through rolling fields are in no short supply, but you’ll want four wheels if you plan on roaming further afield. There’s free parking for up to four cars at the Barn and for up to two each at the Loft and the Cottage.
A spot is available in the stable for equine friends on request, along with parking for a trailer in the stable courtyard.
Worth getting out of bed for
Race you to the boot rack, ramblers – you’ve got an estate to explore. There’s 14 acres-worth of walks, a tree-hugged lake and plenty of wildlife to spot while you’re out there. If you need a little more morning coaxing, fire up your favourite greet-the-day playlist on the Amazon Echo sound system and toddle out, espresso in hand, to the deck. Each cottage has its own barbecue and outdoor dining spot, too, so you can survey your realm without so much as a scuff on your Hunters. Nature suitably savoured, kick back with the Xbox, or keep your gaming analogue (and no less riotous) with the board game collection. Once scores have been settled, the smart TV beckons with its siren song of binge-worthy streaming options, and the popcorn maker means movie night snacks are sorted.
When you’re ready to stray further afield, the tablet-come-concierge loaded with insider recommendations will have you roaming the shires like a local.
You’re on top Civil War turf here. Naseby battlefield is in hiking distance; in fact, the trail tracking the movements of the king’s army runs right through Clipston village. If your interests lean more towards civilised stroll than civil war, Kelmarsh Hall has you covered. Between April and September, its 18th-century doors are open for house tours and turns about the dahlia-dotted gardens.
Pop over to Foxton Locks for a picnic spot with a front-row view of the narrowboats cruising the canal. If you feel inspired, you can don the skipper cap yourself with the boutique boat hire options at Union Wharf.
Twitchers, trout-fishers and thrill-seekers alike should stop off at picturesque Pitsford Water. A gentle cycle ’round the reservoir is top of the to-do list here, but the sailing club offers sessions from kayaking to windsurfing for those seeking more amphibious adventurers.
The Bull’s Head in Clipston has all the hallmarks of a proper country pub: locally sourced grub, a great real ale assortment and plenty of cosy nooks to nurse a pint in.
For hearty fare to fuel a day’s hiking, head to The Farmer’s Kitchen at Farndon Fields. This working farm’s seasonal menu spotlights ingredients fresh from the surrounding fields. With award-winning sausages, honey-cured bacon and toast fresh from the local bakery, their famous farmer’s breakfast is hard to beat. While you’re there, stock up on supper essentials at the farm shop – artisan bangers on the barbie, anybody?
Ascough’s in nearby Market Harborough is a friendly, family-run affair serving up a seasonal array of stylish bistro classics, all sourced from Leicestershire’s wealth of local suppliers. Their monthly tasting menu features a wine pairing, but we’d be wooed by Ascough’s gin, distilled in-house and available to take home too.
Make your way to Market Harborough for artisan baked goods galore. Peep through the cheery lemon-painted windows of Milo’s Cafe and feast your eyes on an array of home-baked beauties, from dainty iced biscuits and towering scones to berry-swirled cheesecakes. You’ll also find a lively menu of daily lunch specials here, whipped up from whatever is fresh, fun and inspiring the chef. Favourites include loaded salads, quiches and showstopping ploughman’s platters.
Serious bean buffs should seek out Miller’s Artisan Cafe, a tucked-away spot where locally roasted coffee is served and sipped in a bunting-strung courtyard. Rumour has it, it’s one of the best dog-spotting joints in town, too.
The village pub has been pouring out restorative pints to parishioners and passers-through alike for four hundred years – with that kind of pedigree, there’s little point straying further afield.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this collection of country cottages in Northamptonshire, unpacked their farm shop finds and wiped down their wellies, a full account of their recharge-the-batteries break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rectory Farm in Clipston…
Being raised in a barn may not usually be considered a badge of honour, but after a stay at Rectory Farm we’re willing to bet most naysayers would be (barn) converted. Each cottage bears the red-brick hallmark of its practical Victorian past, but prince-worthy pampering awaits within. Here, the corridors are hung with hand-picked original art, streaming services go toe-to-toe for your attention on the TV, and smart speakers are on standby to keep the classic tunes coming from the kitchen to the fairy-lit courtyard – just you try emerging from here a country bumpkin. And all that’s before you turn your attention to your 14-acre Northamptonshire estate. Out on your private patch of the rose of the shires, the superior triptych of country pursuits calls your name: a hill-cresting constitutional and some pondside duck-spotting, followed by a slap-up al fresco supper. Alas, the horse has bolted on the hope of being raised here, but a stay at Rectory Farm is enough to make contented country squires of us all.