Once you’ve got a ring on your finger, no one ever again asks you how it’s going. They just abandon you to your fate until you either grow old together or announce your separation. But we, at The Midult, figure that a mini-break here and there can just ease you through those rough patches. Not cures, just an opportunity for little kindnesses. And laughter. And the other…
IF YOU REALLY NEED TO GET INVOLVED
You sit on the sofa and wonder when the fun flew out the window. Time to plunge back into the fray. With your partner… in crime.
1. Ham Yard Hotel, London
You can’t help but be in a good mood in this place. Kit Kemp’s hotel design is BONKERS, but in a totally lovely way: sorbet-coloured zigzags, flowery headboards, retro lamps, fruity wallpaper, artwork of all varieties flickering and winking at you. Trot down to the sceney bar and restaurant (peanut butter profiteroles to die for), or pretend you’re in Provence on the lavender-festooned roof terrace bar. Then tumble to the basement Dive Bar, for cocktails and to hurl a bowling ball down the genuine Fifties bowling alley, shipped in from Texas, before dancing beneath giant wooden crocodiles. You’ll laugh your pants off.
Double rooms from £312
2. Artists Residence, Brighton
You don’t have to be an actual artist to stay here, but a wonky fringe/big beard is probably a good idea. There’s a bohemian vibe, with fresh industrial-cool rooms (they’re big on up cycling), tons of modern art, and frankly gorgeous regulars. The master bedroom is our favourite – it has its own balcony and a big copper bath looking onto the sea. We’re also keen on the Cocktail Shack downstairs, with its rum-tastic drinks, as well as the seasonal food in the buzzy Set restaurant.
Double rooms from £110
3. The Laslett, London
Pretend you’re 17 and go do the Notting Hill Carnival like you used to (and yes, that means drinking Red Stripe by the four-pack, and eating curry goat with plastic forks, and tweaking badly to samba, and smoking a sneaky joint). Then tumble back to this perfect cool crash pad for room-serviced Notting Hill Collins (potent) and bed. Let them bring up breakfast next morning – lazy papers and fresh croissants while you hold hands and gaze at the hungover passers-by below.
Double rooms from £189
4. The Balmoral, Edinburgh
It’s all about the location, bang on Princes Street, so you can trip straight from laughing your tits off (or howling with derision) at some stand-up act or experimental troupe, to a posh dinner at Number One, their Michelin-starred number. The best bedrooms have castle views, but they all have massive beds, pretty marble bathrooms and low-key, sultry lighting (flattering for the evening; good for next-morning hangovers).
Double rooms from £180
IF YOU REALLY NEED TO CONNECT
It can all get a bit embarrassing when you haven’t talked in a while. You’re all polite. And nervy. Time to connect eye beams and breathe…
5. Idle Rocks, St Mawes
This spot nudges right up to the sea – any closer and you’d be sleeping with fishes. Smart, cool but with flashes of fun (lobster creel lights, colourful modern art, blackboards instead of room numbers on each door with your name scribbled on it with chalk), the terrace is sceney without being stuffed full of half of West London. Don’t miss the boozy late-afternoon cream teas (we like ours with an Aperol Spritz). Stroll hand-in-hand round the bay, sit in the sand eating fish ‘n’ chips straight from the paper, march up around the headland for views and a bracing breeze. Or stay in your room, rising occasionally to your window to gaze out at the harbour.
Double rooms from £150
6. The Gallivant, East Sussex
It’s so chilled you might as well be in California, and that’s certainly the look and feel they’re going for. Just across the road from the rippling dunes and endless stretch of Camber Sands, this place is a dream of chalky pastels and white-wash, with a breezy restaurant serving locally-sourced yumminess to see you up for another bracing session (we mean walking and talking, people; get your minds out of the gutter).
Double rooms from £125
7. The Seaside Boarding House, Dorset
This place is from the ex-Groucho Club maestro Mary-Lou Sturridge, so you’re in for a good time. You can have a whacking great Gilpin’s gin and tonic or five and meet all sorts of beguiling people in the bar (Billy Bragg lives next door). Or you can hide away in your room (302 and 303 are the best) with its sky-high Devon-made bed, and cosy up on the window seat to stare out at the glorious ocean views. Or, better yet, skip down the few steps to the glorious sweep of shingle of Chesil Beach and walk and talk and breathe.
Double rooms from £200
IF YOU REALLY NEED SPACE
When you’re a squeezed Midult, things can get a bit hectic and claustrophobic and lock-yourself-in-the-bathroom. Here are some antidotes…
8. Chewton Glen Treehouses, Hampshire
This Hampshire grande dame is lovely for lots of reasons, but top of our lists in the tree houses, which aren’t really tree houses at all – more swanked up suites in the branches. Up you climb, where it’s all birds twittering and leaves rustling and two double bedrooms. See? Back on ground level, there’s golf, if you must, plus a knock-our spa and fancy restaurant, but they can ask bring you hampers filled with just about anything you want. So stay put and chill and eat and whatever amidst all that waving greenery.
Tree houses from £850
9. The Scarlet, Cornwall
It’s adults-only, but not in a cringey rose-petals-on-the-bed kind of way (God forbid). It’s smart and stylish, with heart-swelling views of Mawgan Porth Beach from the balconies and the cutting-edge spa – even the sauna has portholes looking out over the sea. Best spot: the cliff-top hot tubs, where you can sip something strong.
Double rooms from £240
10. The Devonshire Arms, Skipton
The country house hotel on the Duke of Devonshire’s grand old estate has smart old-school rooms, and you can posh it up in the dining room or go gastro in the brasserie. There’s a spa too, but this is walking country and walk you shall. The views of the rolling dales over to the ruins of Bolton Abbey will get you feeling all soul-soaring, which is just the thing as you’re here to muddy your boots and fill your lungs and clear your head.
Double rooms from £135
IF YOU REALLY NEED DISTRACTIONS
Sometimes you don’t want to think about yourselves or each other. Sometimes you want to be a bit busy in the most carefree way. Sometimes you want to make bustling memories…
11. The Pig, New Forest
The original piggy in the group is still our favourite, a pocket-sized prodigy that feels secret even though everyone knows about it. The rooms are pretty with deep beds, all calming dove grey and sage green (and well-stocked minibars, which we like), but really you’re here to stuff your faces. Everything is locally sourced (have a poke around their kitchen garden if you’re that way inclined) and delicious – New Forest wood pigeon with foraged mushrooms, slow-cooked pork with blackberries followed by Earl Grey chocolate torte. Eat your way through the lot, then collapse in bed, happy and sleepy. (We suggest morning sex. Remember morning sex?)
Double rooms from £155
12. Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Take along the whole crew for a week of surf lessons at this salty, colourful, wet-footprints-in-the-corridors delight. The point? Family time, obvs, in a sparkly, sea-washed, tangled-haired, everyone exhausted at bedtime sort of way. But also for remembering that he’s funny with the kids, and a wonderful father, and strong, and oh wow, his shoulders look really good in that wetsuit.
Double rooms from £160
13. The Grosvenor Arms, Dorset
Spend the day romping around the Dorset countryside with the pooch (borrow one if ness), and then collapse in this warm, recently spruced-up coaching inn next to a cheerful fire with a bottle of good Cabernet, or in the main restaurant for comfort food. The hound can bunk in with you, if you wish – depends if he’s a starer, really.
Double rooms from £115
14. The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye
This place is all about the restaurant, which is handy as it’s a mere waddle across the courtyard from the good-looking bedrooms. Gorgeous views, fairytale island setting, and new chef Scott Davies’ godly tasting menu which takes HOURS to devour (you won’t begrudge a single minute). Iron age pork with sour apple, salt-baked beetroot with Cowdrie cheese, bitter chocolate with silver birch ice cream… it’s a beast that you’ll jabber on about to each for years.
Double rooms from £345
15. Crafty Camping, Dorset
Sometimes you don’t want to be alone. You want to be with a gang of old friends, to chat and get drunk and remember that, actually, you two get on bloody well. Take over this entire adults-only glamping site – yurts, bell tents, a super-styled shepherds hut and a brand new treehouse – and yomp about the forest en masse, sweat it out in the sauna yurt, sit around the campfire and roar with laughter.
Units from £176 (for two nights)
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO STOP FIGHTING
Weary of snapping, wary of contempt, slightly at a loss. Do a geographical and see if change is as good as a give it a rest.
16. Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Hampshire
Everyone comes for the two-Michelin starred restaurant (and yes, it’s a blinder), but there are also extraordinary kitchen gardens – swooningly romantic. Opt for the boudoir-style Opium suite or get your Shirley Conran on in Lace, which we love mainly because it’s called Lace.
Double rooms from £655
17. Calcot Manor, Cotswolds
The kids club at this honey-hued country hotel is second to none, which is IMPORTANT as they’ll skip off with barely a backward glance, leaving you alone. Alone to read the papers in bed, alone to actually talk over a sunny lunch in the conservatory, alone to stroll across flowery fields. It’s civilised as anything.
Double rooms from £279
18. The Wild Rabbit, Oxfordshire
This fresh-as-a-daisy bolthole is adding a clutch of new cottages to its pub with rooms (the most stylish pub you’ve ever seen, btw). So you can, and should, pretend this is your own groovy country retreat, with tactile woven cushions and shaggy rugs to roll about on and worn-out leather armchairs big enough for two. Saunter over for homemade pies and local ales and game carved right at our table before heading for a yomp outdoors.
Double rooms from £175
19. The Wheatsheaf Inn, Cotswolds
A little eccentric, a bit boho, part local boozer, part cool bolthole, this country kid is all Farrow & Ball and antiques, filled with old duffers ambling in for a pint or two and leggy blondes prancing around serving up fat chips and hog roasts. Rooms are pretty: big, big beds, freestanding steel baths, flowery statement walls and lots of sage. Soothing, calming; impossible to argue in.
Double rooms from £115
IF YOU REALLY, REALLY NEED TO HAVE SEX
If it’s been a while. Longer than you care to remember. And it’s a bit awkward. But the spirit is still willing… and able. Go go go… (then go again).
20. Lime Wood, Hampshire
They’re building a sexy new lake house, but never mind that. Every room here is sexy – and often with the (massive) bed tucked up in a mezzanine, which makes it all better, somehow, for not leaving at all. But do venture out, for an afternoon sharpener in the sunny courtyard bar, for smart comfort food in Angela Hartnett’s restaurant, or for a wallow in the Herb House Spa. Get all floppy and amenable with a Bamford massage, but do that bit alone please, not as a couple (hearing your hairier half grunt his way through a pummelling is a total turn off. Trust us).
Double rooms from £330
21. The Connaught, London
Check in alone to one of the silvery, smart-as-a-pin bedrooms, and send him to the bar, a hidden art deco gem that has all sorts of sultry corners to hide away in. Next, change into your foxiest frock (and sexy undies/no undies/his undies/whatever does it for you). Then strut downstairs, slink over to him and suggest he buys you one of the killer signature Martinis. He’ll want to snog your face off.
Double rooms from £540
22. Coworth Park, Ascot
The bucolic outpost from the Dorchester Collection is countryside, sure – it’s set on a 240-acre estate band by Windsor Great Park – but it’s just 30 minutes from London, and as shiny and slick as a seal basted with Hawaiian Tropic. The rooms are fresh and young with funky bed frames that look like entwined metal tree branches, and the kind of spa that you can imagine a Bond villain living in, but with much nicer staff. If your fella is into horses, he can show off on a polo pony (dashing), after which you can both soak in his ‘n’ hers copper baths in the Fairway suite.
Double rooms from £330
23. Claridge’s, London
Clip-clop across that chequered marble lobby, stare at the billionaire Yanks and Russian oligarchs in the restaurant, then whizz up to your suite. These are London’s ultimate rooms – we love the Diane von Furstenberg designed Grand Piano suite, with glamour-puss patterns and customised Burberry macs in case it pisses it down, not that you’ll be going anywhere. Stay put and bash something on that there piano, you know, Pretty Woman style.
Double rooms from £480
24. Soho Farmhouse, Cotswolds
Opt for one of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ style cabins and avoid the Main Bar (bar, restaurant, spa unless you want to bump into someone). There’s no need to leave your beautiful pad – acres of reclaimed wood, spot on kitchenettes, squishy sofas, outdoor baths – because groovy vintage milk floats poodle about offering at-your-door fry-ups or cocktails, depending on the time of day. Order a Negroni, step into your bath a deux and the rest will take care of itself.
Double rooms from £380
All images courtesy of the hotels