Famous for producing shoes (James Bond and Darth Vadar both got their footwear from Northampton), this East Midlands county has oddly remained off the tourist map. But visitors here will find gently rolling countryside with excellent walking and cycling possibilities, fantastic pubs, and a bunch of stately homes. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones you have to watch…
The best hotels in Northampton are:
- Best for rural retreat: The Falcon, Booking.com
- Best for eclectic interiors: Flore House, Booking.com
- Best for glamourous rooms: Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa, Booking.com
- Best for a bit of history: The Talbot Hotel, Booking.com
- Best for peaceful B&B: Swallows Rest, Booking.com
- Best for indulgent breaks: Rushton Hall Hotel & Spa, Booking.com
- Best for family trips: Kettering Park Hotel & Spa, Booking.com
- Best for Art Deco-style: The Aviator Hotel, Booking.com
- Best for a pretty village stay: Staverton Hall, Booking.com
Best for rural wellness retreat: The Falcon
Set within the 10,500-acre Castle Ashby estate, The Falcon is a converted coaching inn, dating back to 1954, now a stylish country retreat with 21 plush, warm rooms. The city centre’s 10 minutes away, though you’re more likely to take peaceful country walks and explore historic Castle Ashby’s elegant gardens. There’s a feeling of nature inside the hotel, as well as outside, with earthy colours and abstract artworks. Eyas fine dining restaurant is pricey but memorable, great for occasions, while the wellness centre offers yoga, massages, meditation, nature walks, and bracing open-water swims.
Price: Doubles from ?120, room only
Best for eclectic interiors: Flore House
Northampton-born rapper Slowthai used this striking country house – part-covered in greenery and surrounded by neat gardens – in one of his museum videos, as did singer Arlo Parks. It’s also featured in ads for Next and Sainsburys. Dating from the early 17th century, Flore House is a Grade II-listed Jacobean Hunting Lodge, set in 19 acres of parkland and countryside. Many original period features remain in the house, such as fireplaces and wood-panelling, but crisply whitewashed bedrooms throw off the shackles of history and instead go with eclectic modern flair, with contemporary art and free-standing bathtubs in bold pink and orange.
Price: Doubles from ?215, B&B
Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa was previously used for entertaining Elizabeth I and other monarchs. Now, guests get to feel like kings or queens, strolling gardens and parkland landscaped by Capability Brown in the 1760s, taking afternoon tea in the Tudor Great Hall, feasting in the popular Cedar Restaurant, or taking it easy in the recently refurbished spa. Rooms are very smartly furnished – treat yourself to a grand, spacious Feature Room, some of which have big chunky wooden four-poster beds.
Price: doubles from ?210, B&B
A former 16th century coaching inn, The Talbot sits at the heart of the characterful market town of Oundle. Fotheringhay Castle, birthplace of King Richard III and final place of imprisonment for Mary, Queen of Scots, is just a few miles away. The hotel’s inner courtyards are made with stone from Fotheringhay Castle, while the oldest section of the building is medieval. According to (unsubstantiated) Oundle folklore, the staircase leading from the 34-bedroom hotel’s Mary, Queen of Scots Room was the one she descended on her way to execution, and there’s an imprint of her ring in the wood. The main restaurant serves sophisticated, hearty meals, and the hotel also does afternoon tea – just about worth losing your head over.
Price: Doubles from ?100, B&B
On a quiet country lane in the pretty village of Brigstock, the Swallows Rest is a boutique B&B overlooking fields and neat lines of vines in the white wine-producing Brigstock Vineyard next door. Rooms are decorated with leaves, flowers and swallows on walls. Hearty breakfasts with locally sourced ingredients, including the Full English, are served each morning in a bright, airy dining area, or on the terrace looking out over the garden and vines. Fermyn Woods Country Park is within walking distance, with Titchmarsh Nature Reserve not far away.
Price: Doubles from ?75, B&B.
Rushton Hall’s a Grade-I-listed country house, with 51 elegantly decorated bedrooms and two newly refurbished lodges, and 25 acres of grounds to explore. Surrounded by quiet countryside, just outside Kettering, the shops of Market Harborough are close by, as are nature spots Pitsford reservoir, Foxton Locks and Stanick Lakes. Though you may prefer not to venture far, instead chilling out with a pampering session at the spa, which also has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, followed by tea and cake, and dinner in one of two restaurants: casual 1593 brasserie or the three-rosette, fine-dining Tresham Restaurant, which has a seven-course tasting menu.
Price: Doubles from ?220, B&B
Beyond the hare sculptures at the entrance, Kettering Park Hotel & Spa has 119 comfy bedrooms, a fitness centre and a spa that contains a sauna, steam room and a very cool (in appearance, not temperature), massive, indoor swimming pool. They also recently completed their new outdoor bar, The Lawn Club. An hour from London by train, the hotel has a handy location for local explorations, including Rockingham Castle, Boughton House and Sywell Country Park, with long-standing theme park Wicksteed Park just minutes down the road.
Price: Doubles from ?89, room only
Dating back to the 1930s, this novel hotel, bar and restaurant in the Northamptonshire countryside sits on Sywell Aerodrome, which played an important role during the Second World War as an RAF training facility and repair centre for Wellington bombers. Formerly the officer’s mess during WWII, the Aviator’s been returned to its former Art Deco glory. Fifty-nine en-suite bedrooms (some of which can link up for families) all have Art Deco detailing. The bar and restaurant have views across the grass airfield, so guests can watch aircraft take off and land. History-lovers and aviation aficionados will want to head to the Sywell Aviation Museum.
Price: Doubles from ?81, room only
Best for a pretty village stay: Staverton Hall
Staverton Hall is a Georgian family house, a solid whitewashed building on the edge of the pretty Northamptonshire village of Staverton, a few miles outside of Daventry. The house sits in 12 acres of land, with views out across Warwickshire, green fields and gently rolling countryside stretching to the horizon. Rooms have a homely traditional feel. Breakfast is served around one big round table. A place to unwind, there are decent country walks in the area, and plenty of good pubs nearby.
Price: Doubles from ?95, B&B.
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