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The perfect bolthole

Getaways that embrace winter

Here at Neptune, we believe in celebrating each of the seasons. Rather than jetting off for an escapist dose of winter sun, we prefer weekend breaks that rejuvenate in harmony with all that nature has to offer. Even if, in January and February, that means layering up with plenty of hats and scarves.

You may already have your own special destination that refreshes your body and mind at this darker time of year. But to get some ideas flowing, we asked John Sims-Hilditch, our co-founder, and Emma Sims-Hilditch, our Creative Director, to each nominate a place they love to visit at this time of year. Either just the two of them or with their full brood in tow.

For John

"Cornwall has long been a special place for our family and, in many ways, is at its best in winter," he says. "Head there with the summer crowds and you’ll feel disappointed if you don’t get endless sunshine. But visit in winter, and you go prepared for moody skies and craggy, windswept beaches. And, if Cornwall surprises you with brilliant blue skies and crisp, sparkling sunshine, it feels like the most wonderful bonus."

To stay...
John’s favourite place to stay is the Tresanton Hotel, which exudes quiet, considered luxury.

It’s owned by Olga Polizzi who, as the daughter of the late Lord Forte, has impeccable hotelier credentials. Her innate sense of hospitality and style shine through in rooms that deftly mix Cornish style with a more sophisticated, Mediterranean mood. Tongue and groove walls, nautical stripes and cosy firesides dovetail with the flash of azure mosaics and mid-century design shapes.

"There’s nothing ostentatious about Tresanton Hotel," adds John. "But you feel immediately at home – and totally relaxed. It's a true treat."

Alternatively, scout around for a traditional Cornish holiday cottage. Try Unique Home Stays or Cornish Gems for starters. Then prepare to be charmed by all that’s wonderful about the coastline in its full blustery, uncrowded winter glory.

And for food...
Emma shared with us their absolute favourite – the restaurant at The St Mawes Hotel with plump sofas, a warming woodburner and fantastic views. "A cream tea by the fireside, or an early supper followed by a film at their 'secret' cinema are our winter-time treats," she says.

Home from home, with a touch of Italianate charm, at Tresanton Hotel.

The St Mawes Hotel

Simply beautiful at The Oyster Catcher via Unique Home Stays.

For Emma

Ett Hemm from the streets of Stockholm.

Svenskt Tenn rooftop tea room.

When the Neptune creative team recently spent a few days in Scandinavia, Emma fell for this city that’s rich in design ideas, old and new. It’s a place where fine design is played out in almost every public space, as well as the cream of the hotels, shops and restaurants. In many ways, the Scandinavian sensibility is similar to the British approach. We share a love of combining antiques and architectural grandeur with more contemporary touches. And a love of simplicity, while also embracing pattern. "I just felt so at home there, in no time at all," she explains.

To stay...
For an experience like no other, Emma loves Ett Hem. Spaces are designed bespoke by Studio Ilse, utilising earthy yet utterly gorgeous Swedish materials, such as Gotland stone and oak to create luxurious comfort. It’s correspondingly expensive, so best saved for a special occasion. But for a spa-like sense of privacy and peace, there is no rival.

For more budget-friendly options, Airbnb offers a wealth of gorgeous homestays that will give a taste of the true Swedish lifestyle. Expect warm hospitality and a few design classics in your bedroom.

And for food...
Head to Skeppsholmen Hotel for a brunch so amazing that locals cycle there from all over the city to meet friends or talk business (still clad in Lycra in some cases).

It's also worth mentioning legendary design house, Svenskt Tenn. It has a wonderful rooftop tea room for traditional Swedish lunches: the perfect place to mull over the longevity of the company’s wallpaper and fabric designs, which look as fresh today as they did in the 1940s. The drawing room-style area is furnished in its own designs so you have the utter luxury of collapsing onto one of its most exquisite sofas and armchairs while you make the most of a spot of afternoon indulgence.

Photo by Ett Hem.

Photographs: The Oyster Catcher at Unique Home Stays; Hotel Tresanton; St Mawes Hotel; Ett Hemm; Svenskt Tenn