Here’s How To Have The Perfect Sporty Staycation This Summer

By Olivia Emily

3 weeks ago

Where to get the Olympics vibes if you're not in Paris this summer


Just missed out on tickets to Paris 2024, or looking to prolong this sweet incoming summer of sport? From the Olympics to the Euros, Wimbledon to the Tour de France, there’s plenty to get excited about. If you’re looking for the perfect sporty summer staycation, pick a PoB hotel: this collection of beautiful, independent, quintessentially British hotels has launched its ‘Get Set, and Go’ programme, endorsed by Olympic legend Victoria Pendleton and designed to introduce guests to new sports and reacquaint everyone with old favourites.

‘I am thrilled to be working with PoB Hotels as an ambassador for their new campaign,’ says Victoria, who has also designed her dream seven-night journey through Britain’s favourite sports, spanning biking in the Cotswolds, horse riding in Wiltshire and rowing in Henley-on-Thames.

Victoria Pendleton with a horse, promoting sporty staycations

Victoria Pendleton is the ambassador for PoB’s Get Set, and Go campaign

‘As an athlete, sports have always been my passion, and I also know the importance of getting away for a good break and staying somewhere special,’ Victoria says. ‘PoB Hotels has given me the opportunity to combine these two passions and share them with the world. My Break took me through the stunning Cotswolds, trying my hand at trail cycling, rediscovering my love of rowing, attempting to learn the new skill of kayaking, and of course I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go riding in the grounds of Lucknam Park. I can’t wait to see guests create their own Breaks and join me in combining these amazing hotels with sporting experiences.’

So where shall we pit stop first? Olivia Emily gets a taste of the action, kicking off in Devon…

Pick PoB For The Perfect Sporty Summer Staycation

Bovey Castle Exterior

1. Cycling At Bovey Castle, Dartmoor

The dramatic approach to Bovey Castle is an amuse bouche for what’s to come. We enter the sprawling 275 acre estate through a towering gate beside a cute gatehouse, and roll down the bucolic countryside road, golfers zipping between holes on white carts beside us. As we round the corner, the imposing castle creeps into view, ancient turrets grazing the sky: Bovey. Pronounced ‘boh-vee’ – or, if you’re local, ‘buh-vee’.

Originally built in 1907 and a hotel since 1930, countless windows dotted across the facade hint at the luxurious rooms we’re about to find inside; an intimate 60 sit in the main house, with extra bedrooms in on-site self-catering properties. A grand arched wooden door and an entry hall fit for a King, and we’re welcomed into a palatial yet cosy space that exudes warmth from both the thick carpets and friendliest of staff. Think ancient carved stone archways set in wood, Victorian octagon and dot floor tiles, an ornamented ceiling and wood panelling galore. Step through some of those arches to find the grandest of sitting rooms, with double height beamed ceilings, sumptuously thick carpets, soft sofas surrounding a crackling ornate stone fireplace, and huge windows gazing out onto the glorious estate. You could easily spend hours here getting lost in a good book or distracted by the artworks scattered across the walls.

The Cathedral Room at Bovey

Cathedral Room

Sport is the order of the day here and – after fuelling up at Smith’s Brasserie, a light-filled, more modern space with 180-degree views of the estate (and a suntrap terrace to absorb them from) – we depart on e-bikes to trawl rolling Dartmoor, absorbing the characteristically dramatic views and befriending the local ponies, lambs and cows. Guided by a local expert, we weave through almost entirely carless country roads and quickly come to understand why Arthur Conan Doyle was so enraptured by this striking landscape (he penned The Hound of the Baskervilles while staying at Duchy Hotel in Princetown). As we pass a local farm shop – denoted with a little black sign poking out of a blossoming bush, beneath a magnolia tree – I daydream about upping sticks and moving here for myself. No really, what’s stopping me?

The wind whipping through my hair, the tour is over sooner than I’d like – but, thanks to the e-bikes, we’ve covered a lot of ground. On site, there are more sports to discover: ordinary cycling, archery, air rifle shooting, clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing, yoga, tennis, croquet and, of course, golf. The latter takes place on the 18 hole championship course, designed in 1926 by J F Abercromby.

A bedroom at Bovey

Junior State Room

All in all, it’s plenty more than we had time for and enough to keep you occupied for a long time. Whichever sport you choose, you’ll be well-fuelled at Smith’s Brasserie where British classics are the order of the day. Think well-balanced salads and sandwiches for lunch (the CLUB sandwich is practically overflowing with goodness), plus the likes of steak, fish and chips, burgers, pizzas and pastas, too. Or for a more special occasion visit the Great Western Grill, named for the train company that first owned the hotel. Here, the food is certainly fancier but no less delicious: expect the likes of steak tartare, a native lobster and heritage tomato salad, rare breed pork belly, Dover sole, Cornish turbot and plenty more.

After all that activity, pay the spa a visit to soothe weary muscles in the sauna or cool down with a dip in the pool. Or simply head back to your sumptuous room where you’ll find the comfiest of beds and, come turndown, a night time tea ready to be brewed. Waking the next morning, I’m pleased to find the air filled with birdsong, though the bright daylight is kept firmly at bay by hefty curtains. After a delicious breakfast, it’s on to our next adventure.

BOOK IT: pobhotels.com

A woman on staycation cycling

More Cycling Staycations

  1. The Montagu Arms, Hampshire: Traverse some of the 100 miles of way-marked cycle routes through the New Forest, with The Montagu arms as your base.
  2. Ness Walk, Inverness: How about a self-guided cycle to Loch Ness? Who knows, you might just spot someone exciting…
  3. Ockenden Manor & Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa, Sussex: Double up your staycation escape by cycling between these sister properties, passing through vineyards, castles and coastline.
  4. Grantley Hall, Ripon: Soak up the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales on an e-bike or a road bike, with routes, maps and path information available at reception.
  5. Grove of Narbeth, Pembrokeshire: From coast to woodland to mountains, Pembrokeshire is your oyster – and it’s best explored on two wheels.

Find more cycling escapes here, or discover a Sussex cycling adventure here.

The Nare

2. Tennis At The Nare, Veryan

Perched on Gerrans Bay, just set back from Carne Beach, The Nare is best described as a countryside bolthole beside the sea. It’s got all the charm, character and cosiness that the best of British hospitality has to offer, with the added benefit of 180-degree sea views. With an intimate 40 bedrooms on site and weekly get-togethers in the bar, this privately owned hotel has a real family feel to it, and repeat guests are not uncommon. In fact, upon check out, guests are asked a very tempting question: same time next year?

As the sea crashes onto the soft sand beach outside, cooler days are best spent beside the crackling fire. If you’ve forgotten your favourite book, there are plenty around the hotel to borrow, and plenty of super soft sofas to sink into. Or get stuck into Jon Stock’s To Snare A Spy, an action packed spy thriller set at this very hotel; there are plenty of copies displayed and recommended with pride. Sitting in the public areas is just as comfortable as on your bedroom sofa, and the interiors just as pleasing. Each room has a different wallpaper and all are equipped with armchairs, books, magazines and fresh flowers, and some even with sea views and outdoor terraces to catch some sun.

The tennis court at The Nare in summer

With sport on our minds, we venture into the sub-tropical gardens, where a show-stopping En Tout Cas tennis court is backdropped by the sea. Magnificent. Spectators can watch from benches just beyond the court’s boundaries, with some rooms even able to catch a glimpse of the action. Or simply nosey around the gardens.

If tennis isn’t your calling, there’s plenty else to try: sea kayaking, sea fishing, shooting and boat trips can all be arranged with the help and equipment of The Nare, plus croquet is played on-site. There’s the natural gift of swimming in the sea, as well as an indoor pool in the hotel’s Carne Bay Spa and outdoor heated pool to boot. Speaking of the spa, here you’ll find a menu of sumptuous treatments plus an indoor pool, hot hydrotherapy spa-pool, sauna and steam room for complete relaxation. Outside, a hot tub bubbles under a beach hut shelter with sea views, with the ultimate treat being a brand new bedroom with a hot tub of its own.

BOOK IT: pobhotels.com

Guests playing tennis at Glenapp Castle

Guests playing tennis at Glenapp Castle © Andrea Jones

More Tennis Staycations

  1. Cromlix, Perthshire: Sir Andy Murray’s very own hotel; the tennis star received special permission from Wimbledon to paint Cromlix’s court in the iconic green and purple design.
  2. Park House Hotel, Midhurst: From May to September, a team of gardeners meticulously maintains Park House Hotel’s two Championship standard grass tennis courts.
  3. Rockliffe Hall, Darlington: Several all-weather tennis courts are ready with rackets and balls for the full family on the court.
  4. Glenapp Castle, Ayrshire: Challenge your partner to a match, perfect your stroke with a private lesson or simply play around with the automated ball machine at Glenapp.
  5. Hambleton Hall, Oakham: This tennis court is all about the views of Rutland Water – try not to get too distracted from your serve.

Find more tennis escapes here, or discover the ultimate 10-day tennis adventure here.

The Headland Hotel & Spa

3. Surfing At The Headland, Newquay

My life was changed at The Headland. Big words, but when debriefing with PoB’s decorated ambassador Victoria Pendleton later, she tells me I’ve caught ‘the stoke’: the exhilarating, heart-filling, weightless feeling when you successfully catch and surf a wave. It’s one of the reasons she partners with The Wave Project, an award-winning surf therapy non-profit all about improving children and young people’s anxiety, confidence and other mental health struggles through surfing.

At The Headland, I experience first hand why exactly surf therapy works so well: you face your fears, relinquishing all power to the waves; you can’t have your phone, and you can’t see what you look like (in head-to-toe wetsuit, the answer is a seal); you put total confidence in your body, knowing if (when) you fall into the water, you’ll just get a bit wet and salty.

People going out for a surfing lesson

Where better to try surfing for the first time? Fistral Beach is one of the UK’s best known surfing destinations, a gorgeous stretch of sand jutting out into the Atlantic ocean, collecting consistent waves enjoyed by surfers from across the globe. Watching over it all is The Headland, a majestic hotel that oozes old world charm, with a gothic exterior looming over the rocks. (If you ever watched The Witches film, you might just recognise it…)

Tentatively peeling open my curtains early in the morning (with, lucky me, a panoramic view of the beach), I spy a few surfers already playing in the waves; ‘that’ll be me soon,’ I think optimistically. But, for once, my optimism isn’t totally misplaced. Less than an hour later, I’ll be gliding atop a hefty and speedy wave, an immovable grin spreading across my cheeks. I never make it onto my feet, but catching the wave from knee level feels triumph enough after a whistlestop run through of the basics from a motivational instructor from The Surf Sanctuary, The Headland’s onsite surf school. It’s just one of the incredible, water-based sporting activities guests of The Headland can partake in, especially thanks to the all-new Aqua Club, a luxurious swim centre three years and £10 million in the making. If you’re more interested in relaxation, the spa will take care of all of your needs, featuring another pool, a sauna and steam room, low lit treatment and relaxation rooms, and a comprehensive menu of indulgent treatments.

Ocean View Suite

Ocean View Suite

After we clamber back up the beach onto solid land, there’s one thought on my mind: I’m desperate to do that all over again. Instead, I return to my sumptuous room to warm up, sipping a hot chocolate all the while. It’s light-filled and elegant, with a huge canopied bed, sofa beside the sea view, and an enviable marble bathroom with his and hers sinks.

Glancing at The Headland from the outside, the interior is a welcome shift into a more modern, cocooning feel. The carpeted staircase is huge, flanked by bedrooms and, on the second floor, marked by an incredibly detailed replica of the entire hotel in Lego, including mini surfers down by the beach. Downstairs, double-height ceilings put the seafront position to good use, with floor to ceiling windows surrounded by sofas to snuggle up in. Down here, there’s all-day dining at The Terrace – think lunch specials, fresh seafood, tasty cocktails – plus drinks in The Ballroom and afternoon tea available, too.

But the real star of the show is RenMor, a modern, light-filled joint following a multi-million-pound refurbishment where breakfast and dinner are served. Here, Executive Head Chef Gavin Edney oversees all the delicious dishes pumped out of the open-kitchen, sourcing new produce from local suppliers and vivifying his menus on the go. Start with a drink at the central bar, before heading to your table; wherever you sit, you’ll be treated to a view of the swaying sea.

BOOK: pobhotels.com

More Surfing Staycations

Find more surfing escapes here and in our guide to the country’s best surf schools.

DISCOVER

Learn all about PoB’s Get Set, And Go campaign and start planning your perfect sporty summer staycation at pobhotels.com