Floral chintz fabric and fiddly cross-stitch were once the domain of sweet, countryside-dwelling grandmas. But now every millennial is trying to ape their elders, spending long days hunched in the garden and decking out their homes in gingham and lace.
Why? Chalk it down to ‘cottagecore’ – part aesthetic movement, part lifestyle choice, it emerged on social media in 2020 as a means of retreating from the modern world and into a simpler, softer, sourdough-scented way of life.
But if you really want to go the full monty, you have to get yourself an actual cottage – so we’ve rounded up the dreamiest spots for all that bread-making, flower-foraging and frolicking you’re going to do. Oh yes, you are.
Spinks Nest, Norfolk
Good things definitely do come in small packages when it comes to this bijou converted historic cottage in a pretty village in Norfolk. Spinks Nest may be very compact but it packs a lot in: cosy chairs by the wood burner, all mod con kitchen, weird and wonderful taxidermy and a huge sunken concrete bath that makes for a very atmospheric soak with lots of heavenly smelling bathing products. There’s plenty of seriously cute towns, epic beaches, grassy marshlands and local bakeries and delis nearby to check out too.
Nearest airport: London Stansted
Coral Cottage, Yorkshire
Sitting pretty on the historic Castle Howard Estate, this super-trad stone cottage is chocka with intriguing antiques sourced from the castle and beyond. There’s something to ogle in every corner – blue and white porcelain on display in the kitchen, vintage oil landscapes studding the walls and a cornucopia of lamps to softly light the pages of that novel you’ll finish over the weekend. You’re also well-placed to explore both the bumbling bridleways of the North York Moors or – if you have a car – the ruggedly pretty Yorkshire coastline, where you’ll find throwback fishing villages like Filey and Whitby.
Closest airport: Newcastle
The Pineapple, Central Scotland
It would be perfectly within the realm of reason to ask, "Why is there a giant pineapple-shaped house in the middle of Scotland?" The answer: some plucky 18th-century earl built it as a nod to roguish American sailors who stuck the spiky fruit on gateposts to announce their return home. Sure, OK. Well, now you can stay in Lord Dunmore’s subtle summer home, which consists of two stone wings that contain the bedrooms, plus a stately sitting room within the pineapple itself. You’ll also find a sunny, sprawling walled garden to the rear that’s open to the public through the National Trust for Scotland.
Closest airport: Glasgow
The Little Fleece, Gloucestershire
Everyone knows, of course, that the Cotswolds are cottagecore heartland – England’s quaintest region was on the trend way before Instagram caught up, so there’s no shortage of whimsical stone gaffs to shack up in here. The Little Fleece stands apart from the rest thanks to its storied history as a former bookshop, which is hinted at by the cottage’s thick, exposed beams and satisfyingly creaky floorboards. Everywhere you look there are inviting little reading nooks, but we recommend hunkering down in front of the limestone fireplace with a page-turner and a warm bev.
Closest airport: Bristol
Craftsman’s Cottage, Wiltshire
On the sleeker end of cottagecore, you’ll find this smart retreat on the Wiltshire-Dorset border. Everything in this 19th-century stone cottage is thoughtfully and carefully selected by owner Amanda Bannister, who sources each bit of furniture and decor from craftspeople across the UK. You’ll find heavenly-scented Bramley products in the bathroom, original works by local ceramicists displayed in the kitchen and handmade lamp bases by Pinch Design in the bedroom – and everything is available to buy. Like sleeping in the most beautiful shop display ever.
Closest airport: Bournemouth
Inkwell Cottage, Oxfordshire
This heart-bursting little honeyed-stone cottage is almost too much – the twin chimneys that crown the roof, the climbing roses that creep across the egg-blue door, the bistro table for two on the tiny red-brick courtyard. It’s like a romantic Cotswold retreat of dreams, with everything perfectly designed for a snug weekend of hiding away. You could venture out and explore the AONB-grade countryside that surrounds the cottage, but with a base that’s this tastefully done – did we mention the moody-blue artists’ studio or the champagne riddling rack in the bedroom? – it’ll be hard to tear yourself away.
Closest airport: Bristol
Artist's Cottage, Northumberland
Eclectic, bright and cosy, this coastal home once belonged to the artist Pete Green, whose works still adorn the walls. Now Green’s family own the cottage and have kitted it out with quirky objets d’art and vintage furniture to keep the kooky-creative spirit alive. The cottage is just outside Craster, a pretty fishing village with a postcard-perfect harbour and an excellent pub serving slam-dunk fish and chips. And, of course, there are coastal walks galore – the four-and-half-mile walk to the dramatic crag of Cullernose Point is highly recommended.
Closest airport: Newcastle
The Grieve’s House, East Lothian, Scotland
A stylish, cheerful little retreat just 30 minutes outside Edinburgh and a hop-skip from the pretty East Lothian coastline. The cottage is architect-designed and tastefully furnished with a mix of antiques and modern furnishings, giving it an updated cottagecore-cool feel. With a games room at the back – complete with a ping-pong table – plus two double bedrooms, the house suits a small family or two couples with a competitive streak. The sunny stone courtyard, accessed through the canary-yellow kitchen doors, is the ideal spot for a morning coffee.
Closest airport: Edinburgh
Gardener’s Cottage, Suffolk
This magical, blush-pink, Grade-II-listed, thatched timber cottage looks like something out of a Brothers Grimm fable, or the HQ of a secretive fairy colony. It was built in the 17th century and carefully restored, so you’ll spot many original features, including rustic, exposed beams and an inglenook fireplace that feels oh so inviting after a ruddy-cheeked stroll. And you’ll find plenty of options to stretch your legs right outside your door – the cottage is right on the edge of the sprawling Thornham Estate, which offers miles of peaceful walks through ancient Suffolk woodland and parkland.
Closest airport: London Luton
Castle Cottage, Isle of Wight
There are certain types of buildings that’ll earn you bonus points when seeking the ultimate quaint aesthetic. To strike gold, aim for a converted stable like this oh-so-adorable one bedroom in the seaside town of Ventnor. Located a short walk from the beach and within easy reach of the local botanical gardens, spend a cutesy day roaming through the flowers and then retire to the property’s quirky wooden mezzanine or for a cuppa in the conservatory.
Closest airport: Southampton
Libertine Cottage, Cornwall
Coiffed and spruced from its former barn state into a stylish yet understated bolthole, you can tell that the dreamily-titled Libertine was originally owned by a fashion buyer. Full of special touches (velvet sofas, a wood-burning fire, Egyptian cotton sheets), this is where you go when you want country living but without any of the mucky stuff. The piece de resistance? After a long woodland walk or a stroll down to the golden sands of Perranporth beach, spend the evening lounging in the outdoor hot tub and surveying your kingdom. Sometimes life’s not so bad, eh.
Closest airport: Newquay
This dinky shepherd’s hut might be small but it’s perfectly formed, with airy wooden interiors and all manner of extras for cosying up and creating your own den away from home. Throw a couple of logs in the wood-burning stove for maximum toastiness while curled up with a book, or spend a starry evening relaxing in the wood-fired outdoor hot-tub with an atmospheric fire pit crackling in the background. Then, come the morning, freshly laid eggs from the on-site chickens will help set the day on the right path. Bliss.
Closest airport: Bristol