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Our little black book of enchanting places

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England's most glamorous holiday homes by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Where would do you think you’d find this gorgeous Palladian-style holiday villa, with indoor swimming pool and landscaped gardens? No, not Italy or France. The answer is East Sussex. Didn’t know you could rent such glamorous holiday homes in the UK? Well, you can through the Cheltenham-based Wow House Company – and we’re planning to work our way through its entire English selection, starting with these five lovelies.

Mayfield House, East Sussex

Mayfield House (above) is located in the High Weald, a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, around 20 miles from Brighton. Built in 2012, the house has seven bedrooms, four reception rooms, indoor swimming pool, steam room, cinema room, billiard room and gym. There’s no outdoor pool (this is England, after all), but as well as a formal garden, there are large lawned gardens and a mature orchard. The house has a magnificent dining room but you can also dine outside on fine evenings, and there’s a pretty Riviera-style veranda for a pre-prandial gin and tonic. Price: 3 nights’ self-catering from £4,250 or seven nights from £5,995. Sleeps 14. Orchard House, Buckinghamshire

It looks like a French country house, and it does have a boules court, but this five-bedroom Edwardian house is in Tyringham, Bucks. Weather permitting, we’ll be spending most of the time outdoors: there are tennis, basketball and badminton courts and a rifle range, not to mention a luxurious pool house. Al-fresco dining is on the menu, too, with a variety of places to eat, including a large patio with a barbecue and paella ring, a thatched dining area, and a veranda covered with vines. What to eat? How about fresh fruit and veg from the garden and orchards, and newly laid eggs from the resident chickens, ducks and geese? Price: 3 nights' self-catering from £2,750 or 7 nights from £4,750. Sleeps 10.Clarendon Manor, Dorset

This large Dorset manor house is in the pretty village of Puddletown. It really is vast, with nine bedrooms, six reception rooms, a games room and a fully-equipped gym. Outside space is just as generous, with formal gardens and extensive lawns, a rose garden, kitchen garden, paddock, and woodland. There’s even a croquet lawn, so we’ll be boning up on the rules to avoid potential squabbles. Holiday reading will be anything by Thomas Hardy – not only is this Hardy country, but the author’s heart is buried at St Michael’s Church, in nearby Stinsford. Price: 3 nights’ self-catering from £2,950 or 7 nights from £5,500. Sleeps 18.The Butterfly House, Norfolk

The largest of the five here, this Arts and Crafts house has 15 bedrooms over three floors. Highlights include a main hall, perfect for dancing or banqueting, a music room with a piano that opens out on to the terrace, and a games room. It’s the sort of property that would be perfect for a wedding – there’s ample room for a marquee in the 11 acres of grounds – though we think it would be even nicer just to share it with a large group of friends and family. The Norfolk coast is just a few miles away so we’ll be packing our buckets and spades. Price: 2 nights from £6,695 or 3 nights from £8,195. Sleeps 41.Dartmouth House, Devon

If we had to pick a favourite, it would probably be Dartmouth House which, though it only sleeps 18, has all the facilities – tennis court, bar, outdoor hot tub – of an exclusive boutique hotel. On warm days we’d be on a sun lounger by the pool overlooking the Venn Valley (there’s an indoor pool, too); in chillier weather we'll be in the Moroccan hammam or perhaps catching a movie in the cinema room. The location is pretty perfect, too, five minutes’ drive from the best beaches in Devon and only a mile from the beautiful naval port of Dartmouth. Price: 3 nights from £5,475 or 7 nights from £11,250. Sleeps 16.

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