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Our little black book of enchanting places


Five top hotel picnics by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in FOOD + DRINK By Maggie O'Sullivan

Now the days are getting warmer, it's time to dig out the wicker basket and retrieve the picnic rug from the dog’s basket. Alternatively, you could check into a hotel and dine alfresco with a little more style. To inspire you, our friends at Pride of Britain Hotels have teamed five of the best hotel picnics with five idyllic picnic spots.

Airds Hotel & Restaurant, Appin, Argyll

Airds’ Homemade Hamper (from £30 for two) is packed with local treats, including a range of sandwiches (cucumber, Scottish beef and horseradish, Inverawe smoked salmon, Isle of Mull cheese and chutney), homemade fruit cake and shortbread, vegetables crisps, fruit and a flask of tea or coffee (from £30 for two). For the perfect picnic spot, follow the path to the end of the headland at Clach Thoull, where you’ll find a bench with beautiful views across Loch Linnhe (above) towards the isle of Lismore and the Morvern mountains beyond. From £295 per night, including dinner and full Scottish breakfast.Buckland Tout-Saints, Kingsbridge, Devon

Buckland Tout-Saints' Afternoon Tea Picnic (£29 for two or £30.50 to include a bottle of Prosecco) comprises a wicker hamper filled with scones, mini cakes, and a selection of sandwiches. Take it along the cliff-top footpath at Start Point and down to a secluded sandy beach where pink-headed thrift grows on the cliffs, cirl buntings call from the bushes and grey seals bask by the rocks. From £125 per night, including full English breakfast.The Goring, London SW1

The Goring’s Luxury Hamper (£400 for two) is prepared by Executive Chef Shay Cooper. Inside, you'll find oscietra caviar, Frank Hederman beech smoked salmon, Hereford beef and horseradish brioche rolls, an array of fine wines and Bollinger Champagne. Resist the temptation to take it into the hotel's own garden (above) and stroll up the road to St James’s Park. Make for the lake, home to a colony of pelicans, and one of the most peaceful spots in the capital. From £450 per night.Maison Talbooth, Dedham, Essex

The Strawberries and Champagne Picnic (£100 for two) provided by Maison Talbooth includes a selection of cold meats, cheeses, seasonal salads, local strawberries and a bottle of Taittinger champagne. Head for the nearby River Stour, featured in many of John Constable’s paintings. Take a rowing boat from Dedham Mill to Flatford then picnic on the the riverbank. From £210 per night, including full English breakfast.Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly, Sussex

Gravetye Manor’s Kitchen Garden Hamper (£80 for two) includes fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s kitchen garden as well as sandwiches, homemade cake and a bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvée or Bluebell Sparkling English Wine from nearby vineyards. Take the footpath by The Cat Inn through the woods and uphill to the open fields beyond. You don’t even have to carry the hamper: there’s an Outdoor Butler to take care that for you. From £250 per night, including full English breakfast.

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