Emily Escaped


Emily Escaped: reviews and photos of holiday homes for design lovers

Emily Escaped

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Written by homes journalist Emily Brooks, this blog is dedicated to seeking out UK holiday rentals that are all about great design

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Natural Retreats John O’Groats, Caithness

These eco-friendly ‘residences’ boast interiors entirely stocked with UK brands: the result is a brilliant snapshot of where British design is now


Formerly known (and, let’s face it, still currently known) as a somewhat underwhelming stop-off on the Scottish tourist trail, John O’Groats is reinventing itself as a more sophisticated place to visit. Somewhere to linger a while, instead of hopping off the coach, having your picture taken, and hopping back on again.

Natural Retreats seem like a good fit to deliver such an upgrade. Known for its stylish, eco-friendly ‘residences’ set in glorious surroundings (including the Yorkshire Dales and Fistral Beach in Cornwall), it has jumped in with both feet here, not just opening 23 of these luxury little properties (I so want to call them chalets, but I think it would offend them) but converting the adjacent John O’Groats hotel into further upmarket self-catering apartments. This is design-centric holidaymaking for people who don’t like to stray too far from civilisation: it’s beautifully rural, with sweeping beaches and wildlife-rich landscapes, but there’s an ‘Outfitters’ selling country clothing and homewares that could have stepped out of Shoreditch, and a ‘Storehouse’ selling local provisions that doubles as a cafe.

Each residence has three bedrooms, a large double and two smaller doubles; an open-plan kitchen-dining-living-area serves as the remaining space, with a boot-room off to the side to hide your dirty wellies. NoChintz, a Manchester-based interior design firm, was tasked with kitting out the place, choosing some really talented young British brands to supply the furniture (an all-British interior, from the beds to the lighting, was part of the brief). Yorkshire-based Naughtone did the sofas and chairs, for example, while Another Country’s oak, splay-legged Series One dining table and benches also make an appearance. A mix of timber, white, greys and purples feels like a good foil to all the nature waiting for you outside, and it is wonderful to see all these brands brought together in one place. The result is a brilliant snapshot of just how great British design is at the moment.

Nearby: Spot seals, dolphins and whales on a boat trip (run by Natural Retreats), or go further afield on a day-trip to Orkney; walking, cycling and horseriding in the surrounding unspoilt countryside; visit the 16th-century Castle of Mey, best known for being the Queen Mother’s former home, and with beautiful traditional gardens

Essential details:

  • John O’Groats, Caithness, Highlands
  • Sleeps 6
  • From £499 per werk

Book now at naturalretreats.co.uk

More photos:

Natural-retreats-John-O'Groats-Living2 Natural-retreats-John-O'Groats-wellies Natural-retreats-John-O'Groats-bookshelveswww.haydnrydings.co.uk

Photos via Natural Retreats

Book now at naturalretreats.co.uk

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