The best golf hotels in the UK for a stay-and-play break in spring

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. Note that our writers visited these hotels prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Golf season is almost upon us and in a few weeks’ time – from March 29 – golf courses in England will start welcoming day guests and members back. At the same time people will be able to mix outdoors in groups of six or in two households and, all being well, from April 12 self-catering stays and spa days should resume. Hotel stays remain off the cards until May 17, but with things booking up fast, now is a good time to start looking at the stay and play holidays we hope to enjoy very soon. Here’s our pick of the best golf hotels in the UK and top hotels for British golf breaks, including the best for world-class golf courses, comfy rooms, Michelin-starred dining and sumptuous spas across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

ENGLAND

Bovey Castle

Moretonhampstead, Dartmoor, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Bovey Castle’s dramatic location overlooking lushly wooded hills on the western side of Dartmoor National Park is superb. It is the ideal base from which to pursue a range of “country sports”, whether it’s hunting, shooting, fishing, or a round of golf on the 18-hole championship course. Inside, there’s a heated swimming pool and whirlpool plus small spa and gym. Rooms are texture-rich and comfy, and come with decanters of estate-made sloe gin. Bovey Castles plans to reopen the self-catering lodges, golf, spa and outdoor activities from April 12, and the hotel and restaurants from May 17.


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£
179

per night

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The Grove

Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Tiger Woods won a World Golf Championship event here in 2006, and the British Masters was held here in 2016. The Grove’s celebrity clientele isn’t the only reason it’s earned a strong reputation. It ticks all the boxes of a luxury stay, from its championship golf course to its experiential spa. Other activities include Segways and bikes to rent, fitness classes and a beach complete with deckchairs, though a whole day could be whiled away with a book in one of its six elegantly designed lounges. The golf course will reopen from March 29; the spa from April 12; and the restaurants, bars and hotel from May 17.


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£
325

per night

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Rockliffe Hall

Hurworth-on-Tees, Durham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A Victorian mansion with a vast modern extension, a top-class spa, Wonderland-themed children’s facilities and a championship golf course. The cheapest bedrooms – admirably large and well equipped – are found in various outbuildings; some are self-catering apartments (the former available from May 17, the latter from April 12). Dining here is a treat, from head chef Richard Allen’s tasting menus to The Brasserie and the Clubhouse (out on the golf course). The golf course is provisionally reopening for members and visitors from March 29; and to hotel guests from May 17, when the restaurants will also reopen.


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£
235

per night

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Rudding Park Hotel & Spa

Follifoot, Yorkshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This large, contemporary-style country house hotel is surrounded by parkland near Harrogate. The big draw – two golf courses, aside – is the extensive (think three tennis courts for size) rooftop spa that has seriously raised the bar with its hydrotherapy pool, saunas, spa bath and steam rooms dotted amongst lounging areas, trees and shrubs. From March 29 until the next stage of the roadmap on April 12 (when other parts of the hotel start opening up), the golf courses and driving range will reopen. Sandwich rolls and sealed drinks will be available as takeaways, which golfers can consume on the round.


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£
307

per night

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Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa

Leavenheath, Suffolk, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A hotel with a story, founded two decades ago by the owners of the Copella fruit business and still surrounded by the orchards the family bought at the end of the war when it was a Women’s Land Army farm. Facilities include the two golf courses (and a golf simulator for limbering up), squash courts, a spacious gym equipped with very high-spec gear, and a spa and indoor pool and hot tub. There’s also a cosy bar and a decent restaurant, another, simpler grill restaurant above the golfers’ clubhouse and a well-equipped shop. The courses will reopen on March 29 with games of up to four players.


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£
81

per night

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Carden Park

Cheshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

With a beautiful setting and excellent facilities, Carden Park is ideal for activity filled weekends and golf breaks in the UK. A massive range of diversions spans two championship golf courses (one of them designed by Jack Nicklaus), quad biking, an aerial ropes course, and Jeep off-roading experiences. There’s also a leisure centre with pool, sauna and gym, a hairdressers and a three-acre vineyard, producing sparkling wine. The jewel in the Carden crown is its new £10 million spa, which is out to compete with the best in the country. The course, driving range and putting greens will reopen with restrictions on March 29.


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£
116

per night

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SCOTLAND

Hotels with golf courses are a staple of the Scottish countryside; there are no fewer than 560 clubs across the country, apparently. On January 5, Scotland was told to stay at home as much as possible, but examples of “reasonable excuses to go out”, as stated on the government website, include “local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to two people, plus any children under 12, from no more than two households)”. Overnight stays in hotels and b&bs are currently banned until further notice, but we’ve picked out some of the best luxury golf hotels for when we can travel to Scotland again, below.  

The Gleneagles Hotel

Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Arguably one of the most famous golf resorts in the UK. Golfers go weak at the knees at the mere mention of the championship courses, but with three of them and a nine-hole course, plus a fabulous spa, and chef Andrew Fairlie (a bit of an icon himself) offering two-starred Michelin food, there’s a little bit of heaven for everyone. The leisure club is suitably luxurious, with two pools and an outdoor hot pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, gym and fitness training. There are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, as well as croquet, archery, segway tours and bike hire. The Queen’s, PGA Centenary and Wee courses are open – currently just for members and visitors who reside in the area.


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£
285

per night

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Greywalls Hotel & Chez Roux

Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

You don’t have to play golf to love this golfing hotel – an Edwardian beauty of enduring charm. The remarkably unspoilt Lutyens-designed Arts and Crafts house has a heavenly walled garden attributed to Gertrude Jekyll, and offers a Chez Roux restaurant, old-fashioned service and quiet luxury throughout. As well as special golf packages (there are no fewer than 22 courses within 10 miles – a great area to know about for golf holidays in the UK), there are other distractions: tennis courts and croquet, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and bicycles by arrangement. Please check the courses’ website for more details.


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£
293

per night

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Trump Turnberry

Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland

8
Telegraph expert rating

A legendary golf and spa resort overlooking the Firth of Clyde, restored to Edwardian splendor by the Trump family with two championship courses – the Ailsa course, host of four Open Championships and the newer King Robert the Bruce course – and more sporting and leisure activities than you can shake a golf club at. Richly carpeted corridors, leather armchairs and gilt edged rosewood furnishings foster the ambiance of a grand country house. The vibe is relaxed and sociable, rather than stuffy and pretentious. There are 198 rooms and suites, a complex of cottages, and self-catering apartments.


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£
206

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Fairmont St Andrews Hotel

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

8
Telegraph expert rating

This modern resort hotel has the right mix of facilities to be a glamorous crowd pleaser, while retaining personal, excellent service. The property is situated yards from the sea, just outside the smart university town of St Andrews – the ‘Home of Golf’. This rural location grants the hotel 520 acres of space, enough for two golf courses, over 200 bedrooms and several dining options. A complimentary shuttle bus transports guests three miles to St Andrews, ideal for those who wish to explore the cathedral, castle and the British Golf Museum.


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£
178

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Macdonald Rusacks Hotel

St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

8
Telegraph expert rating

This is more than a hotel for golfers, it’s a hotel that celebrates golf, its history and heroes. It’s quite immersive, whether you play the game or not. The public spaces, lounges and lobbies are vast and grand. The Austen Gallery is a golfing shrine, featuring walls of bright golfing portraits. The soft furnishings are rich and heavy, and the colour schemes are dark throughout (maroons and purples, or browns and burnt orange), but this grande dame of a hotel has a traditional charm in keeping with its situation next to the Old Course and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Modernity and minimalism can wait.


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£
229

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Wales

Wales is currently under lockdown pending a review on March 12, but First Minister Mark Drakeford said the timetable for easing restrictions would “not be very different” to elsewhere in the UK. Golf and outdoor sports are currently banned and there is no word on hotels reopening yet, though up to four people from two different households can exercise together outdoors and Mr Drakeford suggested that self-catering accommodation could reopen in April. Here are some of the best golfing hotels for when we can travel to Wales again.

The Celtic Manor Resort

Newport, Wales

8
Telegraph expert rating

Telecoms tycoon Sir Terry Matthews’ dream came true when he brought the Ryder Cup to Celtic Manor, his birthplace, in 2010. More than just a place to stay and play golf – there are 54 holes of it – the Principality’s biggest hotel aims to be a centre of Welsh excellence and a one-stop resort for families, short breaks, events, and couples. Rooms are comfortable and functional. Big groups and large families might prefer one of the 10, self-contained Hunter Lodges, each with four bedrooms, a cavernous sitting room, well-equipped kitchen and a hot tub on a private deck.


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£
106

per night

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Vale Resort

Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

9
Telegraph expert rating

Spread across 650 acres of castle grounds on the fringes of Cardiff, the Vale Resort is a terrific getaway, with one of Wales’ top-ranking spas, two championship golf courses, a health club, country walks and plenty of activities to amuse the kids. Spread over vast grounds, the style is uncluttered and modern, with floor-to-ceiling windows maximising on the green country views and letting in loads of natural light. A sense of space is key here and even at peak times the resort doesn’t feel crowded. Golfers, families, spa-breakers, conference-goers and rugby players might seem like an odd mix of guests, but somehow the Vale makes it work.


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£
84

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Northern Ireland

People in Northern Ireland are required to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons. According to the government’s website, sports facilities such as leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts and golf courses must remain closed. These rules are in place until at least April 1, following a review on March 16. Hotel stays are also banned, with May 1 touted as the earliest date you may be able to stay in a hotel or b&b. In any case, here are some of the best golfing hotels for when we can travel to Northern Ireland.

Lough Erne Resort

Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

Almost two hours’ drive from Belfast, this haven of relaxed, friendly luxury in the lovely Fermanagh lakelands, is nestled between Castle Hume Lake on one side and Lough Erne on the other. If you’re a golfer, you’ll be in heaven, with two courses in the grounds: the Castle Hume and the championship Faldo Course designed by Sir Nick, with immaculate fairways and greens. Inside the hotel, there’s a gym, pool, sauna, steam room, hot tub and Thai-oriented spa. Four restaurants include the Halfway House log cabin café at the ninth hole of the Faldo Course and the formal but airy Catalina for fine dining.


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144

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Slieve Donard Hotel and Spa

Newcastle, Northern Ireland

8
Telegraph expert rating

Built in the 1890s, the Slieve Donard was and is one of the most majestic spa hotels in Ireland, right on the beach flanked by the Mourne Mountains and the prestigious Royal County Down golf course. The style may be grand, but the service is relaxed and friendly, and the value good considering the location and view. Golf Digest described the Championship Links of Royal County Down beside the hotel as the best course in the world outside the United States, with its rolling links formed by nature and perfected by nurture. The club is certainly one of the most exclusive around, with membership by invitation only.


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144

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Contributions by Gavin Bell, Suzy Bennett, Martin Dunford, Shilpa Ganatra, Hattie Garlick, Geoff Hill, Janice Hopper, Sherelle Jacobs, Charlotte Johnstone, Suzanne King, Linda Macdonald, Helen Pickles, Kerry Walker & Fiona Ward