Here at Oliver’s Travels, we love food. Aside from going on holiday, our main topic of office chat is what’s for dinner. This lead us to think, ‘Hey, other people love food too! Let’s put together a bunch of the best self-catering foodie holidays in the UK and then we can all obsess over who gets to go and try the kitchens out.’ Brilliant plan guys!
A UK self-catering holiday means you can fully immerse yourself in a region famed for its local produce and it gives you the opportunity to cook up a storm in your own self-catering cottage. With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of the UK’s best foodie destinations, and the loveliest luxury self-catering holiday villas that have fantastic kitchens and dining areas. And, they’re all within a stone’s throw of an incredible deli, butcher, farmers market or purveyor of fine booze.
Aside from all the money you’ll save, self-catering will let you indulge your inner Jamie Oliver as well as helping form close-knit bonds with your family and friends. Enjoying a self-catered holiday means everyone can relax and have a glass or two of wine with dinner without worrying about the drive home, or stay up as late as they like while the kids are sound asleep upstairs.
Famous for: Fantastic local farms and obligatory cream teas
Shop here: Award-winning mother-and-son store, the Ashburton Delicatessen is a foodie wonderland right on your doorstep. Enjoy soups, tarts and salads freshly prepared from the open kitchen in the back of the shop, and leave with a basket brimming with local cheese and chutneys. Local, fresh and organic fruit and veg smile alluringly from The Ark, before you are beckoned over the street to The Fish Deli to see what the best daily catch is for dinner. Grab some local, wild venison from WG Smith’s and don’t forget to treat yourself to some delectable treats from Moor Chocolat, made in Devon by a Swiss chocolatier.
Stay here: Landscove Barns and Landscove House – This former dairy farm has been renovated to create a contemporary farmhouse and series of luxurious barns. The farmhouse kitchen is vast and has a contemporary country feel. Most of the barns have their own small hyper-modern kitchens, but the star of this property is the central professional kitchen and dining areas that can be hired for special events. The “industrial chic” look is stylish and casual in the central dining area, while the indoor/outdoor feel of the glass-roofed atrium space is a total jaw-dropper. If you’re a foodie family or group of friends looking to celebrate, this is the place. The owners can also arrange for a massive selection of catering options if you’d rather not do the grunt work yourselves.
Famous for: The Rebellion Brewery and being a veritable foodie mecca
Shop here: Cowdery’s of Cookham is a local organic butcher’s shop. Providing customers with friendly advice, preparation tips and recipes – be sure to pop in for their sublime selection of ethically sourced UK meat and poultry – and to banter a bit with the knowledgeable staff. Fabulous French deli, Deliciously French is just down the street from Cowdery’s and provides a vast array of French pates, cheeses, charcuteries and wine. Perfect for a picnic style foodie lunch, or a cosy evening in.
Stay here: Apple Tree House – This Edwardian beauty of a house has undergone a complete refurbishment to provide a spacious and luxurious spot for your UK foodie break. The kitchen is frankly, enormous. It is a beautiful communal space to cook and eat together, with double ovens, gadgets, a beautiful curved island with expansive granite worktops and an all-important separate wine fridge. Foodie heaven.
Cartmel, Lake District
Famous for: Circular sausages and incredible cheese
Shop here: The area around Unsworth Yard Brewery is a treasure trove and a must-visit on a UK foodie break. Aside from the excellent beer and ales, the famous Cartmel Cheeses has mountains and mountains of terrific cheeses of every description, make sure to ask for tasters to help you make the right decision. There’s also a great artisanal bakery close by. On the third Friday of every month, Cartmel plays host to a fantastic food market, where you can stock up on more delights from the local area.
Stay here: Lakeside House – This wonderfully secluded holiday home is renovated with complete luxury in mind. Set in 26 acres of private grounds on the bank of beautiful Ullswater, this property has a boathouse, private jetty and hot tub on the deck. The panoramic view that surrounds the kitchen at Lakeside House is spectacular. It’s a wonderful light and airy space with a vaulted ceiling, with a huge dining table for 12 people. The kitchen itself is modern and bordering on professional-grade with double fridges and ovens.
Famous for: The freshest seafood, award-winning bacon, world-class potatoes and whisky
Shop here: The long, dramatic coastline has some of the finest seafood in the UK, and the landscape is great for free-range meat and dairy. Needless to say, you can eat pretty well here. You can pay visits to many of the producers to really get a feel for the foodie passion in this area, Taste Ayrshire has a great directory. While you’re close by, it’s definitely worth hopping on the ferry from Ardrossan to the Isle of Arran. You can cycle around this small and wild island a day, making lots of foodie stops along the way. Make sure you take a backpack to bring back all your goodies! There’s a brewery, creamery, chocolatier, smokehouse, three excellent cheese producers and tipples at Isle of Arran Distillers, one of the last independent distilleries in Scotland.
Stay here: Ayrshire Castle – This castle was built in the 15th century as a wedding gift for Princess Mary, daughter of James II of Scotland. Now, six hundred years later the castle has undergone a sympathetic renovation – enabling guests to feel like they’ve stepped back in time, without compromising on luxury. The kitchen is one of the most unusual in Oliver’s Travels’ arsenal. Cook a traditional feast of incredible local produce under the arched ceiling on the Aga, and dine together in the medieval Great Hall. This property really comes into its own in the autumn, when the crackling fire and candelabras can be fully appreciated.
Chipping Norton, The Cotswolds
Famous for: Stinking Bishop and Gloucester Old Spot
Shop here: The local farmers’ market runs on the third Saturday of the month, and is a smorgasbord of good honest produce, straight from the suppliers. Whether you’re on the hunt for fruit and vegetables or meats and cheeses, turn up hungry, you’ll need room for samples. There are plenty of lovely delis in the area, but make sure to pay a visit to Ross and Ross, for their exceptional potted meats, at-home curing kits and foodie gifts. Jamie Oliver’s wildly popular foodie festival, The Big Feastival takes places place at Alex James’ farm close to Chipping Norton every August.
Stay here: Cotswold Barn – Just a short drive from charming tea shops and pubs selling some of the finest locally brewed real ale, this modern hideaway is perfect for a foodie getaway with a large group. Inside is cosy and full of character with exposed beams, modern interiors and luxurious bathrooms. The spacious barn is exuding country-chic vibes!
So now what? Hungry for more? Check out our other holiday homes in the UK to plan your own foodie adventure, or give our concierge team a call to get their suggestions on the best kitchens around. If you want to read up on destinations in the UK, have a peek at our travel guides to find out the best sights, things to do and foodie picks. And, if you’re feeling foodie but want to leave the hard work to a pro, we even have a chef service at Oliver’s Travels where we can arrange for a gourmet caterer to come to you – they’ll even wash up!