Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh, Midlothian
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has fingers in pies with a surprisingly broad range of fillings. Not only does this esteemed 500-year-old institution own the city’s Surgeon’s Hall, an iconic William Playfair building completed in 1832 which houses the college’s headquarters, as well as the grippingly gruesome Surgeon’s Hall Museum. It also owns a four-star hotel just behind Surgeon’s Hall, the profits from which help provide training for surgeons worldwide in need of financial assistance. No one could argue that the 129-bedroom hotel is as eye-catching as Playfair’s classical-style design but a £1.8m overhaul a couple of years ago saw it become Edinburgh’s largest independent four-star hotel and it’s a comfortable choice for those looking to dip one toe into the city centre and another into climbing Arthur’s Seat.
Doubles from £84, room-only, tenhillplace.com
Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Llyn peninsula
A gothic mansion in north Wales, within walking distance of hut-fringed Llanbedrog beach, Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw was built in the mid-19th century as a dower house for the widow of tongue-twistingly named Sir Love Jones-Parry. Elizabeth Jones-Parry never actually moved in but the building had been designed to showcase her art collection and, under new ownership in the 1890s, it became a public art gallery. Still run as a gallery today, now by a charitable trust, its gardens, woodlands and cafe are open to the public and the space also hosts workshops, concerts and community events. In one wing of the mansion, there’s also a large rental apartment and the proceeds from this support the property’s upkeep and the trust’s cultural work.
From £954 a week, sleeps 12 (short breaks also available, and rates are reduced if fewer bedrooms are booked), dioni.co.uk
Kingham cottage, Bath, Somerset
Inglenook fireplace? Tick. Ceilings ribboned with beams? Yup. Stonework the colour of gently baked scones? You bet. Throw in a roll-top bath, green-fringed views across the valley below and one of the best places to eat in the city – Castle Farm – within walking distance, and Kingham Cottage, on the southern slopes of Bath, appears every inch your classic West Country holiday rental. There is one crucial difference, however. Paid bookings support the charity After Umbrage, which means for part of the year, the cottage is let, free of charge, to carers in need of a break.
From £473 a week, sleeps four, classic.co.uk
Codley Gate Cottage, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
This three-bedroom Northumbrian farm cottage offers the chance to holiday in the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall. Owned by the Vindolanda Charitable Trust, which runs Roman Vindolanda (the excavated remains of nine successive Roman forts plus an interpretative museum) and the Roman Army Museum, it’s brilliantly positioned for exploring the area’s Roman sites. Larger groups might opt for the four-bedroom Codley Gate House. Guests get free entry to the nearby Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda, which is right on the doorstep, but Housesteads Fort is also just two miles away and Birdoswald Fort 11 miles, along with several well-preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall. There’s even an intact Roman milestone just behind the cottage. Proceeds from bookings go to the Trust and support further archaeological research.
From £1,200 a week, sleeps six, vindolanda.com
Mangersta bothy, Uig, Isle of Lewis
Not only does this rustic stone shelter sit on the remote western shores of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, it’s also, exhilaratingly, on a cliff edge. Owners John and Lorna Norgrove built the bothy almost 30 years ago and have remained true to their minimalist vision: amenities stretch no further than a fireplace and a wooden sleeping platform, though visitors are welcome to use an outside toilet 15 minutes’ walk away. Stays can be booked through the Norgroves, with proceeds going to the Linda Norgrove Foundation, which supports women and children in Afghanistan.
By donation, sleeps 3, lindanorgrovefoundation.org
Orchard Cottage, Presteigne, Herefordshire
Roughly halfway between Hay-on-Wye and Ludlow, near the Welsh market town of Presteigne, the Rodd is a 100-hectare (250-acre) Herefordshire estate with a Jacobean manor at its heart. Once home to the celebrated Australian artist Sidney Nolan, it’s now run by the Sidney Nolan Trust, a charity Nolan founded in 1985 to help support emerging and established artists and musicians through residencies, exhibitions and workshops. One way it does this is with rental income generated by pretty, one-bedroom Orchard Cottage, once home to the estate’s gardener.
Orchard Cottage from £395 for three nights, £615 for a week, sidneynolantrust.org
Delny Glamping, Invergordon, Ross and Cromarty, Highland
At this glampsite, 40 minutes’ drive north of Inverness, guests can choose between simple but cosy timber bothies, whisky-themed barrel pods (pictured), a two-bedroom apartment in the main house and a self-catering cottage for two, hewn from what was previously a salmon-smoking house. They all enjoy fresh-air views of the Cromarty Firth as well as the chance to pet the owners’ pygmy goats, angora rabbits and pot-bellied pig. Also uplifting is the knowledge that a percentage of the site’s monthly turnover is donated to the Ben Saunders Foundation, a charitable trust providing free stays in a Cotswolds holiday home for children with cancer and their families.
From £80 a night for two (in whisky barrel pods), delnyglamping.co.uk
Foxes Hotel, Minehead, Somerset
The South West Coast Path passes in front of Foxes Hotel, en route to Exmoor, running between the hotel’s long front garden and the beach. Behind it is leafy Blenheim Gardens, with a bandstand for summer concerts, and pavements leading up to the town’s historic quayside. Inside are seven bright, modern, wheelchair-friendly bedrooms, plus a restaurant serving the likes of goat cheese bonbons with beetroot puree and toasted pine nuts (they’ve also recently set up a food van, selling loaded nachos and rice boxes at events as well as at the hotel). Although this smart Victorian hotel looks similar to others on this coast, there is one element that sets Foxes apart. It’s the UK’s only fully operating training hotel for young people with learning disabilities, and guest stays directly support the students’ learning.
From £90 a night for two, B&B, foxeshotel.co.uk
Saint Leonard’s church, Ribble Valley, Lancashire
Whether you wince at the word “champing” or not, it’s hard to disagree with the concept of camping overnight in redundant historic churches to help fund their preservation. Saint Leonard’s, a simple 16th-century church at Old Langho in the Ribble Valley, is one of 20 such sacred spaces across the UK that are now open to the public for overnight stays between April and November. Like the others it’s still consecrated but has passed into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, which means campers can sleep soundly within its ancient stone walls without fear of being woken by the pealing of church bells. Camp beds, lanterns, tea and coffee, water and toilets are provided, and bedding sets can be hired if you don’t want to carry your own.
From £49 adults and £25 (aged 1 to 15) children (plus an optional £25 for bedding hire), sleeps 4, champing.co.uk
Wilder Me, Rame peninsula, Cornwall
A collection of six, bubble-like geodomes with access to shared showers, compost toilets and a lounge-like communal seventh dome, WilderMe is part of a creative community clustered around an old army barracks at Maker Heights, with a canteen run by former River Cottage chef Nick Platt. Perched among wildflower meadows, with salt-tinged views of the Cornish coast, the focus is on connecting with nature, whether that means watching skylarks or staring into a firepit’s flames at the end of the day. Profits from glamping stays are used to subsidise a social enterprise that runs wellbeing and nature retreats during the week for adults with autism, and to support the Rame Conservation Trust, which works to repair and conserve this historic landscape.
From £85 per night, sleeps two, canopyandstars.co.uk