There's a new breed of British country-house hotel, and the latest is Cowley Manor, a ravishing Italianate mansion in the Cotswolds. Owner Jessica Sainsbury, a scion of the English supermarket family, fell in love with the circa-1850 building and transformed its warren of 53 rooms into 30 rather minimalist suites, with Egyptian cotton sheets and Nakamichi stereos. Using stylish materials such as slate, limestone, and blond wood and installing a stunning spa with two pools, Sainsbury has created a getaway that's hip yet relaxed—much like the guests themselves. Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire; 44-1242/870-900; www.cowleymanor.com; doubles from $320.
Housed on a dramatic 55 acres, the hotel may look to be out of a Knoll showroom, and the spa may be frequented by boldface names, but there are rows of wellies for visitors who have chosen not to haul their own. Without them, guests couldn't tramp beside the small river that cuts through the property.