Photo of Essex

About Essex

Much maligned by elements of the press and reality television, Essex is actually delightfully rural and historically fascinating, and it’s got a long stretch of coastline intricately featuring estuaries, peninsulas, and some very beautiful beaches. The county also has some very charming centres, but most of the best places to stay in Essex are outside the towns and cities, in tiny villages and hamlets, or in picturesque rural spots. We have discovered plenty of country house hotels, elegant conversions and spa hotels, but also a good range of rural pubs-with-rooms.

The history of Essex is easily traced back to the Iron Age. The Romans took what was to become Colchester, and now it’s one of the county’s historic centres, with its ties to Boudicca and Roman ruins including the original Roman walls, and William the Conqueror's castle. Today it’s also a pretty market town, with a very impressive collection of museums and galleries, historic architecture, and even a zoo.

Several of Essex’s other centres have historic treasures to rival Colchester — the UK’s best preserved Norman keep in Hedingham Castle, Southend Pier, and the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, which was the UK’s entry into the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture in 1932. Even the county's beach towns and resorts are historic! Maldon was regularly under attack by the Vikings; Southend has the world’s longest pleasure pier at 2.16kms; and the historic port of Harwich is where The Mayflower was launched from.

Because so much of the region is classed as commuter belt, the majority of its towns and centres are easily reached by train from London, so the best places to stay in Essex are ideal for a quick getaway from the capital.

The Best Places to Stay in Essex

For a Mini-break

  • Greyfriars is an elegant Georgian property in the heart of Colchester's cultural district. Ideal for exploring the town on foot, the hotel features 26 opulent rooms and suites with fabulous bathrooms. Think free-standing copper tubs for long evening soaks, drinks at the smart bar, and delectable dining in the Michelin-recommended restaurant. Romantic five-star luxury in the town centre.
  • Southend’s Roslin Beach Hotel is a laid-back, romantic spot with bright sea-facing rooms and suites featuring a blue and white palette, with splashes of bold patterns. Boasting an indulgent spa and an award-winning restaurant, this is a gorgeous wedding venue or couples' hideaway. Don't miss the scrumptious afternoon teas or the chance to sip a sundowner on the beachside terrace!

For a Country House Escape

  • Wivenhoe House is an indulgent rural escape a few miles south of Colchester. Book a luxury room in the eighteenth-century house for classic grandeur, or stay in the swish, newly-built garden wing for beautiful views from floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. Afternoon tea is a real treat, whilst the lovely brasserie serves flavoursome traditional dishes with a modern twist. Immortalised in one of Constable's paintings, this is a good option for business or leisure travellers.
  • Down Hall is a grand, Italianate country house hotel, on a one hundred acre estate. Built in 1873, the Hall is now a 98 room hotel, with a smart new cocktail bar, and an impressive spa. Rooms are traditional, with creamy, neutral palettes, and marble bathrooms. For food and drink options you can choose between a sundowner on the terrace, afternoon tea in the large and rather regal lounge, a gin and tonic in the cocktail bar and hearty dishes in the restaurant.

For Water Views

  • Opened in 1864 to put up passengers who had disembarked off sailing ships from the continent, The Pier at Harwich is an absolute delight for anyone who loves the sea and boats. Right on the harbour, it has fresh, modern, nautical design and a really great seafood restaurant which makes it a popular buzzy location with locals and guests alike. Rooms at the front of the hotel have huge windows overlooking the harbour but for something really special book the Mayflower Suite with its sweeping views over the estuary and telescope too! 
  • Southend’s Seven Hotel is a super-smart property with beautiful views over the Thames Estuary. It offers chic rooms in warm, moody tones, big comfortable beds and sleek modern design. The upmarket feel continues in the Aurum Cocktail Bar & Restaurant, where a short menu showcases excellent locally-sourced produce. A grown-up, contemporary choice for a top-notch seaside stay.

For a Romantic Retreat

  • Milsoms, set deep in Constable Country, just outside the charming village of Dedham, is a pretty, rural hotel with 15 rooms and a lively brasserie and bar. Each of the rooms is individually designed and decorated, with original art by a local artist, lovely linen sheets and old fashioned telephones. Guests are welcome to use the facilities of the sister property, Talbooth House and Spa, which we’ve included below.
  • Talbooth House and Spa is a 12 room hotel with quirky touches. Popular for exclusive use bookings and weekend parties, it has an impressive heated outdoor pool complex with a hot tub, and a spa with a good treatment list, tennis courts and a cosy sitting room. There’s no restaurant, but you can pop to Milsoms
  • For a child-free slice of relaxation and romance, we recommend Piglets Boutique Country Stay. With its five well appointed guest rooms, it's an intimate property and the facilities are superb: lovely eco pond for swimming, Mediterranean patio, games room, extensive honesty bar and dinners on request. This part of Essex is known for its walking trails, and it’s just a short drive from London, so perfect for a weekend escape.

For Foodies

  • The Cricketers is a pub-with-rooms run by the parents of Jamie Oliver. Recently awarded a Michelin plate, you can guarantee that food it taken quite seriously here! The rooms are colourfully, and stylishly decorated, all unique, with cosy, homely touches and a penchant for bold wallpaper. The best rooms have their own private courtyards — complete with outdoor furniture. Peaceful, yet family-friendly.

Best Pubs-with-Rooms

  • The Sun Inn is a 15th-century coaching inn turned popular gastropub in lovely Dedham. The seven rooms are traditionally inspired yet they feel chic and fresh. The restaurant serves Italian inspired dishes using local artisanal produce.
  • Chelmsford’s The Lion Inn has long been a pub and inn, and has relatively recently become more of a restaurant with rooms. There are 23 guest rooms with more traditional decor in the original pub building and more contemporary choices in the new restaurant extension. Just north of Chelmsford, this is a family friendly property with plenty of space and accommodation options.
  • The Mistley Thorn in Mistley — which is right on the Stour Estuary — is a popular restaurant with seven simple, classic rooms. The views and the food are highly recommended, and the room rate makes it easy to justify. A great choice for walkers too.
  • The Pheasant is an award-winning, five bedroom pub-with-rooms in Audley End, a pretty rural pocket of Essex. The pub and restaurant are cheerful, and the food very good, and upstairs, the five, individually decorated, rooms are carefully styled. Family and pet-friendly, and with access to miles of walking trails, this is the ideal rural escape.

For Great Value

  • Small, quaint and very affordable, The Compasses Inn is a charming village pub just north of Chelmsford, surrounded by walking, cycling and horse riding trails. The family-run property is friendly, and has an excellent selection of local ales, hearty cuisine and roaring fire in season. Upstairs are five guest rooms, with beamed ceilings, fireplaces and sash windows.
  • The Bell Inn is a quintessentially British village pub set in a 600-year-old building in Horndon-on-the-Hill. Its 27 spacious rooms and suites have had a modern facelift but keep their original charm. Spend days cycling, walking or playing golf before returning to the characterful restaurant which serves excellent gastropub-style dishes. A perfect hideaway — and you can bring your kids too.
  • The Flitch of Bacon is a restaurant-with-rooms in the tiny village of Little Dunmow. The restaurant is definitely the main event, with modern British fare, and there are just three guest rooms, all boldly decorated, but cosy-feeling, with luxuries like fluffy robes, power showers and underfloor heating.

Prefer a Private Apartment or Cottage?

  • If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.

Travel Information

  • London’s Stansted Airport is probably going to be your most convenient airport for destinations in Essex, it’s on the same side of London. Many Essex highlights can be easily reached using trains from London. Most trains to Essex leave from Liverpool Street Station, but a couple depart from Fenchurch Street. You can also reach Essex from the water: the port at Harwich has routes to The Netherlands.
  • If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Rentalcars.
  • There’s a lot to see and do in Essex, and the best time to visit depends on your plans. If you’re here to enjoy the long coastline, spring and summer are the obvious choices, but autumn will do just as well if you’re planning to do a lot of walking or hiking. If you prefer a city break, or a historic tour there’s not really a bad time to visit — Essex’s events calendar is packed with appealing entertainment and diversions, from the Foodies Festival in June, to the Classic Car Show and Festival of the Air in July, and the Clacton Airshow in August, there’s music, theatre, cinema and more on regular rotation.

Still not sure where to stay?


Monthly Weather in Essex

Best Hotels in Essex

  • Milsoms Colchester, Essex 15 rooms from £140

    Sights nearby  -  Flatford Mill and Munnings Museum close by
    Restaurant  -  Brasserie with all day dining.
    Great walks  -  Good for walkers.
    RestaurantPet friendlyDisabled access

    Where the River Stour meanders through Constable country in beautiful Dedham Vale, eat, drink and stay, at this boutique hotel with a vibrant bar and lively brasserie serving excellent food. Close by is sister hotel, Talbooth House and Spa, with said spa, plus a swimming pool and tennis court See More

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  • The Pier at Harwich Harwich, Essex 14 rooms from £140

    Foodies  -  Wonderful fresh seafood meets a creative chef, simply divine! Not to mention the gin library and Prosecco cocktails!
    Total relaxation  -  Sit in the suite's bay window, or indeed on the restaurant's balcony, and watch the sun set on the sea- heaven!
    Sights nearby  -  Just around the corner is the Electric Palace Cinema, the second oldest cinema in England- well worth a visit.
    Views  -  Great views over the busy harbour and the Stour and Orwell estuaries.
    RestaurantPet friendlyViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays

    A charming waterfront hotel overlooking the quayside at old Harwich. Contemporary rooms capture the views over the working harbour. The fish restaurant is modern, lively and popular with the locals. A great stay on the East Anglian coast. See More

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  • Piglets Boutique Country Stay Wimbish Village, Essex 5 rooms from £190

    Total relaxation  -  Piglets is a place to come for total relaxation: enjoy the top notch service and reset!
    Short break  -  Just a short drive from London, makes it an ideal weekend getaway from the city
    Local exploring  -  A great base for exploring the local Suffolk and Essex countryside
    Great walks  -  The area is reknowned for its great walks and you can find pathways right from the front door
    Swimming PoolGardenNo pets

    Top-notch country B&B/grown-up getaway, just an hour from London. Piglets offers five well-appointed guest rooms and a plethora of onsite activities: an eco-pond, Mediterranean-style patio, games room, extensive honesty bar, guest sitting room & dinners on request. Relaxation guaranteed! See More

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  • Talbooth House and Spa Dedham 12 rooms from £300

    Restaurant  -  Not onsite but Milsoms and Le Talbooth are 5 minutes away
    Spa  -  New extended spa and pool house with treatment rooms
    Great walks  -  In Dedham Vale AONB
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    TennisSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessParking

    Quirky East Anglian hotel and spa in the heart of Constable Country, with an outdoor pool and tennis court. Recently expanded spa and pool house with treatment rooms. Perfect for spa days and a cheeky night away. See More

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  • Church Hall Farm Broxted, Nr Stansted, Essex 3 rooms from £70

    Short break  -  A delightful country cottage just 7 minutes from Stanstead Airport. Ideal for stopping over on the way in or out.
    Great walks  -  Stroll through the scenic National Trust Hatfield Forest.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the impressive Stansted Mountfitchet Castle.
    Full of character
    GardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A charming country cottage set in quiet surrounds just minutes from Stansted Airport. Three cosy rooms are traditionally dressed with cast iron beds, beamed ceilings, white washed walls and wooden floors. A characterful choice for airport stay overs. See More

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  • The Compasses Inn Chelmsford (Essex) 5 rooms from £75

    Country Escape  -  A charming family-run pub with excellent ales, roaring fires and hearty cuisine.
    Great walks  -  Discover the Essex countryside on miles of picturesque trails.
    Full of character
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    A quaint country Inn with an atmospheric pub and five charming rooms. Traditionally dressed throughout - think beamed ceilings, fireplaces and well placed antiques. The popular restaurant and bar boasts a fantastic selection of ales chosen by the knowledgable owner. See More

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  • The Bell Inn, Essex Horndon-On-The-Hill, Essex 27 rooms from £80

    Hideaway  -  Charming, atmospheric and complete with an excellent traditional pub.
    Great walks  -  Take long coastal walks along the sea wall at Stanford le Hope.
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Sawdays

    A quintessentially British pub set in a 600 year old building, rammed full of character and history. The charming restaurant (serving excellent gastro dishes) is adorned with hanging copper pots and framed with a heavily beamed ceiling. The rooms are individually designed and delightfully cosy. See More

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  • The Flitch of Bacon Great Dunmow, Essex 3 rooms from £89

    Foodies  -  With a strong emphasis on British produce, most of the food comes from forager Chris Lewis; expect unexpected delicacies!
    Value chic  -  Mid-week stays offer make this a very affordable option. On weekends ask for one of their stay & dining packages
    Restaurant  -  Relaxed & tranquil with a strong sense of place, the charming restaurant delivers top-notch tasting menus & affordable lunches
    Great walks  -  Take a walk in the beautiful Hatfield Forest, owned by the National Trust
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyParking

    Restaurant with rooms in a small Essex village. The fantastic restaurant offers modern British fine dining without any fuss. Colourful & cosy rooms are on the small side but provide modern luxuries; fluffy robes, power showers & underfloor heating. Appeals to those after an authentic experience. See More

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  • Linden House Essex 9 rooms from £90

    Short break  -  Ideally located for a stop over on the way to or from Stansted Airport.
    Sights nearby  -  Explore the Jacobean mansion house Audley End House and Gardens.
    Great walks  -  Take long walks through the scenic Hatfield Forest.
    Full of character
    RestaurantPet friendlyParking

    A small luxury hotel offering easy access to Stansted Airport. Smart rooms feature sink-in-to beds (the best are four-posters), free standing copper baths and crisp white linen. A cosy bar and contemporary British restaurant are a welcome respite. A very comfortable option for a stop over. See More

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  • The Mistley Thorn Mistley, Essex 7 rooms from £90

    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    Views  -  Some rooms have views of the River Stour
    Birdwatching  -  Bird sanctuary nearby
    Great walks  -  Lovely estuary walks
    RestaurantPet friendlyViews
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays

    Popular restaurant with rooms on the Stour Estuary with great food and good local walking. The Mistley Thorn has simple rooms but offers good value, especially with dinner. See More

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  • Wivenhoe House Colchester (Essex) 40 rooms from £95

    Country Escape  -  A large country house with easy access to London. Ideal for a weekend away.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Colchester Castle, the biggest Norman keep in Europe.
    Great walks  -  Take a stroll through the beautiful Beth Chatto Gardens.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    A smart country house with beautifully designed rooms mixing traditional features such as beamed ceilings and classical wallpaper with floor to ceiling windows, luxury bathrooms and a superb restaurant. The service is unsurprisingly on point too. See More

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  • Seven Hotel Southend 37 rooms from £95

    Sights nearby  -  Fans of Oliver Twist will love visiting Dickens World.
    Great walks  -  Go for a lovely walk along Southend pier.
    Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Air conditioningRestaurantViewsParking

    Recently renovated, the Seven Hotel takes advantage of a superb positioning overlooking the sea. Contemporary and chic, the hotel offers spacious, comfortable rooms as well as an excellent restaurant. See More

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  • The Lion Inn, Chelmsford Chelmsford (Essex) 23 rooms from £110

    Country Escape  -  A converted pub, now restaurant with rooms, offering both the rural location and hearty British cuisine.
    Sights nearby  -  Stop by Chelmsford's small Tudor Gothic 14th century cathedral.
    Great walks  -  Take a stroll through the picturesque RHS Garden Hyde Hall.
    Air conditioningRestaurantDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    Long been run as a pub, the Lion Inn has now taken on a new form with an extensive conversion turning it into a restaurant with rooms. The rooms vary in style from the more traditional in the original building to slick and contemporary in the new. The restaurant is ever popular with the locals. See More

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  • The Pheasant, Essex Essex 5 rooms from £115

    Country Escape  -  The perfect country pub; warm, welcoming and excellent food and ales.
    Great walks  -  Discover the picturesque countryside on miles of uninterupted trails.
    Full of character
    Restaurant  -  Recommended.
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking

    An award winning pub boasting a secluded setting in a pretty part of rural Essex. Five beautifully designed rooms, located in the adjoining coach house, are immaculately styled and feature bold classic prints. The food is fabulous and service warm. The ideal rural escape. See More

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  • Greyfriars Colchester (ESSEX) 26 rooms from £120

    Local exploring  -  With easy access to both the centre of Colchester and the castle this is an ideal spot for exploring the town.
    Great walks  -  The property is perfectly positioned for exploring the Essex and Suffolk countryside.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Colchester Castle, the largest Norman keep in Europe.
    RestaurantGardenDisabled accessParkingNo pets

    An opulent hotel in the heart of Colchester located in an elegant Georgian building. Rooms are spacious and traditionally dressed. Plump for a suite for some serious luxury including a glistening free-standing copper bath. The restaurant has been Michelin recommended. A superb stay. See More

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  • The Cricketers Clavering, Nr Saffron Walden, Essex 22 rooms from £136

    Foodies  -  Recently awarded a Michelin plate, food is taken very seriously yet is incredibly affordable; a wonderful combination
    Local exploring  -  Fun, friendly & foodie-focused spot - whether you're looking for a weekend away or a stop-over before your flight
    Owner managed  -  Owned & run by Sally & Trevor Oliver - parents of famous chef Jamie - for over 40 years
    Restaurant  -  The restaurant is rightly proud of their seasonal pub classics menu with Italian touches. There's also a wood-burning pizza oven
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessParking

    Relaxed pub with rooms in rural Essex. Run by restaurant royalty, expect delicious yet great-value F&B; the rustic yet chic restaurant & outdoor terrace are both fantastic. Boutique-style rooms feature colourful contemporary decor with cosy touches & inviting beds. Perfect English countryside pub. See More

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  • Roslin Beach Hotel Southend (Southend-On-Sea) 62 rooms from £139

    Hideaway  -  Escape the city for the weekend and enjoy fine dining, spa and wellness services, and luxury rooms at the seaside
    Romantic Break  -  Enjoy cosy, plush and well proprtioned rooms with couples options in the wellness centre downstairs
    Lively area  -  On the vibrant seafront, this hotel provides excellent access to the local amusements and nightlife
    Seaside  -  By the banks of the Thames Estuary for a nostalgic seaside holiday
    Air conditioningRestaurantPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking

    Laden with carefully chosen design features, bold floral patterns and eye-catching artwork for a bold yet delicately chic aesthetic. The restaurant serves high-end British cuisine and there's a wellness centre for a little indulgence. A boutique English seaside escape. See More

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  • The Sun Inn, Dedham Dedham 7 rooms from £145

    Families  -  Kids menus, spacious rooms, a garden with swings and slides and local kid's activies such as the Zoo
    Local exploring  -  The B&B is an ideal base for exploring the wonders of Suffolk and Essex
    Sights nearby  -  Explore the village of Dedham with its fine Grade I-listed Georgian architecture and medieval buildings
    Great walks  -  Stroll along the River Stour and admire the Water Meadows and wildfowl
    RestaurantGardenPet friendlyParking
    Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays, I Escape

    A charming 15th-century pub with seven rooms, situated in the heart of Constable's hometown. Rooms are comfortable and quirky some with four-poster beds, fireplaces and others a more modern feel. Excellent restaurant with regularly changing menu featuring the best seasonal produce. See More

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  • Down Hall Bishops Stortford, Essex 98 rooms from £173

    Families  -  Family-friendly touches include interconnecting rooms, children's playground, kid's menu & activities during the school holidays
    Weddings  -  Opulent interiors & sumptuous setting plus excellent on-site team makes this a popular choice for country weddings
    Country Escape  -  Mixing the elegance of a period stately home with the contemporary comforts of a modern spa hotel
    Business meetings  -  Well set-up for team building, away days, meetings & events
    TennisSpaRestaurantGardenPet friendlyDisabled accessViewsParking

    Grand Italianate country house hotel with a spoiling spa set on a 100-acre estate. Elegant interiors and a swish new cocktail bar set the scene; rooms look out over manicured gardens & parkland. Dine at the modern British restaurant or indulge in traditional Afternoon Tea. Restful & relaxing. See More

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