When life gets a bit chaotic, escaping to a desert island for some down time is the dream, isn't it?
But when budgets and/or bosses won't stretch to a tropical retreat, a well-chosen staycation can also work wonders for the soul.
Sometimes, all we need to reset and recharge is some fresh air, open space, a friendly face and the perfect avocado breakfast.
And so... introducing Blue Door Barns, a magical cluster of converted barns two miles from Lewes in Sussex, and seemingly light years away from the chaos of real London life just 70 miles back up the M23 motorway.
Here you'll find four Sixteenth-century barns that have been repurposed with style and are now being run with TLC as a boutique B&B by city couple Bryony and Emma, who upped and left London with a dream to create the ultimate country bolthole.
They have succeeded in creating a perfect little retreat with luxe touches and zero pretension (dogs and kids allowed, wellies and bobbly jumpers encouraged) that leaves us hankering after country life each time we visit.
The South Downs may not have tropical temperatures, but they have breathtaking views, a LOT of pubs and an instant calming effect on the monkiest of minds. And Blue Door Barns is the perfect base from which to explore this part of the world (or hide under the duvet drinking Earl Grey if that's more your kind of mini break).
BLUE DOOR BARNS DETOX|
1. ROLL TOPS AND REn
The words 'shabby chic' are bandied around a lot (with many establishments using it as an excuse to indulge in the 'shabby') but Blue Door Barns has nailed this hotchpotch style, combining a love of antiques and upcycling with a nose for service honed on their own five star travels around the world.
So you can expect luxe Ren products to help you unwind in your vintage roll top bath, and cool Farrow & Ball backdrops as you chill in the over-stuffed armchairs sourced from Paris.
The signature Blue Door Barns' rustic and romantic style has won plaudits from Conde Nast to Alistair Sawday, and I defy the pickiest of city slickers not to be charmed the second they arrive in the fairy lit courtyards.
In fact, so many besotted visitors have requested interiors ideas after staying that property expert Emma has now started an Interiors business, offering inspiration and transformation in the much-loved BDB style.
2. RETREATS WITH YOUR MATES
The Blue Door Barns Get The Glow Pilates Package is a brilliant way to to indulge in some quality time with your besties at the same time as taking a bit of care of yourself: two nights of peace, healthy breakfasts, green smoothies, massages and a private pilates session are all included, and best of all there's no booze ban to worry about (bookable for groups of 4-8 £230pp at weekends, £190pp in the week).
3. THE SNUG
Interiors nut Emma has converted a humble garden shed into a time-travelling Tardis. Perhaps not, but my face emerged looking a heck of a lot younger after an organic facial (£65 for 55 minutes) from local therapist Stephanie Slade in The Snug.
Stephanie trained with Dr Hauschka, and has developed her own holistic style, combining home-made organic products with ancient techniques including lymphatic drainage, head massage and Reiki. Manis and beauty treatments also available on request.
BLUE DOOR BARNS |RETOX
Breakfast is a big deal at Blue Door Barns, where the menus change according to the season and also chef Bryony's latest cookbook obsession. Standard fare includes organic sausages, local artisan bread, roasted vine tomatoes, homemade (to-die-for) granola and excellent veggie options, with our favourite (so far) being an avocado smash with halloumi and flat breads.
For couples and families looking for some serious QT the BDB welcome hampers are a brilliant option, containing everything you'll need to create a sometimes healthy bit mostly hearty breakfast in the comfort of your own barn, including that homemade granola.
Did I mention the granola?
2. A DATE WITH MR DARCY
Mr Darcy is a handsome chap often found wow'ing the ladies in the courtyard, despite his age.
Guests can book the vintage car to arrive in style at one of the glamorous Glyndebourne events, or even just meet them after a picnic on the South Downs to save walking home (the back seat has handily been transformed into a champagne bucket holder for stylish sipping).
And the latest addition to the Blue Door Barns family is the Dandy Fox, a horse trailer converted into a killer cocktail bar bookable for events or often found pitched up and ready for service in the BDB courtyard.
3. STYLISH SOIREES
Hosts Emma and Bryony know a thing or two about throwing a party (they also run a Wedding and Events business) and will do whatever they can to help you celebrate anything and everything, even just the fact it's a Friday.
Intimate dinners in the stylish dining room, mini festivals featuring firepits and pizza vans and even Mad Hatter's Tea Parties have all been hosted here with love and BDB flair.
Blue Door Barnes is in Lewes, near Brighton
Barns start from £110 per night