The word staycation is a disgusting one, I feel dirty for using it, but I’m doing so to prove a point. As abhorrent as the word is, the concept is a great one. Travel takes time and time is precious, when I want a weekend away (which I so often do) the idea of airports fills me with dread, especially when coupled with the fact you’ll schedule your flight for an hour in the morning you’d never normally see, just so you can make the most of your time away.

So I’ve come up with a system, which is to find an impressive country house which within a few hours of London and drive there instead of the airport. To trial the system I found a company called Rural Retreats, that specialises in finding, well, retreats, that are rural. They have a selection of nearly 400 houses spread all over the UK that are available for stays of two nights or more.

I’m impatient, so I set my criteria as highly as possible to narrow the results. I wanted many rooms, I’ve decided that I’m going to invite my friends, they don’t get out much, I don’t see them often, so this weekend is a perfect opportunity to get everyone together again. It’s warm, well, it isn’t, but it might be so I want a swimming pool. My attempts to thin the herd fail dramatically, the selection on offer is vast. I resort to choosing from the pictures and settle on Westhall Cottage in the small village of Burford the Cotswolds, a mere 70 miles from the centre of London.

Booking the cottage was easy, a quick phone call and a few emails later it’s booked and I had a phone call from the properties house keeper to confirm when I’ll be arriving. Perhaps it’s just me, but even if i’m borrowing a house, I enjoy the illusion that it’s mine for the weekend, so I’m pleasantly surprised when the housekeeper explains she’ll leave the keys by the door, and unless we want her, she won’t be stopping by.

I arrive at the house, I’ll admit it now, I phoned the housekeeper. It was late and dark, it’s not that I got lost, I don’t get lost, it just that the property wasn’t where I expected it to be. A short call and I was back on track, darting down a dark country lane, nipping the wrong way down a one way road and I’m in.

The house is perfect, no hidden surprises. Rural Retreats go out there way to provide more than what you would expect from a welcome basket. Having been to houses that offer the basics or nothing at all, it surprising how important the little things are.

The duration of my stay was perfect, un-interrupted relaxation. I could enjoy the extra hours that I didn’t spend on a plane. And the journey home – the often overlooked downer on any trip was easy.