Fall into wellness this autumn

23 September 2019 marks the first day of autumn, a great time to take a deep breath and inject some mindfulness into this season of change. A nation of romantic cities and bustling cultural hubs, Britain also has a more tranquil side and visitors will find relaxing retreats, yoga workshops and mindfulness studios dotted from country to coast and beyond. So, why wait? Wave goodbye to summer and spend some time falling into wellness this autumn at our pick of relaxing retreats and activities.

Sweat it out by the beach

For a taste of the Scandinavian spa lifestyle head to Beach Box in Brighton. Located right on the beach, the spa features two wood-fired saunas with the sea as a natural post-sauna plunge pool. The two saunas started life as a horse trailer and simple packing crates, but now offer a chance to unwind in glorious heat, sweat out toxins and, with the addition of fresh water bucket showers, to leave feeling utterly revitalised. Visitors can also upgrade their experience and try Beach Box’s homemade salt scrubs and leaf whisking, or combine music and aromatherapy at the weekly AUFGUSS event.

One hour starts from £15 per person with salt scrubs costing an additional £4.

Find yourself in silence

Visitors will find silent mindfulness and meditation retreats across Britain, tucked away in tranquil countryside or in the calm stillness of some of our most beautiful manor houses. These group retreats vary in focus, but a great place to start is Gaia House in South Devon’s vast countryside. Ranging from 22-nights to one or two-night courses, visitors can explore and practice mindfulness in as much or as little depth as they want. ‘Wisdom born of stillness’, ‘Liberation through kindness’ and ‘Insight meditation and yoga’ are a few of the retreats on offer at Gaia House.

Retreats vary in price, but a three-night stay costs £192, with discount for young peoples.

Get back to nature

Home to expansive National Parks, official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and breath-taking coastal walks, Britain is made for nature lovers. For travellers that want to switch off but don’t want to join a formal digital detox , these rolling valleys and dales provide the perfect backdrop against which to switch off and get immersed in nature without the distractions of technology.

A great place to start is the Peak District. Visitors can get the train to Edale, the heart of the UK’s first National Park. Here, they’ll find the Old Nags Head, a 16th-century pub that’s recognised as being the start of the Pennine Way, one of Britain’s most historical and famous walking trails.

The pub is the perfect base from which to explore the Peak District National Park. Hire a bike, walk the peaks and discover one of our finest landscapes far away from the buzz and bustle of modern life.

The Old Nags Head offers rooms and self-catering cottages to rent that vary in price.

Float your way to tranquillity

Flotation tanks are one of the most popular trends to spread across London. These water-filled pods have half a tonne of Epson salt added to them, with participants floating in the dark for up to xx. Together, these elements create a weightless floating experience combined with gentle ‘sensory deprivation’ that gives the mind a chance to clear, allowing sense of deep-relaxation to take over. Visitors can enjoy this ‘easy mindfulness’ activity at locations across London, including Floatworks in Vauxhall and Angel.

A single float session costs £55, or a four-session package is available for £180.

Channel your inner horse whisperer

Meditation is one of the best ways to improve mindfulness and overall mental well-being, and there are plenty of variations available to experience when in Britain. For a unique meditation experience, visitors can absorb the calming presence of a horse while they focus their minds and let go of everyday stresses through meditation. Said to give an extra sense of contentment, visitors are encouraged to sit in a paddock amongst the gentle giants and see if the energy of a yoga circle encourages the horses to join them. Whasdyke Farm, near Windermere in the Lake District, offers this as a day activity as part of their retreats. Although the main focus is on creativity, offering photography, pottery, painting and floristry retreats, Full Circle Retreats all include daily horse meditation sessions.

Retreats vary in price but start from £125.

A Jubilee Year for the LGBTQ+ Community: Brighton Pride 2019

Known internationally for its established and thriving LGBTQ+ community, the city of Brighton has become synonymous with Gay Pride. Having once been a getaway destination for gay couples in the 19th century, Brighton has kept its welcoming and inclusive attitude to this day, making it a big part of the city’s identity. The UK’s biggest pride event will see a historic moment this year, as 2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, where New York saw the first protest for equal rights in the gay community.

This jubilee year for the LGBTQ+ community will be celebrated in Brighton with a Pride in the Park festival, from 2-4 August in Preston Park. Gay icon Kylie Minogue and Grammy Award-winners Clean Bandit will be taking to the stage, along with a large selection of artists, all ready to celebrate sexual diversity – tickets are currently on sale from £37.50. As well as the main festival hub in Preston Park, more than 300,000 people will take to the streets for the famous Pride Parade on 3 August, which is taking a slightly altered route from 11am.

Proud Art and Culture

One of the best-known pieces from street artist Banksy can be seen on the side of the Prince Albert pub, just beneath Brighton train station. The ‘Kissing Policeman’, depicting two male police officers in a passionate embrace, can be enjoyed by all. Although the original has been sold to a private collector, a permanent copy remains at the original site behind a Perspex sheet.

Also home to public art highlighting the city’s attitude towards inclusivity is the striking 'Kiss Wall', by local artist Bruce Williams. Located on the promenade by the seafront and made from a large sheet of metal with punctured holes, it creates images of six diverse couples kissing, made to celebrate inclusivity in Brighton.

Offering a LGBTQ+ walking tour of Brighton, Piers and Queers discusses Brighton’s ‘queer history’. Visitors can retrace the footsteps of Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Dusty Springfield and other notable gay and lesbian icons with connections to the city. This unique exploration of Brighton’s LGBTQ+ past will both educate and entertain. Priced at £35 per person for a 90-minute walking tour.

LGBTQ+ entertainment

Located in a historic building in Brighton’s buzzing Kemptown area, Proud Cabaret Brighton offers an extravagant show, enjoyed with a dinner and a menu of ‘Proud cocktails’. The two-hour show will shock and excite, with guests being encouraged to dress to impress and stay for the after party, which is included in the price of ticket. A former mausoleum turned boxing club, this romantic building has a rich, vintage feel, decorated to be reminiscent of the roaring 1920s.

To see the show at the bar with a glass of prosecco costs £20, with three-course meal tickets starting from £30 and rising to £60 for a VIP experience.

Having been an integral part of Brighton’s gay scene for more than 21 years, club Revenge is at the heart of Brighton’s LGBTQ+ nightlife. Spanning three-floors, with two dance floors and a rooftop-smoking terrace, Revenge is a vibrant and rainbow-clad bar and nightclub, seconds from the seafront and iconic pier. Open from 12pm until late every day, Revenge puts on themed nights throughout the week, such as lesbian-focused Girls On Top. It also has a reputation for hosting some of the biggest names in drag, with several acts hailing from the award-winning show Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

Offering a Bottomless Brunch with a fun, LGBTQ+ twist, The North Laine Pub and Brewery holds two brunches on Saturdays, hosted by ‘Drag Prince’, Alfie Ordinary. With the choice of unlimited Mimosas, Bloody Marys (with a make-your-own station) or Source Pale Ales, the brunch itself is a classic English breakfast, with vegetarian and vegan variations. Guests can indulge in their hearty brunch and drinks before enjoying an afternoon of LGBTQ+ friendly entertainment. The two sessions run from 11am - 2pm and 1 - 4pm, costing £25 per person.

Where to Stay

A boutique hotel with modern and vibrant charm, Myhotel Brighton boasts 79 design-focused guestrooms by renowned interior designer Karim Rashid. Most notably, the “Carousel” penthouse suite offers in-room amenities such as a sleek 4-poster bed, freestanding bathtub, luxurious tiled steam room and a 300-year-old vintage carousel horse.

A gay-friendly hotspot in itself, The Amsterdam Hotel and Bar is a three-star hotel, restaurant, gay bar and sauna, all in one. Located opposite the pier, the large seafront terrace is a prime hangout during sunny afternoons.

Located on a quiet street in Kemptown and owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community, Hudsons is a four-star bed & breakfast with comfortable en-suite rooms, a charming conservatory-breakfast room and a small private garden.

What to wear

Although there is no dress code for Brighton Pride, the majority of those in attendance – and especially those taking part in the parade – opt for bright and extravagant clothing, often reflecting the LGBTQ+ community’s rainbow flag.

Getting to Brighton

Situated on the south coast of England, Brighton is less than an hour by train from London. Gatwick Airport is approximately halfway between London and Brighton, and is served by numerous international airlines.

The Best Fringe Festivals in 2019

Whether it’s a celebration of live theatre, dance, arts or comedy, fringe festivals can be found in nearly every corner of Britain. Laugh along with the nation’s finest comedians as they prepare for their major tours, take in the sounds of up-and-coming musicians and discover new takes on some of the finest theatrical works. Packed with live entertainment and clever improvisation, these are the best Fringe Festivals to enjoy in 2019.

Maidstone Fringe

Marking the diversity of new and original music in Kent and the South East of England, Maidstone Fringe returns for a 9th year in 2019. Spread across numerous venues in the town centre, including pubs, clubs and music venues, as well as in cafes and coffee shops, the majority of the musical performances are free to attend. Expect a wide array of music too, with everything from rock, indie and pop-punk to blues, acoustic, folk, dance and hip-hop on the bill for 2019.

When? 1-6 May

Brighton Fringe

England’s largest arts festival, featuring more than 4,500 performances and events, takes place across Brighton, embracing all forms of art and artistic impression. Running alongside the Brighton Festival, the Brighton Fringe includes cabaret, classical concerts, club nights, comedy, theatre shows and a host of exhibitions, as well as street performances and exciting pop-up venues. In 2019, the International Seasons programme is also set to welcome some of the best contemporary performances by artists from France, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Iceland, Korea and Sweden, among others, showcasing the event’s global appeal.

When? 3 May – 2 June

Bath Fringe

Incorporating 3 weekends and the weeks in between, the Bath Fringe is a celebration of all the arts, meaning there are few rules regarding what is on. Both the people of Bath and venues in the city have a big say over what is included, with a detailed events list usually published in April.

When? 24 May - 9 June

Plymouth Fringe

An annual celebration of theatre and live performance, Plymouth Fringe welcomes some of the best talent in the South West, as well as others from across Britain. With venues in the city centre and on the waterfront, expect a host of inspiring performances as the Fringe marks its 5th consecutive year.

When? 27 May – 1 June

Ludlow Fringe

Ludlow Fringe is an independent arts, community and culture festival with a focus on inclusivity. Many of its events are free to attend, while prices are capped at £15 on those that are not, to ensure that events are affordable and accessible. Be sure to check out the Annual Ludlow Fringe Art Trail too, a diverse collection of affordable art by local and national artists that is showcased in 25 different pop-up venues and galleries. Featuring paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, print and jewellery, and much more besides, the quirky venues are all located a short distance from the town centre.

When? 15-30 June

Guildford Fringe

Now in its 7th year, the Guildford Fringe is a multi-arts festival that features comedy, poetry, theatre, music, visual arts, workshops, burlesque and an abundance of family-friendly shows. Gag House Comedy Superstars kicks-off proceedings on 28 June, featuring comedian and actor Hal Cruttenden, Paul Sinha from TV’s The Chase and Susan Murray. Around 125 events made up the 2018 Guildford Fringe, and its organisers are expecting even more for 2019.

When? 28 June – 28 July

Greater Manchester Fringe

A multi-venue arts festival packed with comedy stand up, dance, magic shows, orchestras, new writing and a wealth of other art forms, the Greater Manchester Fringe provides a stage for performers to showcase their skills. It often acts as a platform for productions too - many past shows have moved onto the region’s established theatres including the Lowry Theatre, the Royal Exchange and the Bolton Octagon, or have embarked on nationwide tours. Now in its 8th year, a full programme of events for 2019 will be released at the start of May.

When 1-31 July

The Great Yorkshire Fringe

As part of its 5th anniversary celebrations, the Great Yorkshire Fringe is set to expand across York in 2019 to feature even more cultural venues. The historic city’s well-known thoroughfare, Parliament Street, will be transformed into an exciting festival hub offering everything from comedy and cabaret to music, theatre and fun for all the family. Performances from comedian Henning Wehn and writer, broadcaster and actor Gyles Brandreth already feature on the bill for 2019, as well as Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel, an entirely improvised performance showcasing Jane Austen’s work in a new light.

When? 18-28 July (20 July, Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel; 21 July, Gyles Brandreth; 27 July, Henning Wehn)

Llangollen Fringe

Final details for the 2019 Llangollen Fringe are yet to be announced, but the celebration of music, dance, film and art will return to the small town of Llangollen, in North Wales, this year. With an eclectic mix of musical and artistic talents on its bill each year, the festival is town centre based, providing easy access to pubs, restaurants and car parks. Taking centre stage is the Victorian Llangollen Town Hall, which boasts its own 300-seat capacity theatre.

When? 19-28 July

Reading Fringe

Designed to support emerging artists and to provide a platform for them ahead of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe, the Reading Fringe welcomes acts to the town from all over the globe. With venues spread across the town, the theme for 2019 is ‘Into the woods – and beyond’, an exploration of what it means to be part of an ecosystem and a consideration of what the future holds for Earth.

When? 20-28 July

Ventnor Fringe

A multi-award winning arts festival on the Isle of Wight, the Ventnor Fringe includes an array of exciting venues in the eclectic hillside town. Alongside cabaret, music, theatre and art, visitors can also expect to see pop-up cinemas, basement bars and mystery tours.

When? 23-28 July

Camden Fringe

From its origins in 2006 as an alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Camden Fringe provides performers with a chance to try out new and untested material. Encompassing all forms of performing arts, the Fringe welcomes both ambitious newcomers and experienced performers as they deliver new writing, sketch comedy, poetry, improvisation and everything in between. A full programme of events is expected in spring 2019.

When? 29 July – 25 August

Edinburgh Fringe

Renowned around the globe as being a platform for creative freedom, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the single biggest celebration of arts and culture in the world. Welcoming the finest performers to the Scottish capital, from the biggest names in show business to emerging stars, and covering all sorts of art forms, the festival features more than 50,000 performances each year. More than 300 venues provide the stages, alongside street events and market stalls, showcasing theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, exhibitions and speech – if it’s a form of art, it’s probably on the bill somewhere.

When? 2-26 August

Celebrate World Vegan Day in the UK

From its origins in 1994, World Vegan Day on 1 November is now a worldwide day of awareness celebrating all things plant-based, with Britain now ranking as one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in Europe.

For vegans travelling to the UK, there’s an ever-growing number of vegan eateries and accommodation on offer - from high-end ethical suites to healthy cuisine and jaw-dropping junk food.

 

Vegan places to eat

 

London

Mildreds, Soho

One of the best-loved vegan-friendly spots in London is Mildreds. Originally established in Soho in 1988, the restaurant now boasts branches in Camden, King’s Cross and Dalston. Airy, bright and stylish, the chain is known for its delicious warming winter dishes like smoked tofu, apple and white bean sausages and mash, and toffee apple crumble. Diners can also savour vegan cocktails including a gin-soaked cucumber smash, watermelon cooler and vegan beer.

Manna, Primrose Hill

Located in leafy north-west London, Manna is one of the capital’s most popular vegan restaurants. With a menu displaying influences as far flung as India, Mexico and Japan, this elegant restaurant prides itself on using sustainable produce throughout the year. Diners can choose from seasonal specials including roasted root vegetable masala or buffalo cauliflower tostada, enjoy protein-rich Sunday roasts or splash out and savour the chef’s special five-course custom menu.

Wulf & Lamb, Sloane Square

“Run with the wolves, eat with the lambs” is the mantra of Wulf & Lamb. Its 100% plant-based menu focuses heavily on comfort food, so expect fabulously filling dishes, including an open burrito with sautéed ackee, green coconut curry and the seitan Wulf Burger. Sweet-toothed diners can also choose from deliciously decadent desserts including Eton Mess or dairy-free mango and passionfruit cheesecake. 

The Gate

Celebrating 30 years of planet-based cuisine, The Gate serves up-market vegan and vegetarian food across four locations within the capital. In addition to the exciting a la carte menu which includes indulgent dishes such as aubergine teriyaki and wild mushroom risotto cake, The Gate also hosts monthly ‘secret vegan supper clubs’, offering a five-course tasting menu with paired wines. The two supper clubs closest to World Vegan Day are on 20 October and 17 November 2019, check the website for events thereafter.

We are Vegan Everything

Lovers of the plant-based lifestyle can relax in the bohemian Bali-inspired space of We Are Vegan Everything (WAVE) in the heart of Hackney. Expect soya ‘freakshakes’, juice shots, superfood lattes and vegan cakes, as well as brownies and croissants. For savoury vegan treats there is a ‘small’ menu, featuring a classic toastie, mushroom sausage roll and vegan salmon and cream cheese.

 

Manchester

The Allotment, Lloyd Street

Named best vegetarian restaurant of 2018 by The Times, award-winning restaurant The Allotment offers three, seven and ten-course tasting menus in the heart of Manchester. All its dishes are also 100% gluten, dairy and egg free, making it perfect for coeliacs in addition to those following a plant-based diet. During the holiday season, visitors can tuck into its Christmas menu featuring festive delights including cranberry and red wine parfait and pan fried cauliflower roast with all the trimmings.

V-Rev Vegan Diner, Edge Street

A mecca for vegan junk food lovers, V-Rev offers gloriously greasy delights at a price that won’t break the budget. From loaded southwest fries with smashed avocado and southwest chipotle mayo to buffalo mac and cheez made with homemade cheez sauce, beacon and buffalo sauce, this is the perfect venue for post-party pick me ups and cheat days. Can’t decide between savoury and sweet? Look out for Donut Stop Me Now – a mouth-watering medley of buttermilk fried seitan chckn, cheez, baecon, maple syrup and crispy fried onions between two fried donuts, for a decadent burger experience with a difference.

Greens, Didsbury

Set up by Simon Connolly and Simon Rimmer, now one of the UK’s top TV chefs, Greens has been ‘terrifying carnivores’ since 1990 with its inspiring menu of delicious plant-based dishes. Influenced by cuisines from around the world, the menu features dishes including soba noodle salad, sweet potato katsu curry and handmade gnocchi. Greens also offer a three-course Sunday roast set menu for £17, which includes a soup starter, roast and dessert.

 

Edinburgh

Holy Cow, Elder Street

Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, quirky independent café Holy Cow prides itself on using organic local produce to create its 100% vegan menu. Dishes change according to the season and you can expect tasty treats including spicy butternut squash soup, in addition to staples such as vegan burgers, open sandwiches and seasonal salads. Much loved for its cakes, the café has an ever-changing selection of sweet delights including chocolate and peanut butter cake, pumpkin pie and spiced pear and walnut cake.

The Ivy on the Square, St Andrew Square

The Ivy on the Square has swiftly become a staple on the Edinburgh dining scene. Its specially designed vegetarian menu features vegan-friendly options, while non-vegans can also choose from the à la carte menu. With delicious dishes including sweet potato Keralan curry, warm Asian salad and roasted butternut squash with grains, this chic and stylish restaurant is the ideal spot for vegan and vegetarian celebrations while in the Scottish capital.

The Auld Hoose, St Leonard’s Street

Home to some of the best rock, metal and punk music in Edinburgh via their legendary jukebox, The Auld Hoose is also one of the city’s best venues for vegans in search of a little comfort food. From huge plates of nachos dripping in vegan cheese to crunchy onions rings, vegan falafel burgers and even a vegan sorbet sundae, this is a must visit for meat-free visitors and music lovers alike.

 

Brighton

Purezza, St James’s Street

The UK’s first vegan pizzeria, Purezza take animal-friendly Italian cuisine seriously. Having spent two years developing their dairy-free mozzarella (made from brown rice), the restaurant uses innovative recipes and ingredients to create delectable vegan pizzas, pastas and desserts – from meltingly moreish macaroni to cheesesteak calzone and vegan oreo pizza. With a second branch in London and many gluten-free options available, it’s the perfect pit-stop for vegans looking for a taste of Italy in the UK.

Food for Friends, Prince Albert Street

Established in 1981, the award-winning Food for Friends is one of Brighton’s longest-running vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Boasting a seasonal menu made with local and organic produce, diners can enjoy Middle Eastern, Japanese and British-inspired vegan dishes including courgette kofta and Inari tofu wraps in addition to a selection of mouth-watering desserts and vegan cocktails.

Terre à Terre, East Street

A haven of vegan indulgence, Terra à Terra prides itself on its marvellous meat-free creations made with ethically sourced ingredients. Playfully named dishes range from KFC, Korean fried cauliflower with sweet and sour sesame, to Snap, Crackle and Choc, a rich chocolate mousse with praline and chocolate shortbread. With a range of organic vegan wines, beers and ciders on offer as well as cocktails and non-alcoholic options, this is the perfect spot for special vegan suppers by the sea.

 

Vegan places to stay

2019 saw the opening of the world’s first vegan suite at the Hilton Bankside in London. Created in collaboration with the Vegan Society, this luxury hotel now offers five-star vegan accommodation in the capital. From ethical bedding to the faux leather seating, even the cleaning products used are cruelty-free and eco-friendly. The in-room menu and minibar offer a range of vegan options, such as avocado and scrambled Quorn for breakfast and cauliflower steak or five-bean dhal for lunch or dinner. Located in the heart of London, attractions including Borough Market, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern are all a short walk away. Advanced bookings from £432 per night.

Offering a cosy, family-run B&B with a fully-vegan philosophy, Bay Tree House in Hastings is a plant-based haven in the south of England. In addition to providing healthy, organic and eco-friendly food, including an all-vegan breakfast, Bay Tree House organises numerous wellness activities, such as yoga and tai chi, making this bed and breakfast holistically health-conscious. A classic example of a Victorian home, it has been remodelled to a high standard, with traditional hardwood flooring and plush furnishings adding to the tranquil atmosphere. An en-suite room starts from £90 per night, including breakfast.

Allowing guests to enjoy a slice of nature in an ethically focused environment, Saorse 1875 is a countryside hotel designed with vegans in mind. Set in two acres of woodland near the Scottish town of Pitlochry, it aims to champion ‘ethical luxury’. Slow-paced and thoughtfully designed, this 19th-century house offers a plant-based menu that uses seasonal, local and foraged produce, served by a cosy restaurant fire. As well as the food menu, each room includes vegan toiletries. Prices start from £100 per night, for a room for one guest, and £150 per night for two.

 

Discover Britain's best restaurants for vegans

Veganuary is upon us, kickstarting a month-long campaign to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet. If you’re vegan - or trying to be - and travelling to the UK, you’ll discover an ever-growing number of restaurants, cafés and bars serving up delicious sweet and savoury vegan treats this January and throughout the year – from high-end healthy cuisine to jaw-dropping junk food. Here are a few of our favourites below.

 

London

Mildreds, Soho

Whether you’re looking for vegan-friendly cocktails or cuisine, London is no slouch when it comes to plant-based restaurants and bars. One of the best is Mildreds. Originally established in Soho in 1988, the restaurant now boasts branches in Camden, King’s Cross and Dalston too. Airy, bright and stylish, the chain is loved for its delicious cuisine which includes warming winter dishes like smoked tofu, apple and white bean sausages and mash, and toffee apple crumble. Diners can also savour vegan cocktails including popcorn martinis and blood orange margaritas and enjoy a special brunch menu at weekends.

Manna, Primrose Hill

Located in leafy north-west London, Manna is one of the capital’s most popular vegan restaurants. With a menu displaying influences as far flung as India, Mexico and Japan, this elegant restaurant prides itself on using sustainable produce throughout the year. Diners can choose from seasonal specials including roasted root vegetable masala or buffalo cauliflower tostada, enjoy protein-rich Sunday roasts or splash out and savour the chef’s special five-course custom menu.

Wulf & Lamb, Sloane Square

“Run with the wolves, eat with the lambs” is the mantra of Wulf & Lamb, one of the newest additions to the London vegan scene. It’s 100% plant-based menu focuses heavily on comfort food, so expect fabulously filling dishes including an open burrito with sautéed ackee, green coconut curry with sweet potato mash and the seitan Wulf Burger complete with cashew aioli and wedges.  Sweet-toothed diners can also choose from deliciously decadent desserts including tiramisu with raw almond cream or dairy-free mango and passionfruit cheesecake. 

Quaglino’s and The Meet, various locations

If you’re looking for cocktails over cuisine, Quaglino’s Bar in St James’s is offering a Science of Sustainability cocktail menu. Divided into past, present and future, the menu reveals the history of sustainability via a range of delicious drinks including The Green Revolution, which combines Matchers Rye, yellow chartreuse, lime, beer, honey and matcha tea served with a pistachio foam. Alternatively, head to The Meet, a stylish pop-up that offers vegan cocktails, including a delicious rhubarb and vanilla custard martini, comfort food and even a bottomless vegan brunch, all in a memorable setting under the railway arches of Clapham North.

 

Manchester

The Allotment, Lloyd Street

Named best vegetarian restaurant of 2018 by the Times, award-winning restaurant The Allotment offers 3, 7 and 10-course tasting menus in the heart of Manchester. All its dishes are also 100% gluten, dairy and egg free, making it perfect for coeliacs in addition to those following a plant-based diet. Visit during the holiday season and you can also enjoy its Christmas menu featuring festive delights including cranberry and red wine parfait and pan fried cauliflower roast with all the trimmings.

V-Rev Vegan Diner, Edge Street

A mecca for vegan junk food lovers, V-Rev offers gloriously greasy delights at a price that won’t break the budget. From loaded southwest fries with smashed avocado and southwest chipotle mayo to buffalo mac and cheez made with homemade cheez sauce, beacon and buffalo sauce, this is the perfect venue for post-party pick me ups and cheat days. Can’t decide between savoury and sweet? Look out for Donut Stop Me Now – a mouth-watering medley of buttermilk fried seitan chckn, cheez, baecon, maple syrup and crispy fried onions between two fried donuts, for a decadent burger experience with a difference.

Greens, Didsbury

Set up by Simon Connolly and Simon Rimmer, now one of the UK’s top TV chefs, Greens has been ‘terrifying carnivores’ since 1990 with its inspiring menu of delicious plant-based dishes. Influenced by cuisines from around the world, the menu features dishes including deep-fried oyster mushrooms, pancakes with plum sauce and sage gnocchi with roasted squash and horseradish crumb. Visiting this winter? Enjoy a festive feast of dishes including red lentil and walnut loaf and vegan Christmas pudding, available throughout December.

Edinburgh

Holy Cow, Elder Street

Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, quirky independent café Holy Cow prides itself on using organic local produce to create its 100% vegan menu. Dishes change according to the season and you can expect tasty treats including spicy butternut squash soup in addition to staples such as vegan burgers, open sandwiches and seasonal salads. Much loved for its cakes, the café has an ever-changing selection of sweet delights including chocolate and peanut butter cake, pumpkin pie and spiced pear and walnut cake.

The Ivy on the Square, St Andrew Square

One of the newest restaurants in the city, The Ivy on the Square has swiftly become a staple on the Edinburgh dining scene. Its specially designed vegetarian menu features vegan-friendly options, while non-vegans can also choose from the à la carte menu. With delicious dishes including sweet potato Keralan curry, warm Asian salad and roasted butternut squash with grains, this chic and stylish restaurant is the ideal spot for vegan and vegetarian celebrations while in the Scottish capital.

The Auld Hoose, St Leonard’s Street

Home to some of the best rock, metal and punk music in Edinburgh via their legendary jukebox, The Auld Hoose is also one of the city’s best venues for vegans in search of a little comfort food. From huge plates of nachos dripping in vegan cheese to crunchy onions rings, vegan falafel burgers and even a vegan sorbet sundae, this is the ideal spot for meat-free visitors and music lovers alike.

 

Brighton

Purezza, St James’s Street

The UK’s first vegan pizzeria, Purezza take animal-friendly Italian cuisine seriously. Having spent two years developing their dairy-free mozzarella (made from brown rice), the restaurant uses innovative recipes and ingredients to create delectable vegan pizzas, pastas and desserts – from meltingly moreish macaroni to cheesesteak calzone and vegan oreo pizza. With a second branch in London and many gluten-free options available, it’s the perfect pit-stop for vegans looking for a taste of Italy in the UK.

Food for Friends, Prince Albert Street

Established in 1981, the award-winning Food for Friends is one of Brighton’s longest-running vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Boasting a seasonal menu made with local and organic produce, diners can enjoy Middle Eastern, Japanese and British-inspired vegan dishes including courgette kofta and black olive polenta in addition to a selection of mouth-watering desserts and vegan cocktails.

Terre à Terre, East Street

A haven of vegan indulgence, Terra à Terra prides itself on its marvellous meat-free creations made with ethically sourced ingredients. Playfully named dishes range from KFC, Korean fried cauliflower with sweet and sour sesame, to Snap, Crackle and Choc, a rich chocolate mousse with praline and chocolate shortbread. With a range of organic vegan wines, beers and ciders on offer as well as cocktails and non-alcoholic options, this is the perfect spot for special vegan suppers by the sea.

Six of the best… vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Brighton

Brighton, the south England coastal resort, is one of the UK’s cities at the forefront of vegetarian and vegan dining. And it’s a reputation that’s well deserved; there’s an impressive choice of plant-based and meat-free eateries, whether you’re looking for something casual, something high-end or something unique.

 

Good for… pizza

Purezza

As the first vegan pizzeria in the UK, Purezza has been honing its craft since 2015, aiming to make its plant-based menu on a par with – and even surpass – the taste of traditional pizzas. Its passionate about flavour and has created its own vegan mozzarella in-house, using an Italian brown rice milk, and offers pizza bases created either from sourdough, hemp flour or that are gluten-free. You’ll find some wonderful flavour combinations here; try the Couch Potato, which uses a white base with smoked mozzarella, fried aubergines, oven-roasted potatoes, basil leaves and seitan and all topped with garlic mayo; or the Fumosa, with smoked tofu pieces, oven-roasted mushrooms and smoked beetroot carpaccio, finished with a drizzling of BBQ sauce.

 

Good for… a high-end meal

Terre a Terre

Situated in the narrow alleys of the 17th-century Lanes – a maze of eclectic shops and unique eateries – Terre a Terre is about indulgent vegetarian cuisine and has been making delicious vegan and vegetarian food in Brighton since 1993. Expect dishes such as porcini polenta plumps, steamed rice buns stuffed with Szechuan marinated halloumi and ginger bok choy – this also comes as a vegan option – or aubergine genie, where aubergine is slow baked with tahini, sesame and white miso. If you like what you’ve eaten, you can buy a full range of Terre a Terre’s products in-house and online, such as jams, pickles, chutneys and sweets. It’s also a great place to go for vegan or vegetarian afternoon teas.

 

Good for… breakfast and brunch

Longhouse Café

Serving all-vegan breakfasts, lunches, light snacks and delicious cakes, The Longhouse Cafe is a community-run café whose menu is also packed with gluten-free choices. Smoothies, mezze, curries and salads dominate the menu and supporting local traders is very much part of this café’s ethos. That also extends to hosting a range of event and workshops, such as film screenings and vegan wine and cheese pairing nights.

 

Good for… Sunday roasts

Six Brighton

There are meat dishes on this popular restaurant’s menu, but it also boasts a fantastic selection of vegan options including a vegan Sunday roast. There’s a strong focus on healthy eating; every ingredient used is sourced locally, its seafood comes from ethical and sustainable suppliers, and meat is bought from family run small-holdings. Fruit and vegetables are mostly organically grown, plus the restaurant also roasts its own organic coffee. As well as the tempting Sunday vegan roasts, try its mouth-watering vegan desserts such as vegan artisan apple pie or vegan chocolate and coconut ganache tarte, which uses a cashew and almond raw base served with plant-based strawberry and yuzu artisan gelato.

 

Good for… Indian cuisine

Planet India

With a branch in Brighton and another in neighbouring Hove, Planet India is all about the best of vegetarian and vegan food from India, particularly showcasing its awesome street food. All vegetarian options on the menu can also be made vegan. Try the Dhai Behl Puri, for street food to share, chickpeas covered by thin sev, puffed rice, yoghurt and its in-house tamarind sauce and enjoy it alongside the vegan hot mixed pickle, sweet mango chutney and chappaties. The menu is honest and welcoming, which is reflected in the restaurant’s ambience.

 

Good for… ice-cold sweet treats

Gelato Gusto

On a sunny day, what better than to cool down than with vegan gelato and sorbets at this ice cream parlour by the beach. So popular are these flavours that the parlour has turned a whole freezer over to the vegan combinations. Its aim has been to make the best-tasting vegan flavours using a range of different milks from soya to oat, almond to coconut – and the proof came when it scooped two Great Taste Awards in 2016 & 2017 for its vegan pistachio and vegan chocolate brownie gelato. There’s also a great range of vegan-friendly sorbettos, including Great Taste award winners’ lychee and rose, orange and mint and pink grapefruit.

Accommodation Update - July 2018

Recently opened

London

Kettner’s Townhouse, London

Located in the very heart of Soho, Kettner’s Townhouse reopened earlier this year and now has 33 bedrooms upstairs, a revamped champagne bar and a piano bar. The hotel started more than 150 years ago, and it still retains many features of a traditional building. Famous figures such as Oscar Wilde and Edward VII are said to have stayed in this hotel.

White City House, London

A hotel and private members’ club, White City House – located in the famous landmark of the BBC’s former headquarters and part of the Soho House & Co group – offers 45 bedrooms, ranging in size from ‘tiny to medium’. Guests will also find a restaurant, games room, gym, cinema, a club area and rooftop pool. There are two bars available, both of which have space for live bands and DJs.

 

England

Ginger Peanut restaurant-with-rooms, Devon

A new restaurant-with-rooms opened in the Devon town of Bampton. Christopher Badham and Damian Llambias (the duo behind the nearby exclusive hire baronial mansion, Huntsham Court) have restored a Grade II-listed building in the heart of Bampton’s conservation area to create a stylish restaurant-with-rooms. There are five individually decorated and very comfortable en-suite bedrooms, but the emphasis is firmly on the bar and restaurant, with menus designed by award-winning chef Peter Mundy; they make no secret about wanting to become the best place to eat in Devon.

 

Scotland

Edinburgh Grand, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Grand opened its doors to guests on 1 June in the heart of the city’s vibrant St Andrew Square, bringing 50 individually designed, fully equipped apartments housed in an historic city landmark that also includes a selection of restaurants and bars as well as a champagne & cocktail Lounge.

 

Wales

Rivercatcher Log Cabins, near Snowdonia

New Scandi-style log cabins opened in the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains in north Wales on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Each self-catering cabin has its own theme and feature wood burners, fully equipped kitchens, king-size beds and glass-fronted apex windows to make the most of the green landscape. Guests can also cook alfresco on the wood-fired outdoor kitchen or soak under the stars in the hot tub within the sanctuary of the private deck.

 

Refurbishments

England

Linthwaite House, Lake District

Following a one-year closure and £10million renovation project, the luxurious, four-star Linthwaite House overlooking Lake Windermere has reopened. Guests can choose from five categories of room – classic, luxury, view, deluxe and suite – and two restaurants are available, the fine-dining Stella and The Bar and Conservatory serving all-day dining and cocktails. Pathways wind their way through well-maintained private gardens and woodlands and drinks or light meals can be enjoyed on its newly created raised wooden Windermere Deck, located next to the hotel’s own private small lake, with views to Lake Windermere and the surrounding mountains.

Lodore Falls, Lake District

A new spa is set to open this summer at Lodore Falls, nestled in Borrowdale Valley on the shores of Derwentwater. The Lake District Spa will boast 18 new luxury spa bedrooms, the new pan-Asian restaurant Mizu and a champagne & deli bar. The spa’s thermal suite will comprise a laconium, aroma steam room, herbal sauna and salt steam room, while outside will be a 16-metre hydro pool with volcano fountain, neck jets, underwater loungers and overflow hot tub with spectacular views to Derwentwater and the Catbells Mountain Range.

The Bradley B&B, Cheltenham

The Bradley, an elegant B&B in a listed Regency townhouse in Cheltenham’s exclusive Montpellier district, has completed a sympathetic refurbishment and launched two new Garden rooms. Set in the hotel’s serene courtyard garden, the new bedrooms have large private terraces and are a contemporary but complementary alternative to the traditional rooms in the main building, which have been redecorated and recarpeted. The Bradley has welcomed guests since 1912, and remains one of Cheltenham’s most important complete historical house. With its working fireplace, honesty bar, antiques and artwork, the B&B is a characterful and convenient place to stay in Cheltenham. It’s dog friendly too.

 

Scotland

Nira Caledonia, Edinburgh

After an unfortunate fire, the unique boutique hotel announced its grand re-opening following a period of extensive refurbishment to one of the beautiful townhouses. The hotel also re-opened its refurbished Blackwood’s Bar & Grill.

St Davids Hotel, Cardiff

This five-star hotel in Wales’ capital has refurbished its lobby and spa, following the refurbishment of its new Australasian restaurant. The Admiral St David is an entirely new restaurant concept for Wales and the south west of England, serving up an exotic melting pot of fresh Australasian flavours.

 

Opening soon

London

Belmont Cadogan Gardens, London

The Belmont Cadogan Gardens hotel – a hotel at the heart of fashionable Chelsea that has been running since 1887 – will reopen towards the end of 2018. Once open, guests will have access to 54 chic rooms. The first two floors will have modern rooms while the other three storeys feature traditional British designs with an Edwardian splendour. Its piece de resistance is access to Cadogan Place Gardens, gorgeous private gardens, with picnic lawn and tennis courts, that are usually only open to local residents. Opening Winter 2018.

Yotel Clerkenwell, London

Yotel will open its third property in the UK with a 212-cabin hotel in central London’s creative quarter of Clerkenwell. The cabins will be equipped with Yotel’s revolutionary technology-driven hospitality offering, its signature space-saving adjustable SmartBed™, monsoon rain shower, techno-wall features, which includes mood lighting and entertainment options, with smart TVs. Additional facilities include a gym, bar, an independently operated dining outlet and Yotel’s Club Lounge concept. Opening late 2018.

Z Hotel Covent Garden, London

The eighth Z Hotel in London will open this month, bringing 112 rooms to a central Covent Garden location. Similar to its sister hotels, the hotel will offer ‘affordable compact luxury’ with ensuite shower rooms in its guestrooms and free WiFi. Opening July 2018.

 

England

Shankly Hotel, Liverpool’s first urban glamping site,

One of Britain’s first urban glamping sites will open on the rooftop of Liverpool’s iconic Shankly Hotel. Instead of the countryside scenes typically associated with glamping, Signature Living’s latest venture offers a panorama of the Liverpool skyline that’s best lapped up from one of the Jacuzzis or infinity pools kitted out with 32-inch TVs and pop-up speakers. The luxury tipis sleep up to six people each and have hotel-style trimmings, designer bedding and plush beds. There’s a bar and personal waiter service too. With those views and the summer festival x cosmopolitan city vibe, it’s the perfect venue for an unforgettable party well away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool below. From £120 per person for two nights. Opening July 2018.

Weston Park, Staffordshire/Shropshire

Weston Park will be giving guests the ultimate summer staycation with a brand new Glamping Village on the estate, including this August Bank Holiday weekend. Fully luxury bell tents will be available for two-night stays for guests to enjoy a stay under the stars on a country estate. Set in a beautiful glade surrounded by ancient oak trees, nestled in the depths of the estate at Weston Park, the luxury glamping village will be the perfect summer getaway for friends and family alike. Tents will be decked out with comfy blankets, air beds, bedding and festoon lighting. Luxury toilet blocks with power showers will ensure guests feel right at home. Each tent sleeps 5 people and are available for two night stays. Prices start from £249 per tent for a two-night stay. Opening August 2018.

Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

Football mad? Check out what is fast becoming known as a Football Quarter in Liverpool’s Victoria Street, as a new hotel – named after local football legend Dixie Dean – is set to open. The hotel will commemorate the life of Dixie both on and off the pitch with a luxury hotel, and is located directly opposite The Shankly Hotel, a tribute to Liverpool coach Bill Shankly. Opening summer 2018.

The London Warehouse, Manchester

Based in the bohemian Northern Quarter of Manchester, The London Warehouse will house an aparthotel with 166 rooms, as well as a cocktail bar, co-working venue, cocktail bar and restaurant as well as a florist and a barber shop. Opening summer 2018.

Queen Square – Supercity Aparthotels, Brighton

In its first development outside of London, Supercity Aparthotels are coming to the coastal city of Brighton later this year on the former site of Brighton’s ice-skating rink. The new aparthotel will house 59 stylish apartments, a gym, full-service restaurant, car and bicycle parking facilities and complimentary WiFi. Opening Autumn 2018.

 

Scotland

Fingal, Edinburgh

This major investment by the Royal Yacht Britannia will provide the ultimate luxury experience: a floating hotel berthed at The Shore, Edinburgh. The 23 beautifully styled cabins, all named after Stevenson lighthouses, are inspired by Fingal’s rich maritime heritage. Guests will be able to choose from cabins with their own private balcony, a duplex cabin or the presidential suite. Opening Autumn 2018.

Hotel Indigo, Dundee

A former jute mill situated between the city’s waterfront and it shopping district will be transformed into a 102-bedroom Hotel Indigo with 12 junior suites. As a nod to Dundee’s position as a world leader in the computer gaming industry, the hotel also has created a special games area. There will also be a fully equipped gym, bar and restaurant. Opening scheduled for August 2018.

Sleeperz, Dundee

Dundee’s new train station is due to open this summer following a £14m renovation, with a 120-bed Sleeperz hotel above. The hotel will overlook the new V&A Museum, due to open in September, and the new Waterfront Plaza and will offer free WiFi and comfortable, bespoke, handmade Sleepeezee mattresses in all its rooms. Opening scheduled summer 2018.

 

Wales

Milford Waterfront Floatel Cabins, Pembrokeshire

The rather unusual addition of four-star floating suites (Milford Waterfront Floatel Cabins) will form part of Milford Waterfront development, comprising shops, cafés, restaurants and accommodation. It is intended to offer a unique experience for anyone wanting to soak up the tranquil marina atmosphere without necessarily owning a boat. Scheduled to open later in 2018.

 

Long lead

London

Hard Rock Hotel, London

the Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, will open its doors next year. Designed by award-winning architectural and interior design practice, Scott Brownrigg, Hard Rock Hotel London will boast around 1,000 stylish rooms and suites, together with two vibrant bars and a lively Hard Rock Cafe®. In the lobby, the world-famous Rock Shop® will feature Hard Rock’s iconic merchandise. Guests seeking the ultimate experience will have the opportunity to elevate their status and become Rock Royalty®. Taking the London experience to another level, luxurious Rock Royalty rooms and suites offer extra perks including a personal concierge and access to a lavish lounge. Hard Rock Hotel London will pay tribute in its memorabilia collection to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Madonna. Scheduled to open Spring 2019.

art'otel Hoxton, London

PPHE Hotel Group will develop its first art’otel in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, with plans to develop an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel. In addition, a modern top-floor restaurant and bar as well as a relaxing spa open to guests and the public will form part of the hotel’s offering. There will also be a publicly accessible arts centre, which will include an art gallery, space for video artists and photographic studios. The brand focuses on original art displayed from one artist throughout the hotel’s guest rooms and public areas. Scheduled to open 2019.

*art’otel is also planning to develop a property in the Battersea Power Development in south London.

 

Central London

The Grand, Birmingham

One of Birmingham’s most iconic Grade II-listed buildings, The Grand, set on the 19th-century streetscape of Colmore Row, is currently undergoing redevelopment and is scheduled to open in early 2019 with a 180-bedroom hotel, complete with restaurant and bar, a spa and the city’s first rooftop infinity pool. Scheduled to open early 2019.

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire

Buxton, renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, will see its Grade I-listed Crescent transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel. The hotel is set to take over the majority of the Crescent and will incorporate the Assembly Rooms and a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths. Scheduled to open 2019.  

 

Scotland

Yotel, Edinburgh

Yotel is to open its first hotel in Scotland featuring 280 cabins and situated in the famous Queen Street, in Erskine house. This central location means the hotel will boast easy access to top city attractions and have nearby transport links with both Waverley and Haymarket railway stations within walking distance. Integrating the elements of luxury hotels into cleverly designed spaces, the hotel will offer approximately 280 rooms known as ‘cabins’ ranging in style from a Premium Cabin to a VIP Suite. Scheduled to open first quarter of 2019.

Explore Royal Britain

Britain just oozes with royalty with its roots dipped in rich history. Discover the UK’s castles, palaces, yachts and more. Explore our interactive map to discover royal attractions across Britain.

Royal things to do in Scotland

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Balmoral Castle tells of Scottish history like no other, built in 1856 it served as the Queen’s countryside getaway in Aberdeenshire. This stately castle was also the setting for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s honeymoon – romance is in the air!

 

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

This sacred site situated on the Isle of Iona traces all the way back to AD 563 and was a regular destination for Christian pilgrimages. Take the chance to soak in this spiritual haven first-hand.
 

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

It’s most famous resident monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots whose secretary and confident was assassinated on the premises. Visit the home of Scottish royal history and the Queen’s office residence in Scotland.

 

The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

With the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh, you’ll wonder which British royal hasn’t graced its elegant deck. From Her Majesty The Queen and Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi, notable figures have boarded this majestic vessel. All aboard the deck for stunning exhibitions!

 

Royal things to do in England

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Indulge your inner artist with one of the UK’s largest private art collection and follow the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Located in heart of the Peak District, you could roam the stunning greenery and lavish rooms at Chatsworth House for days.

 

Sandringham, Norfolk

Housing four generations of British monarchs Sandringham is the Queen’s countryside retreat! From coastal wetlands to beautiful woodlands, find out what makes it the perfect escape.

 

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Previously used as a medieval fortress, Warwick Castle has a long and varied history. Visit the well-preserved castle where Earl of Warwick enjoyed his leisure time in style.

 

The Althorp, Northampton

Once the home of the late Princess Diana, Althorp House is now her resting place. Roam around the tranquil cottages, beautiful woodland and farms surrounding the estate.

 

King’s College, Cambridge

Feel like royalty as you gaze up at the stunning architecture of Cambridge’s King’s College. Founded by Henry VI, pop in to see its chapel that took a whole century to complete.

 

Longdole Polo Club, Gloucester

Enter the depth of rural tranquillity in Gloucester and learn to play Polo with the best of them. Even Prince Charles, William and Harry made an appearance on the grounds.

 

Kensington Palace, London

Did you know that original Leonardo da Vinci drawings were found in the palace with no clues as to how they got there? Get the royal insight by visiting the London home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Will and Kate.

 

Buckingham Palace, London

You can’t get much more royal than Buckingham Palace. With one of the best known balconies in the world, it’s where the Royal Family appear to the public after royal or national celebrations. Inside you’ll find stunning interiors and the finest art collection to marvel at.

 

Windsor Castle, Windsor

The largest inhabited castle in the world, this building is simply breathtaking. Soak up the history of the artefacts, staterooms and grounds of one of the Queen’s favourite palaces.

 

Highgrove House, Gloucestershire

For the finest greenery in all the land, Highgrove garden in Gloucestershire will supply you with more than just a spring walk. Indulge in your luxury tastes with the kind of fine living suitable for a prince and a duchess.

 

Osborne House, Isle of White

Queen Victoria spent her holidays on the Isle of White in the palatial Osborne House. Marvel at its ornate terrace gardens or take a dip in the sea at Osborne beach.

 

Wimbledon, London

The Royal Family have had their own box at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships since 1922. If tennis isn’t your thing, there’s a charming village, an 1140 acres common (with windmill) and classy boutiques to explore nearby.

 

Royal Pavilion, Brigthton

Inspired by lavish Indian, Chinese and Islamic architecture King George IV ordered its construction in 1787. From a royal residence and seaside getaway to a hospital for Indian soldiers – the enchanting Royal Pavilion stands tall to this day.

 

Royal things to do in Wales

Conwy Castle, Conwy

Did you know that Conwy Castle was part of Edward I’s plan to build an ‘iron ring of castles’ around Wales? Its grandiosity is not to be underrated. Venture to the battlements and immerse yourself in the conquest.

 

Anglesey

Pursue some romance on the captivating north coast of Wales where Kate and Prince William found their perfect hideaway residence. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Anglesey is the perfect place to fall in love.

 

Caerphilly Castle

Wales’ largest castle is a revolutionary masterpiece in its strategic military defence. It’s one of the first castles in Britain to have a concentric design (it has a surrounding wall) and has a rich and thrilling medieval history.

 

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48 Hours in South-East England

Stretching from Kent to the east of London, down to England’s southern coastal counties of Sussex and Hampshire and back up to the counties of Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire that cluster around the capital, the area of South-East England is one of diverse landscapes, vibrant beach resorts, historic cities and gastronomic centres of excellence.

The real beauty of this region is its accessibility from London, with numerous public transport options available from the capital to all parts of the South East. Within just 30 minutes south of London you can be in the attractive city of Guildford, with its inviting mix of centuries of history and first-rate contemporary shopping. Beautiful coastlines and verdant woodlands await you in the New Forest in Hampshire, just 90 minutes from London, or experience the royal atmosphere of Windsor or the scholarly vibes of Oxford in less than an hour’s journey time from the capital.

The area may be perfect for day trips from London, but it also means you can pack in a huge variety of experiences within a weekend in the area, each bringing its own unique charm. Here we take a look at just one option of how to spend 48 hours South-East England; in its vibrant coastal areas.

 

DAY ONE:

09:00 BROWSE CONTEMPORARY ART

Take an early train out of London’s Charing Cross station and, within 90 minutes, you’ll reach Hastings, a town on the Sussex coast that’s well-known for its connections with the famous battle of 1066 but is also at the forefront of contemporary art with exhibitions at the Jerwood Gallery. Set in a stunning glass building on the Old Town’s fishing beach, this is the home to a fabulous collection of 20th- and 21st-century British art.

 

10:30 DISCOVER THE DARK SECRETS OF SMUGGLERS

Head down to St Clements Caves and embark on a Smugglers’ Adventure. You’ll join notorious smuggler ‘Hairy Jack’ through underground tunnels and caverns on this interactive experience that tells the tales of smugglers through the ages. You can also enter the attraction via the original West Hill funicular railway, which retains its original Victorian wooden carriages.

 

12:00 EXPLORE THE TOWN’S PAST

Stroll around the picturesque Old Town, a bustling haven of cobbled streets, ‘twittens’ (narrow passageways) and a flourishing arts community, which you can explore through its myriad of antique stores and independent art shops.

 

13:00 FEAST ON LOCAL SEAFOOD

Fresh fish lands on Hastings’ beaches every day, serving the town’s restaurants and cafes. Head down to The Stade area, the town’s fishing and cultural quarter, and dine on smoked fish and fresh cockles at Rock-a-Nore Kitchen, or admire the views of the seafront while munching oysters and other delicacies from the sea at the Old Custom House Restaurant. Round off your lunch with a luscious homemade ice cream from Di Polas ice cream parlour, where flavours range from sea salt caramel to apple and ginger.

After lunch, jump on the train and travel to the coastal city of Brighton & Hove, around an hour’s journey. Although just a short distance from Hastings, you’ll find a different vibe here.

 

15:00 WALK THROUGH A ROYAL FANTASY

Brighton & Hove is bohemian yet historic, eccentric yet stylish, and is unlike any other English seaside city. Although its heritage is deeply rooted in the 18th century – the Regency era – it boasts a heady mix of contemporary culture, artistic quarters, must-see museums and diverse shopping. Dominating the town is the Royal Pavilion, built by King George IV, a palace unlike any other in Europe. Wander through architecture bedecked with Indian domes and oriental interiors as well as Regency style.

 

17:00 SOAR INTO THE AIR

For unrivalled views of the city and its surrounding area, take a ‘flight’ on British Airways i360, the tallest UK viewing platform outside of London. Brilliant, Instagrammable views surround you as you head up 450ft/137 metres in the air.

 

18:00 ENJOY TRUE BRITISH ENTERTAINMENT

Back down to earth and head out to sea – as far as the end of Brighton Pier! A Grade II-listed pleasure pier, you can enjoy fairground rides and entertainment, and don’t forget to buy an iconic English seaside treat – Brighton Rock.

 

19:00 DINE AT SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANTS

Brighton is a real hotspot for food, particularly if you’re looking for something special, with a range of restaurants that encompass everything from vegan to waste-free. Terre a Terre, situated in the narrow alleys of the 17th-century Lanes – a maze of eclectic shops and unique eateries – is about indulgent vegetarian cuisine. And, if you’re looking for a restaurant that endorses sustainability throughout, try Plateau, a vibrant Lanes-based eaterie that offers a menu of organic and biodynamic wine.

 

21:00 HIT THE NIGHTLIFE

The city is well-known for its fabulous nightlife, arts and theatre scene, and is bursting with seriously cool and quirky bars and clubs. Sip on craft beers from local breweries, surrounded by walls lined with vinyl records and listen to your favourite tunes on the record players at Dead Wax Social; enjoy live music, home-made brews and quirky weekend events such as chocolate-sculpting lessons at the North Laine Brewhouse; or sip cocktails amid the retro charm of The Mesmerist, a 1920s’ speakeasy-style bar.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

There’s a range of well-known budget hotel names in Brighton, from Ibis to Travelodge, as well as a whole host of quality bed and breakfasts (B&B). Nineteen, located in the Kemp Town area of Brighton, is a stylish B&B in a converted 200-year-old Victorian townhouse, with walls adorned with contemporary artwork. For truly bohemian artwork throughout the rooms check into the Artist Residence, a seafront hotel decorated by local artists, while the grand dame of the city’s hotels is the Grand Brighton, an iconic five-star Brighton landmark of elegance and grandeur.

 

DAY TWO:

0900: BUILD UP AN APPETITE

There’s nothing like fresh air to wake you up and a bracing walk along Brighton’s seafront will do just that. Worked up an appetite? Pop into Billie’s for breakfast, a cosy, family-run café serving local handmade sausages, stacks of pancakes and a wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

 

11:00 TASTE ENGLISH WINE

Nestled in the beautiful Sussex countryside, just 20 minutes from Brighton & Hove by taxi or bus, is the South Downs National Park, home to Ridgeview Vineyard and its award-winning English sparkling wine. Go behind-the-scenes with a tour of the vineyard and finish off with wine tastings overlooking the glorious South Downs. Once a month the vineyard also offers a wine and lunch tour.

 

12:30 Head to Brighton station and take the direct train to Portsmouth in the county of Hampshire, in just under 90 minutes.

 

14:00 GO BEHIND THE SCENES OF A HISTORIC DOCKYARD

The city of Portsmouth on the south coast of England is completely surrounded by water, making it an island city! So, it’s no surprise that it also comes with more than 800 years of naval history, much of which you can discover at its Historic Dockyard. Step back to the 16th century and explore the story of Henry VIII’s shipwrecked (and now raised) war ship at the Mary Rose Museum, or imagine what it was like being an 18th-century sailors aboard HMS Victory. In Spring 2018, the D-Day Museum will reopen on Southsea seafront (in the south of the city), which will use interactive material, video and major new exhibitions to retell the story of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War.

OR

14:00 DISCOVER A LITERARY PAST

Portsmouth has hugely significant literary links; Charles Dickens was born here and his birthplace is preserved at the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes while living in Portsmouth. The city is home to a large collection of Conan Doyle memorabilia at the Portsmouth Museum.

 

16:00 SHOPPING AND SEAVIEWS

Pick up designer bargains and high-street treats at the 90 premium outlet stores located at Gunwharf Quays, before heading up 105 metres to take in the gorgeous views from Emirates Spinnaker Tower, over the city and out to the Isle of Wight.

 

18:00 SIP CHAMPAGNE AT DUSK

Walk along the charming waterfront at Southsea and stop off for a glass of Champagne at the Southsea Castle Champagne Bar, which runs every Friday from May until September. You’ll be drinking bubbly with a beautiful Tudor castle backdrop!

 

20:00 ENJOY A RANGE OF RESTAURANTS

Restaurant 27 and Montparnasse are two of Portsmouth finest restaurants, and it’s at both of these you’ll find menus produced by chefs with Michelin-star experience, using ingredients from local suppliers and producers. Or, if you prefer a taste of the east, head down to the area of Old Portsmouth – this was once referred to as the Spice Island, as ships would dock there from Asia to unload their cargo – which still has a whole host of restaurants serving Asian cuisine. Check out the area of Albert Road, which is packed with choices.  

 

22:00 HIT THE NIGHTLIFE

Being a university town, Portsmouth offers a good mix of nightlife. It also serves up some excellent locally brewed beer – head up to the rooftop garden of the Brewhouse & Kitchen, set in a historic, Tudor-style inn, and order a pint of one of its 50 craft beers, including five that are brewed on site. Gin fan? Head over to Gin & Olive where aficionados of the spirit can choose from more than 100 on its menu, the only bar to offer this many in the county of Hampshire.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

Similar to Brighton, Portsmouth has a good stock of budget hotels, guesthouses and lovely bed and breakfasts. Its boutique hotel offer is strong too. The G! Boutique Hotel has designed each room to be unique and quirky – rooms are given names ranging from Good Times and Grinning From Ear to Ear, to Giddy with Delight and Gloating You’re Not Here, plus there’s a funky cellar bar. Or, for a hotel with views over Portsmouth Harbour, check in to the Ship Leopard Boutique Hotel, housed in a Georgian building next to the Historic Dockyard, while just five minutes from the Southsea area is luxury property The Clarence. Looking for somewhere unique to stay? Sail out to No Man’s Fort, an island man-made fortress out at sea converted to a luxury venue that’s ideal for group bookings.

 

RETURNING TO LONDON:

There are direct trains from Portsmouth to London, which take just under two hours.

Liberal Brighton

It could be said that England’s south coast city is the liberal and creative soul of Britain: planning is well underway for the annual Gay Pride Festival that graces Brighton’s shores every August and once again, this year is packed with eco and arts events. So for something different, here are some alternative sights and events to consider.

 

Pride with Purpose

As the UK’s biggest LGBTQ event, Brighton and Hove Pride Festival brings together supporters in the LGBTQ community to fundraise, celebrate and party in the name of equality; 2018’s festivities will recognise the trailblazers and supporters who shaped Brighton’s Pride movement and championed equality. The weekend event features a parade, village party, and live music performances from international artists such as Britney Spears expected to perform.

Event dates: 3 to 5 August 2018

 

Celebrating Creativity

When you think ‘Fringe Festival’, it’s likely that Edinburgh springs to mind, but the Brighton version is an ideal option if you’re seeking early summer entertainment and can’t wait until August. As England’s largest arts festival, you can expect an eclectic mix of acts from comedy, art, food, literature, theatre and street performance.

Event dates: 4 May to 3 June 2018

 

Brighton's Bare Necessities

On 1 April 1980, Brighton made seaside history by opening the UK’s first naturist beach. Just one mile east of Brighton Pier, you can walk there or catch the Volks Electric Railway near the pier. Signs and large banks of pebbles indicate the start and end of the naturist sections of sand, officially known as Cliff Bathing Beach.

 

On the Arts Trail

It’s often overlooked that Brighton played an early role in the development of film-making, as the home and workplace of William Friese-Greene, the main pioneer of motion pictures and colour films. Today, Brighton is a magnet for producers who are drawn to the city’s mix of urban and natural settings. Book the Brighton on Film Tour which includes filming locations from Quadrophenia, Mona Lisa and Brighton Rock. Other interesting tours include street art walks and the ‘From Skanky to Swanky’ tour of the ever-changing North Laine neighbourhood.

 

For shopping, Lovethatstuff on the waterfront sells fair-trade items from over 30 global producers, while foodies should head for Brighton Chilli Shop. The UK’s first chilli shop, it sells the homegrown hot stuff, with sauces and products both from the UK and all over the world. Food for Friends is the city’s original vegetarian restaurant using the best, locally sourced produce, while others such as Foodilic are also committed to vegan and organic offerings.

 

Freewheeling It

The new smart bike-share scheme allows eco-conscious visitors and locals to explore Brighton with ease. Bikes are available for hire from just 3p per minute, with rentals in several central locations from Lewes Road towards the city’s two universities, with plans for more. To join the city’s cycling revolution, simply register, unlock a bike, discover Brighton on two wheels and simply return it to any BTN BikeShare Hub when you’re all explored out.

 

See also:

  • The Great Escape - Festival of new music showcasing around 450 emerging artists in over 30 Brighton venues.

Event dates: 17 - 19 May 2018.

  • Musical Bingo - Experience bingo with a creative twist at popular entertainment venue Komedia where numbers are swapped for tunes.

Event dates: Held every two months (next one Thu 19 April 2018).

  • The Lanes – In what was the fishing town of Brighthelmstone, Brighton’s cultural and creative quarter is a maze of streets packed with shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, the perfect place to soak up the city’s alternative vibe.