Swap your cold beer for a warm cuppa during the 2019 Ashes Series

 The tea interval at a cricket match at Wormsley Park, Buckinghamshire.

The start of this year’s Ashes in England this week will no doubt have most cricket fans either staying up through the night or getting up at the crack of dawn to tune in.

For many, Dry July may have just finished but now there is no need to slip back into old habits by reaching for a cold one, especially when it’s chilly outside.

We know that Aussies love a good cuppa as much as the Brits. Research shows the tea market in Australia is worth $324 million* with half of Australians aged 14 or over drinking tea at least once a week – coffee is only slightly more popular!

Luckily, this year Victoria Bitter* has come up with a clever way for you to enjoy the flavour of beer while still reaping the warming benefits of a tea with a launch of a new limited edition tea bag ‘containing super pride hops with premium black tea leaves’ creating the perfect beer-flavoured morning drink.

With the Ashes 2019 series taking place at several iconic locations throughout England - Edgbaston in Birmingham, Headingley in Leeds, Old Trafford in Manchester, and Lord’s and The Oval in London – there’s plenty of time to enjoy a cuppa while watching the competition on the TV.

To help people make the most of the complete tea experience, VisitBritain has put together a handy seven-step guide to making the perfect flavoured brew:

Step 1: Boil the water 

Step 2: Warm your teapot, teacups or mugs

Step 3: Use cold, filtered water to fill your kettle

Step 4: Set the water temperature to between 95 and 60 degrees

Step 5: Pour the water into the warmed teapot or into the teacup / mug 

Step 6: Infuse the teabag or tealeaves once the water has boiled and brew to the desired strength

Step 7: Add your milk and then enjoy the brew! 

If you want to ensure your cuppa is being brewed the correct way, you can also check the official British Standard Institutions method.  

*https://www.victoriabitter.com.au/products/vb-tea
**https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/storm-in-a-teacup-how-melbourne-swapped-coffee-for-a-cuppa-20190701-p5231n.html

How to celebrate Birmingham Pride

Birmingham Pride is Britain’s largest 2-day LGBTQ+ festival and is expected to welcome more than 70,000 people to the city. For 2019, the location of the festival is shifting to a new site just outside the city’s Gay Village, providing more space for music, cabaret and a host of LGBTQ+ friendly events. An array of big name artists, up-and-coming stars and local talent will perform across the weekend of 25-26 May, as Birmingham celebrates its LGBTQ+ community.

Alongside three stages in the Gay Village – the Main Stage, Mixmag Arena and the Future Stage – they’ll also be a Los Angeles Cabaret Stage, a women’s area and an inclusivity-focused community village. A theme of ‘Love Out Loud’ accompanies Birmingham Pride 2019, encouraging individuals to celebrate the best of the LGBTQ+ community, while the Birmingham LGBT Centre will host spoken word sessions, acoustic shows and film screenings.

Street Fest will be home to a food court and beer garden, offering an abundance of craft ales and delicious street food, and numerous community stalls will provide crafts, gifts and other memorabilia.

The Parade

A centrepiece of the Birmingham Pride celebrations, the annual carnival parade weaves its way around the city from midday on Saturday. Setting off from Victoria Square, more than 5,000 people are expected to participate, with thousands more lining the streets. Expect a wealth of colourful floats and brightly-dressed participants of all ages.

Main Stage

Chart-topping Sigala, new pop sensation Alice Chater and former BRIT Awards winner Kate Nash are among those taking to the main stage on Saturday, as well as Mabel, MYA and MOBO nominated all-female band M.O. Sunday will feature a DJ Set from Faithless and a performance from the iconic Human League.

Mixmag Arena

The Black Madonna will bring the infamous We Still Believe party to the Mixmag Arena during the day on Saturday, before a closing set from Sam Divine. That will be followed by an all-female line up on Sunday, featuring Birmingham’s own DJ Hannah Wants, Monki, Jaguar and Fleur Shore, among others.

The venues

A host of bars and nightclubs have pledged their support to Birmingham Pride 2019, and all offer something different for partygoers. Eden, Clonezone, Nightingale Club, Missing Bar, Glamourous Cabaret Bar, The Fox and The Village Inn are among those hosting events during the Pride weekend.

What to wear

Although there is no dress code for Birmingham Pride 2019, 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.

Where to stay

Occupying the 23rd and 24th floors of the distinct Cube building, the bedrooms of 4-star Hotel Indigo maximise their elevated status with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. Alternatively, Staying Cool at the Rotunda offers serviced apartments on the top 4 floors of a Birmingham landmark, the Rotunda building. Available in 4 configurations, from studios to 2-bed penthouses, this funky self-catering option is recommended by British-based LGBTQ+ travel website FurtherAfield.com. Another option is BLOC Hotel. A budget choice that doesn’t compromise on style, BLOC Hotel describes itself as pared-down chic. The 73 rooms are stylishly efficient with the things you need, like powerful drench showers, comfortable beds with Egyptian cotton sheets, super-fast Wi-Fi and HD TVs.

Getting to Birmingham

Birmingham is around a 2.5-hour drive from London. Two direct train routes take around 90 minutes to 2 hours, going from London Euston to Birmingham New Street or from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street. Birmingham Airport is served by an array of international carriers, and is a 15-minute train journey from Birmingham City Centre, with trains arriving into Birmingham New Street station.

Top ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Britain will be awash with green in mid-March as St Patrick’s Day celebrations sweep across the major cities. Marking the death of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, communities in Ireland and across the Irish diaspora come together to celebrate on 17 March – a Sunday in 2019 – with a host of colourful parades, exciting musical performances and a wealth of other events.

London

London marks St Patrick’s Day with an annual parade through the capital’s streets, featuring striking decorative floats, incredible marching bands and performances from Irish dancing schools and sports clubs. The 1.5-mile procession meanders its way from Piccadilly past some of London’s most iconic landmarks on its ways to Whitehall. As a celebration of London’s diversity and welcome, the theme for 2019’s parade is #LondonIsOpen.

The St Patrick’s Day Festival packs Trafalgar Square from midday and features performances from renowned Irish artists and special guests, alongside an abundance of craft stalls, delicious food and a family friendly area in Pall Mall offering themed workshops and activities.

When? 17 March (St Patrick’s Day Festival, 12pm – 6pm)

Manchester

A stunning parade from the Irish World Heritage Centre to Albert Square is the focal point for the Manchester Irish Festival, which runs from the start of March and culminates on St Patrick’s Day. Featuring an array of floats and representation from each of the Irish counties, the Manchester Irish Festival Parade is one of many events held in the city. The Manchester Irish Festival Market takes pride of place in front of Manchester Town Hall, offering Irish foods, crafts and souvenirs in abundance, as well as children’s rides and entertainment.

The Castlefield Hotel is also hosting a St Patrick’s night whisky tasting and 3-course supper, featuring a delectable range of Irish themed food and a selection of fine Irish whisky.

When? 1-17 March (Manchester Irish Festival), 7-10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Market), 10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Parade), 15 March (Whisky Tasting)

Birmingham

A week-long festival in the build up to St Patrick’s Day celebrates diversity and multiculturalism in Birmingham. The launch night event, featuring traditional Irish music and dance, a delightful 4-course dinner and a performance from Birmingham Irish band Salt Creek gets proceedings underway, before the festival is completed with a spectacular parade around the Digbeth area of the city – taking place on St Patrick’s Day itself in 2019.

When? 9-17 March (9 March, launch night; 17 March, Parade at 12pm)

Edinburgh

Join the Scots Music Group for Café Ceilidh to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, an afternoon session of songs, poems, music and stories that recognise the patron saint. The Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival is another cause for celebration, taking place over 3 days at 5 venues and performance spaces.

When? 19 March (Scots Music Group), 15-17 March (Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival)

Belfast

Eye-catching floats and performers in magnificent costumes form just part of Belfast’s spectacular carnival parade as it weaves its way from Belfast City Hall to Writers Square. An open air concert in Custom House Square will follow, headlined by the Vengaboys and including an array of Irish artists showcasing traditional music, dance and song. St George’s Market will offer traditional Irish food and music, as well as plenty of handmade crafts.

When? 17 March (Carnival Parade, 12.30pm; Custom House Square, 1.15pm; St George’s Market, 10am – 4pm)

Newcastle

Paddy Fest will return to the heart of Newcastle city centre for St Patrick’s Day 2019, featuring 4 days of events and entertainment. Beginning with Let’s Play Darts, cheese festival Cheesetoon will follow on Friday with 25 stalls offering an array of cheesy concoctions. Saturday of Paddy Fest will feature authentic Irish bands and a handful of DJs, as well as screens showing the final matches of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, before the event is rounded off with the biggest Bongo’s Bingo! to be held in the north-west of England, taking place in Times Square.

When? 14-17 March

Liverpool

Liverpool will march to the sound of drums, flutes and pipe bands on St Patrick’s Day, as the annual parade makes its way from the Old Irish Centre in Mount Pleasant into the centre of the city.

When? 17 March (12pm-3pm)

Armagh

The Home of Saint Patrick Festival showcases Irish culture, song and dance, and recognises the leading role that St Patrick had in converting Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago. Both the Armagh Robinson Library and Armagh County Museum host an array of artefacts, manuscripts, collections and rare books that relate to the role of the city in early Christian Ireland. An abundance of cultural events take place throughout the festival period, including parades, lectures, concerts and church services.

When? 8-18 March

TASTE – February 2019

London – recently opened

 

London’s thriving restaurant scene has shown no signs of slowing in the early part of 2019, as numerous new eateries are now serving up an array of exciting dishes and experiences.

 

Acclaimed Turkish chef Civan Er has brought the taste of his famed Istanbul restaurant Yeni Lokanta to Soho with the opening of Yeni. A menu packed with innovative vegetable dishes, inventive takes on street food and sophisticated fish and meat plates takes inspiration from Istanbul’s location as a meeting point between Europe and Asia.

 

Sushi Daily has built on the success of its global food kiosks by opening its own permanent site on New Oxford Street, as founder Kelly Choi joins forces with sushi expert Silla Bjerrum. Serving an array of fresh, handmade sushi, breakfast dishes and hot options, visitors can expect classic sushi and authentic Japanese dishes, including yakisoba, katsu curry and udon soup, as well as porridge options to start the day.

 

France’s oldest luxury tea emporium Mariage Frères has now opened its doors in a beautiful Georgian five-storey townhouse on Covent Garden’s King Street. Choose from the world’s largest collection of tea, with 1,000 aromatic varieties from 36 tea producing countries, all stored in an apothecary-style wall stretched out over 1,200 square metres. The first floor Salon De Thé is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, with Mariage Frères’ Cuisine au Thé concept using tea as a delicate ingredient, flavouring or spice in every dish on the menu.

 

The pair behind Camden Market’s popular vegan bakery, Cupcakes and Shhht, have launched We Are Vegan Everything (WAVE) in the heart of Hackney. Expect vegan ‘freakshakes’, juice shots, superfood lattes and vegan gluten and sugar free cakes, brownies and croissants, as well as a brunch menu featuring vegan fried eggs and vegan salmon and cream cheese.

 

London – opening soon

 

Opening in February, Centre Point’s flagship restaurant VIVI will offer a return to the Swinging Sixties, with a bold seasonal menu and extravagant décor right in the centre of the capital’s theatre district. Divided into four key spaces, including The Dining Room, The Bar, The Gallery and the Liquid Lounge, the restaurant will serve everything from simple breakfasts through to evening dining.

 

X-upper is set to open at 88 Upper Street, Islington in early March, serving a delectable array of gourmet sausages, with carefully curated recipes by a handful of top London chefs. Alongside six core sausages, they’ll also be daily specials for visitors to get their teeth into.

 

Craft pasta restaurant Emilia’s in St Katherine Docks is all set to open a second offering in the heart of Aldgate, offering 7 carefully created pasta dishes and a range of exciting specials. Get ready for delicious twists on original dishes, a small wine list packed with Italian vintages and a unique Italian craft beer selection, set against a vibrant terracotta backdrop.

 

As part of a dramatic transformation, former late-night bar Gigalum in Clapham South is being turned into The Perky Nel, a neighbourhood pub serving delightful British food from local suppliers and producers. The offering, from independent pub group livelihood, will also host live sport screenings and other entertainment when it opens in February.

 

Although not strictly a new opening, Vaughn’s Cookery School in Devizes, Wiltshire, and chef Peter Vaughn, will mark St David’s Day on 1 March with a Chef’s Table Supper Club. Alongside a three-course meal with plenty of Welsh influences, Vaughn will share his experiences while putting unique twists on the food served.

 

Food will also be on the agenda at the Victoria and Albert Museum from mid-May, as a major exhibition will take visitors on a multi-sensory journey through the food cycle. Food: Bigger than the plate will explore the ways that innovative individuals and communities grow, distribute and experience food, with highlights including cheese made from human bacteria and an Urban Mushroom Farm installation.

 

Just opened – Bristol

 

Having tasted success in Cheltenham and Oxford, independent micro-chain Coconut Tree launched in two Bristol locations in late 2018, bringing affordable Sri Lankan street food to Gloucester Road and Clifton. Sample fiery cocktails, tropical tapas and egg hoppers, alongside plenty of other culinary delights.

 

Opening soon – Birmingham

 

Chef Adam Stokes, the Michelin-starred owner of Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, will open his second venture in the city in February, specialising in fish and seafood. Crab toast, teriyaki salmon and fish and chips will be on the menu at The Oyster Club on Temple Street, alongside a dedicated oyster bar and a range of exciting meat and vegetarian dishes.

 

The huge basement boiler room of the Grand Hotel will soon welcome Tattu, offering contemporary Chinese cuisine that’s carefully presented and packed full of incredible flavours. The third branch from owner pair Adam and Drew Jones will serve up a delightful array of signature dishes and new additions to the menu, including chilli and sesame roasted scallops served with Chinese sausage.

Ten cool hotels to have on your radar in 2019

Suitcases at the ready – some fabulously cool hotels are set to open in Britain next year, each bringing their own unique vibe as they set to join the ‘hottest properties to stay at’ lists.

The Hard Rock Hotel, London

Get ready to rock – located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, the legendary Hard Rock Hotel is scheduled to open its new London property in Spring next year. With 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®, 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. The lobby will house its world-famous Rock Shop® featuring Hard Rock merchandise, and guests seeking the ultimate experience will have the opportunity to elevate their status and become Rock Royalty®. These luxurious Rock Royalty rooms and suites will offer extra perks including a personal concierge and access to a lavish lounge.

The DogHouse, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

Beer lovers rejoice; independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel – wittily called The DogHouse – and will launch this immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland. Set to welcome guests in the first half of 2019, the 26-room hotel will feature beer taps in the rooms, a built-in shower beer fridge, while the rooms will overlook the brewery itself. Guests will also be able to watch brewers at work from rooms overlooking the new facility.

Vineyard hotel at Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey, south-east England

If wine is more your favourite tipple, look no further than England’s largest single estate vineyard, which, come Spring 2019, will have converted its existing farmhouse accommodation into what is being billed as the UK’s first vineyard hotel. Set on the Denbies estate in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and offering panoramic views across the vineyard and North Downs Way, the new hotel will have 17 en-suite bedrooms, an Orangery-style garden restaurant, outdoor dining cabanas and its own ‘Enomatic™ wine dispensing machine’ – meaning guests can taste and purchase Denbies wine by the glass. Plus, there’ll be complimentary wine tasting tutorials. Cheers to that!

art'otel Hoxton, London

What could be cooler than staying in a hotel with its own art gallery? art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, which will be an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary hotel. As well as an art gallery located in the publicly accessible arts centre, plans are said to include a top-floor restaurant and bar and luxury spa. Another art’otel property to have on your radar is the one the hotel group is said to be opening near the historic Battersea Power Station in the new Nine Elms district, south London.

Grantley Hall, Yorkshire Dales, north England

When Spring rolls round, the doors are set to open on a new five-star luxury country resort hotel and spa, set in a grand 17th-century house on its own island! Situated between the elegant Yorkshire towns of Ripon and Harrogate, Grantley Hall is being restored to its former early 20th-century glory and guests will be able to choose from 47 rooms and suites, four restaurants, three bars, a private members club, a spa pool, state-of-the-art gym and elite performance centre. The elegance continues outside; explore gorgeous landscaped gardens, which including a 1910 Japanese Garden that features on Historic England’s National Heritage List.

Stock Exchange Hotel, Manchester, north-west England

If you’re a football fan, the newest hotel owned by Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville should be on your hotel hot list. The former footballers-turned-hoteliers are transforming Manchester’s beautiful old Stock Exchange building into a five-star boutique hotel, with 40 bedrooms, two presidential suites, two restaurants and private dining in the wine cellars for up to 100 people. The hotel is due to open in Spring 2019.

The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent, south-east England

Joining the litter of Pig Hotels, The Pig at Bridge Place in Kent is due to open in Spring. Its home is within a 17th-century manor house that may once have been the refined Bridge Place Country Club but was also host to some legendary parties and gigs in its time – Led Zeppelin even played here in the 1970s. Its 28 bedrooms will be enhanced by period features such as large fireplaces, secret stairways and panelled rooms, and there’ll be a further 12 bedrooms in its new Coach House. As with all Pigs, the kitchen garden and restaurant will be at the heart of this new property, and anything that can’t be supplied by the gardens will be sourced from the best producers within a 25-mile (40-km) radius. Also keep an eye out for another Pig opening towards the end of 2019; The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, south-west England.

Market Street Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland

Early 2019 will see Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, welcome a property from the Carlton House Collection, called Market Street Hotel. Situated on the edge of Edinburgh’s gorgeous Old Town, the historic nature of the building means lovely high ceilings and plenty of historic references, although the 98 bedrooms will be contemporary, urban-styled rooms with ante-room bathrooms. Its top floor is intriguingly being described as a ‘Champagne city residence’ and will offer wonderful vistas across the city.

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire, north-west England

Get ready for some serious indulgence as the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, welcomes an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel to the Grade I-listed architectural masterpiece The Crescent. The hotel will be part of the overall transformation of The Crescent – which originally opened in 1789 and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Britain – and guests will also have access to the splendid Assembly Rooms, a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths plus to the six prestigious retail premises along the front ground façade.

The Grand, Birmingham, central England

The chance to stay in hotels housed in some of Britain’s most iconic architectural sights continues in Birmingham, where one of the city’s best-known, Grade II-listed buildings is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool. While the hotel is scheduled to open in early 2019, several lovely bars and cafés have already set up home in the development - The Alchemist, Gusto and 200 Degrees cafe – that hotel guests will have easy access to.

Where to find the best post-Christmas sales in Britain

Coincide your visit to Britain during one of the major sales seasons and you could make huge savings on shopping during your trip. Post-Christmas is a brilliant seasonal sale period as shops offer great discounts and incentives, usually from Boxing Day (26 December) onwards. You’ll find them everywhere, from major department stores and high-street shops, independent boutiques and outlet centres.

CITY SHOPPING

London

England’s capital is, without doubt, one of the best places in the world to shop! Legendary shopping haunts such as Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, Westfield in Stratford, east London and Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, Covent Garden and Knightsbridge, plus pretty much every other street in the capital, are teeming with shops that offer post-Christmas sales. If you’re searching for great prices at high-end stores, why not start at the ‘grande dame’ of them all, Harrods in Knightsbridge. Its Winter Sale is a real show-stopper of an event, opening with great fanfare on Boxing Day – in previous years, the Boxing Day sale event has featured live reindeers and a performance by Florence + The Machine. Also head to Selfridges on Oxford Street where, across six floors, you’ll discover fantastic sales on designer wear (its sale also kicks off on Boxing Day), while over in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols is a must-visit for luxury brands at sale price. Homewares, fashion and beauty bargains can be found at the elegant designer department store Liberty on Regent Street and, if it’s a good deal on foodie treats you’re looking for, head to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where sales tend to start on 27 December. 

Birmingham, central England

Jump on a train from London and 90 minutes later you’ll find yourself in another shopper’s paradise. The city of Birmingham has a wonderful mix of shopping experiences, from luxury department stores and independent boutiques to historic markets and high-street favourites. Check out the post-Christmas sales at its branches of Harvey Nichols, found at the Mailbox shopping venue, which is also home to brands such as Armani and Calvin Klein. The Birmingham branch of Selfridges is located in one of the city’s most distinctive buildings and is part of The Bullring & Grand Central shopping destination, which also boasts upscale brands such as Michael Kors and the British institution that is department store John Lewis, which kicks off its famous sale on 27 December. Close by is Birmingham’s New Street, which has a myriad of narrow streets leading off it where you’ll find sales events at the independent boutiques and high-street favourites that have their home here. And don’t forget to explore the city’s renowned Jewellery Quarter, packed with historic buildings and jewellery boutiques to hunt for that gem of a post-Christmas bargain.

Manchester, north-west England

Whatever style you’re into, you’ll find it in Manchester’s shops – and at great prices too during sales season. Like London and Birmingham, Manchester has branches of luxury department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, each home to a raft of designer concessions. If you’re looking for high-street bargains all under one roof, check out the city’s fantastic shopping centres; the intu Trafford Centre (where Selfridges is located) is home to Zara, Victoria’s Secret, John Lewis and that British favourite, Primark. For shopping in a historic destination, visit The Royal Exchange – once the hub of the world’s cotton trade and a Grade II-listed building – where premium high-street brands (think French Connection and Molton Brown) sit alongside independent boutiques and luxury retailers. The venue is also close to Manchester Arndale, where bargains can be found at leading British high-street fashion stores such as TopShop, River Island and Next. It’s also worth exploring Manchester’s creative, bohemian hub, the Northern Quarter, for vintage boutiques and independent record stores and head to Afflecks, where bargains can be picked up at independent designers trading across four floors – it’s a labyrinth of treasures.

Glasgow, Scotland

Home to one of the UK’s largest retail hubs outside of London, Glasgow is a shopaholic’s dream destination. Its world-famous Style Mile in the city centre means an easy route around all your favourite shops – good news, as hunting for bargains can be tiring work! The ‘Style Mile’ is home to well-loved British high-street stores, as well as luxury retailers, but it’s also the place to go to explore the city’s shopping centres and department stores. More than 80 retailers have made their home at the Buchanan Galleries, including a branch of John Lewis, the classically British Jones the Bootmaker, and beauty shops such as Bare Minerals. The West End of the city is the place to shop if you’re looking for sales bargains in more avant-garde and independent boutiques.

Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff’s main shopping area in the city centre is mainly pedestrianised, meaning the hunt for post-Christmas bargains is all concentrated in an easy-to-navigate district. The Welsh capital is well-known for its Victorian arcades and no less than six have been transformed into shopping venues. The Castle Quarter alone comprises three; Castle Arcade, High Street Arcade and Duke Street Arcade, and it’s here you’ll find a raft of vintage shops, clothes stores and jewellery shops worth exploring during the post-Christmas sales. Contemporary British brands, such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, have made their home at the St David’s Centre and there are high-street names galore throughout the city centre.

 

OUTLETS

Grab even bigger bargains at Britain's outlet stores – they offer deals all year round, but you can discover even bigger discounts during the main sale periods as items are marked down further.

Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, central England

Only one hour from London, Bicester Village is one of Britain’s best-known luxury outlet destinations and bargain hunters can explore more than 160 famous brand-name boutiques, including Oscar de la Renta, Hugo Boss, Tods and Mulberry. Year-round they offer savings of up to 60% and may often discount further during the post-Christmas sales period. New designer boutiques recently opened at the Village include Roland Mouret, MonnaLisa and Amanda Wakeley, with British brand Shrimps opening soon. Bicester Village now also offers an exclusive by-appointment-only space where guests can retreat for private shopping consultations and, to complete the VIP shopping experience, can take advantage of valet parking, hands-free shopping and on-site tax refunds and money services.

McArthur Glen

McArthurGlen has designer outlets in six locations across Britain, including York (a two-hour train ride from London) and Cheshire, a 45-minute train journey from Liverpool. Cheshire Oaks is Britain’s largest designer outlet, with more than 145 boutiques, restaurants and cafés, and shoppers can find bargains from popular high-street names such as Marks & Spencer and Next, and high-end brands such as Burberry and Michael Kors. McArthur Glen’s other destinations include Ashford in Kent (40 minutes from London), Bridgend in south Wales (around 30 minutes from Cardiff), East Midlands (around 25 minutes from Nottingham) and Swindon (around 45 minutes from Bath). A new outlet is due to open in 2020 in Cannock in the West Midlands (30 minutes from Birmingham).

London Designer Outlet

Close to the world-famous Wembley Stadium in north London is the London Designer Outlet, where visitors will discover more than 50 outlet stores offering regular and seasonal discounts of up to 70% on top fashion and lifestyle brands – it’s ideal for post-Christmas sales! If you’re into sportswear, this is where you’ll find top sporting brands such as Nike and adidas, while if you’re searching for stylish homewares, check out lifestyle stores that include Villeroy & Boch, Sony and Procook. The outlet also offers services such as multi-lingual staff and overseas shoppers can claim an immediate VAT refund at the outlet’s currency exchange service.

ICON Outlet at the O2

New to the outlet scene – it opened in late October – the ICON Outlet at the iconic O2 arena in Greenwich, south-east London, has brought together a huge range of fashion and lifestyle brands at accessible prices all under the famous tented roof. Retailers that have opened in Phase 1 include Kurt Geiger, Aspinal of London, Jack Wills, Cath Kidston, Hackett, Guess, G-STAR Raw and Ted Baker, with many more due to open in the next phase. Customers can take advantage of services such as a concierge luggage drop and hands-free shopping. 

Top destination stories for 2019

Top Destination Stories For 2019

 

75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

A significant moment in global history, 6 June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy of the Second World War. Next year will see several important occasions to commemorate this historic anniversary. Britain’s Imperial War Museums (IWM), with five museums across the UK, will retell the story between 1 – 9 June through three of its historic sites: HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and Churchill War Rooms, all of which played a significant role in D-Day. Elsewhere, Bristol in south-west England will be marking the anniversary; the Normandy landings were planned by Gen Omar Bradley at Clifton College in Bristol, the US Army’s command base in the city. General Bradley and others stayed in a building in the The Holmes, now part of the University of Bristol’s Botanic Gardens, while he was in the city. And Southsea in south England, is home to the D-Day Museum, is planning a major redevelopment ahead of the anniversary. Expect more events and commemorations to take place across the country.

Wales – Year of Discovery

Wales – Year of Discovery 2019 will build on the destination’s three previous themes (Year of the Sea, Year of Legends and Year of Adventure) and emphasise that Wales is alive with events and activities. 2019’s Year of Discovery will encourage visitors to not only discover Wales but also themselves through the wealth of attractions, adventures and experiences Wales has to offer.
The Wales Way will also remain a key focus for 2019. Launched towards the end of 2018, The Wales Way is a group of three national touring routes that cross the country’s most epic landscapes, showcasing its fascinating history, coastlines and attractions. The routes will help position Wales as a destination for experience-seeking travellers, willing to explore off-the-beaten track locations along The North Wales Way, The Cambrian Way and The Coastal Way, all year round.

London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest

Inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, the London Borough of Culture is a major new initiative launched by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2018, with the borough of Waltham Forest being the first to win the accolade for 2019. Designed to put culture at the heart of communities, it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover the character and diversity of different areas of London. Mercury Award-winning local musician Talvin Singh will lead a stellar cast of artists in a unique collaboration with Waltham Forest’s young people for a huge opening event, Welcome to the Forest, to celebrate the start of the neighbourhood’s tenure as London’s first Borough of Culture.

Britain on the big – and small – screen

Britain will, once again, play a starring role in several new major movie releases in 2019, as well as lead the way with some of television’s biggest hits.

Mary Queen of Scots – January 2019 (with early release in USA end of 2018)

Starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England respectively, this biographical tale portrays Mary’s attempt to overthrow Elizabeth, before being condemned to years of imprisonment and finally facing execution. Glorious period sets and costumes are further enhanced by the British landscapes used as locations, including London, Oxford and Derbyshire in England and Edinburgh and Glencoe in Scotland. Visit Linlithgow Palace, an hour from Edinburgh, where Mary was born, Edinburgh Castle where she gave birth to her only child and the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh, Scottish Borders.

Downton Abbey movie – release date 2019 TBC

The rumour mill has certainly been in overdrive on this one…but an NBC Universal spokesman confirmed the studio is to put the highly anticipated movie into production in 2018. Nearly three years after its final television episode, Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey itself) has revealed the cast and crew will return there to film in the last quarter of 2018.

Bond 25 – release date 8 November 2019

Bond returns! The 25th instalment of the Bond movies will hit the big screen in 2019. No locations have been divulged yet but there’s plenty to see and do in Britain to get Bond-ready, whether that’s checking out props from the films at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden or enjoying a martini at Dukes Bar in London's Mayfair, where Bond author Ian Fleming regularly frequented.

Shaun the Sheep 2 – 2019 release date TBC

Everyone’s favourite woolly friend will be back on our screens next year in the Aardman production of Shaun the Sheep 2. The production company – the Oscar-winning animation studio that also created the award-winning Wallace and Gromit films, Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man – is famously based in Bristol, south-west England.

The Favourite – release date early January 2019 (earlier 2018 release in the US)

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. Starring British actors Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz, locations such as Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, one hour from London, were used.

The Secret Garden – release date Summer 2019 TBC

A new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s classic children’s novel The Secret Garden is set for release in 2019. Directed by Marc Munden and starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters, the film tells the story of a young orphaned girl sent from India to live with her neglectful uncle in Yorkshire. Key locations for the film include Helmsley Walled Garden (the secret garden), Duncombe Park and Farndale in the North York Moors National Park, north England, and Iford Manor, Wiltshire, west England.

Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle release – 13 September 2019

The plot of a new film by Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle is being kept tightly under wraps, but it’s believed to be a Beatles-themed romantic comedy set in 1960s and/or 1970s Suffolk... Filming took place all over the county, including Halesworth, Dunwich, Shingle Street and Latitude Festival. It stars Lily James, Himesh Patel and Ana de Armas, and promises all sorts of cameos, including one by Ed Sheeran.

Peaky Blinders, season 5 – 2019 release date TBC

Tommy and the rest of the Peaky Blinders will return to our TV screens in 2019. Set and filmed in the central England city of Birmingham Peaky Blinders is set during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The show is also filmed in Liverpool, north-west England.

The Crown, season 3 – 2019 release date TBC

Filming has started Netflix’s The Crown third season, with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.

 

Manchester International Festival returns – and discover the city’s newest neighbourhood

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. The festival is staged every two years – the next edition will take place 4 – 21 July 2019 at venues all over the city – and will be the last before the festival takes up permanent residence in the North of England’s flagship new cultural venue, The Factory. And St John’s is the name of an enormous masterplan to create a new neighbourhood for enterprise, culture and living in the city, which will sit on the former site of Granada Studios. Incorporating residenti­­al, hotels, work space, intimate streets and lively courtyards, the St John’s neighbourhood will retain many original buildings such as the iconic Bonded Warehouse as well as new-builds including Factory Manchester.  

 

Must-see exhibitions and museum updates

A host of British museums and galleries are welcoming new exhibitions and extensions in 2019.

In London, Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade, and the Tate’s first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947 (27 March – 11 August) while the National Portrait Gallery will host the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver (21 February – 19 May). The new Medicine galleries at the Science Museum are due for completion in 2019 and will be one of the most significant medicine collections in the world, while The Geffrye has embarked on a major transformative scheme, Unlocking the Geffrye, to open up the museum and improve visitors’ experience, due for completion in 2019. The Cartoon Museum will open in a new central London location, bringing the “imagination of the world of cartoons into a physical space”.

In Bristol, south-west England, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (2 February – 2 May) while M-Shed hosts Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed (16 March – 16 June) – the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK – and On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (6 July – 29 September), which will feature everything from drawings to the latest VR technology that went into making the animated feature film Early Man.

Turner Contemporary in Margate, on the Kent coast in south-east England will host the world-famous visual art prize, the Turner Prize. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire will launch new exhibitions, events, historic restoration and conservation projects and new tours.  From 9 February – April, an exhibition of JMW Turner’s early architectural paintings and engravings will be on show and, new for 2019, are the Twizy Tours – a fun way to explore the Capability Brown landscaped parkland from the comfort of a two-seater, electric vehicle.

Heading to the north of England, the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will host Yorkshire Sculpture International every three years, starting in 2019. The project will be characterised by collaborative artistic programming, talent and audience development, new outdoor commissions and international commissioning partnerships. Liverpool’s Tate Liverpool will host the first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring (14 June – 10 November), where more than 70 art works inspired by underground club culture, pop art and graffiti will be displayed. The city will also welcome an exhibition of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the Walker Art Gallery (15 March – 26 August).

And good news for royal fans in 2019 as the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh hosts A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (14 June – 6 October), when the wedding outfits of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will go on display in a special exhibition.

 

Hot hotel openings

Book ahead for these exciting hotel openings in 2019.

London
Robert de Niro's is due to open his first London hotel in partnership with BD Hotels The Wellington, in Covent Garden. Planning permission has been granted for the scheme, which will include 83 bedrooms, two restaurants, a members' club, deli/café, spa and swimming pool.
The Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, is scheduled to open its doors in Spring next year and boast around 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®. And art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel, the art'otel Hoxton

England
Work has now started on the development of a 137-bedroom Dakota Deluxe hotel in Manchester, north-west England, the third in the luxury Dakota Deluxe brand alongside properties in Glasgow and Leeds; the design-led hotel is set to open in spring 2019. And in January 2019, the Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station hotel is set to open with 187 contemporary rooms.
The Grand, one of Birmingham's most iconic buildings, is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool, due to open in early 2019. And The Crescent is due to open next year in the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, as the Grade I-listed Crescent is transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel.

Scotland
Yotel is to open its first hotel in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019 on Edinburgh’s Queen Street, featuring 280 cabins. Elsewhere, independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel, called The DogHouse, and will launch an immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland.

Unmissable sporting events

Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events and, in 2019, the following championships will take place.

European Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland (1 – 3 March)

Glasgow will welcome more than 600 athletes from 50 nations to the tracks at the city’s Emirates Arena for the 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships.

RBS 6 Nations Rugby Union, across Britain (starts 23 February)

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland join France and Italy in the clash of the rugby greats.

Gymnastics World Cup, Birmingham, central England (23 March)  

Held at Birmingham’s Genting Arena in March, gymnasts from across the globe will compete to win the prestigious title.

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

This will be the 12th Cricket World Cup competition and, for the fifth time, will be held in England and Wales.

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France is one of the most iconic sportives in the UK and offers an inspiring Tour de France riding experience to UK cyclists.

Major League Baseball, London (29 – 30 June)

The first-ever Major League Baseball games to be held in Europe, the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will host the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Netball World Cup, Liverpool, north-west England (12 – 21 July)

England Netball and the City of Liverpool will host the 2019 Netball World Cup at ACC Liverpool.

Solheim Cup, Gleneagles, Scotland (9 – 15 September)

The Solheim Cup is the biggest event in women’s golf and more than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend from across the globe.

UCI Road World Championships, Yorkshire, north England (22 – 29 September)

One of the world’s most prestigious professional cycling events, the UCI Road World Championships will see 1,000 riders from 75 different countries complete in 12 races over eight days.

Fantastic new experiences launch

June will welcome a new Silverstone Heritage Experience at of the home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, central England. The permanent exhibition, housed in a refurbished World War II-hangar on the Silverstone circuit site, will use state-of-the-art interactive displays to tell the stories of people who have been involved in the site’s history, from medieval monks to modern racing drivers and engineers. The immersive show dome finale to the 2.5-hour experience will allow visitors to feel what it’s like to zoom around the track alongside their racing heroes.

In Bristol, south-west England, The Wave Bristol is set to open in the Autumn, a new inland surfing lake powered by the latest wave-making technology, capable of generating up to 1,000 quality waves per hour. The lake will have three surf zones for different abilities and a high-performance surf centre for elite athletes and aspiring pros. Set in beautiful sensory, healing and kitchen gardens on the edge of the city, The Wave will also have a swimming pool, café, education centre, camping accommodation and surf shop. As well as giving people easier access to surfing, the project aims to educate and inspire people on a range of topics from marine conservation to living healthier lifestyles.

New theatre for 2019

Yet another fantastic year is lined up in the world of London theatre.

Pinter At The Pinter: Party Time/Celebration at the Harold Pinter Theatre
From 4 January
Party Time is paired with Harold Pinter’s final play, Celebration, as part of the Pinter At The Pinter season, held at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

9 to 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre
Previews from 28 January
Based on the cult film, 9 to 5 The Musical is coming to the West End and will feature a book by the movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick with the score by the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton.

Notre Dame de Paris, London Coliseum
From 23 January
One of France’s most popular musicals, Notre Dame de Paris is based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame with music by Riccardo Cocciante and book and lyrics by Luc Plamondon.

Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre
From 18 February
This Broadway musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is based on the events in the week following the 9/11 attacks on America, when 38 planes were ordered to land in the small Canadian town of Gander. 

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other: Twelve Variations On Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela', National Theatre
From January
Directed by Katie Mitchell with a cast including Cate Blanchett and Stephen Dillane, Martin Crimp’s play breaks through the surface of contemporary debate to explore the messy nature of desire and the complicated roles men and women play.

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
Spring 2019
Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is in a loveless marriage in a small town. A baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, leaving Jenna to weigh her commitments against a shot at freedom and recognition.

On Your Feet! London Coliseum, London
From 14 June
Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s smash-hit musical comes to London in 2019 direct from Broadway for a strictly limited season. It’s the true love story of Emilio and Gloria and follows their journey from its Cuban origins to the streets of Miami and to international superstardom.

Mary Poppins Prince Edward Theatre
Autumn 2019
Mary Poppins will return in the autumn of 2019 at the West End theatre where it premiered in 2004. Tickets for the production will go on sale in January.

Major anniversaries to commemorate

2019 will be a bumper year of significant anniversaries in Britain; this year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight, when Club Concorde hopes to buy the Concorde currently on display at Le Bourget airport in Paris. If it is successful, the plane will be restored before resuming operation as a private heritage aircraft that will be flown at air displays as well as being available for charter. 2019 also marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace, where she also spent her childhood. A permanent re-presentation of her rooms, telling the story of her fascinating life at the palace will open and a programme of performance, special events, tours and talks will also run throughout the year. Britain’s National Parks will celebrate their 70th anniversary next year – expect National Parks Week to be extra special. And Manchester, in north-west England, will mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019. On 16 August 1819 in St Peter's Fields, Manchester, armed cavalry charged a peaceful crowd of around 60,000 people gathered to listen to anti-poverty and pro-democracy speakers.

Ten cool and unique ways to see Britain’s cities

Searching for an alternative to a walking tour of Britain’s cities? Here’s how you can turn city sightseeing into an immersive experience, whether it’s via watersports, from the sky…or even in a hot tub!

In a hot tub – London

Yes, you read that correctly – you can now step into a freshwater hot tub that sails down London’s River Thames, passing by some of the capital’s most iconic sights. The 90-minute HotTug experience sets sail from two different locations; its original site in Angel, north London, takes you through the cute and calm waterways of Regent’s Canal and, just last month, a new experience launched in the Docklands area around Canary Wharf/West India Quay. Book the VIP Experience and receive sailors’ hats, robe and towel rental and an essential ice bucket to keep drinks cool.

Kayaking by night – London

London’s landmarks are emblazoned with light come nightfall, delivering an atmospheric glow as you view them from double kayaks on the River Thames. On board the Night Kayak Tour you’ll paddle past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge, a journey that takes you from pretty Battersea and ends in the historic maritime neighbourhood of Greenwich. Waterproof clothing, paddles, buoyancy aids – and instructors – are included.

By group cycle – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Chat face-to-face with your friends at the same time as cycling around Northern Ireland’s capital, on a specially adapted cycle with Wee Toast Tours – and enjoy a drink or two en route! An hour or two allows you to cruise around the city centre at gentle speeds, taking in such sights as City Hall and the Opera House. Wee Toast Tours also offers a Cathedral Quarter tour, through Belfast’s cultural heart, and will soon be launching a tour of the Titanic Quarter, home to the world-famous Titanic Museum, SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline.

Stand-up paddleboarding – Bristol, south-west England

Bristol is renowned for its historic harbours and waterways but why not explore its iconic waterside  via the contemporary watersport of stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Bristol? The professional team there will show you the ropes and take you out to float past Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the historic dockside and the multi-coloured houses of the leafy and elegant neighbourhood of Clifton – as the sun rises is a particularly lovely time to head out.

Singing in the back of a taxi – London

Black cab taxi driver – and professional singer – Aiden Kent had been driving customers around London for 20 years when he decided to combine his love for singing with his love for performing. The ‘Singing Cabbie’ fitted out his cab with a red carpet, Italian red leather seats and a bottle of champagne for guests, and a specially-adapted PA system to experience an extraordinary performance as you zip past London’s sights.

From a bird’s eye perspective – Cardiff, south Wales

Wales’ capital is packed with legendary landmarks – and one thrilling way to experience them is from the air! Hover Helicopters fly you to more than 1,000 ft/300 metres above Cardiff and over the Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Castle and the majestic Principality Stadium. Flights take place between March and October and the company can also take you over south Wales and its striking coastline. City skyline flights are also available over Manchester and Liverpool in north-west England.

On a ghostly tour – Edinburgh, Scotland

Enjoy the thrill of a fright? Ghost Bus Tours in Scotland’s capital takes you on a spooky theatrical experience around one of the UK’s most haunted cities, on board a classic 1960s Routemaster bus. Both entertaining and educational – it’s billed as a comedy horror show – you’ll learn all about the city’s former grisly sites where historic executions took place and hear eerie tales of supernatural occurrences.

Out on the river – Liverpool, north-west England

The legendary landmarks of Liverpool – the Liver Building, Albert Dock and the two stunning cathedrals that tower above the city skyline – can be seen from a different perspective from the River Mersey, on board the Dazzle Ferry, itself an attractive sight. The ferry was created by Sir Peter Blake, as part of the First World War centenary commemorations, with the design commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, 14–18 NOW the First World War Centenary Art Commissions, and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool. Learn about the city as well as the history behind the ‘dazzle’ ship.

On the run – London

Don’t just walk around London – run through it! City Jogging Tours offers both specially designed tours or customised versions; all you need to do is bring your running shoes and be ready to explore. An experienced guide leads you to the city’s attractions and the tours cater for all running abilities, from newcomers to endurance runners. A great way to keep fit and fit in essential sightseeing.

Meandering through canals – Birmingham, central England

Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice and that they are lined with beautifully restored industrial heritage landmarks and intriguing contemporary buildings? See all of this on board a canal boat tour; there are several to choose from, ranging from tours of the more modern developments of Birmingham to the city’s pretty suburbs and out further into the countryside.

 

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.

Spotlight on… the Midlands

All eyes are on the Midlands region of England right now, as the city of Coventry starts its preparations to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2021. As well as improved transport links across the city, there are plans to ensure venues and attractions have the best possible setting for the year cultural celebrations and the Coventry Transport Museum has already reopened after a £9.5m redevelopment programme.

Yet Coventry is not alone when it comes to developing landscapes – the Midlands is on a roll. And, with these cities only within one to two hours train journey of each other, it’s easy to visit multiple destinations in this region on one awesome trip.

 

What’s happening in… Birmingham?

Britain’s second largest city, Birmingham, is to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, which will shine a spotlight on the city as a premier sport and leisure destination. Between now and then several of Birmingham’s neighbourhoods are undergoing a revitalisation. In Digbeth, for example, the architecturally striking 1930s Typhoo building (where tea used to arrive in Birmingham from London) will be converted into artistic spaces, bars and restaurants, while a 13-acre site by Eastside Locks next to Digbeth Canal will be developed into a leisure area along with a hotel and apartments. Digbeth is fast becoming a cool and creative neighbourhood, with businesses utilising the area’s industrial heritage to open independent and unique bars and restaurants. New bar in the area The Ruin, has also unveiled a mural-style map featuring 12 independent and unique neighbours, together called ‘The Digbeth Dozen’. Created by Birmingham graffiti artist Title (Andy Mills) it features venues such as the street-food focused Digbeth Dining Club, brewery and taproom Dig Brew Co, quirky golf and cocktails venue Ghetto Golf, and The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen, situated in the iconic Custard Factory.

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. Several cool bars and cafés have already set up home in the development - The Alchemist, Gusto and 200 Degrees cafe. Other recent developments in the city include the Paradise district in central Birmingham, launching across phases and which will eventually consist of a vibrant mix of shops and restaurants, plus new metro tram extensions are already underway to maximise connectivity around the region.

There’s plenty to enjoy in the city this year too; for a start, it’s foodie festival heaven. This summer (28-29 July), visitors can explore a drinking hall, two live-music stages, a comedy tent, cinema, tasting sessions and talks at the Craft Drink Festival. September welcomes the Birmingham Chilli Festival, bringing live cooking demonstrations together with music and street performances, while October hosts the food and drink joy that is the Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival, celebrating the very best in British artisan suppliers.

Birmingham is also a hot location right now for the film and TV industry; Steven Spielberg filmed a large part of his recent movie Ready Player One in the city and the hit TV show Peaky Blinders is set here during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Discover Birmingham’s darker past on Peaky Blinders-inspired walking tour.

Getting there: By train, Birmingham is 20 minutes from Coventry, just over an hour from Nottingham, 45 minutes from Stoke-on-Trent and 1.5 hours from London.

 

What’s happening in… Nottingham

Nottingham is renowned for its legends and historic attractions and is currently in the throes of making those attractions even better. Standing proudly overlooking the city Nottingham Castle is undergoing an ambitious transformation due for completion in 2020. In less than two years, the site will welcome a new, interactive Robin Hood Gallery, visitor centre and a Rebellion Gallery – showcasing the city’s rebellious history – will open in the Ducal Palace, plus a year-round events programme will be introduced. Perhaps just as famous as the castle is Robin Hood’s hideout, Sherwood Forest, which this summer welcomes a new visitor centre, aimed at providing a contemporary perspective into this legendary landscape.

Talking of Robin Hood, between 7 July – 30 September, an exciting sculpture trail is coming to the city; called Hoodwinked: a twist on the tale, it will be a contemporary take on the traditional stories of the legendary outlaw. Artists such as graffiti artist Kid 30, Sarah Manton and Jessica Kemp of Curious? Nottingham are contributing to the trail so expect a real mix of styles.

Also gathering pace is a raft of stylish new bars and restaurants. In the heart of the city’s entertainment centre, The Cornerhouse, GinSecco (a gin and Prosecco bar) is due to open later this year, offering unique cocktails that are inspired by the city’s heroes, such as fashion designer Paul Smith. One of the latest restaurants to hit Nottingham’s foodie scene is Alchemilla, which has a strong focus on plant-based cuisine, and The Alchemist, located in a splendidly gothic-style building. And for a spot of retail therapy, opening in the near future is the Engine Yard at Belvoir, a castle estate half an hour’s drive from Nottingham, bringing a new shopping experience to the area.

Getting there: Nottingham is just over an hour by train from Birmingham, 1 ¾ hour from Coventry, 1.5 hours from Stoke-on-Trent and two hours from London.

 

What’s happening in…Stoke-on-Trent

Best-known until now for the gorgeous ceramics once manufactured here, the 19th-century buildings on the Old Spode Works in Stoke-on-Trent – a city also known as The Potteries, thanks to its abundance of ceramics companies – have been reinvigorated. Following five years of development it’s gradually opening up as an area to eat, drink and visit; the new Potbank Café has already opened and visitors can head to the Spode Museum Trust to find out more about the area’s heritage.

Museum development in town is also continuing apace as work has begun to move Stoke-on-Trent’s famous Spitfire to its stunning new multi-million-pound home, at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. When it returns to the museum in 2019 it will be housed in a new glassed-fronted gallery.

The area is home to leading ceramics brands, with many of the factories open to visitors, such as World of Wedgwood – its museum is now free to enter – Portmeirion and Emma Bridgewater. The latter’s factory has also turned a piece of derelict land into an urban garden, which is now stocked with flowers, herbs, vegetables and poultry. Called the Secret Walled Garden, it also hosts garden events. Elsewhere, last year saw an extension to Trentham Shopping Village – ten minutes’ drive from Stoke-on-Trent – with 18 new units opening alongside the existing 63 shops, cafés and restaurants within the Shopping Village.

Getting there? By train, Stoke-on-Trent is less than hour from Birmingham, 1 ¼ hours from Coventry, 1.5 hours from Nottingham, and 90 minutes from London.