Post-Christmas sales: grab a bargain in Britain

Britain may be a nation of shopkeepers, but it's also a nation of bargain hunters – especially during seasonal sale periods when shops offer huge discounts and incentives. It's not just the high street shops and major department stores that drop their prices though; many independent boutiques offer hefty savings and you can grab even bigger bargains at outlet centres such as Bicester Village near Oxford and the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in York.

 

Post-Christmas and January sales are famous for being one of the best times of the year in Britain to make big savings, so it’s a great time to visit. Here we round-up how to make the most of Britain’s biggest sales, as well as other key saving periods throughout the year.

 

Boxing Day and January sales

The biggest sale of the year kicks off on Boxing Day (26 December). It may be a public holiday in Britain, but many shops open early to sell their discounted Christmas stock.

John Lewis famously launches its sale on 27 December to allow its staff to enjoy a Boxing Day break. The Harrods Boxing Day sale is now legendary, and crowds flock to the iconic department store in London's Knightsbridge to queue around the block overnight (serious bargain hunters start queuing as early as Christmas Eve) in order to hunt for the best bargains. Customers are even given Harrods blankets to keep warm. In previous years, the Boxing Day sale event has featured live reindeers and a performance by Florence + The Machine.

Popular high street store Next has more than 500 branches across the country and is known for the generous discounts it offers in the Boxing Day sales, with some of its stores opening as early as 6am. Selfridges department store (in addition to the London flagship store, there are also outlets in Birmingham and Manchester) is also popular at this time of year, particularly for the designer handbags and clothes on offer.

 

Easter sales

Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays in Britain and the long weekend is always a regular fixture on the sales calendar. Many shops use this opportunity to sell off some of their unsold winter stock. Department store Debenhams has more than 240 stores across the country and at Easter (and at many other times of the year) you can take advantage of its popular 'Blue Cross Sale' that sees items discounted by as much as 70 per cent. After the Easter holidays you can also pick up heavily discounted chocolate eggs at Britain's main supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose.

 

Summer sales (June and July)

The date that shops launch their summer sales very much depends on a number of factors, including the weather and general trading conditions. Unlike the Boxing Day or Easter sales, the summer sales do not launch on a specific date and individual shops can start their own sales at a time that suits them. The summer sales usually kick off in July or late June and, depending on performance, can stretch into August. If it's a particularly hot summer, shops can offer considerable discounts to lure people in from the sunny streets.

 

Black Friday (the fourth Friday of November)

The American tradition of shopping for bargains the day after the Thanksgiving holiday has caught on in Britain, and Black Friday is now a major event in the yearly sales calendar. Many people buy up all of their Christmas presents, as the sales launch on the fourth Friday of November. The date is now considered to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season. Whereas Cyber Monday focuses on online sales, Black Friday is all about in-store discounts. You can expect to see crowds of eager shoppers up and down major British high streets as well as shopping malls and department stores, with many extending their opening hours. Marks & Spencer often promotes discounts of up to 50 per cent, and offers a number of promotions at this time.

 

Grab bigger bargains at Britain's outlet stores

Britain's outlet centres offer deals all year round but you can grab even bigger discounts during the main sale periods as items are marked down even further. While some stores might not observe the Easter or summer sale traditions, most outlet centres offer heavily discounted stock in the Boxing Day and Black Friday sales.

 

Britain's most famous outlet centre is Bicester Village near Oxford, a 45-minute train ride from London or an hour's drive from Birmingham. It's home to more than 130 boutiques including brands such as Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Paul Smith. McArthurGlen has designer outlets in six locations across Britain, including York (a two-hour train ride from London) and Cheshire, a 45-minute train ride from Liverpool. Clarks Village in Somerset, an hour's drive from Bristol, features around 90 stores including top British brands including Clarks, Hamleys and Hobbs.

Accommodation Update October 2017

 

Britain’s best awarded at the AA Hospitality Awards 2017

The AA has announced the results of its Hospitality Awards 2017, naming its industry gold-standard hotels, pubs and restaurants across Britain. 

The Gainsborough Bath Spa in the south-west took England’s top spot for its 'sophisticated and luxurious experience', while The Douneside House in Aboyne was awarded Scotland’s Hotel of the Year. The Old Inn, Bangor, took first prize for Northern Ireland, praised for its 'untold elegance and grandeur'. Twr Y Felin Hotel, St Davids, won Hotel of the Year Wales, awarded for its 'excellent design and presentation, with noteworthy attention to detail'. Hotel of the Year London went to The Goring; described as 'an icon of British hospitality', it was where Kate Middleton famously got ready for her royal wedding to Prince William.

 

LONDON

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Mandrake, Fitzrovia

Billed as one of central London’s hottest new hotels, this exotic boutique luxury setting (named after a mystical plant) has already hosted London Fashion Week parties. Five years in the making, The Mandrake’s 30 bedrooms and three suites frame a jungle-style inner courtyard of tropical plants. The interior design mixes opulent purples and reds with gold finishes, velvet, feathers, ornate chandeliers and striking artwork. The lavish Mandrake Suite and the Penthouse are sure to be Instagram favourites, the latter clad in white marble with a huge bed and a jacuzzi under a retractable roof. The hotel’s headline restaurant is Serge et le Phoque, by Michelin-starred chef Frédéric Peneau.

 

Opening October 2017: Trafalgar St. James

This classic hotel overlooking Trafalgar Square –which has hosted the likes of Tom Cruise and Nicole Scherzinger – is unveiling its modern new look since joining the Curio Collection by Hilton. A “peer panel” of young Londoners – including lifestyle blogger Lucy Freedman and DJ Doug Marshall – were appointed during the project to give their perspective on everything from furnishings to menus. Trafalgar St. James now has 131 bedrooms, the Trafalgar Dining Rooms, an underground lounge, Biblio, and a 14-cover private dining room. The rooftop bar has great views of Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. PR contact: hshearer@thecommunicationgroup.co.uk

 

Opening October 2017: The Pilgrm, Paddington

New design hotel The Pilgrm focuses on pared-back urban chic with a vintage touch. There is no lobby or reception desk – instead, guests will be able to check in online. The ground floor café will provide a welcome area, plus a lounge bar and dining room. Interiors showcase the building’s 200-year-old parquet flooring, as well as cast-iron radiators and a “cloud carpet”. The hotel’s 73 rooms come in four sizes: ‘bunk’ (two single beds), small, medium and large. PR contact: Alexandra Berry a.berry@gemmabellandcompany.com

 

Opening October 2017: New Road Hotel, Whitechapel, east London

With its “Everything you need, nothing you don’t” promise, New Road Hotel focuses on stylish stripped-back luxury. Owned by three brothers, the 80-bedroom boutique hotel has been built on the site of an old textile factory where their father once worked. The interiors reflect this heritage, and quirky touches include a rooftop Eco Shed and the Loft + Hot Tub room, with views of London’s skyline. The hotel’s restaurant is by Marco Pierre White, and other features include a fitness studio and social areas where guests can enjoy live music, games and a library.

 

Opening early 2018: Vintry & Mercer, Cannon Street, City of London

Located in London’s historic trading centre near St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard, forthcoming 92-bedroom hotel Vintry & Mercer is named after two of the City’s historic professions: vintners, who traded fine wines, and mercers, who sold fine silks. Both trades will be reflected in the hotel’s design. For food and drink, there will be Vintry Kitchen, serving Mediterranean food; rooftop Mercer Terrace; and DND, (Do Not Disturb), an underground cocktail bar.

 

Long-lead

 

Date TBC: Marylebone Lane hotel, Marylebone, central London

A brand new luxury 206-bedroom, nine-storey hotel operated by Shiva Hotels is planned for Marylebone. The proposed hotel will have a spa, swimming pool, café and club lounge.

 

2020: The Hoxton, Shepherd's Bush, west London

Subject to planning permission, the capital will be getting another stylish Hoxton hotel in west London. The new 214-bedroom property will join sister hotels already open in London (Shoreditch and Holborn), and Amsterdam.

 

2020: Raffles Hotels & Resort London, Westminster, central London

One of London’s most significant historic buildings, the Old War Office – once the office of Winston Churchill, and sections of the British secret service – is being transformed into a 125-room luxury hotel by Raffles Hotels & Resorts. It will be the company’s first property in Britain, and rooms will include 50 suites and 88 private residences.

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Now open: The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace, Westminster, central London

The Rubens at the Palace has opened its new restaurant as part of a five-year, multi-million pound refurbishment. The English Grill’s menu includes a daily roast, carved from a silver trolley at diners’ tables.

 

Opening November 2017: The Coral Room bar at Bloomsbury Hotel, central London

As part of a major refurbishment of the 153-room Bloomsbury Hotel, its new Coral Room bar will be unveiled in November alongside the hotel’s redesigned public spaces. PR contact: chloe.davison@ttc.com

 

SCOTLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

Following a top-to-toe refurbishment, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square (formerly The Roxburghe Hotel) has re-opened its doors. One of Edinburgh’s oldest hotels, it’s hosted A-list Hollywood actors and is made up of seven inter-connecting Georgian townhouses in the city’s New Town. The concierge still wears a kilt and vintage red post boxes in the new lobby collect post daily. The 199 elegantly refurbished bedrooms (including 18 suites) are designed with Scottish accents and earthy colours. There is informal all-day-dining at The Garden, and eastern Mediterranean cuisine at BABA restaurant, opening in November. PR contact: georgie.griffiths@theprincipalhotel.com

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Opened September 2017: Sleeperz Hotels, Edinburgh

Budget operator Sleeperz Hotels has launched a new wing at its Cityroomz Edinburgh hotel, accessible via Princes Street. The 43 new bedrooms include superior doubles, family and cabin rooms, as well as ten suites. Flooring in the suite bathrooms is printed with a city street map of Edinburgh. Sleeperz will also be opening a 120-bedroom hotel in Dundee in 2018 opposite the new V&A Museum. PR contact: matthew@honeypotmedia.co.uk

 

Now open: Cameron House, Loch Lomond

Cameron House, the five-AA-star, luxury 36-bedroom resort set on the banks of Loch Lomond, has completed the final phase of its multi–million pound refurbishment. Its new-look rooms and suites have Scotland-inspired features, such as contemporary tartan and handmade leather sleigh beds. The hotel has also announced the launch of its new Cameron Kids offering, treating little ones to their own slice of luxury during their stay.

 

Summer 2018: Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh

Work has started on a 52-bedroom expansion of Ten Hill Place hotel. Owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, hotel profits go back into the college.

 

WALES

 

Long-lead

 

2021: Afan Valley Adventure Resort, Port Talbot, south Wales

Plans have been submitted for a new 480-acre adventure resort in south Wales, which will have a 100-bedroom hotel and spa, plus 400 luxury lodges, and adventures zones, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The proposed Afan Valley Adventure Resort site is just south of Afan Forest Park. There are plans for five main ‘zones’: Forest, Xtreme, Trails, Zen and Alpine, the last of which will include three different ski slopes. The resort will also be home to the Bear Grylls Survival Academy – a series of challenges and endurance courses designed by the TV survival expert. Other activities will include ice skating, Segway tours, indoor skydiving and surfing, ‘ninja warrior’ training, go-karting, forest zip wires, paintballing and mountain biking. Watch the action-packed teaser film here.

 

SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened August 2017: Beaverbrook, Surrey

The former country home of press baron and politician Lord Beaverbrook has opened as the luxurious Beaverbrook hotel, following a multi-million pound transformation. Just 19 miles from London, the hotel is surrounded by 400 acres of privately owned countryside. Designed by Soho House interiors guru Susie Atkinson, the interiors exude classic opulence, featuring four-poster beds and rich fabrics. Each of the hotel’s 18 rooms and suites have been named after one of the estate’s famous former guests, which include Winston Churchill, James Bond author Ian Fleming, Elizabeth Taylor, and Charlie Chaplin. The hotel also has an Art Deco-style cinema, the glamorous Parrot Bar, a cookery school, and a Japanese restaurant, The Dining Room, headed up by top ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama. By the end of the year the hotel will also have a spa with swimming pools, a hammam and a sauna. PR contact: gemma@gp-associates.com

 

Opened August 2017: Hog Deer Creek, Kent

This summer, Kent safari park Port Lympne Reserve opened its latest accommodation, Hog Deer Creek. The five luxury shepherd huts are designed for couples or families, and located within the park’s Asian Experience, so guests’ neighbours will include roaming Asian animals such as Sambar deer.

 

Opened September 2017: Piggledy Tree House, South Downs National Park

This new four-bed treehouse looks like a forest dwelling straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Designed for adults and kids alike, The Piggledy Tree House is located in Blackberry Wood at the foot of the South Downs National Park near Brighton, and comes with a kitchen and a balcony. Owner Tim fulfilled a childhood dream by building the treehouse, which took three years to complete.

 

Opening March 2018: Room 2, Southampton

Room 2 has confirmed details of its second design-led aparthotel in Southampton, due to open next year. Its 71 studio rooms will feature nautical-inspired designs and come in three sizes: little, regular and large.

 

Long-lead

 

2020: Malmaison, Bournemouth

Next year work will begin on a 100-bedroom Malmaison hotel in the coastal town of Bournemouth. Expected to take around two years to build, the new hotel will include a Chez Mal bar and brasserie, a rooftop bar and terrace overlooking the seafront, a gym, a swimming pool, and beauty rooms.

 

WEST MIDLANDS

 

Long-lead

Autumn 2018: Hawkstone Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Hawkstone Hall, a Georgian country mansion in Shropshire, is being transformed into a 40-bedroom hotel and wedding venue. Refurbishment of the main hall and 12 suites will be complete in summer 2018. By autumn, all works are due to be complete, resulting in a total of 40 suites and bedrooms.

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Re-opened July 2017: De Vere Tortworth Court, Gloucestershire

Victorian countryside mansion De Vere Tortworth Court is now open following its £5-million pound restoration, which has resulted in 11 spacious new suites, bringing the total number of guestrooms and suites in the main house to 55. All of the bedrooms have been refurbished to reflect modern British heritage, incorporating leather, tweed and linen. The largest suite, The Kipling, includes a dining table for six guests and a lounge that can be connected to The Paxton, to form a family suite that spans 129 square metres, overlooking the formal gardens.

 

Opened August 2017: Luxury sea-view suites at Lewinnick Lodge, Cornwall

Lewinnick Lodge has added six new suites to its cliff-top B&B hotel on Pentire Headland, close to Newquay’s Fistral Beach – widely regarded as England’s surfing capital. Each of the rooms has 180-degree coastal views, super-king beds, DAB radios, Bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, homemade biscuits and organic toiletries.

 

YORKSHIRE

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened July 2017: Swinton Country Club & Spa, North Yorkshire

The Good Spa Guide has awarded Swinton Estate’s new Country Club & Spa a five-bubble rating just two months after opening. The new club has a 10-metre outdoor natural water swimming pool and a hot tub, and the fitness team incorporate outdoor activities from the wider estate, such as running, cycling and outdoor yoga. The old Estate Gardener’s cottage has been transformed into a suite of beauty rooms, with signature treatments including the Elemis Garden of England Rose Restore Wrap.

 

Long-lead

 

2019: Bretton Hall, Wakefield, west Yorkshire  

Historic Georgian mansion house Bretton Hall is being transformed into a luxury 120-bedroom hotel and ‘creative campus’, set within 500 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland adjacent to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). The property’s redevelopment will include two theatres, a seminar space, exhibition area and conferencing facilities, with further accommodation, work and educational spaces planned for future phases.

 

Date TBC: Malmaison, York

Malmaison hotel chain will be opening a new site in York after being granted planning permission earlier this year. The new hotel will have 160 bedrooms and suites, as well as its Chez Mal Bar and Brasserie for cocktails and dining. Malmaison currently has hotels in 15 cities across Britain, including Leeds and Manchester.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

2018: Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

A 100-bedroom hotel in honour of Everton footballer Dixie Dean is due to open in Liverpool city centre next year, opposite The Shankly hotel, which similarly celebrates Scottish footballer and manager Bill Shankly (the two men were great friends). The Dixie Dean Hotel will have restaurants, bars and an events space, and showcase memorabilia from the footballer’s career.

 

Long lead

 

Date TBC: Manchester Moxy

Planning permission has been granted for a 145-bedroom Moxy hotel in Manchester’s Spinningfields district. Moxy is Marriot International’s millennial-focused boutique hotel concept, and the new hotel will join one other in London. There are plans for seven more in pipeline, located in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton, Bristol and York.

 

Date TBC: Re-opening of Trafford Park hotel, Manchester

The Trafford Park hotel, built in 1902, is being refurbished and relaunched under an international boutique brand after being derelict for eight years. Plans include an additional wing, which will expand the total bedroom count to 120.

 

Summer 2019: Zetter Hotel, London Road Fire Station, Manchester

Manchester's historic London Road Fire Station is being developed by London-based boutique hotel brand The Zetter Group. The new hotel will be the group’s first in Manchester, and will have on-site restaurants and bars.

 

NORTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Cookie Jar, Alnwick, Northumberland

Deborah Cook, wife of the former chief executive of Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and De Vere Hotels, has opened her first solo venture, a luxury boutique hotel overlooking Alnwick Castle. The Cookie Jar has 11 bedrooms and offers quirky treats such as freshly baked cookies and milk. It has initially opened as a bed and breakfast operation, serving coffees, teas and sharing plates from the bar – but there are plans for a restaurant in the near future.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

September 2017: Titanic Hotel Belfast

Northern Ireland’s much-anticipated luxury Titanic-themed hotel is now open on the site of the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, shipbuilders of the Titanic over 100 years ago. The 119-bedroom Titanic Hotel Belfast is sister hotel to the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. The interior design includes nautical touches, models of the iconic ship, and old photographs. The hotel’s dining room has views of the slipway where the Titanic was built, and art deco-inspired suites give impressive views of the Belfast Titanic building and the entire Titanic Quarter. There are also corporate and entertainment spaces available for events and conferences. PR contact: jane.williams@jcomms.co.uk

 

Long-lead

 

June 2018: Grand Central Hotel, Belfast  

Work is starting on what will be Belfast’s largest hotel development, the 304-bedroom Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.

 

June 2018:  George Best Hotel, Belfast

The developer of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool (themed around Liverpool Football Club's legendary Scottish player and manager) is building a new 80-bedroom hotel in Belfast, named after and inspired by Manchester United and Northern Ireland football legend, George Best.

What's hot for 2018 - Britain

2018 Destination Hotspot: Bristol

The southwest England city of Bristol attracts everyone from culture vultures on the trail of Banksy to engineering aficionados keen to learn about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 2018 sees the opening of Being Brunel, a museum dedicated to the fascinating life and works of the aforementioned engineer, who was one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution; he gave Britain dockyards, the Great Western Railway, the magnificent Bristolian landmark the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the impressive ss Great Britain, a popular visitor attraction in the city.

Bristol is synonymous with art, as the hometown of street artist Banksy, but did you know the much loved animated characters Wallace and Gromit hail from there too? Summer 2018 will see a new public arts trail from Aardman Animations, which promises to amuse children and adults alike. For nocturnal entertainment, Bristol’s cultural scene is brimming with options ranging from Britain’s oldest continually working theatre, the Bristol Old Vic – currently undergoing a revamp that will be revealed in 2018 – to the world-class music venue St George’s Bristol, also getting a facelift for 2018 that will include a glass sound wave sculpture suspended in the foyer, based on a musical score by the composer Philip Glass.

Each July Bristol hosts #Upfest, Europe’s biggest, free, street art and graffiti art festival. More than 250 cutting-edge graffiti artists from all over the world descend on Bristol to paint visual spectacles around the city, resulting in 30,000 square foot of artwork created over the weekend.

And cameras at the ready for the 40th anniversary of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in summer 2018; the free spectacle transforms the city skyline, peppering it with hundreds of brightly coloured hot air balloons. It’s the city’s largest outdoor event and the biggest event of its kind in Europe.

Click for more on Bristol

Spotlight on: Northern England Walks

From soaring mountains and picturesque moors to outdoor galleries and historic pubs, Britain is a walking paradise. Lace up your boots and let your feet take you exploring through Northern England in 2018, especially the newly claimed UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Lake District.

  • Newcastle and Gateshead will host the Great Exhibition of the North: a major exhibition showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England. The 77-day exhibition will start with an opening ceremony on 21 June 2018 at the Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the event, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions: The Arts Circuit, Design Circuit and Innovation Circuit. 
     
  • A fort-ridden Roman defensive barrier erected to keep out the Picts (modern-day Scots), much of Hadrian’s Wall still stands today. Linking the shipbuilding eastern town of Wallsend with the west-coast Solway Firth, its mostly-flat Hadrian’s Wall Path specialises in barren and beautiful scenery, despite including the cities of Carlisle and Newcastle at either end.
     
  • The Lake District is Britain’s first national park to be awarded the momentous UNESCO World Heritage status. Picking out one view in the Lake District is a tricky task because the area is so geographically blessed with beautiful landscapes. One of the best vistas is looking east from the top of Cat Bells hill across the lake of Derwentwater to the mountain of Skiddaw. Cat Bells is one of the most popular hills in the area; it’s also a short, sharp, steep climb of 451 metres – but is worth the effort. 

    For more incredible views, Stony Cove Pike from Kirkstone Pass is another to add to your list. This undulating odyssey, starts and triumphantly finishes at Britain’s third-highest boozer, the wood-beamed Kirkstone Pass Inn. In between, scree-ridden moorland, dark green hills, glinting lakes and isolated slate-roof crofts unfold either side of Stony Cove Pike’s windblown summit.

    Frequently lauded by real ale enthusiasts, The Spinners Arms in Cumbria is an ideal haunt for those who appreciate the culinary complexities of a good pint. It’s almost equidistant to the North Pennines, the Lake District National Park, and Northumberland National Park, so it’s an ideal spot to rest those weary legs after a day of countryside rambles.
     

  • There are three reasons to tackle the seaside sortie, the Craster to Low Newton Coastal Walk. Firstly, you start in the spiritual home of kippers (cold-smoked herrings), a classic British breakfast. Then there’s the chance to relish the finest coast on north-east England, including flower-mottled dunes and the lonely ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, originally built by rebels seven centuries ago to repel King Edward II. The final incentive is Low Newton’s Ship Inn, beloved for its microbrewery and handpicked-crab sandwiches.
     
  • The Peak District is an area of contrasting natural beauty, with moors and dales, rivers, springs and caverns. At its heart is the Peak District National Park, loved by millions for its breath-taking views, relaxation, inspiration and adventure. Head to Edale to get stuck into some characteristically dramatic Peaks terrain – it’s the starting point for the Pennine Way walking trail, and offers low-level ambles and more challenging hikes.

Cultural Liverpool

Since claiming the title ‘European Capital of Culture 2008', Liverpool has experienced a renaissance in art and culture. As a modern cultural hub, Liverpool has more museums and galleries than any other UK City Region outside of London. It is home to an impressive collection of museums in which to discover the city's 800-year-old history, while the arts scene has its feet firmly planted in the modern day, with the spruced up Albert Dock home to the Tate Liverpool and FACT media arts centre.

The world-famous Terracotta Warriors arrive at the city’s World Museum in February – their new home until October. This exciting exhibition will be a major part of Liverpool’s year-long 2018 celebrations, marking 10 years since the city donned its Cultural Capital title.

The Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art is in residence from 14 July until 28 October 2018. Every two years, the city’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world. It’s a chance to head out on a cultural treasure hunt through the city to discover unusual and unexpected places through art.

Scotland’s UNESCO Triangle
Boasting three UNESCO awarded creative cities, just 100 miles apart - music (Glasgow), literature (Edinburgh), and design (Dundee) – Scotland is a must see destination in 2018.

Where to go: The V&A is one of London’s – if not the world’s – best museums, and Dundee is getting a new outpost of the museum, due to open in early 2018. The V&A Dundee will be uber-modern in design and is architect Kenzo Kuma’s first British commission.  The new museum will showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Visit Glasgow for its eclectic mix of architectural styles, including the art nouveau buildings by celebrated designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of famed Glasgow-born architect’s birth, which will be commemorated by Glasgow Museums with a new exhibition of unseen works in the summer. As part of the city’s celebration, the original Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms and the famous Salon de Luxe are being renovated and will reopen with a new visitor centre on 7 June 2018.

Explore the capital Edinburgh and find history on every corner, in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of its Old and New Towns. Discover the city’s stunning settings for world-famous novels, the scenery that inspired revered poets and the birthplaces of some of the most-loved storybook characters.

Adrenaline filled adventure breaks, breath-taking road trips, buzzing music festivals, and a jam-packed events calendar - Scotland hosts legendary activities and endless things to do for the young or young at heart throughout 2018 as it celebrates its Year of Young People.  The celebrations kick off in a spectacular Torchlight Procession on the 30th December, as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2017.

A culture vulture’s guide to Britain in 2018

New looks, new exhibitions, and display spaces are on the cards for a host of British museums & galleries.   

  • In January 2018, London’s world-renowned contemporary art space, the Hayward Gallery, will re-open in the Southbank Centre after major refurbishment. The opening marks its 50th anniversary, and will see the first major British retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky. 
     
  • In March, more than 100 of Picasso’s greatest works of art are being brought together for a “once in a lifetime” exhibition, Picasso 1932, at Tate Modern. This landmark show is a collaboration between the Tate Modern and the Musée National-Picasso in Paris and will be the first solo exhibition of Picasso’s work to be held at the gallery. It focusses on 1932 - a pivotal year in the artist’s life, and marked the height of his affair with young lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, who he immortalised in his famous Le Rêve (The Dream), which has never before been shown in Britain.
     
  • Taking a lead role in Cook 250 – the 250th anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s first expedition from London to the Pacific and Australia (on 26 August) – the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will expand the museum’s exhibition space by 40 per cent, with each one dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things. The museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection. While his expedition began from Plymouth, Cook spent his early life and career at Great Ayton, Staithes and Whitby in Yorkshire, where his boat the Endeavour was built, with a number of Cook-related attractions in the area.
     
  • 2018 also marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, and the institution will reveal its new revamp in spring. Connecting the Royal Academy’s two buildings - Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens - for the first time, there will be new dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and café.
     
  • In autumn 2018 the British Museum will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery. The museum is also adding the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, which will open in November 2017.
     
  • Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s iconic diplodocus skeleton cast, stood in the entrance of the London museum for more than 30 years. Marking a period of transformation for the museum, Dippy was replaced in July with Hope, the blue whale skeleton, so is going on tour across Britain. The tour will run until the end of 2020 – in 2018 Dippy will be on show in museums in Dorset (south-west England), Birmingham (central England) and Belfast (Northern Ireland).
     

Lights On

See some Britain’s famous attractions brighten evenings with dazzling displays of light and installations.

  • After its debut in 2016, the capital’s largest night-time festival, Lumiere London, is back in 2018 - bigger, brighter and bolder. More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city and offer new perspectives on the capital’s iconic architecture, streets and landmarks. Taking place over four nights between 18 and 21 January 2018, festival locations will include King’s Cross, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Westminster. Covent Garden, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo are being added as new destinations for 2018.
     
  • Returning in October 2018, illuminating York encourages the exploration of the city through the imagination of artists, using the medium of light in all its forms. This bi-annual festival lights up one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, transforming its historic buildings into stunning works of art

Top 10 reasons to visit Wales in the Year of the Sea

Thanks to new direct flights from Australia to Cardiff (May 2018), it’s even easier to catch a rugby match, wind through the shopping arcades and take to a gig in one of Cardiff’s hip side-street venues before venturing out along the epic Welsh coastline, fringed with rugged cliffs & wide sandy bays.

One of the toughest and largest sailing events in the world, the Volvo Ocean Race, will arrive in Cardiff Bay in May 2018. It will be the first time the race fleet has returned to British shores in 12 years.

If your tastes run to high octane adventures then Wales is probably your spiritual birthplace. Its coastal craziness includes the sport of coasteering which involves cliff jumping, caving and wild swimming – all in one afternoon.  (Those after a good leg stretch may find the 1,400 km Wales Coast Path more to their liking. Head out to Skomer Island for to spy out the plethora of puffins or watch out for soaring red kites as you drive through the picturesque Breacon Beacons. 

Stay somewhere extraordinary in one of Epic Retreat’s glamping-style pop-ups, inspired by famous Welsh myths and legends. Or wake up deep in the forest, in the heart of the Welsh mountains, in your very own treehouse.

North Wales is a thrill seeker’s paradise. Here you’ll find the world's fastest (and Europe's longest) zip line, a revolutionary inland surf lagoon, and giant trampolines strung in the caverns of a disused slate mine.

Go stargazing in a Welsh dark sky park. Granted ‘International Dark Sky’ status, the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks both offer an abundance of dark sky spying spots to get your astronomer juices flowing.

Party in a weird and wonderful Italianate village by the sea. For 4 days every September, Portmeirion is taken over by one of the most unique music festivals in the world: Festival No.6: “a bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture”.

With 641 Welsh castles to choose from, it’s easy to conquer a castle in 2018. For some of the finest examples, head for the castles and fortified towns of Gwynedd. Follow the trail to explore the UNESCO World Heritage quartet of majestic castles - Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech.

Annual Updates

Hot hotel openings

  • Easter 2018: Royal Yacht Britannia’s new Boat Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland
    A floating 'boatique' hotel aimed at luxury travellers is putting its anchor down next to the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II and one of Edinburgh’s biggest tourist attractions.  The lavish new 23-room hotel will feature balconied cabins, plush duplex apartments and Art Deco-inspired interiors.
     
  • Summer 2018: Britain’s first Hard Rock Hotel, Marble Arch, London
    Hard Rock International is opening its first London property inside the existing Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, transforming it into the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London. The hotel will follow the music theme, featuring rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and offering a new live performance venue.
     
  • Eden Project Hotel, Cornwall, south-west England (opening date TBC)
    A £6million hotel is opening at the Eden Project in 2018. The Eden Project Hotel will have 115 bedrooms and has been designed to blend into the countryside, with access to the main Eden Project site.
     
  • Vintry & Mercer, Cannon Street, City of London, early 2018
    Located in London’s historic trading centre near St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard, the 92-bedroom hotel Vintry & Mercer is named after two of the City’s historic professions: vintners, who traded fine wines, and mercers, who sold fine silks. Both trades will be reflected in the hotel’s design. For food and drink, there will be Vintry Kitchen, serving Mediterranean food; rooftop Mercer Terrace; and DND, (Do Not Disturb), an underground cocktail bar.
     
  • Hawkstone Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Autumn 2018
    Hawkstone Hall, a Georgian country mansion in Shropshire, is being transformed into a 40-bedroom hotel and wedding venue. Refurbishment of the main hall and 12 suites will be complete in summer 2018. By autumn, all works are due to be complete, resulting in a total of 40 suites and bedrooms.
     
  • Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool, 2018:
    A 100-bedroom hotel in honour of Everton footballer Dixie Dean is due to open in Liverpool city centre next year, opposite The Shankly hotel, which similarly celebrates Scottish footballer and manager Bill Shankly (the two men were great friends). The Dixie Dean Hotel will have restaurants, bars and an events space, and showcase memorabilia from the footballer’s career.
     
  • George Best Hotel, Belfast June 2018
    The developer of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool (themed around Liverpool Football Club's legendary Scottish player and manager) is building a new 80-bedroom hotel in Belfast, named after and inspired by Manchester United and Northern Ireland football legend, George Best.

Britain on the big screen
Britain is playing a starring role in several new 2018 movie releases, and providing the inspiration for the blockbuster remakes of two classic British tales: Peter Rabbit and Robin Hood.

  • Phantom Thread - 2 February 2018
    Set in the fashion world of 1950s London, Phantom Thread revolves around the life of fashion designer Charles James, played by Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis. James was commissioned by royalty, and British and American stars including Marlene Dietrich. This will be Day-Lewis’s final film performance – the star recently announced his retirement. He’s been spotted filming in Lythe, a village located in the North York Moors National Park near Whitby beach. Other nearby filming locations include the Victoria Hotel at Robin Hood’s Bay and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Grosmont.
     
  • Peter Rabbit – - 22 March 2018
    Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a mischievous blue-jacketed rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden is getting a star-studded live-action and computer-generated motion picture remake. James Corden will voice the lead role of Peter, while Rose Byrne stars as Bea. The voices of Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie and Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will also feature. The majority of filming has taken place in Australia, with additional location scenes shot in the towns of Ambleside and Windermere in Lake District in Cumbria, north-west England, which was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Beatrix Potter is synonymous with the Lake District – it was her home and its natural beauty and plentiful wildlife inspired many of her literary creations. Fans can visit her house, Hill Top, and in London, the V&A Museum holds the world's largest collection of Potter's drawings, literary manuscripts and correspondence.
     
  • Robin Hood: Origins – 23 March 2018
    According to legend, heroic forest-dwelling outlaw Robin Hood was a highly-skilled archer and swordsman who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood: Origins aims to give a new spin on the legend, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, and Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlet. Filming mainly took place in DubrovnikCroatia, but Robin Hood’s original stomping ground was Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. The forest is the setting for the annual Robin Hood Festival in early August – a medieval gala of entertainment, food and drink, activities, and live-action re-enactments. This will be the festival’s 34th year, and follow the reopening of the Sherwood Forest visitor centre in early 2018. For more content on Robin Hood-inspired forest adventures around Britain, see the VisitBritain media centre.
     
  • Han Solo: A Star Wars Story
    This upcoming second Stars Wars Anthology film, following the 2016 film Rogue One, will centre on the adventures of young Han Solo. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, alongside Woody HarrelsonEmilia ClarkeDonald Glover and Thandie Newton. Filming has taken place at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, and a port scene was shot in Southampton, Hampshire.
     
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 - Late 2018
    The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, with London as one of the key filming locations. 
     
  • Mary Poppins Returns – 25 December 2018
    It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. In 2018, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children in this Disney musical sequel, which takes the action forward to London in 1935. Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke (who starred in the original film) also feature in the cast. London filming locations include St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and outside the Bank of England.

New theatre shows
2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for theatre in Britain with hot new shows and A-listers galore.

  • The Band, Britain-wide tour  8 September 2017 – 14 July 2018
    The new musical celebrates the music of hugely popular British boy band Take That, featuring their best hits. The show premieres in Manchester in September and then tours around Britain. For full tour dates, visit the website.
     
  • Hamilton: An American Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre, London  21 November 2017 – 30 June 2018
    Following unanimous critical praise, 11 Tony Awards, and playing to audiences full of celebrities, politicians and members of theatre royalty, sensational Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical is coming to London’s West End. The musical is about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and incorporates hip-hoprhythm and bluespop music, and traditional-style show tunes.
     
  • Network by Lee Hall, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London  November 2017 – March 2018
    Good news for fans of Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston – he’s making his British stage debut in the new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Network, by Paddy Chayefsky. Cranston recently won a Tony Award for his Broadway role in All The Way.
     
  • Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London 1 December 2017 – 7 April 2018
    The world premiere of John Tiffany’s new musical production of Pinocchio, which has been specially arranged for the stage, with songs and score from the Walt Disney film and expert puppetry.
     
  • Matthew Bourne's Cinderella  at Sadler's Wells, London  9 December 2017 – 27 January 2018
    Matthew Bourne's sell-out interpretation of classic fairy tales into bold modern ballets are critically acclaimed. His new show at Sadler’s Wells transforms the Cinderella story into a war-time romance: a chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.
     
  • Mary Stuart at Duke of York's Theatre, West End, London  5 January – 31 March 2018
    Following a critically acclaimed, sold-out season at the Almeida Theatre in 2016-17, Robert Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited run.
     
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare, at the Olivier Theatre, London  Spring 2018
    Rufus Norris will direct A-listers Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff in Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy.

Championship sport
Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events. In 2018 the following championships will take place:

  • European Championships 2018 – Glasgow, Scotland  2 – 12 August 2018
    Glasgow 2018 is part of a brand new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - plus a brand new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. At the same time, Berlin will host the European Athletics Championships.
     
  • World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018 – Birmingham, England  1 – 4 March 2018
    One of the biggest sporting events of the year, this indoor athletics championship will feature more than 400 competitors from 150 countries at the Arena Birmingham.
     
  • Women’s Hockey World Cup – London, England 21 July – 5 August 2018
    The world’s best female hockey teams from 15 nations take to the field at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This will be the first time England has hosted a Hockey Women's World Cup, and will be the biggest standalone hockey event the United Kingdom has ever seen. 

2019 stories and beyond

  • Opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater, north-west England
    Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) currently has four gardens across the country, and in 2019 will open the gates of its fifth. The 154-acre (62-hectare) RHS Garden Bridgewater will be in Salford, near Manchester in north-west England. The garden will bring the lost historic grounds of Worsley New Hall (built in the 1760s and demolished in the 1940s) back to life.
     
  • The Silverstone Heritage Experience opens, central England
    The Silverstone circuit in southern England is the current home of the Formula One British Grand Prix. The Silverstone Heritage Experience will explore and explain the circuit’s history and heritage with a multi-million pound visitor experience.
     
  • A big year for cricket, England and Wales
    Britain will be on the itineraries for cricket fans in 2019, with two major competitions taking place. The Cricket World Cup will be contested in venues in England and Wales between May and July, while the England vs Australia Ashes series will also be played at grounds including Lord’s and Edgbaston.
     
  • London museums unveil new looks
    London’s Science Museum will open its new medicine gallery, and the Royal College of Music and Geffrye museums will reopen after complete overhauls.
     
  • New rail museum in Leicester, central England
    A new £18million rail museum will open in Leicester, central England. It will house locomotives from the National Railway Museum and Great Central Railway – the Uk’s only double-track mainline heritage railway.
     
  • Glastonbury festival moves to a new site (and potentially has a new name)
    The festival will not run in 2018 – organisers say it could move venue for 2019 to protect the site where it is held, and will possibly be run under a new name, the Variety Bazaar.

2020

  • 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower
    The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, southern England, which carried the pilgrims to America, with a big series of events planned to mark the anniversary. Plymouth Museum, currently shut for a three-and-a-half-year redevelopment, will reopen in time for the anniversary.
     
  • The England Coast Path opens
    The England Coast Path, a new national trail around all of England’s coast, is scheduled to open in 2020, becoming one of the longest coastal walking routes in the world.
     
  • 250th birthday of poet William Wordsworth
    England will mark the 250th birthday of poet William Wordsworth, who has strong links to the Lake District in north-west England. The Wordsworth Museum and Dove Cottage (Wordsworth’s first family home and where he wrote some of his greatest work) will be overhauled in time for the anniversary.
     
  • New arts centre for Manchester
    Manchester, north-west England, will be the site of a new arts and theatre venue, The Factory, in 2020, which will provide a permanent home for the Manchester International Festival.
     
  • Dorset museums
    A new dinosaur museum, Jurassica, will open in a quarry in Dorset. A £13million redevelopment of Dorset County Museum will be complete, with it becoming a ‘world-class contemporary museum’.
     
  • Restoration of the National Botanic Garden of Wales
    The National Botanic Garden of Wales’ 18th century and landscape will be restored to its heyday, with reconstructed dams, cascades, weirs and falls.

TASTE - August 2017

 

This edition of TASTE brings you VisitBritain's latest round-up of new restaurant openings and foodie news from across the destination over the last three months.

Verdantly vegan menus and eateries are popping up all around Britain – even plant-based taco and burger joints!  And sweet temptation has arrived in London and Glasgow in the form of dedicated dessert and chocolate parlours, Chin Chin Labs and Coro. In Cornwall, there’s exciting news for fans of BBC’s TV series Poldark, as a new nautical-themed restaurant called Loveday’s has opened in the village of Charlestown, which was one of the show’s filming locations.

 

TREND: Plants rule

With dedicated (and delicious) plant-based eateries popping up all over the place, Britain’s food scene is fully embracing the increasing popularity for varied vegan dining options.

Tacos might not be what you’d normally think of as vegan-friendly, but a new Mexican street stall residency at Pamela bar in Dalston, east London, is here to change that. Club Mexicana’s flavourful vegan bites include Carne Asada tacos, which are actually made of wheat and corn.

Moving on to burgers, The Vurger Co’s vegan ‘vurgers’ (made of vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes) have been so popular, the company has raised £300,000 through crowdfunding to open its first restaurant in London early next year.

In Birmingham, a new city centre vegan eatery and health store, Natural Healthy Foods, serves food that’s vegan, gluten free, organic, and free from refined sugar, including buffet dishes such as Sri Lankan dhal curry, and raw carrot cake for dessert. In Gateshead, north-east England, vegan and vegetarian American-style diner, Grumpy Panda, has also joined the plant-based revolution, with its tasty meat alternatives to US comfort food classics.

The trend continues in Scotland – in July, the second branch of Kind Crusts vegan bakery opened in Glasgow’s Southside, complete with its popular dairy-free doughnuts. Meanwhile, a new addition to Edinburgh’s vegan scene is GrassRoots, a plant-based coffee bar and lifestyle store on Gilmore Place selling cupcakes, pies and raw desserts alongside vegan lifestyle products.

 

TREND: Sweet, sweet temptation

Leave some room for dessert! In June, dedicated dessert shrine Chin Chin Club opened its first permanent site on Greek Street in Soho. Starting out in Camden Market as a little shop, it’s built a big reputation as one of London’s best ice cream makers. Choose from cult classics like The Brownwich, or new additions such as The Choux-wich: a choux ice cream sandwich with Persian pistachio and olive oil ice cream.

After the success of its first French-style patisserie and café in South Kensington specialising in eclairs, choux and chouquettes (empty choux pastry balls topped with pearl sugar), Maître Choux is opening a second site on Soho’s Dean Street this October. Founder Joakim Prat was formerly head pastry chef at three-Michelin-starred Can Fabes in Spain, so it’s no wonder his intricately hand-designed eclairs are almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

The sweet action isn’t all happening in London. In June, Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow welcomed Scotland’s second dedicated chocolate café, Coro. Like the hugely popular original Edinburgh outpost, Coro Glasgow is unadulterated chocoholic heaven, serving cocoa creations ranging from pretzel-covered waffles to crepes and cheesecakes.

 

TREND: Garden dining

London’s gastronomic world is enjoying a burst of greenery – not just on diners’ plates, but in their surroundings.

Petersham Nurseries, the Surrey garden centre whose café once held a Michelin star, has just launched Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden in a historical central London town house. The sprawling site has a delicatessen, a home and garden shop, a wine cellar, and a florist, all based around a verdant courtyard. Its two restaurants – The Petersham and La Goccia – will open later this year.

In June, The Ivy Collection branched out again with the opening of The Ivy City Garden at Dashwood House in the Bishopsgate Gardens. The menu features classic favourites from The Ivy, such as its legendary chocolate bombe with hot salted caramel sauce, plus a new, exclusive sharing platter of truffle beef Wellington for four. The private dining room seats up to 30 guests, overlooking the garden.

 

TREND: Regional Britain

Global perceptions of British food are on the up, and newly-opened GBR (Great British Restaurant) at Dukes Hotel in London celebrates this trend by wholeheartedly honouring classic dishes. There’s the GBR full English breakfast of course, and for lunch or dinner, duck liver parfait with Yorkshire pudding and caramelised onion. Desserts also focus around traditional favourites, such as treacle sponge with custard.

Equally celebrating its national cuisine is new Scottish restaurant and bar Ardnamurchan, in Glasgow city centre. Dedicated to Scottish food and drink, its owners source artisan products from the Scottish Highlands and islands, and the bar stocks more than 50 Scottish whiskies.

Meanwhile, award-winning Welsh chef Tom Simmons is putting produce from Wales in the spotlight with the opening of his first self-titled restaurant venture in London’s Tower Bridge. His menu focuses on using Welsh produce where possible, but is a mix of French, British and Welsh cuisine, including classic dishes from his homeland, such as lamb cawl, cockle popcorn and laverbread mayonnaise.

 

LONDON

 

The latest big name chef openings

How do aroma, colour, texture, sound and psychology affect how we each experience flavour? This is the question Chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory is exploring in his latest project: the Gastrophysics Chef’s Table. Exploring the science behind how we perceive flavour, Jozef’s 13-course multi-sensory menu is based on research collated with experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford. It’s available on the last Friday and Saturday of each month at Kitchen Theory in Barnet, north London.

One of India's highest-rated chefs, Manish Mehrotra, is bringing his acclaimed Indian Accent restaurant brand to London this autumn. His original Delhi restaurant has been named Best in India by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants three years running.

Clare Smyth, the first and only female holder of three Michelin stars in the UK while she was chef-patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is opening her first solo restaurant in Notting Hill this August. Core by Clare Smyth will focus on modern British fine-dining, with a central tasting menu of 10-12 changing dishes and more than 400 fine wines and Champagnes to choose from.

The food world’s famous Roux family has been busy with two new ventures. First up, Spurs football club and Levy Restaurants are partnering with Albert Roux, son Michel Roux Jr and granddaughter Emily to launch a fine-dining experience, On Four, at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. They will personally oversee service and engage with guests at the H Club restaurant and lounge, where guests can also book to dine alongside former club players.

Over on Regent Street, Roux Jr – whose Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche has two Michelin stars – has just opened The Wigmore, “a modern British tavern” linked with five-star hotel, The Langham. Its traditional British pub fare with a luxury twist includes posh scotch eggs and veal and ham pie.

 

New Asian flavours

Mei Ume is now open at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, incorporating both Chinese and Japanese dishes into its menu. The restaurant has a live sushi station and serves small plates such as Shanghai braised pork ribs and dim sum, alongside larger standout dishes including whole Peking duck and Wagyu beef from Kagoshima.

Chopsticks at the ready! London is getting two new Asian food courts. In July, Bang Bang Oriental opened in North London – a sprawling venue with a pan-Asian Street Food Market vibe, celebrating Asia’s vibrant culture with 33 individual kiosks under one roof, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisine. Open every day from 11am – 10pm.

Then, in September, The Japan Centre – London’s iconic Japanese food shop established in the 1970s – is opening a new flagship food hall on Panton Street by Leicester Square. Its large dining hall will be surrounded by open kitchens and specialist sake, tea and miso rooms, a demonstration kitchen and a Japanese bakery.

A new Japanese-inspired fast food joint with a cheeky name has arrived on Soho’s Wardour Street this month. Ichi Buns are unique Asian-style burgers brought to you by Alan Yau - the man behind popular restaurant chains Wagamama and Busaba. Choices include a panko meatball burger and ‘Hokkaido’: two grilled patties, red onions, shiitake mushrooms and blue cheese fondue. Or, you can opt for ramen and spring rolls – but these aren’t your average spring rolls. These are cheeseburger spring rolls.

US-based ‘Asian Table’ casual dining chain P. F. Changs is coming to Covent Garden this August, headed up by ex-Nobu chef Deepak Kotian. The affordable menu is inspired by Asian street food, and there is even a breakfast bao, filled with sliced smoked salmon and boiled egg in a honey lotus bun.

Mint Gun Club – a new tea house, bar and delicatessen from drinks expert Richard Hunt (previously of Milk & Honey, Hawksmoor and Mahiki), has just opened in Stoke Newington. It specialises in apéritifs, globally-inspired cocktails and fine teas, and food inspired by Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, such as almond hummus, tabbouleh and chargrilled aubergine. Its High Tea features exotic sweet and savoury treats such as ‘proper marshmallow’ and semolina cake.

 

More new foodie ventures

Jean-Georges Vongerichten has opened his new restaurant, Jean-Georges at The Connaught hotel. Overlooking fashionable Mount Street in the heart of Mayfair for informal dining throughout the day, its menus are inspired by the chef’s classic French training and signature use of Asian flavours, plus his distinctive twist on British classics. The breakfast menu features healthy morning shakes, acai bowls, and classics like truffle scrambled eggs.

Brunchers rejoice! This month The Dayrooms Café opened in Notting Hill - a Melbourne inspired brunch and coffee specialist. Its all-day menu is largely healthy – think baja prawn corn tacos with prawns, slaw, avocado, pineapple salsa, lime crème fraiche and jalapeno sauce – but there are indulgent options too, like the honeycomb hotcake with raspberry crème fraiche and miso caramel. Wash it down with fresh coffee, blended juices, smoothies and milkshakes.

Street food sandwich heroes Sub Cult – named as the makers of British Street Food Awards’ ‘Best Sandwich’ – are opening an 18-month pop-up site on White Cross Place serving its US deli-style sub rolls. Sub Cult has even collaborated with Michelin-starred chefs to create bespoke specials. Menu highlights include ‘The Rodeo’ – rare roast beef, truffle mayo, Grana Padano, shallot jam, pickled serrano chili. For vegan customers, there’s the ‘Sub-Conscious’, while the ‘Subterranean’ – griddled woodland mushroom, roast garlic, thyme, truffle mayo and Stilton – was named ‘Best Vegetarian’ at the British Street Food Awards in 2015.

In early July, one of the Camden Market’s Victorian stable blocks got a new lease of life as Gabeto – a new restaurant by former Chiltern Firehouse chef, Lee Andrews. The menu fuses British ingredients with Latin flavours – think tacos, rare-breed steaks and small plates including the likes of chorizo Scotch eggs, plus a changing line-up of street food hosted on the terrace.

 

And finally…

Recently voted the Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK, Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea is inspired by London’s vibrant art scene featuring five of the most iconic modern artists including Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Alexander Calder, Banksy and Mark Rothko. 

Woof! London’s first ever dedicated dog bar (yes, you read that right) has opened for the summer outside The Pet Pavillion in Chelsea Farmers Market. The Pawsecco Bar serves Pawsecco – a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated and grape free dog-friendly drink made from elderflower, nettle, ginseng and limeflower. To eat, there’s ‘doggy gelato’ and canapes such as super bone broth, chicken and turkey. Open all day Saturday and Sunday until September.

 

SOUTHERN ENGLAND

BRIGHTON

Situated on Ship Street in The Lanes, French restaurant Petit Pois opened in June, showcasing modern twists on French classics. Run by a husband and wife team, diners can enjoy sharing plates in warm rustic interiors, with dishes such as duck rillettes, steak tartare and tart Tatin – accompanied by a varied list of French wines.

Curry Leaf Café’s new Kemptown Kitchen in the city’s vibrant Kempton Village area mixes things up with a modern, playful menu of tapas-style Indian ‘small plates’, complimented by an exciting range of spiced cocktails and craft beers. Keep an eye out for its monthly pop-ups and special events.

 

SCOTLAND

GLASGOW

Newly opened on Dumbarton Road, Down to Earth Organic uses only 100 per cent organic, fresh produce sourced from local farms. Each dish consists of natural ingredients and the menu features dishes for both veggies and meat lovers alike.

Riding Glasgow’s street food wave, one of the city’s street food sensations – Surf Dogs – has a new permanent Southside home. Owner Martin’s aim is to change perceptions of the humble hot dog, and toppings range from US-favourites like the traditional chilli dog, to a BBQ dog topped with onion rings and a Jack and Coke barbecue sauce. Some toppings have a distinctive Scottish twist and there are also veggie varieties and a vegan option, the Super-Rad Surf Dog.

One of Glasgow’s most recognisable historical  buildings, Hutchesons’ Hall in the Merchant City, has had a stunning makeover, transformed into the new Hutchesons City Grill and 158 Club Lounge, with a beefy menu focusing on steak and classy cocktails.  

 

WALES

PEMBROKESHIRE

Luxury Twr y Felin Hotel in St Davids is celebrating its fine-dining Blas Restaurant being awarded the Food, Drink and Hospitality Award at the 2017 Radio Pembrokeshire Business Awards. The restaurant’s menu champions produce sourced predominantly from Pembrokeshire and Welsh suppliers, as well as foraged ingredients from the surrounding countryside and coast.

MONMOUTHSHIRE

Launching this month, guests staying at The Whitebrook Restaurant with rooms can join foraging expeditions with Michelin star chef-patron Chris Harrod and expert forager Henry Ashby. On these unique trips out into the countryside, guests will go in search of produce which they may then find incorporated into a dish on the menu at the restaurant later in the day. The three-hour experience is booked in advance and is open to small groups of two to eight. Chris Harrod developed his love of wild food whilst training under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, using the countryside as his larder.

 

YORKSHIRE

LEEDS

In June, sleek rooftop Japanese restaurant and bar Issho arrived in the city, specialising in Asian sharing dishes that incorporate Yorkshire produce. Having previously launched London’s Sexy Fish in 2015, executive chef Ben Orpwood’s extensive travels around Japan have inspired his dishes, resulting in creations such as Wagyu pastrami and maple-glazed pork belly with fresh apple and wasabi. The restaurant features an outdoor terrace, and its bar, Kori, serves a wide range of sake alongside Japanese-inspired cocktails, such as the Matcha Sour.

In July, Manhattan-style rooftop bar and grill East 59th opened as an all-day bar and grill in the city centre, with an al fresco terrace. The menu focuses on New York dining, including dishes such as slow braised beef short rib with sweet mustard BBQ sauce and house pickle, while weekend brunch dishes include stacked pancakes with crispy smoked bacon and maple syrup. There’s also the option for late night grazing at the bar until 1am with snacks like firecracker rock shrimp and hamburger sliders. The rooftop bar has panoramic views of the city and the venue will be running regular DJ sessions and music events.

YORKSHIRE DALES NATIONAL PARK

A new festival celebrating the cheese-making heritage of the Yorkshire Dales will make its debut on 23 and 24 September this year. More than 40 different cheeses are produced in the region, many of which will feature at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Cheese Festival, held at The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. There will tastings, demonstrations, cheese-making and cheese grading, as well as guided walking and cycling tours for visitors to explore the picturesque countryside, tasting local specialities as they go.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

MANCHESTER

Pop-up zero food waste heroes Real Junk Food Project create delicious dishes using perfectly edible produce thrown away by supermarkets, suppliers and farms. One of its directors is former Fat Duck chef Mary-Ellen McTague, who worked with Heston Blumenthal at his acclaimed fine dining restaurant. The team has been running a pop-up across the city since 2014, but will now open a permanent site (opening date to be confirmed), serving breakfast and lunch five to six days a week and three a la carte dinner evenings. There will be no set price to pay – instead, customers will be invited to give what they feel the meal is worth, and what they can afford. The team’s next goal is to offer free cookery lessons to low-income local residents.

McTague is also at the helm of Manchester Art Gallery’s new Gallery Café, with an overhauled menu that launched in June. Produce is sourced from an on-site kitchen garden, and cured meats and bread are made in-house.

CUMBRIA

A new gastropub with rooms, the Pentonbridge Inn, is being launched in Cumbria this September by a husband and wife team who were the former head chef and pastry chef respectively at Marcus Wareing’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant at The Berkley Hotel in London. Located in the hamlet of Penton, the inn will have nine rooms and a dining room offering tasting menus served personally by the chefs, incorporating locally-sourced ingredients. A separate pub area will serve classic ‘pub grub’ and small plates throughout the day.

 

WEST MIDLANDS

BIRMINGHAM

A new African-themed restaurant serving springbok steak, ostrich rump and crocodile burgers has just opened on John Bright Street. Nakira Bar and Grill is kitted out with an authentic braai (a large South African barbecue grill typically used to cook game meats), plus African art and tribal masks decorating its walls. A menu highlight is the huge Nakira Braai sharing meal, including Boerewors (a typical South African sausage), beef steak, peri peri chicken skewer, jerk chicken skewer, chicken wings, large black tiger prawns and corn on the cob. Make sure you’ve built up a big appetite for this one!

Over at Grand Central, YouTube vlogger Nisha Katona has opened a branch of her Indian street food restaurant brand, Mowgli. Menu highlights include vegan dishes, Himalayan style cheese on toast, gunpowder chicken poppers (made with ginger, garlic and garam masala, fried in a chickpea batter), and mother butter chicken – a “real street food” equivalent of chicken tikka masala.

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

BATH

Get ready for a cheat day in Bath! In June, Smashburger’s handcrafted burgers arrived in the city, served with signature sides such as fried pickles and Smashfries (tossed with rosemary and garlic).  And Spanish celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy – who has previously worked at Spain’s famous elBulli under Ferran Adrià – has opened Tapas Revolution in the city. His menu of small sharing plates celebrates adventurous eating, and features Spanish classics such as tortilla, croquetas de jamon and chorizo – and indulgent churros con chocolate for dessert.

You might as well go all out and top it off with a ‘Swoondae’ at Bath’s new artisan gelateria, Swoon, which opened in May. As well as classics like chocolate, pistachio and fruity sorbets, Swoon’s chefs concoct six new seasonal flavours each month.

CORNWALL

A new nautical-themed restaurant, Loveday's, has opened in the village of Charlestown, which is famous for featuring in the BBC's popular TV series Poldark, starring Aidan Turner. Loveday’s menu celebrates local seafood and is influenced by the travels of sailors who would have set off and returned home to the Charlestown port.

BRISTOL

Two beefy new restaurants are vying for Bristol’s burger crown. In July Hubbox opened on Whiteladies Road, bringing mains like its Big Kahuna burger to the table: two 4oz beef patties, BBQ pulled pork, Swiss cheese, BBQ sauce, mayo, red onion, lettuce, tomato and onion rings. And if you have room, its signature sides include the likes of crispy chicken strips and barbecue burnt-end beans. Meanwhile, pop-up and festival favourite Burger Theory will open its first permanent restaurant in August on St Stephen's Street, and stage burger-related events throughout the year. Let the burger-off commence!

Bristol’s new harbourside shipping container development, Cargo 2, has welcomed a host of fresh independent eateries. There’s dedicated hot salt beef sandwich bar, The Pickled Brisket; authentic Mexican taco bar Cargo Cantina, inspired by its owners’ travels through South, central and North America; and Sholay Indian Kitchen, which focuses on modern, simple dishes such as chicken sliders and vegan spinach and garlic bhajis.

Also joining the Cargo 2 family is Gopal’s Curry Shack, with its aromatic vegetarian and vegan Indian street food, including parsnip and ginger pakoras and even an onion bhaji scotch egg. And for dessert, there’s Oliver’s Ice Cream - fresh gelato and sorbets made on the premises from natural ingredients, with 18 flavours to choose from at any one time, plus waffles, crepes, shakes, fresh coffee, ‘spaghetti gelato’, lollies, and cakes – all made from ice cream.