Accommodation Update - July

Summer is here and with it comes numerous exciting hotel openings and transformative accommodation refurbishments across Britain. From 16th-century hotels to brand new developments by superstar footballers, there’s something to suit every taste on a trip to Britain.

Recently opened

Dakota, Manchester

Situated in the heart of Manchester, brand new design hotel Dakota offers sleek, sophisticated luxury. The elegantly-decorated guestrooms range from a classic double room to a two-bedroom grand deluxe suite. With a neutral palette of warm creams, greys and taupe, the rooms also include luxury facilities such as rainfall en-suite showers and full Sky Sports and Sky Movie packages, making this understated hotel a welcome addition to Manchester’s quality accommodation offer.

The Queen’s Head, The Lake District

The newly refurbished 17th-century pub The Queen’s Head is a family-friendly accommodation nestled in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside. Now a part of the Askham Collection the hotel welcomed its first guests in mid-April and offers family-sized rooms and dog-friendly accommodation ranging in price from £130-190 per night (based on two people sharing with breakfast).  

Hotel Indigo, Statford-upon-Avon

The quirky 92-room Hotel Indigo boasts a 16th-century, Grade I-listed façade. Originally a public house, the rooms are inspired by the area’s rich cultural and historical roots. Perfect for visitors looking to experience Shakespeare country, double rooms start from £149 per night including breakfast.  

 

Coming soon

The Newt, Somerset

Opening its Georgian doors on 29 August 2019, The Newt is a brand new luxury hotel and spa in Somerset. Set in Hadspen House, this 17th-century building was remodeled in the Georgian era, giving the house and gardens a suitably regal atmosphere which beautifully offsets the contemporary décor. With gardens ranging from parkland and woods to orchards, a state-of-the-art Cyder Cellar and a luxury spa, plus afternoon tea made using produce from their garden, The Newt offers a unique place to stay that’s bursting with local character.

MAMA Shelter, London

The stylish hotel chain MAMA Shelter will soon be coming to London, with a new 193-room hotel in the trendy Shoreditch area. Due to open in September this year, MAMA Shelter boasts a fun design ethos with an emphasis on socializing and has been described as halfway between a cosy family home and a sexy nightclub. Aimed at a millennial market, there will be ping-pong and a modern dining space for both guests and the general public to enjoy.

The Stock Exchange, Manchester

Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Winston Zahra are set to open their new hotel, The Stock Exchange, in Manchester in November. This sleekly designed hotel is housed in what was once the Northern Stock Exchange, a Grade II-listed building dating back to 1906. It will offer understated luxury throughout their guestrooms and signature suites, one of the most impressive of which was formerly the boardroom of the building.

Recently refurbished

Formby Hall Gold Resort & Spa, Southport

The newly refurbished Formby Hall Gold Resort & Spa is now offering a spa experience using Made For Life Organics products plus a new range of treatments. This luxurious 76-bedroom hotel and golf resort sits in the north-west of England, close to the buzzing cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Rooms are available from £149 per night, based on two sharing on a bed and breakfast basis.

White Horse Inn, South Downs National Park

Having undergone a complete refurbishment under new ownership, the Grade II-listed 18th-century White Horse Inn is ready to welcome guests. Nestled in the tranquil South Downs National Park and sleeping up to 16 guests, the Inn is a charming base from which to explore the surrounding area. The accommodation is spilt into five rooms in the main house, one refurbished cottage and one brand-new luxury lodge in rear garden, giving guests a fantastic range of places to stay. Overnight accommodation for two adults with a hearty breakfast starts from £130 per room per night.

JW Marriott Grosvenor House, London

The historic JW Marriott Grosvenor House on London’s Park Lane has unveiled a ‘multi-million dollar’ renovation. The ground floor has been thoughtfully re-imagined in order to complement the views over Hyde Park, while the design of the hall and guestrooms has also drawn influence from the park itself, with a flowing foliage theme and seasonal colour palette throughout.

One Aldwych, London

Iconic luxury hotel One Aldwych in London’s Covent Garden has recently reopened its doors, welcoming guests to an entirely new look. The extravagantly spacious lobby has been transformed into a cocktail bar and lounge, with ceiling-height windows that highlight views over The Strand. Originally designed by Mewès & Davies, the architects also responsible for the Ritz hotels in Paris and London, the hotel now also offers an exclusive guest-only lounge, cinema and impressive health club.

The Best Tipples of South West England

England's South West is famous for its scenic villages and dramatic coastline, but it’s also home to some of the country's most historic and exciting pubs, breweries and drinks festivals.

 

ALL ABOARD 

Combine the scenery of Devon and Cornwall with some of its finest beers, by taking a day trip on the Great Scenic Railways' Rail Ale Trails. With seven self-guided trails to choose from, they take visitors through lush valleys and traditional rural towns while chugging along sandy coastal tracks. Each stop includes a list of pubs within walking distance; jump off and enjoy a chilled pint before continuing to your next destination. 

 

A FINE VINE

If wine is more your tipple, plan a visit to Quoins, a family-run organic vineyard in Wiltshire near the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath. Quoins produces four single-variety wines, which can be purchased directly from the vineyard. It opens for tours from mid-August, or you can drop into one of its open days and tastings, which are held throughout the year.

 

HISTORICAL TIPPLE

Sitting in 180 acres of orchards, Somerset Cider Brandy Company and Burrow Hill Cider has been making apple cider for over 200 years. In 1989, the company began setting aside half its yield to produce apple cider brandy, a once-popular liquor that fell out of favour with English drinkers 300 years ago but is undergoing a modern-day revival. Wander the orchards, tour the cider house and distillery, and finish with a tasting. 

 

THE GRAPE ESCAPE

The fun doesn't have to stop when your winery tour does. At Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire, you can stay overnight in a room that overlooks the neat rows of grapevines, or even in a lodge right in the middle of them. Time your stay with one of their regular events such as dinner and wine tastings, and even pop-up opera performances.

 

SHAKE IT UP

Create your own signature drink with a cocktail-making tutorial at The Milk Thistle, an uber-cool Bristol bar styled like a 1930s speakeasy and complete with an unmarked front door. Make it past the secret entrance and into their masterclass, and their mixologists will teach you a few tricks of the trade. 

 

SOUTH WEST SPIRITS

This Easter, Cornwall's Colwith Farm Distillery will open its doors for tours. Originally a potato farm set up to help feed the nation during the Second World War, it produced the county's first potato vodka, Aval Dor, in 2014. The following year, Stafford’s Gin was created from the vodka and botanicals foraged from the farm. The distillery is now working on a premium Cornish whiskey. 

Six places to sample Britain’s best cheeses

Did you know Britain produces over 700 varieties of cheese? And that 14 of those have a protected status of origin? That’s why British cheeses will be celebrated at the Big Cheese Festival at Brighton Racecourse this coming March.

From smooth bries to vintage cheddars, the nation’s cheeses are as diverse as the regions they come from. Here’s where you can try some of the tastiest.

 

London

First-time visitors to Britain can start their cheese adventure at The Cheese Bar in Camden where they can try the UK’s best artisan cheeses on carefully curated cheeseboards featuring everything from the crumbly Dorset Blue Vinny to the craft cheese, Lincolnshire Poacher.

Fondue evenings are also held on Thursdays from November to February, with a special pairing of crisp Alpine wines.

 

Somerset

Thanks to its rich pastures, Somerset is an epicentre for foodies and home to England’s most famous cheese - the town of Cheddar was the hub of the country’s dairy industry from as early as the 12th century.

Take a self-guided tour at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company to discover the traditional art of cheddar-making. You can also visit Cheddar Gorge and Caves, where the unique cave-aged variety of cheese is matured.

 

Gloucester

Each year, thousands climb Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth near Gloucester for the wacky Cheese Rolling and Wake Festival where every Spring Bank Holiday, a nine-pound round of firm Double Gloucester is rolled down the steep hill at 70 miles per hour with contestants ambitiously attempting to catch it.

The festival started back in the 1800s for locals, but today, the races attract participants from Canada, France, Spain and Japan. And of course, there are plenty of opportunities to try a variety of Gloucestershire cheeses.

 

Caerphilly, Wales

Originally produced as a sustaining and convenient lunch for local miners, Caerphilly cheese has a rich history. Today, South Caernarfon Creameries is the only remaining Welsh producer of this mild, hard, crumbly cheese.

Their award-winning Cavern Cheddar is matured in the same Llechwedd Slate Caverns where the miners worked, where you can take a tour. Wales is famed for its food events including The Big Cheese festival at Caerphilly Castle where every July, over 80,000 visitors arrive to indulge in Welsh cheese and produce, and participate in the cheese-carrying relay race.

 

Wensleydale

Head to north to the town of Hawes to discover the home of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, where the original recipe has been handmade for centuries. Today, there are numerous blends to tantalise your tastebuds.

Book a class to learn how it’s made at Wensleydale Creamery, then explore where it all began at Jervaulx Abbey where it was crafted by French monks in the 12th century using sheep’s milk.

 

Northern Ireland

Mike’s Fancy Cheese in County Down was launched in 2013 as part of a crowdfunding campaign by former cheese-making student Michael Thomson.

After learning from the UK’s leading artisans, he developed Northern Ireland’s first raw milk blue cheese, Young Buck, a rich, creamy cheese that resembles the very best Stilton. In 2017, he was a finalist for best new cheese producer at the Great British Cheese Awards.

Join in County Down’s lively food and drink scene via a host of fine food tours including Whiskey Club tasting events, food festivals and markets.

Six of the best: wintry National Trust walks

The National Trust is a charity that looks after some of the most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It cares for more than 2,400 square kilometres of land and more than 500 historic houses, castles, parks and nature reserves. One of the joys of the British countryside is that you can enjoy it at any time of year. Don't let lower temperatures put you off - grab a warm coat and your National Trust touring pass, and head out on a fresh wintery walk at one of these scenic spots, which display a whole new beauty in frosty or snowy conditions.

 

Box Hill, Surrey, south-east England

Approximately 30km south-west of London is Box Hill, a summit of the Surrey’s North Downs. It takes its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest slopes overlooking the River Mole. There are lots of different walks to explore, from a gentle stroll over the top of the famous hill, to a long walk down and up again, taking a well-earnt stop at a pub along the way. If it’s a white winter with a decent layer of snow, Box Hill becomes a sledging playground, with kids and adults alike hurtling down its famous slopes, and lots of enthusiastic snow fights!

 

Bath Skyline, Somerset, south-west England   

Once you’ve explored the beautiful city of Bath, a short stroll from its centre is the six-mile Skyline trail, taking you up onto the hills overlooking Bath and beyond. The route boasts magnificent views and you'll wander through history, passing an Iron Age hill fort and 18th-century follies. The path continues through meadows, ancient woodlands and secluded valleys, which look even more beautiful covered in wintery frost or a dusting of snow.

 

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, east Midlands, England

Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Although the house was demolished in 1938, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore, including the Gothic-style chapel, often referred to as a 'Cathedral in miniature'. This gentle two-mile walking trail explores the park’s picturesque parkland, heathland, gardens and peaceful woodlands. The views of Clumber Lake – particularly from Clumber Bridge – are stunning.

 

Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim,  Northern Ireland   

This challenging three-mile Summit Trail takes you along the Tipperary Road through open heath, following a way marked trail to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills, Divis Mountain. Overlooking the city of Belfast below and with magnificent views of Lough Neagh, the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough, this is a fantastic vantage point from which to take in the magnificent scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.

 

Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales

Discover ancient oaks and wildlife during this scenic one-and-a-half mile route, which was designed by landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. It takes you through Dinefwr deer park, which surrounds 12th-century Dinefwr Castle. Fallow deer roam the park and are often joined by a neighbouring second herd in winter. Keep a look out for majestic Newton House, and some of the park's 150 ancient trees that you'll pass; there are nearly 300 ancient trees at Dinefwr, half of them in the deer park.  

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire, northern England 

Discover the winter landscapes of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden with a five-mile trail that takes you through the deer park and elegant Georgian water garden. The route offers views of Ripon, the distant North York Moors and the impressive ruins of Fountains Abbey. This walk follows around the boundary of the estate, and after taking in the sights of the deer park, wander through the 18th-century water garden and past the magnificent Abbey.