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.

May Accommodation Update

Secluded rural retreats, 5-star luxury and a planned hotel opening from a well-loved British Brewery, this month Britain welcomes a diverse range of newly opened and soon to open accommodation.

Opening soon:

Set to open its doors in August 2019, the Nhow London is a Shoreditch hotel for the radical and design-focused traveller. With an aim to boldly mix traditional British iconography with even bolder colours and textures, this beyond vibrant style will spread over 8-floors and encompass 190 rooms. Nhow is poised to become a buzzing hub for creatives, mirroring the energy of the surrounding area of east London.

With ever-growing popularity, the craft beer powerhouse Brewdog are expanding into new horizons, as they plan to open their own hotel in London. With quirky additions such as a bespoke beer museum and in-shower mini-fridges, it is sure to widen eyes of Brewdog fans the world over. Work for what will be called The Doghouse is still in development, but the brewers have vowed to begin as soon as a location is confirmed.

A new ‘bistro with beds’ boutique hotel is to open in the Lake District village of Grasmere. Set in a converted 17th century farm outbuilding, The Yan will welcome guests from July 2019. Close to the picturesque Lake District town, this family-run boutique hotel will combine warm welcomes, hearty food and stylish interiors. With 7 en-suite bedrooms, it is surrounded by some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside and will offer seasonal Cumbrian dishes in an attached rustic bistro. Located halfway between the highly visited towns of Windermere and Keswick, The Yan has great links for a Lake District getaway.

Newly opened:

With unspoilt views over the cathedral, aiming to bring together aspects of Manhattan penthouse living in a Downton Abbey-esque setting, 52 Old Elvet is a new development of luxury apartments in the centre of Durham. Breathing new life into what was once the Durham Country Club, each of the Grade II listed serviced apartments, originally built in the 1700s, comes with a fully equipped kitchen and stylish lounge. The high specification development’s central location makes it a great base for exploring the northeast of England.

The latest addition to the Ribby Hall Village near Blackpool, The Farm House offers a slice of British countryside living, boasting a traditional Aga and large roll-top bath. Set in its own private grounds with views of the Lancashire countryside, groups of up to 12 can now enjoy a stay in this new, spacious holiday property. Although promising maximum seclusion, with private gardens, cinema room and hot tub, guests can also enjoy shared spaces, such as the indoor pool, gym and outdoor adventure playgrounds. Introductory prices start from £1,364, based on a four-night, midweek break.

Having just completed the most extensive restoration in the hotel’s 117-year history, the ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, London, is ready to welcome guests into its new rooms, suites and penthouses. Inspired by early 20th century art deco glamour, internationally renowned designer Joyce Wang redesigned the spaces, adding specially selected artworks and bespoke furniture to finish the 5-star feel. A ‘Be the First to Stay’ package on offer until 30 June 2019, includes champagne on arrival and daily credit to spend in the hotel spa or bars.

Earlier this year, with St Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames just a few steps away, Vintry & Mercer hotel welcomed their first guests. In a bustling area of London, historically associated with wine merchants, Vintry & Mercer now offer 92 modern and bespoke rooms. Designed to be chic and crisp, guests’ time here can be enhanced by visiting the stylish roof terrace or indulging in a cocktail in the underground speakeasy. This hotel offers a slice of cool, modern-day London style with a nod to its rich history.

Accommodation Update - March

Whether you crave modern luxury accommodation or a calm country retreat, our round-up of Britain’s latest hotels has something to suit every need. Discover the locations that are new to the nation’s thriving sector, as well as those that are yet to open their doors.

 

Recently Refurbished

The Impeccable Pig, Sedgefield

To coincide with the Chinese Year of the Pig, the Impeccable Pig in Sedgefield, County Durham, has rebranded its set of 10 carefully crafted rooms. Situated in an old brick Coach House, each room is imaginatively named using piggy inspiration and guests can stay in The Dirty Pig, Three Little Pigs or Pigs Might Fly, taking advantage of 7-foot beds and Duck Island toiletries. Those opting to stay in Globe Trotter, Oinkers, Le Cochon D’or or Pigsty, as well as the premier suite, The Whole Hog, can also access a private hot tub.

Orestone Manor, Devon

Guests at the luxury boutique country hotel, Orestone Manor, can now enjoy a tipple in the new Brunel Bar and Lounge, which draws inspiration from the building’s rich history. The new area has custom features based on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge – in recognition of the fact that John Callcott Horsley produced the 18th century National Portrait Gallery painting of the great engineer at the site. The family-run manor, overlooking the coastal town of Maidencombe, has 14 beautifully decorated bedrooms and is home to a delightful restaurant offering fine dining from the hotel’s chef owners.

Aria Resorts – The Lakes Rookley

Following a major refurbishment, Aria Resorts opened The Lakes Rookley on the Isle of Wight in February, providing a superb selection of cottages, lake houses and caravan holiday homes. The family-friendly site in leafy parkland in the heart of the island features an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, alongside an impressive entertainment venue and a host of activities for children, including archery, laser tag and paddle boarding on selected dates.

 

Recently Opened

The Counting House and The Blackbird, London

London brewer and premium pub company Fuller, Smith and Turner has enhanced its room offering at two of its iconic pubs in the capital, meaning more than 800 rooms are now on offer across its estate. Located in the heart of the City, The Counting House now has 15 new rooms – a mix of doubles, twins and family rooms – in what was once the City University Club, a former gentleman’s club established in 1895. The Blackbird in Earl’s Court, now has 9 comfortable, boutique bedrooms of various sizes, and both pubs have an array of food and drink available.

Linthwaite House

Following a year-long refurbishment that saw Linthwaite House transformed into a spectacular country house hotel in 2018, 6 new rooms in buildings located in the hotel gardens have also opened their doors. The Lake Suites offer spacious open plan rooms, with king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms, as well as stunning views of Lake Windermere and the Lake District landscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The 14 acres of grounds have been carefully re-worked by landscape artist Franchesca Watson, while the 30 elegant bedrooms were renovated by renowned designer Beverley Boswell as part of the main renovation of the 1901 building, part of the Leeu Collection.

 

Opening Soon

Minster Mill, the Cotswolds

Opening in March

Set in 65 acres of picturesque gardens and wildflower meadows, Minster Mill from Andrew Brownsword Hotels launches in March, offering exceptional luxury in the heart of the Cotswolds. Following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, the hotel in the Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell is now home to 38 individually designed Scandi-style rooms, packed with contemporary fittings and unique furniture. The on-site Minster Mill restaurant will offer traditional and seasonal British food from 2017 Masterchef semi-finalist Tom Moody, while the hotel’s sister property, The Old Swan, is located across the road.

Tom’s Eco Lodge

Opening in May

Five luxury Geodesic Domes will open at multi-award winning Isle of Wight glamping site Tom’s Eco Lodge this May, offering exceptional panoramic views of the island’s rolling countryside. Sleeping up to 6 people, each open plan dome features a king size four poster bed, a small kitchenette and a cosy lounge for stargazing. Alongside separate private shower and toilet facilities, the site at Tapnell Farm also has an area for a BBQ and campfire.

Renaissance Club – The Villas

Opening in late May

Ahead of hosting the 2019 Scottish Open, two new luxurious villas will soon occupy a secluded corner of The Renaissance Club in East Lothian, providing top quality facilities overlooking the golf course’s 14th tee. With space for up to 28 guests across 14 bedrooms, the development also includes conference rooms and access to an array of beautiful surroundings. The additions build on the 24 luxurious lodging rooms that are already available at the club, which offers classic links golf on 300 picturesque acres along the Firth of Forth and cuisine prepared by Great Britain MasterChef Enrico Gusella.

Grantley Hall

Opening in Summer 2019

Set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, an expansive renovation of the Grade II listed Grantley Hall is due to be completed in the summer. The historic property, part of the Relais & Châteaux brand, will offer 47 exquisite rooms and suites, creating a luxury 5-star hotel and wellness retreat. Complete with an English Heritage listed Japanese garden and lake, 5 state-of-the-art spa treatment rooms as part of the Three Graces Spa and a pioneering ELITE executive gym, featuring innovative technology such as 3D body scanning and performance analysis, Cryotherapy chamber and an underwater treadmill. Acclaimed Michelin-star chef Shaun Rankin will run the 38-cover on-site fine dining restaurant, Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, featuring a menu packed with sustainably sourced foods from within the hotel grounds.

Best eco-lodges to stay at to celebrate World Earth Day

World Earth Day (22 April) is celebrated by more than one billion people around the globe, with an emphasis on tackling climate change, ending plastic pollution and protecting endangered species. Embracing nature is a fundamental part of the world’s largest environmental movement, and Britain has no shortage of incredible eco-friendly locations where the occasion can be marked in style.

Tom’s Eco Lodge, Isle of Wight

Experience UK glamping all year round at Tom’s Eco Lodge on the Isle of Wight, a set of delightful Wood Cabins, Eco Pods and Modulogs that all aim to have the least environmental impact possible. Relax in a spa hot tub on the outside decking of one of the Wood Cabins at Tapnell Farm, or get cosy in one of the specially-built Modulogs – peaceful pods with all the must-have essentials. For a romantic couple’s getaway, try the open-plan Eco Pods, delivering stunning views of the west of the island, or pick a Safari Tent, complete with a rustic kitchen and log burning range cookers, for the ultimate glamping experience.

Asheston Eco Barns, Pembrokeshire

Bursting with character, Asheston Eco Barns in the heart of Pembrokeshire retain many of the original features from their time as stone farm buildings. Alongside underfloor heating and swish bathrooms, expect exposed stonework and buildings packed with the latest renewable technologies, providing luxurious living but without the environmental hit. Visitors receive a welcome hamper on arrival, packed with seasonal produce from across the region.

Rosehill Lodges, Cornwall

With their grass roofs and bubbling hot tubs, Rosehill Lodges deliver a luxury eco experience from a picturesque spot on north Cornwall’s coastline. Porthtowan’s surf-friendly Blue Flag beach is just minutes away, Newquay, St Ives, Land’s End and Falmouth are all easily reachable by car, and there are miles of coastal paths to explore in both directions. Each lodge has been hand-built in the region using environmentally-friendly materials, as part of an award-winning and sustainable approach to tourism.

Waterhouse, Scotland

Unwind at the Waterhouse retreat in south west Scotland, a set of 3 self-catering luxury lodges set in 1.5 acres of beautiful gardens. A short distance from the fishing port of Kirkcudbright, the picturesque setting is perfect for exploring what the region has to offer. Alongside the Waterhouse Lodge, complete with an outdoor hot tub, is The Boathouse, which provides additional sleeping berths if required. Alternatively, Westwater Lodge includes a spacious sun room and a log burner, making it ideal for winter or summer.

Wheatland Farm, Devon

A peaceful haven of 21 acres with 5 places to stay, Wheatland Farm can house up to 26 guests at a time. The wooden holiday lodges run on 100% renewable energy, powered by solar panels and an on-site wind turbine, while the Balebarn eco lodge uses straw bales from the surrounding fields – which explains why the site has scooped Visit England’s top award for sustainable tourism twice.

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House, Snowdonia

Nestled at the base of the Moelwyn mountains in a curve of the spectacular Ffestiniog Steam Railway, the Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House is powered solely by renewable energy. Explore the magical landscapes of Snowdonia and north Wales from the quaint guesthouse, which is perfectly located for adventure activities including Zip World Bounce Below and Zip World Titan, as well as the Llechwedd Slate Caverns and Go Below at Cwmorthin Slate Mine.

Wrostler’s Barn, Cumbria

Hidden away in secluded woodlands near Coniston Water, on the lake’s eastern side, is Wrostler’s Barn, a 3-level converted structure that sleeps up to 12 people. Serving as a back-to-basics rental, the site has no electricity and two compost toilets situated outside. As a rare surviving example of the Lakeland practice of using intersecting slates – known locally as ‘wrostler’ – the off-grid location is surrounded by farmland, protected wildlife areas and a Site of Special Scientific Interest woodland.

Crai Valley Eco Lodges, Brecon Beacons

Found on a busy working farm in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, the Crai Valley Eco Lodges provide spacious accommodation, panoramic views, and ample opportunities for stargazing. Gaze upon the Milky Way from the Dark Sky Discovery Site at Glwydcaenewydd Farm and take in the spectacular views of Llyn-yr-Fan Lake from the large French windows of the lodges.

Cotna Eco Retreat, Cornwall

From eco glamping to boutique style yurts, the Cotna Eco Retreat provides a wonderful insight into organic and sustainable living. Surrounded by picturesque Cornish countryside and a short distance from Gorran Haven; The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the fishing village of Mevagissey are also not far away. The 3 Yurts – Gilliflower, Tregonna King and Fern Pippin – sit in orchards surrounded by Cornish stone walls and ancient woodland, and are named after the 3 apple varieties growing nearby.

Accommodation Update - November 2018

Whether you’re looking for a boutique luxury hotel in leafy Kent or affordable accommodation in the heart of Glasgow, our round-up of the UK’s newest hotels offers something for every traveller. Discover our top picks below.

Recently refurbished

London

The Marylebone, Marylebone

Situated in the heart of central London a short walk from Bond Street, The Marylebone is a recently renovated boutique hotel boasting new facilities. These include The Cocktail Bar, which combines 4 adjoining spaces themed around the seasons, from the cosy winter lounge complete with a roaring fire to the outdoor terrace that’s perfect for summer socialising. Other additions include The Marylebone Rooms and Number Six – a series of stylish private event rooms designed in the hotel’s signature art deco style by the award-winning Michaelis Boyd studio. There is also a range of newly refurbished luxury rooms and suites to choose from.

Recently opened

Scotland

The Grandtully Hotel, Perthshire

Dedicated to delivering exceptional Scottish food and drink to its guests, the newly renovated The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart offers luxurious culinary experiences in equally luxurious settings. With just eight bedrooms, this boutique property has been lovingly restored and features a careful blend of traditional features and contemporary design. Facilities include a 30-cover restaurant serving fine local produce, a bar, a private dining area and an outdoor terrace. 

Citi Hotel, Aberdeen

City Hotel in Aberdeen prides itself on offering affordable stays in the heart of the city. Based on the former site of The Royal Hotel, the property underwent a £500,000 refurbishment over 12 months and reopened at the start of November.  The self-dubbed ‘poshtel’ boasts a new reception area, newly fitted bathroom suites, refined décor and 42 bedrooms starting from just £35 per night.  

Opening soon

London

The Bedford, Balham

Opening December 2018

Beloved by musicians including Ed Sheeran, London’s famous The Bedford pub is undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment. Scheduled to reopen this December, the Grade II-listed building will boast five bars, a ballroom, four private rooms and a 250-capacity live music venue hosting a range of events, from comedy to burlesque. There are also 15 ensuite bedrooms to choose from, each designed around the pub’s distinctive medley of art deco and 1970s style.

The Standard, St Pancras

Opening in spring 2019

The boutique Standard Hotel chain will soon be celebrating the opening of its first international hotel in London. Scheduled to open in early 2019, the hotel will be the newest addition to the chain’s properties in New York, Miami and L.A. Located within the Camden Town Hall Annex, one of the city’s best-known examples of 1970s brutalist architecture, the hotel promises to embody the quirky culture and history of the local area while serving as a luxury base from which to explore King’s Cross and the surrounding area.

 

South-east England

Lion Lodge, Port Lympne, Kent  

Opening in spring 2019

The luxurious Lion Lodge will give guests the chance to stay in close proximity to Port Lympne’s lion pride. Set within the lions’ enclosure, the loft-style lodge features floor-to-ceiling windows in the open plan living space and master bedroom, an open fire, underfloor heating and a monsoon shower and wet room. Designed to sleep four, the master bedroom offers incredible views of the lions at rest and play, with the mezzanine level offering two additional beds accessed by spiral staircase. Guests can also enjoy the Scandinavian outdoor bath, built on a platform overlooking the sea and the 600-acre wildlife reserve.

The Albion Rooms, Margate

Opening date to be confirmed

Owned and developed by The Libertines rock band, The Albion Rooms is located on the seafront of Margate, a classic British seaside town with a strong artistic heritage. The development will comprise both a studio – scheduled to be finished in February 2019 - and bar within the five-storey Victorian building, in addition to 10 guest bedrooms individually designed by the band. The official opening date is still to be confirmed, but future guests can track the development’s progress here.

The Pig at Bridge Place, Canterbury

Opening in spring 2019

The Pig at Bridge Place is the latest hotel to be developed by the popular Pig Hotel chain. Opening its doors in spring 2019, the hotel is located in the former Bridge Place Country Club, a delightful 16th-century manor just outside Canterbury in historic Bridge village. In addition to the main building, guests can choose to stay in one of 12 bedrooms in the Coach House or 2 in the newly renovated gate lodge. Alternatively, there’s the option to choose from 7 ‘hop picker’ huts, for those looking for a more romantic getaway.

 

North-west England

Whitworth Locke, Manchester

Opening in December 2018

Due to open next month, Whitworth Locke is an 160-unit aparthotel offering a choice of one-bedroom suites or 24-sq metre studios overlooking Rochdale Canal. Designed by architects Grzywinski + Pons, this stylish residence and former cotton mill will offer the services and facilities of hotel living with the autonomy of a private apartment.

 

Hotel Indigo, Manchester

Opening in December 2018

Located in the city’s Northern Quarter opposite Victoria Station, Hotel Indigo embodies the style and originality that typifies the former industrial heart of the city - now a mecca for hipsters, musicians and the achingly cool. The hotel offers 187 bedrooms, all of which have been carefully renovated to reflect the cultural history of the area, and combines original Victorian features with modern facilities including an on-site gym, bar and restaurant.

 

London Warehouse, Manchester

Opening in spring 2019

The newly renovated London Warehouse hotel will open in spring 2019. Located in the Victorian railway warehouse formerly occupied by The Place Aparthotel, this luxurious 166-bed four-star aparthotel will offer facilities including a gym created by fitness brand BLOK. Other highlights include an all-day hangout space and a mini cinema, restaurant, bar and lounge managed by Bistrotheque restaurant.

 

Dakota Hotel, Manchester

Opening in spring 2019

Work has now begun on the £25 million pound development of Dakota Deluxe design hotel in Manchester. Scheduled to open in spring 2019, the hotel is located close to Piccadilly Station and promises to deliver the same elegant style, tasteful décor and luxurious facilities as its sister properties in Leeds and Glasgow.

 

Stock Exchange Hotel

Opening in spring 2019

Manchester’s historic Stock Exchange building is being redeveloped into a luxurious five-star boutique hotel courtesy of former Manchester United football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs (GG Hospitality). Due to open in spring 2019, the Edwardian Baroque building – with its impressive central dome – is located in Norfolk Street. In addition to 40 bedrooms and suites, two luxurious presidential suites and two fine dining restaurants, the hotel will offer private dining in the wine cellars.

19 fabulous things to do in Britain in 2019

  1. Channel your inner Formula 1 driver

When the Silverstone Heritage Experience opens in Spring at the home of British Motor Racing, this thrilling new visitor attraction – which will use state-of-the-art interactive displays to tell the story of motor racing in a permanent exhibition – culminates in an immersive show dome finale where you can experience what it’s like to zip around the track alongside your racing heroes.

 

  1. Watch the world premiere of an Idris Elba production

As part of the Manchester International Festival – the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar that takes place every two years – film and TV star Idris Elba joins forces with London’s Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, for the thrilling production of Tree. This, among many other cultural events, will take place at venues all over the city between 4 – 21 July.

 

  1. Surf inland in England’s south west

Pull on a wetsuit and hit the waves…in the city of Bristol. Set to open in the autumn, new inland surfing lake The Wave Bristol will be powered by the latest wave-making technology and generate up to 1,000 quality waves per hour. There’ll be three surf zones for different abilities and a high-performance surf centre for elite athletes and aspiring pros.

  1. Book tickets to one of Britain’s youngest music festivals

Following on from the success of last year’s launch, the RiZE Festival is one of the newest multi-genre music festivals to arrive in the UK. This is a party for everyone; the music genres range from indie and pop to dance and urban and takes places in Chelmsford, Essex, in south-east England between 16 – 17 August.
 

  1. Explore a world-class medicine collection

Following a £24 million investment, the entire first floor of London’s Science Museum will be given over to one of the most significant medicine collections in the world at the museum’s new Medicine Galleries. Due to open in 2019, the extraordinary collections of the pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum will be on display, telling the stories of how our lives have been transformed by changes in medicine and health over the last 400 years.
 

  1. Party like a dancing queen

Opening its doors at London’s The O2 in summer 2019 is the must-visit event from Stockholm – Mamma Mia! The Party. Guests will be transported to Nikos’ Taverna on an exotic Greek island, where they’ll be served Mediterranean food and drink and sing and dance along to ABBA songs. The perfect event for anyone who loves to party.
 

  1. See sporting legends make history

Britain has been crazy about cricket for centuries, making it a fantastic destination for the ICC Cricket World Cup

 

  1. Join a ‘Carnival of History’

2019 will see Leeds Castle in Kent, south-east England, celebrate its incredible 900-year anniversary, with events taking place over the entire 12 months. Put the 27 – 28 July in your diary in particular as it will host an amazing ‘Carnival of History’, a colourful procession that will culminate in an impressive finale set against the backdrop of this stunning castle.
 

  1. Discover why Van Gogh loved London

Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade (27 March – 11 August). Van Gogh and Britain will bring together 40 paintings of the artist’s most famous works, including one of the Sunflowers paintings and will examine Van Gogh’s relationship with Britain – he lived in London in his early 20s – and the British art, literature and culture he was inspired by.
 

  1. Watch the world’s best golfers battle to win one of golf’s most prestigious cups

The biggest event in women’s golf, the Solheim Cup, comes to the celebrated Gleneagles Golf Course in Perthshire, Scotland, between 9 – 15 September. Teams of 12 players representing Europe and the United States will hit the world-renowned golf course, with more than 100,000 spectators expected to attend from around the world. Will one of them be you?
 

  1. Gain cultural kudos at Britain’s largest sculpture festival

​​​​​​​Head to the county of Yorkshire in north England next year for the first-ever Yorkshire Sculpture International, a free, 100-day festival that will be presented by four world-renowned cultural institutions based in Leeds and Wakefield: the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The festival will build upon Yorkshire’s rich history as the birthplace of pioneering sculptors, and as the home of this unique consortium of galleries and celebrated sculpture collections.
 

  1. Cheer on your country

​​​​​​​The competitive world of netball comes to Liverpool, north-west England, between 12 – 21 July, as the city hosts the Netball World Cup. Sixteen international teams will be arriving in Liverpool, with host nation England placed at second seeds, following their Commonwealth Games gold medal earlier this year. Who will you be supporting?
 

  1. Celebrate a British icon’s birthday

​​​​​​​The legendary Mini turns 60 next year and, for the first time in five years, the International Mini Meet will take place in the UK. Washingpool Farm near Bristol in south-west England will be the host (8 – 12 August), welcoming Mini owners from all over the world and celebrating with a huge birthday party. Also head to the British Motor Museum in Warwick, south-west England, where a 1-day show on 4 August will mark the landmark birthday with a series of Mini-themed activities.
 

  1. Witness the return of Girl Power

​​​​​​​We’re sure you’ve heard…but British super-group The Spice Girls will be setting out on a reunion tour in June 2019 as a four-piece (minus Victoria Beckham) at various stadia across Britain. Will you be among the lucky ones to get tickets?
 

  1. Set your eyes on fabulous fashion

​​​​​​​A must-see for anyone who follows fashion are two fantastic exhibitions coming to London’s V&A Museum in 2019. Opening in February is Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams while April sees the launch of an exhibition dedicated to 1960s fashion revolutionary Mary Quant.
 

  1. Embrace your love for literature

​​​​​​​2019 will see cultural leaders from 28 countries come to Britain in May for a global gathering of the UNESCO Cities of Literature, the first time the event will take place in the UK. Dubbed Nottwich 2019 – as its gathering of writers and programme of cultural events will take place in Norwich and Nottingham in east England, two of Britain’s Cities of Literature – look out for a literary programme that will challenge your mind.
 

  1. Party like it’s 2019

​​​​​​​Celebrate with the people of London’s first-ever Borough of Culture – an initiative launched by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – as Waltham Forest in north-east London, kicks off its year-long cultural programme between 11 – 13 January with a huge party called Welcome to the Forest. Expect a magnificent visual and audio show, carnivals and light installations all telling the stories of the local people and area.
 

  1. Reserve a table at one of London’s hottest new restaurants

​​​​​​​Slated to open in January, chef Leonardo Pereira – who spent five years working at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world’s most famous restaurants – is opening a Covent Garden-based restaurant called Nutshell, which will feature Iranian cuisine created from British produce.
 

  1. Book to see a new West End show

​​​​​​​London’s West End will welcome a host of fabulous new shows in 2019, including the hit musical Waitress, which comes to the Adelphi Theatre in Spring, while Mary Poppins makes a welcome return to the stage in Autumn at the Prince Edward Theatre.

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.

48 Hours in the Peak District & Derbyshire

Spend two days combining city style with country walks, first-class restaurants with cultural treasures, all of which you’ll find in and around the UK’s first-ever national park, the Peak District, and the surrounding county of Derbyshire in north-west England. The area boasts show-stopping attractions, such as the stately home of Chatsworth and the fascinating World of Wedgwood, but look a little deeper and you’ll encounter a whole raft of must-do experiences.

DAY ONE

09:00 GO UNDERGROUND

Part of the Peak District’s charm is its enviable landscapes and stunning geological make-up. Discover this is more depth by heading into Poole’s Cavern, an ancient natural limestone cavern with colossal illuminated rock-sculpted galleries to explore. Book onto a guided tour to understand the history of this magnificent underground scenery.

11:00 TREAT YOURSELF TO A SPA

Head into the historic spa town of Buxton, where healing waters have been attracting visitors for centuries, and book in for an indulgent spa treatment. For contemporary treatments in a historic setting, try out The Devonshire Spa retreat, part of the resplendent Devonshire Dome (a Grade II-listed building dating back to 1779). Elsewhere, the town’s Palace Hotel is a fine example of Victorian architecture yet one that houses modern-day spa facilities. And, come summer 2019, there will also be the choice of The Buxton Spa, in Buxton Natural Baths, which is being redeveloped as part of the Crescent Restoration project.

13:00 ENJOY A TASTE OF THE PEAK DISTRICT

Book in for lunch at the Columbine Restaurant, situated close to the Buxton Opera House, for delicious dishes created using produce from small local suppliers in the area; the provenance of ingredients is easily traceable. You’ll enjoy creations such as fish crumble tart and a variety of English cheese from its cheese board.

14:00 HIKE THROUGH GORGEOUS COUNTRYSIDE

Drive 30 minutes from Buxton into the Peak District National Park to the village of Hathersage in the Hope Valley, and, from there, hike nine miles north to Stanage Edge. The gritstone edge stretches out to around four miles and delivers impressive views of the Dark Peak moorlands and across the valley. You may also recognise it from a scene in Pride & Prejudice, featuring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet.

17:00 DINE IN A HISTORIC PUB

Return to Hathersage and enjoy an early evening meal at The Plough Inn, a 16th-century inn located on the banks of the River Derwent. Feast on dishes such as feuilette of wood pigeon and pear or seared scallops, while vegans are well catered for with dishes such as kachoris (spiced lentil parcels) with kachumber salad.

20:00 MARVEL AT THE DARK SKIES

Just above Hathersage is one of the national park’s most magnificent viewpoints – the charmingly named Surprise View. While it’s a great spot to watch the sun set, it’s also one of the official ‘Dark Skies’ stargazing spots, meaning on a clear night you can witness the Peak District skies lit up by millions of twinkling stars.

TIME TO CHECK IN

There are a number of bed and breakfast options in the Hathersage area and you can also stay at The Plough Inn, which offers guests a choice of seven bedrooms and two shepherd huts. Equally charming is The George Hotel, a three-star hotel in Hathersage situated in an old coaching inn that dates back 500 years, and The Old Hall Hotel in Hope, five minutes from Hathersage, once a 16th-century coaching inn and now a cosy B&B.

 

DAY TWO

09:00 STEP BACK 500 YEARS

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fabulous stately homes to visit in the Peak District and Derbyshire. A little outside the national park is Hardwick Hall, a National Trust-owned property that was created in the 1500s by one of the most powerful women of Elizabethan England, the remarkable ‘Bess of Hardwick’, and added to over the centuries by her descendants. It’s a house that was built to impress and is said to have ‘more glass than wall.’ Its surrounding estate is also open every day for walks through glorious gardens and woodland trails.

11:00 CLIMB DIZZYING HEIGHTS

Journey just 30 minutes from Hardwick Hall and board an alpine-style cable car to take you to the Heights of Abraham. These observation cars give you the opportunity to admire the breathtaking vistas of the Peak District and the Derwent Valley.

13:00 SAMPLE LOCAL DELICACIES

Head back into the Peak District National Park to the pretty town of Bakewell for a spot of lunch at the quirkily decorated Lavender Tea Rooms. Charming period décor is enhanced by cute, mismatched traditional crockery, on which a range of sandwiches and cakes are served. But don’t forget to leave room for the sweet treat the town is renowned for – Bakewell pudding. Plenty of places sell it but try The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop – it also offers pudding-making experiences.

15:00 EXPLORE THE NATIONAL PARK

There are a myriad of wonderful walks you can do in the Peak District (and it’s a great way to walk off those pudding calories!), one of which is a walk around the Ladybower Reservoir. Here you’ll experience some of the most perfect countryside views, a mix of moorland and woodland with a stunning body of water. Bamford Edge is a good place to head to for beautiful vistas and the Y-shape of the reservoir means there are plenty of circular walking and cycling routes to choose from.

17:00 DISCOVER THE ‘PLAGUE’ VILLAGE

Row upon row of pretty stone cottages adorned by beautiful gardens make up the picturesque village of Eyam. But what makes this Peak District village profoundly fascinating is its history as the ‘plague village’. When the plague struck the village in the 17th century, the disease spread rapidly and Eyam was put under quarantine for 14 months. A stroll around this picture-prefect English village will lead you to discover the plaques outside houses that state who died there during this terrible time, as well as the ‘Boundary Stone’. This had been set up to transport food and medicine into Eyam safely from the nearby uninfected village of Stoney Middleton.

20:00 FEAST ON FIRST-CLASS FOOD

A short drive from Eyam is Baslow Hall, a gorgeous 100-year-old Grade II listed manor house. Within is the fine-dining restaurant Fischer’s at Baslow Hall, where Head Chef Rupert Rowley creates classical dishes using seasonal, British ingredients. Dine on produce such as Devon crab or Derbyshire pork jowl, hand-dived scallops or Creedy Carver duck from Devon.

TIME TO CHECK IN

Once you’ve finished your meal at Fischer’s you can book in to stay at the luxury Baslow Hall, which offers 11 beautiful bedrooms; the Garden Rooms look out onto their own private walled courtyard garden, while there is also a romantic, secluded cottage close by, Cruck Barn. Also within the area is elegant The Peacock at Rowsley, which also boasts a fine-dining restaurant, and the Losehill Hotel & Spa, a high-end boutique hotel offering spa facilities with Peak District views.

Getting there: The Peak District lies less than an hour from the cities of Manchester and Leeds (both around two hours by train from London), and around half an hour from Sheffield (also two hours by train from the capital).

The World of Mr Banks

The world of ‘banks’ is at the very heart of the story of Mary Poppins; aside from the magical nanny herself, the main characters are the Banks family and Mr Banks is preoccupied with his work at a…you’ve guessed it, a bank! Britain itself has a long history of banking, with many branches once residing in the grandest buildings of a city that have now been transformed into elegant hotels and restaurants. As new feature film Mary Poppins Returns hits screens this winter it’s the perfect time to seek out your very own ‘Banks’ experience in Britain.

Stay

The Ned, London

A City of London landmark since 1925, the building now occupied by luxury hotel The Ned was once the headquarters of Britain’s Midland Bank, a striking building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens – one of Britain’s greatest architects – that was the largest clearing house bank in the world at the time it was built. Now a five-star hotel, part of the Soho House & Co Group and Sydell Group, its banking legacy means guests stay in a super-stylish building dominated with high-vaulted ceilings and grand doors. Its rooms range from the cosy ‘Crash Pad’ to Grand Heritage suites on the Grade I-listed fifth floor, while its pièce de résistance is its spectacular restaurant hall. Eight restaurants, ranging in cuisine from Italian to British, American to French, sit within the former banking hall, each with its own space separated by 92 verdite columns and walnut banking counters.

The Old Bank Hotel, Oxford, central England

Surrounded by the impressive architecture of ancient Oxford University colleges as well as the Bodleian Library, The Old Bank Hotel still manages to stand out in Oxford thanks to its stunning design. It fully became a bank in 1808, and had strong links with the University, counting author of Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll as one of its customers. Now a five-star property with 42 bedrooms, many with gorgeous views of Oxford landmarks, The Old Bank Hotel has recently undergone a refurbishment, resulting in the creation of a rooftop bedroom and terrace overlooking Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’ skyline.

Harbour Hotel & Spa, Bristol, south-west England

Situated in the heart of Bristol, the Harbour Hotel & Spa is housed in not one, but two former Lloyds Bank buildings. Designed by famed Victorian architect William Bruce Gingell, who was inspired by the 16th-century Venetian Library, the hotel has a stunning façade and beautiful interiors. The former banking hall is particularly grand and often hosts events, while what were once the bank vaults are now the hotel’s luxury spa. Indulge in a treatment or two or a dip in the hydrotherapy pool knowing that you’re relaxing in the location where a lot of money was once guarded!

Inn on the Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

It may not be on the same grandiose scale as some buildings that were formerly bank headquarters, but this gem of a boutique hotel on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has lovingly conserved many of the building’s original features from when it was the British Linen Bank, built in 1923. The hotel’s nine bedrooms include large sash windows, high ceilings and original cornicing, while its pub also nods to its banking heritage in its décor and style.

Hotel Gotham, Manchester, north-west England

Sir Edwin Lutyens left his mark in Manchester when he designed the building of a former bank that is now home to Hotel Gotham. The architecture is quite breathtaking and the luxury hotel pays homage throughout to the building’s original purpose, maintaining elaborate period touches such as the polished wooden counters so synonymous with banks from the last century. The five-star hotel offers 60 rooms, including five Inner Sanctum Suites – two of which are named ‘Bank Manager’s Suites’ – all of which are decadent in style. Guests (and members) have access to its VIP Club Brass lounge, which is accessed through two vault-like doors.

Eat

Old Bank of England, London

This pub and restaurant’s name sums up its past…it sits in the former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England, on the historic Fleet Street in the City of London. Stunningly renovated, the Old Bank of England has updated the ornate interior of the venue where the Bank of England traded from 1888 until 1975. When you’re enjoying your hearty British meals (think hand-made pies and fish and chips) you’ll be doing so surrounded by history; the basement still contains the original vaults used to store bullion and some of the Crown Jewels during the First World War. The two safes are now the venue’s cellars and kitchens.

The Corinthian Club, Glasgow, Scotland

Five floors of what was once a former bank and high court in the heart of Glasgow now house the restaurant, bar and event spaces of The Corinthian Club. One of the city’s most elaborate buildings, the Club has retained many of the original features of the Glasgow & Ship Bank (which was built in 1842) such as the impressive 26-foot glass dome and delicate, elegant plasterwork. Book into Teller’s Brasserie at the Club for a French-influenced dishes created using Scottish produce.

The Wolseley, London

Situated on Piccadilly, The Wolseley is run in the style of the European Grand Café, serving everything from breakfast to lunch, afternoon teas to dinners – it’s also very much a place to see and be seen. As well as the food, people come for the prestigious surroundings of the building that started life as a car showroom – Wolseley Motors – in 1921 and became a branch of Barclays Bank in 1927. Architect William Curtis Green created an opulent building, with marble pillars and archways, later adding banking counter and managers offices, which now serve as the bar and tea salon. When it became The Wolseley many aspects of the original design, including the domed ceiling and marble flooring, were kept.

The Dome, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dine on traditional Scottish favourites at this Edinburgh restaurant, which was once one of the city’s most striking bank branches and its décor remains as opulent to this day. Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, an elegant Graeco-Roman façade and Corinthian Portico greet its guests. You can dine under the dome itself in the Grill Room, among wood-panelled walls and Art Deco-inspired mirrors in The Club or take afternoon tea under the crystal chandeliers of The Georgian Tea Room.

Potted Pig, Cardiff, south Wales

Modern British cuisine and French/American culinary influences are on the menu at Cardiff’s Potted Pig, situated in a former Lloyd’s Bank vault beneath the city. Regularly changing seasonal menus are served in this underground restaurant that has retained a raft of original features, such as cast-iron cage doors and shallow-arched ceilings. The exposed brickwork, wooden floors and comfy sofas of its Gin Lounge make it the perfect place to experience its huge range of bespoke gins.

Play

Bank of England Museum, London

The Bank of England itself may not be open to visitors but you can explore its fascinating museum in the City of London. Five different galleries will take you through economic history and that of the Bank of England, from the origins of paper money and examples of forged notes to explaining why modern banknotes are difficult to counterfeit.

Royal Mint Experience, Llantrisant, south Wales

The Royal Mint makes and distributes British coins and official medals for around 60 countries every year and its location in south Wales, 30 minutes’ drive from Cardiff, also offers a visitor experience. Take a guided tour of the manufacturing areas to discover how coins are created and the chance to strike your own coin. The experience concludes with an interactive exhibition divided into six zones, which include the history and origins of the Mint and the roles coins play in our lives.

Museum on the Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland

Close to Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, the Museum on the Mound is located in the historic Bank of Scotland Head Office and takes visitors through the story of money. You’ll be able to see Scotland’s oldest banknote, come face-to-face with a million pounds, see how safes are cracked open and learn much more about the design, technology and security of money at this free museum.

48 Hours in Inverness and Loch Ness

The ‘capital of the Highlands’, Inverness in north Scotland is a vibrant city that has recently welcomed new attractions and restaurants, but which also sits in an enviable location close to some of Scotland’s most beguiling scenery and tranquil countryside. A trip here allows you to enjoy all the attractive elements of city life while simultaneously experiencing the best nature has to offer.

Time to check in

Whether you stay in heart of Inverness or on the shores of Loch Ness, it’s easy to reach the other within 20 minutes to an hour, depending on which area around the Loch you are visiting/staying in. It also means a lovely choice of accommodation, whether that’s cosy B&Bs, elegant hotels or luxurious lodges. In Inverness itself, set on the tree-lined banks of the River Ness, are the four-star, boutique Glenmoriston Town House Hotel and the three-star Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa. Ten minutes from town is the Kingsmills Hotel & Spa, a four-star contemporary hotel built within stunning 18th-century architecture. A little further out is the luxurious Achnagairn Castle, with its own spa and restaurant, while close to the southern tip of Loch Ness, The Lovat Loch Ness is a 30-bedroom independent hotel combining an eco-ethos with elegant interiors and 3 AA rosette fine dining.

DAY ONE

09:00 DELVE INTO THE CITY’S PAST

A great place to gain an in-depth insight and understanding of the history, heritage and art of the Highlands is at the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery. An ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitions feature all year-round at the art gallery, while the museum includes a number of fascinating collections, including Highland weapons and costumes.

11:00 STEP INTO A TROPICAL PARADISE

A beautiful gem in the heart of a city, the Inverness Botanic Gardens are wonderful to explore any time of year, with a broad variety of plants blooming every new season. Explore the glasshouses for plants from deserts and tropical rainforests, as well as hundreds of species of cacti and a waterfall surrounded by orchids and bougainvillea.

13:00 DINE WHERE MUSIC HISTORY WAS MADE

Stop for a bite to eat at the Rendezvous Café, a quirky vintage cinema café that is also the site where The Beatles – known then as the Silver Beetles – played on their first-ever tour as a support act in 1960. Feast on warming homemade soups, tasty baguettes and generous wedges of sticky toffee pudding or chocolate fudge cake.

15:00 TAKE IN A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE CITY

Close to the café is one of the city’s must-visits; its newest attraction, Castle Viewpoint. Not only will you learn about Inverness’ fascinating past, you’ll also be rewarded at the top of the viewing platform with magnificent panoramic views.

17:00 ENJOY PRE-DINNER COCKTAILS

City centre bar The White House produces its own innovative in-house creations – check out its Breakfast Martini, made with Rock Rose gin, Cointreau, with elderflower liqueur, orange marmalade and homemade rosemary syrup – as well as the classics, all made with fresh ingredients.

20:00 FEAST ON HIGHLAND CLASSICS

Make sure you bring an appetite to Inverness newcomer, Prime, which serves up juicy, locally sourced steaks and succulent seafood at its riverside location. Try its large, shared dishes of meat cooked over charcoal or individual dishes such as wild Highland rabbit, and finish with a Scottish classic – Clootie dumpling (warm, steamed fruit cake) served with cranachan ice cream and Scottish honey.

 

DAY TWO

07:00 PADDLE AT SUNRISE

Head 30 minutes outside of Inverness for on an early morning canoe safari with activities company In Your Element. This is as close to nature as you can be; as the sun comes up look out for roe deer, badgers and otters as you paddle along the River Beauly and through the Aigas Gorge.

OR

07:00 WALK AROUND A WORLD-FAMOUS LOCH

You can now walk the entire way around Loch Ness on an uninterrupted trail – the Loch Ness 360°. This new complete pathway, which opened in summer 2018, loops around the entire circumference of this famous loch. While you won’t have time to do all of it in one day, you can walk through a good chunk of over six to seven hours in that time frame, or book to stay on longer than 48 hours and spend a few days completing the walk.

12:00 PICNIC ON LOCAL PRODUCE

If you opt for early morning canoeing, you’ll have built up an appetite; pick up fresh, local fare for a picnic lunch at Corner on the Square, a cute, award-winning delicatessen and café in the historic village of Beauly.

13:00 CRUISE AROUND LOCH NESS

Sail out onto the deep waters of Loch Ness on a Jacobite Cruises boat and take in the glorious surrounding forests and glens (and conduct a little Nessie-spotting of course), before stopping off to explore Urquhart Castle, which overlooks the mysterious loch. One thousand years of history await you as you explore its ruins and discover priceless artefacts and interactive displays at the visitor centre’s exhibition.  

16:00 HEAD OUT DOLPHIN SPOTTING

While you may not have found Nessie earlier in the day, you have the chance to spot magnificent bottlenose dolphins! Climb aboard one of the boats run by Dolphin Spirit, which will take you out into the Inner Moray Firth for potential sightings.

19:00 DRINK AT A CITY FAVOURITE

Head back into Inverness to try out one of MacGregors Bar’s set beer menus. Each order is set so that each drink compliments the next in its flavour profile, and all have been handpicked to represent the bar’s featured Scottish breweries.

20:00 DINE IN A FORMER CHURCH

Located within a converted church The Mustard Seed has retained many of the church’s original period features and boasts a double-height ceiling and a beautiful open log fire. Its top-floor terrace is perfect for picturesque views of the River Ness. As well as a la carte, Chef also produces daily specials, which may include treats such as seared eye fillet of Highland beef served with a malt whisky cream sauce.

22:00 PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY

The city is packed with brilliant live music options if you wish to continue your night out after dinner. Johnny Foxes & The Den is a traditional Scottish pub with live music every night and its wine bar and nightclub, The Den, offers live music alongside DJs and dancing until 3am. Award-winning Hootananny is a great place to go for a traditional Scottish folk music programme and weekly ceilidh parties (upstairs is its sister venue Mad Hatters, which specialises in live rock music). Elsewhere The Market Bar also hosts live folk music and Gellions Bar is home to one of longest-established Saturday Ceilidhs in Inverness city centre.

Getting there: Inverness has its own international airport; direct flights are daily from Heathrow and there are flights available year-round from London Gatwick, London Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Belfast. Inverness Station receives direct, fast services from Glasgow Queen St, Edinburgh Waverley (both three-and-a-half hours) and London Euston (11.5 hours on the overnight Caledonian Sleeper service, which you can book up to 12 months in advance).