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).

Top destination stories for 2019

Top Destination Stories For 2019

 

75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

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

Wales – Year of Discovery

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

London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest

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

Britain on the big – and small – screen

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

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

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

Downton Abbey movie – release date 2019 TBC

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

Bond 25 – release date 8 November 2019

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

Shaun the Sheep 2 – 2019 release date TBC

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

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

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

The Secret Garden – release date Summer 2019 TBC

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

Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle release – 13 September 2019

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

Peaky Blinders, season 5 – 2019 release date TBC

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

The Crown, season 3 – 2019 release date TBC

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

 

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

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

 

Must-see exhibitions and museum updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hot hotel openings

Book ahead for these exciting hotel openings in 2019.

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

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

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

Unmissable sporting events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

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

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

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

Major League Baseball, London (29 – 30 June)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantastic new experiences launch

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

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

New theatre for 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major anniversaries to commemorate

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

48 Hours in…Chester and Cheshire

With an enchanting mix of historic market towns, quaint village squares and picturesque landscapes, not to mention an impressive collection of stately homes and formal gardens, there are few places more quintessentially English than Cheshire. At the heart of the county is the compact Roman city of Chester; bewitching in its beauty and quietly making a name for itself as one of the UK’s most enriching short break destinations.

 

GET YOUR BEARINGS

One of several counties in the north of England, Cheshire is within easy distance of a number of key cities, locations and tourism hubs, including Liverpool, Manchester, The Peak District, Staffordshire and North Wales. Due to Manchester Airport’s southern location within Greater Manchester, it is possible to travel into northern parts of Cheshire within minutes of leaving the airport, whilst a journey from the airport to Chester takes around 45 minutes by car.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

If you’re setting up base camp in Chester, there are few hotels as impressive as The Chester Grosvenor. Overlooking the famous Eastgate Clock, The Grosvenor has been welcoming guests for over 150 years and was recently bestowed the title of ‘World’s Best Classic Hotel’ at the Boutique Hotel Awards. Similarly impressive but with a much more idiosyncratic style is the achingly-cool Oddfellows Chester, an Instagrammers dream hotel, and if you’re arriving on a late flight (or have an early departure) from Manchester Airport its sister property, Oddfellows On The Park, is equally charming. Of course, with so much beautiful countryside, Cheshire itself isn’t short of country-piles-turned-hotels and standout options include Peckforton Castle, The Mere, Mottram Hall and brand new opening in Knutsford, The Courthouse.

 

 

DAY ONE

 

10:00 – FIND YOUR FEET

Founded by the Romans in AD79, Chester has a long and fascinating history. Take a brisk morning stroll to discover the most complete City Walls in Britain; Eastgate Clock, said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben; the River Dee; the largest Roman Amphitheatre; the oldest racecourse in Britain; and the city’s stunning Cathedral. There are plenty of great walking tours available, but for a tour with a difference, book a Chester Running Tour and whizz around the sites on 5k or 10k routes. Just make sure that you backtrack to Chester Cross for midday to see the Town Crier’s daily proclamation.

 

12:30 – HAVE A STICKY LUNCH

Take a five-minute taxi ride or 30 minute walk to Hoole where you’ll find a quaint high street and a small restaurant with big ambitions. Sticky Walnut is the acclaimed neighbourhood restaurant from local restauranteur Gary Usher offering delicious British cuisine and a great value three-course lunch. It’s one of several restaurants across the north west that serial crowdfunder Usher has opened, drawing diners into small towns and suburbs such as Heswall in Merseyside where people flock to Burnt Truffle, Didsbury in Greater Manchester where he opened Hispi in 2016, and Prescott in Merseyside where Pinion is coming soon. There’s also Wreckfish in Liverpool and Kala, due to open in Manchester in 2019.

 

14:00 – A HIT OF HERITAGE

Take your pick for an afternoon of unique heritage attractions and experiences. Chester Castle reopened to the public last year and features the 12th-century Agricola Tower, the first stone gateway to Chester Castle, which had been founded by William the Conqueror in 1070 in the south west part of the city. Open during the summer months, you can soak up views across the city from the tower and then head over to the Grosvenor Museum or St. Michaels Church on Bridge Street, where plans are well underway for a brand new heritage attraction – watch this space! Heading out of town, The Lion Salt Works Museum is a restored historic open-pan salt making site where you can find out about the curious impact of salt on mid-Cheshire’s people, economy and landscape. Or for something completely different, try theAmazing Women by Rail trail which invites visitors to explore the fascinating and often hidden histories of women who lived and worked in areas along the Mid Cheshire and Calder Valley railway lines; from writers, artists and sportswomen to campaigners, suffragettes and politicians.

 

18:00 – ENJOY INDEPENDENT EATS

Chester’s bar and restaurant scene is booming at the moment, with independents at the heart of the scene. Book an early dinner at The Chef’s Table and let the small but passionate team look after you or Porta, a low-key, high-demand Spanish joint run by brothers Ben & Joe Wright. Alternatively, make the a pilgrimage to Stockport to sample culinary storytelling via a blind-tasting menu put together by one of the UK’s most exciting young chefs, Sam Buckley at Where the Light Gets In. You’ll need to book well in advance for the latter, however, given the perfect 10 score from Guardian reviewer Marina O’Loughlin last year.

 

19:30 – STORYTIME

Opened in May 2017, and then formally opened in June 2018 by The Queen and The Duchess of Sussex, Storyhouse is a sprawling multi-arts centre incorporating a library, theatre and cinema. It’s one of the country’s most successful cultural buildings, welcoming one million customers in its first year and is the perfect place to while away your first night in Chester. During the summer months look out for moonlight cinema screenings and open air theatre events in Grosvenor Park run by the Storyhouse team.

 

 

 

DAY TWO

 

10:30 – HAVE A MONKEY OF A TIME

Your second day needs to be all about exploring the tourism attractions of wider Cheshire and no visit to county is complete without a visit to Chester Zoo. The UK’s most popular zoo with over 21,000 animals and 500 species, it’s been the subject of several high profile TV series’ including the BBC drama Our Zoo, which chronicled the inspiring story of founder George Mottershead and his family in the 1930s. Major recent developments at the zoo include ‘Islands’, which showcases the tropical environments of six South East Asian microclimates with immersive and interactive experiences throughout, plus a newly-expanded nature reserve, located on the zoo’s doorstep which is free to enter. A must-see event during winter isThe Lanterns, a light festival which turns the zoo into a magical festival wonderland featuring colourful, over-sized animal illuminations.

OR

10:30 – GET YOUR GEEK ON

For over 50 years, the giant Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank has been a familiar feature of the Cheshire landscape and an internationally-renowned landmark in the world of astronomy. It’s now firmly establishing itself as a tourism destination too after the UK government nominated it for UNESCO World Heritage status earlier this year. There’s the telescope itself but also several pavilions exploring in great detail our understanding of space, stars and planets so far. Taking afternoon tea at the onsite café with the telescope and rolling hills of Cheshire as a backdrop is surely one of the most unique and unusual experiences you can have in the country. And if you want to see Jodrell Bank at its best, visit during the annual Blue Dot which offers a boutique festival combining music, art and science.

OR

10:30 – EXPLORE A COUNTRY ESTATE

Tatton Park is perhaps the best known of Cheshire’s country estates and is indeed one of the most loved historical sites in the UK. It houses a neo-classical mansion, acres of landscape gardens, a huge deer park and a Tudor Old Hall. The park is alsor home to a rare breed farm, which has recently been reworked as the ‘Field to Fork’ story, explaining in honest terms where food comes from by bringing to life Cheshire’s farming history with costumed actors. Not one for vegetarians or vegans perhaps, but an essential education piece for children, it’s also possible to get hands-on with workshops and agricultural skills classes such as cheese-making and bee-keeping.

 

16:00 – BRAIN FREEZE!

Whichever activity you choose, a crucial stop on your way back to Chester has to be The Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall. Primarily an adventure park for kids, it also features what is considered to be ‘World’s Largest Purpose Built Ice Cream Parlour’ housing all manner of award-winning ice cream flavours. It’s probably no surprise that The Ice Cream Farm made it into the top 20 visitor attractions in Britain in 2017. However, if ice cream’s not your thing, back in Chester make a beeline for The Cheese Shop which stocks over 200 varieties including the iconic Cheshire cheese. We also recommend stocking up on Pant Glas Bach Preserves’ award-winning marmalade and other local treats at Hawarden Estate Farm Shop.

 

19:00 – SECRET STOP OFF

It’s a relatively little-known fact that much of the hit show Peaky Blinders was actually shot on location in Cheshire, including in particular, Arley Hall which stands in as anti-hero Thomas Shelby’s country home. Mark this connection with a visit to hidden speakeasy Prohibition where you can enjoy cocktails and jazz music, then head off to Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor for an exquisite dinner that Mr Shelby would certainly approve. Remarkably, the restaurant has held a Michelin start since 1990 and also has four AA Rosettes and an AA Notable Wine List Award.

Accommodation Update - September 2018

From elegant rooms in the heart of London, to cosy and charming cottages located on the Devon coast, discover new places to stay across the UK. Here we take a look at which accommodation sites are planning to open their doors within the upcoming months, and beyond.

 

RECENTLY OPENED

 

LONDON

 

The Chilworth, Paddington

Opened July 2018

Conveniently located just few minutes away from Paddington station with all its city, regional and international connections, The Chilworth is set in a beautifully refurbished Georgian townhouse and provides an oasis of calm on one of the capital’s characteristic tree lined streets, a short stroll from Hyde Park. With an elegant yet informal atmosphere, the décor blends classical period features with sharp, contemporary design. In the restaurant, the carefully considered menus include elements of health and wellbeing, reflecting a philosophy of nurturing the soul as well as the body. There is also a stylish bar for relaxing with pre or post-dinner drinks, including a range of signature cocktails.

 

The Townhouse Residences at Athenaeum, Mayfair

Opened July 2018

Located on a light-dappled residential side-street, a turn from the Athenaeum’s main entrance and royal Green Park, this elegant mansion was once owned by MP and arts patron Henry Hope. This brand new 14-bedroom accommodation provides a private London base for guests, but with all the benefits and services of a five star hotel. Designed by Martin Hulbert, the creative visionary behind Britain’s most beautiful bolt-holes, the Athenaeum Townhouse Residences demonstrates English eccentricity and charm, and is ideal for exploring the capital’s key landmarks.

 

The Boathouse, Paddington

Opened August 2018

The Boathouse London is a new boutique hotel and event space on an industrial-style barge moored in Floating Pocket Park, Paddington. Launched in partnership with interior design brand MADE.COM and decked out in contemporary Scandi-style décor, it’s available as a one-bedroom hotel or as a unique venue for events such as product launches, yoga brunches and supper clubs. Hotel guests will be greeted by a complimentary Daylesford hamper, given use of two bikes and a rowing boat, and offered bespoke on-board experiences, such as yoga sessions.

 

ENGLAND

 

The Apple Rooms at Houghton Lodge & Gardens, Stockbridge, Hampshire

Opened June 2018

The Apple Rooms is a new luxury self-catering accommodation within the grounds/gardens of historic Houghton Lodge & Gardens. The house is a beautiful 18th century ‘Cottage orné’ on the River Test. The six restored rooms, all named after apple varieties grown in the walled garden, were previously the cowsheds and now beautifully decorated with antique and contemporary furniture and fittings, luxury king or super king size beds, contemporary bathrooms, mini kitchens and outside lawn areas for outdoor eating or barbecues.

 

Loft Apartments at Easton Walled Gardens, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Opened June 2018

Overlooking the beautiful Victorian Stable Courtyard, these three loft apartments are brand new for 2018 at Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire’s very own ‘lost gardens’. The Hay Loft, converted and sensibly designed with a mix of original features and contemporary style, is the largest of the three lofts, with a super-king sized bed and a luxurious bathroom with both a bath and a walk-in shower. The large room is complete with a vaulted ceiling and original trusses on show. There are also two Coach House lofts, each available separately or they can be combined as a whole, giving flexibility to guests travelling with extended family, or with friends.

 

Easton Walled Gardens is part of Hidden England, a consortium of heritage sites all within an hour’s drive of one another with picturesque towns, villages and rolling countryside in between.

 

Chesters Stables, Humshaugh, Northumberland

Opened mid July 2018

Brand new for 2018, Chesters Stables offer eight self-catering Stable Suites in a beautiful Grade II listed building, situated within the grounds of Walwick Hall Country Estate in a village of Humshaugh in Northumberland. Set in 100 acres of beautiful countryside, along Hadrian’s Wall, this Northumbrian gem is a ‘world away from the norm’. Ranging in size, each of the fully refurbished Stable Suites offers a fully-fitted kitchen with dining area, underfloor heating, living areas with toe-warming wood burning stoves, sumptuous sofas, king-sized bedrooms and plenty of room to relax in a luxurious home away from home.

 

The Beverley Arms, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Re-opened July 2018

A fabulous boutique hotel re-opened at the end of July following a two year restoration project. The Beverley Arms was once Beverley’s flagship coaching inn, welcoming guests since the 17th Century. The new-look hotel now boasts 38 bedrooms, a 68-seat restaurant bathed in natural light, plus two private dining/meeting rooms, a modern bar and an outdoor courtyard. Wildlife is also being accommodated at the hotel, with ecological features including bat boxes, swift boxes and a sparrow terrace.

 

New Cottages at Cary Arms & Spa, Devon

Opened July 2018

Sitting majestically in the beautiful Babbacombe Bay on the South Devon coast, the award-winning and dog-friendly Cary Arms & Spa combines all the charm, personality and values of an English “Inn on the Beach” with the beautiful interiors, first class facilities and private gardens and terraces - including the newly opened Bay Cottage and Cove Cottage.

 

Cove Cottage sleeps up to six adults in a luxury master king room with balcony, a second king bed and a twin. All have sea views and contemporary ensuite bathrooms. There is a spacious and stylish drawing room with a large welcoming open fire, a stunning fully fitted kitchen with dining area, leading onto a large private terrace and garden.

 

Bay Cottage is similar in style and character and features one master king and one twin - both ensuite and both with exceptional views - sleeping four adults. There is a beautiful fully fitted kitchen with dining area opening onto the terrace and garden, complemented by an adjoining sitting area as well as a separate drawing room.

 

WALES

 

Caer Rhun Hall, Conwy

Opened August 2018

Nestled in the heart of the Conwy Valley, only a five-minute drive from Surf Snowdonia Adventure Park and a 15-minute drive from the medieval Conwy Castle, the hotel is surrounded by magnificent countryside, with uninterrupted views of the mountains of North Wales and bordering Snowdonia National Park. Every public room has unique features with craftsmanship of an earlier era - including the Tudor panelled hall, elegant Garden Room, Drawing Room and Library. The Library is soon to be renamed the Apothecary and will act as the resident guests’ ‘honesty’ bar. Caer Rhun Hall is ideally located for those looking for walking and cycling adventures.

 

OPENING SOON

 

ENGLAND

 

St Michael’s, Falmouth, Cornwall – look out for the press release

Re-opening autumn 2018

This stylish hotel in Falmouth set in subtropical gardens with sea views and a short walk from the town centre is nearing the completion of a £10 million expansion and re-furbishment, which includes a new luxury spa, health club and beach house with an additional 32 bedrooms. Located in a perfect spot to enjoy beach life on Cornwall’s South East coast and explore Falmouth, where you can find art galleries, shops and great restaurants.

 

SCOTLAND
 

The Fife Arms, Braemar

Opening late November, 2018

The Fife Arms in Braemar is being restored and returned to its former splendour as a first class hotel. Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this historic hotel, will be reimaged as a globally acclaimed cultural destination, offering luxury accommodation across 46 bedrooms. The refurbished hotel will include a restaurant with a wood fired grill, two bars, a fire room, library and cinema.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND
 

The Waring Hotel, Belfast

Opening winter 2018

Signature Living, the UK hotel brand launched in 2008, aims to transform the former 1960s War Memorial building into “the ultimate party destination in Belfast” with 64 vibrant bedrooms, including ‘signature suites’ and ‘party rooms’, as well as swimming pools, private bars and other luxurious amenities.

 

LONG LEAD

 

LONDON

 

The Hoxton, Shepherd’s Bush

2020

Hoxton, the design-led accessible brand, has been expanding its international network of hotels with a new opening in Shepherd’s Bush. The new property will join sister hotels already open in London (Shoreditch and Holborn). Subject to planning permission, the 214-bedroom hotel will be developed on the west side of Shepherd’s Bush Green on a site occupied by a 1950’s office building. It will include a restaurant, bar and an events space offering a cultural events programme.

 

Raffles Hotels & Resort, Westminster

2020

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.

 

ENGLAND

 

Eden Project, Cornwall

Eden Project has improved the design of their new hotel, located near St Austell in Cornwall. Eye-catching in its look, the Eden Project hotel has been designed to blend into the countryside and have high standards of accessibility, energy-efficiency and sustainability. The 109-bedroom hotel will include new features including a meadow and orchard that will be planted around the hotel.

48 hours in … Cardiff

Europe’s youngest capital city, Cardiff is also one of the easiest to enjoy. The old docks are now a striking waterfront and the compact city centre is packed with museums and concert halls, energetic nightlife, great food, some of the best shopping in western Britain and a vibrant cultural scene. It’s also home to world-class sports stadium, and with Cardiff City FC joining the Premier League this season - for only the second time in the Club’s 199 year history - there’s never been a better time to visit.

TIME TO CHECK IN

With the rapid expansion of tourism in recent years, Cardiff offers plenty of choice for places to crash, but few are as impressive as The Exchange. Housed in one of Cardiff’s most significant historical buildings, this 200-room luxury hotel was once the headquarters of the global coaling industry and where the first £1 million business deal was made in 1904. Another luxury option is the glass-fronted St. David’s Hotel, recently taken over by the achingly-cool Principal hotel group and located on Cardiff Bay. However, if boutique is more your style, The Pontcanna Inn offer just ten wholly Instagrammable rooms, whilst Hotel Indigo has recently expanded into the city with the addition of an impressive roof terrace that offers spectacular views of Cardiff Castle and the surrounds.

DAY ONE

10:30 – FEED YOUR CURIOSITY

Arguably the best way to plunge straight into the vibrant life of Cardiff – and get talking to its people – is to take a culinary tour of the capital’s thriving food scene with a local guide from Loving Welsh Food. Cardiff Tasting Tours will take you all over the city centre, calling in at specialist food producers, retailers and the famous indoor market. Six delicious food and drink tastings include continental meats, cheeses, cockles, laverbread and Welsh beers and ciders, plus along the way you’ll pass beautiful parks, majestic buildings and landmarks including Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium.

14:00 – VISIT THE DRAGON’S LAIR

Whilst Cardiff City FC may be joining the Premier League, if you want to really understand the soul of the Welsh people, back track to the Principality Stadium and partake in a tour of perhaps one of the world’s most enjoyable sporting arenas, home to the fierce Welsh Rugby Team – and host stadium for the UEFA Champions League Final 2017. Experience the build-up before the match in the Dragon’s Lair, Wales’ team dressing room and hear the spine-tingling roar of 74,500 fans as you walk down the players’ tunnel towards the hallowed turf.

OR

14:00 – EMBRACE AN ADRENALINE RUSH

Wales has no shortage of rapids on its rivers, but the Olympic-standard ones at Cardiff International White Water roar and tumble through this man-made white water course right in the heart Cardiff Bay. Two-hour coached sessions of exhilarating whitewater rafting are suitable for complete beginners and seasoned experts, and if rafting’s not your bag, you can opt for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, “hotdogging” in inflatable kayaks or bodyboarding. If you still want more once you’ve finished on the waves, you can strap on a harness and cross the high ropes timber structure towering above the white water course – before tackling the Burma Bridge, Monkey Swing, Barrel Crawl and Zip Wire.

16:00 – EXPLORE THE CITY OF ARCADES

It’s 160 years since the first of seven Cardiff arcades – The Royal Arcade – opened, and there has been a recent push to celebrate the collective glory of the city’s “crown jewels”. With over 100 local eateries and independent retailers, the arcades allow for a shopping experience peppered with character, eclecticism, stories and history; all brought together under a roof of classic Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Don’t miss Gin and Juice, the only cocktail-come-salad bar in the city; tattoo and barber shop Sleep When your Dead; and the world’s oldest record store, Spiller Records.

19:30 – GET STUFFED ON COWBRIDGE ROAD

Home to a mind-boggling array of independent eateries, the long stretch from Victoria Park to the River Taff is the perfect place to take evening stroll and decide on where to eat. From pizza at The Dough Thrower to nouvelle Indian cuisine at Purple Poppadom, build-your-own burgers at Time and Beef or delicious Lebanese takeaway at Falafel Wales; this is authentic foodie heaven. If you prefer your dinner with a local flavour, make a beeline for new Pontcanna bistro Milkwood, where you can chow down on dishes like Sewin (Welsh sea trout) with leeks and brown shrimp.

22:00 – ENJOY BEER AND BLUES

Cardiff is one of the best places in the UK to sample the taste bud-teasing pleasures of craft beer. At Porter’s, which contains Wales’ first pub theatre (and has no sign over the door) they serve a honey beer called Hiver and a seaweed ale that goes by the name of Kelpie. It’s also one of many venues offering jazz night’s – albeit more dancing than placid – across the city which also includes industrial-styled Tiny Rebel, Americana speakeasy Bootlegger and the aptly named Café Jazz. Visit in October for Sŵn festival which transforms the city into a musical adventure playground.

LATE – SNACKS AND STORIES ON CHIPPY LANE

When the night is done you might be tempted to grab some late night grub, and where better to visit than Chippy Lane, technically Caroline Street, which is considered to be first place that the eponymous fish and chips were sold in Cardiff in the 19th century.

 

DAY TWO

10:30 – BRUNCH BEAUTIFULLY AT ANNA LOKA

Not the name of the owner, Anna Loka roughly translates to ‘Earth Food’ in Sanskrit, and at this restaurant you’ll find exactly that: a plant-based menu where you can load up on a full vegan breakfast with peanut butter and coffee pancakes on the side. If you’re hankering for a more traditional brunch menu try The Early Bird for must-have French toast or proper café Garlands where you can enjoy a “Good Morning Mumbles” breakfast which includes Welsh Rarebit, laverbread and cockles. For something completely different try the Indian breakfast at Milgi.

12:00 – BREW UP ON A CRAFT BEER TOUR

Explore the art, science and culture of brewing a Cardiff Craft Beer Tour by Brewerism Brewery Tours. Over the course of three to four hours you’ll have the chance to see the full brewing process at Crafty Devil Brewery before hitting 3-4 stops – from trendy taprooms to marvellous micropubs – all within about a 15 minute walk around the hip Canton area of the city.

OR

12:00 - DISCOVER PROPER WELSH HISTORY

Few places define Welsh identity as profoundly as St Fagans, which opened in 1948 in the grounds of a 16th-century manor house as the very first national open-air museum in the UK. Since then more than 40 original Welsh buildings from different historic periods have been rebuilt piece by piece in the 100-acre park including houses, a farm, a school and a splendid workmen’s institute. Get out of town to visit this glorious architectural treasure house which is deservedly the most popular heritage attraction in Wales.

15:00 – INDULGE YOUR SWEET SIDE

Extraordinary cakes and pastries are worth making the journey north to the Maindy area of the city where Cocorico Patisserie can be found. This is Instagram heaven featuring creative creations including the Banana in Pyjama (banana mousse, pineapple cremeux, mango jelly and coconut dacquoise), Praline Spinner (vanilla dipomate, Gianduju crumbs, salted caramel with Dulcey and Gianduju whipped ganache), and a spectacular array of colourful macarons!

16:00 – PHOTOGRAPH SOME FURRY FRIENDS

Besides the grand splendour of Cardiff Castle, one odd quirk to take note of whilst enjoying a stroll around its exterior is The Animal Wall. Designed by architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute, the much-loved wall features models of animals including moneys and lions, a seal, pelican and many more, poking out ready to be snapped.

18:00 – DINE WITH DIFFERENCE

Based at Her Majesty’s Prison Cardiff, The Clink is a fine-dining venue run by prison inmates serving organic Welsh produce has been voted one of the best restaurants in the UK. Taste the very best of Wales while giving a helping hand to those who deserve a second chance in life.

19:30 – CATCH A SHOW

Finish your weekend by taking in a show at the incredible Wales Millennium Centre on Cardiff Bay. This architectural marvel is also a globally significant cultural landmark – a performing arts centre with a mission to “inspire our nation and impress the world”. Home of the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, it also stages musicals, stand-up comedy and art exhibitions.

Day trips from London – must-do experiences in Hastings, Battle & Rye

Jump on a train heading south-east from London and in under 1.5 hours you’re in what is known as ‘1066 Country’ (due to its connections with the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066), in the towns of Hastings, Battle and Rye. Visit for a day of unique heritage, seaside experiences, festivals and much more!

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – HASTINGS

Not only is the Jerwood Gallery set in a stunning glass building on the Old Town’s fishing beach it’s also at forefront of contemporary art with changing exhibitions and home to a fabulous collection of 20th- and 21st-century British art.

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

Stroll around the picturesque Old Town, a bustling haven of cobbled streets, ‘twittens’ (narrow passageways) and a flourishing arts community, which you can explore through its myriad of antique stores and independent art shops. Alternatively, explore off-the-beaten track at the America Ground and White Rock area of Hastings. This cool, creative neighbourhood has a fascinating history and is now home to independent restaurants, cafés and shops, funky clubs and bars, as well as Source BMX Park, the biggest underground BMX park in Europe, which runs its own ‘Battle of Hastings’ in September.

 

Where can I eat?

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

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Hastings has some genuinely charming B&Bs to choose from. Among them is The Laindons, a pretty guesthouse with five rooms located in the Old Town within a Georgian Grade II-listed building. It’s kept so much of its original character and comes with fabulous views of Hastings Old Town. The Old Rectory boutique B&B is also housed in a historic building and is beautifully designed within, showcasing work by local artists and designers. For hotel choices, check out The White Rock Hotel, a stylish seafront property with contemporary, comfortable rooms and a terrace café/bar, perfect for a meal or drinks while overlooking the coastal view. 

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – BATTLE

Re-live the atmosphere and tension of more than 600 soldiers clashing at the annual battle re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. Held every October (13-14 in 2018), visitors can expect a day being immersed in medieval life and discovering what it was like on this famous date that changed history.

The market town of Battle grew up around Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror following the Battle of Hastings as a penance ordered by the Pope. Now looked after by English Heritage, along with the battle site, you can explore the abbey ruins and even stand on the spot where King Harold was said to have perished.

The town of Battle that subsequently spread beyond the Abbey walls is now a charming town to explore and offers cultural gems during the year. Throughout October is the Battle Arts & Music Festival, featuring events ranging from classical recitals, contemporary dance, author events and a range of artistic masterclasses and demonstrations.

 

Where can I eat?

For a light meal of sandwiches, cream teas and homemade cakes, Lavender Abbey Tea Rooms – with its cosy log burner to warm up against during the cooler months – is a popular choice and runs an interesting programme of evening events. A picturesque option is The Orangery at Ashburnham Place, where you can have lunch and afternoon tea in a Lancelot Capability Brown-designed building, which is home to many delicate plants including the oldest camellia in the country. Or stop by The Bull Inn Pub & Restaurant – a 17th-century coaching inn – for English pub classics such as pies, fish and chips, and steaks.

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Once a gunpowder owner’s residence, on the site of an 18th-century gunpowder works, the PowderMills is now a gorgeous country hotel in Battle, set in 150 acres of parkland and lakes. Just outside of Battle, overlooking the tranquil village green of Sedlescombe, is the family run Brickwall Hotel, which was built at the end of 16th century for the local ironmaster. And, for a luxury B&B stay, try Boreham House, around a ten-minute drive from Battle and situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This Grade II-listed Georgian house, originally the home of the local apothecary, also offers a converted self-catering cottage in what was the house’s original stables and coach house.

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – RYE

Made up of attractive cobbled streets and a gamut of narrow passageways, the medieval town of Rye is made for exploring. It’s like stepping back in time as you discover buildings dating back to the medieval, Tudor and Georgian eras. It’s quaint and quirky – Mermaid Street, for example, is home to ancient buildings with unique names such as ‘The House Opposite’ or ‘The House with the Seat’.

Close to town is Great Dixter, the birthplace and home of renowned gardener and writer, the late Christopher Lloyd, and is well worth a visit for its glorious gardens – incorporating a walled garden, the sunk garden and the peacock garden – and for its horticultural events that run throughout the year.

For a true taste of Rye’s countryside, head to the award-winning, 850-acre Oxney Organic Estate, around six miles from the town, for a guided tour of its vineyard, and enjoy a tasting of its organic still and sparking wines, which only use the vineyard’s grapes and follow a natural winemaking ethos. It also has holiday cottages on site and recently introduced renovated vintage shepherds’ huts to stay in.

 

Where can I eat?

A pretty little clapperboard pub on the outskirts of Rye where the Military Canal meets the River Rother, The Globe Inn Marsh has a fantastic menu of locally sourced fish and other local ingredients, plus a bar that stocks more than 40 gins.

Another great fish restaurant is Webbe’s at the Fish Café, located in a listed building near the Landgate Arch in Rye, and was the first completely fire-proof building of its kind in the UK when it was built in 1907. It’s all about fresh local fish here, brought in from the ports of Rye and Hastings,  

Ten minutes from Rye is restaurant with rooms, The Gallivant Hotel, with a superb bistro that overlooks the beautiful sandy dunes at Camber Sands. It’s passionate about using local produce across its menu, with a daily changing menu highlighting the season’s best, and boasts a large list of English wines.

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Sloping ceilings, creaky floorboards and a diverting history encompassing 18th-century smugglers make the Mermaid Inn a special place to stay in Rye. History oozes out of every corner – its cellars date back to 1156 and the building itself was rebuilt in 1420 – although you’ll find a very contemporary welcome.

Another fine example of a historic inn is The George on Rye’s High Street, which dates back to 1575. A luxury hotel, each room is designed with its own bespoke furniture and colour theme. Dine at its in-house restaurant and enjoy a drink in its own pub, The George Tap.

Looking for more of a glamping experience? A ten-minute drive from Rye and you’ll find yourself in the village of Beckley, and at Swallowtail Hill, a farm, meadow and woodland where you can stay in either of its charming cottages – the Woodcutter’s Cottage or the Meadow Keeper’s Cottage – or its two cosy wood cabins. It’s a great place for a full digital detox.

 

Getting there: Hastings, Battle and Rye are located in the county of East Sussex on England’s south coast. Trains leave from either London St Pancras or London Charing Cross (depending on your destination) and take around 1.5 hours.

48 Hours in… Leeds

One of the only cities outside London to have its own ballet and opera companies, Yorkshire city Leeds is a hotbed of cultural gems, a city with a rich industrial and sports heritage that has become an energetic, contemporary city with a flourishing food and drink scene. Home to its own international airport (Leeds/Bradford Airport) and just two hours by train from London and one hour from Manchester, spending a weekend in one of the north of England’s most exciting cities has never been easier.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

Leeds has a wide range of hotels to suit all budgets yet if you’re looking for high-end accommodation, check out the only independently owned luxury hotel in central Leeds, Quebecs. This Grade-II listed, four-star property is situated in one of the city’s most impressive terracotta brickwork buildings, located in the attractive Victoria Quarter. Another luxury option is the city’s oldest hotel, The Cosmopolitan, which combines a historic setting with contemporary style. Leeds has some lovely boutique hotels too; in the heart of Leeds, the Malmaison is the place to go if you’re into cool, quirky interior designs while riverside hotel 42 The Calls, located in an 18th-century former flour mill, will soon be undergoing a multi-million pound investment under new management, set to develop it into five-star luxury accommodation.

 

DAY ONE

09:00 EMBARK ON A WALK OF DISCOVERY

It’s common knowledge that to really get to know a city you should walk it – and this is just as true of Leeds, where you can download self-guided walks around the city with a treasure hunt theme! Just over a mile each, Curious About Leeds has devised routes that take you from Leeds Art Gallery to the River Aire, and a second route from the river to Park Square. The beauty of these walks is that you’ll take in not just the city’s famous sights but also the more unusual ones. Expect to see the chic Victorian Arcades, Europe’s largest covered market – Kirkgate Market – former mills whose fortune the city was built on and secret squares to explore. Also look out for iconic street art; Leeds is home to the UK’s tallest mural, Athena Rising, as well as works such as Cornucopia next to the Corn Exchange and the George Street Mural at Kirkgate Market.

 

11:00 DELVE INTO THE CITY’S PAST

The story of Leeds unfolds at the Leeds City Museum, where – through six impressive galleries – you’ll find artefacts from archaeological finds to displays reflecting city life today. It’s also home to the Leeds Tiger… one of the most recognisable and loved exhibits at the museum with a fascinating back story to discover.

 

13:00 TAKE EARLY AFTERNOON TEA

It will be hard to tear yourself away from the pretty period furniture and mismatched crockery at vintage tearoom Just Grand! but try to as there’s plenty to tempt you on its menu. Located in the city’s Grand Arcade – a Grade II-listed Victorian shopping arcade that now boasts a good mix of independent retailers – you’ll reboot energy levels enjoying drinks from its huge assortment of loose-left teas (Yorkshire tea is, of course, on the menu!) and the delectable afternoon tea menu. Why choose a plain scone when you could choose from its wide range of flavoured scones such as black treacle and date, Earl Grey and Lemon, and ginger and apricot. Just Grand has also introduced a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea – finger sandwiches, locally produced pork pie and crisps along with a choice of Yorkshire bottled beer.

 

15:00 EXPLORE CONTEMPORARY ART IN A HISTORIC BUILDING

One of Leeds’ leading centres for contemporary art is at The Tetley, housed in an Art Deco-style former brewery. It’s not just the collections inside that are worth exploring – the building itself is an Insta-favourite; founded in 1822 – Tetley is one of Leeds’ oldest (beer) brewing families – it’s of huge social and industrial significance to the city. As well as changing exhibitions there’s a rich programme of events to take part in, including art workshops.

 

17:00 ENJOY COCKTAILS AND PRE-THEATRE DINNER

A department store might not the first place you think of for cocktails and dinner, but when’s it’s The Fourth Floor brasserie and bar at the city’s branch of the high-end Harvey Nichols, you know you’re in store for a treat. Superb views of the city greet you as you enjoy cocktails in the glamorous bar – think gold dome lights and circular banquettes – and the menu in the brasserie focuses on using the best Yorkshire produce in its creative dishes. It’s perfect for a pre-theatre meal, with the dinner service starting from 4.30pm.

 

19:30 CATCH A SHOW

Take advantage of the fact that Leeds is the only city outside of London to have its own ballet and opera companies and book tickets for a performance by either Opera North, one of Europe’s leading arts organisations, which produces the classics as well as lesser-known works and musical theatre, or the Northern Ballet, where you’ll find original productions as well as new interpretations of classic ballets. 

 

DAY TWO

09:00 DISCOVER HISTORIC TREASURES

Ever fancied seeing a world record-breaking suit of elephant armour? Here’s your chance – at Leeds’ Royal Armouries Museum, which sits on the waterfront at the city’s docks. Five galleries hold more than 8,000 fascinating objects, including Henry VIII’s tournament armour, the five heroic swords based on the prop weapons used in movies Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and the incredible centrepiece of the whole museum, the Hall of Steel – the largest mass display of arms and armour created since the 19th century.

 

11:00 SET OFF ON A SPORTING JOURNEY

Yorkshire boasts a legendary cricket heritage and, for cricket fans around the world, the Yorkshire Cricket Museum is a must-visit. It’s here that you’ll discover artefacts from Yorkshire’s cricket legends, the bats and balls used by iconic players as well as multi-media interviews with cricket heroes.

OR

SET OFF ON A SHOPPING JOURNEY

A raft of unique independent retailers can be found under one stunning roof at the Grand Arcade, a shopping venue built in 1897 where its fine Victorian architecture – including an exquisite glass roof and beautiful arched windows – is just as much of a draw as the shops. It’s a lovely surrounding in which to explore the stores, which range from luxury menswear retailer Labels, My Vibrant Home for stylish handmade interiors goods, and The Handmade Collective, where you’ll find unique gifts created by 60 local Yorkshire design-makers to take home. You’ll also find a vibrant shopping district at Victoria Leeds, an eclectic shopping destination combining Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate with traditional the British high-end department stores of Harvey Nichols and John Lewis and more than 90 boutiques.
 

13:00 VEG OUT FOR LUNCH 

Also finding its home in the Grand Arcade is Roots and Fruits, a fantastic vegetarian restaurant that’s recently upgraded its menu to be mainly plant-based. But there’s no compromise on flavour… this Leeds favourite is packed with local, seasonal produce and presents dishes such as Roots and Fruits Jerk Jackfruit with a secret recipe jerk marinade and giant Rainbow Salads.

 

15:00 LOSE YOURSELF IN A CHOCOLATE METROPOLIS

Leeds is home to the UK’s first two-storey chocolate emporium at Hotel Chocolat and it’s here you can learn the delicate art of chocolate-making at its Chocolate School, just one of the chocolate-filled experiences on offer here. Chocoholics may want to embark on its Tasting Adventure and there’s always further opportunity to taste the glorious sweetness in its Mega Café; look out, in particular, for its signature hot chocolate.

 

17:00 GO CUCKOO FOR CREATIVE COCKTAILS

Come to quirky bar Cuckoo for its imaginative cocktails, such as Peanut Butter Martinis and Dirty Grasshoppers, or to sample local craft beers served through ‘Giraffe Towers’, and stay for its amazingly fun décor. Murals, paint-splattered animal heads, cool neon lights and a secret rooftop garden all make a visit to this bar a colourful occasion.

 

20:00 TASTE THE CREATIVITY

Restaurant Man Behind the Curtain – with a name inspired by The Wizard of Oz – offers a magical culinary experience where you’ll be wowed by chef Michael O’Hare’s creativity. The restaurant’s tasting menu of 10 to 14 sequences’ includes hand-massaged octopus with capers and lemon; birds nest and kimchi ramen and cardamom & lemongrass soup with chilli sorbet- a treat for both the eyes and the taste-buds.

Alternatively, visit Bundobust for delicious Indian street food and craft beer that make this place one of Leeds go-to places for easy, deliciouscuisine. Still hungry? Try Matt Healy x The Foundry. This Leeds institution has recently relaunched with Yorkshire-born chef, Matt Healy (runner-up in BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals series), at the helm. The interior and exterior was redesigned and rebranded as Matt Healy x The Foundry. In the kitchen, Matt is concentrating on a menu of simple British dishes using up to five ingredients. A sample menu may include baby chicken ‘kiev’, wild garlic and duck fat potato, or pollock, charred leeks and potatoes with romesco sauce. Watch this space as the restaurant is quickly becoming one of the hottest spots in Leeds.

 

22:00 Leeds’ nightlife rivals that of any major British city and it’s particularly good for quirky bars. For a slice of hipster heaven and craft beers head to the cool, vintage-style Outlaws Yacht Club; drink cocktails from teapots at the Alice in Wonderland-themed, eclectically decorated The White Rabbit; while the Belgrave Music Hall is where to go to enjoy craft beers and cask ales across three floors of a 1930s venue that comes with a fabulous roof terrace, live music events, film and comedy or art exhibitions. Beer is also big news in Leeds; why visit one brewery when you can visit four on the Leeds Brewery Tour, and, if you’re coming over in October, look out for details of the city’s Oktoberfest.

60 minutes from… Cardiff

Wales’ vibrant capital city Cardiff is hosting one of the country’s biggest festivals between 3-11 August – the Eisteddfod – which brings with it a raft of concerts, carnivals and the chance to embrace Welsh culture and language. Once you’ve enjoyed the celebrations and explored Cardiff itself, an hour or less away from the city are some spectacular destinations that offer an alternative, yet equally exciting, vibe to Cardiff’s.

 

Swansea Bay

When a destination is packed with award-winning beaches, charming villages, historic castles and is the birthplace of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, you know a visit to it is going to be a fulfilling one. An hour by train or road from Cardiff will take you to Swansea Bay; here, you can spend time walking in Dylan Thomas’ footsteps, by visiting his birthplace and childhood home on a guided tour at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, which has been fully restored to its 1914 condition, before heading to the Dylan Thomas Centre for a fascinating exhibition about his life and works. Stroll around the attractive Swansea Marina, head down to the National Waterfront Museum to discover 300 years of Welsh innovation and industry, and sample local foodie favourites such as cockles, laverbread, fine Welsh cheeses and scrumptious Welsh cakes at the largest indoor market in Wales, Swansea Indoor Market. This is all before you’ve even had the chance to set off on a scenic walk along its promenade down to the pretty coastal village of Mumbles and explore the ruins of Oystermouth Castle (not forgetting to stop off for a mouth-watering ice-cream at either Verdi’s or Joe’s Ice Cream). You’ll have fallen in love with these picturesque coastal views by then, but even more stunning, award-winning beaches await you around the corner on the Gower Peninsula – Britain’s first-ever Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s a haven for walkers, surfers, kayakers and sailors alike.

 

Abergavenny

Set in a picturesque location at the foot of the Black Mountains and the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Abergavenny is close to some outstanding walking trails. But this attractive small town is also a foodie heaven – it hosts the must-visit Abergavenny Food Festival each September. This year marks the 20th year since it first took place and, as well as hundreds of stalls selling the freshest Welsh produce and cookery demonstrations, there’s a diverse selection of forages and tours operating as part of the festival, taking advantage of the bountiful Welsh countryside nearby. Yet the town is worth a visit year-round; from castles to Roman remains and standing stones, you’ll find Abergavenny is a heritage gem of south Wales. Raglan Castle may have been built more as a ‘show’ castle rather than as a defensive fortress yet it’s an equally impressive site. Just a 20-minute drive away is the mesmerising Blaenavon World Heritage site – across 33 sqkm you’ll discover Wales’ industrial past through fascinating attractions such as the Big Pit National Coal Museum (a must-do is the Underground Tour for an insight into what life was like at the coal face) and the Blaenavon Ironworks.

 

Newport

Just 30 minutes from Cardiff is a Welsh city, located close to the English border, that has bags of history and is a familiar name on the world stage of politics and sport, as a former host of the NATO Summit and the Ryder Cup. Explore the city’s long and varied history through Newport Cathedral and the diverse collections at Newport Museum and Art Gallery, before heading to the glorious 17th-century mansion Tredegar House. Set in acres of beautiful grounds, it was built by the Morgan family, the same family who, in 1906, built the nearby Transporter Bridge, a fine feat of early 20th-century engineering and one of just seven working Transporter Bridges in the world. Go back further in time as just a few miles from Newport is the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, located inside the remains of one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain. There are some incredible finds here – the only remains of a Roman Legionary barracks on view in Europe and the ruins of the most complete amphitheatre in Britain.

History aside, this is also a golfers’ paradise – 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre is the five-star Celtic Manor Resort, its six restaurants, five bars and two spas…and three world-class championship courses, a golf academy featuring a floodlit driving range and two golf clubhouses!

 

Chepstow

A charming market town on the Wales/England border, Chepstow is a hotspot for walkers; not only is it part of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at the very start of the Wales Coast Path that then stretches 870 miles up to north Wales, it’s also the home to an annual walking festival. This five-day walking event takes you through Chepstow and the jaw-droppingly beautiful countryside of the Lower Wye Valley. Walking is also the best way to explore the town itself, home to Britain’s oldest remaining Roman stone castle, Chepstow Castle, where you’ll find the oldest surviving castle doors in Europe, as well as home to Chepstow Museum and its fine collection of local artefacts and 18th- and 19th-cenutry paintings of the Wye Valley. Just a 15-minute drive away is the magnificent Tintern Abbey, one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Britain and one of Wales’ most-well preserved medieval abbeys. Sports fan? Head to Chepstow Racecourse to enjoy exciting race meets at the home of the Welsh National.

Accommodation Update - July 2018

Recently opened

London

Kettner’s Townhouse, London

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

White City House, London

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

 

England

Ginger Peanut restaurant-with-rooms, Devon

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

 

Scotland

Edinburgh Grand, Edinburgh

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

 

Wales

Rivercatcher Log Cabins, near Snowdonia

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

 

Refurbishments

England

Linthwaite House, Lake District

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

Lodore Falls, Lake District

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

The Bradley B&B, Cheltenham

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

 

Scotland

Nira Caledonia, Edinburgh

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

St Davids Hotel, Cardiff

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

 

Opening soon

London

Belmont Cadogan Gardens, London

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

Yotel Clerkenwell, London

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

Z Hotel Covent Garden, London

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

 

England

Shankly Hotel, Liverpool’s first urban glamping site,

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

Weston Park, Staffordshire/Shropshire

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

Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

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

The London Warehouse, Manchester

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

Queen Square – Supercity Aparthotels, Brighton

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

 

Scotland

Fingal, Edinburgh

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

Hotel Indigo, Dundee

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

Sleeperz, Dundee

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

 

Wales

Milford Waterfront Floatel Cabins, Pembrokeshire

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

 

Long lead

London

Hard Rock Hotel, London

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

art'otel Hoxton, London

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

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

 

Central London

The Grand, Birmingham

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

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire

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

 

Scotland

Yotel, Edinburgh

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