Vintage experiences in Britain

As the Goodwood Festival of Speed (4-7 July 2019) casts the spotlight on classic cars and motorsport generally, it’s a reminder that Britain is packed full of thrilling vintage experiences. From fashionable afternoon teas to car shows and literary walks, there’s ample opportunity to experience the delights of the past, in the present.

 

Goodwood Festival of Speed

A global celebration of car culture, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is renowned for showcasing the best of the glamour that accompanies motorsport. From the Hillclimb event – the centrepiece of the festival where fans can get up close to the cars and bikes in action – to the showgrounds and arenas, the motoring garden party has something for everyone. The FOS Future Lab provides a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry, while the First Glance Paddock showcases the latest from the production line. Visitors can be wowed by motorsport displays in the Arena, see thrilling extreme sports in the Goodwood Action Sports area and watch as drivers hurtle their way around the Forest Rally Stage.

When? 4-7 July

Pret-a-Portea: Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

Sit back and relax with a vintage afternoon tea, inspired by the iconic designs of Christian Dior. This season’s Pret-a-Portea offering from The Berkeley enables guests to tuck into the Dior Coutre Collection, where landmark pieces have been transformed into delicious biscuits, bakes and fancies. Expect to see the iconic Bar Jacket from the 1947 catwalk show that formed a ‘New Look’ in biscuit form, as well as a reference to the Junon Dress worn by Theo Graham at Le Pre Catalan in Paris in 1949. The afternoon tea includes an array of elegant canapés, sandwiches and tasters, as well as a loose leaf tea from the hotel’s extensive collection. Pret-a-Portea is priced at £60 per person, while a range of champagne options are also available at additional cost.

When? Until 29 September

Silverstone Classic

An action-packed weekend of historic motor racing at the renowned Silverstone circuit awaits those attending the Silverstone Classic. The world’s biggest classic motor racing festival includes more than 20 races and demonstrations, featuring more than 1,000 vehicles, and is accompanied by an eclectic mix of music and entertainment. The family-friendly event includes Rocking and Racing, a set of musical performances from tribute acts to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous Woodstock festival, as well as a vintage funfair, crazy golf and Street Car Shootout drag racing. There’s also a shopping village crammed with vintage clothing and memorabilia and football coaching from the Chelsea FC Foundation.

When? 26-28 July

Atomic Festival   

Dive into a world of classic cars and retro music at Atomic Festival, a 1950s weekend of fun at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. As well as a line-up of bands and DJs playing rock and roll and dance floor fillers in four venues, expect to witness drag racing involving hot rods, classic trucks and motorcycles, an array of classic car displays and even a hotly-contested soap-box derby. Enjoy fairground rides and crazy golf by day, as well as jive classes, burlesque shows, films in a ‘vintage’ cinema, and much more. Saturday tickets for Atomic cost from £45 and Sunday tickets from £40. Weekend, camping and glamping options are also available.

When? 27-28 July

Passion for Power

Hundreds of exotic supercars converge on Tatton Park, in Knutsford, for the Passion for Power Classic Motor Show, offering an exciting day out for all the family. The show encourages classic and supercar owners to attend, while the Dream Cars Pavilion showcases some of the rarest, fastest and most spectacular vehicles on the planet. Alongside a variety of trade stalls and car clubs that are attending, there’s an abundance of food and drink options on site. Tickets for Passion for Power cost £9 for adults and £6 for children, while those under 10 go free. All visitors will need to pay for entry to Tatton Park in addition to the costs of the show.

When? 17-18 August

Twinwood Festival

A buzzing celebration of vintage music, dance and fashion, Twinwood Festival, near Bedford, is spread over four days of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Main Arena will take people on a musical journey from the 1920s through to the 1960s, while more than 100 vintage acts are set to perform at 16 different venues across the site. The fashion of that era is also the keystone of the festival, and with more than 100 traders and boutiques on site, selling everything from vintage clothing to homewares, there’s ample opportunity to get into the retro spirit. A set of vintage salons and a barbershop only adds to the festival’s charm. A three-day adult ticket costs £109, with adult day tickets priced at £49 each for Saturday and Sunday and £29 for Monday. Child tickets cost £8 per day, or £15 for a three-day ticket. Those with three-day tickets can access the festival on Friday for free, while non-campers can purchase a Friday ticket for £25, or £5 for children, provided they have purchased another day ticket as well.

When? 23-26 August

The Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show

Welcoming motorcycles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s to the Staffordshire County Showground, the Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show is one of two annual Stafford Classic Bike Shows. The 26th edition of the show in October is set to feature more than 900 traders, dealers and autojumble stands, with parts and products to help enthusiasts. Visit the Off-road Hall and Grand Prix Paddock to discover rare bikes and see some of the machines in action. Tickets are priced from £12 for adults, while children under 15 go free. The other show – the Carole Nash International Classic Motorcycle Show – takes place on the weekend of 25-26 April 2020.

When? 19-20 October

Vintage Adventure Tours

Experience the picturesque beauty of the Lake District from high up in a 1929 vintage car with Vintage Adventure Tours. In addition to eight carefully designed tours that take in different parts of the incredible landscape, guests get sole use of the 1929 Model A Ford Phaeton, meaning they can create their own trips and touring routes too. Zip along country lanes in the only vintage car in Britain that is registered for private hire – tours are priced from £195 for up to four people, while bespoke route costs vary based on time and distance travelled. Advance booking is a must.

When? All-year-round, dependent on availability

Sail on a Traditional Wherry

Experience sailing along the waters of the Broads National Park the traditional way aboard an Edwardian wherry yacht. As one of only three surviving vessels from the period, each more than 100 years old, a range of trips are available to experience the rivers as in Edwardian times, taking in the changing scenery and rare wildlife within the National Park. Part of the English National Park Experience Collection, scheduled trips are available for booking – lengths and prices vary.

When? Trips on selected dates

Literary footsteps in Exmoor

Discover the ancient traditions of Exmoor National Park and follow in the footsteps of literary greats, including poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and author R.D Blackmore on a Literary Footsteps tour. The vintage walking trail explores the lands that provided inspiration for their work, before the day is rounded off with a delicious Devonshire Cream Tea or a drink in a traditional pub. Tours are priced from £50 to £80, with half-day and full-day walking options available, and must be booked in advance.

When? Trips on selected dates

Jane Austen - The Dancing Years

Be transported back to the Regency Period and imagine Hampshire life for celebrated author Jane Austen in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Jane Austen’s Dancing Years Tour explores the picturesque villages, many that are largely unchanged from Victorian times, before taking in the Jane Austen House Museum at Chowton where she spent her last years. Tours are priced on a per person basis and vary dependent on the size of the tour party.

When? All-year-round, dependent on availability

May Accommodation Update

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

Opening soon:

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

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

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

Newly opened:

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

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

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

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

Six of the healthiest spots to kick off the new year

Feel the need to detox after the end-of-year celebrations? Here’s a pick of health retreats in Britain where you can easily kickstart your new-year, new-year wellbeing journey.

Gilpin Hotel & Spa, Lake District, north-west England

England’s stunning Lake District vistas are inspiration enough to make someone want to embrace a healthier lifestyle for the new year but, for that extra boost, check in to the Gilpin Hotel for some star-quality spa experiences. In addition to the 25 bedrooms, all with lake views, the hotel offers five new detached Spa Lodges; in each you’ll find an ensuite spa – think outdoor saunas and hydrotherapy hot tubs and indoor rainmaker showers and steam rooms. An alternative option at the property is to stay at the Gilpin Lake House, situated a mile away on a separate estate. This is truly a sanctuary – available to be privately booked for 12 people, it has its own lake, hot tubs, sauna, pool and the Jetty Spa, a Swedish-style spa treatment room set three metres into a tree canopy. Round off the relaxing experience with healthy, yet mouth-watering dishes at the Michelin-starred HRiSHi restaurant back up at Gilpin House.

The Sharpham Trust, Devon, south-west England

Set on a 550-acre estate on the River Dart in south Devon, the Sharpham Trust aims to bring nature and mindfulness to its guests. Its programme of mediation retreats are held at The Barn, a converted linhay (a type of two-storeyed farmhouse particularly found in Devon), while its dedicated mindfulness retreats take place in the Grade I-listed, Georgian mansion Sharpham House. The Trust, which has been running for more than 30 years, is set in gorgeous Capability Brown-designed parkland. Woodland retreats are also available, providing a fantastic opportunity to be super close to nature as guests stay in yurts out in the woodlands, or consider booking onto one of its courses for positive mental health, ranging from a one-day to a nine-week Mindful-in-Nature course.

ecoYoga, Scotland

The fresh air of the Scottish Highlands is a sure-fire way to get in the mood for a healthy outlook on life. Head to the tranquil, riverside retreat of ecoYoga Scotland for its relaxed vibes; here you’ll find a variety of yoga courses and retreats that are married with the teachings of sustainable eco-living. The ecoYoga Centre is powered by a hydro turbine and solar panels, water comes directly from a natural spring and guests can get involved in forest creations, gardening and a number of other eco-style activities. Even when retreats are not running guests can stay at the venue on a self-catering basis, take yoga classes in its yoga studio and enjoy its hot wild-river baths. Yoga classes are also taught by visiting teachers and include styles such as Ashtanga and Iyengar.

Seren Retreat, Gower, south Wales

Interested in Polarity Therapy? This technique, which focuses on the body’s energy flow, is a speciality of the Seren Retreat, a health resort 15 minutes from the award-winning beaches of the Gower Peninsula and set in 23 acres of woodland. Run by Rex and Alaea Beynon, who have 30 years’ experience in the healing arts, the retreats here aim to promote emotional, mental, physical and spiritual happiness. Treatments and counselling sessions are supported by both nutritional guidance and yoga aimed towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Yoga and mediation retreats use Ayurvedic rejuvenation techniques and retreats can be booked for between three to ten nights and also come with an Ayurvedic cooking demonstration.

Neal’s Yard Holidays, Britain-wide

Vegan detox and juice detox spa breaks, yoga retreats and wellbeing retreats – whatever way you’re looking to recharge your batteries and kickstart a healthy lifestyle you’re likely to find it through the UK-based Neal’s Yard Holidays, which take place across a number of locations across Britain. North Yorkshire has been the location for its juice detox spa breaks, where, as well as staying in a beautiful venue, guests enjoy yoga and energy rebalancing workshops. There are also women-only wellbeing retreats that combine life coaching with meditation and gourmet raw food, while its yoga retreats take place across some of Britain’s most beautiful and tranquil locations.

Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire

Just over half an hour from London and only seven miles from Heathrow Airport, you’ll find Stoke Park Hotel in the heart of the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Not only will the five-star luxury of this mansion house kickstart those endorphins to start you down a stress-free path, if your exercise of choice is tennis then you’re also in your dream location. Here you’ll find 13 tennis courts encompassing grass, clay and indoor, ideal for any level of player. Plus, it boasts a 4,000sqft gym for guests use, personal training and up to 40 exercise classes each week, a 27-hole Championship golf course, indoor pool and 14 acres of private gardens to stroll around. Relax after all that sport with some time in its award-winning spa and Scandinavian sauna.

Five reasons to visit Britain’s National Parks

July heralds Britain’s National Parks Week (22-29), where an eclectic range of events, from seaside safaris, forest walks, family fun days and treasure trails, take place across our 15 National Parks. All boast diverse and ancient landscapes, communities with rich cultural roots going back thousands of years and are must-visit destinations of natural beauty and tranquillity. Each is unique and special in its own way; here’s why a visit to Britain’s National Parks should be on your itinerary.

 

Cool ways to explore the countryside

Outdoor pursuits are ubiquitous throughout the National Parks, with a huge variety to experience. Enjoy boating? Head to the Broads National Park, where pleasure boating, especially on board a barge, has been part of life through its myriad of inland waterways since the early 19th century. Looking for an activity to get that adrenaline pumping? The Lake District National Park boasts the highest concentration of outdoor activity centres in the UK – check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine) for a brilliant buzz. Neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park is famed for its limestone geology, making it one of the best places in the UK for caving and potholing. And the only coastal national park, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in west Wales, is perfect for watersports from coasteering and surfing to sailing and kayaking. 

 

The chance to spot rare wildlife
Bring those binoculars…because the National Parks are home to rare and endangered species of wildlife. Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park – the largest of all the parks – is home to high plateaux with the rarest habitats and is the most southerly site in Europe for snow buntings. In fact, one in four of the UK’s endangered species have their home in this park, such as the golden eagle. Down on England’s east coast, in the Broads National Park, a quarter of Britain’s rarest species have their home here, while around 20 per cent of Wales’ Snowdonia National Park is specially designated by UK and European law to protect its distinctive wildlife. That includes the Snowdon Lily and the Snowdon beetle (both unique to Snowdon). And native wildlife often gives a National Park real character; check out the Dartmoor Ponies, a part of the Dartmoor National Park’s cultural heritage, and the iconic New Forest Ponies roaming free in the woods of the New Forest National Park.

 

Be inspired by contrasting landscapes
There are such varied landscapes within each National Park that depending on which area of each park you’re in you’ll find a wealth of distinctive environments. The Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, for example, is a mix of caves, gorges and waterfalls, hilltops, cliffs and broad valleys, as well as farmed landscapes, lakes and rivers. While down in the south-west of England, Exmoor National Park is one of heather and grass moors, wooded valleys, wonderful coastal views and upland farms. Exmoor is an International Dark Sky Park, as is Northumberland National Park in the north east of England; plus, the latter’s landscape is so geographically important, there are five Sites of Special Scientific Interest here, such as its volcanic and glacial features.

 

You’ll be stepping onto a film set
You might just recognise some of our National Parks’ landscapes and features from the silver screen, and from the pages of legendary novels and poems. The Peak District National Park in central England, for example, has been used many times as a film location, thanks to its multitude of magnificent stately homes – Chatsworth has starred in Pride & Prejudice, as has Lyme Hall; Haddon Hall was the background setting to Jane Eyre, Elizabeth and Moll Flanders while North Lees Hall, as well as appearing in Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, starred in The Other Boleyn Girl. Elsewhere, Dartmoor’s landscape appeared in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, while the Lake District is famously the inspiration for Romantic poets Wordsworth and Coleridge and children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome.

 

Stay in unique accommodation
You’ll find everything from campsites to charming B&Bs, cosy inns and luxury hotels throughout National Parks, as well as accommodation that’s rather extraordinary. In Scotland’s Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park wild camping is permitted in certain sections, an incredible way to experience the true beauty of the nature. Experience a glamping site with a difference at the North York Moors National Park at La Rosa campsite and stay in gypsy caravans with décor ranging from circus-themed, fairy tale themed, ‘psycho candy’ (all pink) and 1970s funky Africa! At the opposite end of Britain, on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park in south England – the country’s youngest national park – you can even stay on a 1964 Routemaster London double decker bus in Blackberry Wood, kitted out with sleeping, kitchen and dining areas!

 

Spotlight on: Peak District National Park

  • The Peak District was the first designated National Park in Britain, in 1951.
  • The park stretches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, meaning it’s accessible from the cities of Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham.
  • With 1,600 miles of public rights of way across footpaths, bridleways and tracks, this is great walking country. Love cycling? Hit the park’s 65 miles of off-road dedicated cycling and walking trails, with cycle-hire centres at Ashbourne, Parsley Hay, Derwent Valley and Middleton Top. It also boasts a treasure trove of disused railways to explore – the park owns 34 miles of them at High Peak Trail, Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail.
  • Head to the medieval market town of Bakewell, home to one of the UK’s most important agricultural markets. Make sure you try its famous Bakewell puddings (flaky pastry base, moist almond and jam filling, said to be invented by lucky mistake by an 18th-century kitchen maid).
  • The National Park has 2,900 listed buildings, including the world-renowned stately homes of Chatsworth, the medieval Haddon Hall, the Norman Peveril Castle, Bakewell’s medieval bridge as well as centuries-old farm-buildings and cottages.
  • There are plenty of interesting villages to explore. Castleton is famous for its caverns, and the “shivering mountain” of Mam Tor, Winnats Pass and Peveril Castle. Then there’s Eyam (“plague village”), Hathersage (reputed grave-site of Robin Hood’s friend Little John), Tideswell (14th century “cathedral of the Peak”), Ilam (Swiss-style architecture), Ashford-in-the-Water (classic English riverside village), and Tissington (Tissington Hall and close to Tissington Trail).
  • The Peak District has a distinctive custom to look out for: well dressing! Originally a pagan ceremony to honour water gods, it’s now a summer tradition in dozens of villages. Different villages decorate their wells or springs with natural, ephemeral pictures made of flowers, petals, seeds, twigs, nuts and berries, pressed into soft clay held in wooden frames. Well dressing weeks also include carnivals and streets decorated with bunting.

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.

Six Lake District locations to visit this autumn

As the Lake District National Park in north-west England became the UK’s biggest UNESCO World Heritage site last year, its popularity continued to soar, and the summer is, undoubtedly, a lovely time to visit. Savvy travellers, however, will find the Lakes and their towns and villages are equally beautiful to visit in the autumn; the scenery is ablaze with colour, the summer crowds have thinned out and there’s plenty to see and do during these months.

 

Windermere and Bowness

Right at the heart of the Lake District the towns of Windermere and Bowness boast picturesque lakes scenery wherever you turn. Catch those bright autumn colours from the water itself and climb aboard Windermere Lake Cruises steamers. This cruise can also take you to the neo-gothic Wray Castle; looming over the shores of Windermere, it’s not your typical castle displaying family heirlooms and portraits… there’s something here for everyone, including the little ones – they’ll love the dressing up, castle building and adventure play area available. For a different class of architecture, head to Blackwell House, a brilliant example of the Arts & Crafts movement from the early 20th century, which retains many of its original features and holds fantastic permanent and visiting exhibitions. From 21 September until February 2019 the House will host an exhibition of ceramics by Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry.

Children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was one of the Lakes’ most famous residents and all ages can enjoy the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction – you’ll feel as if you’re stepping into one of her books. Little ones will particularly love the Peter Rabbit Tea Party that’s taking place from 20 October to 30 December.

 

Kendal

A smart, handsome market town, Kendal is the Lakes’ arts and culture centre and packed with independent cafés and pubs. Catch a play, exhibition, comedy or music event at the town’s thriving cultural hub, the Brewery Arts Centre; get your fix of art at the hidden gem that is the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, set in the Grade I-listed 18th-century building of Abbot Hall; or experience a dose of history at Kendal Castle, once the family home of the sixth wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr. Book onto a walking tour to hear more of its dynamic history and admire the excellent views from its hilltop vantage point.

Kendal is also a festival hotspot; in November it welcomes the Kendal Mountain Festival, an award-winning adventure film and speaker festival and a must-visit gathering for outdoor enthusiasts. This September will also see the return of Lakes Alive (7-9), which will bring contemporary art, activities and performances to Kendal and the wider Lake District National Park. On 14 September, the Kendal Torchlight Carnival takes place, followed by the only comic art festival in the UK, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, taking over the whole of the town in October. Another way to experience the rich heritage and culture in the Lakes are the Lakes Culture Signature Experiences; four different routes have been created for visitors to experience different areas and their rich heritage and culture.

 

Keswick & Ullswater

Keswick is close to the lakes of Ullswater, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, as well as the mountains of Grizedale Pike, Skiddaw and Catbells yet it’s not just a walkers’ paradise; head out onto Ullswater Lake on board Ullswater Steamers for a relaxed view of the beautiful scenery or, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine). Climb the original miners’ route (the Via Ferrata Classic) an exposed adventure climbing course created from cargo nets and wire bridges strung 1,200 feet/366 metres above the valley floor and, if you’re feeling particularly brave, take the bigger challenge by climbing the Via Ferrata Extreme!

Keswick is also one of the Lakes’ cultural highlights. Professional producing theatre, Theatre on the Lake, close to Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, is probably in one of the prettiest theatre settings imaginable and you can catch a play here throughout the year. Travel a little further out to The Lakes Distillery and join an interactive tour to see how its whisky, gin, and vodka are made, which also make an excellent gift to take home. And we mustn’t forget the most niche of museums; the Pencil Museum! It’s more than just pencils (although the collection does include gems such as secret WW2 pencils complete with hidden maps); it also runs art workshops.

 

Coniston

Coniston, nestled between Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, comes from a copper mining and slate quarrying background and, today, the village’s proximity to dramatic landscapes – lakes, mountains, waterfalls, tarns, woods – means walking, sightseeing, water sports, mountaineering and horse riding are all prevalent here.

The most notable feature of Coniston Village is The Old Man of Coniston, a 2,634 feet/803-metre-high fell. For a slightly easier walk with incredible views, head to Tarn Hows, set more than 600ft/183 feet in the hills above Coniston, that has a lovely, easy, 1.5-mile pathway showing off the best of the gorgeous Langdale Pikes.

Another lovely way to see Coniston Water and the Fells is by the steam yacht gondola; the trip takes you past Coniston Hall and then on to Brantwood, the home of celebrated Victorian art critic and artist John Ruskin. You can alight here to explore the house, filled with many fine paintings, beautiful furniture and Ruskin’s personal treasures. 

 

Ambleside

Ambleside is surrounded by magnificent Lakeland fells and is a town with an energetic vibe, yet it’s also home to one of the oldest standing buildings in the Lakes, the quirky, picturesque Bridge House, which dates back to the 17th century, and a true Lakes icon.

A visit to Ambleside also means you’re very close to Hill Top House, the 17th-century farmhouse where Beatrix Potter lived, wrote and based many of her much-loved stories. When she left the house to the National Trust she left instructions about how it should be shown, so it stands exactly as she knew it and lived in it.

Some of Potter’s works can also be viewed at the Armitt Museum, Gallery & Library – she was one of its earliest supporters – which features the history of life, photography and fine art of the Lake District. Or for a slice of contemporary art, head to the Old Courthouse Gallery, showcasing glassworks, jewellery, wall art and ceramics, which you can also buy. A great way to spend an evening in Ambleside is at the Jazz Bar of Zeffirellis, where contemporary jazz and world music performances take place throughout the week. Want to sample local ale? Try the wares created by Ambleside’s Barngates Brewery, served in Drunken Duck Inn and Restaurant, – although the brewery isn’t open for tours, visitors to the Drunken Duck can request to see inside the adjacent brewery buildings.

 

Ravenglass

Ravenglass is the Lake District’s only coastal village and history emanates from every corner, from its Bronze Age settlements, Roman forts and Anglian crosses to its Viking remains, Norman churches and medieval mills. You can even go back to the Victorian era of steam and experience the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway, which takes you on a stunning seven-mile journey through the National Park.

A must-visit in the area is Muncaster Castle. Still lived in by the same family after nine centuries, Muncaster is said to be haunted and, this November, will hold a Scientific Ghost Vigil. If that doesn’t sound quite your thing, the castle itself is fascinating to explore and you can enjoy bird of prey displays at its Hawk and Owl Centre right up until December.

60 minutes from… Manchester

A city of culture, sport, music, history, creativity and diversity, Manchester in north-west England  should be on the must-visit list of any traveller to Britain; plus it’s one of the key gateways into the destination. It’s also in an enviable location, which means that journeying just an hour by train or car outside the city will lead you to a realm of ancient cities and spa towns, beautiful beach resorts, stately homes, unique countryside and bohemian heartlands – all perfect to visit on a day trip from Manchester.

 

Buxton, Derbyshire
Renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, the stately Crescent, which is being transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel, due to open in 2019, is a must-see. Buxton also boasts an impressive repertoire of festivals. This summer stop by for the open-access arts festival, the Buxton Fringe Festival, plus the Buxton Military Tattoo, and the Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature.

 

Liverpool, Merseyside
2018 is a huge year for Liverpool as it celebrates ten years since it was named European City of Culture 2008 and welcomes Britain’s largest celebration of contemporary art during the Liverpool Biennial, when artworks by 40 artists from 22 countries will be showcased for free across the city…all just 30 minutes by train direct from Manchester. There are a myriad of attractions to enjoy, from The Beatles Story and The Cavern (why not visit during the International Beatle Week Festival in August?) to contemporary art gallery Tate Liverpool and maybe cheer your football heroes on at a Premiere League football match at either Liverpool FC or Everton FC.

 

Southport, Merseyside
Miles of magnificent beaches greet you at Southport, a pretty coastal resort where you can kite surf, climb sand dunes, stroll along its historic pier or follow one of the town’s historic trails. Take a trip to Crosby Beach, which is home to Anthony Gormley’s art installation Another Place, 100 iron men standing looking out to sea. The area is also part of the UK’s ‘golfing capital’ – tee off at the prestigious Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport or travel 15 minutes’ from town to several more championship courses.

 

Chester, Cheshire
Wherever you walk in Chester, you can feel its rich history pulsating through its buildings, its city walls – the most complete city walls remaining in the UK – and its attractions. Here you can visit Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre, walk through 700 years of history while shopping in the Rows galleries, enjoy race days at Britain’s oldest racecourse and visit one of Britain’s largest zoos, Chester Zoo, where you can meet 21,000 animals and experience its passion for conservation.

 

Peak District, Derbyshire

The nearest part of the picturesque Peak District National Park to Manchester is packed with dramatic landscapes of high moorland plateaus – travel further south in the park to discover a diverse landscape of hills and dales – which makes for great walking territory. The Peak District is also home to charming villages and attractive market towns and, if you travel just 90 minutes from Manchester, you can visit some of the loveliest stately homes in the country, such as the grand Tudor Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House; when the house reopened in March the wraps came off a major long-term, £32.7 million restoration programme.

 

You might also like:

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, for its creative vibe generated from the influence of writers and artists, cute galleries and independent shops, all set near valleys and heather moorland. Come for the summer’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Tatton Park, Cheshire, for its neo-classical mansion, 1,000 acres of deer park, collection of fine art, as well as walks through the huge gardens, plus the many events held here every year. Come in July for its Food Festival and RHS Flower Show. 

Blackpool, Lancashire, for its traditional English seaside resort attractions, the stunning Blackpool Illuminations and the iconic Blackpool Tower. Come this summer as the town celebrates the 250th anniversary of the circus with a series of special events.

Lake District National Park, Cumbria, for the sheer beauty of its landscapes. Parts are reachable from Manchester within 60-90 minutes so is still manageable for a day trip. Explore the lovely town of Kendal in the south of the Lake District National Park, before heading for a walk on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England and just nine miles from Kendal.

Best Spring Breaks For English Tourism Week

The spring equinox (Tuesday 20 March) marks a time to celebrate woodlands bursting with daffodils, fields filled with adorable animals and long, warm, country walks. To celebrate, take advantage of the offerings for English Tourism Week (17-25 March), where a wide variety of local and national events, discounts and special offers are being made available. See below for a round-up of new season openings and offers across the country, for the perfect spring break in England.

 

FLOURISHING FLOWERS

Take in Wordsworth’s Daffodils with Sharrow Bay’s spring offer, Lake District

Walk in the footsteps of Romantic poet William Wordsworth this spring and gaze out across the ‘host of golden daffodils,’ adorning the banks of the very lake which inspired Daffodils - one of Britain’s best-loved poems. The original country house hotel and the inventor of sticky toffee pudding, Sharrow Bay sits right on the shores of Ullswater in an unrivalled lakeside setting and offers some of the Lake District’s most spectacular views of the famed spring landscapes. Situated within the newly-appointed World Heritage site, the hotel is the ideal starting point for a range of walks to admire the awakening Lake District scenery. 

 

New event: See Dazzling Daffodils at Hever Castle, Kent

21-25 March

See 14,000 daffodils bloom in the grounds at Anne Boleyn’s childhood home at this new event. Master grower Johnny Walkers of Walkers’ Bulbs, and winner of 35 RHS gold medals, will be onsite giving talks and tours and sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of bulbs accrued over a lifetime growing daffodils.

STAY AT: One Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells

From its origins as a brewery and school house, this harmonious and unified building brings a luxury guest experience to the historic spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. 

 

REJUVINATING BREAKS

Stay on England's most northerly commercial vineyard Farfield Farm, York

17-25 March

Relax and stay at this small family run business producing award winning wines in a farmhouse on an idyllic six-acre vineyard. Set on south facing slopes at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, the setting is rural and peaceful yet only six miles from the market town of Malton with regular food markets and food festivals. Castle Howard is nearby, as is the North York Moors Railway, plus for some city life it’s also a short drive from York. 

 

Enjoy 2 nights for the price of 1 in March at Chewton Glen, Hampshire

1-28 March (subject to availability)

With only 50 rooms available at this rate, celebrate spring with 130 acres to explore including a nine-hole golf course, a plush croquet lawn and indoor and outdoor tennis courts. Subject to availability until 28th March 2018, only 50 rooms available on a first come, first served basis.

 

Langdale Hotel offers a Brimstone Spa Break from 23 March, Lake District

23 March – 4 November

Set quietly on the Langdale Estate in the secluded Langdale Valley, Langdale Hotel offers chic rooms, nature walks right from the doorstep and an ultra-stylish dining experience, as well as Brimstone Spa, which includes a Himalayan Salt Steam, Finnish Sauna, Ice Fountain, Herbal Sauna, Mineral Salt Steam and Laconium as well as a relaxation pool which spans from indoors to outdoors. The Spa Break is available from the 23rd of March until the 4th of November and includes a night’s stay in a Lakeland Signature Roomy Room complete with lavish breakfast, a 55-minute treatment for each guest and a Spa Deli Lunch, as well as spa access throughout the stay.

 

ADORABLE ANIMALS
Spot wildlife at Chatsworth House during their season opening, Bakewell, Derbyshire

24 March

2018 will see Chatsworth House and Garden presented in its full glory following the culmination of the 10-year long restoration project. Come to the season opening on 24 March, and view the exhibition of the largest restoration and conservation project ever undertaken at Chatsworth. 
The park is home to red and fallow deer, sheep, cattle and many wild animals. The grass you walk on is a crop grazed by sheep, cattle and deer; the river provides fish and the woods game and timber. 

STAY AT: The Devonshire Arms, Beeley

This traditional country Inn is located on the Chatsworth Estate and has fourteen hotel bedrooms owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It’s a short walk from Chatsworth House and blends its idyllic village setting with contemporary comfort.

 

Beautiful British gardens open for lambs and spring bulbs at Kentwell Hall, Suffolk

17-29 March

Standing within the most extensive moat in the county and over 25 acres of gardens and ground, Kentwell Hall is Suffolk’s hidden gem and one of England’s finest Tudor houses. Kentwell’s gardens will be beautiful with the grounds covered in daffodils and the spring bulbs and fruit blossom all flowering, with new-born lambs in the Tudor Stables. Kentwell has extended the Story Book Adventure Trail to encourage more children to get outdoors and now includes 19 stories and characters; from the enormous ‘Crunching Munching Caterpillar’ to the magnificent ‘Gorilla who wanted to Grow Up’. 

STAY AT: The Black Lion, Long Melford

The Black Lion has 10 bedrooms including snug, luxury, grand luxury and family rooms. Chestnuts interior design team has cleverly combined The Black Lion’s traditional and antique style with a luxurious and warm feel. 

 

SPRING WALKS

Book onto a walking holiday, Somerset

18-25 March

Choose from five night guided walking holidays in Bath, the Cotswolds, Exmoor, Somerset and Wiltshire, with Bath West Walks. Each holiday will enable you to come into contact with nature, wildlife and local heritage. Among the places you can visit are Avebury, Bourton on the Water, Lorna Doone Valley and the National Trust's Stourhead. Mention English Tourism Week to obtain your 10% discount.

 

Freshen up with a Spring Nature Trail, Blickling Estate, Norfolk

29 March – 15 April

Help the kids let off some steam by taking them to a 55-acre playground in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. The team at the Blickling Estate have organised a series trails so that families can brush away the cobwebs and get active during the Easter holidays. Learn about nature, marvel at the first buds of spring and see if you can spot any birds building their nests. You can also enjoy sow-and-grow sessions in the walled garden and a family-friendly cycle trail. 

STAY AT: Bucks Arms, Blickling

This traditional 17th century pub and former coaching inn offers fantastic views of the surrounding Blickling Hall Estate. 

 

For more information on English Tourism Week, go to:

www.visitengland.com/english-tourism-week 

Britain’s most romantic destinations

Love is in the air — or so it would seem, given the number of recent high-profile engagements. But it’s when you gaze back into the past you find some of the greatest love stories so here are a few Great British tales of myth and legend — and romantic places nearby to indulge the heart.

 

St Dwynwen, Llanddwyn Island, Wales

St Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers who fell for local lad Maelon Dafodrill, but was forced to reject him as her father wanted her to marry another. After drinking a potion, she unwittingly turned her lover to ice. God then granted her three wishes: She wished that Maelon be thawed; that God would help all true lovers; and that she should never marry.

And so she became a nun, setting up a convent on Llanddwyn Island in Anglesey, one of Wales’ most romantic spots. Visit Dwynwen’s church ruins, find peace and solitude on the island’s glorious beaches overlooked by Snowdonia’s peaks, and visit Dwynwen’s Well where, according to legend, the movements of the resident eels can predict the long-term success of your own relationship — and if the water boils, you’re guaranteed love and luck!

Place to stay: The Love Nest self-catering cottage in Trefdraeth village, near Llanddwyn Island, has cosy nooks for snuggling together. 

 

Wordsworth, Grasmere, Lake District

Poetry has long won over hearts and minds, especially Wordsworth’s verses which were inspired by the Lake District. He wrote an incredible 70,000 lines of verse in his lifetime —that’s 40,000 more than any other poet.

Start at Dove Cottage in Grasmere to discover the poet’s home before venturing next door to the Wordsworth Museum, with the largest collection of his poems, letters and journals.

For hikers, Grasmere’s lake, fells and mountains are prime territory for exploration. Later, take time to browse the town’s independent stores, including Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Established in 1854, they still use the original recipe for the spicy-sweet treat - purchase a box for a tasty souvenir.

Place to stay: The Wordsworth Hotel and Spa is a country house hotel in Grasmere offering romantic fine-dining and a pampering spa.

 

Tristan and Isolde, Tintagel, Cornwall

The windswept coast of Tintagel has enchanted many a writer; in fact, the tragic 12th-century fictional love story of Tristan and Isolde was inspired by the region and has been rewritten numerous times since.

Isolde was betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall, but when his nephew Tristan escorted her back to England, the pair fell in love. They married other people, but when Tristan fell ill he sent for Isolde to save him. However, his wife tricked him into believing Isolde had refused to come — and the true lovers died from broken hearts.

Trace their story at Tintagel Castle, built by the King’s brother, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, in homage to the poem. After, relax on the beach below, accessible via a cliff path and one of Tintagel’s best-kept secrets, and order a traditional Cornish cream tea at the Beach Café.

Place to stay: Book one of the grand four-poster bedrooms at Camelot Castle with views over Tintagel Castle and the coast.

 

Queen Victoria, Osborne House, Isle of Wight

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot," said Queen Victoria about Osborne House, the palatial seaside home on the Isle of Wight, and former haven for the queen and her beloved Prince Albert.

Tour the Italianate state apartments and rooms before exploring the extensive gardens. Reserve a table at the Terrace Restaurant inside Queen Victoria’s private chapel for seasonal dishes, and, naturally, four types of Victoria sponge.

As well as being Lonely Planet’s number one cycling destination, the Isle of Wight is renowned for its nautical adventures including Cowes Week, one of the world’s oldest and largest annual sailing regattas. Charter a boat for a memorable afternoon sailing along the coast.

Place to stay: Reserve the Pavilion Cottage, set in a former cricket pavilion and enjoy after-hours access to Osborne House beach and grounds. The south-facing veranda is perfect for cosying up under the stars.

On the trail of British women who changed the world

In March, London’s Southbank Centre hosts its annual Women of the World festival, celebrating the achievements of women around the world. But it’s not the only place with the WOW factor. Here are nine destinations showcasing the highlights and heritage of influential British women.

1. J.K. Rowling

Visitors to Edinburgh can experience Potter magic through some of J.K. Rowling’s favourite haunts. Take a trip to the Elephant House, once a writing refuge for the author and where fans can sit in the seat she vacated, or book the suite at The Balmoral where she wrote the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t miss the Potter Trail, a free walking tour around Edinburgh’s old town, which spills the beans on how He Who Must Not Be Named got his name.

2. Emmeline Pankhurst

In her hometown of Manchester, visitors can explore the legacy of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement that helped women secure the vote. Stay in the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel, once Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which hosted the first public meeting on women’s suffrage, and visit The Pankhurst Centreat 62 Nelson Street, the family home of Emmeline Pankhurst. Currently, Manchester Art Gallery is taking votes on the design of a memorial statue to be unveiled on International Women’s Day 2019.

3. Kelly Holmes

Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes was on the move long before she was crowned double Olympic champion or founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. In her early years, she did paper rounds for a sweetshop in Hildenborough near Tonbridge, Kent – she has since turned the shop into Café 1809 where visitors earn loyalty points for healthy food choices and can chat about sporting endeavours.

4. Mary Quant

Designer Dame Mary Quant made London’s King’s Road world-famous with her Bazaar boutique in the 1950s and is credited with placing the mini skirt on the fashion map; nowadays, the area is packed with high-end stores and restaurants. After a long day’s shopping, get your culture fix at the nearby Saatchi Gallery or take a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with one of the Chelsea Pensioners, the retired soldiers who live here.

5. Diana, Princess of Wales

London’s Kensington Palace and Gardens are a good starting point for exploring the life of Princess Diana and the venue is currently hosting the exhibition; Diana: Her Fashion Story. As well as being a member of the royal family, she was known for raising awareness of causes such as HIV/AIDS and anti-landmine campaigns. Younger visitors can explore the Diana Memorial Playground complete with sensory trail, beach, and pirate ship. Visitors can also dip their toes in Hyde Park’s Diana Memorial Fountain or stretch their legs on a seven-mile Memorial Walk through four London parks.

6. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter left 14 farms and 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust so people could enjoy her beloved Lake District. You can follow the Beatrix Potter trail which includes her former home, the National Trust property of Hill Top, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, set in a 17th-century building once the office of her solicitor husband. Separate to the Trust, the exhibition and character-inspired gardens at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windemere offer an engaging insight into this much-loved author’s life and books. 

Also, you may want to consider these influential women:

  • Amy Winehouse - view street art dedicated to the late singer in Camden, north west London.
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson - discover the inspirational story of Britain’s first female doctor at The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery, London, and The Long Shop Museum near Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
  • Kate Moss – the international supermodel is a big fan of the London Eye – she’s taken it 25 times.