Discover Britain’s musical legends on the trail of Rocketman

Telling the story of multi-Grammy award-winning superstar Sir Elton John, Rocketman dives head-first into the colourful world of rock and roll. The masterful biopic charts his rise to fame, from his origins as youngster Reginald Dwight to the fabulously flamboyant world of Elton John. Taron Egerton stars as the leading protagonist, as Rocketman explores Elton’s relationships with manager John Reid and lyricist Bernie Taupin, among others. In collaboration with Taupin, Elton has released more than 30 albums to date and has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. But Elton isn’t the only British artist to change the face of music history. From The Beatles to Queen and David Bowie, Take That to the Rolling Stones, Britain is a cultural mecca for music fans, and whether you’re visiting London or Liverpool, there’s a musical experience that perfect for you.

London

A hive of musical activity throughout the ages, London really came into its own in the swinging 60s, when up-and-coming bands from across the world flocked to soak up the creative vibes and jam together. It was from his parent’s home in Pinner, North London, that a young Reginald Dwight formed Bluesology – the first step on his path to stardom. Indeed, the names of two band members, Elton Dean and John Baldry, were used to create his solo stage name – Elton John! Fans of the charismatic star can walk in his footsteps on a Pinner Walk, which takes in Elton’s childhood home, spectacular views from Pinner Hill Golf Club and his first gigging venue. Having welcomed Elton as a weekend pianist in the 1960s, Northwood Hills Hotel may be gone, but the building lives on as Namaste Lounge, a modern Indian restaurant, bar and shisha lounge. If you’re a rock fan on a trip to the capital you can also discover the former haunts of Led Zeppelin, The Clash and Amy Winehouse on a Rock Legends minibus tour, or visit the London flat that all four Beatles shared on the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Tour of London, which also reveals the history of artists including U2 and Elton himself. Alternatively, why not go time travelling on the Swinging 60s bus tour, which transports you back to the music-defining decade.

Liverpool

Elton has close ties to Liverpool thanks to his auntie, while drummer Nigel Olsson, who has played drums alongside him for half a century, was born in the Wirral. The city is packed full of music-themed tours and experiences to enjoy. You can discover the history of Liverpool supergroup The Beatles and a whole host of other British artists at the British Music Experience.  With a section dedicated just to the Fab Four, you can see letters written by fans of the band, clothing worn by Ringo and John, and a whole range of memorabilia from the band’s travels in the 1960s. Other highlights include outfits worn by David Bowie, the Union Jack guitar played by Noel Gallagher at the pinnacle of Oasis’s fame, and even lyrics written by Adele.

Manchester

As the birthplace of Oasis, The 1975 and The Smiths, Manchester is no slouch when it comes to musical heritage. If you’re inspired by Rocketman to get back to your musical roots and Manchester is your destination of choice, why not jump on one of Manchester Music Tours sightseeing trips? Founded by Craig Gill, the drummer of Inspiral Carpets, the tours reveal the history of famous artists, bands and venues throughout the decades, from The Stone Roses to Joy Division. You can even travel in rock star style and take the tour from the comfort of a Manchester taxi. And from two-hour group tours to private itineraries, Manchester Music Story Tour has something for every fan – you can even do a combined tour of three British music cities, taking in the highlights of Manchester, London and Liverpool.

Edinburgh

From bagpipes to the Bay City Rollers, Scotland’s capital city has a rich musical history that’s well worth discovering. Elton’s first solo concert in 1972 was at the city’s Festival Theatre in Nicolson Street, then called the Empire, while the extravagant musician has also wowed crowds at Edinburgh Castle and Easter Road in the past. If you’re visiting the city, why not check out Edinburgh Music Tours, which offer 1.5-hour tours of the city’s musical highlights. For over 18s only, the tours finish in one of Edinburgh’s most famous folk bars, where you can discover more about the legendary acts that have played there over a wee dram or two.

Glasgow

A hot spot for up-and-coming musicians over the years, Elton wouldn’t have been out of place trying to forge his career in Glasgow! A favourite stomping ground of bands including Oasis and Manic Street Preachers, the city’s bars and pubs have played host to many a struggling artist both before and after they made it big. You can find out more about this epic musical heritage on a Glasgow Music City Tour, enjoy traditional folk music on the Scottish Trad Trail Tour or visit the historic music venues of yore on the Merchant City Tour.

Dotty for Downton - discover the filming locations of the Downton Abbey movie

The feature length Downton Abbey movie hits the screens in September, with the new trailer providing plenty of reasons for fans of the period drama to get excited.

Director Brian Percival’s feature length production will welcome back the stars of the hit ITV series, last seen on screens in 2015. And there are ample opportunities to visit the real Downton Abbey, both before and after the movie lands in UK cinemas on 13 September.

What to expect from the movie?

Set around a year after the finale of the TV series, in 1927, the Downton Abbey movie will revolve around a royal visit from His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary.

It will once again follow the aristocratic Crawley family and their dedicated staff on the fictional Yorkshire estate. Starring old favourites including Dame Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Lesley Nicole and Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter will also return as Carson the butler in a bid to restore Downton to its former glory.

See the real Downton Abbey!

The picturesque star of the movie, and of the past television series, Highclere Castle near the Hampshire/Berkshire border doubles up as the famous setting for Downton Abbey. The home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, the stunning period property and 5,000-acre estate features Jacobean Revival architecture from Sir Charles Barry which dates back to the 1820s. In addition to the country house are its pristine grounds, landscaped by renowned gardener Capability Brown in 1770, and designated a Sight of Special Scientific Interest since 1991.

Events at Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle opens for a limited period during the summer, and on selected other dates for special events throughout the year, giving Downton Abbey fans a chance to experience the impressive building first-hand.

When? The Castle and Gardens, as well as an onsite Egyptian Exhibition, will be open to the public from 7 July 2019 to 2 September 2019, although the Castle is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Downton Abbey Live Open Air Concert

Fans can prepare for the forthcoming movie release by taking in the TV show’s magical soundtrack this June. Set in the grounds of Highclere Castle, the Chamber Orchestra of London will join forces with the TV show’s composer John Lunn on piano for an exclusive open air concert. Hosted by Jim Carter, renowned for his portrayal of Mr Carson, the Downton Abbey Live open air concert aims to bring the TV phenomenon to life on 22 June.

When? 22 June, from 4pm

Costumes, Cocktails and Castle Tours

Just in time for the Downton Abbey movie release, Highclere Castle is hosting Costumes, Cocktails and Castle Tours on the weekend before it hits cinemas. Visitors can tour the castle, walking in the footsteps of the stars, while taking in a spectacular collection of costumes from the 1920s era. Highclere’s own cocktail van, ‘Josephine Vanessa’ will also be on site serving up a delicious array of refreshing drinks.

When? 7-8 September 2019. Grounds open from 10am to 6pm, with access on the Castle limited to the type of ticket. Morning ticket access from 10.30am to 12.30 pm. Afternoon ticket access from 12.20pm to 2.30pm.

Real Lives and Film Sets – Special guided tours

Once the film is released, fans of Downton Abbey will be able to set foot in many of the locations were the scenes were shot as part of exclusive special guided tours. Real Lives and Film Sets will enable visitors to explore the beauty of the State Rooms, climb the Great Oak Staircase and be immersed by the extensive Egyptian Exhibition – which details the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter – while discovering more about the rich and varied history of the site. Tours also include a seasonal buffet at the estate’s Coach House Tea Rooms.

When? Tours on selected dates in September (14, 17, 20, 25, 28, 29) and October (16, 17, 23, 24) with morning sessions starting at 10.30am and afternoon sessions starting at 2.30pm for entry to the Castle.

Beamish Open Air Museum

Used as a backdrop for the upcoming Downton Abbey film, the renowned Beamish open air museum in County Durham explores life in North East England in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 1900s Town allows visitors to discover how families lived and worked in the build-up to the First World War, supported by highly engaging and thought-provoking Pit Village and Colliery experiences. A recreated tramway, a 1940s farm, an Edwardian style railway station and 1820s Pockerley are among the other star attractions.

When? Open daily from 10am to 5pm until 3 November 2019, with reduced opening hours of 10am to 4pm during the winter. Beamish is closed on selected days during the winter.

Discover London during Wimbledon

As the only Grand Slam tennis tournament still played on grass, the prestigious Wimbledon Championships continues to be a huge draw for fans across the world. The 2019 tournament runs from 1-14 July and will see thousands of fans descending on the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Tickets for the two-week event are in demand, with the majority only accessible via ballot, and the remaining tickets don’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean fans in London need to miss the action on the famous grass courts in SW19.

As well as the men’s and ladies’ singles finals, there are also men’s doubles, ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles to enjoy during the tournament, as well as four junior events – boy’s and girls’ singles and boy’s and girls’ doubles. The best players from across the world go head-to-head, chasing multi-million-pound prize pots and a chance to cement their place in tennis folklore.

In the men’s game, no one has beaten Roger Federer’s eight Wimbledon titles, while of those still playing in the women’s game, Serena Williams has lifted the trophy an incredible seven times. Both will be hoping to secure their place in their respective finals, with the Women’s Singles’ Final on Saturday 13 July, and the Men’s Singles Final on Sunday 14 July.

Getting tickets for Wimbledon

Although the tennis attracts a worldwide audience of millions each year, only a maximum of 39,000 spectators are allowed into the grounds at any one time.

Those tickets are distributed via public ballots, long-term debenture seats, by queueing on the day for a limited number of release tickets and via online sales the day before play. The vast majority of tickets for the main courts – Centre Court, No.1 Court and Number 2 Court – are sold via ballots, months in advance of the action getting underway.  

Around 500 tickets for each of the three courts, as well as a limited number of Grounds Passes, are available to those who want to queue up each day – this often involves camping at the grounds for at least one night. Wristbands are allocated from 7.30am to those in the queue on Church Road leading to Gate 3. The grounds open at 9.30 and no wristband for the show courts means no ticket, although Grounds Passes could still be available. Note also that all tickets for the final four days of the tournament are sold in advance.

A big screen on Murray Mound (or Henman Hill), a strip of high ground adjacent to Court No. 1 is a go-to for those with Grounds Passes who are keen to see the elite stars in action.

Getting to Wimbledon

For those with a ticket to Wimbledon, it’s recommended to use public transport to access the All England Lawn Tennis Club as parking options are limited.

District Line services on the London Underground run regularly and the entrance to Wimbledon is around a 15-minute walk from Southfields. South West Trains services run from Waterloo Station to Wimbledon Station, with the walk to the venue taking around 30 minutes.

London’s big screenings

With tickets for Wimbledon in such high demand, it’s still possible to enjoy the action in the heart of London on one of several big screens.

Granary Square, King’s Cross

The canal side steps in Granary Square will show coverage of Wimbledon until at least 8pm each evening, with screenings continuing if key matches are not finished. The screenings form part of the Everyman Summer Love Film Festival and the KERB street food market and a pop-up bar will provide refreshments.

When? 1-14 July

Merchant Square, Paddington

Hidden away alongside the canal in the Paddington Basin, tennis will once again be shown on the big screen in Merchant Square. Relax in deckchairs and on beanbags, and tuck into an array of delicious street food on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When? 1-14 July

British Summer Time, Hyde Park

As part of the Open House week of British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park, visitors can enjoy outdoor cinema, food markets and free Wimbledon screenings on four weekdays from 12pm, alongside delicious portions of strawberries and cream. Note that the championship finals will not be screened.

When? 8-11 July

The Piazza, Wimbledon

For those unable to secure a ticket to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, screenings will take place on The Piazza near to Wimbledon station, with an abundance of colourful deckchairs available for fans.

When? 1-14 July

Cardinal Place Roof Garden

With free screenings taking place throughout the tournament at the Cardinal Place Roof Garden, visitors will need to arrive early to grab a deckchair or one of the big Union Jack cushions.

When? 1-14 July

VisitBritain highlights importance of gardens to tourism at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

VisitBritain is this year supporting the RHS Bridgewater Feature Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, hosting an event to shine the spotlight on the role that gardens play in driving both domestic and inbound tourism.

It comes as latest statistics show that more Brits are visiting gardens as part of a day trip out in England, last year taking 7.4 million more such trips than in 2017, up 16% and making gardens more popular than visiting a stately home, historic house or palace. 

Longer-term, visits to gardens as part of a day trip in England have increased 14% on average each year during the last five years from 2014 to 2018. 

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Britain’s stunning gardens are a proven tourism draw which have inspired visitors for generations, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety and enjoyed by domestic and overseas tourists in growing numbers. With the summer season upon us and Britain’s gardens in bloom, it is the perfect time to be highlighting their importance to tourism at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations.”

Garden attractions in England have also seen higher growth than other types of attractions according to VisitEngland’s latest Annual Attractions Survey. Garden attractions saw a 3% annual increase in domestic and inbound visitors, above the average for all attraction types of 2%. 

When looking at inbound tourism, almost a third of all visits annually to the UK include a trip to a garden or park with those visitors spending a total of £8.9 billion during their stay. The US, France and Germany make up the top three inbound markets respectively for the number of visits to gardens and parks made during trips to the UK. 

Gardens have been a cornerstone of the tourism agency’s promotional activity for decades, from the ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition which it ran for many years to VisitEngland’s year-long themed campaigns promoting English gardens to drive domestic tourism. More recently its focus has been supporting tourism product development for example the ‘Gourmet Garden Trails of England’ which packages up accommodation, and food and drink around English garden attractions.

VisitBritain is hosting an evening reception for its 50th anniversary at the RHS Bridgewater Garden during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, putting the spotlight on regional destinations and visitor attractions. The garden is designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and is the largest at this year’s show, described as a collage of the garden being built around the new Welcome Building at RHS Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. 

Tourism overall is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth across its nations and regions.

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

• For a link to an online map of some of Britain’s flower shows and content please see: https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/discover-some-britains-most-fantastic-flower-shows
• For content on flower shows in Britain please see: 

https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/media/story-ideas/discover-some-britains-most-fantastic-flower-shows
• The British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) marks its 50th anniversary this year, 2019. It was established following The Development of Tourism Act 1969.
• Latest statistics show that in 2018 there 54.4 million domestic day trips in England which included a visit to a garden compared to 47 million in 2017, an increase of 16%.
• The third of inbound tourism visits accounted for (32%) of visits to the UK based on 2016 International Passenger Survey statistics from ONS.
• The latest VisitEngland Annual Attractions Survey is for 2017 (and published in August 2018): See link here: https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/Documents-Library/documents/England-documents/vva_2017_trends_in_england.pdf 

• For more information on the RHS Bridgewater Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show see:
https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater

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.

50 years of Pride: Be there for London’s Jubilee Gay Pride Celebrations

London Pride 2019 will be a historic and important moment for the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating 50 years since the first protest for equal rights in the gay community. The ground-breaking Stonewall Uprising in New York will be remembered with a joyous parade through the streets and the capital’s gay village, Soho, becoming a hub for parties and fun as London celebrates half a century of progression and unity.

The Parade

Visitors can witness history in this jubilee year Pride of London parade, happening 6 July. Starting in Portland Place and ending in Whitehall/Trafalgar Square, the parade will consist of over 300 floats and groups who will entertain the crowd with music, dancing and performances, many of which are kept secret until the day! The grand finale of this festival of celebration is a varied line-up of entertainment, including music and speeches in Trafalgar Square, which is free to attend.

Bars

Found in the heart of London’s gay village, with views of Old Compton Street, Ku Bar & Club is a great place for a cocktail during Pride. With rich golden interiors covering this 2-floor bar, Ku will have an extra special atmosphere during Pride festival.

Around since the early 1990s, Village Soho is a very well established gay-friendly venue. With an extensive cocktail menu and a late-night license, it will be right at the heart of the Gay Pride party.

A traditional style pub in Soho’s gay village, Comptons of Soho serves everything from real ale to punch bowls and shots, and has become a well-known gay bar in London. Being in the heart of Soho, crowds are sure to gather outside Comptons for a bustling street party along Old Compton Street!

Opening in 1979 and quickly becoming pivotal in the creation of London’s gay scene, nightclub and music venue, Heaven  has been host to many musical legends. From New Order’s first London show, to Nick Cave’s original punk band The Birthday Party and London’s sweetheart Adele, the lively shows at Heaven continue to impress music lovers to this day. It also holds regular club nights on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Known for serving some of the cheapest drinks in Soho to a soundtrack of gay anthems and the best of guilty-pleasure pop, G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late are the places to be for a night of guaranteed fun! G-A-Y late is open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Blending elements of traditional British pub culture with a classic gay bar, Halfway to Heaven is located in Trafalgar Square, a few steps from where the Pride in London parade ends. Sure to be full of people celebrating, there is also a smaller ‘centre-stage’ bar downstairs, known for putting on cabaret acts, drag shows and karaoke.

Where to stay - Soho

With elegant suites and rooms, The London EDITION hotel offers a luxurious space just a stone’s throw from the Pride parties, while the hotel’s Lobby Bar and Punch Room offer sophisticated spots to enjoy wine and cocktails.

Modern, stylish and full of amazing artwork, Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel is a haven in the heart of central London. Boasting a drawing room, library, spa, 1950s style bowling alley imported from America, and even a cosy roof terrace bar, Ham Yard Hotel has a lot to offer its guests. Bowling is £20 per person for one hour.

Located in the centre of the gay village, Z Soho is a super-modern hotel with 85 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. Minutes away from Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road tube stations, the thriving LGBTQ+ community of London is right on their doorstep.

For ‘style on a budget’ hostel accommodation in the midst of all the Pride action, try SoHostel on Dean Street. Prices vary from a very cheap 18-bed mixed dormitory room and increase when fewer people are sharing.

 

What to wear

Although there is no dress code for Pride in London 2019, the majority of those in attendance – and especially those taking part in the parade – opt for bright and extravagant clothing, often reflecting the LGBTQ+ community’s rainbow flag.

 

Getting to London

Flights to London airports, as well as regular Eurostar services going from several European cities, are well served by transport links into central London. Tube stations close to Soho include Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road.  

Ainda dá tempo para "Spice Up Your Life" com as Spice Girls na Grã-Bretanha este junho: Conheça as novas viagens com guias da Viaje Entre Iguais

Meghan & Harry’s Royal Babymoon Inspiration: Why London is the Perfect Pre-baby Holiday Destination

As everyone awaits news of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s new baby, the world is closely following how they spend the precious days before the birth. After a recent relaxing mini-break, the royal couple have successfully made ‘babymoons’ a new tradition; we explore what makes London the ultimate pre-baby getaway.

Non-alcoholic bars

Dealing exclusively in ultra-healthy food and alcohol-free drinks, Redemption Bar offers an alternative to London’s predominantly boozy social scene. Found in Shoreditch, Covent Garden and Notting Hill, highlights from the cocktail menu include the wonderfully tropical pious pina colada and the moreish Seedlip apple mojito.

Designed with eccentric British flare, Mark’s Bar lies hidden under HIX Soho, offering a selection of luxury alcohol-free cocktails, including a Shirley temple, Espresso Martino and their fresh Lime Rickey.

London’s original speakeasy, Nightjar offer three amazing ‘mocktails’, including a fantastic Seedgroni Sbagliato. Based in Shoreditch, this romantically lit bar promises ‘a slice of old school glamour’, with live jazz and an elegant menu of sharing plates and tapas.

Pregnant Yoga

Offering pregnant yoga for all levels, Triyoga helps ease pain, boost circulation and prepare the mind and body of the mother-to-be. Available in 5 studios across London, classes encourage a nurturing environment. A 1-class drop-in costs £17 but 5, 10 and 20 class passes are also available.

With a focus on mindfulness, gentle flexibility and strengthening the bond between mother and baby, Frame’s ‘Mumhood Pre-Natal Yoga’ offer low-impact pregnancy yoga classes in 6 locations across London, available as pay-as-you-go for £15 a class.

Spa treatments for pregnant ladies

The Connaught Hotel offers two ‘body nurturing’ treatments designed for pregnant clients, the nurture which last 90 minutes and uplift that lasts 45 minutes. Tailored to help with pregnancy-specific issues such as foot, back and leg pain, these treatments offer a relaxing boost. The Connaught also offers facials, manicures, pedicures and hair removal for when DIY becomes impossible. The Uplift treatment costs £120 and the longer Nurture treatment costs £190.

For a treatment that focuses on a full body exfoliation, using polish and a clay mask to benefit stretch marks, the Refine and Comfort Wrap from the Mandarin Oriental in London is the height of prenatal luxury. It also includes a facial and scalp massage and costs £195.

The Berkeley Mother-to-be-Treat package is a full day of ultimate spa bliss. Performed by a specially trained pregnancy masseur, the 55-minute massage is followed by a facial, manicure, pedicure and finished with a 2-course lunch and healthy fruit smoothie. Open to all expectant mothers in their second and third trimester, this experience costs £335.

Bump-Friendly Activities

Everyman cinemas offer a luxury experience, with large, inviting sofas and table service for drinks. There are various sites across London but the Kings Cross and Canary Wharf cinemas boast the highest comfort levels. Ticket prices vary depending on the location, with a premier adult ticket for Kings Cross priced at £17.80 and £18.25 at Canary Wharf.

The View from the Shard at London Bridge offers a viewing deck with some of the best views in London, available with minimal stair climbing. Home to London’s highest bar, it serves a range of alcohol-free cocktails, as well as ice cream and pastries. A standard ticket on the day is £32.

London Thames River Lunch Cruise offers a pregnancy-friendly way to explore London, see the sights of the capital and enjoy a 3-course lunch, from £39 pp. This leisurely 90-minute Thames cruise serve a 3-course meal whilst passing landmarks such as, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, and Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern.

The best night’s sleep in London

With strong royal connections since the Victorian era, the Royal Suite at Claridge’s has a bed fit for a Queen. Known for being one of the grandest and most spacious rooms in London, mums-to-be will get a full night of precious sleep, feeling like royalty.

Home to one of the most famous beds in London, the luxurious and richly decorated Portobello Hotel’s Room 16 has an 8-foot circular bed and roll-top bath, ideal for relaxing and stretching out achy legs.

For a silent night of guaranteed uninterrupted slumber and a sleep-inducing aromatherapy kit, Crowne Plaza offer a ‘Sleep Advantage’ programme where between 9pm and 10am any disturbance is out of the question. Rooms are available from £150 a night, with 30 hotels within 5 miles of London’s centre.

TASTE – April 2019

London – recently opened

Mirroring the spring season, Britain’s food offering is bursting with fresh, new experiences.

Nobu has welcomed the beauty of spring into their London Shoreditch hotel with the newly launched ‘Hanami’ terrace, inspired by Japan’s famous cherry-blossom season. As well as decking out the terrace with blossoming Sakura, Nobu are offering an exclusive cocktail menu, bespoke dishes and Hana Afternoon Tea, from April until June.  Also inspired by the tastes of Japan, Dinings SW3 is now offering monthly off-menu Omasake dinners, paired with exclusive sakes. An intimate group of only 12 can sit around Executive Chef Masaki Sugisaki’s sushi table and taste the authentic and completely bespoke menu, which differs each month.

London – opening soon

Opening in May on London’s culture-rich Portobello Road is Gold Notting Hill, a neighbourhood restaurant and late-night bar full of artistic creativity, set to encompass the bohemian atmosphere of west London. Spanning four floors, Gold will have a contemporary modern European menu offering high quality food cooked over open flame or in wood oven, and a bar with a select menu of carefully curated cocktails.

Also coming to Notting Hill this May is Suzi Tros, a relaxed, modern Greek restaurant from the couple who created Mazi. With a strong ethos of sustainability, and inspired by the cosy eateries of the owner’s hometown of Thessaloniki, Suzi Tros will serve small plates designed for sharing and offer cocktails made with Greek spirits in an intimate downstairs bar.

The queue-inducing Soho favourite Bao is set to open another of their Taiwanese steamed bun restaurants in Borough Market early in May, but this one comes with a new experience – a karaoke room, available to book from 27 May. Another addition to the Soho food and drink scene this spring is Martha’s, a retro-luxe eatery and bar serving all-American classics accompanied by live jazz and drag acts, which opens 15 April.

The Little Blue Door launches in May and promises the same mix of welcoming and cool, homely yet hipster as its predecessor, The Little Yellow Door. Expect everything from unforgettable late nights, bottomless brunches and ‘London’s Yummiest Roast’ in this ‘anything goes’ establishment, bookable via WhatsApp.

Manchester – recently opened

Located in Stockport’s Grade II listed Market Place building, The Produce Hall is a new addition to Manchester’s growing alternative eating scene. The original Market Place, dating back to the 1860s, which once housed traditional butchers and cheesemongers, now offers a range of comfort food dishes from almost a dozen diverse stalls.

Having progressed from pop-up to a permanent residence in Ancoats, The Hip Hop Chip Shop serves up a perfect portion of traditional chippy dinner but with a cooler-than-cool soundtrack. Bringing together their love of fried food and hip-hop, they offer dishes such as battered halloumi, Louisiana spiced crab cakes and ‘Feastie Boys’ battered fish fritters.

Adding to the restaurants and bars that have been popping up in the Ancoats area of Manchester, The Counter House is an informal, stylish eatery based in Cutting Room Square.  Taking inspiration from the laid-back cafés of Australia, The Counter House combines high quality fresh food from a Michelin star trained chef, in a stripped-back and highly ‘Instagrammable’ setting in Cutting Room Square . Offering both indulgent comfort food and healthy dishes, this all-day food spot is sure to be a great addition to a thriving part of Manchester.

Sheffield – recently opened

Kommune is the newest addition to Sheffield’s ever-growing independent food and drink scene. This vibrant new food hall brings together some of the Steel City’s best-loved hipster eats under one roof. Most notably, the New Zealand inspired Tamper Coffee, the vegan all-rainbow-everything Pom Kitchen and delicious baked goods from Kelham Island’s Depot Bakery.

The opening of ultra-modern all-day café Ambulo adds to the exciting changes in Sheffield city centre. From the people who turned a public toilet into the most stylish cocktail bar in Sheffield and Arctic Monkey’s drummer Matt Helders, expect all-day dining with a difference.

Upcoming events

Fantastic Food Festivals will be back at Blenheim Palace over the May Bank Holiday weekend this year, with an exciting line-up of food demonstrations from both local and celebrity chefs, fun food-based activities, 160 exhibitors and enticing tastings. The year’s theme is based around education and how food can impact our environment.

Accommodation Update - March

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

 

Recently Refurbished

The Impeccable Pig, Sedgefield

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

Orestone Manor, Devon

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

Aria Resorts – The Lakes Rookley

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

 

Recently Opened

The Counting House and The Blackbird, London

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

Linthwaite House

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

 

Opening Soon

Minster Mill, the Cotswolds

Opening in March

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

Tom’s Eco Lodge

Opening in May

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

Renaissance Club – The Villas

Opening in late May

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

Grantley Hall

Opening in Summer 2019

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