Open doors in Britain - discover Britain's stately homes, houses and archives

The doors of Britain’s historic monuments and buildings, including many that are normally closed to the public, are set to be flung open in September. Heritage Open Days, established in 1994, has become England’s biggest heritage festival, with thousands of stately homes, historic properties and archives opening their doors between 13-22 September.

To celebrate the event’s 25th anniversary this year, a special programme of themed events will focus on ‘People Power’ – looking into both modern and historic communities, groups and individuals that have been drivers of positive change. More than 5,000 free events are expected to take place, giving visitors a unique glimpse into the buildings and the people that run them.

Open House London

The ten day event coincides with Open House London, taking place on 21-22 September, an architecture festival which seeks to showcase the benefits of great design by giving free access to many of London’s best buildings.

Last year more than 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours were part of Open House London, with those events visited by more than a quarter of a million people. Among the buildings to open their doors were historic houses and monuments, places of worship, private clubs, train stations, government buildings, town halls and even tunnels!

The programme for this year will be unveiled on 20 August, although UK Parliament has already confirmed that it is taking part on 21 September by granting admission to Portcullis House – the newest building on the parliamentary estate.

Events to look out for

Heritage Open Days has already confirmed several highlights for 2019, including a community harvest at the National Trust’s Brockhampton orchard and a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Prince Philip Maritime Collection housed at Royal Museums Greenwich. Here are just some of the thousands of events to look out for.

New for 2019

Prince Philip Maritime Collection, Greenwich

Visitors can catch a rare glimpse of the Prince Philip Maritime Collection as part of an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Royal Museum Greenwich’s storage collection. The items will be accompanied by interpretations by local residences that take into account the heritage stories behind them.

When? Friday 20 September and Saturday 21 September at 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm, with an additional show at 4pm on Friday.

The Way We Were film screening, Sunderland

The Way We Were film screening will combine film, music and photographs that explore Sunderland throughout history, taking visitors on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

When? Tuesday 17 September at 7pm

Medieval Origins of Today's Remedies, John Innes Centre, Norwich

Learn about the importance of plants and gardens in medieval medicine as part of an exploration of how the past has influenced the present at the John Innes Centre, a hub for plant science research and training. Alongside illustrated talks from Dr Joy Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and Anne Edwards, a plant scientist at the centre, the open house event will look at the Medieval Origins of Today’s Remedies, including a display of rare books.

When? Thursday 19 September and Friday 20 September at 10am.

People Power events

Collections Showcase, Newcastle University Library Archives, Newcastle

Delve into Newcastle’s rich history as part of a thought-provoking look at the Newcastle University Library Archives. Learn how the city’s first female doctor and suffragist Ethal William’s fought for women’s rights and discover how student marches and human rights speeches helped to shape Newcastle’s past, as revealed by the Special Collections and Archives Team.

When? Thursday 19 September, 1pm-4pm.

Scott House at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucester

Once the home of environmental conservation campaigner Sir Peter Scott, visitors to Scott House at WWT Slimbridge can find out about his life and work, while embracing the ‘people power’ he harnessed when creating both the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the World Wildlife Fund.

When? Saturday 14 September, 10am-4pm.

Moor Pool Heritage Festival, Moor Pool Heritage Trust, Birmingham

The delightful Arts and Crafts Garden Suburb in Birmingham was saved following a community campaign in 2014, and it remains one of the last remaining intact Garden Suburbs in the UK. To celebrate the ‘people power’ of the community, the gardens will be opened for families to enjoy sports games, musical performances and an exciting array of children’s activities.

When? Sunday 15 September, 11am-3pm.

Family Activities

Heritage Steam Railway, Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight’s Heritage Steam Railway is offering several weekends of fun for all the family at the Train Story Discovery Centre. Interactive displays will showcase the historic locomotives, carriages and wagons, while guided tours will provide exclusive access to workshops, giving visitors a rare glimpse of ongoing restoration work. There’ll also be a birds of prey flying display to keep youngsters entertained.

When? Saturday 14 September and Sunday 15 December, 11am-3.30pm, and Thursday 19 September to Sunday 22 September, 9.30am to 5pm.

Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent

Visitors can explore the renowned Gladstone Pottery Museum and even get hands-on with an array of interactive demonstrations and activities. The site provides a fascinating insight into the history of Stoke-on-Trent while numerous throwing, casting and painting demonstrations will highlight the skills that helped put the Pottery on the map. The on-site Flushed with Pride exhibition takes a fun look at the history of sewerage too, embracing giant toilet rolls and rude sound effects in the process!

When? Saturday 21 September, 10am-5pm.

Magpie Mine, Derbyshire

Britain’s best surviving example of an 18th and 19th-century lead mine, Magpie Mine was the last working mine in the Peak District. Since closing in 1958, the site is has been designated a Scheduled Monument and is preserved by the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Although the mining tunnels will remain closed for Heritage Open Days, a comprehensive guided tour will provide insight into life at the mine by exploring the former buildings, delving into a piece of mining heritage in the process.

When? Sunday 15 September, 11am-4pm

Welwyn Roman Baths, Welwyn

Travel back in history at the Welwyn Roman Baths to experience what life was like 1,700 years ago for the Romans of Britain. Alongside dressing up in period costumes, children can embrace traditional Roman games and learn more about foods of the past, before exploring several thrilling trails around the ancient site.

When? Saturday 14 September, 2pm-5pm.

Cragside, Northumberland

Enter into the world of Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong, an innovator and landscaping genius, at Cragside. As the world’s first house to be lit using hydroelectricity, the extraordinary property remains full of gadgets, while its garden spaces are equally as impressive. One of Europe’s largest rock gardens leads the way to the Iron Bridge, while the Rhododendron forest tunnels of Nelly’s Labyrinth offer an outdoor escape for all the family.

When? Thursday 19 September, 10am-5pm.

Watts Artist Village, Surrey

Packed with paintings and sculptures from Victorian artist G F Watts, the historic galleries at the Watts Artist Village can be explored via guided tours, talks and workshops. Bask in the glorious surroundings of the site’s Grade I listed chapel, see the studios where Watts created his masterpieces and get behind-the-scenes access to Limnerslease, a property designed by the great Arts & Crafts architect Sir Ernest George.

When? Sunday 15 September

Brockhampton’s Damson Harvest Helpers, Worcester

Visitors to Brockhampton’s orchards can pick fruit to assist with fundraising for the medieval manor’s replanting project as part of the community damson harvest. The trees at the National Trust site are laden with fruit in the autumn months, giving people the chance to relax and refresh their senses while surrounded by the best of what nature has to offer.

When? Saturday 14 September, 11am-5pm.

Historic Openings

Queen Anne’s Summerhouse, Bedfordshire

This spectacular 18th century summerhouse has beautifully crafted brickwork and dates back to around 1712. Lovingly restored by the Landmark Trust in the years since the Second World War to include an elegant bedsit with kitchen, dining, sitting and sleeping space, Queen Anne’s Summerhouse on the Shuttleworth Estate promises beautiful architecture and exceptional views.

When? Friday 13 September to Sunday 15 September, 10am-4pm, and Monday 16 September, 10am-1pm.

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Staffordshire

Discover a spectacular array of former mining buildings at the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, the most comprehensive surviving deep mine complex in England. Although there is no underground access now, visitors can access and explore the many different structures as part of a guided tour by Chatterley Whitfield Friends. The site closed and became a museum in 1973, and although the museum closed its doors in 1993, a new heritage centre explains the site’s rich history.

When? Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, and Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September, 10am-4pm.

Arlington Court, Devon

A jewel in the National Trust’s crown, Arlington Court houses an impressive set of horse-drawn vehicles in addition to an intriguing Regency property. The National Trust Carriage Museum includes vehicles for every occasion, and the collection currently includes the Speaker’s State Coach – a glorious carriage with more than 300 years of history. Visitors can explore the family estate, including 20 miles of walking paths and a two-mile loop around the man-made lake.

When? Saturday 14 September, 11am-5pm.

Wilmington Priory, East Sussex

Dating back to 1215, Wilmington Priory was once the priory of a Benedictine Abbey and features architectural additions from nearly every century since. Although the abbey is now a romantic ruin, visitors can get a glimpse of the Landmark Trust’s restoration of the neighbouring farmhouse, now a holiday let.

When? Saturday 14 September and Sunday 15 September, 10am-4pm, and Monday 16 September, 10am-1pm.

Williamson Tunnels, Liverpool

Hidden deep below Liverpool are the Williamson Tunnels, a 200-year-old labyrinth developed by 19th-century philanthropist Joseph Williamson. Lost and forgotten for a long period, the tunnels can be explored as part of a guided tour that reveals what was behind his mysterious burrowing.

When? Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September, and Friday 20 September to Sunday 22 September, all tours at 10.30am.

Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire

With exclusive access to parts of Gawthorpe Hall that are not usually open to the public, Heritage Open Day will allow people to see a different side to the National Trust property. Browse textiles from the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection and see portraits from the National Portrait Gallery before experiencing the surroundings of the Victorian kitchen and servant’s quarters.

When? Saturday 14 September, 12pm-5pm.

 

Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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.

Discover Queen Victoria’s Britain

2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria, a monarch whose reign defined an era and who oversaw a period of unparalleled industrial, cultural, scientific, political and military change in Britain. On the throne for more than 63 years at a time of great invention and innovation, the anniversary is being marked with events across Britain, and especially at locations with close ties to the monarch. This year is therefore a great chance to discover Queen Victoria’s Britain…

Balmoral

To mark the 200th anniversary, the Ballroom Exhibition at Balmoral Castle includes objects and portraits that detail Queen Victoria’s time at Balmoral. As the only room in the Castle available for viewing – the others are the reigning Queen’s private quarters – visitors can see a number of Victorian items that provide a glimpse into what life was like during the period. The City of Leeds Pipe Band will also perform on the Saturday closest to the anniversary, with the lead piper being a descendant of Queen Victoria’s first piper Angus Mackay.

When? 1 April – 31 July (The grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and café are open daily from 10am to 5pm). 25 May (Pipe Band between 12pm and 2pm)

Glasgow Museums Resource Centre 

Find out about life as a contemporary of Queen Victoria as part of a tour showcasing the parallel lives of a generation who were born in 1819 at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The Queen Victoria and her contemporaries at 200 tour will focus on objects connected to both Victoria and Price Albert, alongside novelist George Eliot, art and social critic John Ruskin, pioneer war photographer Roger Fenton and painters Gustave Courbet and William Powell Frith, among others. It will raise questions over generational identity and will explore the many ways of living in Victorian Britain.

When? 30 April (from 2.30pm)

Cliveden House

Once enjoyed by Queen Victoria as a relaxing destination for afternoon tea, the Spring Cottage at Cliveden House is one of two experiences on offer to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Guests can tuck into an afternoon tea, including the famous Victoria sponge cake that was named after the Queen herself, and an array of finger sandwiches and savoury treats, all accompanied by an aromatic Cliveden blend tea. Or retrace the footsteps of royalty with a stay at the Spring Cottage on the Banks of the River Thames, accompanied by a 45-minute Champagne river cruise.

When? 24-26 May (Afternoon tea, must be booked in advance) 20 May – 30 September 2019 (Spring Cottage Escape, must be booked in advance)

Kensington Palace

Queen Victoria’s birthplace will celebrate her bicentenary by altering the state rooms at Kensington Palace to reflect what life was like for the young princess growing up, alongside an incredible exhibition of her life. Historic Royal Palaces are creating an evocative and family-friendly display using an array of remarkable objects that relate to Victoria’s early years, including a scrapbook of mementos created by her German Governess Baroness Lehzen, which goes on public display for the first time. The palace’s Pigott Gallery will house an exhibition that delves into her later life and the legacy left behind, providing a unique insight into the private woman behind the public monarch. Featuring rare clothing from Victoria’s private wardrobe and other items that have previously remained out of the public eye, both the exhibition and the new walking route around the state rooms will open on the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birthday.

When? From 24 May (Entry to the exhibitions is included with standard entry to the palace)

Osborne, Isle of Wight

Renowned as Queen Victoria’s seaside retreat, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight will mark the bicentenary with a new trail around the unique collection found within the house and its gardens. The gifts received and exchanged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert form the focal point of a new display too, highlighting their eclectic tastes and interests. Browse the opulent state rooms, as well as the pair’s bedroom and the royal nursery, before heading into the walled garden or wandering along Queen Victoria’s private beach. English Heritage is hosting The Great Victorian Show at Osborne House, celebrating the many inventions from the era and featuring a display of horsemanship and other entertainment including a traditional Punch and Judy show. Victoria’s Island Trail also includes 14 locations across the Isle of Wight that were popular with Queen Victoria and the royal family.

When? 28-30 May (The Great Victorian Show), Daily opening (Osborne House is open from 10am, and stays open for longer from 1 April)

Buckingham Palace

Discover how a young Queen Victoria transformed Buckingham Palace into a stunning working residence as part of a special exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Queen Victoria’s Palace focuses on how the Queen, with the support of Prince Albert, reformed the palace into a symbol of the British monarchy and a family home for 9 children.

When? 20 July – 29 September

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

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

Tom’s Eco Lodge, Isle of Wight

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

Asheston Eco Barns, Pembrokeshire

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

Rosehill Lodges, Cornwall

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

Waterhouse, Scotland

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

Wheatland Farm, Devon

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

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House, Snowdonia

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

Wrostler’s Barn, Cumbria

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

Crai Valley Eco Lodges, Brecon Beacons

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

Cotna Eco Retreat, Cornwall

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

Top UK festivals for beer, wine and spirits

Britain is renowned for its craft beers, fine spirits and delightful mixology, while the growth of its wine industry continues to gather pace. With ‘Dry January’ at an end, those keen to sample the best of Britain’s alcohol can enjoy an abundance of incredible festivals for beer, wine and spirits throughout 2019, all of which provide ample opportunity to discover innovative concoctions and perhaps even a new tipple of choice…

Great British Gin Festival

The Great British Gin Festival will continue its tour of Britain in 2019, bringing 100 different gins from around the world to a range of locations. With cocktail demos and presentations from industry producers, they’ll be a generous helping of flavoured gins to test the taste buds, all with a background of live music.

When? On selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout 2019: 9 February (Hartlepool), 23 February (Winchester), 9 March (Portsmouth), 23 March (Ipswich), 29 March (Northamptonshire), 12 April (Bristol), 20 April (Hastings), 20 April (Edinburgh), 4 May (Belfast), 17 May (Birmingham), 25 May (Isle of Wight), 1 June (Cardiff), 7 June (Maidstone), 22 June (Newcastle), 29 June (London), 13 July (Nottingham), 27 July (Jersey)

Craft Beer Rising   

Tantalise your taste buds at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, as Craft Beer Rising brings together more than a hundred of the finest craft brewers and ten cider producers. Alongside established names from the craft beer world, such as Brewdog, London Fields Brewery and Tiny Rebel, the festival will also welcome Brooklyn Brewery and Goose Island from the United States. Visitors can sample an array of delicious street food in The Foxes Den and enjoy live music across all three days of the event.

When? 21-23 February

The Wine and Spirits Show

Following an extremely popular show in autumn 2018, in April this year The Wine and Spirits Show returns to One Whitehall Place, part of the iconic The Royal Horseguards hotel in Westminster. Sample masterclasses from major wine and spirit brands, meet up with boutique wine producers and discover more about the fantastic history of Champagne. Head to the Global Masters Zone to find out more about prestigious entries into Global Masters competitions, sample a range of brews from every continent as part of the Global Beer Tour Zone, or visit the Spirits Hall – home to award-winning vodka, whisky, tequila, bourbon and more.

When? 12-13 April

London Whisky Weekender

Try an array of the finest home-grown Scottish whiskies, alongside brands from all corners of the globe at the London Whisky Weekender. With set sessions at the Kia Oval to ensure things don’t get too crowded, try the finest whiskies that India, Japan, the USA and Taiwan (among many others) have to offer, or purchase ‘under the counter dram tokens’ to sample rarer, more exclusive tipples.

When? 10-12 May

Prosecco Springs

The UK’s largest festival dedicated to sparkling wine, Prosecco Springs, will return to London’s Oval Space in May. With more producers on the bill than in previous years, visitors can sample authentic Italian street food, live music and an abundance of Prosecco in the heart of East London.

When? 17-19 May

Fyne Fest    

The annual celebration of beer, food and music at the Fyne Ales brewery estate in Cairndow, Argyll marks its tenth year in 2019. Having won Beer event of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards, the family-friendly festival welcomes people of any age and has plenty of space for visitors to pitch tents or park up in motorhome and caravans. Fyne Fest will have more than 200 beers from over 50 of Europe’s breweries available to try, as well as a wealth of cider, cocktails, wines and spirits. Three stages host live music while 11 local and award-winning producers provide the food.

When? 31 May - 3 June

Festival of Wine 

Having originated in Glasgow in 2002, wine expert Tom Cannavan’s popular festival has expanded to take in three cities across Britain. The Festival of Wine features tastings and masterclasses in city centre locations from top winemakers, retailers and importers, allowing visitors to discover great wines and to learn the stories behind them.

When? 29 June (Glasgow), 19 October (London), 9 November (Edinburgh)

Great British Beer Festival

Developed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Great British Beer Festival showcases more than 900 real ales and craft beers from around the world, of which more than half come from British brewers. Having operated for more than 40 years, the festival is run by hundreds of volunteers and also serves an array of ciders, fine wines, perries and gin from more than 30 bars. Tutored tasting sessions reveal more about the brews on offer, with each brewery also competing for the prestigious title of 2019 Champion Beer of Britain.

When? 6-10 August

Indy Man Beer Con

Hosted in the glorious surroundings of Victoria Baths in Manchester, Independent Manchester Beer Convention will return for its eighth year in October. Welcoming breweries from across Britain, and a sprinkling of those from elsewhere in the world, the event features an eclectic mix of tasting sessions and a food village packed with delicacies from around the region.

When? 3-6 October

RumFest

Showcasing more than 400 rums from across the world, RumFest returns to the ILEC conference centre in Earls Court, London, for its thirteenth year in 2019. Expect intimate seminars from some of the industry’s leading lights, an array of delicious food tastings, live music and holiday giveaways as part of a carnival-like experience.

When? 19-20 October

Craft Beer Calling 

Bringing together an abundance of craft breweries under one roof, Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery will host the sixth edition of Craft Beer Calling in late October. As well as a Gin Palace and an artisan cider cellar, visitors can talk with the brewery staff to find out more about their favourite tipples before indulging at the on-site street food market.

When? 24-26 October

The Wine Festival 

Featuring hundreds of wines from English wine producers and some from further afield, Winchester Guildhall hosts The Wine Festival, a selection of tasters, masterclasses, street food and merchandise. Masters of Wine and TV presenters, Susie Barry and Peter Richards, host the event, imparting their expert knowledge while visitors discover exciting new wines.

When? 29-30 November

Ten of the best ghostly tours and haunted houses in Britain

Get ready to be spooked this Halloween with these spine-chilling experiences and haunted houses.

 

5 chilling experiences

 

For The Love Of Horror – Manchester, north-west England

Your nerves will be stretched to their very limit as you explore a new creepy experience from Monopoly Events, who will transfer the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester into a chilling immersive attraction that will make you quake in your boots! Dare you enter the Nightmare Zone, where you’ll be greeted by horror movies’ most frightening characters, before you attempt to battle your way through a zombie outbreak? Meet those real-life creatures that always crop up in horror films, the tarantulas and cockroaches to snakes, before you heroically move on to a ‘mad monster after party’ and experiencing all the other horror attractions. Prove to friends and family you survived it all with a snap in the interactive ‘exorcist’ photo booth.

 

Wicked Nights at Blackgang Chine – Isle of Wight, south England

Walk through a ‘land of twisted imagination’ at amusement park Blackgang Chine’s new horror event, Wicked Nights at the Cursed Mill. Pluck up all your courage as you approach hair-raising live action experiences and scream like you’ve never screamed before on the Cliffhanger roller-caster. Still feeling brave? Hop on board the sinister ghost train before keeping your wits about you as you compete in games and activities at the Freaky Fair.

 

Muncaster Castle – Cumbria, north-west England

Muncaster Castle celebrates the spookiest time of the year in a truly ghostly fashion, as befits a castle known to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Don your finest Halloween fancy dress before making your way bravely through the dark and eerie Meadowvole Maze, be prepared to jump out of your skin as you listen to scary tales of fear and terror, and who knows what you might find lurking in the Ghostly Grotto! In between being spooked you’ll be entertained by the Muncaster Monster Cabaret – a mix of conjurors, fire-eating and aerial acts. 

 

Journey to the Underworld – London, England

Are you brave enough to embark on a Journey to the Underworld? This is a journey where you’ll discover the ‘Greatest Love Story Never Told’ at Pedley Street Station in Shoreditch, east London, as Funicular Productions brings a new enigmatic theatre experience to life. Get ready to encounter a thrilling combination that takes you through a story of fantasy, danger, fear, hope and love, as well as feast on a ‘last meal in paradise’ before your journey to the underworld. It’s here you’ll try to outsmart ‘the seductive Gatekeeper, the hunched Harbinger, and the damnable Dark One’.

 

Ghoulies Haunted House – Liverpool, north-west England

After bringing a live-action scare attraction and horror-themed bar to the residents of, and visitors to, Liverpool on a year-round basis it’s unsurprising that Ghoulies Haunted House is upping the scare factor come Halloween. This year, a character that may be innocuously called Kavity the Clown will be roaming the Haunted House, but you can guarantee it will be as scary as clowns get…and with a lot of laughs thrown in. If you enjoy this, come back any time of year to experience the venue’s horror-themed cocktails and events such as Scaryoke Karaoke, the Brain Dead Quiz and Boogeyman Bingo.

 

5 of Britain’s most haunted houses

 

Chillingham Castle, Chillingham, Northumberland, north-east England

Chilling by name and chilling by nature, this 13th-century castle in Northumberland was the scene of bloody battles and eerie intrigue for centuries. Its rooms and gardens are lovely places to explore but to properly experience one of the most haunted castles in Britain, head into its Torture Chamber and join an evening Ghost Tour for a more unnerving encounter.

The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, west England

For nearly 900 years the Ancient Ram Inn has stood in the Gloucestershire village of Wotton-under-Edge and brings with it stories of a gruesome and bloodthirsty history. Not only that, there have been numerous reports of supernatural events taking place here, making it a frontrunner for spookiest house in Britain. If that doesn’t petrify you, stay overnight here – although whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep is another matter…

Newton House, Dinefwr, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

The gorgeous Dinefwr Estate is a beautiful 18th-century park landscaped by Capability Brown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tales of ghosts and ghouls roaming the grounds. Newton House, in the centre of the park, has a ghostly visitor each night in the form of Lady Elinor Cavendish. The tale goes that she was betrothed to a man she didn’t love and, when she ran away from him and escaped back to Dinefwr to her family, her suitor strangled her. Visitors should listen out for muffled voices and watch out paranormal activity from the servants’ basement…

St Briavel’s Castle, Gloucestershire, west England

Looked after by English Heritage, this castle is now a youth hostel and if you enjoy the thought of hearing all the creepy tales about this 800-year-old castle, this is the place for you. Maybe you’ll sense the spine-chilling atmosphere as you explore the castle and feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you read pleading notes carved into the walls by prisoners held here centuries ago.

Glamis Castle, Scotland

Known as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland, Glamis Castle – 20 minutes’ drive from Dundee and, incidentally, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – is said to be home to many spirits…which makes sense when you learn it’s been standing since 1372 and was said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There’s many a spooky tale of historic dark deeds to be heard, especially around Halloween on one of its ghostly tours…

 

7 British festivals foodies should visit in 2018

Let the British food festival season begin! Come for the amazing food and world-renowned chefs and stay for those extra twists that deliver true British style. We pick seven to have on your radar this summer.

 

Pub in the Park, various locations

When and Where: Bath, south-west England (8-10 June), Tunbridge Wells, south-east England (6-8 July), Knutsford, Cheshire, north-west England (7-9 September)

Why: There’s nothing quite as quintessentially British as the pub and world-renowned chef Tom Kerridge – owner of the first pub, the Hand and Flowers, to be awarded two Michelin stars – is bringing the pub, first-class food and music to the great outdoors this summer. Sample dishes from top British pubs, including the Hand and Flowers and Tom’s other Michelin-starred pub The Coach, while dancing the night away to Razorlight, Jamie Cullum and KT Tunstall.

Getting there: Bath can be reached in 1.5 hours by train from London, Tunbridge Wells in one hour and Knutsford in three hours.

 

Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall

When: 26-29 July

Where: Port Eliot estate, St Germans, Cornwall, south-west England

Why: There’s plenty of chefs, stalls, locally-sourced and sustainable produce, international food and cookery demonstrations here that celebrate the rich and diverse food culture of Cornwall and south-west England. Yet as the festival is located in stunning 6,000 acres of countryside it’s a perfect opportunity to indulge in unforgettable outdoor activities, from wild swimming to foraging walks. This year’s food-demo focus concentrates on up-close-and-personal experiences in the estate’s centuries-old Big Kitchen and the Open Fire Stage. Oh, and there’s a baking masterclass with Desperate Housewives and Superman star Teri Hatcher.

Getting there: take a direct train from London to St Germans, which takes just under four hours.

 

Foodies Festival Edinburgh

When: 3-5 August

Where: Inverleith Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

Why: Because you’ve always wanted to take part in cream-pie throwing, chilli eating and cheese-stretching competitions! Quirky activities aside, this touring festival (which travels to six other British destinations) brings everything a foodie could ask for to a festival, from Kombucha workshops to Prosecco and Parmesan masterclasses, artisan and street food stalls, a Gin Station and a Tequila Shack. Plus, you’ll see top bands such as The Hoosiers and Toploader perform.

Getting there: The park is a ten-minute taxi or bus ride from Edinburgh city centre.

 

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival

When: 18-19 August

Where: Sandown, Isle of Wight, south England

Why: Ever fancied trying garlic fudge? Or how about sampling garlic popcorn or ice cream? The Isle of Wight, off the coast of south England, is famous for its garlic so it makes perfect sense for the island to host an entire festival to the ‘stinking rose’. Find out just how good garlic is for health, learn various ways to cook with it and how best to grow it. A new theatre kitchen has launched for this year where cooking demonstrations will take place and the whole charm of the festival is further boosted with live music, art, craft and food stalls, a huge funfair and children’s entertainers.

Getting there: Take the 45-minute ferry crossing to Fishbourne from Portsmouth Harbour (2 hours from London by train).

 

The Big Feastival, Cotswolds

When: 24-26 August

Where: Alex James Farm, Kingham, Cotswolds, central England

Why: Launched by Alex James of Britpop legends Blur, and taking place on his Cotswolds farm, The Big Feastival has earned its place as one of the food festivals to visit, thanks to both its impressive line-up of top chefs – which this year includes Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, Mark Hix and Pierre Koffman – and stellar musical talent. Cheese is a big draw for this festival (Alex James makes his own); cheese lovers should head to the double-decker cheese hub with its award-winning artisan cheeses and all-day cocktail bar, and – new for 2018 – The Cheese Bar and The Cheese Truck where you can feast on huge stacks of British cheeseboards and grilled cheese sandwiches. When you’ve eaten your fill, dance off the calories to music from Basement Jaxx, Craig David, and Paloma Faith.

Getting there: The nearest train station is Kingham, 1.5 hours from London

 

Great British Food Festival, Wiltshire

When: 25-27 August

Where: Bowood House, Wiltshire, south-west England

Why: It’s a foodie paradise set in the grounds of a beautiful English stately home in the heart of the Cotswolds. Another touring festival, the Great British Food Festival comes to the breathtaking Bowood House, which gives visitors the opportunity to team a love for food with a love for history. Along with talks, stalls and cooking demonstrations, there’s also the chance to take part in some quirky British challenges – why not see if you can beat the record of eating a 74.5 inch sausage followed by a pint of cider in less than six minutes six seconds!

Getting there: the train takes just over an hour from London to Chippenham; Bowood House is then a 15-minute taxi ride from there.

 

Abergavenny Food Festival, Wales

When: 15-16 September

Where: Abergavenny, south Wales

Why: Set in a pretty medieval market town, this is one of Britain’s most well-established food festivals – 2018 marks the 20th year since the first took place –– and it’s a great festival to visit for combining a passion for food with a sense of adventure. There’s a diverse selection of forages and tours operating as part of the festival, taking advantage of the bountiful Welsh countryside. Forage for seafood or for gin botanicals or book onto tours of nearby vineyards and distilleries. The popular ‘Cooking Over Fire’ area will return to the town’s historic castle featuring Hang Fire BB, while the demo stage will host Welsh chef legends such as the Michelin-starred chef Gareth Ward from Ynyshir Hall, and James Sommerin from his eponymous restaurant in Penarth, Cardiff.

Getting there: Trains take 2.5 hours from London to Abergavenny or 45 minutes from Cardiff.

Victoria 200

Prince Harry is days away from his wedding and a new little prince was born just last month to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – 2018 has, so far, shone a spotlight on all things royal. And, as we look ahead into the next 12 months it looks set to continue, with 2019 the year we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of William and Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother – Queen Victoria. The second-longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Victoria’s legacy continues to thrive and there are some extraordinary sites to visit to mark this special anniversary.

 

If you’re in London…

A trip to Kensington Palace is a must. Princess Victoria was born here on 24 May 1819 and the palace was her childhood home (it’s also now the London residence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). Explore the dazzling exhibition Victoria Revealed that opened earlier this year and will run until January 2020. Packed with intimate accounts of her intriguing reign, visitors will gain insights into her and Prince Albert’s characters, and can admire personal objects such as letters and journals. Stars of the show include tiaras from the collection of the Dukes of Fife, descendants of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Louise, such as her Emerald and Diamond Parure (tiara, necklace, earrings and brooch), a gift commissioned by Prince Albert.

Just a short stroll from the palace is the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens – located directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, an exquisitely ornate monument that commemorates the death of Prince Albert. Follow a visit with an afternoon at the nearby V&A Museum – named after Victoria & Albert – the world’s largest museum of decorative art and where you’ll discover photographs of Victoria in its collections.

If you’re visiting Buckingham Palace – Victoria was the first monarch to rule from here – you’ll spot the resplendent Queen Victoria Memorial right in front. Comprising the magnificent white marble monument of Victoria that was built to commemorate her death in 1901, it’s also home to the Memorial Gardens and the Dominion Gates (Canada Gate, Australia Gate and South and West Africa Gates).

Famous London landmarks such as Westminster Abbey and St James Palace also have strong links to Queen Victoria; the former, as she was crowned there in 1830 and the latter, because it was where she married Prince Albert (although the public cannot visit inside the palace).

 

If you’re in Windsor, Berkshire…
Just an hour from London is Windsor Castle, where Queen Victoria resided for part of each year. Marvel at the splendid State Apartments within the walls of this largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, where you’ll discover thousands of objects and art collected during Queen Victoria’s reign. And both Victoria and Albert’s tombs are at rest in the private grounds of Windsor, at Frogmore House, in the Royal Mausoleum. There are rumours afoot that Queen Victoria’s tomb will be reopened to the public, although this has yet to be confirmed.

 

If you’re on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England…

A favourite holiday destination for Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their large family of nine children, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight – a 20-minute ferry ride from Portsmouth, which itself is two hours by train from London – is a must-visit for any fan of Victoriana. It’s quite the palatial holiday home and visitors can walk among the opulent state rooms to admire the remarkable collections from the British Empire, which, by Victoria’s death in 1901, stretched across nearly a quarter of the globe. You may also recognise Osborne House from the recent film Victoria and Abdul, starring Dame Judi Dench – it was used as a film location.

But it’s not just the lives of Victoria and Albert you’ll gain an insight into at Osborne House, but also the childhoods of the royal couple’s children, particularly in the impressive Swiss Cottage in the grounds of the house. And, next year, to mark the 200-year anniversary of Victoria’s birth, Osborne House will be hosting a special exhibition about both Victoria and Albert.

 

If you’re in Scotland…

Balmoral Castle remains the Scottish holiday home of the Royal Family today – and was very much a favourite of Victoria and Albert’s. It was Albert who first brought his vision to the beautiful gardens here and visitors are welcome to tour Balmoral, usually between the end of March and end of July. Be sure to visit the spectacular Castle Ballroom and its fine works of art and artefacts. And imagining you are a royal yourself is well within your grasp as you can book to stay at the estate’s cottages, available when the Royal Family are not in residence.

The Highlands of Scotland also played an integral role in Victoria’s life; scenes in Victoria & Abdul were therefore filmed here, including the breathtaking landscapes of Glen Affric and Glenfeshie in the Cairngorms National Park. Queen Victoria was also known to have visited Ardverikie Estate as well as the magical Blair Castle. The area even has a Victorian Heritage Trail you can follow, taking in steam railways, country estates and distilleries.

London’s V&A is also opening a new outpost of the museum on 15 September in the city of Dundee, 1.5 hours from Edinburgh. Ultra-modern and sleek in design, the museum launches with the spectacular Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition, and will also showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Accommodation Update - April 2018

Read on for the latest Accommodation Update, brought to you by VisitBritain's Destination PR team.

 

LONDON

New and upcoming openings

The Principal London
April 2018
The latest addition to PRINCIPAL hotel group will be The Principal London, in the former Hotel Russell on Bloomsbury’s Russell Square. The Grade II-listed building, which first opened in 1898, is being restored into a glamorous 334-bedroom hotel and hub for modern travellers and Londoners. The new hotel will have a top-notch neighbourhood restaurant, a hedonistic cocktail bar, and a coffeehouse that morphs into a wine bar by night. Artwork and accessories will tip a nod to the area’s rich literary and artistic heritage. PRINCIPAL also plans to open hotels in Birmingham and Liverpool in 2018.
www.phcompany.com/principal

 

Hotel Indigo London – 1 Leicester Square, London
April 2018
In the heart of London's West End, this new boutique hotel from the Indigo hotel group will feature rooms that evoke the glamour of the West End and views over Leicester Square. The venue will also have a rooftop pan-Asian restaurant that is inspired by 1920s Shanghai with oriental cocktails and sharing plates.
www.hotelindigo.com

 

Z Hotel Tottenham Court Road, London
April 2018
The newest addition from Z Hotels will be in the heart of Soho, within walking distance to local shopping and the new Crossrail station opening in December 2018. The rooms will offer a modern interior, complete with facilities such as a 40 inch TV with Sky, complimentary WiFi and air conditioning.
www.thezhotels.com/tcr

 

Vintry & Mercer hotel, London
Summer 2018
Vintry & Mercer will open in the City of London’s historic Vintry Ward, a two-minute walk from Cannon Street Station. The independent hotel takes its name and inspiration from the Vintry Guild (est. 1363), which traded wines in the area, and the Mercer Guild (est. 1304), which traded fine fabrics. In a nod to this rich past, the 92-bedroom hotel will blend references to these historic trades throughout its rooms, hallways and dining spaces, with bespoke fabrics, old trading maps and an evolving menu of wines. There will be a restaurant and wine bar, roof terrace and underground speakeasy cocktail bar too. Vintry & Mercer is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
www.vintryandmercer.com

 

Long-lead

Refurbs & expansions

Renovation of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park complete, London
Summer 2018 (TBC)
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel is undergoing a multi-million-pound renovation. The hotel remains open throughout the 18-month renovation, which will add two new luxurious penthouse suites, make the existing 181 rooms and suites even more luxurious, and refurbish the hotel’s restaurants and bar.
www.mandarinoriental.com/london

 

SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND

New and upcoming openings

Seven, Essex
February 2018
Southend-on-Sea’s first boutique hotel has opened, on the cliffs of the town’s Clifton Conservation Area. Seven has 37 beautifully designed bedrooms, including five top-floor ‘Estuary’ suites (which make the most of the views of the iconic Southend Pier and the Thames Estuary), a cocktail bar with more than 30 types of gin, and an outdoor sun terrace. The hotel’s 70-seater restaurant, Aurum, is overseen by Simon Webb, who led England’s team at the 2018 Culinary World Cup, and emphasises modern, local food.
thesevenhotel.co.uk

 

The Libertines to launch The Albion Rooms hotel, Kent
Spring/summer 2018 (TBC)
The Libertines will open The Albion Rooms hotel, restaurant, bar and studio in Margate this summer. The hotel occupies a five-storey Victorian building overlooking the sea and Margate’s bandstand; it was formerly The Palm Court Hotel, which garnered terrible reviews on TripAdvisor. The band is currently ensconced in the building writing their fourth studio album, due for release this summer; The Albion Rooms’ individually designed guest rooms will open fully once the new album has been recorded. Until then, The Libertines have said that the public will be invited to take part in the creative process at the hotel…
www.thelibertines.com

 

New hotel, lodges and ecology island at Feldon Valley Golf Club, Cotswolds
October 2018
A boutique hotel is being created as part of an extensive, multi-million-pound development of Feldon Valley Golf Club at Lower Brailes near Shipston-on-Stour. The complete renovation will see the existing club redesigned, new external terraces overlooking the course and the construction of a new 13-bedroom hotel and four lodges. The refurbished golf course will also have an ‘ecology island’ to support wildlife.
www.feldonvalleygolf.co.uk

 

Long-lead

New The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent
Autumn 2018
The latest addition to the litter of Pigs across the country will be The Pig at Bridge Place, in a 16th-century manor house near Canterbury. The intriguing old building has hosted some legendary parties and gigs in its time – Led Zeppelin even played here in the 70s. The place has a wealth of period features including large fireplaces, secret stairways, panelled rooms and lots of nooks and crannies. The new hotel will have 28 bedrooms: seven bedrooms and numerous cosy bars and sitting areas in the main building; seven romantic ‘hop pickers’ huts’ on an island within the grounds; and two bedrooms in a newly restored gate lodge. Twelve more bedrooms will be in a new, carefully detailed Coach House, which will also feature a conservatory restaurant supplied by a kitchen garden and the best producers from within a 25-mile radius. A casual Kitchen Larder in a converted barn will serve wood-fired cooking.
www.thepighotel.com

 

Refurbs & expansions

The Fish hotel re-opens, Cotswolds
6 March 2018
This award-winning part boutique hotel, part adventure hideout on the 400-acre Farncombe Estate will re-open following an extensive, £4 million renovation. There will be a new seafood-inspired restaurant by Chef Martin Burge, three luxury treehouses (available from May), 10 new bedrooms in the Coach House (from June), and five hideaway huts (from July). There will also be a new cinema room, new bathrooms and improvements in all rooms and suites, a dog agility course and a woodland kids play area.
www.thefishhotel.co.uk

 

Goodleaf treetop camping, Isle of Wight
April/ May 2018 (exact date TBC)
Goodleaf on the Isle of Wight will be unveiling a new tree top experience in 2018. Taking place in the grounds of historic Jacobean manor house Northcourt, in Shorwell, Goodleaf Tree Climbing will offer Tree Top Camping for the very first time on the Isle of Wight. Sleeping in special ‘Tree Boats’ imported from the USA, climbers will learn the ropes with recreational tree climbing experts Goodleaf, before spending the night sleeping high in the canopy of a beautiful 15 metre beech tree in this beautiful location deep in the rural heart of the Island. Supper can be taken at the local pub The Crown Inn in Shorwell before ascending into the canopy, relaxing and enjoying a bird’s eye view from your “bed for the night”. Breakfast will be delivered to you in your hammock by the instructor. 
www.goodleaf.co.uk 

 

MIDLANDS AND EAST ENGLAND

Long-lead

New University Arms hotel, Cambridge
August 2018
Cambridge’s most historic hotel will relaunch following a two-year, £80-million refurbishment and design collaboration between architect John Simpson and interior designer Martin Brudnizki. The revamp will transform Cambridge’s landmark original hotel, which dates from 1834, into a world-class establishment. The 192-bedroom hotel will be quintessentially English in style, with the ambitious literary and academic spirit of Cambridge as one of its defining characteristics. The building’s 1960s and 1970s extensions will be replaced with a classically designed building, rooms and suites will be beautiful and ‘playfully’ designed, and there will be underground valet car parking, fitness facilities, and a library curated by leading London bookshop Heywood Hill. Parker’s Tavern, the hotel’s destination restaurant and bar, will pay homage to the communal dining halls of Cambridge colleges, with classic British dishes re-imagine using produce from fields, fens and sea.
www.universityarms.com   

 

Hotel Indigo, Stratford-upon-Avon
December 2018
An exciting new boutique hotel will open in Stratford-upon-Avon following a multi-million-pound restyling of the historic Falcon Hotel. The characterful Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon will have strong links to William Shakespeare. With parts of the building dating back to the 15th century, the hotel chain plans to retain much of the structure’s original charm while offering luxury accommodation. Guestrooms will include flat-screen TVs, rainfall showers, luxurious toiletries and free wifi. There will also be a new state-of-the-art kitchen and restaurant led by a celebrity chef, a sociable bar and lounge, and a new gym and meeting room.
www.ihg.com/hotelindigo

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

New and upcoming openings

Z Hotel, Bath
June 2018
Z Hotel will open its first property in the south-west of England. Following a £14 million development, Z Bath will offer 145 bedrooms with luxury bed linen on handcrafted beds, 40” LED TVs with Sky Sports and Movies at no extra cost, power showers and free high speed wifi throughout. The completed development will also include a Byron Burger and Zizzi.
www.theZhotels.com

 

Hotel Indigo Bath
June/ July 2018
The new Hotel Indigo Bath will be located in a Georgian terrace, close to Bath Spa train station on the site of the former Halcyon serviced apartments and Pratt's Hotel. The boutique hotel will have 166 bedrooms, a fitness centre, a private members club and a restaurant launched by celebrity chef Mike Robinson.
www.hotelindigo.com

 

Gara Rock, Devon
Summer 2018
The new Gara Rock promises to be one of the finest boutique retreats on the UK coastline when it re-opens under new ownership. It’s located on cliffs with fabulous views along the coast near Salcombe. The new Retreat will have new restaurant offerings, five new loft rooms and sea view apartments, new spa facilities and a new bar. The management team is made up of locals, many with strong links to the property and its history; Gara Rock used to be the site of cottages used by 19th century coastguards employed to help prevent illegal smuggling and watch for boats in difficulty. In fact, the coastguards’ old Lookout will be the new bar – and the only bar in Salcombe to capture such stunning sunset views.
www.gararock.com

 

Long-lead

Artist Residence, Bristol
November 2018 TBC)
A brand new eclectic boutique hotel is set to open in an old boot factory on Portland Square in late 2018. Artist Residence already has fun, eccentric hotels in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cornwall. Their arty interiors are created by artists in return for board. Rooms from £120 B&B.
www.artistresidence.co.uk

 

Refurbs & expansions

New ten treatment room destination spa at St Michael’s Hotel & Spa, Falmouth 
Opened early 2018
A ten treatment room destination spa, featuring a hydrotherapy pool, hammam, rasul and spa café has now opened at St Michael’s Hotel and Spa. Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth has recently expanded the resort, with a focus on wellbeing. A brand new Health Club opened in the summer of 2017, including a 17m indoor swimming pool, extensive gym and three studios. In addition, new beach house rooms and suites have been added, which offer spectacular views across Falmouth Bay and additional space for families. A new entrance and arrivals lounge, along with a refreshed restaurant will soon follow.
www.stmichaelshotel.co.uk  

 

Gwel an Mor opening, Cornwall
July 2018
The five-star resort of Gwel an Mor overlooking Portreath on the north Cornish coast will be home to a collection of super cosy, one-bedroom lakeside retreats from winter 2018. These perfectly formed bolt holes will offer couples a relaxing hideaway, with the satisfaction of having the facilities and activities of the wider resort on tap.
www.gwelanmor.com

 

New lodges and suites at Carbis Bay Hotel & Spa, Cornwall
July 2018
Carbis Bay Hotel is opening eight new lodges and seven suites including one super suite, introducing a new level of luxury to the sparkling shores of St Ives. The lodges and suites will offer guests a prime position on the award-winning Carbis Bay Beach with infinity views of the Atlantic Ocean. In conjunction with the suites, there will be a new state-of-the-art conference, restaurant and events venue. With impressive views across the ocean, the space will boast a large function suite with seating for up to 160 and a rooftop terrace with a retractable roof and access to the South West Coast Path.
www.carbisbayhotel.co.u

 

YORKSHIRE

Refurbs & expansions

Beverley Arms reopens, East Yorkshire
Autumn 2018 (TBC)
Located in the historic Georgian Quarter of the charming Minster town of Beverley, the Beverley Arms hotel will have 38 new high-quality bedrooms and a restaurant and bar with seating for around 150 people when it reopens after a £6 million redevelopment. The transformation includes the relocation of the bar and main staircase and the development of a smaller accommodation block, along with the creation of a new Georgian-style conservatory and courtyard dining area. Overall, there will be a total of 38 new high-quality bedrooms and a restaurant and bar with seating for around 150 people.
www.thwaites.co.uk

 

NORTH-EAST ENGLAND

New and upcoming openings

Ramside Hall Hotel to launch six luxury treehouses, Durham
June 2018
Visitors to County Durham will soon be able to stay in accommodation unlike anything else currently on offer in the region. Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa will launch three luxury treehouses in June, with another three to follow. Built on stilts behind one of the hotel’s golf courses, the two-bedroom treehouses will have private living rooms, state-of-the-art bathrooms with free-standing copper baths, and unrivalled views across the 18th fairway and green of the Prince Bishops golf course. The treehouses are the latest development in an ongoing multi-million-pound makeover of the family-owned hotel, which has also created an additional wing, a second championship golf course and an award-winning spa in recent years.
www.ramsidehallhotel.co.uk

 

Long lead

Maldron Hotel Newcastle
January 2019
A new four-star hotel will open in Newcastle city centre later this year. It will be part of the Newgate Street redevelopment and have 226 air-conditioned bedrooms, a bar, a restaurant and business centre facilities. 
www.maldronhotels.com

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

Refurbs & expansions

Stock Exchange Hotel, Manchester
October 2018
Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville are transforming Manchester’s old Stock Exchange building into a 39-room boutique hotel with two onsite restaurants operated by celebrity chef Michael O’Hare: The Man Who Fell to Earth and Are Friends Electric. Opening dates and details are sketchy at the moment, but there’s no doubt this will be one of the most interesting new hotels in Manchester in 2018.
www.stockexchangehotel.co.uk

 

WALES

Refurbs & expansions

The Exchange Hotel, Cardiff, South Wales
Early 2018
The Exchange Hotel has opened in Cardiff’s former Coal Exchange, where the world’s first million-pound business deal was struck. The building played a vital role in industrial Cardiff in the 19th Century and a multi-million pound renovation has transformed the building into a luxury 200-suite hotel with 2 unique and stunning meeting and conference venues with the capacity for up to 600 people.
www.exchangehotelcardiff.co.uk

 

The Swan at Hay relaunches after £1million makeover, Hay-on-Wye, Mid Wales
Early 2018
The Grade II listed Georgian hotel, located in the famous book town of Hay-on-Wye, has been fully refurbished and restored to its former glory. Expect 19 beautifully decorated en-suite bedrooms, banquet facilities for up to 120 people, and rooms equipped with characterful log-burning fires. Guests can now enjoy the Market Bar; complete with an Aneurin Jones original painting, the 1812 bar with informal dining area, and the Green Room, the hotel’s garden room restaurant.
www.swanathay.com

 

SCOTLAND

New and upcoming openings

Blervie House, Forres
Late 2017
Blervie is an exceptional Scottish Country House combining the best of a bygone era with best of today’s modern day conveniences.  Blervie sits in extensive private grounds surrounded by woodland in the middle of Malt Whisky Country. Guests staying at Blervie have many delightful rooms from which to relax and enjoy the superb garden and distant views of the Moray Firth and the Black Isle after they have been touring the many attractions in the area.
www.blervie.com

 

Radisson Red Hotel, Glasgow
Spring 2018
This new hotel philosophy connects with a millennial mindset through art, music and fashion. The Radisson Red hotel, located next to the SECC Hydro, will have an amazing 174 rooms to choose from. There will be a chance to enjoy great food, fine wine and craft beer in the rooftop bar, whilst taking in fantastic views of the river Clyde.
www.radissonred.com

 

The Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar
Summer 2018
This hotel is being restored to the splendour of its Victorian heyday. Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this historic hotel, will be reimaged as a globally acclaimed cultural destination, offering luxury accommodation across 46 bedrooms. There will be a spectacular restaurant with a wood fired grill, two bars, a fire room, library and cinema.
www.thefifearms.com

 

The Machrie Hotel, Isle of Islay
Summer 2018
Campbell Gray Hotels will be opening The Machrie, an exceptional hotel for the truly breathtaking Isle of Islay. Whether you’re just looking to explore this stunning island, home to some of the world’s finest whiskies, birdlife, seafood and dramatic coastal seascapes, or you’re taking on the challenge of the links, The Machrie will be the perfect place to start your stay.
www.campbellgrayhotels.com/machrie-islay-scotland

 

Fingal – The Royal Yacht Britannia’s Floating Hotel, Edinburgh
September 2018
Launching in spring 2018, 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. With a cabin for every occasion - guests will be able to choose their own private balcony, a duplex cabin or, for that special occasion the stunning presidential suite. All of this a short stroll from two Michelin starred restaurants in the vibrant Leith neighbourhood.
www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

 

Innside by Melia, Glasgow
November 2018
The Spanish hotel company is bringing its sleek style to Glasgow with this new 175-room premium brand hotel.
www.melia.com

 

Motel One, Glasgow
November 2018
Motel One Group will open its new £22 million hotel next to Glasgow Central Station. It will have a One Lounge, which is the living room, breakfast café and bar all in one.
www.motel-one.com/en/hotels/glasgow

Preparing for the big day - royal wedding traditions and etiquette

A huge amount of time and effort goes into planning a wedding. So spare a thought for Meghan Markle, who also has centuries of traditions and royal etiquette to learn before tying the knot with Prince Harry this spring.

 

A Royal Convert

Firstly, Meghan will be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England, in a private ceremony at Kensington Palace, in London. This is a mark of respect to the head of the church, Queen Elizabeth II. It is also a way for Meghan to publicly declare her religion.

 

Floral Homage

When Victoria, the Princess Royal, married in 1858 her bouquet contained myrtle from her mother Queen Victoria’s own garden. Since then every royal bride – including the Duchess of Cambridge has included a sprig from the exact same plant – which still grows in the grounds of Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, the former private home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This as-yet-unbroken tradition suggests Meghan will do the same.

 

Golden Gifts

In 1923 The Queen Mother started another royal tradition by using rare Welsh gold. Tucked into the lush green landscape of the stunning Snowdonia National Park in Wales, is the Clogau St David mine, from which the finest quality gold was extracted and used to create her wedding band. Though the gold veins have since run dry Clogau, now a family-run jewellery company, has a small, carefully rationed supply. Queen Elizabeth II also has her own modest reserves, so we imagine there would be enough for at least two more bands.

Whether Prince Harry would wear his ring after the big day, however, would also remain to be seen, as it’s also traditional for upper-class men to eschew all jewellery – including wedding bands.

 

A Royal Feast

After the ceremony, Meghan and Prince Harry will treat their guests to a lavish feast, known as a ‘wedding breakfast’, regardless of the time of day it’s eaten. Queen Elizabeth II and The Queen Mother both opted for menus with a formal French influence, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose to champion locally grown cuisine.

If Meghan and Prince Harry follow suit, perhaps they'll also serve Jersey Royal potatoes and Hebridean langoustines. They could choose to serve flavoursome Gressingham duck, from family-run farms in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Otherwise, the Windsor Farm Shop conveniently sells beef, pork and lamb reared on the Royal Farms. Mimic the monarch by visiting the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where the farm shop is also open to the public. Or trace the procession route Megan and Prince Harry will take on their wedding day, ending with the picturesque Long Walk and a visit to Windsor Castle.

To complete the fine-dining experience, Megan and Prince Harry may turn to iconic cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield for a selection of British cheeses. Pick up a hamper from their original Jermyn Street store in London - opened in 1797 - and you could enjoy a picnic in one of the nearby Royal Parks, such as St James’ Park or Green Park, while live-streaming their televised wedding day. 

 

Playing By The Rules

In addition, Meghan will need to learn the rules surrounding a traditional Royal wedding. “As the newly-married couple begins to walk down the aisle at St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, they will pause so Prince Harry can bow and Meghan will curtsy in front of Her Majesty the Queen,” explained former royal butler and etiquette expert, Grant Harrold.

Normally, the bride and groom are first to eat at a wedding reception. However, royal etiquette insists nobody starts eating before Her Majesty the Queen. Similarly, when she finishes, everyone else stops eating too. “The Queen, being an excellent hostess, will, of course, make sure guests within her eyesight are finished before she stops eating,” added Mr Harrold.

With news that members of the public will also be invited to join the wedding celebrations, there may well be a rush of bookings at Mr Harrold’s Royal Etiquette workshop, where participants are taught appropriate protocols when interacting with royals, aristocrats and VIP families.  

We’re sure like all brides, Meghan will be radiant on the day, and fully immersed in royal traditions as she marries her prince.