Celebrate World Vegan Day in the UK

World Vegan Day is almost upon us, kickstarting a month-long celebration of all things plant based. If you’re vegan and travelling to the UK, you’ll discover an ever-growing number of restaurants, cafés and bars serving up delicious sweet and savoury vegan treats – from high-end healthy cuisine to jaw-dropping junk food. Here’s a few of our favourites below.

 

London

Mildreds, Soho

Whether you’re looking for vegan-friendly cocktails or cuisine, London is no slouch when it comes to plant-based restaurants and bars. One of the best is Mildreds. Originally established in Soho in 1988, the restaurant now boasts branches in Camden, King’s Cross and Dalston too. Airy, bright and stylish, the chain is loved for its delicious cuisine which includes warming winter dishes like smoked tofu, apple and white bean sausages and mash, and toffee apple crumble. Diners can also savour vegan cocktails including popcorn martinis and blood orange margaritas and enjoy a special brunch menu at weekends.

Manna, Primrose Hill

Located in leafy north-west London, Manna is one of the capital’s most popular vegan restaurants. With a menu displaying influences as far flung as India, Mexico and Japan, this elegant restaurant prides itself on using sustainable produce throughout the year. Diners can choose from seasonal specials including roasted root vegetable masala or buffalo cauliflower tostada, enjoy protein-rich Sunday roasts or splash out and savour the chef’s special five-course custom menu.

Wulf & Lamb, Sloane Square

“Run with the wolves, eat with the lambs” is the mantra of Wulf & Lamb, one of the newest additions to the London vegan scene. It’s 100% plant-based menu focuses heavily on comfort food, so expect fabulously filling dishes including an open burrito with sautéed ackee, green coconut curry with sweet potato mash and the seitan Wulf Burger complete with cashew aioli and wedges.  Sweet-toothed diners can also choose from deliciously decadent desserts including tiramisu with raw almond cream or dairy-free mango and passionfruit cheesecake. 

Quaglino’s and The Meet, various locations

If you’re looking for cocktails over cuisine, The Green Revolution at Quaglino’s Bar in St James’s is offering a Science of Sustainability cocktail menu. Divided into past, present and future, the menu reveals the history of sustainability via a range of delicious drinks including The Green Revolution, which combines Matchers Rye, yellow chartreuse, lime, beer, honey and matcha tea served with a pistachio foam. Alternatively, head to Vegroni at The Meet. Opening on 2 November, this new pop-up offers vegan cocktails, including a delicious rhubarb and vanilla custard martini, comfort food and even a bottomless vegan brunch, all in a memorable setting under the railway arches of Clapham North.

 

Manchester

The Allotment, Lloyd Street

Named best vegetarian restaurant of 2018 by the Times, award-winning restaurant The Allotment offers 3, 7 and 10-course tasting menus in the heart of Manchester. All its dishes are also 100% gluten, dairy and egg free, making it perfect for coeliacs in addition to those following a plant-based diet. Visit during the holiday season and you can also enjoy its Christmas menu featuring festive delights including cranberry and red wine parfait and pan fried cauliflower roast with all the trimmings.

V-Rev Vegan Diner, Edge Street

A mecca for vegan junk food lovers, V-Rev offers gloriously greasy delights at a price that won’t break the budget. From loaded southwest fries with smashed avocado and southwest chipotle mayo to buffalo mac and cheez made with homemade cheez sauce, beacon and buffalo sauce, this is the perfect venue for post-party pick me ups and cheat days. Can’t decide between savoury and sweet? Look out for Donut Stop Me Now – a mouth-watering medley of buttermilk fried seitan chckn, cheez, baecon, maple syrup and crispy fried onions between two fried donuts, for a decadent burger experience with a difference.

Greens, Didsbury

Set up by Simon Connolly and Simon Rimmer, now one of the UK’s top TV chefs, Greens has been ‘terrifying carnivores’ since 1990 with its inspiring menu of delicious plant-based dishes. Influenced by cuisines from around the world, the menu features dishes including deep-fried oyster mushrooms, pancakes with plum sauce and sage gnocchi with roasted squash and horseradish crumb. Visiting this winter? Enjoy a festive feast of dishes including red lentil and walnut loaf and vegan Christmas pudding, available throughout December.

Edinburgh

Holy Cow, Elder Street

Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, quirky independent café Holy Cow prides itself on using organic local produce to create its 100% vegan menu. Dishes change according to the season and you can expect tasty treats including spicy butternut squash soup in addition to staples such as vegan burgers, open sandwiches and seasonal salads. Much loved for its cakes, the café has an ever-changing selection of sweet delights including chocolate and peanut butter cake, pumpkin pie and spiced pear and walnut cake.

The Ivy on the Square, St Andrew Square

One of the newest restaurants in the city, The Ivy on the Square has swiftly become a staple on the Edinburgh dining scene. Its specially designed vegetarian menu features vegan-friendly options, while non-vegans can also choose from the à la carte menu. With delicious dishes including sweet potato Keralan curry, warm Asian salad and roasted butternut squash with grains, this chic and stylish restaurant is the ideal spot for vegan and vegetarian celebrations while in the Scottish capital.

The Auld Hoose, St Leonard’s Street

Home to some of the best rock, metal and punk music in Edinburgh via their legendary jukebox, The Auld Hoose is also one of the city’s best venues for vegans in search of a little comfort food. From huge plates of nachos dripping in vegan cheese to crunchy onions rings, vegan falafel burgers and even a vegan sorbet sundae, this is the ideal spot for meat-free visitors and music lovers alike.

 

Brighton

Purezza, St James’s Street

The UK’s first vegan pizzeria, Purezza take animal-friendly Italian cuisine seriously. Having spent two years developing their dairy-free mozzarella (made from brown rice), the restaurant uses innovative recipes and ingredients to create delectable vegan pizzas, pastas and desserts – from meltingly moreish macaroni to cheesesteak calzone and vegan oreo pizza. With a second branch in London and many gluten-free options available, it’s the perfect pit-stop for vegans looking for a taste of Italy in the UK.

Food for Friends, Prince Albert Street

Established in 1981, the award-winning Food for Friends is one of Brighton’s longest-running vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Boasting a seasonal menu made with local and organic produce, diners can enjoy Middle Eastern, Japanese and British-inspired vegan dishes including courgette kofta and black olive polenta in addition to a selection of mouth-watering desserts and vegan cocktails.

Terre à Terre, East Street

A haven of vegan indulgence, Terra à Terra prides itself on its marvellous meat-free creations made with ethically sourced ingredients. Playfully named dishes range from KFC, Korean fried cauliflower with sweet and sour sesame, to Snap, Crackle and Choc, a rich chocolate mousse with praline and chocolate shortbread. With a range of organic vegan wines, beers and ciders on offer as well as cocktails and non-alcoholic options, this is the perfect spot for special vegan suppers by the sea.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - The greatest New Year party in the world

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - The greatest New Year party in the world

Our favourite 10 places to see autumn colours

Horse standing underneath a tree in front of a cottage
Our favourite 10 places to see autumn colours

Five luxurious ways to travel around Britain

Get from A to B with these seriously glamorous ways to travel, which turn exploring British destinations into an upper-class experience all the way.

Train

One of the greatest travel experiences has to be while relaxing with a glass of Champagne, savouring luxurious surroundings while gazing out of the window at ever-changing, beautiful scenery. Train travel on board the lavish Belmond Royal Scotsman (sister train of the Venice Simplon Orient Express) evokes the romance of travel from a bygone era and is all about delivering an exclusive experience; only a maximum of 36 guests are on board on any journey. There are a number of routes available; whisky lovers should check out its Malt Whisky Trail or fans of history can book onto a journey that takes you to visit castles and country estates. But it’s the experience on board that’s just as unforgettable as the stops. Visit its on-board spa for an indulgent treatment, enjoy fine dining across its two elegant dining cars and relax in the Edwardian Observation car.

Even if you only have one day to spare, you can experience the thrill of luxury train travel by dining on board the Northern Belle, which departs from regional stations throughout the UK and takes you through some of the most stunning countryside. Enjoy Champagne receptions, grand dinners or sumptuous afternoon teas in its gorgeous carriages, each of which is named after a British castle or stately home.

Hot-air balloon

Admire the exceptional beauty of the British countryside as you float above the landscapes on an exclusive trip in a hot-air balloon. Visitors have their pick of companies across the destination offering these trips; one example is Kent Ballooning, which offers ballooning over the ‘Garden of England’ – the county of Kent – in south-east England. Take it to a more exclusive, luxurious level with its VIP flights. Two passengers board their own private balloon – after watching its inflation – and enjoy Champagne during the flight.  

Alternatively, why not take part in Britain’s most famous hot-air balloon festival by booking a once-in-a-lifetime hot-air balloon trip with Virgin Balloon Flights at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, which returns in August 2019? You’ll take to the skies over the gorgeous Somerset landscapes for three-to-four hours and witness all the other balloons taking part in the fiesta beside you, while sipping on Champagne!

Helicopter

See Britain from a different angle as you cruise above it by helicopter…all piloted of course! You just have to sit back and enjoy the scenery. If you’re in England’s capital, one of the most exclusive ways to see the city is on board The London Helicopter on a trip that takes in all the iconic landmarks from the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. For an extra special journey tie in a luxury chauffeur service to and from your helicopter flight and, on arrival back at the heliport in Battersea, complete the trip with a glass or two of Champagne at neighbouring ‘The Pad’ at the Crowne Plaza. Helicopter flights can, of course, be more than sightseeing. Aerial Charter Scotland, for example, offers Helicopter Distillery Tours, where whisky lovers can travel between distilleries across the five distinctive whisky producing regions of Scotland. Spot the magnificent lochs, dramatic mountains and vibrant cities as you soar overhead en route to the distilleries.

Cruise ship

Britain is an island – so what better way to explore it than on board a luxury cruise ship? There are a wide range of cruise companies operating itineraries, from around the remote Scottish islands to cruises around the whole of Britain. You’ll find all-inclusive luxury – think butler service, gourmet dining, fine wines, Champagne, suites with private verandas and indulgent spas – with companies such as Regent Seven Seas, Six Star Cruises and Silversea. A two-week cruise by Silversea departs from London and stops at ports such as the spectacular Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall at the south-western tip of England; the exciting city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, the stunning Scottish islands of Lewis, Shetland, Orkney and Mull as well as the vibrant Scottish capital Edinburgh. Six Star Cruises offers a ‘British Isles Legacy’ route, with stops in Fowey in Cornwall, Liverpool in north-west England and Scotland, while Regent Seven Seas’ offers a ‘Treasures of the British Isles’ cruise, departing from Bristol, heading up to the Scottish islands and across to Aberdeen, before taking in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly.

Chauffeur-driven luxury car

Enjoy the VIP treatment by visiting some of Britain’s top attractions and most beautiful destinations via chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle. There is a wealth of companies across Britain offering this type of service but to enhance the experience further, ensure your driver is also a knowledgeable guide. British Chauffeur Tours offers tailor-made tours to suit individual interests but check out popular journeys such as its Harry Potter tours, football tours and tours of the Cotswolds. Ever wanted to channel your inner James Bond? Book onto its Espionage London tour to discover the secret world of the spy – all, of course, from the comfort of a luxury car. Visitors can also have multi-day bespoke tours created. British Heritage Chauffeur Tours, for example, offers entire trips around Wales, England or Scotland – which include five-star accommodation along the way – as well as tours across a range in themes, from Poldark to Queen Victoria.

48 Hours in the Peak District & Derbyshire

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

DAY ONE

09:00 GO UNDERGROUND

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

11:00 TREAT YOURSELF TO A SPA

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

13:00 ENJOY A TASTE OF THE PEAK DISTRICT

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

14:00 HIKE THROUGH GORGEOUS COUNTRYSIDE

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

17:00 DINE IN A HISTORIC PUB

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

20:00 MARVEL AT THE DARK SKIES

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

TIME TO CHECK IN

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

 

DAY TWO

09:00 STEP BACK 500 YEARS

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

11:00 CLIMB DIZZYING HEIGHTS

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

13:00 SAMPLE LOCAL DELICACIES

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

15:00 EXPLORE THE NATIONAL PARK

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

17:00 DISCOVER THE ‘PLAGUE’ VILLAGE

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

20:00 FEAST ON FIRST-CLASS FOOD

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

TIME TO CHECK IN

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

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

7 of the best Christmas markets and winter activities

Twinkling lights, mulled wine, festive atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back this year bigger and better than ever before. Set in some of Britain’s loveliest cities, a visit to a Christmas market is equal parts shopping experience, equal parts destination discovery.

Bath Christmas Market, south-west England (22 November – 9 December)

There’s a lovely historic-ambience-meets-winter-style at Bath Christmas Market, as more than 200 pop-up chalets set up on Bath’s pretty Georgian streets. Visitors can expect a real treasure trove of gifts to take home, whether that’s jewellery, homewares or decorations. Last year more than 80% of stallholders came from Bath and south-west England, while 99% of all products were handmade in Britain or abroad with Fairtrade certification, so this is very much an eco-savvy shopping experience. There’s always new stalls to explore as well as the perennial favourites, while you can fill empty bellies with a range of food sold from The Lodge in the heart of the market.

Also check out: Bath on Ice, the festive ice rink that runs from 16 November – 6 January 2019, and Glow in the Dark mini golf; a Christmas Trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden during December; and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey on various dates throughout the festive season.

 

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, central England (15 November – 23 December)

A firm favourite on Birmingham’s Christmas calendar, this yuletide market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria, and you can peruse all the lovely stalls right up until just before Christmas itself. Expect a fine range of traditional gifts and products on its 120 stalls and get into the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, gluhwein and weissbeer. While you may be getting a flavour of Germany in the middle of Birmingham, a huge draw is its location in Victoria Square and the programme of live music that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.

Also check out: Birmingham Cathedral’s new outdoor market and Santa’s Grotto plus a full programme of music and film events during the festive season; outdoor skating at Ice Rink Birmingham plus the Big Wheel Experience from 15 November to 27 January 2019; a new event for 2018 (14 – 22 December), Enchanted Weston is an illuminated, after-dark experience in stunning parkland with live music and food.

 

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland (16 November – 5 January)

Even if you pay a visit after Christmas you’ll still get the chance to enjoy some festive treats as Edinburgh’s Christmas market continues – as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas, a six-week programme of entertainment in the city centre – until early January. While it’s not open Christmas Day it is open until 8pm on Christmas Eve so bring plenty of bags to fill up with treats such as arts and crafts, foodie treats and traditional or bespoke Christmas products. The market itself takes place in East Princes Street Gardens, so you’re guaranteed some gorgeous views of Edinburgh Castle in the background and you’re close by to some of the city’s major attractions.

Also check out: The Big Wheel and funfair rides on East Princes Street Gardens; performance company the multi award-winning La Clique with its show La Clique Noel Part Deux; and 24 Hours of Advent, a real-life advent calendar where Edinburgh opens its doors from 1 – 24 December to showcase the city’s unique buildings. 

 

Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland (17 November – 22 December)

Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Ireland capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, this yuletide market returns in 2018 with its enviable mix of artisan products and stalls groaning with tasty treats from international cuisines in its outdoor food court. Indulge in crepes, a hog roast, Gluhwein and continental cheeses but make it a truly Northern Irish experience and visit Lavery’s traditional Irish bar for some fantastic live music to really get you in the Christmas spirit. Kids will love to take a ride on the vintage carousel or zip down the helter skelter as well as a trip to visit Santa in his magical grotto.

Also check out: Festive Fables at arts and culture hub The Mac (16 – 24 December) for festive storytelling; Christmas Wonderland at outdoor adventure centre The Jungle throughout December; and The Music Box at Belfast Waterfront, a festive music show celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

 

South Bank Winter Festival, London (9 November – 27 December)

The popular Winter Market returns to London’s Southbank Centre, a seasonal pleasure that sits alongside a range of family shows and festive fun as the banks of the River Thames become a winter wonderland. All along the South Bank are strings of decorations and cute wooden cabins lit up with fairy lights will sell Christmas gifts, from the quirky to the traditional, as well as mince pies, spiced cider and steaming mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Global cuisines are available too, in the form of festive treats to gift or to eat there and then. Make sure you grab a selfie by the huge Christmas tree!

Also check out: As you’re in one of the capital’s cultural hotspots, book onto one of the fantastic performances available at the Southbank Centre, from Christmas concerts and choir performances to the fairy tale spectacle of Rumpelstiltskin (13 December – 6 January 2019) and Belle Epoque (turn of the century) circus entertainment with Circus 1903 (19 December – 5 January 2019). There are also a number of workshops such as the Winter Knees Up, storytelling and music for all generations.

 

Cardiff Christmas Market, south Wales (15 November – 23 December)

Set across five streets of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, Cardiff’s Christmas Market will be in full swing from mid-November, leaving plenty of time to find the perfect gift among its stalls. Its ethos is hosting stallholders selling original, hand-made products and artists and crafts people selling their work. There are plenty of food and drink options available among the 200+ stallholders and there’ll be music, festive lights, entertainment transforming the streets.

Also check out: Once you’ve shopped you’re in the perfect location to head over to Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland (15 November – 6 January), including an undercover ice rink and Santa’s Grotto, which will be in the spectacular setting of Cardiff Castle; unique Santa Tours at the Principality Stadium (dates TBC); and choose from four Christmas ballets at St David’s Hall (19 – 31 December).

 

Manchester Christmas Markets, north-west England (9 November – 22 December)

Not one, not two, not even three but TEN locations will be hosting Manchester’s award-winning Christmas markets, meaning wherever you are in the city you won’t be far from festive gifts and delicious food and drink stalls selling traditional bratwurst, hog roast, paella and much more. There will be more than 300 stalls and chalets across the city; follow the market trail as you pick up jewellery, toys, plants, bags, homeware and quirky, fun gifts. Each has its own character; as well as the traditional style market there will be a French market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts & Crafts market.

Also check out: Winter Funland, which will be held at an indoor venue and include fairground attractions, ice rink, circus and other fun performances (7 December – 1 January 2019); Manchester orchestra Halle’s Christmas music extravaganza at Bridgewater Hall (21 December); and visit Ice Village Manchester, the UK's biggest-ever ice attraction which will include an Arctic Bar, Santa's Grotto and ice rink (9 November – 5 January 2019).

Dundee

Dundee

Five family-friendly activities in London fit for royalty

The Duchess of Sussex is three-months’ pregnant and expecting her first baby in spring 2019, Kensington Palace revealed today.

Announced this morning, as Prince Harry and Meghan began their first official tour to Australia and New Zealand, the world reacted excitedly to the news that the royal family will once again be expecting the patter-patter of tiny feet. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a round-up of five of our favourite family-friendly attractions in and around the capital, for a right royal day out.

Spitalfields City Farm

Hidden away in the heart of vibrant Shoreditch, Spitalfield’s City Farm is home to farm-yard favourites including rabbits, pigs, chickens, geese and cows. Kids can discover the wonderful world of creepy-crawlies at The Bug Hotel and harvest their own vegetables during Kids’ Kitchen cookery lessons. There’s even the Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race – held annually on the same day as the University boat race, when goats Oxford and Cambridge compete for that extra bale of hay. https://www.spitalfieldscityfarm.org/, cost: free

LEGOLAND Windsor

Located a short distance from Windsor Castle, this world-famous amusement park is a bucket-list activity for many families visiting the capital. Divided into fantasy-themed lands based on the iconic brands most famous collections, there are 55 different activities to choose from, including the Atlantis Submarine Voyage in Adventure Land and the Splash Safari water park at Duplo® Valley. https://www.legoland.co.uk/ cost: Tickets from £32, children under two go free.

V&A Museum of Childhood

The nearby V&A Museum of Childhood is a must-see for London-bound families with an interest in history. Home to a range of fascinating permanent displays including the UK’s largest collection of dolls, the museum also hosts a range of special exhibitions such as A Pirate’s Life for Me – exploring the legends of pirates in history, which runs from this month until April 2019. https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/ , cost: free

The making of Harry Potter – Warner Brothers Studio Tour

This perennially-popular Warner Brothers Studio Tour gives kids the chance to delve behind the scenes and experience the magic of Harry Potter for themselves. They can wander creepy Diagon Alley, discover how the goblins of Gringotts were created and learn the secrets of the special effects behind the Whomping Willow and Harry’s invisibility cloak. https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/, cost: Adults £45, Children £35, Children under five go free.

The Tower of London

A former palace and prison, The Tower of London is one of the city’s most intriguing spots. See the glittering Crown Jewels and meet the famous Yeoman Warders, known as Beefeaters, who have protected the Tower since the time of the Tudors. You can even hear its grisly history during a spooky twilight tour. https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/, cost: Adults from £22.70, Children from £10.75, Children under five go free.

Celebrate Global Champagne Day with a sparkle in the UK

October 19th is Global Champagne Day and there are lots of places to celebrate in and around the capital. But for wine connoisseurs in the know, it’s also a chance to enjoy one of the UK’s lesser-known but much-loved tipples – English sparkling wine. Read on to discover our favourite locations to savour a bit of the English spirit.

 

Searcys Champagne Bar, St Pancras

Located within the majestic interior of St Pancras Station, which celebrates its 150th birthday this year, Searcys is Europe’s longest champagne bar. In addition to an extensive list of fine French champagnes, the bar proudly stocks a number of acclaimed English sparkling wines including Greyfriars Cuvée Brut NV from Surrey and Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut NV from West Sussex. Savour a glass of bubbles as you admire Tracy Emin’s ‘I want my time with you’ installation or relax on the terrace and watch the world go by. Alternatively, refine your palette at Searcys Champagne School. One of the first schools in the UK dedicated to bubbly, it offers masterclasses in both champagne and English sparkling wines at a range of ticketed events. https://stpancrasbysearcys.co.uk

 

Skylon Restaurant, Bar and Grill, Southbank

One of London’s best-known bars, Skylon is also a proud retailer of one of its lesser-known delights and sells a range of English sparkling wines such as Nyetimber Rosé from West Sussex and Blanc de Blancs from the Gusbourne Estate in Kent. Located at the top of the Royal Festival Hall, a short distance from Waterloo Station, the bar also offers one of the best views of the London skyline, the perfect accompaniment to your evening tipple. https://www.skylon-restaurant.co.uk/at/grill-south-bank/

 

George’s Bar, King’s Cross

From its buttery leather sofas to its decorative Victorian ceilings, George’s Bar is a lamp-lit oasis of luxury located within the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Owned by British chef and Masterchef presenter Marcus Wearing, the bar is steeped in British history. The ideal location in which to enjoy afternoon tea, George’s offers gourmet cocktails and an extensive champagne list. It also boasts several notable English sparkling wines including Gusbourne Rosé, a delightfully crisp sparkling wine with notes of strawberry that hails from the heart of Kent. https://www.georgesbar.co.uk/

 

Iris Bar at The Gherkin, City of London

The only bar in London with 360° views over the city, Iris is located on the 40th floor of The Gherkin and is one of the newest drinking establishments to grace the capital’s ever-changing skyline. The perfect place to celebrate Global Champagne Day, the bar offers an extensive London-themed cocktail menu, an excellent selection of champagne and some of the UK’s finest sparkling wines, including Nyetimber Rosé MV from West Sussex. https://searcysatthegherkin.co.uk/iris-bar/

 

The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

Nestled in a quiet side street in the bustling heart of Covent Garden, The 10 Cases is an unassuming bistro and wine bar that is proving one of the most popular additions to the area. Originally starting out as a bistro serving 10 white, 10 red and a selection of rose, sparkling and sweet wines, in 2013 the owners opened the adjacent Cave a Vin wine bar, shop and cellar. Offering an ever-changing range of vintages from around the world, English sparkling wines such as Gusbourne Brut Reserve Chardonnay/Pinot Noir from Kent regularly make an appearance. https://www.10cases.co.uk/

 

Want to discover more about English sparkling wines? Why not venture out of the city and explore the locations forging the way for the UK wine scene, with our round-up of England’s most amazing vineyards.

48 Hours in Inverness and Loch Ness

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

Time to check in

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

DAY ONE

09:00 DELVE INTO THE CITY’S PAST

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

11:00 STEP INTO A TROPICAL PARADISE

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

13:00 DINE WHERE MUSIC HISTORY WAS MADE

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

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

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

17:00 ENJOY PRE-DINNER COCKTAILS

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

20:00 FEAST ON HIGHLAND CLASSICS

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

 

DAY TWO

07:00 PADDLE AT SUNRISE

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

OR

07:00 WALK AROUND A WORLD-FAMOUS LOCH

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

12:00 PICNIC ON LOCAL PRODUCE

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

13:00 CRUISE AROUND LOCH NESS

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

16:00 HEAD OUT DOLPHIN SPOTTING

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

19:00 DRINK AT A CITY FAVOURITE

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

20:00 DINE IN A FORMER CHURCH

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

22:00 PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY

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

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