Yeah, travel is cool but have you ever truly enjoyed the fruits of terra firma? Here’s some news for you; a holiday in the homeland can be brilliant; no faffing around at the airport, no language barriers (‘dos cerveza por favour’ doesn’t count as having a strong handle on Spanish) and no – or certainly less – of the eco guilt. Yep, the reasons for taking a staycation over a trip abroad are myriad, but where should you go? For a small island, we’ve got a lot going for us. So, we’ve teamed up with Love Holiday reviews, to bring you these; our 5 IDEAL UK staycation mini break ideas.
The Big One. With so much going on in the capital, culturally, culinarily and for the kids, London still represents the perfect place for a mini break. Even, we think, if you already live here. Exploring a different borough, or truly taking the time to enjoy the city rather than resenting the crush of the commute and relentless rat race, can make you truly appreciate the place again.
London’s free museums, we think, are the city’s best bargain. Head to South Kensington for Science, Natural History and the V&A, Bloomsbury for the British Museum’s treasures from around the world or Greenwich for the National Maritime Museum.
And the foodie scene in the capital ranks among some of the best in the world. Taste your way around the UK and beyond at London’s foodie markets. Borough is best-known but there’s also Broadway in the east and Rockley in the south, to name but a few; check out our article on 10 IDEAL food markets in London here.
What’s more, London has turned afternoon tea into an art form. The Ritz is the classic tea-lovers’ destination, but Claridge’s and Fortnum & Mason are just as decadently delicious. Or how about dinners with a view at London’s high-rise restaurants, like Aqua or Hutong at the Shard or Duck and Waffle by the Gherkin?
University life is at the heart of the city of Cambridge, and many of the 31 colleges spread around the city are open to visitors; a great excuse to get learned, we think. The most famous are King’s, Trinity and St John’s, and are all well worth a visit. King’s is known for its Gothic chapel and choir, Trinity for the Wren Library and St John’s for the Bridge of Sighs, but it’s also worth exploring some of the smaller and less-well-known colleges too, all with something unique to offer and a sense of serenity to each.
You can also discover art and antiquities from around the world at the Fitzwilliam Museum and get a bird’s eye view of the city from Great St Mary’s Church tower. What’s more (and weather permitting, of course), punting is a Cambridge must-do, and a relaxing way to see the college gardens and bridges – either hire your own or get someone else to do the hard work for you on a guided tour, often led by current or past students.
Gentle rolling hills, honey-stoned villages, cute cottages with thatched roofs, little lanes, sparkling streams and easy flowing rivers – the Cotswolds is the quaint English countryside of your wildest (or should that be quietest?) dreams. As one of just 38 UK areas to earn AONB status (Area of Outstanding Beauty), containing a huge variety of National Trust sites of interest, and with so many desperate to escape urban suffocation, there really has never been a better time to visit than now.
The Cotswold’s is also an unexpected foodie hotspot, and you’ll find some of the best local produce at Stroud’s Saturday farmers’ market, one of the best in the UK. The area’s also the spiritual home of the cosy country pub. The Wild Duck in Ewen and the Green Dragon in Cowley are just a couple of our favourites. There are some great restaurants in Cheltenham too, from the Daffodil in an Art Deco former cinema to sushi-free Japanese from a Master Chef finalist at Koj.
Edinburgh is a city of charm, sophistication, poise and contrast, and in the eyes of the inquisitive, intrepid traveller, it can currently do no wrong. The Scottish capital is often on the tourist itinerary for those visiting the UK, but should equally not be overlooked by Brits considering a staycation either. It just has so much to offer; from amazing food crafted from the finest local produce to epic views from its many famous hilltops and so much more besides.
Edinburgh was recently rated as the best UK city for its local travel links for the second time in a row, assuaging any fears that being up north and far from London is prohibitive to tourists. And the food scene is incredible; the city is proud to have four Michelin starred restaurants – Number One, The Kitchin, The Pompadour by Galvin, and 21212. There is also a fine array of restaurants that are not Michelin starred, but are absolutely glorious, providing some of the most luxurious and opulent dining experiences in the UK. Restaurants you must try include Leith Chop House, Ondine, Gardener’s Cottage, Printing Press, and Field. The jewel in Edinburgh’s dining scene is though, shining more brightly than its many great establishments, is Scotland’s produce. The beef, fresh seafood and game are the envy of the world, and that’s before we get started on the amazing whiskey!
The Welsh capital is a cultural heavy hitter, make no mistake, and with it being only a two hour train journey from London, represents the perfect mini break for those who love a big city but want to escape the biggest city.
Take a guided tour around Cardiff’s most famous building, its city centre castle. Built in the 11th century and boasting a location right in the heart of things, the castle has been everything from a Roman fort to a WWII bomb shelter over the years, so has plenty of stories to tell. And only a short walk away, you can explore the nearby Victorian shopping arcades and take a walk around the art and natural history galleries at the National Museum of Cardiff.
Food wise, Wales has some of Britain’s tastiest produce, and it’s shown off to its best in Cardiff’s restaurants. There’s the Potted Pig for modern British dishes using local ingredients (as well as an epic gin list). Or for something more unusual, philanthropic and downright delicious, Clink Restaurant is staffed by prisoners working towards food qualifications. Cheese lovers don’t miss Madame Fromage, who sell heavenly local cheese platters, and you can’t visit Cardiff without stocking up at Fabulous Welsh cakes in the Bay.