With the welcome news of travel restrictions being relaxed over the coming months, staycations are set to boom. Whether you’re planning a long summer break or a last-minute getaway, we recommend our favourite Great British holiday hotspots for the whole family.
The Lake District
England's largest National Park is characterised by its fell mountains, lakes and woodlands, encompassing everything from quaint and picturesque market towns to dramatic and expansive landscapes. The Lake District’s beauty has inspired some of Britain's best-known writers, from William Wordsworth’s romantic poetry to Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s books, and it was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017.
Climb England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, go sailing on the country’s largest natural lakes, Wast Water and Windermere, visit the World of Beatrix Potter and explore the region’s historic market towns and villages, where you can sample local delicacies such as Grasmere Gingerbread and Kendal Mint Cake.
There’s a wide range of accommodation options, from camping and B&Bs to self-catering cottages and luxury hotels. If the latter is more your cup of tea then you can’t go wrong with a stay at Forest Side, a lovingly restored Victorian Mansion in the village of Grasmere, Ambleside, placing you at the heart of the region. Enjoy countryside rambles from the doorstep and reconnect with nature on the estate’s own Fellside where you can spot roe deer, red squirrels and native plant species.
Forest Side’s award-winning restaurant upholds the Lake District’s foodie reputation. Head chef Paul Leonard’s ‘fine Cumbrian cuisine’ focuses on local, seasonal and sustainable produce to create dishes inspired by the surrounding landscape. The vast majority of ingredients are sourced from within 10 miles of Forest Side, often foraged or grown within its own kitchen gardens. The six-course lunch, or eight-course dinner menus take you on a culinary journey through the ‘Lake District Larder’, and even the plates the food is served on have been crafted by local ceramicists.
It’s no surprise that the dramatic coastline and patchwork colours of Dorset have inspired artists for centuries. Flanked by the Jurassic Coast — England’s only natural Unesco World Heritage Site — Dorset is popular with foodies and outdoorsy types, drawn to the region’s traditional restaurants, breathtaking scenery and natural wonders, which include ancient coves, dramatic cliff tops and the iconic stone arch known as Durdle Door. With nearly 100 miles of coastline, Dorset’s beaches offer something for everyone, from rugged shingle to golden sands — with popular spots including Hive Beach, Lyme Regis, Man O’ War Beach and Chesil Beach (the setting of Ian McEwan’s bestselling book and film).
Known as ‘the pearl of Dorset’, Lyme Regis is a quaint harbour town that attracts plenty of visitors and fossil hunters hoping to find ancient buried treasures in the footsteps of renowned paleontologist Mary Anning, who was born here in 1799. In July 2020, Mark Hix open The Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis in a picturesque spot overlooking the sea, with a menu that champions sustainably caught British fish and seafood. Other seafood meccas include the award-winning Crab House Cafe, set just behind Chesil Beach, and the family-run Hive Beach Cafe, set in Burton Bradstock. This picturesque town is home to the Seaside Boarding House, a restaurant and boutique hotel set up by the team behind London’s Groucho Club, which offers fine dining (including traditional afternoon tea) and superb wine and cocktails in effortlessly chic surroundings.
With its vast coastlines, rugged moors and patchwork countryside, Devon is a nature lover’s paradise. Devon’s spectacular and varied coastline covers some 450 miles, with the golden sands and clifftops of the north and the picture-postcard harbour towns of the ‘English Riviera’ in the south. For active types, there’s surfing at scenic spots such as Croyde Bay and the popular Torquay, and plenty of rural hikes and camping. But there’s also the bustling cities of Exeter and Plymouth to explore.
Devonshire produce, particularly fresh clotted cream, ice cream and cheese, is world-renowned, and the county is home to four Michelin-starred restaurants. So, if you’ve been missing five-star hospitality and dining out over the past year (haven’t we all), a break in Devon may be just what the doctor ordered. Lympstone Manor, a Grade-II listed country house in the scenic Exe Estuary, should be on every foodie’s bucket list as the brainchild of celebrated chef Michael Cains. The hotel’s dining room picked up a Michelin star within just six months of opening in 2017, and even features its own vineyard and excellent wine cellar. Equally, The Pig at Combe is a popular outpost from the bovine boutique hotel group, with a back-to-nature ethos that centres around the local saying that ‘if you stick your finger in the ground it will grow.’ And for secluded luxury, check into the Gara Rock Hotel located near beautiful Salcombe, which offers world-class amenities and spectacular clifftop views across rolling countryside and deserted beaches.
The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales and renowned for its chocolate box beauty. Here, charming Cotswold stone buildings steeped in history punctuating lush greenery (and rambling roses if you time it right). Holiday makers are spoilt for choice when it comes to quintessentially English market towns and villages to explore, such as Bath and Cheltenham, which buzz with cobbled lanes filled with independent shops, country pubs and farmers markets laden with fresh produce, while Tetbury brims with antiques.
The gentle rolling hills and hedgerow-lined country lanes make the Cotswolds a perfect base for walking, cycling and general fresh air. Head to Lower Mill Estates, a lakeside nature reserve with private residences that boasts nine lakes and two rivers. Kayak, windsurf or practise your serve before a visit to the award-winning spa. When days call for adventures indoors, there are castles, stately homes and some of the finest historic buildings and churches to discover. For a taste of traditional country luxury, book a stay at The Lost Orangery, a two-bedroom rental cottage between Bath and Castle Combe, which sits nestled within estate grounds designed by the same team behind the world-renowned gardens at royal residence and Cotswold neighbour, Highgrove House.
Home to Wales’s highest peak, this beautiful mountainous region in North Wales is famous for its stunning landscape and summit. The star attraction is, of course, hiking 3,560ft to the top of Mount Snowdon. The Llanberis Path is the longest route at nine miles, but offers the most gradual climb for novice hikers; allow six to eight hours to ascend and descend. If hiking isn’t really your thing then you don’t have to miss out on the spectacular views from the top, just hop aboard the Snowdon Mountain Railway and enjoy the ride as it winds up into the clouds.
Other attractions include the windswept golden beaches of the Llyn Peninsula – the town of Abersoch is renowned for its balmy microclimate and many of the Cheshire set decamp here during the summer months – Conwy Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and some of the UK’s finest golf courses including Royal St David’s, Aberdovey and Nefyn.
Reward yourself for a day of exertion by retreating to the luxury surrounds of five-star country house hotel Palé Hall. This Victorian mansion, situated within a country estate on the western edge of the national park, strikes a perfect balance of comfort and grandeur. Intricately decorated interiors, beautifully kept grounds and dramatic mountain vistas complement this magnificent Victorian manor, while Pelé Hall’s Henry Robertson Dining Room, presided over by head chef Gareth Stevenson, recently received a coveted Michelin Green Star award for its combined gastronomy and sustainability initiatives.
The East Anglian county’s vast endless skies, handsome flint houses, unspoilt beaches, and wonderful wildlife has long made it a covetable holiday destination. Recently, Norfolk’s burgeoning gastronomic scene, collection of fashionable hotels and chic villages have made it a popular retreat for Londoners longing for bucolic calm alongside contemporary comforts.
Burnham Market is known for its connections to Norfolk’s most famous son, Lord Nelson, as well as an enticing selection of boutiques and restaurants. Try the delicious fare and elegant rooms of Hoste and pop into Burnham Market Stores to pick up some tempting local produce. Nearby Holkham boasts possibly the finest beach in the UK: miles of unspoilt white sand next to rolling dunes that are home to an incredible variety of wildlife.
Next door, striking stately home Holkham Hall is worth visiting, and The Victoria Inn is one of the finest places to stay in the county. In east Norfolk, the Broads offers endless winding walking trails along peaceful waterways and quaint English seaside charm in nearby Great Yarmouth. Stay at singularly wonderful Fritton Lake, an ambitious rewilding project and sustainable private holiday club that combines superb local food and drink and exciting activities with boutique accommodation.
Margate and Kent Coast
Thanks to the recent regeneration of Margate and the picture-postcard appeal of nearby Whitstablem this stretch of the Kent coast has found its place firmly on the map.
The arrival of the Turner Contemporary in 2011, followed by the highly anticipated reopening of the retro Dreamland theme park just four years later, gave Margate a much-needed boost in popularity and economy. Ever since, Londoners have flocked to this seaside town for day trips and long weekends — some even choosing to put down roots here permanently, enticed by its artsy community and affordable period properties.
Margate has retro charm in (buckets and) spades; full of noisy arcades, fish and chip vendors and old-fashioned children’s rides on its sandy beach. But there’s enough trendy bars, restaurants and micro pubs specialising in local ales and cider to satisfy visitors from all over the country. It’s also well positioned to visit neighbouring seaside towns, such as Ramsgate, Herne Bay, Whistable and Broadstairs, which all offer a different taste of the Kent coast. Grab an ice cream at the traditional Ramsay & Williams Ice Cream Bar in the heart of Margate’s Old Town, watch a Turner-approved sunset at the Harbour Arms micropub, and check into the quirky new Albion Rooms hotel, founded by members of The Libertines (yes, really).
Isle of Wight
Hopping on the ferry to the Isle of Wight gives you that ‘overseas’ feeling, minus the need to stuff a phrase book and a fist full of foreign currency in your pocket. Measuring just 23 miles by 13, the delights of the Isle are accessible wherever you choose to rest your hat. And the options are plentiful.
With sweeping views of The English Channel, elevated modern interiors and a delectable choice of dishes at the in-house restaurant, the upscale Hambrough boutique hotel in Ventnor on the south coast is an elegant resting spot just a mile from the Ventnor Botanical Gardens. For a more nostalgic seaside experience, stay in one of Vintage Vacations’ quirky airstream caravans in Ryde. Its oldest two-berth caravan, from 1942, has been lovingly restored to its former glory complete with retro Formica tables, cosy floral quilts, kitsch ornaments and vintage board games.
Gourmands in search of a meal that celebrates the Isle’s abundant produce, should head to The Hut at Colwell Bay in the north west to enjoy everything from fish tacos to a fruits de mer platter, or take a trip to the garlic farm in Newchurch, where you can dine before picking up some of the farm’s moreish syrupy black garlic bulbs to take home while looking out for the elusive red squirrels frolicking in the surrounding grasslands.
For a taste of local living, head east to Sandown where Boojum & Snark – the first and only dedicated craft beer taproom on the Isle of Wight – celebrates the brewing heritage of the Isle with its sustainable high-street offering, with beers from many small craft breweries as well as producing its own. The quirky brewery also houses an exhibition space displaying installations, artworks and sculptures by local artists.
The Isle of Wight Festival is also set to return on 16 September, line-up yet to be confirmed.
Nidderdale and North Yorkshire
From picturesque villages and rolling valleys to rugged moorland, North Yorkshire possesses some of the most magnificent examples of nature and culture anywhere in the British countryside. And, owing to its status as a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and its breathtaking, unspoilt scenery, Nidderdale is especially worth a visit.
While it is one of the smaller Dales in Yorkshire, Nidderdale is certainly one of the most beautiful, and the area’s only town, Pateley Bridge, is a perfect place from which to explore the spectacular rural surrounds. Home to the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World, as verified in the Guinness Book of World Records having been trading continuously since 1827, other highlights of Pateley Bridge’s quaint high street are the charming tea shops, independent bakeries and butchers, and vibrant craft and galleries presenting the works of local artists.
Just a 10-minute walk or a two-minute drive from the high street, Grassfield Hall Hotel is a stylish and sophisticated place to stay – a decadent Grade-II listed country house and grounds with eight individually designed en-suite bedrooms, close to stunning walks along the River Nidd, from which Nidderdale takes its name. Following the river for a mile and a half from Grassfield Hall — a pleasant 30 minute stroll taking in views of lush hillsides veined with dry stone walls and sweeping vistas down the valley — peckish walkers will be delighted to come across The Sportsman’s Arms, a welcoming lounge and restaurant that has been run by the same family for over 30 years. Nestled on the edge of idyllic village, Wath, the Sportsman’s prides itself on serving local ales from Timothy Taylors and the Black Sheep brewery at Masham, as well as the wide range of game on its menu – much of it shot within a mile of the restaurant. You might even catch a glimpse of Daniel Craig, who has been known to frequent the bar.