It’s time to get back out there and feel alive again. Discover unique, invigorating and breathtaking experiences across the UK, for outdoor adventurers, city slickers and bucket-list trippers alike. What will you try?
Match your chosen experience with a stay from our collection for the perfect summer staycation!
Start in Londinium; underneath an unassuming and grey office block hides Billingsgate Roman House & Baths. An almost Narnia-like entrance, past a few damaged office chairs and through a cupboard, leads you down into the foundations of the building. Here, an old Roman house vies for space amongst the concrete piles supporting the offices above. Book ahead. More ruins in surprising locations include the cult temple, the Mithraeum - opposite Cannon St station. Fast forward to the Enlightenment, and head for the home of revolutionary ideas - Newington Green Meeting House. Home of radical thinkers, it’s the only surviving building that Western mother of feminism Mary Wollstonecraft frequented. Free guided tours and a roster of socially-conscious events await, building on the legacy of Wollstonecraft’s radical ideas.
If you just want to see some mummies, don’t miss the curious Petrie Museum, exploring the campus further to meet Jeremy Bentham’s mummified body in a glass case. For more eccentricity, head to Sir John Soane’s house, where his frankly breathtaking home features a score of ancient artefacts. If the grizzly going’s on at the Petrie are still titillating your travels, the Grant Museum has its fair share of odd medical curiosities. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Have the full London experience with a stay at The Dilly Hotel & Spa.
Newcastle - that stalwart home of all-night revelry, stags and hens and hilariously regrettable nights, is also a powerhouse of alternative style. There’s a host of galleries, DIY spaces and indie cinemas to check out - but let’s take a deep dive into the trendy neighbourhood of Ouseburn.
Head first for The Cluny, the famed live music venue that’s intimate and labyrinthine at the same time. The food is homemade and cheap, and the roster of artists diverse and impressive.
For local art and design, head for the trendy Biscuit Factory, or make for the unassuming and similarly named Holy Biscuit, a small methodist church turned art gallery. For more architectural surprises, grab a coffee at Garage Coffee (no prizes for guessing what this used to be), and book your dinner reservations at Thali Tray, a cool Thai spot underneath Byker Bridge.
For pints, don’t miss stalwarts Tyne Bar and the Ship Inn.
A rather peculiar way of exploring Bath, breeze past the gorgeous Georgian architecture from the unique perspective of the River Avon, as you stand atop your paddleboard for a nighttime - well, paddle. Original Wild offers a range of waterborne experiences, but seeing the frankly beautiful city of Bath lit up at night, whilst also surfing along the river, is an experience not quickly forgotten.
Have the full Bath experience with a stay at Aztec Hotel & Spa.
Just outside Bradford is the pretty village of Saltaire, a warm sandstone monument to industrial philanthropy and idealistic industrialism. Its history is fascinating, and available to learn about in the old mill buildings; yet the vast mills are also filled with boutique shopping and bars and cafes, a cultural hub on the edge of the city. Even better, it’s one of the best places to see the works of David Hockney, not just by virtue of the fact it’s one of the biggest collections, nor that he was local to here and cherished the town, but also that the exhibition is free; rather in the spirit of the Salts Mill.
Have the full Bradford experience with a stay at Thorpe Park Hotel.
Manchester is effortlessly cool. Nowhere more so than the red-brick streets of the Northern Quarter. This is where Manchester’s creatives and trend-setters hang in laid-back coffee shops, digging into bistros and galleries. It’s also home to an enviable collection of boutiques. Head for Nola to get your sustainable lifestyle fixes, from clothes to homeware, before alighting at menswear icon Oi Polloi. Dip into Manchester Craft & Design Centre to meet the city’s up-and-coming makers, and drop by Deadstock General Store for self-described fancy goods. Both Kula and Form Lifestyle platform local designers and makers. And that’s just the start. Bring an empty suitcase.
The last thing you’ll expect in the rugged landscape of Snowdonia is a dedicated surf spot; but the mountains make for dizzying ideas, and, alas, there is one. Surf Snowdonia is here, with crashing waves dancing across an artificial lagoon. Having regenerated an old factory site, inland surfing is here to stay. Hop on your board and ride the waves, surrounded by the mountains of Snowdonia.
Buried deep in one of Lakeland's dramatic fells, this old slate mine is now a hive of activities for little and big adventures alike. From heritage trails that take you deep into the mines, to climbing the head-spinning Via Ferrata – the old trail the miners would use that scales the side of the cliff – Honister promises intrepid adventure and dizzying heights.
If you’re serious about your curry, knowing your daal from your dansak, you’d better head to the UK’s capital of curry - Birmingham. It may surprise some that the home of heavy metal, that place with more canals than Venice, that second city that is criminally overlooked, is also home to the delicate and lively spices of the veritable balti. Balti ground zero? The Balti Triangle in Sparkbrook. It all started here in the ‘70s, at stalwart balti houses like Adil’s and Shababs. Both are still firing up the iconic metal pots, artfully blending their spices for devoted customers.
There are some truly spectacular waterfalls in the Vale of Neath. The Hollywood starlet is Henrhyd Falls, as featured in the film Batman – yet the heart of this fascinating spot lies further east. Try the Four Falls Walk to see the best of the Vale of Neath. From the dramatic Sgwd Clun-Gwyn that cascades from one tier into the next, to the spellbinding Sgwd yr Eira curtain where you can actually walk behind the falls, Waterfall Country is a truly magical place.
Shops are old hat; yards are the new - Covid-friendly - in-thing. Fort Road Yard is an exceptionally cool space filled with old fairground bits (Dreamland anyone?) and industrial salvage that make for killer statement pieces. Browse the shacks that line the yard for more vintage treasures, alongside tiny galleries that house local art. Fort Road Yard is a mecca for unique mid-century kitsch, hidden just behind the seafront ready for modernist treasure hunters.
Despite the glimmering seafront, pristine white beaches and historic houses that populate the picturesque town of St Ives, it’s the arts scene that truly defines it. Switch off and discover Cornwall’s art hub for yourself at the St Ives School of Painting, a historic institution offering classes and courses on everything from oil painting to life drawing. With sea-facing views and excellent facilities, it’s a chance to unplug from the outside world and unleash your inner creativity. And why stop there? Continue the experience with visits to the iconic Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum, and be inspired by the greats of British Modernism.
The popular Suffolk seaside retreat of Southwold is one of those well-heeled destinations, a beach town with great restaurants, historic pubs, and picturesque scenes at every corner. Yet on Southwold’s pier lies a place packed with curios and oddities. The Under the Pier Show is a fantastical spot, a reimagining of the penny arcade filled with machines of wit and satire. Try your hand at Wack-a-Banker, or decide the fate of a little lamb in Pet-or-Meat. The mad genius behind the machines is Tim Hunkin, blurring the lines between a modern art installation and old-fashioned seaside fun. A bizarre experience not to be missed!
From acclaimed dining to £500 spending spree, find out what you could win. Your manor awaits.