Aug 11, 2022
Most visitors to the United Kingdom spend most, if not all, of their time soaking up the sights and sounds of London – from world-class museums to verdant parks and buzzing food markets.
While the English capital certainly has loads to offer, it would be remiss to overlook other cities and towns, each of which has its own character and charm – and, not to mention, a wealth of luxury travel attractions. Escape the hustle and bustle of London and embark on a pampering weekend break to these destinations.
With its striking Gothic architecture, top-notch restaurants and thriving arts scene, Edinburgh makes for a great city break. Follow in the footsteps of royalty and walk the gilded halls of Edinburgh Castle, where you’ll find the Honours of Scotland – the regalia worn by Scottish kings and queens at their coronations. Looking to splurge? Skip the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, Princes Street, and head to Multrees Walk for designer boutiques including Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss.
Jacobite Steam Train
You can also book a day tour to the Scottish Highlands aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, which doubled as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. It is, without a doubt, one of the most magical railway journeys in the world.
Where to stay: Set in a beautifully conserved 19th-century building, Fraser Suites Edinburgh marries Victorian charm with contemporary luxury. Splash out on the Courant Suite, which is decked out with handmade furniture and offers expansive views of the Old Town.
This market town in the Warwickshire countryside is best known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare – and indeed, literary fans will delight in visiting the Bard’s tomb and catching a play by the Royal Shakespeare Company. However, there’s plenty more to see and do in and around the area.
Take a 20-minute drive to Warwick Castle, one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in England, or venture further afield to Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO-listed stately home adorned with Baroque art and antiques.
The Woodsman Restaurant
Be sure to also sample Stratford-upon-Avon’s Michelin-starred dining scene: there’s The Woodsman Restaurant for expertly prepared game, Salt for Modern British fare and Lambs for top-notch bistro-style dishes.
Where to stay: Housed in a building that was once a doctor’s surgery and then a gentlemen’s club, Hotel du Vin Stratford-upon-Avon is today one of the best hotels in town. Each of its 46 rooms and suites feature luxurious touches: think plush Egyptian cotton bedlinen, fluffy robes and towels, and either a monsoon shower or a deep roll-top bath.
Like Stratford-upon-Avon, this underrated UK city is frequently associated with another cultural great, albeit one of a markedly different mettle: the controversial street artist Banksy. Embark on a self-guided walking tour of the muralist’s works, before enjoying a relaxing rubdown at the Bristol Lido’s luxury spa.
The city is also known as the foodie capital of Southwest England, and for good reason: it’s home to a whopping 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, including Casamia (known for its inventive fine-dining dishes) and Root (which serves elevated vegetable-focused small plates).
For drinks, check out The Milk Thistle, where award-winning bartenders shake up some of the best cocktails in the city. In May, the bar’s ever-changing menu was focused on Eminente, a Cuban rum, which included the Toucan Tango (banana, Campari, Orgeat syrup and grapefruit bitters). Those trying to decide between gin and vodka, can go for both with The Wild Lily Fix. This shakes up Aviation gin, Belvedere vodka, elderflower, pear and white wine.
Where to stay: Hotel du Vin Bristol Avon Gorge offers luxurious bedrooms and suites, top-notch service and panoramic views of the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. Despite its modern design aesthetic, the hotel has retained many of its unique historic features, including the stained-glass windows and original marble staircase.
This bohemian university town is ideal for travellers seeking a stylish seaside escape. Take a stroll along the pebbly beach, which is often packed with sunbathers in the summer. Or, if you want even better ocean vistas, head up the British Airways i360, a soaring observation tower that offers 360-degree views across the English Channel – you can even enjoy a glass of sparkling wine while you’re at it.
Away from the water, make time to wander through The Lanes, a maze of cobbled streets and alleys lined with independent shops (check out pioneering British brand Finisterre for sustainable fashion or drop in to the flagship of homewares brand Habitat), jewellers and cafes. You also can’t miss the ornate, ostentatious Royal Pavilion, King George IV’s former seaside residence built in the style of an oriental palace.
Where to stay: Tucked away amid the twisting alleys of The Lanes, Hotel du Vin Brighton features 49 elegant rooms and suites, some with expansive sea views. Dine al fresco under the vine-draped pergola in the central courtyard, and then enjoy a nightcap at the hotel’s bar, where the shelves are lined with over a hundred whisky and rum varieties.
Scotland’s biggest city has often been left in the shadow of its rival, Edinburgh. But these days Glasgow is where you’ll find first-rate museums and galleries, excellent restaurants, vibrant nightlife and a thriving music scene. Schedule time to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, where you’ll find Salvador Dalí’s “Christ of St. John of the Cross” and catch a performance at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Book a table at one-Michelin-starred Cail Bruich, which celebrates local and seasonal produce. For casual alfresco dining, (and drinking) the much-loved Festival Village: Merchant City will be operating until 30 September. The casual beer garden – decorated with tipi tents and fairy lights – is a great way to celebrate summer months. And of course, you can’t visit Scotland without sampling its national drink. Check out Glengoyne Distillery on the outskirts of Glasgow, where you can savour some of its most exquisite whiskies during the Fine and Rare Tasting experience.
Where to stay: Bed down in a serviced apartment at Fraser Suites Glasgow, a converted 1850s Victorian building in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter. The hotel is a certified Bronze Green Tourism property powered by 100% renewable energy, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing your bit for the environment.