Within a two-hour drive or 90-minute train journey from London, Bath is a great place for a long weekend trip, visiting its historic sites, including the famous Roman Baths, strolling through the winding streets lined with sandstone buildings and exploring boutique shops. Thanks to its beautiful and impressive architecture, the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll see some of Britain's finest Georgian buildings.
Bath has become a hub for some of the country’s best chefs where menus highlight the West Country’s wonderful produce. Walcot House serves tasty homemade breakfasts, coffee, cold-pressed juices and healthy smoothies in the morning, and an excellent seasonal menu later in the day, while The Elder Restaurant has a relaxed vibe where diners can enjoy dishes like red mullet with braised leeks, Bathurst Estate fallow deer and lime meringue pie. For a candlelit dinner, book a table at The Circus where you can expect British classics, or head to The Scallop Shell for tasty seafood – their beer battered fish and chips is not to be missed.
Nam Store on New Bond Street has a great selection of designer homeware and antiques, while Kilda Meadows is renowned for its beautiful flower bouquets. Browse over 5,000 books at Topping & Co Booksellers, and if you want to bring something tasty home, go to the famous farmer’s market on Saturday morning which sells everything from local cheeses to freshly baked pies.
When in Bath, The Holburne Museum is not to be missed. Home to an array of fine and decorative arts built around the collection of Sir William Holburne, it’s located behind Sydney Gardens – the oldest and prettiest park in the city. Prior Park Landscape Gardens are worth a visit, too, as is Bath Abbey. During your trip, be sure to visit the Roman Baths, perhaps the city’s most iconic landmark, where there’s over 2,000 years’ worth of history to explore. You can’t swim there, so head to Thermae Bath Spa to relax and unwind in its thermal waters instead.
Luxe: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
This is a grande dame hotel which encompasses two townhouses in Bath's showpiece Georgian crescent, plus a large garden and further buildings to the rear. Combining 18th-century heritage with 21st-century indulgences, there are a range of beautiful bedrooms and suites to choose from, all of which have unique interiors. For a special stay, book one of the Master Suites which have stunning views over the hotel’s private gardens or Royal Crescent lawns. The on-site spa has impressive and stylish facilities, while the Dower House Restaurant serves elegant dishes. For a special treat, take afternoon tea in the gardens or enjoy a glass of champagne at the Montague Bar.
Rooms from £270 per night.
Luxe For Less: The Yard In Bath
This 14-bedroom property in the centre of Bath opened its doors last month. Once a coaching inn, the building has been carefully restored by the owners, and each room has simple yet stylish interiors. Freshly made breakfasts are delivered to your door each morning – think warm pastries with jam and butter, organic natural yogurts and homemade granola – while a coffee and wine bar awaits downstairs. Each bedroom has kingsize beds, plush furniture, and rainfall showers or free-standing baths. You can also request the addition of a child’s bed if you’ve got grandchildren in tow.
Rooms from £95 per night.
The historic city of Canterbury is lined with interesting buildings and is full of curiosities waiting to be explored. Home to the World Heritage–listed Canterbury Cathedral, as well as several beautiful churches, visitors can explore the medieval alleyways, ancient city walls and gardens. Ideal for history and literature buffs, one of the best ways to learn about Canterbury is through a guided walking tour, many of which are free.
Canterbury has an interesting culinary scene, with a mix of British, Mexican and Italian restaurants. Good Shed has a lovely restaurant which serves dishes like lamb with courgettes, lemon and mint; seabass, crab and tarragon soup; and tomato and sourdough salad. It also has a separate food hall and farmer’s market which sells local, seasonal produce. Refectory Kitchen café is a popular with locals, and The Corner House serves delicious pub classics.
Chaucer Books is the place to go for rare and second-hand books, while Queen Bee Home has a lovely selection of unique homeware and accessories. Stop off at Dunn’s Bakery for a delicious selection of breads, cakes and pastries.
At the helm of the Church of England, Canterbury Cathedral is steeped in over 1,400 years of history. Be sure to pre-book your ticket well in advance which grants access to the gothic building and its gardens. Visit The Roman Museum, then head to West Gate Towers, the city’s last remaining medieval gateway. If you’re visiting with children, be sure to stop off at the Canterbury Tales museum and book a punting trip to gently amble along the river.
Luxe: The Pig At Bridge Place
Just a few miles outside Canterbury, this hotel has everything you need for a luxury stay. Guests can choose to sleep in the main house, the Coach House or a Hop Pickers’ Hut which are rustic and cosy. Rooms include four-poster beds, spacious ensuites with monsoon showers or free-standing baths, and stylish interiors you’d expect at a Pig hotel. Book a treatment in the Potting Shed, then enjoy dinner in the restaurant which uses ingredients grown from their garden.
From £369 per night.
Luxe For Less: The Duke William
Located in the idyllic village of Ickham, just a short drive away from the centre of Canterbury, this is a charming pub with rooms. There are four stylish rooms to choose from, all of which have king-sized beds with luxury linens and modern ensuites. Guests can enjoy a breakfast hamper in bed or choose to eat downstairs in the pub. The Duke William also does a great Sunday roast with a hearty children’s menu to keep little ones amused, and guests can order snacks from the bar throughout the day, like sourdough baguettes, salt and pepper squid, and pork crackling bites.
From £103 per night.
The beautiful city of Edinburgh has something for everyone. Although visitors flock there during the Fringe Festival each August, autumn is one of the best times to visit when its tree-lined streets and gothic buildings look particularly beautiful. A long weekend is enough time to experience the highlights, but you could easily spend a week here visiting some of the pretty villages nearby.
Edinburgh has some of the best restaurants in Scotland, so eating out here is always a treat. The Little Chartroom is an atmospheric place popular with locals, which serves tasty plates like cod with broad beans and clams, and wild mushroom risotto, while 83 Hanover Street makes delicious South American food. For a taste of Scottish fine dining, head to The Witchery hotel where guests can dine in a 16th-century candlelit dining room or the Secret Garden room, both of which celebrate the best of Scottish produce. The Gardener’s Cottage (once a favourite of AA Gill’s) is a hidden gem that serves a wonderful six-course tasting menu that changes regularly.
When it comes to shopping, Edinburgh has it all. Expect luxury department stores, Scandi boutiques and independent shops tucked away in cobbled alleyways. Epitome, which opened a few years ago, stocks a good selection of designer womenswear, accessories and beauty, as well as lovely cashmere pieces made by the owner. If you want to head to a department store, be sure to visit Harvey Nichols, while Herman Brown is the place to go for one-off vintage pieces. Golden Hare Books is another gem that’s not to be missed, where you’ll find a range of beautiful and unusual books for adults and children alike.
Edinburgh Castle is one of the city’s highlights – dating back to the 11th century, it’s one of Scotland’s most popular attractions where visitors can climb up the esplanade to reach the castle walls. It’s a fairly steep climb, so be sure to wear proper walking shoes, but once you’re at the top, you can walk around the Great Hall, the vaults, and a number of churches. Arthur’s Seat, another challenging climb, is also a must-see. It takes around 45 minutes to get to the top and is a lovely place to stop for refreshments. The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art are also both worth a visit, as are the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens which cover over 70 acres.
Luxe: Rock House
One of Edinburgh’s landmark houses, Rock House is a beautiful property which dates back to the 18th century. Located at the foot of Calton Hill, guests can choose to stay in one of the apartments or hire the entire house which sleeps 14. Inside, expect characterful interiors with period details, open log fires and spacious living areas. Ideal for guests who want to self-cater, the dine-in kitchen has a traditional range cooker and al fresco meals can be spent on the terrace or in the garden.
Rooms from £464 per night.
Luxe For Less: The Scotsman
Situated at the top of North Bridge, The Scotsman is a wonderful mix between old and new. The former home of The Scotsman newspaper, the building now has 58 rooms and 14 suites with quirky features that nod to its heritage. Rooms are simple yet stylish with bright and airy interiors and high ceilings that make each space feel particularly grand. Enjoy brunch or dinner at the Grand Café (be sure to order the roasted cauliflower) then relax with a drink at the cosy Hide Bar.
Rooms from £121 per night.
A wonderful year-round destination, Cambridge is easily reached from London in a 45-minute train journey or 90-minute drive. Ideal for history buffs and lovers of the arts, the university town has some of the most beautiful architecture in the country. The city is easily explored over the course of a weekend where visitors can learn about centuries-old traditions, walk around the ancient colleges and enjoy a punting tour along the River Cam.
There is no shortage of excellent restaurants and cafés dotted around the city, many of which are family-run and have been favourites for several decades. For a special meal, book a table at the Michelin-starred Midsummer House set in a beautiful Victorian villa with views of the River Cam. Headed up by chef Daniel Clifford, diners can expect a range of delicate plates that showcase British produce, like roasted quail with creamed shallots and turbot with Cambridgeshire asparagus. Galleria is a lovely al fresco spot for Italian dishes, while The Senate is a popular bistro which has beautiful views of King’s College. If you want to stop off for a drink and light bite to eat, Espresso Library does some of the best coffee in town.
As one of the oldest university towns in the country, there is no shortage of excellent book shops – Heffers has three stories to browse, while children will love Sarah Key which specialises in illustrated books and Penguin Classics. Head to St Mary’s Passage to visit the original Cambridge Satchel Company store, then continue along the street to the Cambridge Cheese Company which has an impressive selection of deli cheeses and wine.
When in Cambridge, walking around the historic buildings and university colleges is a must – King’s College and Trinity College are two of the most famous, but Jesus College and Sidney Sussex are perhaps the most beautiful. Punting tours are, of course, extremely popular, but it’s best to avoid the weekend rush, so book a mid-week trip when prices are fairly reasonable. For a culture fix, head to Fitzwilliam Museum – one of the best in the country where you can see works by da Vinci, Rembrandt and Picasso – then make a beeline for Kettle’s Yard which has an impressive display of 20th-century British art.
Luxe: University Arms
University Arms has been a Cambridge favourite since 1834. The property underwent a huge renovation four years ago in collaboration with interior designer Martin Brudnizki and architect John Simpson who transformed the property’s original Edwardian design. There are 192 bedrooms and suites across four floors, with views over Parker’s Piece, Regent Street and the hotel’s inner courtyard. The style is simple yet elegant – think leather-padded writing desks, low ottomans and chandeliers throughout. The hotel’s brasserie, Parker’s Tavern, serves seasonal British dishes like Norfolk seafood, suckling pig with wild mushrooms and head chef Tristan Welch’s special spaghetti bolognese. For a special treat, ask the hotel to arrange afternoon tea or a picnic hamper to enjoy on the nearby common.
Rooms from £200 per night.
Luxe For Less: The Graduate
Set to open at the beginning of August, The Graduate Cambridge is a beautiful boutique hotel situated on the banks of the River Cam. There are several rooms to choose from, all of which have beautiful headboards and plush furniture – the Junior Suite looks ideal for a romantic weekend for two. Bathrooms are stocked with Malin + Goetz toiletries and there are subtle nods to the university in each room. In terms of food, the Garden House restaurant will serve a selection of grilled meats and seafood, alongside salads and seasonal sides.
From £130 per night.
Brighton is one of the most popular seaside spots in the UK. While many people head to its pebbled beaches for a day trip, a lovely weekend can be spent exploring the wider area. With a plethora of cosy bars, gourmet restaurants, independent boutiques and vintage stores, there’s something for everyone. Journey further down the coast and you’ll reach upmarket Hove, Brighton’s slightly quieter neighbour. Whether visiting during the summer months or later in the year, visitors can set up on the pebbled shore and enjoy the magnificent sea vistas, plus a perfect view of both the old and new piers.
Start your weekend with a sea view at Brighton Beach Club, a two-floor pub and contemporary dining room right on the beach. The menu is wide-ranging, with vegan and vegetarian options, and there’s even a ‘nippers’ section for younger diners. Flint House, from the same team behind The Ginger Pig, is another top spot which offers counter-level dining, small plates with beautiful wines by the glass, a first-floor cocktail bar and a rooftop terrace, while The Salt Room is where you’ll eat some of the best seafood. Further along in Hove, The Better Half Pub is a charming tavern that does a great Sunday roast.
Home to some of the best antique shops in the south, many a gem can be found in Brighton. Head to Snoopers Paradise for textiles and curious trinkets, then visit Era Furniture in Trafalgar Street which sells mid-century furniture and antiques and offers nationwide delivery. Aside from the main high street which has a good selection of shops, Tribeca stocks brands like Acne, Isabel Marant and Golden Goose.
Once you’ve walked down the seafront and visited Brighton Pier, exploring the city by foot is the best way to get a feel for the area. Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is one of the most recognisable – originally built as a seaside palace for King George IV, it’s now a museum home to Regency objects from around the world. Brighton hosts its own fringe festival in May, while its famous pride events take place during August.
Luxe: A Room With A View
Located right on the seafront, this boutique hotel is a great option for a relaxed weekend. Set in a Grade II-listed Georgian building, there are ten bedrooms to choose from – the Rooftop Balcony Room has beautiful sea views, while the Deluxe Sea King rooms have bright and airy interiors with stylish furnishings. There’s no restaurant, but they do an excellent breakfast – expect a continental buffet with a selection of hot dishes like avocado, cream cheese and bacon on sourdough toast.
Rooms from £155 per night.
Luxe For Less: Artist Residence
An SL favourite, this hotel has everything you need for a comfortable stay. Overlooking Brighton’s famous West Pier, the quirky Artist Residence is set in a smart townhouse on Regency Square. A mishmash of eclectic pieces – every room is designed by a different artist – the hotel features everything from colourful chairs to jars of Brighton rock and collage-printed walls. Rooms are stocked with Bramley toiletries and many of the rooms have stylish free-standing bathtubs. Be sure to visit the Clubhouse, a lovely spot for a lazy brunch or evening cocktail.
Rooms from £110 per night.
A city steeped in history, York is full of architecture and ruins that date back to its medieval past. A wide circuit of 13th-century walls cover the narrow streets where you can visit the many museums and galleries, and try local Yorkshire produce at the restaurants and cafés. At the heart of the city is York Minster, one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in the world. It only takes about two hours to walk around the city, so bookmark York for a weekend staycation.
For imaginative fine dining, book a table at the French restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle where you can enjoy dishes like oysters with lemon ice, crab bisque and baked custard with bitter caramel. If you prefer traditional British fare, head to The Rattle Owl, which changes its menu regularly with the seasons, or Roots, which has just won a Michelin star. After a day of exploring, stop for a coffee and a slice of homemade cake from Partisan or the famous Betty’s tearoom which does a lovely afternoon tea.
Bishopthorpe Road, just a five-minute walk from the city centre, is home to antique shops, cafés and several trinket shops. A gem or two can be found at Dog & Bone or Bowler, if you have time to rummage, while Shambles Market is home to over 70 stalls, offering everything from artisan food to handmade jewellery. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop off at Monk Bar Chocolatiers.
Make a beeline for York Minster and if you’re up for a challenge, climb the 275 steps to the top for panoramic views of the city. Once you’ve learned about the cathedral and its history, head to Barley Hall, a stunning medieval townhouse which has a permanent Tudor exhibition. In terms of museums, a whole afternoon can be spent between the Yorkshire Museum, York Castle Museum and York City Art Gallery, all of which tell the fascinating history of the city. If you have time, take the train to Northallerton to follow one of the many walking routes around the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
Luxe: The Principal York
Just a short walk away from the station, The Principal York is a stylish hotel in a great location. An ideal base from which to explore the city, the hotel has been recently renovated, blending modern comforts with its late-Victorian architecture. There are 155 elegant bedrooms and suites spread across the main house and a side wing – the Superior Rooms are some of the most spacious, with views of York Minster and the hotel gardens. Guests can relax in the heated outdoor pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, and enjoy a facial or massage. In terms of food and drink, there’s an on-site restaurant for relaxed dining, a lounge area for tea and cakes, and the Chapter House bar has an extensive selection of wine, spirits and craft beers.
Rooms from £143 per night.
Luxe For Less: Middletons Hotel
For something more informal, Middletons is a collection of Grade II-listed buildings just a ten-minute walk from York Minster. Located in a leafy residential area, there are 56 rooms spread over six buildings – Lady Anne House being the most attractive. The hotel’s bar and restaurant has just reopened where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks and afternoon tea. Guests can also use the equipment and access classes at Emperors Health and Fitness Club nearby.
Rooms from £75 per night.
From beautiful Elizabethan and Regency architecture to a treasure trove of antique shops, Winchester has something for everyone – and it’s less than an hour away from London by train. A wonderful, mellow weekend can be spent taking in the historic sites and making your way around the lovely country-style pubs and restaurants. Winchester is also home to a must-see ancient gothic cathedral surrounded by tree-fringed lawns.
The Black Rat is one of the best restaurants in Winchester. Formerly a pub, it now serves delicious British classics with a European twist, like hake with king oyster mushrooms, duck and ham tart with hazelnut dukkah, and monkfish curry. Another great restaurant is The Chesil Rectory which is set in a 600-year-old Grade II-listed medieval building with oak beams and roaring fires. Ideal for a hearty meal on a colder day, menu highlights include local venison with confit vegetables, and potato tartlet with salsa verde. Bangkok Bristro is an elegant Thai restaurant which is popular with locals, while Rick Stein Winchester brings fantastic Cornish seafood to the town’s restaurant scene.
As well as a decent shopping centre in the middle of the city, there are also several lovely independent shops and antique boutiques to visit. Consortium sells everything from vintage furniture to dainty trinkets, and Blu Bambu has a great selection of modern homeware. If you’re on the hunt for rare and unusual books, head to P&G Wells which has been selling books for over 250 years. Don’t miss Sass & Edge, a lovely womenswear boutique on Market Street, where you’ll find small brands like 2nd Day, Lily & Lionel and Vagabond.
Once you’ve visited Winchester Cathedral, visit the Round Table & Great Hall, an 11th-century castle which is the source of the legendary King Arthur and the Round Table. Literature buffs should also visit Jane Austen's House, just a short walk from the cathedral, where the author spent her last six weeks before she died in 1817. If you’re after a museum, Winchester City Museum has a small collection of Roman artefacts.
Luxe: Lainstone House
Lainstone House is a luxury hotel tucked away in 63 acres of rural countryside. Just a ten-minute drive from the centre of Winchester, it’s set in a 17th-century building with 50 rooms and suites. Choose a room with a four-poster bed for a romantic getaway or opt for one of the Junior Suites which the whole family will love. There are several restaurants and bars to choose from – The Wellhouse is a relaxed bistro which specialises in woodfired dishes, while The Avenue is more fine dining. Take afternoon tea in the drawing room or relax with a cocktail or two at the Cedar Bar. Lainstone also has an award-wining cookery school where classes include introductions to bread, sushi, pasta and cakes.
Rooms from £235 per night.
Luxe For Less: The Wykeham Arms
The Wykeham Arms is a charming pub with rooms. Just a four-minute walk from the cathedral, it’s a great place from which to explore the city, where guests can make the most of the excellent food and drink. The Garden Suite is a beautiful room with a mezzanine-level bedroom, separate living room and an ensuite with a free-standing bath. The Luxury Double Room is another lovely option with all the extras you’d expect at a hotel, like fluffy bathrobes and a spacious ensuite. Guests can choose from hearty pub classics, including a great Sunday roast, as well as a selection of sherries, ports and sparkling wines from the bar.
Rooms from £139 per night.
*DISCLAIMER: Travel restrictions are changing daily, so please check the latest government advice before you book anything. Visit Gov.uk for more information.