9 Perfect UK Winter Getaways
If you’re anything like me then you’re looking at your diary with increasing levels of anxiety as all the free time is being gobbled up by Christmas parties, work dos, catch ups with friends you don’t really want to see and family obligations you can’t think of a reason to bail on. So here’s a top tip, sack them all off for a weekend of ‘me time’. Coerce your partner, a friend, an open-minded Tinder date, in fact anyone, or just fly solo, and consider one of the following: a getaway within three hours of London. And the best thing is that you’ll get back to town refreshed and ready to face the Christmas maddness.
The George In Rye
What: A Pocket Full Of Rye
Why: Rye is a sleepy fishing village on the South Coast with an historic past and an idyllic present. One of the ‘Cinque Ports’, it was historically relied upon to repel the Spanish or the French or whoever we were fighting at the time, should England come under threat. Still mainly sitting within the historic castle walls, Rye overlooks the sea from a commanding hilltop position and The George, sitting in the centre of the small town, is ideal for a getaway. Set in an historic townhouse, the boutique hotel with a vibrant bar and excellent restaurant is the perfect base for country or seaside walks or pottering round the decidedly picture-skew town. Eat in The George’s restaurnt or, as we did, grab a cheeky fish and chips from the friendly chippy down the street and devour them in your room! Also a short drive away by the harbour but well worth a look-in is the William the Conqueror, a pub toward the gastro end of pubbing but full of local characters.
Where: 98 High Street, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7JT
The Club Hotel & Spa
What: Get Your Jersey On
Why: I was here exactly a week ago and I hope my editor isn’t reading this [I am… Ed.] because I would have happily stayed there forever! I’ll post a proper review in due course of both the hotel and Jersey on our travel pages, but this is the perfect place to flit and get away from the humdrum of London. It helps that as well as being utterly beaufiful there’s no end of gastronomic treats in store on Jersey. The Club Hotel & Spa itself is excellent, right in the heart of the island’s principle town of St Hellier and within walking distance of a selection of some of the best restaurants around but you don’t need to go that far because the hotel itself boasts a Michelin Star restaurant in Bohemia, an absolute delight, and when added to the lovely accommodation and spa you can see why this hotel’s worth the visit. And so too is Jersey, I can’t urge you to go here enough!
Where: Green Street, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, JE2 4UH
The Francis Hotel
What: Take A Bath
Why: If Bath isn’t officially recognised as the UK’s most perfect city then Theresa May needs to step in; Bath is a picture of Georgian splendour, with call-backs to Jane Austen and Beau Brummell round each crescent and circus. Mr Tilney might well come striding in at any given moment. Though seeped in history (it’s named after the Roman Baths that give the city its name and still stand) it’s also thoroughly modern. Go visit the awesome rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa, shop or muse in the museums. Our firm favourite place to stay in Bath remains The Francis Hotel, quirky and luxurious and, for good measure, joined to Raymond Blanc’s restaurant Brasserie Blanc.
Where: Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HH
What: Everyone's Wittering About It
Why: This luxury B&B boasts a sum-total of just three rooms, but when both the bed and the breakfast are this good you’ll fall in love immediately. And it’s not just the confines of this lovely little clapboard guesthouse that’s on offer, you’ve a weekend of bracing walks along the sands of West Wittering to look forward to. The stunning solent and channel views in the rugged wilderness of The Witterings contrast with the culture available a short drive in Chichester (many West End plays start out at the Chichester Festival Theatre). In summer there’s racing at Goodwood and vintage cars at the racing circuit, but the fresh sea air and walks on offer in winter frankly make this the best time to visit!
Where: Church Lane, Birdham, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 7SP
Why: The Cotswolds are difficult to beat for sheer English beauty. View-wise I’d see your Scottish glen, Peruvian junglescape or Indian Ocean white sandy beach and raise you a perfect Cotswolds village in butter coloured stone surrounded by rolling hills and, at this time of year, a patchwork of reds and golds on the trees. For some glamour and something a little different check into Cowley Park, a traditional stately home formerly owned by the Horlicks family, but inside madeover into a funky modern mash of colour and design. The spa is phenomenal and the restaurant more than half decent. And it’s surrounded by no end of stunning walks, a day at the races (Cheltenham racecourse is within striking distance) or just order a treatment and relax.
Where: Cowley, Near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 9NL
What: The Future's Brighton
Why: It’s all about Brighton right now, the rocking hub on the South coast within easy reach of London but very much it’s own personality. Brighton’s had a revival over the last decade as more and more people have decamped from London, especially in the arts and media scene, so it makes sense to visit Artist Residence. The boutique hotel has a real artsy feel with a genuinely eclectic and arts driven style, but set in one of Brighton’s historic regency squares (this one is literally called Regency Square!) and overlooking the sea. The town itself has no shortage of nightlife, excellent food and, best of all, more sea than you can shake a codfish at.
Where: 33 Regency Square, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2GG
What: Norfolking Amazing
Why: I’m not going to lie, you have to work to get to North Norfolk, there’s no motorway, the main roads are tantamount to B-roads, and the Friday night traffic is synonymous with a female dog. But it’s worth it. Waking up in sleepy Burnham Market is peace exemplified and offers all manner of options, from walks on the seemingly endless beach at Holkham, to pottering around nearby villages. Vine House is set in a Georgian house and offers all the expected creature comforts (not literally, it’s pet free) including a butler and access to an exclusive cinema, a fantastic restaurant and spa shared with its sister hotel over the road. And although it bills itself as the ‘One of North Norfolk’s prettiest villages’ there’s nothing Alan Partridge about the luxury or the enjoyment on offer.
Where: The Green, Burnham Market, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 8HD
G&V Royal Mile Hotel
What: Overnight Trainspotting
Why: You can fly to Edinburgh in around an hour, but I wouldn’t. Save yourself a night’s hotel cost and get the sleeper train up. It mightn’t be up there with Orient Express but it’s a classy way to arrive in Scotland’s capital and a first class berth is still pretty comfortable. Once there you can enjoy the elegant architecture, the historic castle and no end of exciting restaurants and cultural delights. To stay, why not try The G&V Royal Mile Hotel? Right at the heart of the city it has a spa, a notable restaurant (Cucina, the decor alone is worth a look) and the modern rooms and surrounding contrast with the ancient vibe of the city. Hop on the overnight train back and make it back refreshed and on time for work on Monday morning.
Where: 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1AD
The Reading Rooms
Why: One of the trends of the last few years that took me by suprise was the emergence of Margate as a fashionable hangout. Standing, as I am, corrected, I recommend you join everyone from Dalston and head there to see what the commotion’s about. A tourist destination for well over a century the town fell into dilapidation post-war but it all started to come back together when the Turner Contemporary Gallery landed in 2011 and since then it’s gone from strength-to-strength. And where better to stay than The Reading Rooms, a boutique B&B with only three rooms, each occupying a floor of this Georgian townhouse? Five minutes from the beach The Reading Rooms are truly stunning and their breakfast game is seriously strong. Throw in some old fashioned seaside fun and you’ve the perfect weekend getaway.
Where: 31 Hawley Square Margate, Kent, CT9 1PH
Of course if you’ve accounted for every single day until New Year’s, then why not start planning a post-Christmas detox? Some bracing walks and a little pampering wouldn’t go amiss and all these options will be very much still on the table. Happy weekending!