Don’t get us wrong, we love our foreign hols abroad, but with our British summer getting into the swing of things and plenty of festivals, events and activities to enjoy, there is a lot to be said for a planning yourself a little staycation. Here we share five of our top destinations for a summer weekend away along with a few things to do, how to get there and where to stay…
It’s not new news that the Kentish seaside town of Margate is on the up. Having placed itself firmly on the art-lover’s map with the opening of the Turner Contemporary five years ago – the creative pot continues to bubble and this summer sees the Margate Soul Festival return to the harbour for the first weekend of August with both free and ticketed stages. Whilst it’s certainly still a little rough around the edges – there are some decidedly stylish places to stay including our lovely Crescent Victoria Hotel that’s set on the seafront and just a 5-minute walk from the Old Town. Oh, and make sure to book yourself a table at the newly opened Xiringuito – those curried crab burgers will be worth the trip alone.
How to get there: There are frequent trains from London with the quickest departing from St Pancras Intl (1hr 25mins)
Previously most famous for its pirates, Cornwall’s southwesterly town of Penzance was a surprisingly recurrent entry to many a ‘top places to visit’ list this year. No doubt the Poldark obsession had an effect (many of the scenes were filmed around here) and, of course, the re-opening of the stunning Jubilee Pool but let’s not forget the gorgeous beaches, amazing seafood and of course the curious climate cultivating exotic plants in subtropical gardens such as Morrab and Trengwaiton Gardens with their lovely tea rooms. Set on Chapel Street in Penzance’s pretty Old Town the Artist Residence is where we’d recommend laying your head – with each lovely room individually designed by a local artist.
How to get there: There is a train each hour to Penzance from London Paddington with the journey taking between 5hr 10mins and 5hrs 40mins or you can opt for the sleeper train that takes just over 8hrs and is suprisingly comfortable (if you pay the extra for a berth, of course)
There’s just a great vibe in Bristol and with its thriving food, arts and music scene (not to mention the friendliest of locals) it’s a great spot for a weekend away. What’s more, over the summer you’re spoilt for choice on great festivals and fairs – from Bristol Pride at the beginning of July to the Shakespeare Festival that runs throughout the month. There’s also a growing art scene in the city and this summer The Other Art Fair returns to Bristol’s waterside Arnolfini on at the beginning of September to present 80 of the best emerging contemporary artists in a unique and immersive experience. And where better to base yourself than the lovely Brooks Guesthouse in buzzing St Nicholas’ market – whether you opt for one of the fun rooftop Retro Rocket airstreams or just your classic king, you’re sure to be well looked after.
How to get there: Bristol Temple Meads is the best station for Brooks (15-minute walk), though Parkway isn’t too far out either. There are frequent trains to both from London Paddington and the journey takes between 1hr 20mins and 1hr 50mins
Another Kentish seaside treat – Whitstable boasts a lovely stretch of beach, a bustling harbour and some of the finest oysters around. No wonder that it’s long been popular with weekenders from London seeking fresh salty sea air and some much needed time out. If you’re a big oyster fan, you’ll be thrilled to hear that this year’s Oyster Festival has been confirmed for the last week in July but not to worry if those gungy blighters aren’t your thing – there’s plenty more to see and do with live music and comedy, art classes and crafts and a spectacular firework display to round things off. The lovely Crescent Turner Hotel sits a short walk from the centre – offering the perfect little retreat a short walk from the town centre.
How to get there: There are frequent trains from London with the quickest departing from St Pancras Intl (1hr 12mins)
There’s never a bad time to visit York – entering its pretty town centre is like stepping back in time and the winding cobble stone streets and narrow, medieval alleyways quickly captivate you with their old-world charm. But the old sits neatly alongside the new and you’re spoilt for choice on great restaurants and chic boutiques – not to mention the city’s popular racecourse that lies just outside the centre of town. What’s more, the summer brings with it The Great Yorkshire Fringe with daily comedy, cabaret, theatre and music shows running from mid-July through until August. Opt to stay at the lovely Marmadukes a great value, stylish boutique hotel just outside the city’s wall.
How to get there: There are 2/3 trains per hour departing from London Kings Cross and the journey takes between 1hr 45mins and 2hr 40mins
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