WEEKEND RETREATS FOR TWO
With hotels in England reopening from May 17, and many of us in need of a restorative break, read on for inspiration, whether you’re looking for long walks by the sea, a cultural fix or a haven for foodies…
Culture & Spa
Beautiful Bath is a perfect spot for a child-free weekend away. Soak up all the culture and history, then head to the soothing waters of the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can gaze out over the city’s rooftops from a steaming pool. Take a literary tour – Jane Austen wasn’t the only author to be inspired by Bath – so too were Charles Dickens, Anna Sewell and Mary Shelley. Shop at the city’s boutiques and dine at Michelin-starred Olive Tree. Stay at No.15 Great Pulteney, set in a stunning Georgian building. Book in for a spa ritual for two. Or try The Royal Crescent Hotel www.prideofbritainhotels.com, which is running a Watercolours in the Garden break with two hours’ private art tuition.
(Pictured top: Thermae Bath Spa (c) Phillip Edwards, VisitBritain)
A Cornish Foodie Retreat
Perfect for a long bank holiday weekend, Padstow is the place all foodies should make a pilgrimage too. Not only is it home to Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant, his St Petroc’s Bistro and two casual eateries, but also Paul Ainsworth at No 6 – plus Paul’s Caffè Rojano and Paul’s pub The Mariners nearby in well-heeled Rock. Take a cookery course at Rick’s for some tips, or spend the day learning how to surf. To stay, take your pick from Padstow Townhouse (Paul) or Rick has a selection of self-catering properties and rooms at his places in town.
Cool Camber Sands and history in Rye
Wander historic Rye, down cobbled streets while admiring the incredible half-timbered buildings. Then shop for antiques down by the harbour. Take a walk to the long stretch of dunes at Camber Sands. And head back to the town for its fine watering holes – The Mermaid has plenty of haunted tales to contemplate while you sit by the fire, and four-poster rooms too. Nearby is Tenterden, home to Chapel Down – stroll around the vineyard then pick up some of its superb sparkly. Rest your head at adults-only The Gallivant at Camber Sands – it’s a cool, calm and collected retreat with a spa in the garden and daily yoga.
A must for wine lovers
There are many top luxury hotels just a short drive from home. Base yourself at The Vineyard in Berkshire – a five-star retreat with an emphasis on wine, boasting some 30,000 bottles of the best from all over the world. There’s a top spa too – try a Red Grape Blissful Back treatment. Or book in at Cliveden House Hotel (both www.relaischateaux.com) and take a vintage boat out on the Thames. Head to Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) for some history and a Champagne afternoon tea. Or tour Windsor Great Park – don’t miss the Savill Garden for seasonal displays.
Go walking in Worcestershire
Hike the heady peaks of the Malvern Hills, where you can walk in the footsteps of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – the area inspired the two writers. And it’s not hard to see why with the Black Mountains looming above you and views out over 14 counties. Stay at The Cottage in the Wood – enjoy more great vistas from the terrace while you sip on a G&T, then again from the restaurant, which offers a fabulous menu of local dishes.
The top adventures on our wanderlist