There are so many reasons you might be itching to get summer started, and if that’s how you feel then here are some of the summeriest places in the UK that the Hotel Guru can think of. Don’t wait until school’s out unless you have to!
“I miss the ocean!” you cry.
I know it’s not just the feel of the water, but also the salt spray and the sunsets and, if you want to do more than look at the ocean, then you probably need to head south. Cornwall is the real early-summer classic for our family. And where better to head to than the charmingly named Mousehole. This is a really picturesque Cornish fishing village complete with narrow cobbled lanes, white cottages and a small harbour. For years this was Cornwall’s premier pilchard port, but these days tourism is more profitable, which means there’s lots of nice places to eat and local galleries and boutiques to peruse. But the thing that’s really nice about Mousehole is that it’s in a really great spot for coast walks, there are some beautiful coves and beaches nearby, and you’re close to St Michael’s Mount. So there’s another one for a less than sunny day.
Where to Stay?
The Old Coastguard has exceptional views of the ocean, over St Clements Isle to Mount’s Bay. Aside from that it’s a great, yet simple, old place with a friendly atmosphere and really good food. The public spaces on the ground floor are open, colourfully painted and with as many big windows as you could fit, while the 14 bedrooms upstairs are simple and comfortable. The best one has a balcony and a bath, both of which overlook the harbour. Doubles start from around £150 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: Mousehole is a very short drive from Penzance station, so if you’re not driving that’s probably the easiest way to arrive. There’s even a bus from the station that will take you to The Old Coastguard Hotel.
“I Miss the Coast!” you cry.
I can tell it’s not the water itself that you miss, but the feeling of sand between your toes and of wind-whipped walks along the beach or the cliffs. You miss the fresh air and the just-caught seafood, and the sound of the waves drowning out your thoughts. And, for quality of sand and sheer quantity of it too, I recommend the North Norfolk Coast, 45kms of stunning coastline with numerous Blue Flag beaches, expansive marshes and salt-flats which afford views for miles in every direction, and some really pretty towns and countryside. There are some great National Trust properties too.
The location we came up with is Blakeney, which is at the Cromer end of The Coast Road, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Blakeney National Nature Reserve. This is the sort of place twitchers come to see migrating birds, but it’s also home to seals. The village has pretty flint cottages, many now turned into cafés or galleries. And just a couple of miles away is Cley-next-the-Sea.
Where to Stay?
The Blakeney Hotel is a rather traditional, country-style, 60 room hotel with wonderful views of the flat slat marshes, the harbour and the beaches beyond. Everything has been recently refurbished, and there’s a heated indoor pool and all the mod. cons., plus a decent restaurant. It’s not fancy, but it’s warm and friendly and makes for a wonderful escape. Perfect for families and walkers. Doubles from £134 per night B&B
Practical Details: If you don’t want to drive, the best way to get to Blakeney is probably by train via Norwich. Sheringham is the closest station, and you can catch the bus from there to Blakeney. Alternatively you could travel to Kings Lynn and go by bus from there, but it’ll take almost two hours – the route is very scenic, though…
“I Miss the Flavours of Summer!” you say.
And I can tell the sweetness of forced rhubarb has you salivating over summer strawberries and scouring your local market for white asparagus and the first sign of a stone fruit. What we would recommend for you is a Foodie’s Rural Retreat, a short trip to the countryside to visit a couple of kitchen gardens, a couple of kitchens and probably more restaurants besides. So I’m thinking Somerset. It’s southern so, without acknowledging the UK’s changeable weather patterns, it should warm up more quickly? It’s got a beautiful coastline if you fancy seafood some days, you’ve got the moors to really work up an appetite on if that’s required, and quite fancy towns like Bath, Taunton and Yeovil to charm you with their historic architecture as well as their culinary delights. And what could usher summer in sooner than Somerset cider?
Where to Stay?
I can’t resist The Pig hotels and The Pig near Bath is one I haven’t been to yet but want to very much. The building is an elegant, Georgian, Grade II listed manor house, which is really typical of this area. There’s an extensive spa as well as the usual excellent restaurant and kitchen garden. In addition to the rooms in the house, there are outhouse buildings too – the spa is in the potting shed – so in total there are 29 rooms, all of them charming and individual – romantic too. Doubles start from around £160 per night midweek.
Practical Details: The Pig Near Bath is 13 miles from both Bath and Bristol, and the nearest station, if you’re not driving, is Temple Meads, from where you can catch a bus which runs once an hour and takes about 25 minutes.
“I want to Pretend it’s Summer and Escape on Holiday!” you say.
I hear the cry of someone desperate for a mini-break. And I really favour Buckinghamshire for mini-break. I love the grand old manor house hotels, the river access, the elegant landscaped gardens and the way they blur into the countryside, heading through cool woods for the chalk escarpment of the Chilterns. I also love the market towns and National Trust properties, I love Stowe and Aylesbury and Bletchley Park. And I love Bekonscot, the world’s oldest model village. And what could be more English Summer than visiting a model village, then taking tea in the beer garden of a charming local pub?
Where to Stay?
Danesfield House Hotel and Spa has a special package on offer at the moment. It’s aptly named: Let Summer B’Gin, and it’s for two people, with G&Ts on arrival, a two course supper, breakfast, full use of the spa facilities, and a classic double room for £299. Does that sound like the sort of thing you’re looking for? And Danesfield House is beautiful too, a Renaissance style country house in 65 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, including a stretch along the Thames between Marlow and Henley. The 75 rooms range from traditional country-house chic to Phillipe Starck designed rooms to contemporary duplex suites, but they’re all luxurious and they all have wonderful views. And the spa and restaurant are superb.
Practical Details: If you don’t want to bring the car the nearest station is probably Henley, but you can also catch a bus from Reading.
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