It’s easy to get caught up with life in London and the city’s exciting events and busy pace. But there’s so much more to Britain if you only escape the city limits and get out into the countryside.
In such a small country, it’s easy to break out of the daily grind and experience something entirely different from city life. Hire a car or take a train – it’s up to you! From beaches to castles and quaint villages, these are some of our favorite weekend getaways from London.
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Head to rural Norfolk for a relaxing holiday getaway at the Old Rectory Hotel. This is a family-run business that has 16 en-suite rooms set on 3.5 acres of gardens. It’s history dates back to the mid-18th century and is privately owned by the Solomon family. It’s the perfect place to escape the busy city life of London, and breakfast is included in the rate. Made-to-order packed lunches are available, and evening meals are served daily in the onsite restaurant. Wroxham is just a couple miles north of the hotel, and the picturesque village of Coltishall is even closer by. To reach the center of Norwich and visit all the music venues, historical sites, and cafes there, you won’t even need to travel five miles.
Sunny Sands is a sandy beach within an hour of London, and Folkestone is a nearby town with some great accommodation options to choose from. If you don’t want to drive, you can hop on the train at King’s Cross to Folkestone Central to get to the area. The Wards Hotel is a three-star boutique hotel on the west end of Folkestone and a five-minute drive from the Channel Tunnel and M20 motorway. For a fun weekend getaway, plan your trip around the Folkestone Mermaid Festival or the Sandcastle Competition.
Colchester is an ideal place to visit for history buffs, because this is the oldest recorded town in Britain. Wivenhoe House is a four-star luxury hotel just minutes away from town and in a charming 18th century house. For dining here, there is a contemporary brasserie, private dining for groups of eight or more, and afternoon tea. Stansted airport is about 45 minutes away from the hotel. To get here from London by car, take the Colchester (A133) exit and know that the entrance of the hotel is shared with the University of Essex. To learn more about the city’s history and how it has evolved, take a walking tour with a local guide.
This hotel is in a 17th century parsonage at the end of St. Giles Boulevard. When you stay here, you’ll be close to Oxford University and the city’s cultural and bohemian quarters known as the Ashmolean & Jericho. There are 35 rooms and suites here, and guests will enjoy afternoon tea in a walled courtyard and plenty of books in the curated library. Borrow one of the hotel’s vintage bicycles to explore the city of Oxford on two wheels.
Brighton is known for its independent café, vintage shops, LGBTQ-friendly vibe, and pebble beaches. Stay at the Brighton Harbour Hotel & Spa to have a convenient home base in this coastal city. There are 79 guest rooms, the award-winning Jetty Restaurant, and a new onsite spa opening up. In Brighton, you can also see the oldest operating aquarium in the world, the Sea Life Brighton. This eccentric area also has flea markets in North Laine and antique jewelry to take home as souvenirs at The Lanes. For something totally different, take a sewer tour in Brighton to learn about the city’s history!
This hotel is a favorite among shopping enthusiasts, foodies, and nightlife lovers. It’s located at the heart of The Mailbox, which is a shopping and dining district in the middle of Birmingham. There are 193 rooms and suites here that will put you right in the heart of where you want to be. Inside the hotel, you’ll find the Chez Mal Bar and the Chez Mal Brasserie with British and French dishes and classic favorites like steak frites and the Malburger. Top things to do in Birmingham include the Sarehole Mill, made famous by J.R.R. Tolkien, and watching a show at the Mac Birmingham.
For a luxurious stay in Chester, choose the Chester Grosvenor Hotel, which has 68 rooms and 12 suites. It’s been welcoming guests since 1866 and is in the heart of the city overlooking the Eastgate Clock. From here, it’s easy to walk over to visit the Chester Racecourse, Chester Cathedral, and the Roman Amphitheatre. There are several afternoon tea options, multiple restaurants and bars, and a spa onsite. The most renowned restaurant is Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor. While in Chester, visit the two-tier shopping galleries known as the Rows, the gardens of Ness, Tatton, and Arley Hall. You’ll have the North Wales mountains in view and plenty of medieval castles to marvel at.
Built in 1699, this William and Mary country house was opened as a luxury hotel in the 1980s. It sits on 20 acres of parkland and gardens with a rose garden and romantic meadows. This is a great getaway spot for foodies because of the excellent dining options. There’s also a spa onsite behind the Edwardian cottages. York is a great place to visit to see Gothic architecture, ancient fortifications, winding streets, and learn about legends of mysterious hauntings. Places to visit here include the Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum, the York Art Gallery, the York Railway Museum, and Harewood House.
Enjoy lovely views of Margate Sands in a boutique setting at the Sands Hotel. This is an ideal getaway for relaxing for the weekend. Guests can dine at the contemporary restaurant and bar with views of the sea and locally sourced produce. Overall, there are 20 guest rooms here, and children are welcome. Margate is a lovely place to take a walk along the Botany Bay, and a quirky attraction is the Shell Grotto. This is a series of caves discovered in Victorian times. There’s also a 1920s theme park here called Dreamland that has retro rides that are fun for families.
The Canterbury Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the middle of the city of Canterbury. This is a popular destination for wedding receptions, conferences, and other events. There are 35 rooms here for guests, and a full English breakfast is served in the Refectory Restaurant. The Burgate building also has five new en-suite rooms and a two-bed flat for guests. Canterbury Tales-themed walking tours are very popular among visitors here, and St. Augustine’s Abbey is certainly worth a visit. Plan your trip for October to check out the Canterbury Festival for music, theater, and dance events.
Stay in one of the 22 en-suite bedrooms at Anstey Hall when you visit Cambridge. Thirteen of the rooms are in the mansion, and nine are in the annex next door. Self-service breakfast is offered for guests. Wedding parties are also welcome here. Popular things to do in Cambridge include taking a boat cruise and exploring the lovely botanical gardens in the city. Scudamore’s, a local tour company, can be hired for traditional Cambridge punting or to explore the river on your own in a kayak or canoe.
This is a unique hotel that is in a refurbished watermill that offers a wonderful way to experience the Suffolk countryside. Stay here if you’re looking for something different than the standard boutique hotel. It is located in between Newmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, and Cambridge, and some dog-friendly rooms are available for guests. There are fifteen rooms in total. Suffolk is a great place to go boating, play golf, and visit keep the whole family entertained on the amusement pier at Southwold Pier Beach. It’s also an ideal weekend getaway for foodies because the town is known for its smoked fish and pungent cheeses. Plenty of pubs here serve local ales to wash it all down. To get active, borrow one of the hotel’s Merida Crossway hybrid bikes to explore the cycling routes through the villages and countryside.