The staycation was the less exciting cousin of the vacation for a long time, and it’s recent surge in cool has only been hastened by lockdown and foreign travel widely thought of as being unsafe unless essential. So we look to our own shores to recreate that holiday feeling this year. You might not quite have the same scent of sun cream on hot skin as the sun sets on your gelato, but that doesn’t mean you won’t smell wildflowers on a light summer evening as you check the time and can’t believe it isn’t dark at 10pm. Here are some of the best places to start looking for Air Bnbs in, you know, just in case.
Only 90 minutes on the train from London and often overlooked in favour of ‘cooler’ Margate, cute Rye, or retro Cromer, Whitstable is the best Kent staycation. Famed for its Oyster Festival (and constant abundance of them everywhere you look) this tiny seaside town is a relaxing escape for foodies who love the sea. The Old Neptune is an iconic pub that sits on the pebble beach, the shacks along the seafront are perfect for between-meals-snacks, Samphire does the best brunch, but by far the unmissable gastronomic masterpiece is the beachfront Whitstable Oyster Company. Serving a menu that changes daily according to whatever is fresh. Yum. Retire to one of the many tiny pubs after stuffing yourself silly and walk it off the next day in the sea air.
IDEAL STAY: Whitstable Fisherman’s Huts
When people think of Cornwall for a break, they might recoil at the mention of Newquay as a party town, or automatically think of Penzance and the incredible views, but Perranporth beats them both. A little town nestled on the north coast of the county and home to arguably the best surf in the country, this is a gem that’s often overlooked by people who only know Cornwall’s big names. There’s enough going on in the town to keep the whole family occupied if the weather doesn’t hold out, as well as quaint pubs, great seafood, freshly made cornish pasties at every corner and enough clotted cream to reward yourself after a surf or a coastal cycle.
IDEAL STAY: The Hide
We’re betting that the north of Scotland wouldn’t be high on the list if you had to name your top three staycation points on the map, but hear us out. The highlands are home to some of the most stunning views in the United Kingdom, and perfect for taking your bike out into. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay whilst easing your conscience and minimising your footprint, Alladale Wilderness Reserve is an eco-friendly hotel with four residences on its land. Whether you stay in the one of the cottages or the lodges, you’ll be enveloped in the sublime surroundings whilst being kind to it at the same time. Voted Europe’s most eco-friendly hotel, Alladale offers guided hikes, lessons in foraging, rewilding, and preserving the natural beauty of the highlands, so you’re in good hands.
IDEAL STAY: Alladale
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Fife
Anywhere in the Scottish countryside looks like the postcard from an idyllic past, and Aberdeenshire is no different. The Fife Arms in Braemar is the place to stay for real highland magic. The dog friendly hotel is set in the midst of rolling hills, and the surrounding gardens are beautiful. It’s almost like stepping into the past within the walls of this cosy yet majestic bolt hole. There’s something for everyone within this rural utopia, artists in residence curated for the hotel create poetry, art, and music throughout the year, whilst their existing art collection includes a Picasso and a fireplace depicting the life of Robert Burns. There’s a spa to relax in after you explore the mountains, and you can finish the day in your choice of four restaurants and bars, why would you ever leave?
IDEAL STAY: The Fife Arms
NORTHERN BEAUTY SPOTS
Yorkshire is famous for rolling hills and beautiful countryside, Bronte country doesn’t need any PR for it’s green spaces, but if you’re after a mix of town and country, Harrogate is the answer. Equidistant between Leeds and York, and on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Harrogate is a beautiful spa town where you can enjoy a famous afternoon tea at Betty’s, whilst always being less than ten minutes away from being surrounded by green Yorkshire.
IDEAL STAY: Rudding Park
Scafell Pike, Cumbria
If you love rambling or hiking, Scafell Pike, the highest point in the Lake District, is the perfect staycation. With views of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man on a clear day. Get back to basics and stay at Bridge End Farm Cottages less than five miles away, where you can feel like you’re being looked after at your nan’s house after the arduous trek to the top, plus there’s two pubs serving great food and an ice cold pint less than 200m away. Perfect for a tipsy walk home.
IDEAL STAY: Bridge End Farm Cottages
In the heart of the country lies one of the most beautiful forests, usually more famous for an early socialist than it is for its bluebells, but the fact still stands that it’s an area of great natural beauty. If Centre Parcs isn’t your thing, there are plenty of unique and charming independent Airbnb’s within the woods to stay in and get lost from on your bike. When the world goes back to normal, there are events all year round, including the annual Robin Hood festival, family activities, and wild challenges.
IDEAL STAY: Loxley’s Lodge
Pistyll Rhaeadr, Shropshire
Pistyll Rhaeadr is the highest waterfall in the UK, that sits amongst a number of falls. The surroundings could lead you into thinking you’re in the midst of a fantasy novel. This otherworldly environment is less than ten miles from Snowdonia, so use it as your gateway drug for one of the UK’s most breathtaking national parks. The Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa also sits on the edge of the park, and continues with the fantasy theme, so visit a waterfall, stay in a castle, and put the start of 2020 behind you.
IDEAL STAY: Lake Vyrnwy
Article By Alexandra Haddow