Though we may be in lockdown, we yearn for better days ahead, where the sun rises high in the sky and coats us with its wondorous warmth, as the world falls blissfully under its langorous spell. We remember vacations in Madeira, where toes were dipped in the natural swimming pools of Porto Moniz, and vineyard tours in Chianti, Tuscany, a deep glass of red wine, wonderfully spiced. And while you loved to travel abroad, you adored going on UK staycations for a weekend getaway, remembering your magical staycation at Home Farm Glamping.
You miss the days where travel was unrestricted and unencumbered, setting off from London to visit countries anew, a pep in your step. After all who could forget Barcelona, your last trip before the first 2020 lockdown, marvelling entranced at Camp Nou, the largest football stadium in Europe, and the fourth largest in Europe. But then vacations changed, and the universe closed its eyes in slumber waiting to be awakened once more. The universe came back, a glimmer of hope ahead, as we come out of lockdown for the second time this year.
Travel as we know it remains forever changed, and even when the national lockdown lifts, some of us might feel anxious about going abroad. It has been so long since some of us have hopped on a plane, (myself included), that our approach to travel can be incessantly different. For some virtual travel may be an option, as they browse through immersive virtuals tours of museums and virtual trips around the world.
For others, creativity is of the essence, as they reinvent the definition of travel, with curated staycation retreats at home, turning their house into a beautiful holiday haven. From spa retreats, decked out with massage rooms, tailored treatments, and a plush lounge, to creating a themed ‘travel weekend at home’ with a matching fine dining menu, decor and quirky activities, travel at home can be just as fun.
Once lockdown is over, Brits can also look forward to beautiful UK staycations for a weekend getaway, getting to vacation a little closer to home. After all, the UK is gorgeous and is home to some pretty spectacular spots including the colourful Portmeirion in Wales, The Scilly Isles in its tropical fervour and the seaside retreat of Brighton in all its splendour. So why not explore a gorgeous vista closer to home, as you journey through a path of exploration, culture, natural beauty and endless wonder?
The Lake District
You imagine journeying to The Lake District, where glacial ribbon lakes dance with rugged fell mountains, a region and national park in Cumbria. The air is cooler here, but the silence is meditative, a healing area in Northwest England that energizes your senses. Away from the hustle and bustle of London, you feel calmer here, the stresses of everyday life melting away rapidly, you can hardly believe your luck.
Famous for its historic literary associations with William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin, The Lake District is the ideal getaway for staycations in the UK that will nourish your mind and feed your creativity. Roam on the shores of Ullswater, where Wordsworth spotted the daffodils that inspired his poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, and walk among the greats in awe.
Even modern day icons like Taylor Swift have been inspired by the beauty of the Lake District, with a bonus track on Swift’s 2020 album ‘Folklore’ titled ‘The Lakes’ making reference to Williams Wordsworth by name. From being mentioned in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, to being the setting for many of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, The Lake District is no stranger to a famous face.
For those who like going on UK staycations that are adventorous, why not explore the majesty of the Lake District National Park? Go to Windermere to visit England’s largest lake, at a stunning 10.5 miles long, where you can hire a boat, canoe, kayak or paddleboard. By taking to the water, you can truly explore Windermere at your own pace, while following government guidelines on social distancing.
If you fancy doing something quirky with your other half, then why not indulge in star gazing to enjoy the Lake District’s dark skies? Fall in love all over again in one of the darkest places in the UK, with secluded valleys and remote fell tops that are absolutely breathtaking. Head to Wasdale for a rugged star littered landscape, under the shadow of England’s highest mountain, Scarfell Pike. Or why not cement your UK staycations for a weekend getaway bucket list, with a foray into the glorious Grizedale forest?
Best For: Those Who Like to Go On Relaxing, Culture Filled UK Staycations For Weekend Getaways
Isles of Scilly
You had always dreamed of going to the Isles of Scilly, surrounded by silky white sand beaches dressed up in azure blue seas, mermaids frolicking in jagged coves. The fairies and the sprites would make merry in the sub-tropical gardens, while surfers from Cornwall would try out their hand at gig racing, a local pastime. An archipelago off the Cornish coast, the islands are covered in heathland, a shrubland habitat.
Whether you want lunch with a view, a walk on the coast or to immerse yourself in an area steeped with history, the Isles of Scilly has something for everyone. Go forth and explore in Tresco, the second largest inhabited island on Scilly, full of romantic tumbling walks, historic castles and tranquil sun soaked beaches. To start, head to Cromwell’s Castle, an artillery fort overlooking New Grimbsy Harbour.
Named after Oliver Cromwell, take a step back into time as you roam around a castle built by Sir Robert Blake, transported into the English Civil War between 1642 and 1646. Marvel at the nearby ruins of King Charles castle, destroyed in the 16th century and continue down this coastal castle walk, with views down the channel to St Mary’s. Speaking of St Mary’s, hiking fans will love its gorgeous countryside paths.
Widely described as the ‘Seychelles of Britian’, St Mary’s is fringed by white sand beaches, where you can have a go at sailing, a guided ‘sea swim’ or even try your hand at diving the wrecks beneath the waves. Like Tresco, St Mary’s is also a historians haven, where you can walk through Elm tree woods to discover bronze age monuments like the Iron Age burial chamber at Bant’s Carn.
For couples the Isles of Scilly is your own personal playground. There is an open air cinema where you can watch movies under the stars, island wildlife tours with Will Wagstaff, resident ornithologist and naturalist and even yoga and open water swimming with ‘Adventure Scilly’. Bond as a couple in the wild beauty, serenity and dramatic landscape on this island , and make love magical again.
Best For: Beach Goers Who Want UK Staycations That Give Them Sun, Sea And Sand
You remember the last time you went to Wales, rugged coastlines where wild Ponies roamed free, lush waterfalls cascading over gnarled rocks. It’s a wild beauty that is utterly seductive, and Portmeiron is no different. An enchanting Italianate style village, Portmeirion is located in Gwynedd, North Wales. Designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975, Porytmeirion welcomes 200,000 visitors every year. Like something out of a Disney fairytale, it’s Italian Riveria meets coastal village vibe is a beautiful sight to behold.
It comprises a glorious cluster of colour-washed buildings around a central piazza, scenic surroundings and extensive woodlands, two hotels, historic cottages, gift shops, a spa & award winning restaurants. With a motto to ‘cherish the past, adorn the present’, and ‘construct for the future’, it’s little wonder that it has won numerous tourist awards including the Go Tourism Awards Winner.
Walk into a spectacular fantastical world, where large chess pieces stand proudly in battle, overlooking an ornamental garden in the Central Piazza. Described as a ‘little pocket of madness’, Portmeiron’s quirkiness never fails to delight. The Central Piazza at Portmeirion also features a fountain pool, Gloriette, Gothic Pavilion and the Bristol Colonnade, that’ll leave you spellbound.
If you want a little slice of Wales meets Italy, then why not wander down the gorgeous coastal path at the end of the village and bask in the glory of Dwyryd Estuary, with its white sandy beaches, hidden caves and gullies. Then head back through Gwyllt, a 70 acre sub-tropical forest with 20 miles of paths, hidden lakes, temples and breathtaking views. It’s romantic charm isn’t lost on couples either.
For those who love sweeping romantic picturebook romances, Portmeirion is an ideal UK staycation to take in 2021. Explore the exotic Japanese Garden with its pagoda and lily-covered lake. Uncover secret sites like the Dog Cemetery, tangle Wood, Ghost Garden and Shelter Valley. Or if you are a castle lover like me, then Castell Deudraeth has a carefully restored walled Victorian garden with lawns, flowerbeds and flowering tree that will make you swoon with joy. Finally, treat yourself at ‘Mermaid Spa’ and feel all the good vibes wash over you.
Best For: Those Who Love Quirky UK Staycation Resorts
Ah Brighton, a colour lover’s paradise, where the ruggedness of street art and graffiti is juxtaposed with the sights and sounds of the pier. Vibrant, colourful and creative, you have everything from culture, history, to a wonderful LGBTQI+ positive environment, where Kempton is at the heart of gay culture. From Brighton Pride to Trans Pride, Brighton aims to eliminate discrimation and welcomes visitors from all sexualities. For those who love drag queens, Proud Cabaret Brighton does a fantastic bottomless all singing, all dancing, drag brunch.
If you are after quirky activities to do on a staycation in the UK, then Brighton never fails to deliver. Frolick in the Upside Down House on Brighton seafront, a hybrid of street art and experiential entertainment that’s fun for all the family. In between the i360 and Brighton Beach Club, the Upside Down House will have you in fits of giggles, guaranteed. After all, topsy turvy fun, is the most fun of all!
For street art lovers like myself, journey into Brighton’s eccentric street art scene, where tributes to fallen musicians, graffiti walls and art galleries paint a picture into Brighton’s artistic past, present and future. If you want to have a drink in the city, but prefer to do it in style then why not head down to the Prince Albert Pub, just a stones throw away from the station. Colourful on the outside and traditional in the inside, The Prince Albert Pub is a mecca for art with tributes to Amy Winehouse, John Lennon and Bob Marley among others.
Other memorable street art spots include Trafalgar Lane, once home to Banksy’s Kissing Policeman, Gloucester Road, Kensington Street, North Road and Orange Row. Brighton is also home to some national treasures like the breathtaking Royal Pavillion, a Grade I listed former royal residence with a colourful history. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, this historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China. An instantly recognizable symbol of Brighton, it’s a must see attraction as a tourist or local.
No staycation would be complete without some delicious grub and luckily Brighton is a mecca for vegetarians and vegans. From fine dining at Terre a Terre to delicious vegan burgers at Vurger Co, you are spoiled for choice. If you love Indian food, then Curry Leaf Cafe in Brighton Lanes, has been named one of the best 12 Indian restaurants in Britain by BBC Good Food Magazine.
Best For UK Staycations That Have A Real Mix Of Everything
Last but certainly not least is the heavenly Connemara, a cultural region in county Galway, Ireland home to traditional Irish culture, a picturesque national park with 4,000-year-old megalithic court tombs and an endless lush green mountainous landscape. With a strong Irish culture, take a glimpse into the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region, and learn something new.
Connemara has been a popular pastoral getaway among locals for quite some time, and it’s easy to see why. For road trips, the utterly heavenly Sky Road is a twenty kilometre scenic loop located near Connemara’s biggest town of Clifden. With dramatic sweeping views of rugged cliffs, mountains and a coastal view, this an ideal road trip for families who adore naturally beautiful vistas.
If you count yourself as being somewhat of a history buff, then you would love Clifden Castle, which hasn’t been lived in since 1935 and is now derelict ruins. Yet there is beauty in its imperfection, and this 19th century castle is free to visit, giving you an insight into Ireland’s past.For those who have a combined love of history and nature, Connemara National Park covers some 2,000 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands and is home to ruined houses, court tombs and an early 19th century graveyard.
Animal lovers will rejoyce at a whole range of species including the native Connemara Pony. Although a domestic animal this pony is very much part of the Connemara countryside. You might also spot kestrels, sparrowhawks, stoats, shrews and foxes frolicking merrily in the national park. For seaside retreats, a UK staycation doesen’t get more fabulous than Dog’s Day Beach, a glorious unspoiled slice of beach heaven that is remote, quiet and tranquil. After the year we have all had, having some peace and quiet sounds lovely!
Best For: UK Staycations For Traditional Culture
Where Would You Like To Staycation In The UK?
Please note this post is in collaboration with Hotels.com but all views are my own.