FANCY a trip away in the UK? Here are three staycation destination ideas along with top tips for your UK summer getaway, as told by those who have tried them out already.
Tracey Lea Sayer and her family share their top tips for a holiday to Southampton, Ellie O'Mahoney spills secrets on the best places to go in Cornwall and Katie De Toney gives a review of a staycation in her own seaside city, Brighton.
Fashion Director Tracey Lea Sayer, husband Lewis, daughter Frankie, 17, her boyfriend Luca, 19, son Louis, 10, and dog Reggie found family fun in the city.
This small but perfectly formed “hometel” has a relaxed lounge, cute cocktail bar and great views across leafy Queens Park, while staff make you feel like you are staying with mates.
The spacious rooms are all sleek lines and modern furniture, plus you get a king-size bed and cool mezzanine for the kids in the master loft suites. A kitchenette with a dishwasher is most welcome.
Fresh pastries, yoghurts and fruit, £8.50 per person, can be delivered to your door come morning.
Book a walking tour with See Southampton to hear about the city’s rich history. From Bargate, the medieval gatehouse, to tales of the Titanic – our knowledgeable guide Nigel was very entertaining, plus Reggie was welcome and loved his walk through Palmerston, East and Watts Parks.
Tours cost £8 per person (Seesouthampton.co.uk). Head over the road to Southampton’s City Art Gallery for Nahem Shoa’s mesmerising, free Face of Britain portraiture exhibition, until September 11 (Southamptoncityartgallery.com).
Meanwhile, SeaCity Museum is great for all ages – Louis loved sailing the Titanic out of Southampton docks and stoking the engine-room boilers on the interactive exhibition, while hearing the passengers stories is so moving.
Entry costs £9 for adults, £6.50 for kids (Seacitymuseum.co.uk). Get up early for a paddle-boarding lesson at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre on the River Itchen, 15 minutes’ drive away – the perfect family activity even if, like me, you fall in. It costs £35 per person for two hours (Activenation.org.uk).
For a buzzy evening meal, hit Pam Pam on Oxford Street. Kick off with a Fuzzy Feeling cocktail (vodka, kiwi, pineapple and lime), £8, then dig into tapas starters of braised pig’s cheek, £8, salt-and-pepper squid, £8, and savoury doughnuts stuffed with garlic, mozzarella and jalapeño, £7.
Follow up with spicy pepperoni pizza, £13 (Facebook.com/pampamsouthampton).
For a relaxed brunch, XOXO on Bedford Place serves up tasty baked eggs with potatoes, mixed peppers, cannellini beans and sourdough, £8.50 (Wearexoxo.co.uk).
Later, watch the boats come into the harbour while sipping a passionfruit gin gimlet, £9, at Banana Wharf. Soak it up with king prawns and crab claws, £9.50, and a 7oz rib-eye, £23 (Bananawharf.co.uk).
Master loft rooms sleep four and cost from £161.50 per night (Room2.com). Plan your trip at Visitsouthampton.co.uk.
St Enodoc Hotel, Rock
Deputy Editor Ellie O’Mahoney sought out seaside bliss in Cornwall.
Settle in with Bramley toiletries and a Nespresso machine in the room while you watch the ever-changing Camel Estuary from your bed. Inside, the hotel is all slate floors and slouchy sofas, while outside you can relax beside the pool in the pretty gardens.
Get another knock-out view from the brasserie and dig into local hake in lobster bisque, £18, and an incred Eton mess, £7, washed down with a glass of pinot grigio, £6.30, or a local Caspyn gin and tonic, £7.50.
Hire bikes to cycle part of the 18-mile-long Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow, from £14 a day (Bridgebikehire.co.uk). Then hop on the Rock Ferry for a 10-minute journey back, £3, and try to spy egrets and peregrines as you go (Padstow-harbour.co.uk/phc_ferry.html).
Or head to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, an hour away, to roam 200 acres of plants and trees. You may even be brave enough to cross the Burmese rope bridges, 100ft above ancient tree ferns. Entry costs £17.50 (Heligan.com).
Back at St Enodoc, stroll along the St John Betjeman Walk – all coastal paths and sand dunes – while the sun sets (Southwestcoastpath.org.uk).
Paul Ainsworth’s seafront pub The Mariners is just round the corner from the hotel. Tuck into The Dog’s Pollock – a pollock hot dog with pickled cucumber, mustard, dill and parmesan, plus skinny fries, £17.
Follow with strawberry roly poly, £7.50, and don’t forget to order a pint of local Sharp’s beer (Paul-ainsworth.co.uk/the-mariners).
Padstow’s newest haunt, Stein’s Coffee Shop – run by chef Rick Stein’s son Charlie – serves coffee and a fresh-off-the-boat crab sandwich, £8.95 (Rickstein.com).
Meanwhile, at nearby Trevathan Farm Shop, order roast beef and all the trimmings, £11.50, then pick your own veg for a healthy souvenir (Trevathanfarm.com/farm-shop).
Double rooms cost from £150 per night B&B (Enodoc-hotel.co.uk).
Hotel Du Vin, Brighton
Writer Katie De Toney and husband Justin took a staycay in their home city.
The recently refurbed Hotel du Vin is in the heart of Brighton’s shopping district, a stone’s throw from the seafront. Quirky and quaint, rooms are contemporary – think brown leather headboards, a pastel colour palette and metallic accessories.
Expect waterfall showers and L’Occitane toiletries, too. When you can drag yourself out of bed, breakfast in its ’20s-style bistro includes faves such as eggs Benedict, while dinner consists of well-executed classics such as moules marinière, £14.95.
Brighton’s packed with independent shops. Lose hours in Snoopers Paradise – a collection of flea-market-style vintage stalls (Snoopersparadise.co.uk). Meanwhile, hit Unlimited for playful prints, jewellery and homeware from emerging designers (Unlimitedshop.co.uk).
Later, hop on a BTN city bike – from £1 for initial hire and 3p per minute. Start at Brighton Pier and head to i360 for a 25-minute trip up the tower to spot France on a clear day, £16.50 per person (Britishairwaysi360.com).
Fancy chilling? Try eco-loving Beach Box Spa. Cosy up in private, converted horse boxes on the pebble beach for a sauna and DIY beauty treatments. We loved the platter of orange, lavender and rosemary salt scrubs, a mud-and-honey face mask and cooling spritz, £15. Saunas for up to six people cost £80 for 90 minutes (Beachboxspa.co.uk).
Feast your way round the food stalls at Shelter Hall, five minutes from the hotel. Stop by Ox Block for flamed lamb skewers, £9, and Pan for Korean chicken wings, £8.95 (Shelterhall.co.uk).
Brighton institution Riddle & Finns The Lanes is a must for fish fans after a candle-lit meal and soulful tunes. Order treats like octopus with confit egg, £9.50, tempura monkfish cheeks, £8.95, and ceviche with lime salsa, £8.75 (Riddleandfinns.co.uk).
Meanwhile, beach bar and restaurant Rockwater, a 25-minute walk away, offers morning yoga on its deck and cocktails on its roof terrace. Sip a Parma Violet Cloud, £13, and share dishes of heritage tomato and mozzarella salad, £10, and seared king scallops, £12 (Rockwater.uk).
Double rooms cost from £144 per night (Hotelduvin.com/locations/brighton).
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