When you visit the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean this summer, you will be spoilt for choice...
With Britain set to begin the process of leaving the European Union in 2017, many of us are starting to look a little closer to home for our next luxury holiday meaning there is no need worry about visa requirements. Luckily, whether you still plan to travel around the world in the future and are looking for a short break to throw into the mix, or want to really explore the hidden gems of the British countryside, there are plenty of amazing destinations in the country to visit. As Annie O’Donogue from Original Travel comments:“The UK most certainly punches above its weight in terms of attractions to enjoy on a luxury holiday. There's heritage and history in spades; spectacular scenery, coastlines and cityscapes and culture – both contemporary and traditional – that makes the UK at the same time a throwback and one of the most progressive countries on the planet.”
Teeming with history, natural wonders and some truly indulgent accommodation and attractions, the UK has much to offer for the dream luxury holiday. Here are the ultimate top three destinations and luxury holiday cottages in the UK for 2017.
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The county of Dorset in South West England is renowned for being a hub that holiday makers looking for indulgent experiences flock to, particularly in the summer season. Something of an outdoor playground to adventurous visitors and a hive of cultural experiences alike, this part of the UK has much to offer. Miles of unspoilt countryside and coast are a main attraction, but Dorset also boasts some fantastic high-end experiences, such as dining at Rick Stein’s Sandbanks restaurant for delicious dishes such as fillets of lemon sole with black olive butter, new potatoes and hispi cabbage – many of which feature quality locally-sourced ingredients. Spend the day mulling around a stunning stately home like Kingston Lacey and animal park, or enjoy a spot of golf close to the beautiful ancient Abbey town of Sherborne.
Aside from the major attractions, there are also various enchanting villages and towns that are a must for any holiday in Dorset. The Crazy Tourist blog recommends Shaftesbury, with post-card perfect areas like Gold Hill which “encapsulates rural England perfectly.” They explain, “This steep cobbled street has stone thatched cottages and the most stunning views of the countryside. Gold Hill first came to the nation’s attention via a Ridley Scott commercial for Hovis bread, and it has since become a cherished landmark.”
The Online Travel Journal comments that spring is an optimum time to visit Dorset, saying “it’s hard to imagine a more bucolic setting with signs of new life and a sense of orderliness and tranquillity”. Indeed, the power of nature is evident at every turn in Dorset, from the towering cliffs to the dramatic coastline, which creates perfect opportunities for relaxing walks and exhilarating watersports such as sailing, canoeing and even sitting back with a glass of bubbly on a leisurely cruise through the serene waters. After a day full of eating, drinking and sampling once-in-a-lifetime activates, you’ll want to finish it all off by staying in style. Luckily, there are many fantastic luxury cottages to rent in Dorset in gorgeous settings with period features, plush furnishings and beautiful gardens.
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Dr. Paul Johnson, editor of A Luxury Travel Blog tells us that The Lake District comes in at the top of his list of the best destinations in the UK for a luxury getaway. He emphasises the ancient landscape as the key reason to visit this astounding area of natural beauty, explaining:“The Lakes is home to England's highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and longest lake (Windermere) and, most importantly, some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK and a landscape that has famously appealed to the likes of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.” As England’s largest National Park, it’s no surprise that so many visitors flock to the Lake District to hike along tranquil waterfronts and up majestic mountains for sweeping views of nature’s own offering of grandeur.
Travel expert Annie O’Donogue from Original Travel agrees with Dr. Johnson, adding that The Lake District’s natural and literary history makes it the perfect luxury holiday for the entire family. She says:“The Lake District is the perfect luxury UK escape for families, not least because of Beatrix Potter's lasting legacy which is evident far and wide – visit Hawkshead where Johnny Town Mouse lived and Derwent Water, the home of Squirrel Nutkin. Aside from our favourite childhood characters, the Lake District is also home to Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine lives at Ravenglass Railway. Plenty of fresh air and a literary education – what could be better? Make your trip extra special with a private tour of a stately home, a visit to the famous gingerbread shop and charter the historical Steam Yacht Gondola to set sail across Lake Coniston.”
One of the top UK locations for luxury holidays that Annie advises is The Cotswolds. After London, this part of the UK is commonly described as encompassing what overseas tourists imagine when they think of England. With its quaint thatched houses and luscious hills the region straddles various county borders, sitting across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. Annie says:“For couples looking for a luxury UK holiday we would recommend visiting the beautiful Cotswolds – a region of gentle hills, delightful cottages of local mellowed stone and secluded manor houses.” She continues, “We would suggest enjoying a chauffeur guided tour, dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant or a visit to the Royal Gardens at Highgrove for an extra wow during your stay.”
Emyr Thomas from Bon Vivant Travel agrees, commenting that the area is also perfect for the first-time foreign tourist to the UK:“The Cotswolds epitomises the idea of quaint British living and should be a must visit for all visitors to the UK. For lovers of food, I would recommend staying in the Kingham or Chipping Norton area – dine at the newly Michelin-starred restaurant The Wild Rabbit, experience the best of British pub food at The Kingham Plough and visit Daylesford Organic’s award-winning organic farm and farm shop for your supplies. If all this eating gets too much, treat yourself to a massage at the Bamford spa on the Daylesford site.”
One of the most beautiful places to stay within the Cotswolds is in a Wiltshire holiday cottage. Here you will find many picturesque villages hosting stunning properties with all of the special touches such as open fires and log burners that will make your visit that bit more indulgent. It’s also the ideal place to visit Stonehenge, a site of international importance as one of the world’s earliest human settlements. Besides the lavish venues and gastro food, the Cotswolds is a fantastic destination for keen ramblers, boasting some of the most spectacular arboretas in the country like Westonbirt, along with historic sites like the 18th-century Broadway Tower, which offers panoramic views of the countryside from the second-highest point of the Cotswolds. You can take in gorgeous greenery in areas such as Montpellier Gardens, and even visit Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford upon Avon. It doesn’t get much more British than this!