3 of the best luxury travel breaks in England – words Alexa Wang
When we think of luxury breaks in the UK, it’s easy to jump to the obvious destinations. Yes, London is great and there’s Edinburgh and York. All have more luxury than you can shake a stick at but they’ve been written about so much that we wanted to explore others parts of the UK where there might be a different angle on what constitutes luxury. This could lead to a weekend away from the well-trodden path where you can maybe see the world from a different angle.
Shrewsbury, close to the Welsh border, might not seem the obvious destination for a luxury break, but dig a bit deeper and you could be pleasantly surprised. The town itself has a lot to offer. The jumbled charm of its streets with black and white Tudor jostling for attention with red stone Georgian town houses, curious coaching inns and cobbled alleys. It sits on a hill surrounded by the River Severn and has a laid-back charm with riverside walks, a medieval red brick castle, a flower festival and a thriving arts scene.
For a touch of luxury, travel out of Shrewsbury to the nearby Hencote Wine Estate. This is a thriving vineyard no less and you can tour and see the whole operation for yourself. At Hencote indulge in the vineyard restaurant where you can match the award-winning wines grown here with some delectable food.
You can stay here too, either at the Grange, an elegantly restored Georgian farmhouse or in one of the luxury lodges in the glamping village. The view is amazing taking in Shrewsbury and the Shropshire countryside spreading out below you from the estate.
Grasmere has one of the most spectacular locations of any village in the UK. It’s nestled below dramatic fells and has its own lake, popular for wild swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.
This is where Wordsworth famously chose to locate themselves, and you can see why. The village itself is sometimes criticised for being ‘touristy’ but it wears it well. Out of peak season, it’s a serene place to spend some time and even in season retains its peculiar charm.
If you want a spot of pampering and luxury after that hard climb, then Grasmere is the perfect place. The Forest Side Hotel is an imposing Victorian mansion, built from typical Lake District slate stood in its own grounds. The grounds have been developed into gardens where the produce used in the superb restaurant is grown. This is Michelin star quality right in the heart of the Lake District. The entire mansion was dilapidated but it has been completely renovated and given a new lease of life as a boutique luxury hideaway.
Some people say it’s grim up north but it’s probably not such a secret that Manchester has transformed itself over the last couple of decades. With sleek new contemporary galleries, a retro space age theatre and music venues, culturally the city is a tour de force. The Manchester International Festival commissions new work from national and internationally renowned creative figures which only adds to its appeal. This year David Lynch, Yoko Ono and Philip Glass were the headliners, but there were many lesser known but equally exciting commissions from some rising stars.
The city’s grand Victorian architecture has been restored and incorporated to new uses. Old market buildings such as the Mackie Mayor now house some of the coolest independent eateries and bars in the city. This is a short walk from the Northern Quarter, the once crumbling area now revived with innovative shops, cafés and bars in the restored Victorian warehouse district.
The hotel to head for to experience a spot of glamour has to be the Hilton Hotel which towers above the city with its renowned Skybar giving you bird’s eye view. The rooms feature floor to ceiling windows and are wall to wall luxury. There’s even a swimming pool and spa so you can watch the world go by far below you as you swim. You can get good deals on the sumptuous and spacious suites if you’re lucky during off peak times.