In a city like Salisbury where a walk through its streets is like a trip back through the centuries, it was only right that my hotel had historic credentials to match. So what could be more appropriate than Europe’s oldest purpose-built hotel?
My city break trips are usually a whirlwind of sightseeing, eating and drinking, where a hotel’s more a place to sleep than somewhere to spend much time in. A good city break hotel needs to be central, comfortable, clean and inexpensive. But a lot of the time that seems to equal a bland, budget hotel – all magnolia walls and beige carpets. That doesn’t have to be the case though.
After living in Oxford for a few years, I always thought I knew exactly where my loyalties lay – you’d never find me cheering Cambridge in the boat race. But my first trip to Cambridge started to sway me. Like Oxford it’s got a fascinating history, beautiful architecture, punts on the river, cobbled streets full of bikes and enough museums and libraries to feel like you’re getting cleverer by osmosis.
For years I commuted to work in London on the underground to Euston station. I’d walk through its miles of tunnels and down to the Northern Line every day – usually on autopilot and hardly noticing where I was. But I never knew I’d been walking right past the entrance to a network of deserted underground tunnels, some of which have been sealed off for over 100 years.
I’m a big fan of holidaying at home and showing off my local area, but I don’t think I’ve ever holidayed anywhere quite so close to home as the Montpellier Town House. It’s all of five minutes from my house in Cheltenham, in a classic white, Regency town house overlooking the park.
Driving past lake after lake as we crossed Ontario on my Canadian road trip last year, I’d spot the occasional log cabin, tucked between the trees and reflected in the water. Usually with a boat moored up and sometimes a hot tub alongside, they looked so tranquil that I couldn’t help feeling a pang of jealously as we headed to another campsite for the night. Maybe next time? But in the end I didn’t have to go nearly as far for my own luxurious log cabin experience.
You might think of Cornwall as a summer holiday destination, somewhere you go for surfing, sandcastle-building and pasties on the beach. But it makes for a great winter break too – think blustery coastal walks, deserted beaches, cosy pubs and hot chocolate in beachside cafés. I love Cornwall but I’m not a fan of the the crowds, so an off-season trip down to the south west is becoming a new winter tradition.
It was my first trip to Chester but I felt a distinct case of déjà vu. It was like someone had taken the best bits from cities around the UK and spliced them together. The Roman walls could’ve been from York, the riverside from Bath, the cathedral from Canterbury and the canalside from Birmingham. It was like a highlights reel from my weekend break guides!
On the surface it’s England’s largest castle. Dover Castle has been defending the Kent coastline from centuries of invaders since 1066. But below ground it has another hidden side. Deep inside the chalk rocks that make up the White Cliffs of Dover are three miles of underground tunnels that have played their own – more mysterious – part in defending the country.
There aren’t many sights more classically British than the White Cliffs of Dover. They were the first or last sight of home for generations of Britons arriving or leaving the country. And although you’ll more likely find me travelling to Europe high above them by plane or way below by Eurotunnel, what kind of Brit would I be if I’d never seen one of the country’s most iconic sights?