Possibly rainy, always a great trip
Last weekend we headed over to Amsterdam to visit our old uni mates who are currently living over there and spent two days visiting museums, eating our own bodyweight in Stroopwafels and trying not to get run over by cyclists. IT. WAS. DREAMY. Not only was it lovely to catch up with friends, the sun shone like it hasn’t in months and it was just nice to have a weekend adventure. Now I love a weekend that operates solely from the sofa, but it’s nice to mix it up every now and again with a city break and although we’re lucky sods living in the U.K that the continent is just a short jaunt over the channel (the flight to Amsterdam was 50 minutes which is INSANE), sometimes it’s fun to hop in the car or on the train to a home country destination and not have to worry about liquids being over 100ml (Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser can come with!). Over the years we’ve managed to get a fair few of these mini breaks under our belts, so I thought I would share my five favourites incase you need a wee push to get some travel plans in your diary…
The first time we visited Edinburgh was four years ago as a surprise that I booked for Mark’s Birthday. Since I’ve been back for work a couple of times and with every visit it just gets better; along with Bath (see below), it’s one of my favourites places in the U.K. The dream would be to go during summer as each visit I’ve made so far has been accompanied with weather that required at least two thermal layers (see picture above). Not only is it just a visually beautiful city with architecture that makes you want to stop to snap a photo on practically every street, it’s also steeped in history – top stops include Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I like the fact that the city isn’t MASSIVE and so it’s easy to walk to everywhere you need to, plus the buses and trams are easy enough to navigate. In terms of food, Mark and I went to the Gardener’s Cottage and it’s still a place that we talk about all these years later. A tasting menu that’s created from locally sourced produce and food that they’ve grown on-site in the gardens – if you’re a bona fide foodie it’s a must-go.
OK, Bath for me, just pips all the rest of the city breaks to the top spot by a smidge. And I promise it’s not just because there’s a direct train that goes from Brighton. Leave your car at home because I can guarantee you ain’t gonna need it here because everything is close together, walkable and the small hills that are there are helpful to work off your Sally Lunn Bun. Of course it would be rude to visit without visiting The Roman Baths (just try and head there early to avoid the crowds), plus you need to actually have a dip yourself. Last time we stayed we checked in to The Gainsborough Spa Hotel and it was utterly AMAZING. It was pretty new at the time and was so quiet that we practically had the hotel spa to ourselves. I mean LOOK AT THAT PICTURE! It was heavenly. Of course you have to wander up the Royal Crescent to see how the other half live and if you need to scratch an itch for shopping then a stop off at Hay should leave you satisfied. Food-wise we had some amazing Italian at Sotto Sotto (we even considered getting married in Bath so we could have our wedding party there!) and one of the best roast dinners we’ve ever had at The Chequers.
Oxford will always have a special place in my heart because it’s where we headed for our mini-moon the weekend after we got married. We’ve visited a few times and this time round we stayed at The Artist Residence, which sitting a 20 minute drive out from the city gave it a more countryside feel. I haven’t got too many food recommendations up my sleeve as we ate in at the hotel – Mr Hanbury’s Mason Arms gets the job DONE if you fancy a Sunday roast – so if anyone has any they wish to throw into the ring then comment down below. The thing I love about Oxford and the surrounding areas is that of course it’s bloomin’ gorgeous, but there’s just so much to see. I loved Blenheim Palace (the rose garden is out of this world!), but the Botanic Gardens are pretty stunning too and both are well worth the admission. Unfortunately during our stay Mark also had one of the worst bouts he’s had of hay fever and so I can also recommend the Bowlplex too for a pollen-free solution. Poor lad!
I mean of course this was going to be on here. I usually travel weekly up to London for meetings or events so don’t always see it as city break fodder. However on the occasions when we have been up, stayed the night and have taken time to explore it as a tourist, it’s a bloody great option for a mini holiday because the possibilities are quite literally, endless. There’s too much to throw into a paragraph, so I’ll try to keep it to just the highlights (OMG IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!). In terms of places to stay, The Hoxton is great (I prefer the location of the Holborn one as it’s a little more central and slap bang next to a tube station) and I love the little residential pockets for a weekend wander; like Hampstead Heath and Broadway Market. For food I went to Flat Iron this week and it was FAB (and such great value for steak), although Sticks N Sushi is always on my mind and Granger & Co is always a solid choice for brunch. It feels like a cheat to wrap up this paragraph here, but it’s currently 8.58am and this post is due to go live at 9am, SOOOO….
I mean I couldn’t do this post without sneaking in a shoutout to my hometown. I’m a born and bred Brightonian – it’s what we do. Come and visit! We’ll take you to the spot that does the best fish and chips (Wolfies in Hove and Bankers in Brighton)! We’ll point out the nudist beaches that we accidentally stumbled upon during summer holidays when we were teenagers! I’ll keep this one short and sweet because I recently collated a mahoosive post featuring all my top spots, cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels in the city – so if you’ve never visited before then that puts quite the case forward. My must dos though? Do the audio tour of the Royal Pavilion, visit Red Roasters for breakfast, Cin Cin for lunch and 64 Degrees for dinner or Burger Brothers if you fancy something quick, and head towards the Hove end of the seafront for more chilled out vibes and a sighting of me bossing Mark around to get my next Instagram photo.
Photos by Lauren Shipley
Headline images shot at the Artist Residence Brighton