Nestled amongst the rolling Shropshire Hills and just a few miles from the Welsh border, the laidback little town of Shrewsbury is a totally gorgeous place to visit. It’s the kind of place that’s perfect for a day trip or weekend break, especially with all the best things to do in Shrewsbury dotted all across … Continue Reading
April 12 is tantalisingly close, the weather’s looking up, and we’re looking forward to that first crisp sip of chilled beer in an actual, honest-to-god London pub garden. We’ve got an extensive list of the city’s best here, but we thought we’d pull out a few choice examples to whet/wet your appetite. Also, you might want to get planning. The rate that beer gardens are getting booked at right now is making headlines. Gather your crew and get cracking.
A regular haunt of local resident George Orwell, this was one of three boozers to provide him with inspiration for ‘The Moon Under Water’, an essay on the criteria for the perfect London pub. He might not recognise it now, mind you. In the walled garden, you can lounge on a designer rattan sofa while sipping a cold draft beer from the outdoor bar (which also serves bottled beers plus a handful of wines and spirits). Need to tame your hunger? The full length of the smart menu (which ranges from burgers with cheese, pickles and fries, to meat and two veg) is available to eat in the glorious outdoors. Reopens April 12
This back-street Greenwich boozer is far enough away from the Cutty Sark/park/river to mean it’s mostly well-heeled locals propping up the bar (figuratively speaking atm). Out the back is a spectacular garden, a contender for the best in the city. There’s decking on multiple levels, tables, trees and lighting; high walls shield the grassy expanse from the surrounding streets but allow plenty sunlight in to nourish the verdant borders. A cracking place for an alfresco drink. Reopens April 12
Whatever you do, do NOT just pop in here for ‘a quick pint’ – this forward-thinking destination takes its beer seriously, with an onsite micro-brewery producing cask-conditioned ‘People’s Pints’, and a taproom serving around 70 world beers. It’s not a hallowed, beard-stroking sort of vibe, though. The hacienda-style garden sees to that. It backs on to Victoria Park (the titular ‘people’s park), and offers an outdoor kitchen and a fantastic selection of drinks. It’s basically like drinking in the park, but without the annoyance of having to periodically wander around looking for a loo/bush. Bliss. Reopens April 12
This big ol’ comfy corner pub in south-west London has become a bit of a food hall/pub hybrid. Grab street food from Boludo, Filth & Co and others and wash it all down with frozen margaritas. The owners are calling the unexpected space at the back of the pub ‘London’s largest beer garden’, which is a bold claim for sure. But given its aircraft-hangar size and its retractable roof, it may be borne out by the evidence. Either way, it’s a great spot for an outdoor pint or three. Reopens April 12
‘Stokey’s biggest beer garden’ brags The White Hart, and, to be fair, it is a handsome one. Throughout the summer months, this great open space really comes into its own, with its two tiers (one patioed, one lawned) offering plenty of scope for locals to relax and refresh. The outdoor bar serves bottled beers, wines and cocktails, while the bar menu of sharing plates large and small (plus plenty of poshed-up pub staples) is also available alfresco. Reopens April 12
Nestled on the south coast of beautiful Devon, Plymouth is a historical city with hundreds of years of maritime history. Not only that, there’s a heap of spots to see and the best things to do in Plymouth that make it a great little city break whilst exploring wider Devon. Over the centuries, Plymouth has … Continue Reading
With the government announcing the road map to the easing of lockdown restrictions, you may be thinking of booking a holiday. Some UK hotels are reopening on the 12th of April for outdoor dining and while many hotels will have to keep their rooms closed some will allow their self-contained accommodation to be booked out as per the government guidelines(please check with individual hotel to see if this is the case). From the 17th of May indoor hospitality is allowed and hotels well be opening the rest of their bedrooms and their indoor dining. Those still wishing to socially distance and exercise caution may be keen to stick to self-contained accommodation until the 21st of June when all restrictions are lifted.
Personally I have always loved self-contained accommodation – there’s something rather special of having a cottage of your own often with lots of space, sometimes its own kitchen or maybe even a garden. This type of accommodation affords greater privacy and a home away from hom. Another benefit we’ve found is that often you often get two bedrooms which is great if you’re travelling as a family and need a room for the kids or you’re with a group of friends. Here are my favourites
1. The Pig
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of The Pig group of hotels – ‘a restaurant with rooms’ specialising in local food all wrapped up in a cosy, casual environment in a country setting. I’ve stayed in three of the different Pig Hotels and each time we’ve having wonderful self-contained accommodation that has also been excellent value for money.
At the Pig on the Beach in Studland, Devon we stayed in ‘The Bothy’ This adorable little hobbit house-type cottage is on of the cutest places I’ve ever stayed. Lying in the kitchen garden it’s not far from the main house but far enough away to be super private and has an open plan bedroom and bathroom with an elegant roll top bath and four poster bed.
The Bothy is cosy and it’s perfect for two to snuggle in! The Pig on the Beach also features ‘The Lookout’, a two storey Dovecote with a bedroom on the ground floor and bathroom on the upper floor. Or for those looking for something a little different the hotel features two shepherds huts – with each room being made up of two huts one for bedroom and one for the bathroom these look very romantic and special and though I haven’t stayed in them myself, the website does warn that space is limited and they’re not recommended if you’re tall or like to bring lots of luggage!
Another option is The Pig in the New Forest – the original property in the hotel group which boasts several options for self-contained accommodation. We stayed in the Forest Cabin which is nestled between the trees like a mid-summer night’s dream.
A romantic little cabin clad in wood with a four poster bed, roll top bath and wood fire it’s the perfect hideaway for two. There’s three other options for self-contained rooms at this Pig property too. The Forest Hut is a bijoux hideaway in the garden made from reclaimed timber and with space for two. Bert’s Box is a large option for a couple and encompasses a master bedroom, shower room and free standing bath plus a kitchen diner. Finally Pig Lodge has two bedrooms both with ensuite bathrooms, kitchenette and lounge.
The Pig at Bridge Place in was one of our little staycations during 2020 and I just loved our stay here in Pig Lodge 1. It was our first time visiting a Pig property with Oscar and the ‘room’ was just perfect for our little family as it had a large living area, kitchenette and outdoor terrace downstairs and two bedrooms each with ensuite bathrooms upstairs.
The adjacent Pig Lodge 2 is a slightly smaller version of Lodge 1 and is perfect to be booked alone or alongside Lodge 1 for a larger family group. Other options for stand-alone accommodation are the super cute and unique Hop Pickers’ Huts and the two-storey Barn set in the kitchen garden. The Barn is a large option for a couple with a lounge downstairs and bedroom upstairs.
2. Soho Farmhouse
At Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds most of the accommodations is self-contained as there is something to suit everyone. With a rustic farm-style, the cabins are a dream for city-dweller to retreat into a world of country life! The smallest option is the Piglet Room which is just perfect for two! Two people can also enjoy stays in the Garden Room, Play Cabin, the Studio Cabin, the Large Studio Cabin and the One-bedroom Cabin. I’ve enjoyed stays in all three of the later all of which feature a kitchen or kitchenette, wood burning stoves and ensuite bathrooms. The One-bedroom cabin is the biggest option for two and has a vast living area / kitchen area with a separate bedroom.
One Bedroom Cabin.
Larger parties can opt for the family-friendly one bedroom and one bunk or two bed and two bunk cabin. There’s also the option of a two bedroom cabin for four adults or the largest option of all the three bedroom cabin for six adults. I’ve stayed in the three bedroom cabin with my whole family and it is seriously dreamy!
One of the great things abut staying in Soho Farmhouse is the amazing room service. A breakfast van comes to the room and cooks your breakfast freshly and you can also order a cocktail float to get you started for the night! Due to indoor dining restrictions Soho Farmhouse will be operating food trucks to offer lots of variety when dining outside. The pool, gym and spa will all be open from the 12th of April too.
3. Babington House
The sister hotel to Soho Farmhouse, Babington House is located in Somerset and has 33 bedrooms, one of which is a gorgeous free-standing cabin by the lake. Though I’ve personally never stayed in the actual cabin, I love the hotel itself and I’ve had a little peep at the cabin which has two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a lounge with wood burning fire and kitchen.
I’ve always loved Limewood hotel in the New Forest but it’s had an even greater glow up since I last stayed. The addition of forest cottages and cabins and a lakeside cabin seem like the perfect self-contained stay – and they’re available from the 12th April along with outdoor dining. The Forest cottages are located among the trees and are self-contained two storey family ‘homes’ with a living room, dining room and kitchenette. The upstairs has a master bedroom with an ensuite bathrooms. In Cottage 1 the additional twin room is downstairs and in Cottage 2 a bunk room is upstairs also with an ensuite. The cottages can be hired separately or together and interconnecting.
The Forest Cabin looks to be a beautiful rustic option with master bedroom, and bunk room both with ensuites and kitchenette, dining and living room with a log fire. The Lake Cabin is the most spectacular looking option – made out of reclaimed timber and ‘floating’ on the lake. A true outdoor experience with a wraparound balcony and outdoor bath. There’s a wood floor, bedroom with ensuite and kitchenette.
5. Chewton Glen
Sticking with the New Forest, Chewton Glen is one of my all time favourite country house hotels. I’m lucky enough to have stayed a few times but it’s still a dream of mine to stay in one of the famous treehouses which are suspended 35 feet above the ground! There are four categories of treehouse, all of which are self contained and available from 12th April. The Studio Suite is the smallest option and is perfect for two with stunning forest views, a hot tub on the terrace and a wood burning fire in the bedroom. The loft suite can take six people (no more than four adults) and there is a master bedroom and galleried bunk room for kids. Hideaway suites are more spacious still and the bedroom area is separate with a covered walkway and will suit up to four people.
The biggest and best option is The Yews, a totally private ‘deluxe treehouse’ that can sleep twelve (four adults and eight children). Here you can get a private chef in the serviced kitchen or have a treehouse hamper discreetly delivered through a hatch.
6. Coworth Park
Coworth Park is one is of of my favourite hotels on this list. The gorgeous country house hotel in Ascot has just introduced North Lodge, a private gatehouse cottage on the outskirts of the hotel grounds with three bedrooms (each with an ensuite bathroom), a state-of-the-art kitchen (with a wine fridge!) and a country garden. A private butler and private chef is available on request!
Pic take a lifetime ago on a gorgeous picnic with Laurent Perrier at Coworth Park
7. The Fish
Located on the Farncombe Estate is The Fish Hotel, a magical place with plenty of options for self-contained stays. We stayed last year in one of their Treehouses which honestly felt like a childhood dream come true. Our Treehouse located in the forest had a gorgeous wood clad bedroom and living area, a children’s bunk room and bathroom. Best of all was the terrace with twin wooden baths.
There’s plenty of other self-contained options; the Hilly Huts and the Hideaway Huts have a bedroom with ensuite bathroom, lounge area with wood burner and a private hot tub. There’s also a Hideaway Hut named Boaty McBoatface which comes with it’s own boat and a private island! You couldn’t get more romantic and secluded!
If you’re looking for something bigger there’s a six bedroom standalone Farmhouse with a gorgeous outdoor space too!
I hope this post has given you some ideas, I’ve got a few UK trips booked in the coming months so I’ll be adding some more hotels to it when I can. Do you have UK holidays booked?
The 1963 film ‘Cleopatra’ was an enormous, ambitious, historical epic. It starred massively famous actors (Elizabeth Taylor has 65 costume changes in it), weighs in at four hours long and is still one of the most expensive films ever made. It also nearly destroyed 20th Century Fox and signalled the end of the ‘swords and sandals’ genre of film.
The new ‘Come Rave with Me’ meal kit, from Michelin-starred chef Brad Carter, could conceivably be considered the ‘Cleopatra’ of meal kits. Where can we possibly go after this? This is a haute-cuisine take on ’90s comfort food. Findus Crispy Pancakes reimagined using smoked beef cheeks and West Country Ogleshield cheese. Posh smiley potato faces. ‘Neon slaw’.
Carters of Moseley is a top-notch Birmingham restaurant and we have absolutely no doubt this kit (which ships on April 9) will taste superb. Brad is a self-taught, Michelin-starred chef, which is like learning to play football using YouTube tutorials and then winning the World Cup. But will life ever be the same after ‘Come Rave with Me’? Will non-conceptual meal kits now seem passé? Maybe this is like the birth of a lamb with two heads during the Dark Ages: a portent of Meal Kit End Times? Either way, we’re looking forward to trying it.
Actually, on the subject of unorthodox kits, do also check out Super Ya Ramen’s Fried Cabbage and Cheese ramen kit (£25). We’re just making stuff up now, aren’t we? Sweet ’n’ sour hot dogs? Chocolate pasta? Tripe ceviche? Damn, I’m getting old.