As temperatures begin to fall, now is the ideal time to curl up with a good book in a super-cute tea room or visit one of London’s lesser-known museums. Here are just some of our favourite places to escape the bad weather in Winter.
Get cosy in the Cotswolds
Huffkins has been delivering freshly-baked goods to towns and villages across the Cotswolds since 1890. Historically, deliveries were made via donkey and cart but nowadays it’s much easier to pop into one of their six branches and sink your teeth into a freshly-baked cake. Why not start at the original one in Stow-on-the-Wold?
Chatsworth House has undergone constant renovation and change since being built in the 1560s; one glance at this impressive stately home shows that it was all worthwhile. With over 30 rooms to explore and Christmas decorations going up in November, Chatsworth is an ideal option for escaping the cold.
Less than 20 minutes from Brighton by train, Lewes is a treasure trove of cute independent shops and historic buildings. Follow the High Street across the River Ouse and you’ll be surrounded by plenty of quirky places. Browse the racks of traditional cask ales in Harvey’s Brewery Shop, stop by The Fifteenth Century Bookshop or find a unique gift for someone special in the Lewes Antique Centre.
We can’t think of a better way to enjoy this classic dish in the winter months than in a cosy pub looking out to sea. The Godolphin is perched right next to the beach in Marazion looking out across Mount’s Bay. Make sure to book a table for the evening when St Michael’s Mount is lit up.
Narrow staircases and creaky floorboards add even more charm to Pollock’s Toy Museum, tucked away in a hidden corner of historic Fitzrovia (north of Oxford St). Home to hundreds of Victorian toys and dolls, enjoy an interesting glimpse into England’s history, before heading to the gift shop to pick up some entertainment for the cosy nights ahead.
Travelling the world has never been easier, thanks to the University of Oxford. The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded in 1884 with a collection of 22,000 items; nowadays, the museum houses an impressive 500,000 items from across the globe. See shrunken heads, ancient masks and a towering totem pole from British Columbia.
Fitzbillies in Cambridge may not have invented the Chelsea Bun, but the sticky, fruit-filled treat has been the bakery’s signature item since 1921. Visit the original location on Trumpington Street to check out the ornate shopfront and tuck into a delicious Chelsea Bun, or if you’re really hungry, try one of their epic breakfast options.
Explore the real Diagon Alley
The Shambles, York
With cobbled pavements and overhanging buildings, The Shambles in York could easily be a fill-in for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. Originally home to a selection of butchers, the Shambles is now packed with independent shops and cafes; celebrate the city’s chocolate history at Monk Bar Chocolatiers or unleash your inner wizard at The Shop That Must Not Be Named.
An old railway station seems like an odd place to house a second-hand bookshop, but that’s just one of the things that makes Barter Books unique. As the name suggests, shoppers can trade old books to the shop for credit as part of a barter system before cosying up in front of a roaring open fire. Keep an eye out too for an original, World War II-era Keep Calm and Carry On poster.
If you miss the days when sweets used to be sold in jars, Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe is a must-visit. Just off Wells High Street, shelved walls are stacked with jars full of retro and modern sweets. Find something rare and specialised like gobstoppers and aniseed balls, or stockpile your favourite treat for the cold nights ahead.
In the past few years, Ludlow has become a must-do for foodies, and Harp Lane Deli plays an important role in that reputation. Harp Lane curates its deli selection with one simple rule – everything has to look beautiful and taste good. Visit the shop for delicious coffee and Portuguese custard tarts, before browsing the shelves for something special to take home.
Known mainly for its connection to the Bronte sisters, Haworth has plenty of surprises for visitors, including the aptly named Cabinet of Curiosities. Step through the glitzy black and gold storefront and you’ll enter a Victorian apothecary, selling handcrafted candles, soaps and bath powders rather than potions and herbs.
Housed in a blacksmith’s cottage (dating back to 1502) in the picturesque Bradford on Avon, the award-winning Bridge Tea Rooms serve traditional loose leaf tea and mouth-watering scones in a quaint Victorian setting. Keep an eye open for the ghosts said to call the Tea Rooms home.
People watching from a cosy, warm window-side table is always enjoyable, regardless of the weather. Quod is a stylish, upmarket restaurant that specialises in high-quality grills and steaks. Dine in style while enjoying views across historical buildings, including several University of Oxford colleges.
Tucked away amongst the chaos of sandwich shops, sushi bars and skyscrapers, St Mary Aldermary – a medieval church largely destroyed in the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren – is now the only surviving late 17th-century Gothic Church in the City of London. As well as being a functioning church to the Moot Community, the chapel is also home to the Host Café, who serve Fairtrade coffee, organic soup, sandwiches and locally baked cakes throughout the week. Tuck into lunch on the pews or bring your laptop to work in the peace and quiet of this striking setting, underneath unique plaster vaulting and just out of reach from the hustle and bustle of the City.