After being stuck inside the same four walls on and off for the past year, we deserve to indulge ourselves a little bit, don’t we? Treat our aching backs (from the lack of a proper office chair) to a professional massage in a luxury spa hotel, savour ice-cold cocktails while admiring skyline views from a rooftop bar and escape to the peaceful bliss of a forest, in a secluded lodge complete with steaming hot tub. Sound tempting? Get the ball rolling with our ideas for a truly indulgent post-lockdown staycation.
With restrictions easing across England, please continue to follow government guidance and remember to plan ahead and check attraction websites before travelling. Take a look at our top tips on how to escape the everyday responsibly to see how you can make the most out of your day trips and breaks.
Escape to the city
Sip on cocktails at a hidden city rooftop bar
Head to the university city of Cambridge for a day of sightseeing and shopping, followed by a drink or two at the stylish rooftop terrace at The Varsity Hotel. Sip on Champagne by the glass, fragrant G&Ts or a fruity Blushing Russian as you gaze over the famous spires and rooftops of this historic city. Why not book a stay at the hotel, so you can squeeze in the Elemis Spa and a meal at the elegant SIX Bar & Brasserie too?
Get your fill of gourmet grub, soothing spas and remarkable retail on a short break to Chester. First off, book a room in one of Chester’s oldest and most luxurious hotels, the Chester Grosvenor, slap bang in the middle of the city. Relax and rejuvenate in the tranquil hotel spa with a treatment or two, followed by visits to the crystal steam room, aromatic herb sauna and salt grotto decorated with mosaics. Once you're feeling refreshed, indulge some more with a round of shopping – go to The Rows for a glimpse into Chester’s historic past, or grab some high-end goodies at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet. Then head back to the hotel for a bite to eat at one of Chester’s most celebrated restaurants, Michelin-starred Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor. This is high-end dining you don’t want to miss.
Ascend the 19 floors of No1 Spinningfields to reveal one of the most glamorous restaurants in the whole of Manchester. As well as a dining room, 20 Stories has a lively bar and rooftop terrace with 360-degree views of the Manchester skyline, alongside skyscraper trees and al fresco fireplaces for a cosy feel. Grab dinner from a decadent menu showcasing the best local ingredients in the northwest, or celebrate belated birthdays in style (we sure have missed a few in lockdown) with signature cocktails to suit all tastes.
Tuck into London’s longest oyster list at Seabird London
Slurp Essex, Lancashire and Northumberland-caught oysters at this rooftop restaurant in Southwark. Soak up sprawling city views from the plush, tropical terrace while you dig into an array of sea-to-table offerings, from the likes of smoky octopus rolls to prawn croquettes and calamari. Or go all out with the signature Afternoon Sea – a tiered feast of oysters, whelks, cockles, crab, langoustines and scallop ceviche. Wash it all down with a glass of bubbly and take in the unbeatable sights of London from above. Shucks at the ready!
Leave the worries of working from home behind and live out your childhood fantasies in a treehouse in Holditch, Dorset – only 20 minutes away from Lyme Regis. Featured in George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, the Woodman’s Treehouse is a feat of sustainable craftsmanship. High up in the branches of a veteran oak, you and your better half can bask in luxurious interiors surrounded by endless nature. Soak in the double-ended copper bath or in the hot tub with views through the canopy, whip up a feast on the decking using the pizza oven and barbecue, and descend to the forest floor using the stainless steel slide. Is this what utopia looks like?
Get the whole gang together (and their furry friends) for a long-awaited getaway at Beach End, elevated over the River Dart in Devon. Sleeping up to 12 people, this jaw-dropping retreat is the perfect place to reunite after time apart. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the spacious living areas have panoramic views along the river and the fireplace is ideal for cosying up around after a long day at the beach – Blackpool Sands and Broadsands are some of the closest. The show-stopping kitchen has not one but two dishwashers (no one wants to wash up on holiday), and the large patio is great for outdoor dining on warm summer evenings, watching the boats drift along the river with a glass of wine in hand. Better get that group chat going!
With two and four-legged guests welcome at Raithwaite Sandsend, you don’t have to leave any family member behind. This unique getaway on the Yorkshire coast has woodland-filled grounds, stylish rooms with cloud-like beds and endless stretches of beach to enjoy. Head out on a hike with your pup in the nearby North York Moors National Park or unwind in the hotel’s indoor pool and rejuvenate with a back massage – you’re on holiday after all. Savour home-grown and sustainably sourced food at the hotel’s contemporary restaurant, which showcases the very best of Whitby and Yorkshire, and stretch out with beach yoga sessions, with the rolling North Sea as your backdrop.
Get a taste of the Med without leaving the country at this waterfront restaurant on the north-western coast of the Isle of Wight. The Hut Colwell sits on the sandy beach of Colwell Bay and serves up deliciously fresh seafood and grilled meats in an alfresco, beach club-style setting. Listen to the waves breaking on the sand as you tuck into fish tacos or a surf n’ turf sharing platter made up of dry-aged porterhouse steak, lobster and crevettes, and finishing up with a citrus tiramisu. Round that off with an obligatory cocktail and watching the sunset over the water, and you have one enviable evening out.
Sink into Britain’s best restored Victorian Turkish Baths
Immerse yourself in the art of relaxation and rejuvenation on a short break to Harrogate, home to Britain’s most fully restored Victorian Turkish Baths – and one of only three 19th-century bathing houses that are still open in England. Journey through an array of heating and cooling experiences, from the frigidarium to the steam room to the plunge pool, all surrounded by elaborate décor, including Islamic arches, arabesque painted ceilings and terrazzo floors. You can also choose from a range of hand-picked luxury spa treatments influenced by destinations around the world.
With 12 luxurious spa experiences, eight relaxation rooms and a rooftop infinity pool, the Thermal Spa at Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire is the epitome of extravagance, with spa days and weekend getaways like no other Unlike other spa hotels in England, all your meals are packaged up in the price, as well as inclusive treatments, from a menu of over a hundred. As well as the spa, you can hire mountain bikes to explore the local area, attend wellbeing workshops, work up a sweat in one of the daily exercise classes and round off the day with a drink at the hotel’s sumptuous bars.
Relax in your own Lake District lodge at The Gilpin
Fancy having a spa all to yourself? Well, you can at The Gilpin. Nestled away in Windermere, in the Lake District, you can opt for one of their self-contained garden suites, complete with a private cedar wood hot tub, or go all out with a spa lodge, which comes with a rainmaker shower, steam room, sauna and hydrotherapy hot tub – all just for you. Perfect for a romantic getaway, birthday or anniversary, you can fill your time with in-room spa treatments, getting to know the resident llamas, sipping bubbles at the Champagne bar and feasting on Michelin-starred Cumbrian cuisine at the onsite HRiSHi restaurant. Sounds like bliss!
Indulgent getaways don’t have to be just for couples – holidays with the kids can be equally as dreamy. Get up close to lions, leopards, tigers, wolves and more with Port Lympne’s award-winning short breaks. Spend the night in a treehouse hotel room overlooking the wildlife reserve, cosied up in a luxury lodge with floor-to-ceiling windows just centimetres from a pride of lions or in a safari tent next to the bear habitat. Most stays include the use of a golf buggy to help you and the kids explore both the wildlife park, as well as a safari experience where you’ll see the likes of giraffe, zebra, camels and more. What’s more, your stay helps towards animal conservation work all over the world.
With idyllic locations across England – including the Forest of Dean, Sherwood and Delamere Forests – Forest Holidays are renowned for their luxury log cabins, perfect for a hot tub holiday. The cabins and lodges are designed for couples, group getaways and family holidays – lots of them are pet-friendly too. Take a dip in your outdoor hot tub in the morning before cycling, walking or climbing in the surrounding landscape, or soak the evening away underneath the starlit sky. In-cabin massages are available as well as welcome hampers, champagne breakfasts and activities galore.
Sample fine English sparkling wines at Tinwood Estate
Escape to acres of vines and free-flowing fine wines at the Tinwood Estate, in the heart of the West Sussex countryside. On a tour of the vineyard, you’ll meet the winegrowers, see the grape-growing process in action and sample some of the end product in the airy tasting room overlooking the vines. Extend your trip in one of three luxury lodges – all have views across the vineyard towards the setting sun and come with a Jacuzzi bath and barrel sauna. Make use of the complimentary mountain bikes to explore the South Downs National Park and, after a long day, treat yourself to a glass (or a bottle) of wine from your personal fully-stocked fridge.