When can I travel again in the UK, you ask? Soon, my friend! Boris Johnson recently announced that self-catered holiday accommodation should be able to open from 12 April, while a staycation in a hotel will be possible from 17 May. So what are we booking? See below.
Now is really the time to rediscover England, isn't? You can crab in Devon; charter boats on the Cornish seas; swim in the ice cold lakes of Cumbria; hike mountains on the Isle of Skye. It’s with that, that I and nine friends, decided on a trip to Padstow. We’re staying in an old watermill with a dipping pond at the end of the garden (it looks as Cottingley Fairies as it sounds, actually). There’s also an outdoor pizza oven, ideal for when, as cliché permits, the heavens decide to open. We’re hiring a boat (less catamaran, more engined inflatable) to do some fishing, swimming and snorkelling. Surf school will be booked at an ungodly hour on a Sunday, because there’s nothing to celebrate a hangover on holiday quite like waking up at 6am and being bashed by stormy seas. Much to the chagrin of the Padstein’s residents, we’ll likely slurp an oyster from a restaurant by a man who will not be named. We’ll reflect on the fun we could have been having abroad, and land on the fact that this was best all along.
Staycation, vacation, micro-cation. Personally, any kind of “cation” requires three things: Doing Very Little. Preferably in a country estate that makes me feel like a character in a Jane Austen novel. I don’t know whether that makes me sound high or low maintenance? Anyway. Being that friend who can’t drive, I feel somewhat guilty suggesting we venture far and wide outside of our London dwellings to seek such an establishment. Thankfully BIRCH - a new urban escape in Waltham Cross, just 30 minutes away by train from London - has opened up and I’m more than a bit excited to give it a whirl. In terms of style, housed in a grade II listed Georgian mansion where you can stay, it ticks that box. Substance: there’s a pick of two restaurants in which the chef is Robin Gill of The Dairy and Sorella in Clapham, a co-working space, three bars, wellness studio; plus, screening, music, and art rooms. Typically, I have an acute allergy to organised fun, though I’m drawn to their ceramic workshop in the pottery studio and glass-blowing sessions, followed up by a gong bath and walk around the gardens. I fear this could be my new favourite place, and I’ll never want to leave. Watch this space.
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I am sick of screens. My phone, my laptop, my TV – all of them. So I’m leaving them behind and venturing to the Cotswolds to spend a few days at The Fish, part of the 400-acre estate that also plays home to Dormy House. While the main hotel has some divine rooms, we’re opting to stay in one of the (conveniently socially-distanced) Hilly Huts, nestled further in the grounds in an attempt to really ‘get back to nature’. That’s not to say we’ll be fending for ourselves. The huts come with their own private hot tubs (yes please) and still receive the same extensive room service menu - that is, if you don’t fancy heading to the bar to try their new slider menu which we definitely do. Guests can also utilise all of Dormy House’s lovely spa and treatment facilities, and there’s plenty of things to be doing to earn your relaxation time from a stroll to Broadway Tower to erm, a slightly less taxing visit to glorious Daylesford. I’m rather excited to enjoy some fresh air and some screen-free time, maybe except for one photo – because if I didn’t ‘gram it, did it even really happen?
I often feel like ‘everyone’ has gone to Soho Farmhouse except me. My colleague (and dear friend) Phoebe refers to it simply as ‘Farmhouse’, as though it were as much of a landmark as The Shard and impossible to confuse with the many other farmhouses up and down the country. But - as with most things - her approach in this instance is entirely correct. While the UK is abound with farmhouses, there’s only one Soho Farmhouse and thus the simplification of its name comes without the bewilderment of her peers. Anyway, I shall have to find a new vacuous lamentation because I’m actually - FINALLY - going to Soho Farmhouse in due course. Once there, my priorities include getting at least two treatments at Cowshed, having my first indoor-outdoor pool experience and dialling for cocktails from the hot tub. After that, I’ll probably spend an inordinate amount of time wandering around aimlessly before eventually deciding where and what to eat. To finish? Boisterousness in the nearby luxury shopping outlet Bicester Village. I am so excited.