UK breaks to revive your soul in 2021.
Catherine Bennion-Pedley found joy in pretty Lavenham whilst Janice Hopper checked into a romantic Scottish Highlands B&B and Lynne McKenna hit the historic city of Bath.
THE SWAN, SUFFOLK
Lifestyle Editor Catherine Bennion-Pedley found joy in alpacas and champagne facials in pretty Lavenham.
THE PAD: After old-school charm? This tudor-beamed medieval coaching inn is a good shout.
While bedrooms are traditional (don’t expect decadent bathrooms or fancy coffee machines), its Weaver’s House Spa is a sanctuary with a gorgeous courtyard vitality pool.
Book the 90-minute Champagne and Truffles Deluxe Facial, £121, packed with anti-ageing infusions of its namesakes, plus silk, diamonds and gold.
There’s heaps of body massage thrown in too, plus a glass of fizz to finish – the ultimate indulgence after the trials of 2020.
Meanwhile, stepping into the Airmen’s Bar is a history lesson in itself, and Brasserie 487 serves up what might be the world’s biggest and most buttery chicken kiev, £18.
Explore For ultimate feel-good vibes, walk an alpaca on a guided stroll through pretty countryside at Hilly Ridge Alpacas, a 20-minute drive from The Swan.
Afterwards, feed the babies and compete in a Crufts-style obstacle course with your fave stud.
Owner Jo is full of facts, so you’ll learn loads about the adorable animals, £30 for two hours (Hillyridgealpacas.co.uk).
Meanwhile, get your shopping fix in Lavenham. Posy is stuffed with a mix of homeware, art and toys – and you’ll often spy owner Lienne painting at her desk (Posy.online).
Marshbeck Interiors has so much vintage-inspired furniture you’ll want a new house to put it all in (Marshbeckreproductionfurniture.co.uk), while No.8 on Market Place has delightful home knick-knacks.
REFUEL: You don’t need to leave the village to eat well. For the ultimate date meal, try French restaurant The Great House on Market Place, with its intimate dining room and beautifully presented tasting menu, four courses from £40 (Greathouse.co.uk).
Vino? With its cosy candlelit nooks and huge garden, you won’t beat Number 10 Wine Bar & Kitchen, with wine from just £3.80 a glass (Ten-lavenham.co.uk).
Good, honest tea and cake can be found at sweet 16th-century Tatum’s Teahouse. Tuck into sandwiches, from £5.50, and fresh scones, £3.95 (Tatumteahouse.wixsite.com/lavenham).
For cute kitchenware, excellent coffee and amazing home-made ice cream, The Parlour is unmissable. Our favourite scoops when we visited included tasty gooseberry, Ecuador chocolate and moreish honeycomb (Theparlourlavenham.co.uk).
BOOK IT: Doubles at The Swan cost from £135 B&B (Theswanatlavenham.co.uk).
FOYERS LODGE, LOCH NESS
Writer Janice Hopper checked into a romantic Scottish Highlands B&B in search of Nessie.
THE PAD: Become the lead character in your own romantic novel at this stylish B&B with just eight rooms plus an apartment.
Offering sweeping vistas over Loch Ness, fill up on Scotch pancakes, pastries and porridge for breakfast and enjoy charcuterie and cheese boards, from £11.50, by night, while savouring a dram, £4, in the opulent art-deco drawing room.
Bedrooms are painted in dark blues, greens or rich aubergine, with the occasional chaise longue and roll-top bath.
Plus, on Saturdays the lodge teams up with nearby Waterfall Cafe to serve a delicious three-course set menu, £34.95 – think dishes like lamb in Loch Ness ale and chicken with bacon, haggis and whisky cream.
EXPLORE: Hike 20 minutes to the pretty Falls of Foyer, then continue down to the pebbly shores of Loch Ness for an hour and a half circular walk – you could spot red squirrels, deer and osprey (Walkhighlands.co.uk/lochness/Fallsoffoyers.shtml).
Or drive 15 miles to Fort Augustus for a 50-minute cruise on the famous loch – ample time for potential Nessie sightings, £15 per adult (Cruiselochness.com).
You can also try everything from white-water rafting and kayaking, to archery and knife throwing, from £17.50, thanks to Monster Activities (Monsteractivities.com).
For a slice of history, take the 25-minute drive to the atmospheric Urquhart Castle ruins, where entry costs £9.60 and booking is essential (Historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/urquhart-castle).
REFUEL: Craving some urban sophistication? Head to Rocpool Reserve restaurant in Inverness, half an hour drive away.
Expect local treats such as Angus beef fillet, £26, and salmon with squid ink linguine, £24 (Rocpool.com).
If you’re a craft beer lover, hit nearby Whitebridge Hotel for a pint of Happy Chappy, £3.70, by the local Cromarty Brewery (Whitebridgehotel.co.uk).
At The Camerons Tea Room & Farm Shop in Foyers, a delicious afternoon tea is great value at £15 (Lochnesscottage.com/Camerons-Tea-Room-and-Farm-Shop.php).
BOOK IT: Double rooms at Foyers Lodge cost from £120 B&B (Foyerslodge.co.uk).
THE BIRD, BATH
Stylist Lynne McKenna hit the historic city for rooftop Jacuzzis and wine by the river.
THE PAD: Nestled in Bath city centre, this gem has a beautifully eclectic interior.
Expect complimentary fluffy scones and jam in the Moroccan-style garden on arrival.
Bedrooms are decadent with Malin + Goetz toiletries, and one room even has its own outdoor hot tub.
Order breakfast in bed and opt for the super-indulgent porridge with double cream, fruit compote, cinnamon and a shot of whisky, followed by bacon-topped maple syrup pancakes.
EXPLORE: First, hit Henrietta Park – this seven-acre garden with its rose-covered pergolas and pretty flower beds is a therapeutic place to pause and entry is free.
For a better look at Bath’s architecture and history, jump aboard River Adventures’ ’60s cruiser for stories from the River Avon and try to spy the falcons nesting in St John’s Church. Trips cost £8 for 25 minutes (Riveradventures.co.uk).
Once docked, bathe in mineral-rich waters at Thermae Bath Spa, with gorge views from the rooftop pool, before hitting its lazy river and whirlpool, from £35 for two hours (Thermaebathspa.com).
REFUEL: Soak up the sight of Pulteney Bridge while sipping a glass of viognier, £6.50, in the window of Chez Dominique (Chezdominique.co.uk).
Later, head to opulent Aqua for pan-fried chicken in mushroom and marsala sauce, £14, with a refreshing Italian Garden cocktail of Bristol gin, elderflower, mint and apple, £8.50 (Aqua-restaurant.com).
Or book a wonderfully sugary afternoon tea, from £18.95, at Sweet Little Things (Sltbath.co.uk).
BOOK IT: Double rooms at The Bird cost from £140 B&B (Thebirdbath.co.uk).
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