Golden beaches? Swap Marbella for… Morecambe
The Spanish resort of Marbella has long been a favourite of Brits seeking golden sands, adrenaline-filled water sports and sunsets with the wow factor. Morecambe has all that and more.
This classic English seaside town has a sweeping promenade that overlooks a five-mile stretch of sandy coastline. Play ball games on the beach, stroll along the seafront with an ice cream or take a selfie alongside the famous statue of comedian Eric Morecambe, who named himself after the town.
Morecambe Bay is one of the best places in the UK for exhilarating outdoor activities, from paragliding and windsurfing to mountain biking and horse riding. The sunsets over the Stone Jetty are memorable, and the area is rich in wildlife. Follow the Tern Project trail, a series of public art installations inspired by the birds of the bay.
Where to stay: Best Western Lancaster Morecambe Lothersdale Hotel
Luxury shopping? Swap Paris for… Cambridge
The chic designer boutiques of the French capital take some beating for effortless style, but Cambridge measures up well when it comes to independent and luxury shopping.
On the cobbled streets of the famous university city, you’ll find stores selling everything from handcrafted jewellery and designer clothing to objects d’art and bespoke homeware.
The Grand Arcade is a stylish sky-lit shoppers’ paradise, boasting 60 premium stores including Calvin Klein, Kurt Geiger and shops selling luxury watches and fragrances. And set among the famous colleges, King’s Parade has posh clothes shops, fine art galleries, a wine merchant and even a meditation centre to find your inner calm.
At the flagship store of the Cambridge Satchel Company, you can get your hands on the handmade leather bags that are so adored by celebrities and influencers. To really make you feel like you’re immersed in the boulevards of Paris, head to designer women’s fashion boutique Boudoir Femme.
Where to stay: Quy Mill Hotel & Spa, Cambridge, BW Premier Collection or Cambridge Bar Hill Hotel, BW Signature Collection
Inspiring architecture? Swap Barcelona for… Salisbury
Barcelona is well known for its eye-popping cathedral designed by Gaudi. But Salisbury has its own iconic cathedral to shout about – boasting the tallest spire in Britain no less. Not only that, it’s also the place to find the world’s oldest working mechanical clock and a copy of Magna Carta, one of only four in the world. You can’t get that in Barcelona! A multimedia display telling you all about this historic document has been brought bang up to date to explore our rights and freedoms during lockdown.
Around the city, there are medieval walls, half-timbered Tudor townhouses and handsome Georgian mansions to admire. After you’ve explored the cathedral and city centre, head north along the river to Old Sarum, the original Salisbury settlement.
Reflect on the city’s past from the Iron Age hilltop fort, drinking in the wonderful views across the Salisbury Plains. For more atmospheric relics, rock up to Stonehenge, just 9 miles from Salisbury.
Where to stay: Best Western Salisbury Red Lion Hotel
Countryside walks and bike rides? Swap Provence for… the Wye Valley
With its pine forests, rolling vineyards and hiking trails, Provence is a top choice for outdoor adventurers. But you don’t need to go to the South of France for an active holiday in a natural environment. The Wye Valley is just as good. Straddling the Welsh/English border, it offers acres of ancient forest and walks along the banks of the River Wye as it snakes its way through the Forest of Dean.
You can really go off the beaten track here to escape the stresses of everyday life, and you probably won’t even give Provence a second thought. Whether you want to watch the sun set over the Monmouthshire countryside, take to the water in a kayak or find a new mountain bike trail, it’s all here without having to set food abroad.
The area also has unique attractions and iconic ruins to explore. If they’re open, why not spend the day exploring the magnificent clifftop fortress of Chepstow Castle or the gothic majesty of Tintern Abbey?
Where to stay: Gloucester Robinswood Hotel, BW Signature Collection or Best Western Bristol North The Gables Hotel
Gourmet delights? Swap Rome for… Harrogate
The Italians have always had a flair for cuisine, and Rome is a go-to favourite for foodies all over the world. But who needs tiramisu and gelato when you’ve got Fat Rascals and sticky Harrogate toffee?
No trip to Harrogate is complete without an indulgent stop-off at Bettys Tea Room. This Yorkshire institution has been delighting drinkers since it opened its first cafe in the spa town back in 1919. The afternoon teas are legendary, with dainty sandwiches and perfect patisserie, while the warm Fat Rascal scones melt in the mouth.
Bettys isn’t the only mouth-watering location in Harrogate. Fodder, at the Great Yorkshire Showground, is a sprawling food hall that sells locally sourced produce from more than 430 farmers and producers, including 67 varieties of Yorkshire cheese!
Elsewhere, the Montpellier Quarter has some fine independent foodie establishments. The gas-lit Hales Bar is the oldest watering hole in the town, while at vintage sweet shop Farrah’s you can treat yourself to Original Harrogate Toffee and clotted cream fudge.
Where to stay: The Yorkshire Hotel, BW Premier Collection or White Hart Hotel, BW Premier Collection