BOOK NOW FOR A staycation SENSATION
Check In’s Guest Editor, Neil Simpson, discovers a delightful upside to delayed holidays abroad
THANK you, Britain. I’ve had those three little words running around my head for the past few months – and I suspect I’m not alone. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I intended to go abroad for my summer holiday. I daydreamed about a Greek island, a Spanish beach or a fly-drive in California.
Instead, I took a series of staycations. And Britain definitely did not disappoint.
What an incredible country this is. And how has it taken a pandemic for me to rediscover its treasures?
A LONG LIST
In what could be a long list, I’ve fallen back in love with our countryside, our coastline, our top-tier cities and our lesser-known towns.
I’ve sat on the terrace of country-house hotels feeling like a billionaire. I’ve hiked across jaw-droppingly beautiful lakeside hills feeling like Indiana Jones. And I’ve thrown myself into alfresco dining like an Italian – even if we sometimes needed an umbrella.
What’s impressed me most about Britain this summer has been its ingenuity and its can-do spirit.
Can’t serve people indoors? We’ll open a hatch and put some chairs outside. Can’t put on an outdoor opera with every seat taken? We’ll leave gaps and let people luxuriate in the extra space. Can’t compete with Portugal for sunny days? We’ll have our firework displays at night instead.
All across the country, hard-working people have welcomed home-grown tourists with loads of imagination and enthusiasm.
Yes, there have been traffic jams, and some areas were probably too successful at attracting crowds. Prices have been high and lack of staff meant we sometimes had to wait longer than normal for an ice-cream or a table at dinner.
But those incredible singers, musicians, mime artists and acrobats still entertained us in London’s Covent Garden, outside Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon and all down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
Timed entry has meant art-lovers have rarely had a better chance to enjoy our world-beating galleries and museums. Stadium and theatre tours got us behind the scenes from Anfield and Wimbledon to the Royal Albert Hall.
Artisan bakers, brewers, gin-makers and new-generation pie-meisters kept us fed and watered in food markets and in festivals everywhere.
I could go on, adding ever more ‘thank you’ messages to reflect the joy of my great British summer. But I’ll limit myself to two more points.
STYLE AND SERVICE
First, accommodation providers have emphatically raised their game. The best city-centre hotels (normally full of American, Japanese and European guests) have been a revelation to many of us Brits. Style and service can be sky-high, whether you’re in Cardiff, Cheltenham, Chester or Cambridge.
The humble pub-with-rooms has also been transformed. Pick a spot, search online for pub stays, and I guarantee you’ll find places worthy of a style magazine. You can also get a huge amount of staycation inspiration at the incredible visitbritain.com
Last but not least come our glorious country cottages: all mod cons inside, pretty as a picture outside. Plus all the space and privacy you need for a five-star break.
My final point? It’s been so good that many of us want to do it again. Yes, I’m still planning on getting to that Greek island, Spanish beach and California fly-drive. But I’m also planning a lot more mini-breaks at home.
Book soon, is good advice if you want the best tours, country cottages and hotels in 2022. Or dip your toes in the staycation water with an out-of-season trip this autumn, winter or spring.
Three more little words to close. You’ll love it.