When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, we can't think of anything better than a staycation in the UK and the pettiest towns in England are perfect for exploring on a weekend trip from London or a mid-week couples' retreat.
Whatever you have in mind for your next break, you'll first want to take a look at these attractive UK towns that are ideal for checking into a stylish hotel, before you stroll through the elegant streets and enjoy a relaxing meal at a chic restaurant.
England is packed with beautiful cities, from Bath to York, but its picturesque towns shouldn't be overlooked if you're after a more boutique holiday experience. To show you how you can have a thoroughly enjoyable mini-break in a UK town, we've rounded up four of the prettiest to visit this summer and the places to stay to explore them.
A charming Tudor town set on the Avon River, Stratford-upon-Avon is best-known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, making it the perfect place for lovers and literary fans, as well as anyone who appreciates Tudor architecture. Here, you can you can walk in the Bard's footsteps at his childhood residence and visit Anne Hathaway’s House, the home of the his wife. During your trip, you'll also want to browse the independent shops and boutiques in the centre of the town, as well as sample the eclectic foodie scene.
Where to stay:
In the heart of the historic Shakespearean town, Hotel du Vin has been a doctor’s surgery, a gentlemen’s club and a registry office. Now, it’s a boutique hotel with lots of charm. The courtyard is perfect for sundowners after a day of sightseeing, while the French bistro will give you something to write home about.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Surrounded by some of Kent's loveliest countryside, Tunbridge Wells is one of the prettiest towns in England and an excellent choice if you're looking to escape to a hotel outside London for a few nights. The historic spa town is home to the independent shops of the colonnaded Pantiles, along with lively cafes and bars. You can dine out at its stylish restaurants and soak up the relaxed vibe, while enjoying days out in the country (a visit to Scotney Castle and a ride on the Spa Valley Railway are recommended) during a mini-break.
Where to stay:
The Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells has been converted from a Grade II-listed mansion and invites you to enjoy drinks on the terrace on summer days. You can take a stroll in the gardens and dine in the courtyard, which has views of CalverleyPark.
If a riverside location is your thing, then you must check out Henley-on-Thames. The 12th-century market town is set beside the River Thames and is overlooked by the woodlands and green fields of the Chilterns. Known for its annual Royal Regatta, the pretty town attracts the world’s finest rowers and is an excellent place to enjoy your own boat trip down the river in the summer.
Where to stay:
The Hotel du Vin in Henley-on-Thames is just a stone's throw away from the river and is a reincarnation of a 300-year-old brewery. The hotel blends Georgian details with modern furnishings. Alfresco meals in the courtyard are a highlight, as are the walks, boutiques and boat experiences nearby.
This leafy district in London is known as the capital's greenest borough, with the vast, hilly Richmond Park taking up a large part of it. So if you fancy a weekend escape without even having to leave London, but where you’ll still feel embraced by nature, Richmond might be for you.
The town is a wonderful meld of the old and the new, where atmospheric, traditional pubs sit alongside sleek, modern bars and restaurants. There’s ample opportunity for walking off a hearty lunch, too. In Richmond Park, one route will take you to a viewing point where you can take in a tree-framed view of St Paul’s Cathedral. You might also choose to wander along the river, watching the swans swim peacefully by, or even hire a rowing boat for an hour or two.
Where to stay:
Richmond Hill Hotel is a recently refurbished 18th-century Georgian townhouse, just moments from Richmond Park and with glorious views of Petersham Meadows. The interiors are as luxurious as you’d expect from a hotel in such a fancy town, with hand-stitched Heal's beds and underfloor heating in many rooms. Here, you’ll be conveniently close enough to the city while feeling like you’re a world away.
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