10 Britain destinations that may cause you to want you’re on vacation abroad
The Isles of Scilly may not have Caribbean temperatures, but the white sand beaches and turquoise sea are just as seductive. There are palm trees and that blend of otherworldliness and self-reliance you get in places like Anguilla. On the car-free island of Bryher, Hell Bay Hotel adds to the effect with pastel-coloured weatherboard to augment this fuss-free edge-of-the world feel.
Where to stay Hell Bay Hotel offers doubles from £370 half-board
St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall (Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy)
A spiritual twin to Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, the Cornish version shares its conical shape. Where Mont Saint-Michel has a Benedictine abbey, St Michael’s Mount has a castle that has been a family home since the 1600s. Both have fine coastal walks and a rich medieval history. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, St Michael’s Mount also has the added draw of its famous sub-tropical garden. About 30 people still live on the island that’s linked to the mainland by a causeway, with amphibious vehicles taking tourists and islanders to and from the mainland when the tide is high.
Where to stay The Marazion Hotel overlooks St Michael’s Mount and has double rooms from £18 B&B
Rathfinny, Sussex (Napa Valley, California)
Over the past decade, Sussex has been sprouting vineyards faster than Napa Valley. While most – including Ridgeview and Bolney – have tours and cellar-door sales, Rathfinny has accommodation, too. Flint Barns offers en-suite rooms that are all exposed brick and natural wood. Book one of their short breaks and they’ll give you a bottle of their finest to quaff in your room.
Where to stay Rathfinny has rooms from £95 B&B
For a 60-acre slice of fragrant Provence in God’s Own Country, visit Yorkshire Lavender gardens, a perfect paint chart of different lavenders in fields, mazes and a plant nursery. South-facing, with views to York Minster (on a good day), this is top cycling country, too. Stay at the Fauconberg in the nearby village of Coxwold where you can head – either by foot, cycle or car – to the Howardian Hills, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty.
Where to stay The Fauconberg has doubles from £130 B&B
Lynton and Lynmouth, Devon (Switzerland)
The Romantic poets, including Wordsworth and Southey, first branded the countryside around Lynton in Devon as Little Switzerland (undeterred by the fact that Switzerland is landlocked). The cows may not have bells around their necks, but there is a certain lushness to the countryside here – along with the gorges, the feral goat population and a funicular railway taking visitors to Lynmouth – that make you feel the poets had a point.
Where to stay The Rising Sun Inn, in Lynmouth has thatched charm and double rooms from £210 B&B
Minack Theatre, Cornwall (Greece)
In 1932, when Cornishwoman Rowena Carr decided to stage a performance of The Tempest, she created a Grecian amphitheatre in her back garden near Land’s End. Now the Minack Theatre seats up to 750 people per performance. Perfectly suited to 2021’s open-air requirements, performances run from March to September. This year’s programme includes The Canterbury Tales as well as the more family-oriented Dr Doolittle and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.
Where to stay The Gurnard’s Head along the coast at Zennor has doubles from £140 B&B
Hadrian’s Wall (China)
It’s not quite as long as the Great Wall of China’s 13,170 miles, but Hadrian’s Roman soldiers put in a very solid effort in AD122 to keep the Scottish out of England. Running from Wallsend on the River Tyne to the Solway Firth in Cumbria, there are 73 miles (according to English Heritage, some say 84) of wall to explore, all studded with forts and accessorised by walking trails. Birdoswald is the place to see the longest surviving stretch and to explore the extensive remains of a Roman fort.
Where to stay Farlam Hall, a delightful food-oriented hotel, has doubles from £239 B&B
Cautley Spout, Cumbria (Iceland)
At nearly 200m, this is England’s highest waterfall with water tumbling down a cliff face into an Icelandic-style glacial valley. Located in the Howgill Fells on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales national park, there are also glorious walks and panoramic views.
Where to stay The Black Bull is a quality gastropub and restaurant with double rooms from £125 B&B
Portmeirion (Amalfi Coast)
The same coloured houses and charming piazzas as Portofino, but with Welsh cakes and a much better beach. Arts and Crafts architect Clough Williams-Ellis started building this whimsical bit of Med-accented paradise in 1925. With restaurants, cafes and acres of gardens, thousands of people visit it every day, but you can stay here, either in one of a cottage or there are two hotels; the beachside Portmeirion Hotel is particularly beautiful at sunset.
Where to stay The Hotel Portmeirion has doubles from £179 B&B
Shetland Islands (Norway)
That the Shetland Islands’ elemental and windswept landscape is reminiscent of Scandinavia is no surprise – Norway is just 217 miles across the North Sea. There’s plenty of Viking history here to explore, too, including former settlements at Jarlshof and Old Scatness, as well as wildlife and birdspotting. With its clear skies, it’s also one of the more reliable places in the UK to see the northern lights.
Where to stay The 16th-century Busta House has doubles from £115 B&B
Before you book, please check Covid refund and rescheduling policies