Holidaying in Britain? Then it's best to have a back-up plan in case it rains, says Emily Ashwell
Agents can guarantee lots of things – a sound hotel recommendation, booking with peace of mind and great destination knowledge. But there’s one thing they can’t control, and that’s the weather.
But a shower doesn’t have to spoil a holiday – not if you’ve planned ahead. Here’s a selection of the best weatherproof domestic breaks – with suggestion for activities if the sun should put his hat on.
London’s the perfect place for a rainy day holiday and much can be booked through commissionable add-ons from suppliers such as Do Something Different, which has a new two-hour Harry Potter Black Cab tour. Recent attractions to hit the capital include The View from The Shard, the tallest building in western Europe, and the London Dungeon in its new location below County Hall.
The Imperial War Museum is partially reopening at the end of July – kids will love its ‘Horrible Histories: Spies’ exhibition. This summer’s in-demand theatre ticket is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Sam Mendes, bookable with accommodation through Superbreak.
If the sun shines: The 2012 Olympic legacy will swing into action with the north section of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opening in July.
Sample product: The four-star Rubens at the Palace is both central and family-friendly, with a director of fun and adventure to ensure the kids have fun. Special touches include milk and cookies at bedtime and baking cupcakes with the chef. A stay in two interconnecting rooms starts at £349 room only, bookable via any of the GDSs.
BEST OF BRITTEN
This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten, and where better to mark the occasion than pretty Aldeburgh, Suffolk? There’s a new Britten Trail, taking in places he visited including The Moot Hall and art at the Peter Pears Gallery.
The trail also includes the recently restored Red House, where Britten lived from 1957. There’s a new gallery and the studio where Britten worked is open for the first time. The house, open from 2pm-5pm from Tuesday to Saturday, is presented in the way it would have looked in the 1960s.
The Brudenell Aldeburgh hotel has a special Britten-themed afternoon tea from £20. In nearby Lowestoft, during the week of his 100th birthday in November, there will be a Britten concert from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Marina Theatre.
If the sun shines: The Lowestoft seafront has an outdoor exhibition called the Britten Prom until November.
Sample product: Warner Leisure Hotels offers Gunton Hall Holiday Village just outside Lowestoft (about a 50-minute drive from Aldeburgh) from £164 for a two-night drinks-inclusive package. The hotel has activities including archery and bowls, and an indoor pool.
Nottinghamshire has plenty to do whatever the weather. If it rains, just head inside – or underground. The City of Caves is a labyrinth beneath Nottingham that visitors can explore, and actor-led tours are available at the Galleries of Justice, Nottingham’s former law courts and jail, which goes five storeys below street level. There’s Nottingham Contemporary for cutting-edge art, and Castle Rock Brewery for beer tours – all completely weatherproof.
If the sun shines: Sherwood Forest is 450 acres of outdoor fun. Follow in the footsteps of Robin Hood and take trails around the forest including ones that pass the famous tree Major Oak, estimated to be 800 years old.
Sample product: Great Little Breaks sells Clumber Park Hotel and Spa, a hotel on the edge of the forest. Doubles cost from £95 per person; family rooms based on two adults, one child and one baby start at £100 per room, both with breakfast.
The stunning landscapes of Scotland make it the ideal destination for an active break and the Crieff Hydro resort in Perthshire suits friends, couples and families. It opened in 1868 as one of the first hydropathic health spas in Scotland.
Today the Victorian Spa is for adults only, making it a sanctuary of pampering and relaxation after you’ve spent the day with the kids sampling some of the 60 activities on offer, including squash, laser quest, off-road driving, snooker, swimming, cinema and ceilidh dancing. The Big Country kids’ club offers up to six hours free childcare a day with a soft play area, trampoline, painting, reading, arts and crafts, and indoor tractors.
If the sun shines: Explore the 900-acre estate. The 18-hole golf course has views of Ben Vorlich and Ben More. Or how about horse riding, quad pods or Segway sessions?
Sample product: Advance purchase half-board rates at Crieff Hydro start from £74.50 per adult per night. Child rates start from £22.50 with under-twos staying free. The hotel is bookable through all four GDSs. Some activities are at extra cost.
SAVE THE WALES
Wales is famed for its breath-taking coast and mountains – and its rain. The Glamorgan Heritage Coast has stunning scenery but is near Cardiff Bay, the place to head on wet days. The Doctor Who Experience opened last summer and is packed with special effects, with visitors taking an interactive journey with the Doctor in the Tardis to help save the universe. Find interactive science fun at Techniquest, with plenty of hands-on activities and special toddler days. For something more active try Boulders, the indoor climbing centre.
If the sun shines: Walk the Glamorgan Heritage Coast taking in the cliffs, beaches and caves. The pebble Porthkerry Beach at Barry adjoins the Porthkerry Country Park, which has a children’s playground.
Sample product: A week’s caravan stay for a family of four at Trecco Bay holiday park costs from £209 off peak up to £639 during the peak summer period. Trecco Bay’s Splashland indoor pool complex has a pirate ship, water slide and chutes.
Other facilities include the Showdome, a 1,200-seat family entertainment venue and three kids’ clubs.
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