UK & Ireland: Short but sweet

UK & Ireland: Short but sweet

Clients don’t need to use up precious leave days on a UK holiday – look at what they can do in just a weekend, says Joanna Booth

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10 of the best weekends

For every client who is happy to spend his or her summer fortnight in the UK, there’ll be another two who head abroad for significant holidays and save Blighty for short breaks.

But with the variety that you can squeeze into a few domestic days, you can fill their weekends with fun from now until Christmas.

1. Royal Treatment

It’s easy for Londoners to become a little blasé about the city. For everyone else, though, a weekend in the capital is a real treat and, for those with a love for royalty, SuperBreak’s Royal Day Tour is a must.

Running in summer during the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening (August-September), the tour visits the Royal Mews and the State Rooms.

The operator combines this Saturday tour with a two-night stay in a London hotel and Friday night tickets to a show with a fittingly regal theme – The Lion King, which is also the biggest-selling show in the world.

Book it: SuperBreak’s Royal Weekend & The Lion King start from £245 including two nights with breakfast at the three-star Bedford Hotel from August 7, tickets for The Lion King and the Royal Day tour.

2. Highland Fling

Conversely, Londoners will probably want to get out of the city and stretch their legs and lungs in the country air. By taking the Caledonian Sleeper train from Euston to Inverness and back they can snooze through the 12-hour journeys all tucked up in single or twin-berth cabins.

Once in the Highlands, Wilderness Scotland suggests an action-packed two days that combine the best of the rugged landscapes – hiking the Cairngorm Plateau and cycling to Loch Ness – with the finer things in life.

This comes in the form of a tasting tour at the Glen Ord Distillery and dinners at the Chez Roux Restaurant in the Rocpool Reserve Hotel.

Book it: Wilderness Scotland offers the Quintessentially Scotland break from £795 including two nights’ half-board at the Rocpool Reserve Hotel in a Decadent Room, two lunches, Glen Ord Distillery Tasting Tour and two full days’ guiding with transport or bike hire. Rail travel is extra.

3. Sheet Mental

For a dose of great British eccentricity, send clients to Yorkshire for the 50th running of the Great Knaresborough Bed Race on June 13. Part fancy-dress pageant and part time trial, teams race over a 2.4-mile course ending with a swim in the chilly River Nedd.

Despite the unpredictable weather, the race has never been cancelled and thousands of spectators turn out to watch. After an exciting day, clients will be glad you’ve booked them into a Serenity log-built lodge with a four-poster bed, hot tub and sauna at Faweather Grange in Ilkley Moor, part of the Hoseasons Autograph Lodge Holidays Collection.

Book it: Three nights for two people in a Serenity Lodge at Faweather Grange from June 12 15 costs from £599 with Hoseasons.

Great Knaresborough Bed Race

4. Top Tipples

Clients don’t need to go all the way to France to find a vine. Some claim that climate change could soon make southern England the new Champagne but, to see what we’re already producing, book them on a Great Little Breaks package that twins a visit to Denbies Wine Estate, one of the largest English wine producers, with a night in a nearby hotel.

After a tour of the working winery in the Surrey Hills and a tasting, they’ll return to the Tudor-style Thatcher’s Hotel in Horsley for a two-course dinner with wine.

Book it: Great Little Breaks offers the Denbies Vineyard Weekend from £69.50 including a night at Thatcher’s Hotel with breakfast and dinner with wine, and tickets for a Classic Experience at Denbies Wine Estate.

5. Richer Sounds

Rather than spending Friday evening sitting in front of the TV watching their favourite singer, send clients to see them live with one of Warner Leisure Hotels’ Star Break Weekends.

This year, performers include Jason Donovan, Lee Mead, Tony Christie and Russell Watson (pictured) and, if sitting in the audience isn’t enough, upgrade clients to a Platinum VIP Experience for £50 and they can meet their idol backstage, in addition to the best seats in the house and a bottle of champagne.

Book it: A Star Break to see Jason Donovan perform at Bodelwyddan Castle, Wales, on September 18 starts at £269 for a three-night stay with dinner and breakfast.

6. Channel Hopping

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Channel Islands’ liberation from German occupation during the Second World War and, for the first time ever, Jersey and Guernsey are coming together to celebrate for a five-week Channel Islands Heritage Festival from April 3 to May 11.

There are events throughout at sites including St Peter Port’s Castle Cornet and the Jersey War Tunnels, culminating in a carnival on May 9.

Book it: Premier Holidays offers a three-night stay with breakfast at the Pomme D’Or in Jersey during the Heritage Festival from £239 by sea from Poole or £289 by air from Gatwick.

7. Grand Slam

Wimbledon Tennis
Image credit: AELTC

Tennis whites, Pimms, and strawberries and cream – there’s little more quintessentially English than Wimbledon, but entering the ballot won’t guarantee clients a ticket.

You can, however, help by booking them a package with tickets included. Newmarket Holidays offers a reserved seat on No 1 Court on Finals Saturday, so they’ll see the stars of tomorrow and yesterday competing in the Junior and Veterans events and be able to watch the final on the big screen on Murray Mount.

Book it: Newmarket Holidays offers one night with breakfast in a three-star hotel and entry to Wimbledon on July 11 with a reserved seat on No 1 Court from £145.

8. Tasty Trains

Dining in a celebrity chef’s restaurant is all very well, but it’s actually extremely unlikely that clients will come face to face with the patron.

However, book clients on one of Belmond’s pop-up dinners and they’ll not only taste the dishes created by the famous faces, but meet them on the train.

James Martin will host a Sunday Lunch on Belmond Northern Belle on May 31, Raymond Blanc will be doing dinner on board on November 6 and Tom Kerridge, chef at the UK’s only two-Michelin-starred pub, The Hand and Flowers, will recreate his dishes on Belmond British Pullman on July 11.

Book it: Belmond’s Celebrity Chef Dinners are £495, lunches £395.

9. Lord-like Living

Those who want to see how the other half live can head off to National Trust or English Heritage properties and tour grand historic properties open-mouthed, before stopping off at the tearoom to cram in some cake.

To take things up a notch, consider Kirker’s Houses of Norfolk Tour, which gives guests the chance to tour Raynham Hall, home of the Marquess of Townsend, which is not usually open to the public.

The tour will include a private dinner at the hall and a further private visit to Holkham Hall, before attending an evening concert by the Cavaleri Quartet in Holkham’s Marble Hall.

Book it: Kirker Holidays offers the four-night Houses of Norfolk tour from £1,389 which will include accommodation with breakfast and dinner, entrance fees and guiding, departing from June 4.

Holkham Hall

10. Market Forces

Christmas market fans don’t have to schlep all the way to central Europe – UK versions are becoming increasingly intricate, with lights, stalls, gifts, food and drink to make visitors feel truly festive.

There are numerous options all over the country, so it’s easy to book a city-break weekend around one of them for your clients. For those who would like to really get into the party spirit, Shearings has breaks that combine Christmas market visits with its party weekends, so there’s music and dancing every evening and a gala dinner arranged on the Saturday evening.

Book it: Shearings Party Weekend – Scarborough & York St Nicholas Fayre is a four-day weekend break departing November 27 that starts from £129 including three nights with dinner and breakfast and an excursion to the Christmas market in York.


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