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Spring will have certainly sprung come May, as the delightful change in the weather coincides with the government's announcement that hospitality can open from 17th May, 2021. As the lockdown starts to ease, we can all start dreaming of pastures new in the country once again. Around only a couple of hours from London – travellers can discover their own fossils on the Jurassic Coast, hire a private punt on the majestic River Cam and visit the cultivated gardens and ancient woodland in Bruton. Whether you want a pre- or post-wedding break, feast your eyes on these idyllic properties and destinations.
|Credit: University Arms
A cultural escape in Cambridge
Cambridge is at its best during Spring and Summer months and this year, visitors can spend long hot days exploring the city away from the usual crowds. As one of the UK's most famous and picturesque cities, just 40 minutes from London, Cambridge is the perfect escape for those in need of a change of scenery. Visitors can stroll around the city's historic sites, meander along The Backs and hire a private punt on the majestic River Cam. They can spend a wholesome afternoon at the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens discovering its vast woodlands, sparkling lakes, fountains and beautiful seasonal gardens. No visit to Cambridge would be complete without stopping by the city's most historic hotel, the University Arms, and its destination restaurant Parker's Tavern. This year, chef Tristan Welch and the Parker's Tavern team will launch 'Parker's on the Piece' offering al fresco dining on one of the city's most famous greens (where the rules of football were invented). Here, diners can spend long afternoons soaks up the sunshine, sipping cocktails in partnership with Cambridge Gin Distillery and sampling the brand new al fresco menu Tristan has personally created, boasting modern British classics made with locally sourced, seasonal produce.
GETTING THERE: Cambridge is just a 40-minute direct train from King's Cross to Cambridge. University Arms & Parker's Tavern sit just a 10-minute walk from the train station.
MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: Book University Arms' new Botanical Package including an overnight stay in a suite, an exclusive private tour of the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens led by an expert Horticulturist and a private 'Make It' session at the Cambridge Distillery Lab. CHECK OUT: universityarms.com
|Credit: Summer Lodge Hotel
Natural beauty in Dorset
Around two-and-a-half-hours from London, the Jurassic Coast is the ultimate destination for a wonderful day or weekend trip from London, boasting picturesque bays, coastal walks, and foodie hotspots. Set in the heart of Hardy country, Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and the neighbouring Acorn Inn are located in the quintessentially English village of Evershot, Dorset, one of the UK's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travellers can swap the hustle and bustle of city life and get back to basics with the hotel's new fermentation masterclass which involves foraging in the expansive kitchen garden then savouring their finds and learning the health benefits of fermentation. Other activities include a tour of the Furleigh wine estate, learning the art of falconry or enjoying freshly prepared picnics in secluded corners of the vast gardens. The hotel can also organise private guided tours to search for fossils and beach treasures at Lulworth Cove or explore picturesque little villages including Worth Matravers and take in the epic walks of Studland Bay. Summer Lodge's beautifully appointed Ivy Cottage is the perfect base to extend the trip and offers peaceful privacy with all the benefits of a five-star hotel. The outdoor hot tub is the ultimate extravagance and best enjoyed under the stars with a glass in hand. Just next door, the award-winning 16th-century Acorn Inn offers ten comfortable en-suite bedrooms and delicious food. For those heading back to London, make the most of the trip and stay a bit closer to home at the sister Hotel 41. Located just a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace in the heart of London, it is the perfect hideaway for those seeking a city staycation.
GETTING THERE: Summer Lodge Country House Hotel is approx. two-and-a-half-hours by train from London's St Pancras International to Yeovil.
MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: Rates at Summer Lodge start from £350 per night on a B&B basis. Enjoy three nights for the price of two for an extended weekend break. CHECK OUT: summerlodgehotel.co.uk
|Credit: The Newt in Somerset
Somerset for countryside serenity
For those craving fresh air and open spaces, leave the bright lights of London behind and celebrate all things Somerset with a visit to The Newt in Somerset – a beautifully restored historic country estate near Bruton. With cultivated gardens and ancient woodland to explore, and an abundance of fresh produce to taste, The Newt provides a much-needed escape from London life. Visitors can join guided tours of the garden, Bee Safaris with resident Beekeeper, Paula Carnell to discover the healing powers of honey and colonies of wild and native bees across the estate or taste the apple orchards on a Cyder tasting and tour. On wet weather days, guests will be able to explore The Story of Gardening centre, using interactive games and Virtual Reality headsets to dig into the history of gardening, as part of a multi-sensory, immersive experience. Hidden within the woodland, this innovative attraction is approached by weaving along The Viper – a treetop canopy walkway suspended 12 metres above the forest floor. For lunch, guests can dine at The Garden Café overlooking views of the kitchen gardens and orchards below, from which the vegetable-led menu is sourced. Visitors can take a taste of the estate home from the Farm Shop, stocked full of local produce from The Newt's signature apple waste sourdough, zesty jams, West Country cheeses, seasonal vegetables and herbs grown on the estate, to one-of-a-kind, exquisite handmade items for the house and garden. For those looking to extend their escape and truly switch off once the hotel reopens, The Newt in Somerset offers 23 beautiful rooms set within the Grade-II listed Hadspen House and its quirky outbuildings, including the Stable Yard and the Granary. Overnight guests will also have access to the brilliant farm-to-table ethos restaurant, The Botanical Rooms, and an evolved wellness offering that takes inspiration from the brand-new Medicinal Herb Garden.
GETTING THERE: The Newt in Somerset is a two-and-a-half-hour journey by train from London Paddington to Castle Cary, or the same distance by car.
MAKE A NIGHT OF IT: Rates start from £375 per night based on two sharing on a B&B basis. Rates include a mini larder as well as access to gardens, estate and spa facilities. CHECK OUT: thenewtinsomerset.com