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UK holiday ideas

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

Looking for the best UK holiday destinations? We have trawled the country to find the best staycations in 2018, whether you want a family summer holiday or a relaxing short break. Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

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Family summer holidays in the UK

The West Country has never lost its allure. In Cornwall, I like the Sands Hotel Resort & Spa which is excellent for families. Other holiday ideas in Cornwall include renting a cottage.

You can rent a cottage in the Lake District and discover some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes, whether you want to tackle challenging walks or potter around charming villages and lakes. We recommend Sykes Cottages – see their latest special offers.

The Isle of Wight is fashionable again, as another generation discovers its myriad charms: great beaches, sailing and walking across the rolling chalk downs. Stay in one of these cottages.

In the Yorkshire Dales you can find glorious countryside, historic market towns and stone hamlets, and lots of things to do. Rent a cottage and explore castles, walking trails, fishing villages and cosy pubs. Or take your walking boots on holiday in the Peak District.

Head to the beautiful Jurassic Coast of Dorset where TV’s Broadchurch was filmed. Stay in one of these holiday cottages including these pet-friendly options. Or pick a cottage in Sussex – whether you’re a couple or a family.

Or how about renting a luxury lodge in the heart of Sherwood Forest with woodland views and your own outdoor hot tub. There are lots of outdoor activities and it’s dog-friendly.

Enjoy the glorious wide open spaces of Scotland where you could stay at The Torridon in the heart of the Highlands, enjoying some of the clearest night skies in the UK, or drive the North Coast 500 in a luxury Tesla electric car.

If you love the outdoors but crave a bit of luxury, rent one of these traditional tepees, safari tents and bell tents at the glorious Trevella Park located beside a beach near Newquay, Cornwall. Each tent has comfortable beds, duvets, decking, a fridge and camping stove. Find more camping holiday ideas.

Devon has a wonderful choice of places to stay at good prices. See this selection of friendly pubs with rooms, and B&B farmhouses offering the perfect escape from busy city life.

Children invariably love farm stays. We recommend Holiday Cottages which has locations across the West Country and Wales. Kids also adore Gwel an Mor in Cornwall which has Scandinavian-style wooden lodges and its own wildlife centre.

You can also send your youngsters away for camp. PGL has adventure holidays and summer camps for kids aged 7 to 17, while Kingswood Camps has seven camps in the UK, from Northumberland to the Isle of Wight. PGL also runs activity holidays for families in the UK (and France). Click here for details.

If you want to travel with your pet, try this inspiring collection of dog-friendly cottages.

>> Find more ideas at our sister site, 101 Family Holidays

UK activity holidays

If you’re looking for something different next summer – on a budget – we recommend a self-drive boating holiday with Waterways Holidays. Rent a motor cruiser, sailing boat or narrowboat to explore some of the many beautiful waterways that criss-cross Britain. The boats are easy to navigate, with no experience required.

The beautiful countryside of the Peak District is easily reached from much of England and perfect for walking, cycling, rock climbing and horse riding. Rent one of these cottages (and check for last-minute deals).

In the Lake District, Hassness Country House has a superb location away from the crowds and offers free daily guided walks. With no more than 21 guests, it’s ideal for couples, solo travellers and groups of friends.

It’s only a short hop by flight or ferry to the Channel Islands. On Jersey you can explore Second World War tunnels, castles, hidden coves and wide open beaches. Stay at the Pomme d’Or Hotel in St Helier or relax at Greenhills Country House Hotel.

On the Shropshire-Wales border, we love Pen-y-Dyffryn, a cosy Georgian country house hotel set in gorgeous unspoilt countryside away from it all. It has an outstanding restaurant and is ideal for walkers. Check out the latest special offers. Nearby, in the charming town of Bishops Castle, The Castle Hotel has great food, a dozen contemporary rooms and great walking country on the doorstep.

Off the west coast of Scotland you have a good chance of seeing Minke Whales, otters, seals and porpoises on a four-night Mull Wildlife Experience. Other great ideas north of the border include a whisky tour on Islay and a steam train journey on the historic West Highland Line. For more short breaks take a look at McKinlay Kidd.

Treat yourselves

The UK has some of the finest hotels in Europe, many set in classic unspoilt countryside – perfect whether you are looking for a weekend break or a longer holiday.

Our favourite country house hotels in the UK include Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, and the award-winning Three Choirs Vineyards in Gloucestershire where you can discover British wine making at its best.

We also recommend i-escape which has boutique hotels across the UK. Its budget options include a groovy guesthouse in Brighton and riverside hotel near Bath, while luxury ideas include a spa hotel in the New Forest and a relaxed country house hotel in the Cotswolds.

Or stay at one of Cornwall’s best B&Bs. For example, the Plume of Feathers is a four-star pub near Newquay with stylish bedrooms and top-notch food.

If you want to go away with a group of friends or two or three families, consider renting a big house in the countryside. You’ll find a great selection at The Big Domain catering for groups of between 12 and 56 – perfect for a summer holiday or a weekend break.

In the Cotswolds, check out this collection of luxury rental properties. You can also rent out a historic house in England, Scotland or Wales that would be perfect for a long weekend celebrating a significant birthday or anniversary – see the special offers.

How about a short mini-cruise around the UK – or sailing out of a UK port to visit European ports such as Antwerp, Amsterdam and Bruges. See the latest offers.

>> Find more holiday ideas for couples and UK holiday ideas for over-60s. By yourself…? See the best singles holidays in the UK.

Something different

You’re guaranteed a great sea view if you stay in a lighthouse. If you want to be out in the wilds, but would rather not sleep in a tent, you can rent a log cabin in Cornwall.

Explore Britain’s ancient history on an expert-led small-group tour with Martin Randall focussed on the country’s musical, architectural or artistic heritage. You could tour some of the Great Houses of England, attend a classical music festival or sign up for the new Turner & The Sea tour for example.

Last updated: 8 August 2019

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