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Staycation inspiration: where to go in Britain & Ireland

Discover the wonders of home with our selection of the UK and Ireland’s greatest destinations

Reading time: 5 minutes

It’s easy to overlook the attractions right on your doorstep. Yet the UK and Ireland offer corner-to-corner delights, and — with A&K — a holiday close to home can be every bit as extraordinary as one further afield.

Dreaming of wide-open spaces, fresh air and natural beauty? We know just the places. Or are you seeking cosmopolitan thrills, rich culture and historic architecture? Say no more. Enjoy private tours, privileged access and exemplary accommodation — all without the jet lag.

Here are just some of our favourite places to discover (and rediscover) the UK and Ireland during a luxury staycation.

Scotland:

Scottish Highlands & islands

Scottish Highlands

The Highlands are aptly named, being home to the UK’s tallest mountains — including record-topping Ben Nevis. It’s also the country’s most sparsely populated region, so you can admire those umber-hued heathlands, ancient forests and sparkling lochs in relative solitude. Highland traditions are preserved in charming towns such as Braemar and Fort William, malt whisky is aged in the oak barrels of Scotland’s famous distilleries, whilst grand manor houses offer accommodation and leisurely pursuits amidst some of the most impressive natural scenery on either side of the border.

Off the mainland, islands such as Skye, Mull and Orkney vie for your attention with their colourful port towns, rugged beauty and iconic wildlife — including red deer, Atlantic salmon and golden eagle.

Suggested itineraries: Highlands & Islands of Scotland

Edinburgh

Edinburgh and Southern Scotland, view of the city of Edinburgh

In his 10-chapter paean to the city of his birth, Robert Louis Stevenson described Edinburgh as “what Paris ought to be”. Visit and it’s plain to see why Scotland’s capital has long been a muse for artists and authors. There’s the stunning medieval and Georgian architecture of Old and New Town (together designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site); the unmissable clifftop fortress of Edinburgh Castle; and the wild hills and crags of Holyrood Park. Of course, it’s also home to the world’s largest arts festival, the annual Edinburgh Fringe, when the city explodes with a packed programme of performances.

Suggested itineraries: The British Royal Journey

Republic of Ireland:

Dublin

Dublin Southern Ireland, Trinity College

With a buzzing nightlife, historic cathedral and world-famous whiskey distillery, Dublin is spirited in every sense of the word. The Republic of Ireland’s economic and political capital packs a lot into its relatively small size. For history and culture buffs, the myriad museums, monuments and heritage buildings throughout the city are sure to grab — and hold — your attention. The Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery are must-visits for connoisseurs of Irish tipples (as are the many excellent pubs both traditional and modern). Seen it all before? Our travel specialists can help those already au fait with Dublin’s headline attractions to discover the city’s lesser-known highlights.

Suggested itineraries: The Tastes of Ireland

England & Wales:

Snowdonia

Wales, Snowdonia, National Park in North Wales

Snowdonia (or Eryri, as it’s known in Welsh) is North Wales at its most dramatic. The national park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with castle-studded pastures laced with pretty rivers sweeping up to misty massifs. Summit the UK’s highest mountains outside of Scotland, including the famous Mount Snowdon, or head down the atmospheric caves and old mines for subterranean wonders. Charming nearby enclaves such as Betws-y-Coed, Llanrwst and Caernarfon offer picture-perfect spots for catching your breath.

Suggested itineraries: A Northern Discovery

Yorkshire Dales & The Lake District

UK, England, Windermere in the Lake District

The pastoral beauty of the Yorkshire Dales — ‘God’s own country’ — is a perennial draw for visitors wishing to get away from it all. Its lush green valleys, pretty waterfalls, quaint villages and medieval ruins make it an idyllic place for a ride or ramble. Plus, on clear nights, the dazzling display of stars overhead proves this national park is a worthy applicant for Dark Sky Reserve status.

Just next door lies the Lake District, lauded for its spectacular mountains and shimmering waters. It also boasts a strong literary connection. William Wordsworth was inspired to write ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ after admiring the daffodils in Ullswater, and authors ranging from Ian McEwan to Beatrix Potter — whose conservation efforts helped preserve the region — have used this characterful landscape as a backdrop in their works. From the top of England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, to the banks of its largest lake, Windermere, the Lake District presents nature on a scale sure to inspire you, too.

Suggested itineraries: A Northern Discovery

York

York Minster
York is one of the most attractive cities in England. It’s also incredibly tourist-friendly, with many of its attractions, such as The Shambles’ charmingly crooked, medieval shops and the vast cathedral of York Minster, lying within easy reach of one another. Founded in 71 AD, the city wears its long and storied history on its sleeve; you can discover fascinating relics of Roman, Viking and Norman rule inside and outside the museums here. Those with a sweet tooth may also wish to find out first-hand why York was nicknamed the ‘chocolate city’. When you’re not out navigating the cobbled streets guided by one of our experts, we can put you up in the city’s only five-star hotel: The Grand.

Suggested itineraries: A Northern Discovery

London

London and the River Thames
Fast-paced, vast and vibrant, London feels like a country within a country. There is simply so much to see and do. This is where museums and galleries showcase cultural treasures of global importance; where famous actors earn plaudits on film sets and West-End stages; and where politicians have gathered to shape the future of the UK for centuries.

However familiar you are with London, there is always more of ‘The Big Smoke’ to discover, and — with A&K — new, exciting ways to do so. Tour the sights in chauffeur-driven style. Dine at boundary-pushing Michelin-starred restaurants. Gain new insights with private tours of historic attractions, such as the Tower of London, Westminster and Kensington Gardens. With us, you can experience a side of the capital out of reach for most.

Suggested itineraries: A British Royal Journey

The Cotswolds

Chipping Campden

Brimming with honey-stoned villages just a hedgerow away from the countryside, The Cotswolds is quintessential, chocolate-box England. Within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you’ll find quaint, tucked-away market towns such as Chipping Campden and Burford; and on its fringes, grander cities including Oxford — ‘the city of dreaming spires’ — and Bath, famous for its Georgian architecture and Roman spas. The Cotswolds also boasts a bounty of stately homes with immaculately presented gardens, many open to the public. You can even make one of these manors your holiday home from home. Simply book from a range of exquisite properties in the Cotswolds via our sister site, A&K Villas.

Suggested itineraries: Classic Cotswolds

Cornwall & Devon

St ives

Champagne cream tea, anyone? Cornwall and Devon are the coastal stars of the ‘sceptred isle’, both regions boasting boat-loads of charm. Visit colourful gardens, sleepy coves and sprawling country estates. You’re guaranteed a sense of escape, whether you explore this corner of the South West Peninsula by private boat or classic car; in the saddle or on foot.

Stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall affords visitors more than 640 kilometres of coastline to enjoy — and its notably mild and sunny climate promises excellent conditions in which to do so. Neighbouring Devon competes with its fair share of postcard-perfect beaches, but its headline attraction lies in-land, in the ancient moorlands of Exmoor and Dartmoor.

Suggested itineraries: Gardens of Southern England

Many of our travel specialists live and work in the UK, and hold a depth of local knowledge you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Get in touch to begin planning an A&K staycation perfectly tailored to you and your loved ones. Or, for more inspiration, browse our dedicated UK and Ireland page.