If, like the huge number of Brits planning on taking a ‘staycation’ this year, you just want to stay on home turf, let us point you in the right direction. For those eschewing overseas travel but still craving coastline and sunny climes, it’s little surprise is the home-grown holidaymakers’ number-one UK destination this summer. Soft sandy beaches, searing sun (well, most of the time), glorious grab-that-camera countryside, exquisite local produce – what’s not to love? But as much as we heart Cornwall – and trust us, there’s no bigger sucker for their pasties and ice-cream – we don’t want you missing out. So if there’s no room at that Cornish inn, sidestep the south-west – there are other plenty of other enchanting escapes that give Cornwall’s delights a run for its fresh fish ‘n’ chips.
Favourite Smith stays from our UK hotel and holiday house collection
Over the past decade, the central swath of Wales has gained a golden reputation among organic-aware weekenders looking for a break from urban living. Mid-Wales beaches offer Atlantic surf and retro charm; walkers can hike up Snowdon or stroll down the English Marches. With its Victorian spa towns, millions of books in Hay, and the growing gastro scene showcasing Welsh produce, this is a region approaching Next Big Thing status.
Glamorous Gothic Ffynnon, Snowdonia is a gloriously intimate, rural B&B. Prices range from £120–£180, including breakfast and taxes. Meanwhile, Escape in Llandudno offers quirky, individually designed rooms in their boutique bed and breakfast. Rates from £85–£125, including breakfast and taxes.
This Eastern seaside town is not only postcard pretty, but conceals many cute shops and cafés.
Hector’s Apartments are one- and two-bedroomed apartments right opposite Deal Castle, a mere stumble from the best of Kent’s coastline. Rates One-bed garden flat: three-night weekend, four-night weekday £250–£385; full week £350–£495. One-bed ground-floor flat: three-night weekend, four-night weekday £220–£360; full week £320–£475. Three-bedroom upper-storey apartment: three-night weekend, four-night weekday £500–£700; full week £680–£940.
The famous Broads, the wild beaches, the huge skies: Norfolk is a remote and inspiring corner of England, just a couple of hours from London. This flat-as-a-pancake county is filled with historical houses and wild countryside, criss-crossed with waterways. It also has perhaps the most fascinating, breathtaking and romantic coastline in the country.
The utterly unique eight-bedroomed Smith & Friends self-catering property Carrington House is a grand Georgian red-brick residence, with kitsch yet glamorous decor. Rates start at £2,250 for two nights during the week and £3,650 for a three-night weekend break.
Despite its perennial bucket-and-spade appeal, the region is also a realm of chalky downlands and tranquil villages, ideal for long walks followed by a congratulatory visit to a cosy country pub. The softness of the landscape is reflected in the quiet cobblestone charm of mediaeval market towns such as Rye, and in the creamy Regency façades and Victorian pleasure pursuits of Brighton. East Sussex’s proximity to the capital also gives the county a sharper, cultivated edge.
The George in Rye is one of the most inspiring coaching-inn conversions we’ve seen in Southern England. Rates from £125–£225, including breakfast.
Scotland’s wild frontier in the Scottish Highlands is unlike anywhere else on earth. This northernmost part of the British Isles is a celebration of the great outdoors: rivers, coast and lochs afford fisherfolk the ultimate fix, while crystal-clear waters framed by picturesque mountainscapes provide a walker’s paradise – and a backdrop for that most testosterone-fuelled of events, the Highland Games.
Pool House in the West Scottish Highlands is full of passion, and boasts a vast vista over the waters. Rates from £245–£450 in low season; in high season, £270–£495, including full Scottish breakfast, dinner, tea and sherry.
With the cathedral city of Chichester providing its meanest seaside streets, West Sussex is a green and pleasant county, where seasons and hills roll gently, all against the ever-shifting backdrop of the sea. Although much of West Sussex is in the South Downs National Park, there are no spectacular peaks or great dramas in this landscape; rather the promise of discovering the unexpected. And there’s no shortage of fine food with which to fuel your explorations of this corking county.
The Crab and Lobster, a 16th-century inn on its coast, has classic rustic-chic looks and a fantastic location overlooking Pagham Harbour. Rates from £130 for standard rooms; and £150 for deluxe rooms, including breakfast.
Thank you to Emily O’Brien for additional research.