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48 Hours in Essex by Girl About Essex

By Katie Byrne – 10th June 2020

A weekend in Essex:

whole weekend in Essex? You lucky thing. Whether you’re travelling alone, with your family or are preparing for a romantic getaway a deux, you’re spoilt for choice. Where else can you find countryside charm and city chic within a stone’s throw of each other?

Offering so much more than white stilettos and TOWIE permutations – not that there’s anything wrong with either – Essex is home to culture, cocktails and cows. Read on to find out where, exactly, you can get your fix of all three.

Girl About Essex

Friday Lunchtime in Essex:

Nip into Colchester town. If the weather’s good, head to Sip & Tuck (https://www.sipandtuck.com/) for lunch in their courtyard (they do everything from burgers to soup). Alternatively, curl up for an hour or two at boardgame café; Dice & A Slice (https://www.diceandaslice.co.uk/). Feeling fancy? Book a table at Greyfriars Hotel (http://greyfriarscolchester.co.uk/), where you can enjoy three delectable courses for £26. Afterwards, enjoy a quick stroll around Colchester’s premium art gallery First Site (https://firstsite.uk/), which has exhibited work by Andy Warhol, Grayson Perry and more.


Friday Afternoon in Essex:

Hop on the train to Chelmsford for some retail therapy on Bond Street, home to John Lewis, Foyles, The White Company and more (http://www.bondstreetchelmsford.co.uk/). Alternatively, check into the Everyman Cinema (https://www.everymancinema.com/chelmsford) for a viewing experience so comfortable that it even comes with cushions and cocktails.


Friday Evening in Essex:

Back to Colchester. You’re spoilt for choice here. For authentic Italian food, book a table at Il Padrino (https://www.ilpadrinocolchester.co.uk/) followed by drinks over the road at the Church Street Tavern (https://churchstreettavern.co.uk/). Or, head to the High Street for live music at super-cool jazz bar Coda (https://www.facebook.com/CodaUk/). Alternatively, there might be last-minute tickets left for something brilliant at the Arts Centre or Charter Hall. If you do like to be beside the seaside – get yourself to Southend for a room with a view at the luxury Seven Hotel (https://thesevenhotel.co.uk/), which overlooks the sea. Boutique + beach = our kind of equation.

Saturday Morning in Essex:

Into Colchester town. If you’re feeling virtuous, trek to Castle Park for the 9 am start of the Park Run. Alternatively, if your head’s a little sore from last night, pop to Cafe Saison (https://www.cafesaison.co.uk/) for a flat white and brunch. Got time to kill? Pop over the road to GfB, The Colchester Bookshop, an incredible second-hand bookshop that spans multiple floors (and genres!) and sits inside the historic former home of Elizabethan scientist, William Gilbert.



Saturday Lunchtime in Essex:

Check the tides and jet to Mersea island for oysters at The Company Shed (http://thecompanyshed.co/) (which operates a BYOB policy – cheers!). Alternatively, go to The Deli (https://www.thedelimersea.co.uk/index.php/about-us) and treat yourself to a basket of goodies for a picnic on the beach; they stock everything from freshly-made pasties and quiches to sandwiches and cakes. Bad weather? See if a branch of the Tiptree Tearooms https://www.tiptree.com/index.php/tea-rooms/locations.html can squeeze you in for coffee and scones – and if you go to the tearoom in Tiptree itself, be sure to pay a visit to the four-legged chicken in their museum…


Saturday Afternoon in Essex:

On the subject of animals – to Colchester Zoo (https://www.colchester-zoo.com/)! Yes, you might well be mad to visit one of the best zoos in Essex on a Saturday afternoon but how else will you get to see the incredible range of creatures the zoo is home to, including the adorable new baby white rhino and leopard cubs? (The stork has certainly been busy…) The cubs in your life – whether they’re your own kids, nieces, nephews or godchildren – will have a fabulous time, as will you.


Saturday Evening in Essex:

Check into the Lifehouse Spa (https://www.lifehouse.co.uk/) in Thorpe-Le-Soken for a spot of pampering, whether it’s a massage, a mani or a facial, you can be assured you’re in expert hands. Too comfortable to move? No matter – you’ve got a gorgeous room booked as part of your package. And breathe…


Sunday Morning in Essex:

Head to Dedham for a sun-soaked (well, a girl can dream, no?) stroll in gorgeous Constable Country. Grab coffee first at the Essex Rose Tea Rooms (http://www.visitessex.com/thedms.aspx?dms=3&venue=0244805) before heading to the glorious fields: watch the herds of cows roam around and, if you dare, hire a rowing boat for an adventure on the River Stour… Merrily, merrily, and all that.



Where to stay in Essex:


  1. The Cricketers, Clavering – https://thecricketers.co.uk/ (owned by Jamie Oliver’s parents!)
  2. The Seven Hotel, Southend-on-Sea – https://thesevenhotel.co.uk/
  3. Greyfriars Hotel, Colchester http://greyfriarscolchester.co.uk/
  4. The Ickworth – https://www.ickworthhotel.co.uk/(technically Suffolk but close)
  5. Eaton House, Tiptree – https://www.eatonhousestudio.com/
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