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Staycations | The best UK holiday destinations, ideas and activities for 2021

By Rebecca Miles – 19th January 2020

Are you looking for some staycation inspiration for 2021? For some of the finest UK holiday destinations, look no further. Whether it’s ideas for new places to stay or locations to visit, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best ideas for a staycation, ready for just as soon as we’re able to travel again.

Our best UK staycations cover the length and breadth of the country, and include options for everyone from the eco-conscious to the adventurous, the large family reunion to the solo traveller.

We’ve split them up into new places to stay, including old favourites with a new twist, eco highlights, activity and adventure holidays, both on the water and on land, and wellbeing, so once it’s safe to do so and everything opens up again, where will you explore this year?

Places to stay – hotels

Burleigh Court Hotel in the Cotswolds

Starting off in the Cotswolds, just outside Stroud, Burleigh Court Hotel has family suites from £149 per night (with four-poster bed and a snug with bunkbeds), and offers one of the more diverse range of activities we’ve come across recently, with e-bike hire, alpaca walking, indoor skating at the Rush Skate Park and an ice cream factory all on its doorstep.

The former cells of Bodmin Jail are now hotel bedrooms at the soon-to-open hotel of the same name

Down in Cornwall, for a stay with electrifying atmosphere, Bodmin Jail is being converted into a hotel and is due to open in the spring. Combining an immersive visitor attraction (which opened last year) with a four-star boutique hotel and restaurant, hotel guests will be able to soak up the sense of history that exists in the jail ruins. The 70 spacious bedrooms will each have three cells to a room, and expect to see bars on the windows, stone walls and the original guard tower. Rooms start from £130 B&B.

The Rocks hostel sits in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park

The Snowdonia National Park is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, so check into The Rocks at Plas Curig, a luxury hostel in the heart of the park. Walks and hikes start right from its front door and its stylish interior is a treat to return to. Dorm beds start from £27.50, and private rooms are also available.

Alternative accommodation for the best UK staycations

Hill Farm House on BloomStays.com sleeps up to eight

A couple of new self-catering accommodation options have caught our eye – first is Bloom Stays, a Kent specialist with around 50 houses and cottages for every type of budget and break. We love the red-brick charm of Hill House Farm.

Ringshall Grange in Suffolk - ideal for some family reunions later in the year

The other is Ringshall Grange in Suffolk. A family-friendly eight-bedroom private manor house dating from 1560, it’s been beautifully restored (think roll-top baths, wood-panelled whisky lounge and loads of period features) set among 13 acres of land, including walled kitchen gardens, wildflower meadows and an outdoor pizza oven. Previously a 30-somethings party pad, the owner, Laura Ormerod, has pivoted to offering family-friendly getaways (with flexible rates for smaller groups) and will continue to offer both options post-lockdown. Two-night stays start from £1,500.

Hobbit Holes sit in the hillside at the Quiet Site in the Lake District

For a glamping option, the Quiet Site in the Lake District is definitely worth adding to the wish list. With views over Ullswater, its an award-winning ethical and sustainable site, including a zero-waste shop. Our favourite accommodation option there? The Hobbit Holes, spacious pods built into the hillside. Prices start from £35 for a two-person pod.

The remote island of Eilean Shona on the west coast of Scotland (c) Alexander Baxter

Continuing the remote theme, head to the private Scottish island of Eilean Shona off the West Coast of Scotland. The inspiration for J.M.Barrie’s Neverland, it’s home to nine cosy cottages scattered over the island and available to rent (sleeping from two to eight), as well as the magnificent former hunting lodge, Eileen Shona House (sleeping 16). The newest is Timber Cottage, a dinky contemporary bolthole for two and, like all the cottages, is in walking distance of Shoe Bay. One week’s rental starts from £1,100.

The new Forest Holidays site at Delamere Forest in Cheshire

Lastly, the popular Forest Holidays is taking bookings at its latest location, Delamere Forest, in the heart of Cheshire. At the northern end of the ancient woodland will be 67 light-footprint cabins, including treehouses, with luxuries such as hot tubs and pizza ovens. A four-night stay starts from £1,195.

Activities and adventure – on the water

Join the Great British Sailing Challenge, on board a Clipper 60

For a sailing adventure open to all abilities, adventure sailing experts Rubicon 3 are offering 183 amateur sailors the chance to join an exhilarating series of sailing holidays throughout the spring and summer, circumnavigating and celebrating the beautiful coast of Britain in The Great British Sailing Challenge. But the holidays aren’t just about the sailing, they’re also designed to support local coastal communities and businesses, as each destination will be offering on- and off-shore activities and local restaurants will be feeding the teams.

Wannabe sailors can sign up to one of the seven legs and join the nine-person teams, with a professional skipper and mate, sailing Clipper 60 yachts around Britain. Prices start from £899, including accommodation and food on board, activities, challenges and expert tuition.

Taking to the water on a SwimTrek holiday in the Lake District

Wild, or open water, swimming has taken off in a big way during the pandemic, and here to help novices and aficionados alike is SwimTrek. The company has been running swim adventures since 2003, specialising in small group open water swimming adventures, from weekend escapes and staycations to week-long expeditions, and new for this year are its Discover Open Water packages in the Lake District. It’s just the thing if you’re looking to boost your confidence in the water. Prices start from £480 and include three days of guided swims, accommodation and most food.

The Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the Brecon Beacons, an International Dark Sky Reserve

Activities and adventure – on the land

The new beginner trail at BikePark Wales

Staying in the Brecon Beacons, BikePark Wales, the UK’s largest mountain bike resort, is introducing new hosted rides for newcomers from Easter. The park’s new 5km-long beginners’ downhill mountain bike trail, through the beautiful Gethin forest, is just the thing for getting to grips with mountain biking. And there’s even a vehicular uplift service to transport you to the top of the trail. The 3.5-hour starter sessions cost £80 per adult, and include bike hire and tuition.

Salcombe in South Devon is calling all foodies with the launch of its self-guided Salcombe Food and Drink Trail. Celebrating the area’s delicious produce picked and reared in the surrounding fields, caught in local waters or distilled with skill, the trail covers everywhere from the Salcombe Gin School to Salcombe Dairy Ice Cream, the Lobster Pod Bistro to Wild Artichokes, the nearby Kingsbridge restaurant run by Saturday Kitchen regular Jane Baxter. Browse the website to plan your route.

Seal spotting on the west coast of Scotland with Gane & Marshall

If you want to channel your inner David Attenborough, Gane and Marshall, the 30-year-old adventure and wildlife specialist tour operator, is launching a new five-day ‘Wildlife of West Scotland’ itinerary in 2021. Expect to see sea otters, osprey and sea eagles as you sea kayak through the seal-inhabited waters of Loch nan Ceall and walk among the ancient standing stones at Kilmartin Glen. A private tour led by an expert guide, prices start from £1,872 per person, for four night B&B accommodation, all transfers, guiding and more.

Wellbeing & wellness holidays

Wilderness Scotland's retreat in the Cairngorm's promises to encourage outdoors' adventures

Join Wilderness Scotland, a specialist in journeys and wilderness experiences in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, on its new Women’s Wilderness Retreat. Based in the Cairngorms National Park, the aim is to encourage more women to adventure in the great outdoors, and will include a climb to the highest point in the Cairngorms, morning yoga sessions and wild swimming . There are three retreats throughout the year (24th April, 21st August and 16th October) and prices start from £1,735 including six nights full board accommodation, activities, guiding and transfers.

The Isle of Wight is the perfect spot for a walking and yoga holiday

Head to the Isle of Wight with HF Holidays for a tranquil four-night break of yoga and walking. Recharge mind and body, and return replenished. Staying at Freshwater Bay Houses, atop the island’s classic white cliffs, means the beach is one way and paths across Tennyson Down, towards the Needles, the other. Taking place from 12th April in a small group of less than 15, it’s from £509 full board.

Head to Cornwall for a rewilding retreat and a digital detox

Lastly, head to Cornwall for a rewilding retreat designed to awaken adventurous spirits and help master inner calm with Thera-Sea, at a retreat held in a 300-year-old stone cottage among 20 acres of oak woodland near the tidal River Fal. During your stay, there will be outdoor living, wild swimming, bushcraft, thought-provoking workshops and open-fire cooking, offering the chance for a digital detox. Seven dates are planned in 2021, and prices start from £315 including two-nights camping style accommodation, all meals, workshops and outdoor activities.    

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