Mid-week dining package
Destinations in United Kingdom
EnglandTeeming with swish foodie haunts, grand museums and lashings of street style, London’s the brazenly cool kick-off point for many an English frolic. Make for evergreen hills, rugged coasts, cosy country pubs and flourishing cities: England packs it all in.
ScotlandThere’s a nip of ancient rivalry north of the border. Whether you favour Edinburgh’s cobbled wynds or Glasgow’s merchant streets, you’ll fall head over heels for the Highlands, a wild landscape of white-sand coves, tranquil lochs and snow-capped bens.
WalesStretching from gorse-covered mountains to breezy bays, verdant Wales snakes around the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, peppered with spa towns and protected beaches. In-the-know weekenders flock west for unspoilt surf spots, gastro perks and retro charm.
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This melting pot’s most appetite-arousing scents drift from its markets, which offer a soapbox for enthusiastic artisans to grandstand about farms their favourite meat and veg hail from.
What's cooking? Pulled pork, sliders, bratwurst and brisket: the London urban food scene is in the throes of carnephilia. Right now, if it ain't meat, it ain't street.
• Step aside Borough Market – London's serious epicureans make a beeline for Ropewalk on Maltby Street on Saturdays. Salt-beef on rye from Monty's Deli is de rigueur.
• Wannabe patty-flippers may as well give up – Lucky Chip have pioneered the 'dirty burger'. Pick up a bunful of juicy deliciousness at the Seabright Arms off Hackney Road or from a secret Dalston pop-up opening soon (check Twitter for clues).
• We've achieved gladiator-level crowd skirting, bagging a whole sea bass from Portobello Market's Moroccan Fish Stall, but those who prefer their west a little less wild seek out Well-Kneaded Wagon's firebreads at Battersea Food Market (every Saturday), or Acton supper club Momma Goose's Dr Pepper ribs with mac 'n' cheese – BYOB, or two…
Stay at Town Hall Hotel & Apartments to take advantage of the scintillating East End street-food scene.
Stay at Idle Rocks – classically Cornish throughout, with seaside-inspired deco and right by the water’s edge: this is the place to awaken your inner angler.
St Mawes is full of picture-postcard fishing boats bobbing up and down in the harbour, but instead of Instagramming them from the window of your nautical nest, why not pack yourself a pasty and head into open water on one? As well as hosting the occasional wow-worthy encounter with dolphins, whales and basking sharks, these waters are home to mackerel, monkfish, octopus, crab and other sustainable species for you to pit your fisherman’s wit against. Fish & Trips run regular excursions and charters from the port, for all ages and abilities and with all the necessary kit thrown in. Amiable skipper James Brown (he’s a fishin’ machine) will have you feeling like a pro in no time, and if you’re successful – and nice to the chef on your return – you can tuck in to your take for tea.
Stay at The Kensington Hotel London, where the Aubrey Restaurant's chef Russell Ford serves up appetite-kerbing Anglicised fare. Book here and you'll get a gratis gourmet cocktail-making class as your Smith extra.
Teal-hued velvet sofas, wood-panelled walls and mirrored countertops bestow a sophisticated, retro Mad Men-style air to the Aubrey Bar, so it's the ideal spot for some amateur mixology. When your cases have been whisked away and you've settled in to the jewel-box bar, you're armed with several glasses, petite bottles of spirits, quartered fruit and an array of metal whatsits and doohickeys that wouldn't look out of place in an operating theatre – albeit a lax one. Galvin Cup-holding cocktail maestro Alessandro Pizzoli gently guides you through addling techniques, spirit densities and the surprisingly complex choreography behind the all-important shake, diplomatically ignoring any spills or shakes along the way. You can choose to make a minty mojito, a passion-fruit-flavoured Truly Madly Deeply, a grown-up Campari-spiked Americano or a classic dry martini; you may not be able to pull off Tom Cruise's Cocktail spectacles – or his flowery attire – by the end of your session, but you'll have something decadent to drink that you'll be justly proud of.
Stay at The Pig – Hampshire's prize-winning hog of a hotel is an epicurean evangelist where the chef relies on his forager and kitchen gardener more than his stove-side companions and guests are encouraged to take part in daily harvests.
The bushes heave with berries, mushrooms line the grounds and fruits hang from the trees – these forests are fertile foraging grounds. An experience with the Pig's forager-at-large is part walk, part education and part wild snack-sourcing. If you've never done more than pluck the occasional blackberry you'll appreciate the expert guidance; many flavour-packed herbs and vegetables are easily missed by an untrained eye, and there are some deadly fungi to beware of. Autumn is the time for nuts and preserve-perfect fruits, with spring serving up salad specialties and unusual veg. Take the short hop to the Solent coast and you can add seaweed and shellfish to your bounty, too.