MINI

MINI

Stay open

You don’t just wake up in a big boutique bedroom (sadly). You have to get there first. At Mr & Mrs Smith, we’re all about travelling in style, which is why we’ve teamed up with the fuelled-up auto aficionados at MINI, to mark the launch of the shiny new MINI Convertible. This car is designed to help you stay open in more ways than one: it’s aimed at the adventure-seeking, open-minded traveller, curious for new experiences; it’s also designed for those who love the road ahead of them and the wind in their hair – check out that smoothest-yet shift from soft-top to open-top.

To help inspire you, we’ve come up with 20 brilliant road trips across four themes: wellbeing, couples escapes, food and city. Hop into the driver's seat and zoom off to view owls by moonlight in Hampshire, have an Aga cookery class in Worcestershire, discover a deserted Suffolk beach, relax in a Cornish clifftop hot tub, enjoy a basement bowling match in London – and the rest. Naturally, we’ve also told you where to bed down afterwards (and thrown in some driving tips for good measure). All you need to do? Stay open to adventures both great and small.

Need another nudge to get behind the wheel? Enter our competition with MINI and you could win one of two prize getaways: one designed by us, featuring a two-night stay (plus dinner and a spa treatment each) at the very dashing Dormy House; one designed by one lucky winner. We'll also drop a convertible off on your doorstep so you have a fashion-forward set of wheels to zip around in over the weekend (and we'll pick it up on your return). Tell us about your perfect trip here. Let Mr & Mrs Smith and MINI do the rest.

MINI

MINI

Spontaneous

Looking for something to do this weekend? Let Mr & Mrs Smith and MINI map out your plans, with our suggestions for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday…

London: the Alternative London Tour

London: the Alternative London Tour

See a different side of London – even if you live here – on this award-winning alternative tour, whose local guides are either street artists or actively involved in the East End’s creative scene. You’ll wander around colourful Brick Lane and get shown Shoreditch secrets, with an insider commentary on the city’s past and present. There are plenty of different experiences to choose from, including walking tours, bike tours, pub tours and – for budding Banksys – a combined street art tour and graffiti workshop. (Start thinking of tags.) The tour runs a pay-what-you-want scheme, showing its confidence in what it delivers. Once you’ve unleashed your creative streak, hop in your new MINI Convertible and head to handsome Ham Yard Hotel in Soho – the hotel has a basement bowling alley, don’t cha know?

Find out more
Sleep at Ham Yard Hotel

 

The Cotswolds: Chipping Campden Music Festival (8 May–21 May)

The Cotswolds: Chipping Campden Music Festival (8 May–21 May)

You might not expect the Cotswolds to have a music festival but it does – one that’s been going strong since 2002. The festival’s setting is beautifully bucolic: Chipping Campden’s picturesque village church, which unsurprisingly boasts enviable acoustics. This isn’t one for techno-heads or jungle-addicts, though – expect calming, serene sounds from talented orchestras, plus chamber music, opera, soloists and more. The line-up is a peaceful reflection of the Wordsworth-worthy setting. Once the classical music has you nicely relaxed and ready for bed, drive to the rural splendour of Cowley Manor (and its fabulous spa) in your new MINI Convertible.

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Sleep at Cowley Manor

 

The Cotswolds: Stroud Farmers’ Market

The Cotswolds: Stroud Farmers’ Market

Stroud Farmers’ Market – held every Saturday, from 9am until 2pm – is the biggest, busiest and best farmers’ market in the UK. Its trophy cabinet includes two ‘Best Market in the UK’ gongs from Farma. Browse stalls stocked with free-range eggs, local cheeses, hand-made soaps, soups, flowers, leather goods, knitwear, wine, cakes, cured meat, strawberries, fudge, furniture and more. Take your treats (and your new MINI Convertible) back to Ellenborough Park, whose rooms overlook Cheltenham Racecourse.

Find out more
Sleep at Ellenborough Park

MINI

MINI

City

One MINI Convertible; five favourite cities; five unexpected things to do...

MINI experience: boutique bowling in London

MINI experience: boutique bowling in London

You wouldn’t expect a fancy London hotel in Soho to pack a secret bowling alley in its basement, but you’ll find exactly that at Ham Yard Hotel, which counts Kit Kemp design and a super-central location among its charms. The Croc is an original 1950s alley, tricked out with bowling ball returns imported from Texas, solid maple bowling lanes and three driftwood crocodiles at the back of the room, who keep a beady eye on ballplay (no cheating). There’s a baby grand piano to up the luxe, and a bar that turns out very good cocktails. If you want to cut a stylish figure, ask for UV pins and shoelaces. Upstairs in the Ham Yard, there’s a bustling restaurant (Firmdale knows a thing or two about food and drink), a smart bar and 96 bedrooms, decorated with splashes of colour, terrific textiles and prints-on-prints.

Sleep at Ham Yard Hotel, London
Stay open Book a Terrace Suite for obvious reasons: you’ll love the lofty London views.
Driving tip The hotel has valet parking, available for £60 a day.

MINI experience: seek out Bristol’s sounds

MINI experience: seek out Bristol’s sounds

First things first, if you’re making the road trip to Bristol from London, you can expect a great drive (especially if you're in a new MINI Convertible): the A4 Great West Road from London to Bristol was voted one of the country's top five favourite roads. Bristol has long been famous for its music scene (among other things: graffiti-fans will also be in seventh heaven, and if you like docks and boats, you’re in for a treat), so seek out the city’s sounds by spending a night or two in its legendary live music venues. The Bristol Sound was the name given to the trip hop that dominated its scene in the Nineties: slow, spacey hip hop made famous by Bristolians such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky. The sound has evolved with time, but your eardrums are likely to be pleased by Lakota, the Old Duke, St George’s, Cosies and Canteen.

Sleep at Number Thirty Eight, Bristol
Stay open In summer, sip cocktails on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the rooftops of Clifton.
Driving tip There’s metered parking in front of the hotel, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with a maximum two-hour time limit. The hotel has limited permits, which must be requested in advance of your stay; priority will be given to guests staying for more than one night. Free parking can be found on Stoke Road (a five-minute walk from the hotel) or Ladies Mile (a 10-minute walk from the hotel). To reach Number Thirty Eight, head to Bristol then follow signs for the zoo – the hotel's on the same street.

MINI experience: street-art tour in London

MINI experience: street-art tour in London

Sidestep your usual yawn-worthy tour and sneak around East London’s art-bedecked side-streets with a knowledgeable graffiti artist: they’ll teach you some trade tricks (ever wondered how to do a six-foot tag?), give you some excellent dinner-party extracts (‘Obama has a Ben Eine piece hanging in the White House – a gift to the President from David Cameron') and show you sides of the city that you’ll have never noticed before, even if you’re a long-time resident. After your tour, grab pizza from Story Deli, have coffees at Ace Hotel’s Bulldog Edition café and then drive to your boutique base-camp: the Zetter Townhouse, in arty Clerkenwell. This characterful English hideaway has a bar as inventive as Willy Wonka, and decor that jumps from circus to safari in the 13 madcap bedrooms. The overall effect is less eccentric grandma and more glam grande dame – with London's trendier-by-the-minute Farringdon on your doorstep.

Sleep at The Zetter Townhouse, London
Stay open The hotel has a stash of Brompton Bikes, which are free for guests to borrow.
Driving tip On weekdays from 7am to 6pm, there’s a daily payable congestion charge to drive into and around central London. There's no parking at the hotel, but the Hat & Feathers NCP car park is just a minute’s drive away on Clerkenwell Road.

MINI experience: alfresco swimming in Edinburgh

MINI experience: alfresco swimming in Edinburgh

Impress all your mates by telling them that you swam outside in Scotland (they don’t need to know the pool was heated). The One Spa has a heated hydrotherapy pool on its rooftop, with inside and outside areas; hardy types should opt for an alfresco dip with city views. Be buffeted by the body jets, which pump out mineral-rich water, then notch up some laps in the infinity pool, which spies on Edinburgh Castle. There’s also a poolside sauna, plus the spa itself, which has a fleet of nimble-knuckled masseuses dishing out scrubs and rubs. When you’ve had your fill of liquid lazing, put your clothes back on for G&V Royal Mile Hotel, a short drive from the spa. You could never accuse this rainbow-coloured retreat of being a shrinking violet; instead, the colour-pop pad wows with an Italian restaurant, vibrant spa and buzzing bar.

Sleep at G&V Royal Mile Hotel, Edinburgh
Stay open The hotel has a lovely courtyard seating area.
Driving tip Edinburgh is at the heart of the Scottish motorway network, so is easily accessible. It’s roughly six and a half hours from London – beyond Newcastle, the route is particularly picturesque. The hotel has parking (must be booked in advance): £35 for 24 hours.

 MINI experience: live music in Manchester

MINI experience: live music in Manchester

In another life, the Deaf Institute was exactly that; in its present incarnation, it’s a live-music-championing bar and venue that pulls in big-name performers and fans by the crowd-load. The grade II-listed building – which dates back to 1878 – was derelict before the current owners got their hands on it and added sharing tables and leather booths downstairs, and a mirror ball, velvet curtains and tiered seating upstairs. There’s also a basement bar, often booked out for parties and events. All discoed out? Take your dancing shoes and tired legs back to King Street Townhouse, a city-central, 40-room retreat with a laid-back lounge and tea room, plus the popular Tavern brasserie, lined with cherry-red banquettes and glittering with chandeliers. The glossy Spinningfields development is 10 minutes away; nip there in your MINI Convertible and stock up on labels in Mulberry, Armani and Flannels boutique, before dining in a crop of global eateries (Comptoir Libonais, Ibèrica, Thaikhun and Fazenda).

Sleep at King Street Townhouse, Manchester
Stay open The hotel is building an infinity pool on the seventh floor, which will have panoramic views of the city’s best side.
Driving tip You’ll be grateful for your wheels if you want to explore the Peak District’s greener pastures; park at the Q-Park on St James Street, a five-minute walk away.

MINI

MINI

Wellbeing

Get in your MINI Convertible; get pampered; get outdoors – with these five wellbeing-boosting experiences...

MINI experience: Cornish clifftop hot tubs

MINI experience: Cornish clifftop hot tubs

You’ve probably been in a hot tub before, but have you ever been in a lofty, log-fired, ruby-red hot tub that spies on the Cornish coast? Thought not. The Scarlet hotel’s luxury tented treatment rooms are lit by lanterns, with far-reaching views over Mawgan Porth Beach to the frothy Atlantic beyond. Book your tubs for night-time (until 8pm) and you can star-gaze while you soak: city-types’ eyes will widen at the velvet night sky and twinkling stars. There’s more to the Scarlet than its spoiling spa, though: take part in yoga, movement and breathing classes each morning at the hotel for free, or pay a bit extra for surfing lessons or wild swimming. Spend as much time as possible outdoors – kayaking, coasteering, horse-riding, rock-climbing and tree-climbing should keep you busy. Rooms survey the sea and are decorated with pops of colour against a neutral background. Make time for the restaurant, whose menu reflects the flavours of the month: pan-fried John Dory with wild garlic, cockle and parsley sauce, or St Ives beef with caramelised shallots, salsa verde and griddled polenta, perhaps?

Sleep at The Scarlet, Cornwall
Stay open Every room at the Scarlet comes with its own balcony or outdoor ‘pod’.
Driving tip Newquay is a 20-minute drive from the hotel, and there’s free parking for guests.

MINI experience: horse-riding in Dorset

MINI experience: horse-riding in Dorset

Britain’s beaches don’t get enough airtime. Drive to Studland Bay in Dorset and admire the four-mile, gold-sand beach, which spies on the Isle of Wight and Old Harry Rocks: three chalk formations that mark the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast, a Unesco World Heritage Site. If you’re not bothered whether or not you’re in a bathing suit, you might be interested to know that Britain’s most popular naturist beach is here. Reptiles more your cup of tea? You’ll find all six of Britain’s reptile species here: the Bay is a haven for wildlife. Walking up and down the beach is all well and good, but for a more exhilarating open-air experience, we recommend mounting a horse and cantering up and down with expert guidance. Put your bottom in the hands of Studland Riding Stables, which offers beach rides, private rides (popular with budding proposers), heath rides, a Harry Rocks ride or day rides to Corfe Castle or Rempstone Farm (you’ll get lunch, too). After your ride, ease aching muscles back at the Pig – on the Beach, which will woo you with its pretty bedrooms, porcine restaurant and enough added whimsy to fill a tome of fairy stories.

Sleep at The Pig – on the Beach, Dorset
Stay open Set in a wild meadow, the Pig’s two spa-treatment cabins offer simple facials and massages using organic Bamford products.
Driving tip Less than three hours from London, the Studland Bay peninsula is best reached via the car ferry across the mouth of Poole harbour.

 MINI experience: scenic drive in Hampshire

MINI experience: scenic drive in Hampshire

Wake up and smell the rhododendrons on the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive in Hampshire, whose scenery is as photogenic as the shiny new MINI Convertible. You’ll find the road between Brockenhurst and the busy A35; the southern end is at the entrance to Rhinefield House, which has gone from being a swish private country mansion to being a swish country hotel. Put your roof down, enjoy the breeze in your hair and breathe in all the scents from this narrow country road, lined with azaleas, rhododendrons and lofty trees. On that topic, keep your eyes peeled for the New Forest’s two tallest trees: a pair of magnificent redwoods, who will hopefully live to around 3,000 years old. Don’t just stay in the car: hop out and walk the Tall Trees Trail, an easy mile-and-a-half ramble. Start the walk from either Black Water or Brock Hill car park. When your legs get tired, take them back to Chewton Glen, a spa-spangled manor with an award-winning restaurant, the old-school elegance of the Jeeves & Wooster era and some unexpected flourishes: treehouse suite, anyone?

Sleep at Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Stay open The hotel is just a 15-minute stroll from the sea: work up an appetite with a pre-lunch beach walk.
Driving tip The nearest motorways are the M3 and M27, and Chewton Glen is around two hours from London. 

MINI experience: Cotswolds spa day

MINI experience: Cotswolds spa day

Want to soak up Mother Nature but don’t want to step in cow pats, stomp around in walking boots or get lost in a field? Don’t worry. We’ve found a sneaky way for you to enjoy the great outdoors, without even having to reach for a raincoat. Dormy House’s award-winning House Spa (runner-up for Best Spa at the 2015 Smith Hotel Awards) has an outdoor hydrotherapy pool (heated, so you can splash around on even the frostiest country night), as well as a lavender-infused sauna: lie back, close your eyes and pretend you’re rambling romantically down a floral-scented country path. Treatments include truffle-packed facials and massage oils infused with English-garden elixirs, including bergamot and geranium. Unwind in the salt-steam room, the juniper Finnish cabin, the mud room and the candle-lit infinity pool. The hotel has two spa days to choose from: Top to Toe or Diamond Indulgence. Even the most tense driver will unwind with either, safe in the knowledge that a boutique bedroom beckons upstairs (along with two excellent restaurants).

Sleep at Dormy House, Cotswolds
Stay open Ask reception for the key to the hotel’s secret Japanese-themed garden, tucked away on the Farncombe Estate.
Driving tip If you’re travelling from London, reach the hotel by the M40 and the A44, take the Saintbury turn off and you’ll see signs for the hotel. From Birmingham, take the M42 and A46. 

MINI experience: Pittville Park in Cheltenham

MINI experience: Pittville Park in Cheltenham

Jump in your new MINI Convertible and drive to Pittville Park, Cheltenham’s largest ornamental park and garden, home to the magnificent, grade I-listed Pump Room. Play lords and ladies by the lakes and aviaries (wave at the resident birds and bunnies), frolic amid the cowslips, wild garlic and primroses, and get lost in the woodlands. There’s a lower lake where you can fish for your supper, plus tennis courts and a pitch-and-putt golf course. Bird-spotters should keep their eyes peeled for kingfishers, greater spotted woodpeckers, jays, mallards and a breeding pair of swans. Nip down to the boathouse and hire a boat for the day (stock up on picnic provisions first) and have a snoop around the Pump Room (you might even spy a stately wedding in progress) before driving to Cowley Manor, where you can continue the historic romance.

Sleep at Cowley Manor, Cotswolds
Stay open Wellington boots are provided by the hotel, which has 55-acre grounds to stomp around in. Don’t miss the outdoor heated pool, which has a bar, waiter service and rows of sleek sun loungers. 
Driving tip The nearest big town is Cheltenham – the drive from here should take around 10 minutes, following the A40 towards Oxford before turning right onto the A435 to Cirencester. Driving time from Oxford is just under an hour, using the A436 towards Gloucester before picking up the A435 to Cirencester.

MINI

MINI

Couples' escapes

On a course to romance? You will be with these five itineraries, designed for road trips à deux in a modish MINI Convertible...

MINI experience: castle in the Cotswolds

MINI experience: castle in the Cotswolds

Jump in your new MINI Convertible for Sudeley Castle, eight miles from Broadway and Cheltenham, where you can play out your own historic/modern romance (corsets, crinolines and cravats, optional). This isn’t just your usual pile of old stones: Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr, is buried in the grounds, and the 1,200-acre estate is home to a 15th-century church, cocky peacocks, a pheasantry with more than 15 rare bird species, mazes and a treasure-stuffed castle. If you step inside, look out for the works of Belinda Durrant, the castle’s artist-in-residence; there’s also a harpist-in-residence, Alys Winchcombe, who lulls visitors’ eardrums with her Gothic harp in the Library, fortnightly on Saturdays (from 12 March; 12.30pm–4pm). All this stately romancing will have you lusting for a boutique bedroom: drive to Ellenborough Park, a 15th-century manor with 90 acres of National Trust land.

Sleep at Ellenborough Park, Cotswolds
Stay open Borrow a pair of Ellenborough socks and green Hunter boots (or brown Dubarry hiking boots, if they’re more your style), then set off for a foray in the countryside.
Driving tip Cheltenham Spa is a 10-minute drive away. Ellenborough Park has plenty of free parking for guests.

MINI experience: moonlit owls in Hampshire

MINI experience: moonlit owls in Hampshire

Ever twit-twooed at owls by moonlight? You can now, if you join one of the Owls by Moonlight nights run by the eagle-eyed Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire. Proceedings begin properly, with a hot supper and a chocolate brownie, before you’re shown around the grounds in small groups, so as to get acquainted with the Trust’s resident owls. Each session includes two flying demonstrations starring several owl species, a visit to the Woodland Owls Arena and – if you’re braver than a mouse – the chance to hold a British owl. Owls by Moonlight nights take place on Saturdays in spring and autumn. Once you’ve shaken your tail feathers at an owl or two, drive to Lime Wood, a former mediaeval hunting lodge that dishes up modern luxury: sleek interiors, a super spa and two tantalising restaurants.

Sleep at Lime Wood, Hampshire
Stay open Get out into the country air and try horse-riding, archery, falconry or rambling.
Driving tip The hotel is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Southampton and has free valet parking for guests, as well as an additional car park for spa- and restaurant-goers.

MINI experience: deserted beach in Suffolk

MINI experience: deserted beach in Suffolk

Set your Sat Nav for Covehithe Beach, a stretch of Suffolk sand that you’re very likely to have all to yourselves, thanks to its tucked-away position, just north of Southwold and south of Kessingland. If it’s hot, have a picnic on the sand; if it’s a little more breezy, set off on the coastal walk and keep your eyes peeled for the hefty local pigs and their piglets. Winged locals include sand martins, marsh harriers and meadow pipits. Thanks to erosion, the beach loses a few feet of land each year, lending a subtle sadness to Covehithe’s beauty. When the sea air has you hungering for a hot meal, head to Tuddenham Mill, a 17th-century converted water mill with romantic rooms and a smart restaurant. Dishes include trumped-up traditional fare such as crispy beef-shin with avocado carpaccio, crispy pig’s head with clapshot potato and Lancashire baked apples with mead ice-cream. If you’re full and sleepy from your sea walk and your mead pudding, don’t worry: you won’t have to stagger far to your bedroom. We love the three large, airy rooms in the main mill: exposed beams, dinner-plate-sized shower heads and double-ended stone baths big enough for a crowd.

Sleep at Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk
Stay open Want to know the restaurant’s top table? We reckon it’s alfresco, by the pond.
Driving tip The hotel is just off the A11 and A14, 23 miles from Cambridge.

MINI experience: drive to Lacock

MINI experience: drive to Lacock

If little Lacock village – a half-hour drive from Bath, or 50 minutes from Stonehenge – looks familiar, don’t be surprised: it’s where TV adaptations such as Pride and Prejudice were filmed. This mediaeval wool village is owned by the National Trust, which rents out its houses and pubs to private tenants, but it’s a little bit off the beaten track, so you won’t have to share it with swarms of tourists. While you’re here, nose around the Abbey (where parts of Harry Potter were filmed) and stop for a cream tea at one of the cosy cafes: King John's Hunting Lodge, perhaps. Slather your scones with clotted cream produced by a Jersey herd near Frome, or try a lumb: a muffin-crumpet hybrid invented by the owner (delicious with butter or cinnamon). If you’re after something savoury, try Wiltshire rarebit or the vegetable bobbin: another one of the owner’s culinary creations.

Sleep at Queensberry Hotel, Bath
Stay open Take a copy of Persuasion and sit and read in the hotel’s pretty, terraced gardens.
Driving tip The nearest motorway is the M4, which will deliver you all the way to and from London, and connect you to the M40.

MINI experience: discover Dartmoor

MINI experience: discover Dartmoor

If the thought of wild moors, granite tors, blooming wildflowers and moody skies doesn’t have you snuggling up together for extra warmth, we don’t know what will. Dartmoor National Park is famous for its rugged landscapes and fickle weather (all the more reason to duck into a cosy pub, if the clouds look threatening). Walk from Castle Drogo to Fingle Gorge (a two-hour round trip that ticks off a castle, a gorge and ye olde inne); gawp at pretty Lustleigh village and its thatched cottages and 13th-century church; have dinner at Gidleigh Park’s acclaimed restaurant, run by top chef Michael Wignall. Take your tired selves back to Hotel Endsleigh in historic Tavistock; after a perfect night’s sleep (and a full English breakfast), challenge your beloved to a game of croquet on the hotel’s lawn.

Sleep at Hotel Endsleigh, Devon
Stay open The hotel – a shooting-and-fishing lodge – is set in 108 acres of soul-enriching woodland and gardens, including a stretch of the Tamar river and a croquet lawn.
Driving tip The drive west from London and the Midlands will take at least three and a half hours, using the M5 and the A30.

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MINI

Food

Drive up an appetite for these five gourmet getaways in a MINI Convertible...

MINI experience: Belmond le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford

MINI experience: Belmond le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford

When you add a world-famous French chef to a beautifully bucolic Oxfordshire country manor, you can expect to arrive at something tasty. Belmond le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons doesn’t disappoint: its appetising attributes include an expert cookery school and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant headed up by Raymond Blanc’s protégée, Gary Jones. If you’re going all-out, plump for the nine-course Menu Découverte; if you’ve a smaller appetite, there are five-, six- and seven-course tasting menus, too. There are only 32 tables, to match the hotel’s 32 bedrooms, so make your dining plans when you book your stay. Dishes are playful but sophisticated, showcasing a mixture of textures and some very pretty presentation: hen’s egg with wild-mushroom tea and Périgord truffles; Cornish brill with cucumber and wasabi, and coconut tapioca with banana and passion fruit sorbet, for example. The best bit? Your boutique bedroom, within easy reach of the dining room.

Sleep at Belmond le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford
Stay open This part of Oxfordshire has rolling hills aplenty: hikers and bikers will be in heaven (there are a few bikes handily parked right outside the hotel’s front door, in case you didn’t bring your own). The hotel can arrange golf, fishing, riding and shooting; don’t miss a stroll in the hotel’s grounds, too.
Driving tip If you’re here for more than a day or two, you’ll appreciate having a car so you can get out and explore the scenic surroundings. There’s free valet parking on-site. From the M25, pick up the M40; the drive from London will take an hour and 10 minutes.
 

MINI experience: Berners Tavern, London

MINI experience: Berners Tavern, London

Find us a better-looking dining room than Berners Tavern and we’ll eat our pork-pie hat. This Fitzrovia beauty is captained by Jason Atherton, so you can expect dishes as appealing as the surroundings, all golden glow, glittering chandeliers and gilt-framed paintings. Food is as British as the Union Jack: start the day with a full English breakfast, or grilled kippers with herb butter, watercress and parsley salad. Finish the day with stone bass with caramelised cauliflower, fennel and cockle velouté (and save room for apple-caramel éclair with salted-caramel ice-cream). The hotel rustles up excellent fish and chips; the Sunday roasts have also earned a loyal following. Berners Tavern is the culinary jewel in the crown of the London Edition, Fitzrovia’s favourite hangout, which has a stash of artworks, a coolly casual lobby bar and rooms styled by Toronto design firm Yabu Pushelberg.

Sleep at The London Edition, London
Stay open Book a One-Bedroom Suite with Terrace for its impressive wrap-around outdoor space.
Driving tip The hotel has valet parking (an extra cost); beware the congestion charge.

MINI experience: Stroud Farmers’ Market

MINI experience: Stroud Farmers’ Market

Stroud Farmers’ Market – held every Saturday, from 9am until 2pm – is the biggest, busiest and best farmers’ market in the UK. Its trophy cabinet includes two ‘Best Market in the UK’ gongs from Farma. Browse stalls stocked with free-range eggs, local cheeses, hand-made soaps, soups, flowers, leather goods, knitwear, wine, cakes, cured meat, strawberries, fudge, furniture and more. Take your treats (and your new MINI Convertible) back to Kings Head Hotel, a short drive away in Cirencester. History boffins will love it here – the hotel was once owned by an Elizabethan bailiff and has the historic features to prove it: old stone walls, wooden beams and an original Roman mosaic. For more modern comforts, there’s a spa in the vaulted basement, plus a bustling restaurant and an accomplished bar.

Sleep at Kings Head Hotel, Gloucestershire
Stay open Bring your casual clobber for muddy walks in the country. A dash of tweed wouldn't be out of place.
Driving tip There’s a dropping-off space at the front of the hotel, and a pay and display car park at Market Place (free from 6pm to 8am, Tuesday to Thursday), next to the hotel. Market days (Monday, Friday and every second and fourth Saturday of the month) make parking trickier. If driving from the north or west, exit M5 at junction 11a, onto A417, then A429. From the south and east: exit M4 junction 15 to A419, then A429.

MINI experience: the Fat Duck, Berkshire

MINI experience: the Fat Duck, Berkshire

You’ve heard of the Fat Duck, but have you actually eaten there? If not, fix that: jump in your new MINI Convertible, drive to Berkshire and take your table at Heston’s shrine to culinary wizardry, which has been putting a smile on the face of food-critics since it opened in 1995. In its early days, the Fat Duck dished up bistro-style food; as it evolved, it became a boundary-pushing trendsetter – bacon ice-cream, anyone? Dinners here aren’t cheap (you’re looking at £255 a ticket, plus drinks and service), but as British culinary adventures go, this is a hard one to top. After the multi-course, multi-sensory, multi-bonkers ‘Journey’, you’ll need to sleep: book into Cliveden, a celebrated haunt for politicos and literati. If Heston failed to fill you up, try the hotel’s £100 club sandwich – worth every penny, we’re relieved to add.

Sleep at Cliveden, Berkshire
Stay open Go for a ramble in the walled garden – the amorous arbour that kick-started the Profumo affair – which is also home to the heated outdoor pool, where waiters serve drinks and snacks to reclining guests.
Driving tip To get to the hotel on wheels, you’ll need to leave the M40 at Junction 2 and the M4 at Junction 7. From central London, the drive should take 40 minutes. From Maidenhead, take the A4 towards Slough.
 

MINI experience: cookery class in Worcestershire

MINI experience: cookery class in Worcestershire

There are plenty of delicious things flourishing in the Vale of Evesham – asparagus, apples, plums, pears and strawberries, all growing in ripe abundance. If we could only pick one culinary treat from the area, it would be Eckington Manor and its brilliant cookery school, which champions ingredients produced on its farm and grounds, or sourced from local suppliers. If you’ve got a crush on Agas, you’ve come to the right place: the school is home to the largest collection of Agas in a UK cookery school; it also has a choice of Aga cookery courses. Pick from one-, two- or three-day courses, which include introductions to bread-making, knife skills, butchery, Italian cookery, fish and shellfish, restaurant dishes and more. You’ll be hungry after your class, so make a beeline for Eckington Manor’s unsurprisingly excellent restaurant, which serves home-grown and locally produced delights in the light-filled, laid-back dining room. The Manor also spans 15 rooms, 260 acres and a working farm.

Sleep at Eckington Manor, Worcestershire
Stay open Bring a pair of walking boots – the surrounding countryside is far too beautiful to resist.
Driving tip Cheltenham Spa and the cathedral town of Worcester are both around 25 minutes away. The hotel has free parking. 

MINI

MINI

Discover

At Mr & Mrs Smith, we’re used to waxing lyrical about boutique bedrooms – but we're suckers for a sleek, go-go-gadget dashboard too, like the one the new MINI Convertible's sporting. Covetable new exterior colours such as Caribbean Aqua mean you can take a holiday without even leaving the country (#travelinspiration). Other features worth writing home about include MINI’s smoothest soft-top system yet, so you can stay both open-minded (adventure time) and open-topped. Mr and Mrs Smith don’t much like getting rained on, but there’s no risk of that in this car, thanks to the nifty MINI Connected Journey Mate XL and its Rain Warner app mobile notifications.

Don’t relish parking? You will now, with the help of the convertible’s ingenious rear-view camera and parking sensors. Speed-junkies will fall for the small-but-mighty MINI, which will whisk you from 0–62mph in 8.8 seconds (7.2 seconds in the MINI Cooper S Convertible; 6.6 seconds in the MINI John Cooper Works Convertible), and on to a top speed of 129–150mph, depending which model you opt for. Feeling patriotic? You can even have the Union Jack stitched onto your soft-top (the upholstery choices aren’t too shabby, either: we like Dark Truffle Leather best).

Brilliant weekends away require generous luggage-room – nobody wants to leave their favourite jacket, jumpers or picnic-rug at home because of a stingy boot. Luckily, the new MINI Convertible has a larger boot capacity; tall types will also appreciate the added leg room, meaning you can arrive at your destination without cramps or pins and needles.

We’ve found the perfect car for perfect weekends. Don’t stay at home. Stay open; get on the road.

Inside the cockpit

Inside the cockpit

– MINI Connected Journey Mate XL and its Rain Warner mobile app – stay open to adventure, not the elements
– Witness your total top-down hours with the Always Open timer
– Centre-console reversing camera, with parking sensors
– MINI Connected, featuring Bluetooth handsfree and USB audio
– A choice of interior options, including luxurious leather

Outside the cockpit

Outside the cockpit

– A roof that shuts in 18 seconds
– Fully integrated rollover projection system
– All-new aerodynamic wind deflector
– Shorter antenna and integrated antenna foot

Hero features

Hero features

– MINI Yours soft-top woven jacquard pattern customisation
– Premium-finished exterior colour options
– More space; more fun: increased boot capacity and bigger frame
– Optional 17” Propellor Spoke two-tone alloy wheels
– Puddle-finding LED and optional MINI logo projection lights

More

More

– Dynamic, class-leading performance and CO2 emissions ratio
– A choice of super-efficient engines
– Latest generation technology 

Discover more, or request your shiny MINI brochure.

MINI

MINI

Win a weekend away with the new MINI Convertible and Mr & Mrs Smith

All revved-up and ready to go? To help you get off your sofa and on to the road, we’ve teamed up with MINI to offer you two weekend-away prizes (with on-loan wheels, to boot).

Just enter your details below to be in with a chance of winning a weekend in the Cotswolds at Dormy House.

This prize includes a two-night stay for two in an Intimate Room, with one three-course dinner (excludes drinks) at the hotel's excellent Garden Room restaurant, where you can expect a tour de force in wildly inventive West Country cuisine (we're talking venison with blackberry and chocolate ravioli, rhubarb crumble soufflé and the ilk). The prize also includes a 60-minute treatment of your choice for two in the sleek, Scandi-chic House Spa, which sprawls over several floors. 

It’s up to you what you do or don’t do while you’re here, but local highlights include: Chipping Campden and its arts-and-crafts scene, antique-hunting in Stow-on-the-Wold and the stately Sudeley Castle. To whisk you away to the Cotswolds in style, the lucky winner will also be able to borrow a shiny new MINI Convertible for the weekend: you’ll get the car on Friday and can keep it until Monday.

Prefer to be in the driving seat when it comes to mapping out your weekends away? Describe your perfect UK minibreak and you could win exactly that – a two-night stay at any Smith hotel in the UK, plus a few exciting experiences while you’re there. Again, you’ll be treated to an on-loan new MINI Convertible to get you there and back. Just outline your dream UK getaway in the box below. We’ll pick one winner and make their trip come true.