Long weekends are out, day-cations are in.
It seems we’re looking for shorter yet sweeter trips when it comes to our travel plans, as – according to new research – less really is more.
According to the data, almost two-thirds (64%) of holidaymakers opt for cheap off-peak travel to minimise time off with a 24-hour round trip.
It seems it all comes down to us feeling the pinch too – as reduced travel costs by not booking accommodation (39%), booking last-minute trips (35%), and being able to sleep in your own bed at night (35%) were the biggest reasons for this shift.
Obviously, a day-cation somewhere abroad is do-able but it’s not very environmentally friendly (what with two flights within the same day). Although, Paris or Brussels on the Eurostar are both options!
But for those a little more conscious of their travel carbon footprint, staying a little closer to home works just as well. In fact, there are plenty of places ideal for a day trip – many just an hour from London.
We’ve rounded up four to consider offering all sorts – from quaint villages to spas and beaches – as well as how much is costs to get there…
Just an 18-minute train from London’s King’s Cross will take you to the cathedral city of St Albans, in Hertfordshire.
From food markets, boasting everything from Transylvanian BBQ (referring to the cooking style, rather than the flavour) donut to Scotch eggs, you could easily spend a few hours wandering round and filling your stomach.
And once you’re done be sure to check out St Albans Cathedral.
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‘As every online guide will proudly tell you – it’s the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, so we wanted to pay it a visit,’ James Besanvalle who recently visited writes for Metro.
Then to wrap up the afternoon up, wander over to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, one of several pubs that lay claim to being the oldest in England – and has the low ceilings to prove it.
If you do want to spend the night, be sure to check out Re Cabins – a self-contained luxury boutique cabin getaway just a 15-minute drive away.
Getting there: Trains from London to St Albans go from King’s Cross (from £10.50) and stays at Re Cabins start from £360.00.
Hiding in plain sight on the edge of Alsebury, Buckinghamshire, lies Hartwell House hotel, gardens and spa, an outrageously opulent luxury venue that’s just 40 miles north west of London.
The real star of Hartwell is the house itself, which was once leased to an exiled King Louis XVIII of France and has hosted various dignitaries and royals thanks to its proximity to Chequers. The impressive building, which has both Jacobean and Georgian facades, contains beautiful rooms with rococo ceilings, antique furniture and paintings on every wall.
History buffs can enjoy a quick tour with the knowledgeable concierge. Or, you can prance around singing Murder on the Dancefloor and pretending you’re in Saltburn – minus that bath scene. Both approaches are equally valid.
As nature-lovers, we enjoyed working up an appetite exploring every corner of the 94 acres of gardens before hitting up the dining room. Here, you’ll find a classic British and European menu which showcases local produce, including from the hotel’s very own kitchen garden (the cheese souffle is a strong recommendation).
Visit in the summer and you’ll have the chance to enjoy tennis and croquet. But for our cosy January trip, afternoon tea in a warm and sunny room was just the ticket.
If you do decide to stay over, the spa – open to all overnight guests – is a small but tranquil space offering a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and pool that’s best enjoyed in the evening under the sultry, enveloping lighting. To up the indulgence, end the day with a massage or facial from one of the talented therapists.
Getting there: Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire, HP17 8NR. The fast route by rail is Marylebone to Haddenham & Thame Parkway, with some trains taking just 35 minutes. You’ll then need to take a 13-minute taxi. Alternatively, it’s an easy drive down the M40. Hartwell House.com is priced from £295 per room per night and includes use of the spa facilities.
Words by Rachel Moss
You can get to Cambridge by train in just 50 minutes from London’s King’s Cross – making it the perfect location for a day trip. And it’s not just the prestigious university (which dates back to 1209) that should be on your itinerary.
A classic, must-do activity when visiting Cambridge is punting and there are multiple companies offering both guided punting trips and self-punting hire.
If you head to Cambridge on a weekend you’ll stumble upon a lovely craft market in the All Saints Garden, as well as the main Saturday market in the Market Square. I recommend popping into Fitzbillies for a famous Chelsea Bun, washed down with a glass of something bubbly from the Cambridge Wine Merchants.
There’s plenty more to do too, as the city centre is surrounded by incredible architecture, history, and all the old pubs your adult heart could desire.
Want to extend your stay? The Graduate Cambridge hotel offers an oasis within the historic city. The beautiful and unique riverside location ensures visitors can soak up a tranquil atmosphere while having all the best things about the city, right on their doorstep.
Getting there: Trains from London to Cambridge start from £14.50 one-way.
Words by Rosy Shearman
Sea air is just an hour away from the UK capital by train.
Brighton’s pebble beach and famous pier is just an hour-long journey from London’s Victoria – making it the perfect day-cation destination.
Plus, there’s something for everyone – whether you want to while away the hours on the pier amusements or simply sit on the shore eating fish and chips and take in the coastal view.
However, no trip to Brighton would be complete without a trip to the brick-paved Lanes, in the heart of the city’s historic quarter. Head to Snoopers Paradise for a treasure trove of vintage knick-knacks, vinyl, clothes and more – and don’t forget to take a snap in the photobooth for an iconic Brighton memento.
Getting there: Trains to Brighton from London start from £21.50 one-way.
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