We get that it can be tempting, when staying at The Montcalm, not to want to leave the city. You have got a wealth of restaurants on your doorstep, the shopping hub of Soho is a short trip away, the Montcalm spa facilities can chill even the most stressed business-people out, and the prospect of a champagne-fuelled afternoon tea is always on the horizon. However, London is also just a short roadtrip away from a number of excellent destinations offering some of the best experiences the UK has to offer.
Brighton is a couple of hours south of London in the car and one of the UK’s most cultural and beautiful seaside towns, filled with colourful houses, narrow cobblestone shopping streets and iconic British architecture. From the seaside bliss of Brighton Pier, with its beach-resort style carnival games and the crashing waves as a backdrop, to the culturally enriching Brighton Pavilion, which is a royal residence that was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811. Not to mention, there is the British Airways i360 on the promenade which is a tourist attraction of note – a 162m moving observation tower promising views of the South Downs National Park and the whole of the city.
The Chiltern Hills are just over an hour from London in the North West and it is one of the UK’s many areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Though The Montcalm Shoreditch spa is sure to make you feel relaxed, there is nothing quite like the sweeping rolling greens of the British countryside when it comes to unwinding.
With expansive planes and quintessentially British pubs, they form a chalk escarpment across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire such that you would hardly believe that an hour’s road trip before visiting you were in the bustling city of London. You can walk, cycle, hike or just enjoy the view from a quaint hillside pub.
If you continue driving through the Chiltern Hills and carry on for another 20 minutes or so, you will find yourself in the famous city of Oxford. Home to one of the world’s finest academic institutions as well as historical and cultural significance. You have the option of walking the streets and observing the medieval architecture, admiring the fact that the esteemed colleges around the city have been around since the 12th century. There is a Botanic Garden on the River Cherwell, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Carfax Tower with breathtaking city views and, possibly most notably, punting. A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, which you will have seen imagery of people rowing down calm rivers on whilst standing up. You can try your hand at the punting itself, or you can take a tour and have an expert do it for you. No matter what you do, though, you are going to want to finish off your day with a pint from The Lamb & Flag, which is believed to be where Thomas Hardy wrote much of Jude the Obscure.
The rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge University is legendary, so it would display far too much favouritism to visit one and not the other. Luckily, Cambridge, like Oxford, is a quick road trip from London – the same time in the car, though in a northerly direction. Like Oxford, you can go punting in Cambridge, though this time it will be along the mesmerizing River Cam. Between the towering gothic chapel of King’s College and the 16th-century Great Gate of St John’s College, you will have finished the space on your camera reel. There are a number of guided tours around the city which will give you a proper sense of the historical significance and heritage of the city. Between Oxford and Cambridge, no building will ever seem quite so grand again.
Stratford Upon Avon
Though Stratford Upon Avon is slightly further afield than the previously mentioned road trips, totalling around two hours in the car, it is by no means one to be missed. Those fond of the great William Shakespeare will likely have it highest on their bucket lists, while even those unfamiliar with the bard’s work will want to experience it. This medieval market town in the West Midlands has been maintained so effectively that with a bit of imagination, you feel like you are meandering through 16th century England. When there, another bucket-list non-negotiable is seeing The Royal Shakespeare Company performs on the banks of the River Avon.
Many London commuters live in Guildford, if that helps you gauge just how easy it is to roadtrip to. It takes just under an hour to drive to from London and the scenery changes from the hustle and bustle of London to medieval town life before your very eyes. At the centre of the town, you will find Guildford Castle, which comes showing off landscaped gardens and beautiful countryside views from its square tower. There is also Guildford House for you to visit, which is a 17th-century townhouse, featuring a gallery with rotating exhibitions. On top of that, there is the delightful Stoke Park, which you may recognise from films like James Bond and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Short of a two-hour drive away from London, you will find the seaside town of Margate. It is best known for its sandy beach, so is the prime road trip destination for those who love getting sand between their toes or a swim in the sea (weather, of course, permitting). It is also where you will find the modern Turner Contemporary art gallery with rotating exhibitions and Dreamland Margate, which is an amusement park with vintage rides. If you are more partial to some nautical knowledge than views, there is also the Margate Museum to explore.
So, with the New Year around the corner and therefore a bucket list needing more items after a year of checking them off, add these road trips from London to your 2020 list and enjoy all the special nooks and crannies the UK has to offer, all the while using London as a base with the trusted help of our London hotel packages.