The best city breaks in the UK – and hotels for every budget

Advice

Britain is a nation of spectacular cities. Whether it’s the theatre and shopping districts of London or the historic streets of Edinburgh, our capitals are enthralling destinations in their own right. And beyond those big urban sprawls are a number of unique and exciting smaller cities that certainly don’t skimp on equally great food or fascinating attractions.

Durham has a brilliant arts and music scene well worth seeking out, while Brighton is Britain’s quirky, creative child where a hippy enclave meets the sea on the south coast. There’s lots to love about northern powerhouses like Newcastle, which is home to some surprisingly beautiful historic architecture, and Manchester where a near-constant stream of  new restaurant openings is making its food scene one to rival even Europe’s most delicious cities. 

Of course, a hotel can make or break your weekend away, so you’ve got to choose your bed wisely. Going for a romantic spring city break? You’ll want somewhere with luxury touches like room service and late check-out; a boutique hotel for personality and staff that feel more like friends – or a spa hotel, for those long soaks in a hydro pool and massages à deux. More of a foodie? Check into one of the many incredible hotels where Michelin-star chefs create culinary masterpieces in their busy kitchens. Fortunately, our experts have done all the hard work for you and have shared their pick of some amazing hotels for the best city breaks in the UK, highlighting a budget, mid-range and luxury option.

Bath, the south west’s charming Georgian gem

Bath has well-known draws – the honey-coloured Georgian streets, the Roman Baths, traditional afternoon teas – but it also has less-heralded pleasures. Of the city’s seven curvaceous Georgian crescents, only the Royal Crescent lures any visitors to speak of. There is a number of entertaining, quirky little attractions, such as the Herschel Museum – the astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus in 1781 when living in Bath – as well as hilly countryside right on the city’s fringes, ideal for an hour or two of gentle but scenic hiking. And Bath is nudging its way to being just a little bit trendy, with a growing number of boutique hotels and hip little cocktail bars. See more on Bath in our guide to the city, and hotels below. 

By Fred Mawer



Bath, best city breaks in the UK and hotels


Bath is nudging its way to being just a little bit trendy


Credit: George Clerk www.georgeclerk.com/georgeclerk

Where to stay in Bath

    

Luxury lodging

    

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Bath, Somerset, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

On a residential and very peaceful Georgian crescent, this elegant townhouse overlooks a large and beautiful garden and a slice of Royal Victoria Park, Bath’s main green lung. Interiors combine 18th-century heritage with 21st-century indulgences: expect curvaceous staircases overseen by classical busts, lounges with chandeliers and oil paintings, and extravagant suites with elaborate stuccoed ceilings. First-rate food, outstanding service and an enticing spa complete the picture.


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£
299

per night

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Mid-range marvel

    

The Yard in Bath

Bath, Somerset, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This refurbished coaching inn is ideal if you’re looking for a chic and central stay: The Royal Crescent and Roman Baths are about seven minutes’ walk away, and lots of cafés, bars and restaurants are even closer. Back in the 18th century this was an inn on the main carriage route between Bath and Bristol. Now it doesn’t feel in the least bit pubby, but rather stylish instead. Bedrooms are very attractive, comfy and well-equipped, the continental breakfasts are appetising and the hands-on owners are faultlessly hospitable.


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£
110

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

The Roseate Villa

Bath, Somerset, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

With its smart, spacious bedrooms and first-rate breakfasts, this sizeable, professionally run b&b feels more like a boutique hotel. An elegant, unfussy style pervades the property: think faux-bookcase wallpaper, crystal chandeliers, large mirrors and Lloyd loom seating. Cheapest (Classic) rooms can still be a good size, while the more expensive rooms can be fairly palatial. If you come by car, there is free parking in the hotel’s car park. Complimentary tea/coffee and cake on arrival is a nice touch.


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£
130

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Bath


Birmingham, the evolving Midlands powerhouse

With the neo-classical architecture of Victoria Square now pierced by a modern tram network taking visitors to the dancing neon fountains and whitewashed sheen of Centenary Square and beyond, unkind images of Birmingham are firmly in the past. Flanked by the elegant Georgian houses of the Jewellery Quarter on one side and the jaunty industrial-chic character of Digbeth on the other, Birmingham’s ever-expanding skyline is brimming with energy and the city boasts more Michelin stars than any other UK city outside London. While institutions such as Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery explain its past, Birmingham’s story is now being written in its award-winning restaurants and wildly creative neighbourhoods. Here’s our guide to the city, plus where to stay when you visit.

By James March



Birmingham, best UK city breaks and hotels


Birmingham’s ever-expanding skyline is brimming with energy


Credit: trabantos

Where to stay in Birmingham

    

Luxury lodging

    

The Grand Hotel Birmingham

Birmingham, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

In the heart of the city on Colmore Row, this reinvigorated Birmingham institution blends Victorian grandeur with an Art Deco sheen. Dating back to 1879, the Grade II-Listed hotel was once host to the likes of Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin, and the Louis XIV-style grand ballroom is still very much at its centre. Parisian cocktail bar Madeleine features a flurry of exposed lights glimmering against charcoal wood panels, while Isaac’s brasserie is finished with gleaming pine-green tiles and comfy leather booths.


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£
136

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Mid-range marvel

    

Park Regis Birmingham

Birmingham, England

7
Telegraph expert rating

Big, bold and borderline glitzy. The place exudes a confident outlook and will appeal to both business and leisure travellers seeking the bells and whistles of an international hotel experience with fresh, functional and well-equipped rooms. The large open-plan bar area doubles as a popular venue for celebratory afternoon teas and there is an open-air terrace for sunny-day relaxation and cocktails, as well as impressive night views of the city skyline from the 16th-floor restaurant. There is also a spa.


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£
103

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

Staying Cool

Birmingham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Look forward to a hassle-free boutique hotel experience in a striking and well-known Sixties building – a five-minute walk from New Street station. With fully equipped apartments inside the towering and cylindrical Rotunda building it’s hard to beat this spot for comfort, location, practicality and the groovy design aesthetic of a Brummie beauty. Staff have good local knowledge and it is refreshing to see Birmingham’s independent food, bar and shopping scene receive good word-of-mouth promotion.


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£
119

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Birmingham


Brighton, the inclusive alternative city by the sea

What’s not to love about Brighton? As seaside cities go, this vibrant resort offers style and sass in droves. Forget murky sea strolls, flabby candyfloss and collapsing windbreakers: in Brighton, your weekend city break could easily centre entirely around the newly revamped seafront. Sea-facing salsa classes? Tick. Volleyball, or sauna sessions in converted horseboxes? Tick tick. Add to these, cool cocktail bars, creative galleries, and the best Sussex has to offer in Masterchef-winner bites, craft drinks and live music served from our handsome sea-facing Edwardian rotunda, Shelter Hall. If you fancy something different, we’ve characterful pubs and clubs, cool shopping around the vibey North Laine – and of course that eccentric emporium to Regency extravagance, The Royal Pavilion. Here’s our guide to the city, plus where to stay.

By Louise Roddon



Royal Pavillion Brighton, best UK city breaks and hotels


Don’t forget to visit Brighton’s eccentric emporium to Regency extravagance, The Royal Pavilion


Credit: Copyright: Dmitry Naumov/naumoid

Where to stay in Brighton

    

Luxury lodging

    

Drakes Hotel

Brighton, East Sussex, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This fabulous boutique hotel – only 10 minutes from the Royal Pavilion and The Lanes – is said to be a favourite of Cate Blanchett’s and Kylie Minogue. It spans two late-Georgian townhouses almost opposite the pier, and is packed with gorgeous bedrooms and Art Deco-style detailing alongside a cool cocktail bar and restaurant. Service is exemplary. Nothing is too much bother, and the staff deal with guests in a courteous and thoughtful way. Should you need any restaurant recommendations, they are absolutely on-trend with Brighton’s hottest spots.


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£
125

per night

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Mid-range marvel

    

Artist Residence Brighton

Brighton, East Sussex, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Artist Residence is easily one of Brighton’s most stylish boutique hotels, and is the original of the Artist Residence clan. With the feel of a cosy boho club, its look mixes retro furnishings with densely pigmented colours and hip artwork. No two rooms are the same though all make use of reclaimed wood and fabrics like wool or tartan, and pleasing additions like reclaimed tea chests as bedside tables and vintage Anglepoise lamps. Come here for clever cocktails, on-trend tasting menus and dreamy bedside sea views.


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£
105

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

Hotel Pelirocco

Brighton, East Sussex, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This rock’n’roll-themed pad has been the ‘enfant terrible’ of the Brighton hotel scene since opening in 2000. Set on Regency Square, it’s a quick skip from the beach and the i360, and makes the ultimate base for a saucy seaside weekender. Behind the regal cream façade is a rather eclectic interior: think shocking-pink halls crammed with cool artwork, from Britpop album covers and band posters to original YBA works. There’s a SingStar karaoke lounge in the basement, ‘toys’ offered by room service and, when it all gets too much, a Koibito hangover kit.


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£
83

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Brighton


Durham, the historic beacon of the north

This is perfect pocket-size territory for short city breaks in the UK, with everything walkable (if you don’t mind the odd steep slope) and glorious countryside on the doorstep. Must-sees are the 11th-century castle (now part of the university) and cathedral; visit the latter at Evensong to appreciate both its size and grandeur. Often overlooked are the Oriental Museum, with its fabulous treasures, and the Botanic Garden with its collections from China to Chile as well as tropical glasshouses and art installations. Browse the artisan studios of Fowlers Yard or traditional stalls in the market hall before a riverside walk that loops the rocky promontory on which the city is built. Look out for enthusiasts from the university rowing club and pause at Prebends Bridge for its stirring cathedral views. Throughout the city there are dozens of coffee stops – try Flat White or Leonard’s Coffee House. Here’s where to stay.

By Helen Pickles



Durham, best UK city breaks and hotels


View of the cathedral at night


Credit: chrisdorney

Where to stay in Durham

    

Luxury lodging

    

Hotel Indigo Durham

Durham, County Durham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This contemporary city hotel is a smart but fun makeover of a splendid Victorian civic building, just outside the touristy core of the city (but only a 10-minute walk to the cathedral and castle). Originally Durham County Council offices, the sprawling red brick and stone building now mixes polished tilework, marble staircases and stained-glass windows with Scandi-style tables, industrial lighting and framed architectural drawings. Expect complimentary treats (free locally made snacks, sweets and soft drinks in bedrooms) and supremely comfortable beds.


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£
100

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Mid-range marvel

    

The Kingslodge Inn

Durham, County Durham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Tucked beside a woodland nature reserve, this good-value, family-friendly pub restaurant with rooms enjoys a quiet, just-off-centre location in Durham. Interiors are part Western saloon, part Swiss chalet, which sounds odd but is bright and attractive. The open-plan ground floor is the bar-restaurant and reception, tricked out in folksy, rustic style with tartan carpets, tongue-and-groove panelling, and exposed brickwork. Rooms are pleasant and frills-free, the atmosphere bright and welcoming, the food filling – and there’s even free parking; a rarity in the city.


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£
112

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

The Victoria Inn

Durham, County Durham, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This is a pub with rooms, and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. The big bonus is that owner Michael Webster has run it for 40 years and there’s little he or one of his sisters – who help behind the bar – or one of the regulars doesn’t know about the city. There are real fires in the fireplaces, dominoes to borrow and every chance you’ll strike up a friendly conversation. No TV, no jukebox, no fruit machines; just good ales and good vibes. Bicycles can be stored, it’s dog-friendly, and there’s free parking, a rarity in Durham.


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£
90

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Durham


Edinburgh, Scotland’s vibrant heart

There’s a reason more than 2,200 people visited Edinburgh Castle in 2019, rubbing Greyfriars Bobby’s nose to a shine on their way. But just as the Fringe isn’t the only festival (there are food, jazz, film and art festivals, to name a few), consider Craigmillar Castle – an uncrowded medieval masterpiece. Can’t get near the National Gallery’s Skating Minister? Try Edinburgh Printmakers for art you can take home. Guzzle gelato in the Grassmarket or try fish and chips in Newhaven. Explore the shops in chi-chi Stockbridge or hunt antiques in Leith. No matter how well you think know it, there’s always more to Edinburgh. See our insider guide to the city here, plus best hotels below.

By Linda Macdonald



Grassmarket Edinburgh, best UK cities and hotels


Grassmarket is a historic market place and an event space in the Old Town


Credit: IR Stone/IR_Stone

Where to stay in Edinburgh

    

Luxury lodging

    

The Balmoral

Edinburgh, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

Built as a railway hotel, this Forte flagship is a splendid example of a Victorian take on Renaissance architecture, with sweeping staircases, classical columns and royal icing plasterwork complemented by designer Olga Polizzi’s calmly contemporary interiors. Luxurious bedrooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant, lavish afternoon teas, relaxing spa and the best service in town add up to a sophisticated 21st-century version of a genuinely grand hotel – plus some new-fangled ‘experiences’, including an in-house poet.


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£
348

per night

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Mid-range marvel

    

Market Street Hotel

Edinburgh, Scotland

9
Telegraph expert rating

This design-led hotel brings both style and substance to a great city-centre location. Blissfully quiet rooms look simple in white oak and pale stone, with a touch of tweed. Deep ‘topper’ beds are sublimely comfortable, while an ‘indulgence’ cabinet offers complimentary wine, soft drinks and snacks. There’s a glass of champagne waiting on arrival for you at Nor’loft, the ineffably cool champagne lounge on the seventh floor (great views). Small plates there are generous and delicious, and the afternoon tea, substantial.


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£
161

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

Eden Locke

Edinburgh, Scotland

8
Telegraph expert rating

New York architect’s Grzywinski+Pons’ design is all Georgian Edinburgh outside, Hoxton inside. Pale oak floors and plenty of pastels with the odd squirt of mustard create a light-hearted but on-trend feel. The heart of it all is the pistachio-and-vanilla coffee lounge/bar, with its spiky plants in terracotta pots, people tapping at their tablets and an abundance of light. The apartments offer more space (just) than many hotel rooms although smaller than some serviced apartments. All have big beds and the small bathrooms have good, big showers.


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£
89

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Edinburgh


Leeds, a city of Victorian relics, brew pubs and street art

Pack a larger-than-necessary bag for Leeds; this is a serious shopping city from the high-end stores in Victoria Quarter to the dazzling stalls in Kirkgate Market, one of Europe’s largest covered markets. Recover at the city’s art gallery, a surprise to some with its nationally important collection of 20th-century British art or take a walk along the regenerated riverside to the vast Royal Armouries Museum. Close to the river you’ll find cool cafés, cocktail joints and craft ale bars – check out Call Lane – and the city has a surprising number of rooftop bars, including Angelica and Sky Lounge. Catch big stars at the Arena, opera at the Grand Theatre and new writing and contemporary works at Leeds Playhouse. Discover more in our guide to the city, plus picks on where to stay below.

By Helen Pickles



Leeds, best UK city breaks and hotels


Get ready for some serious shopping – especially in the Victoria Quarter


Credit: ©2019 Puripat Lertpunyaroj/Puripat Lertpunyaroj

Where to stay in Leeds

    

Luxury lodging

    

The Bells Serviced Apartments

Leeds, Yorkshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

The Bells is a collection of six beautifully restored self-contained apartments within the grounds of Leeds Minster (and a stone’s throw from the canal). A modish makeover – exposed brick, hand-picked furnishings and stylish open-plan living – sensitively showcases a host of period features including Gothic windows, original flooring and stained glass. Think Victorian lady meets Brooklyn hipster. Each has its own personality but all come with wall-hung televisions and Sonos soundbars, wet-room style showers, Molton Brown toiletries and fully equipped kitchens.


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£
284

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Mid-range marvel

    

Radisson Blu Hotel, Leeds

Leeds, Yorkshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Despite being part of a large global chain, the Radisson Blu Leeds has a surprising degree of character and individuality. It’s housed in an impressive Art Deco building with original features, boasts creative dining in its lively and welcoming restaurant, and has rooms of many sizes with excellent sound-proofing. Late checkouts (up to 6pm) can be accommodated at no extra charge, subject to availability, and a laundry service is available. Reception stocks easily forgotten items such as razors and toothbrush kits.


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£
101

per night

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Budget bolthole

    

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Leeds City Centre

Leeds, Yorkshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A smart, stylish city centre option in Leeds’ revamped Granary Wharf district with modern, comfortable rooms, easy access to the train station and relaxed dining. With floor-to-ceiling windows on every level, bright, comfortable rooms and a lounge bar at the top of the building offering great views over Leeds, it makes a welcome change from wall-to-wall burnished chrome and questionable carpets. A free water taxi shuttle service runs every 20 minutes to Leeds Dock, a mixed residential and leisure development and location of the Royal Armouries museum.


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76

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Liverpool, the beautifully misunderstood Mersey-maritime city

The post-industrial tourism heavyweight is ideal for a mini break in the UK and – if you’re not shy of a cool, windy autumn/winter, seeking solace in a pub, museum or one of the many trendy spots to dine and imbibe – it’s a good bet at any time of the year. With hip hotels, colourful events, concerts, a passion for live music, student gatherings and Premiership football, there’s always something going on (keep an eye out for new attractions, such as the 350-seater Shakespeare North Playhouse, opening 2022 in the Knowsley district). The city has a great range of hotels to match its diverse offering, especially in the compact city centre. But one of the best areas to try is the Georgian Quarter, where hotels are discreetly tucked away and offer a calmer alternative to the central party vibe (and yet are only a few minutes away on foot). 

By David Atkinson



Liverpool, best UK city breaks and hotels


The Mersey-maritime city makes for an ideal break – any time of the year


Credit: © Raspu/raspu

Where to stay in Liverpool

    

Luxury lodging

    

Hope Street Hotel

Liverpool, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Scandi-style rooms, excellent food, superb service and a choice location make Hope Street Hotel an excellent city bolthole.
It’s situated in the city’s stately Georgian quarter, close to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and namesake Grade II-listed pub, and dozens of cool bars and places to eat. Rooms are made airy and bright thanks to pale wooden floors and furnishings, white walls and windows. The larger suites, which feel like small apartments, have superb views over the Georgian terraces and beyond to the Wirral and – on a clear day – Welsh mountains.


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103

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Mid-range marvel

    

2 Blackburne Terrace

Liverpool, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Arty and discrete, this boutique guesthouse is a haven of refined tranquillity and thoughtful service, a rare counterpoint to Liverpool’s frequently brash hotel scene. Set in a late-Georgian townhouse, this is very much a bespoke experience with frissons of flamboyant design and theatrical flourishes (the welcome tray of sloe gin and macaroons in the room sets a nice tone). Unmarked on a cobbled, lime-tree-shrouded lane, this part of the city is a cultural hotbed with both the Everyman Theatre and Royal Philharmonic concert hall within walking distance, plus there’s supper at The Quarter and drinks at the historic Philharmonic Dining Rooms nearby.


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£
150

per night

Budget bolthole

    

INNSiDE Liverpool

Liverpool, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Melia may have replaced the former office of the Liverpool Echo newspaper, but it’s still making the headlines. Stylish and buzzy, it combines weekend-adventure rooms, all-day dining and killer cocktails with top views. It’s in a quieter area of the city, a short walk to the main shopping area and the attractions of the waterfront, but one that encapsulates Liverpool’s rich architectural heritage. The hotel itself boasts a relaxed vibe, and service throughout is informal and friendly. There’s a fitness centre – no spa – and it’s dog-friendly.


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96

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Liverpool

London, land of the gritty, hip and happening

There can be few more cosmopolitan cities on Earth than London, and people pour in from across the world to visit, work or live there. The range of restaurants, bars, theatres, sports, pop-ups, performance art and large-scale events is astounding – but where do you start? Our London expert Alison Taylor shares her weekend guide here, from highlighting when’s best to visit a major attraction like the Tower of London followed by where to eat, to swapping honeypots like Borough Market for its grungier little sister, or expensive sightseeing tours for bus routes 9, 14, 15 and 22.

London is very much a collection of distinct neighbourhoods, she writes, each with their own flavour and characteristics so we’d advise you to play pick and mix with all it has to offer. There are wonderful parks dotted peacefully throughout the city, markets galore, a thriving culinary scene spanning street food, fine dining and global cuisine that rivals any city in the world. It’s also an established hub for fashion, art and music.

By Alison Taylor



London, UK city breaks


London is very much a collection of distinct neighbourhoods


Credit: Gary Yeowell/Gary Yeowell

Where to stay in London

    

Luxury lodging

    

Claridge’s

Mayfair, London, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Opened in 1898, Claridge’s is a seven-storey terracotta-faced pile designed by the same architect who later built Harrods department store. This hotel has long been a favourite stop for aristocrats, statesmen, film stars and supermodels. Much of this success results from an Art Deco makeover in the late 1920s that sets the stage for fun, and the hotel has continued to attract and work with the top designers and artists of the day. Rooms are unique and come with comfort levels that encourage one to immediately hang up the “Do Not Disturb” sign.


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£
840

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Mid-range marvel

    

The Hoxton, Southwark

South East London, Southwark, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

The third Hoxton in the London brood carries off its trademark hipster-chic look well in buzzing communal areas, with a playful vintage vibe in its small-but-stylish rooms. What sets this one apart is its rooftop restaurant. It is also the first to venture south, so if you’re planning a cultural weekend, there’s lots to do nearby with the Tate Modern, Southbank Centre, National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Hayward Gallery, BFI, Young and Old Vic all within a 15-minute walk.


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£
169

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Budget bolthole

    

The Culpeper

Spitalfields, London, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A refurbished old boozer with just the right amount of gloss. The Culpeper sits on Commercial Street, one of Shoreditch’s main arteries, a mix of glassy new-builds, creative agencies and some surviving old corner shops and takeaways. It’s a pub with rooms, so don’t expect a wealth of facilities, although who really needs more than a lively pub, buzzing rooftop and great restaurant. Have a pint, dinner, and a nightcap on the rooftop before retiring to one of the five simply styled bedrooms. Breakfast, included in the rate, is worth getting up for, too.


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120

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Manchester, a city of stadiums, suffragettes and The Smiths

Manchester’s music and football scenes are world famous – and rightly so. But there’s a lot more to discover in this Northern powerhouse. You can complement exhibitions in cultural institutions such as The Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery with those in smaller venues such as The Pankhurst Centre, where the first meeting of the suffragettes was held, or Manchester Jewish Museum. And you could dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant, feast on Indian street food in a brewery, or try spätzle under some railway arches. Manchester’s hotel scene is equally varied and ever-increasing with more than 4,000 hotel rooms having been added to the city centre since 2018, meaning that the choice and quality of places to stay has never been better. See below for ideas on where to stay, as well as our guide to the city here.

By Cathy Toogood



Manchester city scape


There’s a lot to discover in this Northern powerhouse


Credit: Vladislav Mavrin

Where to stay in Manchester

    

Luxury lodging

    

Stock Exchange Hotel

Manchester, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

This city centre hotel, housed in Manchester’s former Stock Exchange, shows off its heritage with style. Original features such as marble columns, stained glass and fireplaces sparkle, while pictures and framed artefacts on the walls tell the story of the building’s history. From arrival – when you can check in over a complimentary cup of tea and slice of cake in the guest “traders” lounge – it’s clear that service is top-notch. There isn’t a gym or spa but each room has a yoga mat and the hotel has deals with local gyms.


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£
150

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Mid-range marvel

    

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel

Manchester, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

In an imposing terracotta Victorian building, with ornate original features and one of Manchester’s most popular bars, the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel combines classic good looks with a cool streak. And, despite its grand public areas, it’s warm and welcoming, with thoughtful extras for all guests, from families to dogs. Staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome, chatting with guests during the hotel’s daily “social hour” (complimentary wine or beer for guests between 5pm and 6pm). There’s a decent-sized gym and bikes to borrow from reception.


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£
99

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Budget bolthole

    

Whitworth Locke

Manchester, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This achingly cool aparthotel, spread over three former export mills, has all you need for a stay in the city – and more. Grzywinski+Pons, have embraced the cotton mills’ original features, such as exposed bricks and pillars, and have softened them with pastel paints, an energetic jungle theme in the co-working space, and pops of yellow in the bar (a nod to the Manchester bee). As well as stylish studios and suites, there’s a coffee shop, pop-up cocktail bar, a gym perfect for yoga, and a regular rota of events. Expect more in the pipeline.


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74

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Newcastle, the north’s coolest cradle of culture

Newcastle surprises first-time visitors. Everywhere is walkable or a quick hop on the Metro; it’s a cracking blend of old and new architecture – elegant Georgian Grey Street, for example, and Sir Norman Foster’s glass-encased Sage Gateshead concert hall; the riverside hums with life and lifts the heart with its seven bridges; and the fabled warmth and humour really does exist. There’s modern art at the Baltic and natural wonders at The Great North Museum: Hancock; comedy gigs at The Stand and big stars at the Arena; big shops in Eldon Square; and bars along the riverside. Come evening, there’s fine dining, modern brasseries or neighbourhood eateries. It’s not so much a party city as a city that enjoys life.

By Helen Pickles



Newcastle


Newcastle has a cracking blend of old and new architecture


Credit: (Copyright 2009) Imran Rashid/Imran Rashid

Where to stay in Newcastle

    

Luxury lodging

    

Jesmond Dene House

Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A grand, Grade ll-listed Arts and Crafts city mansion that persuades you it’s a rather lovely country house. Set in a pool of green overlooking a wooded valley, the hotel is 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre, so anticipate a peaceful retreat. There are few ‘extras’ – no spa or fitness room – but the point of here is to relax (lounge areas with inglenook fireplaces, quiet corners and plenty of sofas; a conservatory dining area; and a paved terrace). The magnificent wood-panelled, double-height Great Hall, with lounge and bar, is also free for guests to explore when not in use.


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£
120

per night

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Mid-range marvel

    

Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle

Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

This is classic Hotel du Vin style – a converted building (formerly the headquarters of the Tyne Tees Shipping company), clubby interiors, terrific bathrooms, French-bistro menu and interesting wines. Though it is close to the Quayside, it’s not in the centre of things, so you need to enjoy walking – however it does have some of the best, and best-value bedrooms of the group: smart, spacious, fuss-free and comfortable. Wine-tastings can be arranged in the glass-walled tasting room. You can add a bit of history and atmosphere to the tasting by combining it with a tour of the 19th-century Victoria Tunnel, an underground coal waggon way.


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£
99

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Budget bolthole

    

Sleeperz Hotel Newcastle

Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A budget hotel with style sounds an oxymoron, but Sleeperz hits the spot. Plus it’s in a good central location, which might not be the glitziest part of town but does conveniently back onto the station. The hotel attracts an engaging cross-section, from weekenders to business folk; families to foreign tourists. As its ethos is to cut out the add-ons to keep down room rates, extras are more or less limited to free UK landline calls and free pastries in reception – but full marks for the staff, who stand out for their friendliness and knowledge of the area. Plus free room service.


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£
47

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Newcastle


Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires

Known as the City of Spires, Oxford is so much more than the Gothic towers that pepper its skyline, rising gracefully above its many historic university colleges. Beyond its lauded educational institutions it has world-renowned museums harbouring some of the most intriguing artefacts from throughout world history (the Pitt Rivers has the most curious collection); there’s the Covered Market and all manner of tiny bistros and wine bars in which to imbibe after a day’s sightseeing; and at its centre lies a vast, modern shopping complex that’ll satisfy any craving for retail therapy – all the ingredients for an exciting short city break in the UK. But best of all, Oxford has a hotel for everyone – from huge historic icons to understated luxury. Here’s our guide to spending a weekend in Oxford, plus our pick of hotels.

By Lottie Gross



Oxford, Pitt Rivers museum


Pitt Rivers has the most curious collection of artefacts


Credit: Photo © Peter Adams 2014/Peter Adams

Where to stay in Oxford

    

Luxury lodging

    

The Randolph Hotel

Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Right in Oxford city centre opposite the world-renowned Ashmolean Museum and next door to the Oxford Playhouse, this is the place to stay for a cultural break. The Oxford institution has received a much-needed face lift by the Graduate Hotels group and the result is a handsome Gothic behemoth, with attentive service and a low-key luxury feel. Exceptional cocktails in its famous bar, a brilliant restaurant, and rooms with floral sofas, wooden writing desks and green-and-white Victorian-style bathrooms has made this an Oxford destination once again.


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£
160

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Mid-range marvel

    

The Old Bank

Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Neighbouring some of the oldest Oxford colleges, the Old Bank has a superb position, half way down the High Street opposite St Mary’s Church and the Bodleian Library. Expect plenty of character from the three interconnecting buildings which, in part, date back to the 14th century, painted in a combination of softer pastels and bolder colours, and hung with striking modern art throughout. It also has lots of older features including Georgian alcoves, wood-panelled walls and large sash windows. The brasserie is popular with locals as well as hotel guests.


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£
221

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Budget bolthole

    

Malmaison Oxford

Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

Take time out to enjoy doing time at this unique hotel that, as a former prison, housed inmates until 1996. The old cells have been transformed – though the original chunky cell doors and bars at the windows are a part of the attraction – and it’s right in the centre of the city, within the Oxford Castle Quarter. Inside the hotel, which has several interconnected buildings including the old House of Correction and Governor’s House, no attempt has been made to disguise the building’s former use – and that’s part of the inexplicable appeal.


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143

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• A complete guide to the best hotels in Oxford

York, where the ancient and modern thrives

York is not just for history buffs, though its rich treasures – from the mighty Minster (Britain’s largest medieval cathedral) to the newly restored Clifford’s Tower of William the Conqueror’s castle – are rightly impressive. Wander the ancient snickelways (little alleys) and you’ll pop out into hidden courtyards with cafés. Explore less-busy streets such as Walmgate and Micklegate and discover independent shops and eateries. Check out the latest exhibition at the city Art Gallery, or explore the Georgian elegance of Fairfax House (both often unfairly ignored by visitors). Always leave time for the jaw-dropping magnificence of the Railway Museum and, of course, for tea and cakes in the grand tearooms of Bettys. The city is less than two hours’ train ride from London’s King’s Cross, and is ideal for exploring on foot – so perfect for leaving the car at home. What’s more, its boutique hotel scene is thriving making it a wonderful and romantic UK city break for couples. Here’s our weekend guide to York, plus pick of hotels.

By Helen Pickles



York Shambles


Wander the ancient snickelways (little alleys) and you’ll pop out into hidden courtyards with cafés


Credit: George Clerk www.georgeclerk.com/georgeclerk

Where to stay in York

    

Luxury lodging

    

Grays Court

York, Yorkshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Tucked between the historic, largely 17th-century Treasurer’s House, the Minster and the medieval city walls, this is arguably York’s smartest address. Interiors feel elegant and luxurious but relaxed, with a careful selection of antiques, much like a stately home. There are a number of areas to read your book or recover from a day’s shopping and sightseeing, including a well-stocked library and a cobbled courtyard, plus a large garden with steps straight onto the walls (the city’s only private house with this access).


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255

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Mid-range marvel

    

Hotel Indigo York

York, Yorkshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

A bright and fun new-build hotel within the city walls (but away from the tourist hordes), exuding a youthful vibe and a strong sense of Yorkshire in its food and drink. It picks up on York’s chocolate heritage with a fun, semi-industrial feel and plenty of chocolatey-brown shades. The majority of the rooms are on the small side with limited views, but this is more than made up for with the fun decorative style – plus the standard ‘extras’ (bathrobes, water and chocolate bars) that grander hotels only include in Premium rooms. Beds are supremely comfortable.


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£
94

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Budget bolthole

    

The Bar Convent

York, Yorkshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

This is one of Britain’s more unusual guest-houses and a worthy contender for York’s best-value accommodation. Just outside the city walls, as part of a still-working convent in a historic building, it’s well-placed for doing York’s sights if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds. As well as a fully kitted kitchen for rustling up meals, plus washing machine, there’s a beautifully quiet garden, set with tables in warm weather. The building includes an Exhibition Centre (£5) on the convent’s history, and a remarkable neo-classical chapel with regular concerts. Bedrooms are modest yet roomy and well-equipped.


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£
76

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• Discover more amazing places to stay in our guide to the best hotels in the UK

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