Category: Leaving London

Tired of the winter blues? After the magic of Christmas and the excitement of the New Year, many of us are now left feeling tired, wary and deflated. So, what better way to beat those January blues than to plan a little getaway?

London is great, but if you’re craving a change of scenery, why not plan a little staycation? Getting out of the city and enjoying a little break away can do wonders for recharging those batteries and beating the winter blues. To give you a little inspiration, below you’ll discover some great staycation ideas to keep you going in winter.

Enjoy a relaxing break by the sea

Few things can leave you feeling more relaxed and refreshed than a few days by the sea. Whether you’re looking to travel just outside of London, or you’re looking for a slightly further staycation, there’s lots of great seaside towns along the south coast to be enjoyed.

If you’re looking to stay close by, Brighton is an excellent choice. If you’d prefer to travel a little further afield however, Cornwall and Devon are pretty tough to beat. Both offer incredible scenery and a laid-back pace of life that you’ll find a refreshing change from the loud streets of London.

Spend a few days in the country

If you’re not keen on a winter seaside break, why not opt to stay in a house in the country instead? Head to the Cotswolds for a truly magical country getaway. With its breath-taking scenery and stunning thatched cottages, the Cotswolds are truly majestic. You can save a lot of money getting there too with super off peak tickets if you opt to travel during the week.

Some of the best spots in the Cotswolds to head to include Bourton on the Water, Blockley, and Lower Slaughter.

Get away from it all in the Scottish Highlands

Really want to get away from it all? A staycation to the Scottish Highlands could be just what you need. Inverness is a great destination to consider. There, you’ll find a number of great boutique style hotels, along with quaint home-from-home cottages you can stay in. Stay at a Lochside location for a true get-away-from-it-all experience.

Other highland destinations to consider include Glencoe, Loch Ness, Fort William and Aviemore. You’ll typically find winter breaks to the Highlands are surprisingly affordable.

As you can see, there are lots of places you can head to on a winter staycation. Whether you prefer a holiday by the sea, a relaxing rural retreat, or you really want to leave your worries behind and jet off to a remote mountain location, the UK has something to suit you.

Travelling is something so many of us dream of, but so few get the chance. Whether it’s financial concerns, it’s not the “right time” or you’re worried about the effect it might have on your career or relationship commitments. For those thinking about travelling solo, it’s usually a safety concern. I mean, how safe is it really to travel the world alone?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that with a little research, planning and common sense, you can safely travel the world solo without running into too much trouble. Something your parents will probably be glad to hear. Here we’ve put together some of the simplest solo travel safety tips.

Get your insurance sorted – now!

Ok, so we have to talk about the importance of travel insurance – are you covered? You’d be amazed at how many travellers run the huge risk of travelling without it, and then pay the price (literally) when things inevitably go wrong. Travel insurance will cover you for trip cancellation, flight problems, lost luggage and lost/damaged luggage. Your travel medical insurance will help you with medical assistance, illness, broken bones, access to medical teams, transportation to hospital and even repatriation. You might not need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Walk with confidence

Your nose buried deep in a map, looking around for street signs, scratching your head and wringing your hands in a panic are all tell tale signs that you don’t belong, you’re lost and you’re vulnerable. Making you the perfect target for scams, cons and even theft. If you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower then a wandering tourist is to be expected, but if the busy streets of Cairo? No. If you get lost simply head into the nearest café or bar and ask for help, walk with purpose.

Carry the business card or your hostel/hotel

This one is great if you’re not overly confident with the language yet or the signal or battery on your smartphone has let you down. Showing the business card to a local or even a taxi driver means they know you need help trying to get back to our accommodation.

Take a break

Travelling is incredible and immersing yourself in a new culture and vibe is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But it’s also exhausting and you sometimes you need to give yourself a time out. Becoming overwhelmed whilst travelling is common, so take a day to chill at your accommodation, head to a cooking class, or even take a guided tour of the cities best tourist spots.

Blend in

Try to avoid flashing your wealth or looking distinctly foreign. If the country you’re visiting is conservative then they might have dress codes you need to adhere to – so do a little research. Be respectful and polite. Things like buying a local paper will help you look more like you belong and it’s a great ice breaker too!

Once Christmas is over, the tree is taken down and the last coffee cream-flavoured chocolate has been put out of its misery, it’s time to think about your summer holiday. This might seem like a tall order, especially when you’re looking over your bank and credit card statements, but good financial planning starts early. It also (unfortunately) starts with the boring part – paying off debt!

Spend January working on your Christmas debt

Hopefully, you don’t have too much debt because you used a budget calculator before Christmas last year to avoid overspending. Even if you’re pretty much in the black, you may still have some lingering credit card balances or a small overdraft, so work on reducing or eliminating these hangers-on so that you’re as free as possible.

Have a dry month

Everyone else is doing Dry January, so why not follow the crowds for once? You might find you have no choice anyway if all your mates have sworn themselves off the sauce until February! Think about how much you spend on those cheeky Martinis after work on a Wednesday, as well as how much more you spend on a Saturday, then put these amounts towards debts or savings. Don’t live like a hermit, though, or you’ll end up splurging sometime around January 20 and you’ll ruin all your good work. Organise a cheap pot luck night or have an evening of board games.

Start thinking about next Christmas

Seriously. You can’t start early enough! Scour the sales for anything that you know will come in handy next Christmas. Only buy it if it’s got a steep discount (at least 50% off) and won’t go off or look dated by December. If you’ve already stolen a bit of a march here, then you won’t feel so restricted when you think about summer hols.

Start looking for cheap flights

If you have a destination in mind, or even if you don’t, then start looking for flights and accommodation deals. Depending on the season you plan to travel in, there’s an ideal flight booking window of time. For summer it’s around 45-50 days before the date of travel, so you do have some wiggle room. Of course, you might prefer to hold out for a last-minute deal, but if you don’t know what the going rates for flights and villas are, then you won’t know a good deal when you see one.

Deposit savings into an international card or account

If you know which currency you’ll be using on your holiday, then you can start converting small amounts as you save them. If you turn down a night out, convert the £40 you would have spent into your destination currency. If you decide to buy fewer cakes and coffees at lunchtime at work, then deposit the £2, £3 and so on into your prepaid international card. Watch out for Brexit news, because whatever happens it’ll affect the value of the pound and it might be worth converting your travel money into Sterling and back again if there are big movements.

Christmas day restaurants in London

The chestnuts are roasting, the holly is bristling and Buble is carolling. The Christmas countdown has begun. So, to make Christmas lunch a little less daunting, if you're in London this Christmas Day we’ve compiled this list of luxury restaurants which will be flinging open their doors on the big day, offering a special menus and more for the occasion. Stay local or take a little trip out on quiet roads.

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Le Chalet

This festive pop-up restaurant found on the Roof of Selfridges, offers the best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients with amazing Oxford Street views. Le Chalet, by Q Grill, opens for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks or even a cigar or two. Visit for a special occasion, a festive celebration or a Christmas shopping pit-stop/break with a view when visiting Selfridges. Open on Christmas day, Le Chalet Christmas menus is ideal for groups of over 10, from £35-£55. – Menu available to view here – includes Pit roasted butternut squash soup, Pit roasted beef short rib, USDA fillet of beef, rosemary & shallot sauce, Bermondsey honey glazed parsnips, Christmas pudding soufflé and brandy ice cream.

108 Brasserie 

Set in the heart of Marylebone, 108 offers a truly local all-day dining experience. 108 Brasserie, just off Marylebone High Street houses two distinctive areas; the bar, a chic and sophisticated drinking and dining area and the brasserie’s dining space, where its modern British dishes take centre stage. Representing local dining at its best 108 presents hearty, uncomplicated food made from the highest quality ingredients centred around the restaurant’s Josper grill. 108’s dining area offers brasserie-style dining and is open all day, seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner - great food, good wine and friendly service are the order of the day.

108 are also offering a Christmas Day feast – See menu attached. The just-revamped brasserie is ideal if you're looking for somewhere in Marylebone. The menu will include seared scallop, celeriac and apple; foie gras parfait, mulled wine jelly, brioche toast; Norfolk bronze turkey, chestnut stuffing, bread sauce and Christmas pudding.

Price: £80 per person for five courses.

Holborn Dining Room 

Set in midtown London, Holborn Dining Room serves up seasonal, locally sourced British cuisine with a twist in a vibrantly bustling dining salon. Holborn Dining Room is offering a Christmas Day menu; 3 course lunch for £65 accompanied by a string trio from 12pm-5pm – Menu available to view here - The menu includes: roast parsnip soup truffled Bermondsey honey; hand carved Maldon smoked salmon spiced avocado; roast Norfolk bronze turkey red cabbage, cranberry sauce; roast ribeye “club cut” pepper sauce, crispy onions; Christmas pudding soufflé; chocolate bomb kirsch cherries.

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Cicchetti Bar 

Found at Piccolino, the Ciccehetti Bar is a stylish new drinking and dining destination in London’s West End. Serving Venetian style tapas, Italian wine and Italian inspired cocktails Cicchetti Bar is the destination for the best late night Italian food in London. Live music is performed on Wednesdays and in-house DJs play on Thursdays to Saturdays, creating the perfect atmosphere for a great night out. Situated on the lower ground floor of Piccolino on Heddon Street, Cicchetti is open till late, Monday to Saturday, making it the perfect late night drinking and dining spot.  The drinks list at Cicchetti Bar includes an amazing selection of Bellini’s and other Prosecco-based cocktails and could be great for a drink after work during the festive period or as a spot of relaxation after a day of Christmas shopping in the West End.

 Q on Ice

Another winter pop-up restaurant, based at Canary Wharf Ice Rink. It’s perfect for couples, families and groups and offers a wide selection of food from the BBQ menu and raw bar.  There’s also lots of winter/festive inspired cocktails, chocktails (hot chocolate cocktails) and crafts beers to enjoy whilst watching the ice skating!

Bel & The Dragon

Paper crowns and duck fat roasties it must be Christmas Day!  We love it, but it’s hard work preparing all that food.  Take a year off.  Bel & The Dragon country inns and restaurants will cook, serve and even do the washing up for you this Christmas.  Head Chef Ronnie Kimbugwe has created a Christmas Day menu for everyone which focuses on fresh locally sourced ingredients, favouring small independent producers, whilst incorporating all the wonderful flavours of Christmas.  Priced at £75 per person dishes include Pumpkin Soup, Shaved Truffle & Garlic Croutons, Traditional Local Roast Turkey with ALL the trimmings, Josper Grilled Jack O’shea Rib-Eye of Beef, Caramelised Root Vegetables & Fresh Horseradish, Classic Christmas Pudding, Homemade Brandy Butter and Sipsmith Vodka & Lemon Zest Sorbet.. and of course Homemade Mince Pies.  Enjoy Christmas Day with the family by an open fire and to truly relax why not stay overnight in one of their stylishly cosy bedrooms.

The Greyhound on the Test

Head to the Michelin pub of the year, The Greyhound on the Test in Hampshire, to celebrate the festive season in front of roaring fires in this award winning pub. On Christmas eve there will be Carol singers from 1pm and head chef, Neil Cooper has put together a Christmas menu with dishes that include starters such as Roast Celeriac Soup with Honey & Chestnut or Guinea Fowl Terrine, Pickled Vegetables & Toasted Brioche, main courses of Roast Breast of Hampshire Turkey, Confit leg, Stuffing & all the trimmings or Steak and Greyhound Ale Pie with Braised Red Cabbage & Winter Greens.  For Desserts try Christmas pudding with custard, Lemon Possset with Poached Pear and Shortbread or A selection of Hampshire cheeses.  The three course menu is priced at £35 per person.  

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Stoke Place Hotel

Stoke Place hotel in Buckinghamshire will be celebrating Christmas this year in their brand new restaurant, Seasons at Stoke Place.  Head chef James Dugan will be offering a special Christmas Eve Dinner as well as Christmas Lunch, Boxing Day Brunch and a Festive Afternoon Tea. For those looking ahead to New Years Eve Stoke Place will be seeing in 2015 with a gastronomic New Year’s Eve tasting menu specially created by James with Champagne and canapés. On New Year’s Day the hotel will be serving a relaxed brunch. One to three night breaks for the family start from £120 per person.

Indian Essence

Michelin Bib Gourmand awarded Indian Essence will be opening its doors on Christmas day to serve you modern Indian cuisine with a festive focus. Atul Kochhar has created a luxurious Christmas lunch menu for all those who seek seasonal Indian twists on Christmas classics. Receive champagne on arrival before sitting down to your five course Christmas cuisine. Atul will be creating butter lobster asparagus cream, followed by a choice of venison brochette kebabs, squid ink pepper crusted grilled king prawn, crisp vegetable bhanjee or corn fed thin chicken breast. For mains opt for your ‘anything but traditional’ tandoori masala turkey supreme or choose between a braised leg of lamb, a south Indian seafood kofta or organic stuffed courgette. For dessert go adventurous with a Christmas mincemeat samosa or a peanut butter parfait. Keeping it traditional with after dinner coffee and mince pies Indian Essence will metamorphose into your home away from home this Christmas day. Christmas Lunch is £60 per person.