The Best Hotels for a Weekend Break from London – No Car Required
Looking to escape the Big Smoke for a day or two? Here we present a few of our favourite places within easy mini-break distance of London, with a spread of UK properties from the Cotswolds to the coast. No car? No problem! As you’ll see, all of these places are accessible by public transport…
The Marine Hotel – Whitstable, Kent
Journey time: 1 hour and 15 minutes from St Pancras International to Whitstable railway station, plus a 20-minute walk or a 5-minute taxi ride.
Why we love it: While tucking into Whitstable’s famous oysters in the restaurant and watching the sun sink into the sea, you’ll probably feel a lot further away from home than you are. The Maritime Hotel overlooks Tankerton’s long shingle beach, which is lined with groynes and bordered by a rainbow of wooden beach huts.
The Mermaid Inn – Rye, East Sussex
Journey time: 1 hour from St Pancras International via Ashford International to Rye, then a 10-minute walk.
Why we love it: This former smugglers’ inn dates from 1420 and has fascinating preserved 12th-century cellars. Think chesterfields set around a roaring coal fire and a wood-panelled dining room serving 2-AA-Rosette cuisine. Camber Castle, a 16th-century fort built by Henry VIII, is around 30 minutes’ walk or a 5-minute taxi ride from the hotel, but this hilltop town is best explored on foot, so get lost down one of the winding cobbled lanes and see what treasures await.
Tamburlaine – Cambridge
Journey time: 50 minutes from King’s Cross, followed by a 2-minute walk.
Why we love it: This quirky hotel opened in March, 2017, and cost no less than £50 million to bring into being. With Persian-meets-old-school-Cambridge interiors and a handy spot near the railway station, this new haunt is ideal for those on foot.
It’s great for a relaxing weekend away – there are 40 acres of preened gardens dotted with glasshouses and ponds at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Of course, if you fancy the usual tourist hotspots, the Fitzwilliam Museum, King’s College Chapel and Trinity College are less than a 20-minute bus ride or 30 minutes’ walk away.
Journey time: 1 hour from Paddington to Oxford, then an 8-minute walk to the hotel.
Why we love it: “Once the city’s prison, this is definitely a hotel with a difference”, says The AA Hotel Guide 2017. Malmaison Oxford is itself steeped in history, and it’s a 10-minute stroll from the iconic spires of the University of Oxford. The 400-year-old Bodleian Library encapsulates why people are so intrigued by Oxford as the centre of academia, as it boasts a collection of over 11 million printed works. If you’re looking for grand architecture, striped lawns and arty cafés, this is for you.
Hotel du Vin – Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Journey time: 1 hour from Paddington to Henley-on-Thames via Twyford, plus an 8-minute walk
Why we love it: Hotel du Vin is housed in a 300-year-old former brewery, a stone’s throw from Henley’s famous riverside, which is lined with popular pubs and postcard-worthy architecture. This Grade II-listed haunt has a champagne bar and a courtyard for al fresco dining, with exposed brickwork and wooden beams inside.
Head to the River & Rowing Museum to discover more about the sport that has immortalised this small community, or charter a rowing boat yourself at Hobbs of Henley, and really get into the spirit. Both places are within a 10-minute walk.
Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa – Windsor, Berkshire
Journey time: 55-minute train ride from Waterloo, then a minute’s stroll.
Why we love it: Just beyond the ramparts of Windsor Castle, this Grade II-listed property has both a high-end leisure club and a spa. The restaurant serves a Sunday lunch with a difference – the Bubbles & Jazz option comprises three courses, free-flowing prosecco and music from a local jazz trio.
Windsor Castle and High Street, where you can catch the Changing of the Guard, are both within five minutes’ walk, and Ascot Racecourse is a 15-minute taxi ride away. This is a great stay for spa-seekers and history buffs alike.
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Bailbrook House Hotel – Bath, Somerset
Journey time: 1 hour and 20 minutes from Paddington to Bath Spa station, then a 15-minute ride on the number 3 or X31 bus, followed by a 5-minute walk.
Why we love it: This manor-house hotel is perched on a hilltop in 20 acres of private parkland, with Bath city centre and Bath Spa station just a 15-minute taxi ride away. You can also hop on the regular bus service into town (the bus stop is 500 metres from the hotel).
The Roman Baths, Thermae Bath Spa and the Royal Crescent have to be the highlights of this honey-hued city. Regardless, Bailbrook House Hotel does have its own 2-AA-Rosette-awarded vaulted restaurant, and far-reaching views of the city and countryside, so don’t feel guilty about spending a little time with your feet up.
The Duke’s Head – King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Journey time: 1 hour and 35 minutes from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, then a 10-minute walk.
Why we love it: Overlooking King’s Lynn market square, this Georgian coaching inn has hosted Queen Victoria and Lord Nelson, and today it is neighbour to “a cluster of handsome old riverside buildings, and lively, open-air markets” (Rough Guides).
There has been a market here for over 900 years, and you’ll find fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses and sweet treats on sale every Tuesday and Friday. If you’re after local culture, head to the Lynn Museum or to True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum, and see all that remains of King’s Lynn’s thriving fishing past.
Tewin Bury Farm Hotel – Welwyn, Hertfordshire
Journey time: 30-minute journey from King’s Cross to Welwyn Garden City, then a 10-minute taxi ride
Why we love it: If you’re looking for an easy getaway not too far from home, opt for an overnight stay at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel. It’s a family-run working farm set beside a winding river in the Hertfordshire countryside, a world away from the noise of the city.
The restaurant holds 2 AA Rosettes, and a vast portion of the ingredients used are produced on-site and are cooked to perfection, so you won’t need to leave the farm if you don’t want to.
The Bull at Burford, Cotswolds
Journey time: 1 hour and 10 minutes by train from Paddington to Hanborough, then a 50-minute bus ride to Burford on the 233 bus (or 25-minute taxi ride)
Why we love it: Burford is “a striking mix of stone cottages, fine gold-tinged Cotswold townhouses and the odd Elizabethan or Georgian treasure” (Lonely Planet), and this hotel enjoys a prime spot on the high street. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to old country pubs, antique stores, and Cotswold deli and cheese shops serving a plethora of local delights.