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As your dreams of sun-kissed Mediterranean beaches fade quicker than your grandma’s holiday snaps you may be feeling a bit glum about your summer holiday choices for this year.
But don’t despair. Britain has so much to offer! If the idea of a wet weekend at the seaside doesn’t float your boat, then read on.
Self-catering top of the list
Given that hotels will take a while to get back on their feet, more and more of us are realising that self-catering may well be the answer to a socially-distanced getaway.
The unpredictability of the British weather has long been a good enough reason to jump on a plane and head for the sun. But let’s be honest, dragging two tired toddlers through the airport as you make a dash for the departure gate isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. And having spent half your first week’s spending budget in the shops at the airport, you may be wondering if it’s all worth it.
While camping holidays and country cottages are still our go-to choice for holidaying at home, there are plenty of other ways to recharge the batteries, keep the family happy and stay safe.
Britain is a country known for its creativity and nowhere is this truer than in the country’s holiday industry. With our tourism sector having to compete with Europe’s holiday hotspots that creativity has come to the fore; the range of unusual options for a UK break is almost endless, and for many self-catering options are top of the list for best picks.
From luxury yurts to 5-star campsites, we’ve got it all!
So, to get you started here are Holidaysafe’s top socially-distanced and self-catering staycation picks for 2020.
There has been a resurgence in the UK camping scene. No longer does camping mean putting up a tent in a field full of cow pats or trying to light a camping stove in a force eight gale.
If that’s your thing and the kids are up for a bit of back-to-basics, then there are still sites where you can pitch up with your tent and set up camp in a field. But you’re more likely to be pitching your tent in a campsite with all mod cons. From the basics like hot showers and barbeque areas, you can also find pools, saunas, hot tubs, clubs for the kids and evening entertainment.
Some of the camping locations in Britain are absolutely stunning. Waking up every morning to a breath-taking view over a bay is hard to beat. Or maybe you fancy making a camp in the woods? The kids can explore while you rustle up dinner and although some of the facilities may be a bit basic, woodland sites like Foxwood Camping (foxwoodcamping.co.uk) in the South Downs National Park are always a big hit for families looking for a true taste of outdoor life.
The origins of the word glamping are unclear. It’s short for ‘glamorous camping’ and is one of the more recent additions to the self-catering scene. The big difference between camping and glamping is summed up in one word.
There has been a boom in this type of holiday in recent years. It attracts those of us who want the joys of living in the open air but don’t fancy trudging to the communal showers for our morning rituals.
Among the most popular are Yurts – round-walled structures, with a canvas exterior which originated in Turkey and Russia. But actually, glamping is more a question of comfort than structure – so tipis, pods, cubes and domes are all out there for discovering. If you want to know more, the Lake District National Park has a beginner’s guide with everything you need to know.
We’ve all been stuck behind them on narrow country lanes, and perhaps cursed as they trundle along at a steady 32 miles an hour with a two-mile tail of traffic behind them. But if you’re behind the wheel, towing your own personal space then the perspectives are a whole lot different.
And if you fancy giving it a go, you can hire caravans for as little as £200 per week (although there will be a deposit to pay on top). The beauty is you can go where you like, although it’s always advisable to book a site in advance. The positives of caravanning are endless, you can pull up for a cuppa in a layby, take your own stuff with you and snuggle down to your favourite TV programmes in the evening.
You’ll be joining some illustrious company if you take to the road with your caravan in tow – Mick Jagger, Lorraine Kelly and Rio Ferdinand have all shared their love for the freedom and flexibility it offers.
If the thought of towing a caravan behind your car puts you off as a bit challenging, you can always hire a campervan – the next best thing.
At the top end you have fully-fitted mobile palaces that offer luxury and space in equal measure. The classic American-style Winnebago may be beyond most people’s budget, but there are affordable smaller campervans that are just as much fun.
These mobile homes are great fun for the family and come with all the home comforts you could possibly want. Demand is likely to be high this year, given the number of people who will be staying in the UK, so it’s advisable get in early for the best deals. The Cool Camping website has a useful guide for beginners that’s worth checking out.
If you think of self-catering, the first image that comes to mind is probably a country cottage – somewhere remote (but not too far from the village pub) and peaceful. We all dream of finding that rustic (but not too rustic) gem, full of character with breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside.
Rustling up delicious meals on the built-in Aga, sitting by the open fire listening to the sounds of nature outside – it’s what many of us dream of to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
They’re a favourite of families with young children, as they can be exciting and different, while offering some control of your surroundings. Location is the key. Cottages with sea views or with a river at the bottom of the garden tend to get snapped up first so you’ll need to be on your toes!
They come in all shapes and sizes. They’re found in all kinds of unusual places. But they all have one thing in common – they’re nestled in woods and forests all over the UK.
As people seek out more and more unusual places to stay, treehouses have shot up the ‘trendy location’ charts. You’re up there with the birds in the trees, in your own little nest – and think of the photos you can share with the rest of your family back home.
If you’re worried about the kids making the climb up to the house, then there are child-safe options around, but bigger kids will love it.
They come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re feeling flush you could try a few nights in the treehouses at the luxury Chewton Glen in Hampshire – but at £950 a night it might be out of the reach of most people’s budgets. But there are plenty of cheaper options around and comes highly recommended as a self-catering holiday with a difference.
…and finally how about a night behind bars?
If you look hard enough there’s no end of unusual places to stay, canal boats, river cruisers, lighthouses and even converted chapels.
And no, we’re not suggesting you go and rob a bank to get locked up. But if you want a real taste of solitary then how about booking a prison cell for a night? It does (just about) sleep two (in bunks) and the beach is just a three-minute walk away.
Penny Rope is hidden in a Georgian property in the heart of Margate which has undergone a transformation in recent years and is seen these days as a cool, hipster hang-out. It’s a bit short on natural light, and the catering is on the basic side, but think of the raised eyebrows when you get home and tell your friends you stayed in a prison cell for the night.
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