One of my friends from Paris called me last week as she was trying to organise a girls’ weekend away in the UK. ‘Where should we go? And please don’t say London. We’ve already been there 3 times! We want to go somewhere different.’
Whilst London is a popular destination for a short break, there are so many other lovely places to go for a girls’ weekend away in the UK. From city breaks to country escapes, the UK is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with your friends.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your next break, here are five of my favourite, tried-and-tested destinations for a girls’ weekend away in the UK.
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Why visit? With its Roman ruins, quintessential tea rooms and honey-coloured buildings, a weekend in Bath will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel. And let’s not forget about the fabulous Thermae Bath Spa.
What to do in Bath
There is so much to see in Bath but luckily the centre is quite compact so you can fit a lot into a weekend trip. Wander through the city centre and you’ll pass quite a few well-known attractions, including the historic Roman Baths, the beautiful Bath Abbey and the iconic Pulteney Bridge. If you’re a Jane Austen fan then don’t miss the Jane Austen Centre where you can learn more about one of Bath’s most famous residents.
Pop into one of the many quirky tea rooms for afternoon tea before heading up to the Circus and the Royal Crescent, two of Bath’s most impressive architectural landmarks. Whilst you’re there take a stroll through Victoria Park and see the botanical gardens.
A girls’ weekend in Bath wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa. They have a wide range of treatments and packages, including my personal favourite, The Twilight Package. If you just want to use the facilities then you can opt for the Thermae Welcome, a 2 hour spa session for £36 (Monday to Friday) which includes access to the rooftop pool.
For a fabulous view of the city, walk up to Bathwick Meadow. It’s a short walk from the centre with a slight incline but you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping panorama of the city. If you have time then carry on along the Bath Skyline Walk. It’s a 6 mile route through woodlands and meadows but there are lots of footpaths for shorter routes.
Where to eat in Bath
Bath has no shortage of lovely places to eat. Sally Lunn’s is one of the most well-known tea rooms in Bath and visitors from all over the world flock to this famous café to try the Sally Lunn bun. It’s a delicious secret recipe so be prepared to queue! The Bath Bun and the Regency Tea Room are two of my favourite tea rooms and are definitely worth a try if you are in Bath.
For a special evening meal try Sotto Sotto. It’s a romantic little restaurant serving fresh, authentic Italian dishes and is located in a candlelit stone cellar.
Where to stay in Bath
Bath has plenty of luxury hotels, grand guesthouses and chic apartments to suit every budget. Here are my suggestions:
Something quirky: Bath Narrowboats
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for your girls’ weekend away, Bath Narrowboats is a unique alternative to hotels and guesthouses. They have seven boats which sleep 2 – 13 people at their canal-side wharf which is situated 10 minutes from the city centre.
SOMETHING LUXURIOUS: MACDONALD BATH SPA HOTEL
Located 10 minutes from the city centre, Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel is a luxury and stylish choice for a girls’ weekend. The spa features a swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, and tranquil treatment rooms. When you’ve finished relaxing, head to the terrace for a fruity cocktail overlooking the gardens.
SOMETHING WITH CHARACTER: THE FRANCIS HOTEL BATH
The Francis Hotel Bath is a beautiful Grade 1 listed hotel made up of seven original 18th century townhouses on the south side of Queen Square. It’s a timelessly stylish hotel that will make you feel as if you’ve walked into a Jane Austen novel.
How to get to Bath
Bath is located in Somerset in the South West of England, 97 miles west of London and 11 miles southeast of Bristol. There are regular trains and buses from both directions, making Bath very accessible for a weekend getaway.
The closest airport to Bath is Bristol Airport which has daily flights from many European destinations. Once you arrive, you can hop on a bus to Bath. Air Decker and National Express both run frequent buses from Bristol Airport to Bath city centre. It takes about 50 minutes and costs £15 per person.
Bath Spa railway station is well connected to many cities in the UK. From London, it only takes around 90 minutes. National Express also runs frequent coaches from London Victoria Coach Station and the fastest journey will get you there in just 2 hours 20 minutes.
Why visit? The Cotswolds is one of England’s prettiest regions, filled with picturesque villages and market towns just begging to be explored. You’ll find gorgeous gardens and elegant stately homes here too. Rent a cute cottage and enjoy the country lifestyle for a weekend.
What to do in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a huge area spanning five counties but the majority of its quaint villages and towns are in Gloucestershire which is where I grew up. Castle Combe and Bibury have become extremely popular thanks to Instagram so opt for some of the lesser known towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Camden, Painswick and Tetbury.
Step back in time by visiting some of the historic National Trust properties dotted throughout the Cotswolds. My favourites are Chastleton House, Hidcote Manor Gardens and Newark Park. If you have time spend an afternoon exploring some of the Cotswolds prettiest gardens such as Highgrove Royal Gardens and Painswick Rococo Gardens. Westonbirt Arboretum is also a must see especially during autumn.
For beautiful views of the unspoilt countryside, head to Broadway Tower or Crickley Hill for sweeping views over the Cotswolds rolling green hills.
Where to eat in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a foodie’s heaven so you really are spoilt for choice. Head to one of the farmers’ markets where you can sample some of the Cotswolds best local produce. Stroud Farmers’ Market has won lots of awards and is a great place to go on a Saturday morning. Pick up some of the local delicacies like Double Gloucester cheese and Gloucester Old Spot pork before heading off on a picnic.
For something special, book a traditional afternoon tea at one of the Cotswolds’ grand hotels. Tortworth Court in Wotton-under-Edge is nestled in the picturesque countryside and provides the perfect setting for a girlie afternoon tea. If you’re visiting Bourton-on-the-Water then visit The Rose Tree, a family run restaurant on the water which serves home-cooked food. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in the Cotswolds as the food is always full of flavour and the setting has so much character.
Another favourite of mine is the Weighbridge Inn in Minchinhampton where they serve the 2 in 1 pie – it’s definitely something you need to try on a trip to the Cotswolds!
Where to stay in the Cotswolds
From hotels to holiday cottages, there are so many lovely places to stay in the Cotswolds. Here are a few of my favourites:
SOMETHING STYLISH: CALCOT MANOR HOTEL
Set over 220 acres, Calcot Manor Hotel is a stylish and secluded retreat in the countryside. It’s the perfect place to hit the ‘off’ button and press ‘reset’. Enjoy a glass of prosecco in the outdoor hot tub and listen to the crackling fire under the stars. Afterwards, head to The Conservatory or The Gumstool for some delicious local dishes.
SOMETHING FOR THE FAMILY: COTSWOLD WATER PARK HOTEL
If you’re travelling with children then the Cotswold Water Park Hotel is a great option. Situated next to a lake in the nature reserve, the contemporary hotel boasts picture perfect views over the water. It’s a lovely place to spot local wildlife and enjoy some water sports. The hotel has 64 self-catering apartments which are ideal for families.
SOMETHING RUSTIC: DAYLESFORD ORGANIC FARM
If you fancy something a bit different, Daylesford Organic Farm has some beautiful self-catered cottages which have a real rustic charm. Daylesford itself is definitely worth a visit. It has a lovely organic farm shop, a wonderful spa and also runs fun cookery classes!
How to get to the Cotswolds
Although the Cotswolds are located in a rural area in south central England, there is a great public transport network which makes getting around easier than you’d expect.
The closest airports for travelling to the Cotswolds are Birmingham and Bristol, which are approximately 60 minutes to 90 minutes away. There are regular rail services from Birmingham and Bristol via Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Dursley.
The British rail network connects the Cotswolds to London, the Midlands, and the North and South West of England. There are train stations in Cam & Dursley, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stonehouse and Stroud. You can check timetables and prices at the following sites: National Rail, Great Western Railway and The Train Line.
If you’re travelling to the Cotswolds by bus, the main bus stations are in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. Local bus services link these main towns to smaller towns throughout the area. Download the Explore the Cotswolds by Public Transport Guide to help you plan your trip.
Why visit? Medieval streets, secret alleyways and a world-famous castle, Edinburgh is nothing short of enchanting. The Scottish capital is steeped in history but it’s also a leading festival city and knows how to throw a spectacular New Year’s Eve bash!
What to do in Edinburgh
Despite being quite compact, there is almost an endless list of things to see and do in Edinburgh. Walk down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park, listen to the bagpipes and admire the incredible architecture. Take a little detour down one of the narrow hidden alleys and get a glimpse of life back in the medieval days.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, make sure you visit the colourful Victoria Street. This curved, cobbled street is said to have inspired J. K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley and is lined with quirky independent shops and cafes.
The hilly capital has some wonderful viewpoints where you can really admire the architecture and design of the city. Visit the National History Museum and head to the rooftop for one of the best views of Edinburgh Castle. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat offer panoramic views of the city and are two of the best spots to watch the sun rise and set.
For a bit of tranquillity, head to the picturesque Dean’s Village which is only 10 minutes from the bustling city centre and is one of the cutest spots in the city.
Where to eat in Edinburgh
From Michelin-starred restaurants to trendy cafes, Edinburgh’s food scene is diverse and vibrant. The Bon Vivant serves a delicious and homely Sunday Roast, and the salt fudge ice cream is far too good to be true. If you’re a fan of Mexican food then you’ll love El Cartel. They serve freshly made, authentic Mexican street food as well as an exciting range of cocktails – perfect for a girls’ weekend away!
If you’re looking for a restaurant with a view then you really can’t beat the Tower Restaurant. Located above the National Museum of Scotland, you can enjoy a glass of prosecco and a delicious menu whilst soaking up the views. They also do a wonderful brunch from 10am to 12.30pm.
Where to stay in Edinburgh
There are so many lovely places to stay in Edinburgh regardless of your budget and tastes.
SOMETHING HISTORICAL: THE CALEDONIAN
SOMETHING HOMELY: STOCKBRIDGE RIVERSIDE APARTMENT
Stockbridge is a lovely place to stay if you’d rather stay outside the city centre. It’s only a short walk from the city centre and is close to the picturesque Circus Lane. There are lots of cool Air BnBs and apartments such as Stockbridge Riverside Apartment.
SOMETHING CONVENIENT: LEONARDO ROYAL EDINBURGH HAYMARKET
Situated less than 500 metres from Haymarket Rail Station, Leonardo Royal Edinburgh is a convenient choice if you’re arriving by rail. It’s only a short walk to the city centre and offers great value with modern and stylish rooms.
How to get to Edinburgh
As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is well connected with daily flights to and from many European destinations. The train and bus network makes it easy to get around on public transport during your stay.
Edinburgh’s international airport is only a 30-minute tram or bus journey from the city centre. Edinburgh’s main bus company, Lothian Buses, runs the Airlink 100 express bus service. This express bus service departs every 10 minutes and tickets cost £4.50 for a single journey.
If you prefer to go by train Edinburgh has several train stations. The main stations are Waverley and Haymarket. The train journey from London is very scenic and only takes 4.5 hours.
Why visit? Home to Durdle Door and Old Harry’s Rocks, Dorset has some spectacular and unspoilt scenery. Enjoy beautiful cliff walks along the Jurassic Coast, explore historical castles, and relax on sandy golden beaches. All in one weekend!
What to do in Dorset
Get up early and head to Durdle Door before the crowds descend. Make the most of the morning light and the peace and quiet at one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks before walking along the coast to Lulworth Cove.
Pay a visit to Lulworth Castle. Built in the 17th century, this beautiful castle has a rich history worth exploring. It also has spacious grounds and lovely woodland walks, as well as the Castle Tearoom where you can enjoy some delicious cream teas and other treats. For a panoramic view over the pretty Purbeck countryside climb up the tower and don’t forget your camera!
Explore the quaint village of Corfe and wander down the pretty streets lined with independent shops, tearooms and pubs before visiting the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle. Perched on a hill, the castle is a dramatic site and is one of my favourite castles in the UK.
Head to Studland and walk down to Old Harrys Rocks where you can admire these amazing white chalk formations. Photos don’t do them justice so don’t miss them on a trip to Dorset. You can also book a Jurassic Coast cruise with City Cruises Poole and see the rocks from the sea.
Where to eat in Dorset
Being so close to the sea, it’s hardly surprising that Dorset has some of the best fish and seafood restaurants in the UK. If you’re in Lulworth then try the Boat Shed Café. Situated on the edge of Lulworth Cove, it’s a lovely place to enjoy breakfast or lunch whilst admiring the views out over Lulworth Cove.
If you’re staying in Weymouth The Ship Inn is a lovely harbour side pub in the heart of Weymouth. If you’re after something a bit quirky then try the Nautico Lounge. It’s located on the high street inside a former post office. It has a fun, colourful vibe and serves a wide variety of dishes.
Where to stay in Dorset
Dorset is a large county so plan what you want to see and then decide where to stay. We used Weymouth as a base and were able to get to most places easily by taxi or public transport. Here are my top picks:
SOMETHING BY THE SEA: B&B WEYMOUTH
Located right on Weymouth’s seafront, B&B Weymouth is just 5 minutes’ walk from the station and the town centre. Not only is it in a great location, it’s also got character. It’s a Grade II Listed building and has been beautifully preserved.
SOMETHING COSY: LULWORTH COVE INN
Lulworth Cove Inn is a cute property on the doorstep of Lulworth Cove and offers spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast. It also has a great pub which serves award-winning cask ales and lagers, as well as fresh dishes made from local ingredients.
SOMETHING WITH A STORY: THE SMUGGLERS INN
Situated on the edge of the Jurassic Coast, The Smugglers Inn has an interesting history. Originally built in the 13th century, this inn was used as one of the main landing places for smuggled goods in the 17th century and was the headquarters of the French smuggler, Pierre Latour. It offers beautiful views over the coast out to the Isle of Portland and has a traditional English pub.
How to get to Dorset
There are lots of great travel options for getting to Dorset. Its close proximity to London makes it a very accessible destination for a weekend away.
Dorset has its own international airport, Bournemouth Airport, which connects Dorset to several European destinations, including Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Poland, Switzerland and Italy to name a few. Bus 737 connects the airport to Bournemouth town centre and Bournemouth Station where you can connect for onward travel by train or bus to other towns in Dorset. Southampton Airport, Exeter Airport, and Bristol Airport are all close by making Dorset very accessible.
Dorset has two main ports, Poole Port and Portland Port, which welcome visitors from France, Spain and the Channel Islands.
With 23 stations across the county, Dorset has an excellent rail network to many towns in the UK. If you’re coming from London there is a direct service from London Waterloo to Weymouth which runs every 30 minutes (every hour on Sundays). It stops at several stations in Dorset along the way including Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole.
Why visit? Known as the birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is perfect for a cultural weekend away. Learn more about its most famous inhabitant on a walking tour, admire the cute thatched houses and spend an evening at the theatre, after all, all the world’s a stage!
What to do in Stratford-upon-Avon
Spend the day exploring the town and visit some of the well-preserved buildings to get a glimpse into Shakespeare’s history. Make sure you don’t miss Anne Hathaway’s cottage. This is the former home of Shakespeare’s wife (not the actress!) and is one of the most picturesque cottage’s I’ve seen in the UK. Learn more about their love story and life together whilst strolling through the beautiful gardens.
There are lots of non-Shakespearean things to do in this pretty Tudor town too. Take a boat trip down the Avon or book onto a gin cruise to make your girls’ weekend away in the UK even more special. The Stratford Butterfly Farm is a lovely place to visit. You’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies here in a tropical paradise with waterfalls and fish filled ponds.
For a panoramic view of the town, head up the 104-foot tall Theatre Tower at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The view from the top over the historic buildings and surrounding landscapes is truly spectacular.
A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the theatre. The Royal Shakespeare Company has three theatres in Stratford; The Other Place, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre. There is always something on but book in advance to make sure you don’t miss out. Lots of restaurants in the town have lovely pre-theatre menus which are very reasonable.
Where to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon
The Opposition is my favourite restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon and is only a short walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Known affectionately as the Oppo by locals, this bustling bistro has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and is perfect for pre and post theatre meals. The food is delicious and is made with local products.
Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is a cosy 2 floor restaurant with an open fire and a lovely terrace. It’s a great place for Sunday roasts. Located on the historic Sheep Street, it’s an ideal place for a pre-theatre meal.
Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon
As a popular tourist destination, Stratford-upon-Avon has a vast selection of hotels, country inns and apartments to choose from.
SOMETHING FANCY: MACDONALD ALVESTON MANOR HOTEL
With a spa and peaceful grounds, the Macdonald Alveston Manor Hotel offers guests a luxurious stay.The timber-framed Tudor building is a 5 minute walk from the city centre and has a swimming pool, gym, sauna and beauty centre.
SOMETHING UNIQUE: STRATFORD CARAVAN’S RIVERSIDE PARK
If you want something a bit different for your girls’ weekend have a look at Stratford Caravans’ riverside park. It has several unique and cosy glamping pods, including curved hobbit huts with cute oval doors. There is a river taxi service which can take you from the hut into the town and offers some picturesque views!
SOMETHING CHARMING: THE AIDAN GUEST HOUSE
Aidan House is a charming Victorian guest house close to lots of local attractions, including the Shakespeare Theatre. It was built in 1897 and has managed to retain many of its original features.
How to get to Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is situated in the West Midlands. Due to its central location, it is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
Birmingham International Airport and Coventry Airport are the two closest airports if you’re arriving by air. You can then take a train or bus to Stratford-upon-Avon which takes between 1 – 2 hours.
Stratford-upon-Avon has its own train station which is a 10 minute walk from the town centre. If you’re coming from Birmingham, London Midland Trains run a service every 30 minutes. From London, Chiltern Railways run a service every 2 hours.
National Express runs several bus services to Stratford-upon-Avon from all over the UK. Stagecoach Warwickshire also provide local bus services around Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwickshire.
The UK is home to so many beautiful and interesting places. Here are a few more suggestions to inspire your next trip, whether that’s a weekend away or a day out.
- How to spend a weekend in Bath
- A weekend in Edinburgh
- A guide to London’s prettiest mews streets
- A short walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
- Everything You Need to Know to Hike the Seven Sisters
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.