Everyone loves Blackpool. You can’t go wrong with a stick of rock, a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat and a massive bag of Fish and Chips on the pier. Okay, so the town certainly looks a bit shabby nowadays, and if you take a detour off the Golden Mile it can get a bit dodgy, but there’s still ample charm in Blackpool and there’s LOADS to do. The Pleasure Beach is always bloody brilliant, the Tower is now owned by the same people who own Madame Tussauds and Alton Towers so they can entertain you and there are some brilliant Bed & Breakfasts to stay in – most of which are fantastic value. It’s also an excellent night out in the ‘Pool – so you can easily have the best time ever and it’s only about an hour away on the train.
Most people from ‘Up North’ don’t really have many good things to say about London, but as a man who has been many, many times on weekend trips and even lived there for a spell, I can tell you – it’s a great place for a Staycation. Personally I’d completely ignore Zone 1 of the Tube, the centre of London is packed-full of tourists and police – both of which will annoy the hell out of you. So stick to the outskirts of Greater London and there are some real treats to be found. Brixton and Peckham are fantastic south of the river, while Islington, Camden, Dalston, Hackney and Walthamstow are all well worth a visit for world-class bars and restaurants. Woolfy was my end when I lived there and you should definitely give it a visit – if only for the Neon Museum and The Chequers Pub.
Just saying ‘Cornwall’ is a bit misleading and totally not representative of the place as a whole. Cornwall is bloody massive, and there are HUGE differences between the towns and areas. Newquay is legendary for surfing and partying, there’s Dartmoor National Park, but my most favourite of places is undoubtedly at the tip – Falmouth & Penryn end. The beaches here are stunning, and the quaint little villages are perfect for a few days away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are some cracking boozers, great restaurants and it is truly one of the most beautiful places in the UK, perhaps even the world.
Of course the Lake District is in this list. Basically right on our doorstep, the lakes are the perfect place for a few days away from the city, and there’s an absolute wealth of things to do no matter what you’re into. If you like walking and doing all of that active stuff – you’ll be like a pig in shit here. If you like to get hammered, there are some truly exceptional pubs knocking about, and if you like to stuff your face with food, you’ll find some of the UK’s best Michelin-starred restaurants up here too. And to top it all off – it’s stunning.
I’m not going to say Edinburgh because, although Edinburgh is really bloody nice and a lot of fun, it’s nowhere near as fun as Glasgow is, and there are far less annoying tourists in Glasgow too. I like to think of Glasgow as the Manchester to Edinburgh’s London, the cooler and definitely edgier city of Scotland and somewhere that’s perfect for a few days away. If you really feel like you want to visit Edinburgh though, you can take a train from Glasgow – it doesn’t take long and it’s a nice day out for sure.
Again, this is such a HUGE generalisation for an area that it’s borderline offensive – so I’m sorry about that. The Highlands are vast and they are truly magnificent, and there’s LOADS to be getting on with. A couple of years back I started off in Inverness and made my way down the Lochs to Fort William near Ben Nevis and it was one of the best weeks of my life – so there’s always that. If you’ve got a car, apparently the North Coast 500 drive is one of the best drives in the world. So do that too.
I went to Snowdon about 10 years ago and I did it all. I went canoeing, rock climbing, horse riding… I even got a flat tire and had to wait over 2 hours to get it fixed. Oh yeah and we stayed over in an old Scouts hut I think it was, full of bunk beds and an industrial-sized kitchen overlooking the mountains. The scenery is truly stunning here and there’s obviously plenty to do should you want to be ‘active’. It’s not far at all from Manchester either so you could even do a weekend here and still get the benefit.
Now I’ve never actually been to The Cotswolds, but Finest Director James goes all the time, and as a man of fine tastes and sophistication, a repeat visit anywhere must be a sign of it’s excellence. In fact I’ve only just discovered in what part of the UK it is, it’s in Gloucester and near Bath and Bristol and all that – well I’ve been to all of those places and they’re all excellent. The villages in the Cotswolds look gorgeous, and it’s actually a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty‘ so well done on that one.
I’ve got an awful lot of time for Belfast, I believe it is genuinely one of the best places you can visit in the UK, even if it’s just for a day like I did last year. It’s one of the friendliest and coolest cities I’ve ever been to, with a raft of top bars, restaurants and clubs, plus a load of tourist attractions that examine the unique and often brutal history of the city. Just outside the city you’ll find a rugged coastline, home to the Giant’s Causeway, as well as loads of Game of Thrones filming locations to explore.
I’ve been to York hundreds of times and I’ve always had a great time. The city is tiny, surrounded by ancient city walls and with a skyline dominated by the huge York Minster Cathedral. It’s always a pleasure to explore the tiny alleys and back streets of the city, with a dead good pub or restaurant pretty much everywhere you look. Even though the river loves to break its banks, it also makes for a lovely scenic walk on a sunny day. There’s loads to do here and SO much history that you’ll struggle to fit it all in within a couple of days.
An Italian-style village in Wales that will make you double take the first time you visit, and probably a couple of times after that too. It was built by a bloke called Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975, and is modelled on a fishing village on the Italian Riviera. So obviously, when the weather is good you’ll almost feel like you’re in Italy, what with all the buildings, weird accents and strange foods. Sorry, I’m only kidding – I love the Welsh accent – mostly because of Charlotte Church. There are a ton of hotels in the area and a couple of days here will fill your Instagram grid for a few weeks at least.