FOR many of us, a staycation may be looking more likely than a holiday abroad this year.
From Kent to Suffolk, we've rounded up the top waterside trips in the UK for you and a special someone to enjoy.
The Boat House, Frome
Deputy Features Editor Rosie Gizauskas and her sister Frances stayed in a palatial abode on the Orchardleigh Estate in Somerset.
THE PAD: Dating back to 1856 and at the centre of a rolling 500-acre estate,
The Boat House is a secluded little getaway complete with hot tub overlooking the huge lake.
As well as miles of walks from your doorstep, a king-size bed, waterfall shower and a dreamy open fireplace to sit by as you while away an evening, we loved cooking breakfast in the little traditional kitchen before eating alfresco by the water come morning.
Besties and couples will love this place in equal measure.
EXPLORE: Frome, a 10-minute drive away, is a quaint, quirky market town full of independent shops and eateries.
Check out the boutiques on the medieval streets around Catherine Hill – vintage shops Dandy Lion (Facebook.com/Thedandylionfome) and Lark Vintage (Larkvintage.co.uk) are treasure troves of ’60s and ’70s gems.
Make sure you pop into The Three Swans, one of Frome’s oldest pubs, which boasts a stack of board games, too (Thethreeswans.com).
Or half an hour’s drive away is Bath and the setting for many of Bridgerton’s most famous spots, including Madame Delacroix’s seamstress shop – AKA the Abbey Deli (Jjbeanos.com) – and Lady Danbury’s residence, The Holburne Museum (Holburne.org).
Meanwhile, Longleat Safari Park is just nine miles from your abode and home to lions, tigers, monkeys and elephants.
Entry costs from £36.50 per adult (Longleat.co.uk).
REFUEL: The River House in Frome is a gorgeous spot for brunch – order the “nam-egg-stay” creamy scrambled eggs with houmous and greens on sourdough, £7 (Riverhousefrome.co.uk).
For lunch, the Fat Radish is a chintzy townhouse restaurant serving up delicious baked rarebit cauliflower cheese, £15, with refreshing melon margaritas, £8, (Fatradish.co.uk).
Come dinner, book a spot in the garden at The High Pavement. The menu is Moorish tapas, which is suitably more-ish.
Must-try dishes include the padron peppers, leek and cecina croquettes and home-baked bread with harissa. Dishes start from £5 (Facebook.com/thehighpavement).
BOOK IT: Stays at The Boat House cost from £300 a night, based on two people sharing (Orchardleigh.net).
Sands Hotel, Margate
Writer Shannon Lawlor and boyfriend Tom checked in for a seaside break in Kent.
THE PAD: Nestled among Margate’s trendiest seafront bars and restaurants, Sands Hotel – with its sleek, neutral interiors – makes for a boutique sleepover when exploring the coast.
Book a sea-view room and soak in the giant tub before catching the sunset from the roof-terrace bar.
Then head downstairs to the Bay Restaurant for spectacularly fresh seafood dishes, such as lemon-and-thyme-crusted coley with dauphinoise potatoes, £18, and mascarpone and shellfish risotto, £18.
At breakfast, expect a huge spread and a fab vegan full English.
EXPLORE: Don’t think that Margate’s hipster reputation makes it all style and no substance.
Prepare to spend hours perusing world-class exhibitions at the free Turner Contemporary gallery (Turnercontemporary.org).
Meanwhile, Fort Road Yard is an Aladdin’s cave of vintage clothes, kitsch homeware and antique furniture, while the Old Town is lined with chic fashion boutiques.
Don’t miss Haeckels, an amazing eco store brimming with beauty products, perfumes and home scents based on locally foraged seaweed and botanicals (Haeckels.co.uk).
Looking for something unique? Hit the Shell Grotto, an underground passageway covered floor to ceiling in 4.6 million seashells in mosaic designs. Entry costs £4.50 per adult (Shellgrotto.co.uk).
Book ahead for Dreamland – the revived ’20s amusement park with more than 25 rides and a roller disco is perfect for an afternoon of fun. Wristbands for rides cost from £8.25 (Dreamland.co.uk).
REFUEL: Reserve early for seafood heaven at Angela’s – its menu changes daily depending on the catch, but mains cost around £18.
Otherwise, pop into sister restaurant Dory’s and fill the table with small plates – nab the huge oysters, £2.20 each, if you can (Angelasofmargate.com).
For a lunch snack, swing by The Old Kent Market for tasty street food from burritos to bagels, and wash it down with a local tipple from one of Margate’s micro breweries.
We loved Xylo, which offers a plethora of home brews for around £5 a pint – sip the Millionaire, a salted-caramel chocolate-flavoured stout that really warms your insides (Xylobrew.com).
BOOK IT: Doubles cost from £120 B&B (Sandshotelmargate.co.uk).
Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich
Lifestyle Editor Catherine Bennion-Pedley and husband Andy threw down their anchor in the Suffolk town.
THE PAD: Sitting on Ipswich’s buzzing marina, Salthouse Harbour Hotel is a local fave. From its fancier rooms you can spy boats both big and small while relaxing in your copper roll-top bath.
Decor is modern with a nautical vibe, and a plentiful breakfast in bed is actively encouraged for no extra charge (thanks, Covid).
Downstairs, the Salthouse Eaterie serves decent bistro food like fish pie, £13, and Eton Mess, £8 – nicely washed down with a glass of sauvignon blanc, £7.70.
EXPLORE: Christchurch Mansion, amid the greenery of Christchurch Park, is free to visit and hosts contemporary exhibitions alongside traditional artworks.
The latest show, Power Of Stories – a display that includes three costumes from the movie Black Panther – opens soon (Ipswich.cimuseums.org.uk).
You’ll find the perfect presents at LoveOne on St Peter’s Street, from gorge rose-quartz earrings to stylish homeware and scarves (Loveone.co.uk).
Or get active and hire bikes at nearby Alton Water, from £15 for two hours, to cycle around the nature park’s reservoir and through pretty villages (Anglianwaterparks.co.uk/alton-water).
REFUEL: For a perfect caffeine kick, peanut-butter milkshakes and homemade cakes you’ll struggle to beat, head to Applaud Coffee with its cute garden (Applaud-coffee.co.uk).
After a no-frills but tasty Italian? Try the meat-topped carne pizza, £12, with the pasta alla norma of tomatoes, fried aubergines and ricotta, £10, at Tavernetta (Tavernettaipswich.co.uk).
Foodies should hop 10 minutes in the car to the huge Suffolk Food Hall.
Think farm shop meets lifestyle store meets garden centre, complete with a gelato hut selling local Harris & James creations, such as scrumptious jaffa cake flavour (Suffolkfoodhall.co.uk).
BOOK IT: Doubles cost from £121 B&B (Salthouseharbour.co.uk).
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