From Blackpool to Hampshire, stress-free staycations for an early autumn break

THREE stress-free staycations perfect for an early autumn break, with no PCR test required. 

Which will you choose?

Best for: seaside revelry


Deputy Features Editor Rosie Gizauskas and friend Lucy lived it up in the iconic northern town. The Pad Smack bang in the middle of Blackpool’s seafront you’ll find the quirky Art B&B, a boutique hotel with stunning rooms designed by local artists.

Ours – the King Sea View – has a unique light installation, a super-comfy king-sized bed and a huge bay window overlooking the Irish Sea. Breakfast is cooked to order – we loved the avocado bagels and home-made muesli pots.

Explore: Get a seagull’s view from the top of the famous Blackpool Tower – home to the ballroom in which the Strictly gang strut their stuff each year. Entry cost £15 and under-threes go free (

Hit: the Pleasure Beach and ride the iconic Big One rollercoaster – or just stick to the Derby Racer, which is basically a merry-go-round for grown-ups – before hopping on the tram, £2.10 for a single journey or £5.50 for an unlimited day pass (, to see the Strictly waxworks at Blackpool’s Madame Tussauds. Entry costs £17.50 ( 

Refuel: There’s more to Blackpool’s foodie scene than fish and chips on the pier (although that’s obviously a must!). At seaside noodle bar Wok Inn, we tucked in to tofu and vegetable ramen, £12.50, with delicious spring rolls, £5.50 (

Head to: Vintro Lounge for relaxed dining in a lively atmosphere – we loved the Mexican superbowl, full of guac and black beans, £8.95, with indulgent dark chocolate and orange torte for afters, £3.50 ( Craving pizza? Stop by Stefani’s for a mean margherita, £7.90 (

Get a seagull’s view from the top of the famous Blackpool Tower – home to the ballroom in which the Strictly gang strut their stuff each year.

Don’t miss: Legendary drag show Funny Girls has been running since 1994. Expect songs, dance and rude jokes from star Betty Legs Diamond. Tickets cost from £7.50 (

Book it: Double rooms at Art B&B costs from £60 per night, including breakfast ( Plan your trip at Train fares from London Euston to Blackpool cost from £27.20 each way with Avanti West Coast (

Best for: a country recharge

Stockbridge, Hampshire

Fashion Director Tracey Lea Sayer, husband Lewis and puppy Reggie lapped up a weekend in the countryside without the kids. The Pad In the middle of Stockbridge’s pretty, flower-filled high street sits 19th-century Georgian jewel The Grosvenor Hotel.

The chintzy-meets-Scandi design of the newly refurbished Garden Rooms wow – think a  zingy colour palette, floral-print headboard and an enormous roll-top bath. Easy access to the beautiful gardens for Reggie made it the perfect hideaway.

Explore: Pull on your wellies (or borrow some from the hotel) and head to Spitfire Shoot for a couple of hours of clay-pigeon shooting with an instructor, £55 per person ( Warning: it may bring out your competitive side!

Once you’ve hung up your shotgun, head to Stockbridge’s high street for some retail therapy. Beautiful interiors store Newman’s is impossible to leave empty-handed (, as is plant paradise the Garden Inn. We drooled over cute doggie Barbour coats in outdoor specialist store Orvis (, and don’t forget to buy fish food to throw to the trout in the River Test, which runs through the town. 

Refuel: Start your day with a visit to Woodfire X Coffee Lab, for a cuppa and slice of ginger cake, £3.50 ( After the caffeine boost, take a walk across the marshes to the village of Houghton, stopping off at The Boot Inn for a pint and home-made pie, mash and greens, £18.50 (

A visit to the cosiest local pub The Greyhound on the Test is a must. If weather allows, opt for a Sunday sharing roast.

Dinner at The Grosvenor is a grand affair – we loved the hand-dived seared scallops and olive-stuffed king prawns with vine tomato coulis and pancetta, £7.95 each. Follow up with the 10oz Himalayan salt aged Porterhouse steak, garlic-sautéed mushrooms, peppercorn sauce and skinny fries, £24.95. If you have any room left, try the sticky-toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and salted caramel and chocolate crumb, £7.45. 

Don’t miss: A visit to the cosiest local pub The Greyhound on the Test is a must. If weather allows, opt for a Sunday sharing roast, £26 per person, in the riverside garden ( 

Book it: Double room at The Grosvenor Hotel cost from £150 per night, including breakfast (

Best for: family fun

Devon Cliffs

Editor-in-Chief Sinead McIntyre, husband Alistair and twins Riley and Harris, 10, hit the beach at Haven’s coastal holiday park. The Pad Set in 200 acres and with direct access to a wide sandy beach, Devon Cliffs Holiday Park is Haven’s biggest resort.

Chill out: in a spacious three-bed Prestige caravan, which comes with two TVs, a master bedroom with en-suite and a bluetooth speaker, as well as decking to soak up any sunshine you’re lucky enough to see. Sandy Bay, with its golden beach and shallow waters, is a stroll away, but if natural waves aren’t your thing, the heated swimming pool – complete with waterslides – is great fun.

Feeling adventurous? Try some of the activities on site. We loved the aerial adventure with its high-octane zip wires, £20 per person, and the junior Segways, £12 per hour, went down a treat with my 10 year olds. 

Explore: Buses run hourly from the site to the lively town of Exmouth, £4.90 return. Once there, take a stroll along Devon’s longest seafront. Or see all the sites from the Exmouth land train. For £4 a person you can hop on and off, visiting local independent shops on The Strand (

Don’t miss: Antonio’s for home-made Italian ice cream, £2.30 – the salted caramel is out of this world ( Explore stunning Manor Gardens, or the fun park with swings, rides and dinosaurs is a must for young ones. 

Sandy Bay, with its golden beach and shallow waters, is a stroll away.

Refuel: Grab a table at South Beach Cafe with views of the stunning Jurassic coastline. Tuck into mouth-watering Exmouth mussels, £10.95, or the delicious spring vegetable risotto, £9.95, while little ones will love the spaghetti Bolognese, £5.50, followed up with a chocolate brownie and ice cream, £2.95. Not in the mood to eat out? Order a delivery from one of the many takeaways on site – Cook’s cod and chips, £7.95, is a winner, while Papa John’s pizzas are a guaranteed hit. Or throw a BBQ on your decking – the on-site supermarket has everything you need.

Don’t miss: Take a walk along the South West Coast Path before returning to the South Beach Cafe to enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets. 

Book it: Accommodation for a family of four for four nights costs from £585.52 ( 

    Source: Read Full Article