Welcome to our Cool Places Year blog, where every year we give you lots of reasons to get away somewhere special in Britain. Keep reading for lots of tips on places to to stay – great new hotels, country cottages and boutique B&Bs, festivals and events, or just the chance to discover a new region of the UK .
January is a time for winter walks, the Great Outdoors and shaking off the indoorsiness of Christmas by getting out and breathing in some fresh air and feeling good about the New Year, and what better place to do that than in Scotland, and specifically at East Cambusmoon
, close to Loch Lomond, which provides high quality eco-friendly accommodation within easy reach of the central belt. You could also try the Ardverikie Estate
, which recently stood in for Balmoral in the latest series of The Crown on Netflix and has an array of lovely self-catering holiday cottages. It seems odd to mention it at a time of strikes and disruption, but you can reach Edinburgh
by train more cheaply than ever with the new low-cost Lumo service from London and Newcastle, plus the city's Celtic Connections festival in January provides the perfect excuse to sample some of the excellent hotels you can find in Glasgow
. Check out our Scotland
guide for a selection of great places to stay and things to do north of the border.
It's one of England's most unsung counties yet Kent
is not only easy to reach from London but also boasts a huge variety of attractions and things to do. Visit in 2023 to experience a couple of of the country's most exciting and dynamic seaside resorts – in Margate, where new hotels and restaurant seem to open every month, and burgeoning Folkestone, whose dining scene continues to go from strength to strength. For something a bit different, check out Elmley Nature Reserve
on the Isle of Sheppey, which has fabulous shepherds huts as well as one of the country's most remote and scenic B&Bs. For more nature, there's also the Kent Wildlife Trust Reserve in Blean
, just outside Canterbury
, where they have recently re-introduced bison and Exmoor ponies as part of a project to re-wild Kent's woodlands.
March starts off with St Davids Day - the National Day of Wales - so what better time to visit Wales
, We currently love West Wales best, where Camarthenshire and Ceredigion are a fabulous alternative to the better-known and busier parts of Pembrokeshire. The brand-new Albion Aberteifi
is a stunning new Cardigan hotel, and from there you can travel up the coast to New Quay or inland to the wilderness of the Cambrian Mountains, while Camarthenshire
, bordered by Carmarthen Bay in the south to the Cambrian Mountains in the north, really is one of South Wales' unsung pleasures, home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales
and much else besides. Finally, there's the Brecon Beacons, on the edge of which one of our favourite inns – the Felin Fach Griffin
– provides the ultimate foodie retreat.
As the weather begins to warm up and our attention turns to weekends away, Bath
spring to mind as ideal destinations for a weekend or short break. Not only are both stacked with great places to stay and to eat out, but their numbers are increasing, and if the weather is kind you might want to take a dip in Bath's recently re-opened and fully restored Cleveland Lido
– officially Britain's oldest public swimming pool at 200 years and counting!
May is home to two iconic British bank holidays son always presents the perfect opportunity for a long weekend break. Liverpool
is a perfect city for a short break at any time of year but especially this May when the stars have aligned to select it as the host of Eurovision in May.The city is creating a Eurovision Village in the Pier Head quarter, a compact city centre that's perfect for sightseeing and is home to some terrific hotels, but best book your room now to avoid any chance of Eurovision FOMO.
There's no bad time to visit Devon but this year you might consider June, when the terrific new Mole Resort
is on track to open more luxury lodges amid gorgeous countryside on the outskirts of Exmoor, North Devon. Featuring hotel rooms, self-catering lodges and top-notch facilities, including a superb restaurant ,swimming pool and spa and tennis and golf, it's set to become one of the county's go-to luxury retreats in 2023. Until then, you might try Olga Polizzi's superb Endsleigh Hotel
, which has lovely rooms, great food and a wonderful location right on the border of Devon and Cornwall – check out our Devon
guide for inspiration, and more terrific places to stay, eat and visit..
makes a brilliant short break at any time of year but you might consider visiting in July, when you can catch the end of the Picasso exhibition at the city's Sainsbury Centre
, as well as the rest of the gallery's superb collection of 20th-century British art and sculpture. Norwich is in any case a beautiful and fascinating city, worth visiting at any time of year not only for its Norman cathedral but for its excellent foodie offerings too, from its brand-new Yalm Food Hall
to fine-dining options (Benedicts, Roger Hickman's and of course Delia's in Norwich City football ground) and an array of pubs and restaurants that punches far above the city's weight. Norwich even has its own national park in The Norfolk Broads
on its doorstep, so country comforts are close at hand too, not least at The Boathouse
Why not embrace summer with an escape to Sussex? For walks in the sunning South Downs
, visits to ancient towns like Rye
and the nearby beach at Camber Sands, or maybe a short break in Brighton
, Britain's foremost gay city,
during its annual Pride Festival? Or try Upper Barn
(above), just outside Amberley, right in the heart of the Downs. August is also a good time to visit nearby Eastbourne, another up-and-coming seaside resort that hosts one of the warm-up tennis tournaments for Wimbledon and is smashing it with new hotels like The Port
. The town is also set to be the new host of the Turner prize later in the year – some indication of its new-found artsy vibe.
Late summer and early autumn is a lovely time to go anywhere in Britain, but particularly the Peak District National Park, where the autumn colours are bold and the brand-new Bike and Boot hotel
which opens this year in the Hope Valley makes a great place to enjoy them.There are walks and hikes galore in Britain's first yet perhaps less well-known national park, along with great places to stay, terrific pubs and much more, all of its featured in our Derbyshire and the Peak District guide
There are always lots of reasons to visit Manchester, not least city's selection of excellent hotels, which continues to get even better, with the boutique Alan
joining an already terrific bunch of options last year and with several new openings expected in 2023. The other reason to go this year is visit the city's very Manhattan 'High Line' in the National Trust's brilliant Castlefield Viaduct
, which was turned into an elevated park just last year and will be open to visitors again in 2023.
November is the month of Britain's darkest skies, so it would seem a perfect time to head up to one of the country's most sparsely populated and under-rated counties in Northumberland
, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary as an International Dark Sky Park in 2023. Keep your eyes peeled for special stargazing events in all sorts of special places, and if you can't make it to Northumberland consider Cheshire
instead, where the county's long-standing Jodrell Bank Observatory is due to open a newest attraction, the pioneering First Light Pavilion
You may say it's far too early to be thinking about Christmas but we reckon everyone needs something to look froward to, and really there's no better place to experience the run-up to the festive seasons than in London
, where we have some terrific hotels, pubs and even the odd B&B to tempt you. In the nation's capital you can shop till you drop, visit Winter Wonderland and get thoroughly vested in the seasonal vibe by staying in a nice hotel and enjoying a couple of great dinners. Treat yourself – no doubt by the end of 2023 you will deserve it!