Let's face it: travelling around Britain thirty years ago was a dreary affair. Hotels were grey, unwelcoming places with mismatched furniture often run by owners with a prison-warder approach to hospitality; food – outside London at least – was either microwaved junk eaten the faster the better or upscale pseudo-French offerings that were usually consumed in awe and silence; everywhere shut at 11pm – at the latest; and if you had children you should probably forget about travelling at all, since you were unwelcome pretty much everywhere. No wonder we couldn't wait to leave the country.
Even in those days, though, there was much about the UK and its attractions to celebrate - amazing landscapes, wonderful beaches, ancient towns and cities, a rich and burgeoning cultural diversity and a wide range of attractions that meant there was always something to do even on the rainiest of days. These things, including the weather, have not changed, and in some cases have got better (some might argue even the weather has improved). But it took our love affair with 'abroad' to make us realize how badly we were getting some things wrong at home. A generation later and Britain has been transformed: the standard of hotel accommodation has risen massively, with a new breed of enthusiastic hosts focused on providing high quality, contemporary accommodation; the food is immeasurably better, often celebrating classic British dishes and local ingredients; and - whisper it - you can take your kids along with you and no one seems to mind.
We think this transformation of the UK as a travel destination is something that should be celebrated; indeed we believe that Britain should be better promoted as the great travel destination it is, with more widely available information, independent reviews of the coolest places to go and the best events around the country. Not only that: we at Cool Places are keen in particular to recommend all the independent businesses that make the UK so unique – from artisan bakers to farm shops, canoe trips to gastronomic tours, and from the tiniest B&B to the grandest boutique hotel. We are unashamedly choosy, and only include the places that we like, so you can be sure that by using the site you'll be tapping into the very best that the country has to offer. But we'd like you to help too, by telling us about places you have enjoyed on your travels, or the best places in your area, on the basis that if you like somewhere, there's a good chance someone else will too. Enjoy Cool Places, and Enjoy Britain.