Martin's 6 of the Best for May

I've been out and about quite a lot in the past month – west to the Cotswolds, east to Norfolk and Suffolk and south to Kent, revisiting some old favourites (like East Anglia's most remote pub) and visiting some new ones, like a weird and wonderful glamping site in Kent and a brilliant family hotel in Gloucestershire. Read on to find out more...

A Grown-Up Hotel – for Kids!

My kids are grown up now so going to a hotel with them is not a problem. But when they were little we used to favour self-catering places to stay – it just made life easier. But the fact is grown-ups sometimes want to be looked after too. So it’s nice to discover a hotel that takes care of parents but goes the extra mile for kids too. On my recent visit to Gloucestershire’s Calcot & Spa I found stylish family suites, games areas for teens and four hours of childcare for tots on offer. Throw in two pools, a spa and gym, two restaurants with kids options and various nature trails through 220 acres of prime Cotswolds countryside, and you have one of the most the perfect family-friendly hotels in the Cotswolds, but with all the comforts of a contemporary country house hotel.

Which is better– Norfolk or Suffolk?

I spend a lot of time in East Anglia and was recently asked by the the Telegraph to pitch the relative delights of Norfolk and Suffolk against each other. Obviously neither is better – they are both great, and this was the Telegraph’s way of explaining why. I was happy to tell them how much I loved the Suffolk Coast and the Norfolk Broads and to name-drop a few of my favourite beaches, pubs and hotels in both counties. Which is best? Well, you can vote if you want to, but I'd say a tie would be the fairest result.

Locked in at the Locks Inn

I didn’t mention it in the Telegraph piece because it’s pretty off the beaten track but last week I also popped in for a pint at one of the best pubs in East Anglia, The Locks Inn. Right on the peaceful Waveney river, this legendary waterside pub has a huge riverside garden that overflows with good cheer during summer. Saved from extinction a few years ago by a bunch of dedicated locals, it’s also a fab local music venue and is now one of the nation’s ‘community pubs’, owned and run by its customers and all the better for it. It also happens to be one of England’s most remote places to go for a drink, best reached by the brilliant Big Dog Ferry from Beccles or on your own boat – our friends at Hippersons Boatyard have dayboats, canoes, kayaks and SUPs for hire, plus some luxury lodges right on the river so you can make a stay of it. You can also walk here on the long-distance Angles Way, and (ok, I admit it!) just about reach it by car, down a mile-long pot-holed track.

Yabba Dabba Do – Glamping in Kent!

Last month I visited somewhere new in Kent: a collection of lodges, treehouses and wildly imagined glamping options near Canterbury. The name – Kent Cottage Holidays – somewhat underplays how delightfully eccentric this place is, with an array of fairytale and Flintstone-like abodes to choose from. There's the romantic Tree House Hideaway, Enchanted Faraway Tree or the Honey Tree Lodge which also boasts its own sauna. It’s a perfect weekend escape if you’re looking for a glamping site with hot tubs near London, with great walking from Blean Woods and the Crab & Winkle footpath which runs between Canterbury and the seaside at Whitstable.

Cool Place of the Month

On my trip to Suffolk last month I stayed at a place I knew a bit already – The Packhorse Inn, in the sleepy village of Moulton near Newmarket. The first pub in the Chestnut Inns group, originally restored a decade or so ago, The Packhorse has had a mini-revamp recently. It boasts a slightly cosier, more pubby vibe and a lovely new restaurant serving food that's seasonal, homemade and delicious – indeed, I reckon you could spend a lot of time trying to find food of this quality at such moderate prices. They’re due to open eight new guest rooms in June so there’s no excuse for not trying it out if you fancy a cheeky weekend escape from London.

Hot Deal of the Month

I love the look of the hideaway cabin retreats at Shropshire’s Riverside Cabins. They are great value too, and the good news is that they are even more affordable right now, as they're offering 3 nights for the price of 2 up until the middle of July, if you’re able to go midweek. They’ve won ‘Best Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Business’ in the West Midlands two years running and no wonder – there's 10 acres of waterside peace, tranquil woodlands and superb wild swimming that you can enjoy from a selection of luxurious, self-contained lodges and cabins right on the banks of the River Perry. Not far from Shrewsbury, I'm planning to drop by on my next visit to Shropshire. GET THE DEAL

Check out Martin's April blog here – and see our guides for the best places to stay, eat and visit in Norfolk, Suffolk, Gloucestershire and Shropshire.


What Customers say about Cool Places

Everything I needed for a stay

I'm already looking forward to going again and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting the area. It definitely deserves a five star rating!

Nathan, Verified Customer

6 out of 5!!!!

This place was amazing… I could not recommend this place enough, I’ll be singing their praise for many years to come and we are going to book again soon.

Barbara, Verified Customer

Easy to navigate

Great site that offers a really broad range of places to stay across the UK. Easy to navigate and book holidays.

Patrick, Verified Customer

Such a great variety of properties

Found this website when looking to book a staycation for later in the year. Such a great variety of properties and the website is really easy to use. Already shared with my family and friends.

CT, Verified Customer

Great, simple, straightforward

Great, simple and straightforward. I will definitely be using Cool Places again.

SM, Verified Customer