But never mind, look hard enough and you’ll see the UK has plenty of pockets that are dead ringers for our favourite destinations abroad. Yes, even if you’re stuck in Scunthorpe.
Don’t believe us? Fasten your seatbelts for a whistle-stop tour — no vaccine passport necessary.
Banned from Brittany? Bask in Bognor
Forget everything you’ve heard about Bognor Regis. King George V might have cried “bugger Bognor” when he was sent there to recover from ill health but that was in 1928. It has moved on. Crucially, it is right next to Pagham, with its peaceful beach and nature reserve. Stay at The Crab and Lobster, a 16th century inn with excellent food and drink overlooking Pagham harbour (from £200pn, mrandmrssmith.com). Littlehampton is a 20 minute drive away, with its mile-long sandy Blue Flag beach. Heaven.
New Zealand 2.0: Cumbria
Find Lord of the Rings country in the Lake District. If you’re seeking New Zealand’s pristine lake-and-mountain drama, it’s a worthy counterpart. Conquer England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, or better yet, soak up the epic Queenstown-style views from the hot tub on The Samling’s roof – a bouji bolthole on Windermere’s peaceful shores. B&B from £230pn (thesamlinghotel.co.uk).
The Scilly Isles stand in for the Seychelles
Off the Cornish coast, the Scilly Isles could easily be mistaken for the Seychelles. They’re warmest in August but also lovely in Easter and October during the school holidays. Get there by taking the leisurely route from Paddington to Penzance before hopping aboard the dog-friendly ferry (from £58.95pp, islesofscilly-travel.co.uk). Set your compass for Tresco Sea Garden Cottages, a collection of self-catered villas with A+ sea views from every window, as well as a golf course and spa (from £367.50, mrandmrssmith.com).
Swap the Caribbean for the Inner Hebrides
For copycat Caribbean vistas, head to the tiny island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides where aqua waves lap at white powder-fine sands. Pack cocktails and set up parasols on North End Beach. Once you’ve soaked up the rays, castaway to Iona Pods, idyllic self-catered beach shacks with beds just 10 minutes’ walk from the water (from £70pn, booking.com).
Skip Iceland for Scotland
Keep Iceland’s Golden Circle on hold and head for the northernmost reaches of Scotland, where the Aurora Borealis has been known to flicker in the inky skies from October to March. The best views are in Fraserburgh, the Isle of Mull and Braemar in the Cairngorms, which is latitudinally aligned with Sweden and northern Denmark. Stay at the Fife Arms, where artist Zhang Enli’s painted drawing room ceiling gives you another reason to tilt your head up in awe. From £250pn (thefifearms.com).
California dreaming? Head to the West Country
Much has been made of Cornwall’s California-esque coast with its surfer-speckled waters (paradise found on Porthcurno Beach dangling off the county’s western tip), but Lyme Regis in West Dorset also offers golden sands in spades — and it’s only three hours from the capital by car. Bunk in the cosy Grade II-listed Pilot Boat, an inn 50 yards from the beachfront. B&B from £275pn (thepilotboat.co.uk).
Find ‘Frisco on the South coast
Positano = Portmeirion
It took 50 years to build Portmeirion in Wales, and the results look plucked straight from the Italian Riviera: think pastel houses, manicured plazas and swaying palms set against the backdrop of Snowdonia. Stop for gelato at Angel Ices and marvel at Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ architectural masterpiece (admission from £13pp). If you can’t bear to leave, book into Hotel Portmeirion, Castell Deudraeth or one of 13 quaint self-catered cottages (portmeirion.wales).
Craving Provence? The Cotswolds does it better
If you’re aching for the fragrant fields of southern France, the Cotswolds offers a dependably delightful quick fix — find fields of lavender stretching off into the distance near the village of Snowshill. Bed down at pet and child-friendly The Fish Hotel, which is a masterclass in country charm spread over 400 acres (doubles from £153.12pn, thefishhotel.co.uk).
Isle of Wight for Île de Ré
Cyclist’s dream Île de Ré has miles of paths along beaches but the Isle of Wight has coordinating coastlines, beautiful light and more than 200 miles of scenic bike routes. Get there in 22 minutes by ferry from Portsmouth (returns from £26, bikes free, wightlink.co.uk). Speedy riders can finish the sea paths in a day, leaving more time to explore the alpaca sanctuary, Shanklin Old Village, and The Garlic Farm, which offers holiday rentals alongside a cafe and shop stuffed full of ‘the stinking rose’ (thegarlicfarm.co.uk).
And… an eastern European odyssey. In Scunthorpe
Scunthorpe is twinned with the Polish town Ostrowiec, the centre of the country’s resistance movement. Book into Grade II-listed Sawcliffe Manor, a 400 year old property that sits in a medieval village and is name-checked in the Doomsday Book. Hire the plush farm house, on-site cottages, yurts and spa (options from £1,305pn, sleeps 16, sawcliffemanor.com). Go from late June to August for the best weather.