Country Escapes - Great Britain

Maureen Jones is a luxury travel advisor with All Horizons Travel/Frosch Travel and is based out of Menlo Park, CA.

I always recommend to clients that they get out into the countryside for part of their holiday especially if they have been to London before and done the usual must see's of sightseeing.

In March when I went home, I stayed at Cliveden House, a lovely country estate, just 30 minutes from Heathrow before going into London. I was taken to a dinky little 16th-century village, Bray, on the banks of the River Thames, a few miles away from Windsor. What is amazing about this village is that there are three small restaurants, the Fat Duck, Waterside Inn and the Royal Oak, which all hold the coveted Michelin star. There are only 140 restaurants in the entire British Isles that hold this honor. The Waterside Inn has held a Michelin three-star award for the last 29 years. I am a lover of my Ploughman's Lunch in an old pub—cheese, bread, apple and a shandy (half beer and half lemonade)—so I am the wrong person to be taken to one of these restaurants. You should have your hotel concierge make dinner reservations for you. They have more clout than you trying to make them yourself. The same goes for theatre tickets.

There is much variety in all parts of the land that you have a hard time choosing what to visit. Highclere Castle, home of the Duke and Duchess of Caernarvon, which serves at the setting for Downton Abbey on the television series, is very popular and the tours getting booked out months in advance. A very popular tour for families is to the Warner Bros. movie studios in London where you go behind the scenes to see the costumes, props and lots more.

If you have children who are Harry Potter fans, then go to the 700-year-old Alnwich Castle in Northumberland where they can join wizarding masters for broomstick training sessions on the very spot where Harry had his first flying lesson. I love sending children to Kings Cross Station to have their photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 where Harry's luggage is half way thru the wall. I am a firm believer in magic: I read all the stories of witches and wizards when I was little.

The charming villages in the Cotswolds area and Shakespeare country is a popular place to visit, as is Bath and the Roman Baths, and the children love the fossil tours on the Isle of Wight. The mysterious stones of Stonehenge are another place full of history but I like the Callendish Stones on the Isle of Lewis and Harris better.

Cambridge, Oxford, Norfolk Broads and Canterbury are great day out trips from London. Visit Chester and York on the train and stay for a few days. Both wonderful unique historic little towns. Time your visit to attend a special event, like Wimbledon Tennis matches, or the Chelsea Flower Show, a football (soccer) match or one of the many happenings which go on each year.

Another place I love is Bovey Castle, a magnificent manor house on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, a great hiking location. If you don't like to drive on narrow roads with high hedges, then we can arrange for you to have a car and driver. Don't forget to take a brolly (umbrella).

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