Travel Tips: St Albans for Film Buffs, and Deals of the Week

St Albans

Joanne O'connor, The Guardian, April 6, 2015

Take me there: St Albans

Why go?
It’s a long way from the freeways of LA to the cobbled streets of St Albans, but this genteel cathedral city has – somewhat improbably – carved a reputation for itself as the “Hertfordshire Hollywood”. Its proximity to Pinewood and Elstree Studios has made it a popular filming location and the director Stanley Kubrick lived in the area for more than 20 years. The launch of the St Albans Film Festival three years ago only increased its appeal to film buffs. The festival returns next month with a weekend of screenings, workshops and events, including a “swim-in cinema” with inflatable loungers and a designated “alien day” (1-3 May,

Where to eat
The “posh pub food” at the recently opened Dylans at the Kings Arms – battered olives, smoked ham hock, braised ox cheeks – has hit the spot with locals, as has the impressive list of craft beers on offer ( Charlie’s Coffee Shop is the place to go for a caffeine and cake pitstop (

Where to stay
St Michael’s Manor Hotel is an elegant and understated boutique hotel set in peaceful gardens a 10-minute walk from the cathedral (Prices from £125 per night,

What to do
Climb to the top of the medieval clock tower for a rooftop view across the city. Take an atmospheric “Abbey by Night” tour of the imposing St Albans Cathedral by candlelight ( Catch a film at the Odyssey, an Art Deco gem of a cinema which recently reopened after lying derelict for 19 years ( Have a drink in Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, reputed to be the oldest pub in Britain.

Insider tip
“The Saturday charter market is fantastic for artisan food, jewellery and clothes,” says film festival director Leoni Kibbey. “It’s colourful and vibrant and has been held in Market Place for more than 1,000 years.”

Give me a break


A puffin

Go on puffin patrol in a kayak on the car-free island of Herm. Photograph: Derek Croucher/Alamy

HOME Puffin spotting in the Channel Islands: Join nature guides on a sea kayaking puffin patrol. The car-free island of Herm has one of the most southerly puffin-breeding colonies in Europe. Two-hour trips depart from Herm’s Shell Beach and can be booked through Outdoor Guernsey (£35pp, Channel Islands Direct offers a three-night stay at the White House Hotel from £379pp, including flights (


A swimming pool in Corsica.

Bag a discount and avoid the summer crowds in Corsica.

AWAY Corsica without the prices: Travel in May and you can avoid the summer crowds and bag a 44% discount on a trip to Corsica with Corsican Places. The operator is offering a week at Le Home studio apartments in the heart of Calvi from £349pp, a saving of £270pp. The offer is valid for departures on 3 and 10 May and includes return Gatwick to Bastia flights. Apartments sleep two and have a balcony or terrace and shared swimming pool (

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This article was written by Joanne O'connor from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.