What to see in and around Buckinghamshire

I am often asked by my followers who are visiting England, what to see outside London. In fact, there’s so much to see that it can take a few months!

This time I’m going to take you around parts of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. Those areas are easily reachable from London and are just perfect for a weekend getaway with a bit of history.

Waddesdon Manor

If you only visit one place in Buckinghamshire, make it Waddesdon Manor. This country house was built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 19th century in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French Loire Valley château.

It is currently managed by the Rothschild Foundation and is part of the National Trust. If you are planning to visit only the grounds, you can buy a ticket at the gate when you arrive but if you’d like to visit the house as well, I’d recommend booking online in advance as the tickets get sold out very quickly, especially at Christmas and weekends.

Waddesdon Manor

Interesting to note, that Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild left his estate to his youngest unmarried sister Alice. She established a set of housekeeping rules ‘Miss Alice’s Rules’ – guidelines for the care and preservation of the collections which even today form much of the basis of National Trust conservation guidelines. She did not allow even King Edward VII to touch the furniture!

Wrest Park

Wrest Park is a country estate in Bedfordshire with a Grade I listed 19th century country house set in restored garden landscape originating from the 17th century. You can easily spend a day there admiring the beautiful gardens, the sculptures and exploring the house. I imagine it’s particularly lovely in summer.

Wrest park
Wrest park

Wrest Park was used as a hospital during the First World War. Nan Herbert (Auberon Herbert, 9th Baron Lucas’ sister) was responsible for setting and running the hospital, and under her leadership Wrest Park became recognise

d as one of the best-run country house hospitals.

Wrest park
Wrest park

Where to stay

While exploring the area, I was invited to stay at Woughton House - MGallery in Milton Keynes.

I have previously stayed at MGallery hotels in Cheltenham and Bath and was happy to stay with them again. What I particularly like about MGallery hotels, is that they are addressing the needs of female travellers. They have recently launched a special ‘Inspired by her’ offering designed especially for women.

If you are looking for a place to surprise your mum on Mother’s Day, have a look at what Woughton house has to offer – starting from cocktails on arrival to lovely in-room amenities and ladies afternoon tea.

Woughton house Mgallery
Woughton house Mgallery
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Stowe House and gardens

Stowe House is a grade I listed country house in Stowe, Buckinghamshire. It is now home to the independent Stowe School, while the gardens are owned by the National Trust. I haven’t visited the house because I didn’t book tickets in advance, but as it was a beautiful day, I had a lovely walk in the gardens.

Stowe House
Stowe house and gardens
Stowe house and gardens

Orangery of Castle Ashby

Last but not least, Castle Ashby gardens, located in Northamptonshire, but still easily reachable from Milton Keynes/Buckinghamshire. The unique Orangery dates back to the 19th century and houses a large central pond filled with fish and water lilies. It’s a very beautiful space for a photo shoot.

Castle Ashby orangery

In partnership with MGallery. All opinions are my own.

48 hours in the most beautiful parts of England with MGallery by Sofitel

I am often asked about the best day trips from London. This trip was slightly longer than a day but it should give you plenty of ideas for a day trip or even for a week of travel around England. As I am based in London I usually travel only for a day but thanks to MGallery by Sofitel this time we had an opportunity to stay a bit longer and explore more.

The first stop of our trip was Windsor for an afternoon tea at Castle Hotel Windsor.

Windsor Castle

On Sunday Windsor was incredibly busy so we were glad to find a moment of calmness over a delicious afternoon tea in the Castle Hotel. The pale green elegant Georgian building is located right in the centre, just around the corner from Windsor Castle. The hotel has been in service since the 15th century and has been awarded eight Royal Warrants.

Afternoon tea at castle Hotel Windsor

After savouring all the treats we headed to the Cotswolds and, of course, we couldn’t miss a quick visit to Castle Combe. The day was a bit rainy but the village looked even more authentic with an overcast sky. If you haven’t been to Castle Combe yet, you definitely need to add it to your list as it’s surely one of the prettiest villages in England!

Castle Combe

We got there in no time thanks to our trusty companion, Mini 3-door Hatch that was kindly provided to us for the trip. We had so much fun driving this little beast!

You don’t need more than couple of hours in Castle Combe as it’s so tiny.  And it’s only 30 minutes away from Bath where we were staying for the night.

We arrived in Bath just in time to see the lovely Francis Hotel in the daylight. The hotel is located in the very heart of Bath and occupies seven of the original 18th-century townhouses on the Queen Square. The city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the hotel is Grade 1 listed. Throughout the 18th century, Queen Square remained a residential district of Bath. Soloman Francis, a local builder, first opened a hotel at No.10 in 1858. Later, the hotel has expanded.

Francis Hotel Bath

Taking the advantage of staying overnight in the city we decided to pop in the Roman Baths, a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. It is now open as a museum, you cannot bath there anymore but there are plenty of other spas in the area if that’s what you are after.

Roman Baths in Bath

If you are planning to visit Bath you can also check out this post from my previous trip.

I can talk about Bath forever as it’s one of my favourite cities in the UK (and if you are visiting for the first time you need to allow at least a day to see everything) but it was time for us to head further.

Having initially planned to spend more time in the Cotswolds, we realised that we could also visit Frome and Wells in Somerset so we decided to make a little detour.

Packed with historic buildings and lovely independent shops, Frome is worth visiting for a few hours.

Wells Cathedral

I loved Frome but a real discovery of this trip was Wells. Most known for its Cathedral, Wells had city status since medieval times and is now considered to be England’s smallest city.

Vicar's close in Wells

After admiring Vicar’s Close, claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings surviving intact in Europe, it was time to head to Cheltenham where we were staying for our second and final night of the road trip.

Cotswolds

Passing through the pretty villages of the Cotswolds we have arrived to the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham.

Impressed by the grand white (Grade II listed) building of the hotel we had a really warm welcome with cocktails waiting for us in our rooms. The hotel has recently undergone a complete restoration but it still retains many of its original features including the wallpaper designed by Augustus Pugin, a key feature in 19th century architecture and design. We loved the gorgeous Georgian staircase too!

That was the end of our exciting girls’ road trip but I will surely return to those beautiful areas of England and will hopefully stay at MGallery by Sofitel hotels again.

Queens Hotel Cheltenham

In partnership with Mgallery by Sofitel and Mini. All opinions are my own.

Yorkshire in 2 days

Yorkshire might easily become my favourite part of England - with its heritage sites, beautiful landscapes and booming food scene - it has everything to become the next go-to destination. The only downside - it's a little far away for a weekend trip from London, same being an advantage as otherwise most of the London folk would be found there!

After a long drive from London and a cosy night at one of the Northstar Club woodland suites (more on it later), we ventured out to explore the picturesque Whitby.

Whitby view
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Whitby is a seaside town, also famous for its association with Captain Cook who learned seamanship there, and the horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker making it the destination for the goth weekend twice a year. We didn't visit on a goth weekend but still saw some interestingly dressed people which made our visit even more interesting. Also, I have to note that it seemed like almost everyone in Whitby owns a dog or two.

Whitby
Whitby harbour

One of the most popular sights of Whitby is the characterful abbey ruins at the top of the fishing harbour. The first monastery was founded in the 7th century, although the remains we see today are of the later built 13th-century Benedictine abbey.

Whitby overview
Whitby Abbey

Later in the day we headed to Yorkshire's most wonderful hidden gem - Staithes.  Did you know that Captain Cook, Staithes's most famous resident, worked in Staithes as a grocer's apprentice where he first gained his interest in the sea?

Staithes street view

This view of the quaint fishing village was more I could dream of! 

Overlooking Staithes
Staithes house

On the way back to our charming cottage we made a quick stop in Robin Hood Bay, and in this place, with the most romantic name, I caught this most romantic moment of a couple's wedding photoshoot.

Robin Hood Bay

Our trip wouldn't be so perfect without a stay with the Blue Chip holidays in one of the North Star Club woodland suites. For someone like us, coming from a big city, it was a perfect weekend retreat in the woods. The rooms are equipped with everything you need, and even though it's on a self-catering basis, there's barbeque equipment next to each suite and a communal space with tea and brownies. I really liked all the cosy details in our room, especially the real fireplace. I'd love to come back in summer with a group of friends for a more relaxing weekend in the area.

Those cows were the only neighbours we encountered!

Cows in Yorkshire

Next day York greeted us with rain, compensated by all sorts of colourful bunting and an opportunity to see the Shambles, the best preserved medieval street in the world, less crowded than usual.

York the Shambles
York

To be fair, York deserves a separate blog post as it has so much offer. With this said, I think I need to plan another trip to Yorkshire very soon!

York bunting
York cathedral

A day in Bradford on Avon in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is probably my favourite part of England. Honey coloured houses, old-fashioned tea rooms and beautiful views make it a perfect weekend trip any time of the year. I've been to the city of Bath twice but had somehow overlooked Bradford on Avon which totally doesn't deserve it. It's a bit smaller than its famous spa-attractive neighbour but also quieter and less touristy.

Cotswolds
Bradford on Avon

As the name suggests, the river Avon runs through the town and makes it look even more picturesque. The history of Bradford on Avon can be traced back to Roman settlements in the area. The town still has several 17th-century buildings dating from the period of its woollen textile industry.

Bradford on Avon
Cotswolds tea room

While exploring the area I stayed at Widbrook Grange hotel, located in a recently refurbished Grade II listed Georgian model farm. I was impressed by their attention to details and couldn't stop taking photos! There's even a heated indoor swimming pool! We opted to try a dinner at the hotel too and it didn't disappoint. More photos below. 

Widbrook Grange hotel Cotswolds

Below are two more pictures of Bradford on Avon. I'll share another post where to go in the Cotswolds in the coming months. 

Bradford on Avon
Cotswolds England UK

I was a guest of Widbrook Grange hotel. All opinions are my own.