Winter - it's a wonderful time of year, and there's no better way to get through the colder months than with a cosy weekend away. After all, a staycation is the new vacation and luckily there are a wealth of destinations close to home that make for an idyllic weekend away. So pack your favourite winter knitwear and your thermals, because we've done the hard work for you and chosen five of the best UK breaks that are just as good as a trip abroad. Here's what to do whilst you're there.
Christmas comes but once a year, and with it brings a magical time to be in London. In true capital city culture, there are plenty of events going on to get people in the festive spirit. You can watch Christmas movies on comfy beanbags in a lovely winter setting in the Backyard Cinema or see the beautiful lights on Oxford Street or the big Christmas tree at Covent Garden.
Back by (extremely) popular demand, you’ll find ice-skating rinks set up all over the city, where you can show off your skills. Our favourite rink is at the Tower of London - a unique and unforgettable setting, day or night. In the evenings the Tower walls are lit up, adding to the drama and creating a magical setting right in the heart of the city. For history with a modern twist, there's no better location.
One of the most popular activities during this time of the year is visiting Christmas markets and in London, Winter Wonderland is the biggest and most popular. It has several food stalls, roller coaster rides and shows, so don’t miss it if you are in London during the festive season.
Christmas in Leicester Square
This year, Leicester Square is transforming into a wonderland. Christmas in Leicester Square (an Underbelly event) will include traditional Christmas markets with hand-crafted goods and delicious food and drinks, a Santa's Grotto where children can meet the man himself, plus a whole host of fantastic shows in the beautiful surrounds of a traditional 1920's spiegeltent.
Where to stay
In arguably the most iconic city in the world – with landmarks, history and culture around every corner – it can be difficult to know where to start when you’re booking a visit to the capital. But your search for hotels in central London needn’t go any further than any one of our stunning four-star London hotels.
From our luxury Apex Temple Court Hotel on the famous Fleet Street, to our chic Apex London Wall Hotel just moments from Liverpool Street Station, to our chic Apex City of London Hotel that's home to The Lampery, you'll be spoiled for choice.
A World Heritage site since 1987, Bath is definitely worth a visit, whether you’re planning to swoop in for the day or make a weekend of it, and it’s only a 90-minute train journey from London. From the twinkling lights and seasonal smells of Bath Christmas Market to the fresh chill in the air and the sounds of laughter on the rink at Bath on Ice, the city has plenty up its sleeve to take full advantage of this winter.
The longer you stay in Bath, the more you can soak up the atmosphere and get to know the historic city.
The award-winning Bath Christmas Market is back to spread festive magic throughout the city from Thursday 28 November to Sunday 15 December 2019. With more than 150 twinkling chalets spread across Bath’s picturesque Georgian streets, it’s the perfect place to do a spot of Christmas shopping.
While Bath Christmas Market is undoubtedly the city’s main attraction at this time, there’s much more to see and do. Take a walk around the city and you’ll find a whole heap of heritage attractions, including the stunning Bath Abbey, along with multiple shopping experiences and plenty of quirky eateries offering festive gastronomical delights.
No trip to Bath is complete without a visit to The Pump Rooms. Expect perfectly crumbly scones, lashings of clotted cream and a range of fruity jams - this is the go-to location for Afternoon Tea. Another big hitter on the Bath scene is Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House & Museum and we recommend heading here for a taste of the original Bath bun. Having being open for business for centuries, Sally Lunn's is now a thriving coffee house, tea shop and bistro, much-loved by locals and tourists alike.
Party at the Roman Baths
Join 2000 years of history and treat yourself to one of the magical packages in this world-famous historical site. From twilight tours and spa treatments in the ancient hot springs, to a sparkling three-course festive meal with live music – this is the ultimate way to experience Bath's heritage. Explore the festive offerings at the Roman Baths here.
And if you need accommodation for your stay in Bath, Apex City of Bath Hotel is an ideal base for exploring, right in the heart of the action.
Having your staycation in Edinburgh is a great choice if you’re after a city break in the UK during winter. The crowds in Edinburgh are considerably lower than peak months of July and August, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Old Town and the Royal Mile without the swarms of people.
'Edinburgh's Christmas' (another Underbelly event) is a spectacular, six-week season of festive entertainment in the heart of the city running from 16 November to 4 January 2020. The festival is a full-on Christmas celebration, and great fun for the whole family, with events including the Christmas Tree Maze, The Christmas Markets on East Princes Street Gardens and plenty of rides such as Bumper Cars, Balloon Ride, Carousel and 24 Days of Advent.
Edinburgh also plays host to a number of great events in winter, including the famous Hogmanay celebrations over the New Year, Burns’ Night celebrations in January and several Christmas Markets over November and December.
If you’re looking for 4-star hotels near or in Edinburgh, look no further than Apex Hotels. Each of our Edinburgh hotels are centrally located, and each has its own unique features to suit a wide range of leisure and business travellers – ideal for Edinburgh city breaks.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to spend a city break in the UK this winter, the dynamic city of Glasgow has something for everyone to enjoy. Scotland’s liveliest city is jam-packed full of great things to do.
The Christmas markets return to George Square and St Enoch Square offering a wide selection of festive gifts and delicious street food. A warm and welcoming bar will add to the festive atmosphere, offering up a selection of beverages to enjoy.
If you're looking for something a little bit different, there are also lots of fantastic independent markets taking place throughout the city.
Take in the city's culture
Whether you love to explore museums, stroll around a city’s beautiful parks, check out the foodie scene or hit up stylish bars, you’ll be impressed by the range of hot spots Glasgow has to offer. One of our favourite tours is of the Clydeside Distillery, located within the Pumphouse building which once controlled entry into the famous Glasgow Queen's Dock. They say whisky is in Glasgow's blood, so this is a good place to learn more about (and try) their famous malt.
Appreciate the arts
From the Grinch, to Buddy the Elf to Raymond Brigg's The Snowman, some of our favourite characters take to the stage to entertain audience members of all ages this Christmas.
One we're particularly looking forward to is Elf: A Christmas Spectacular. The smash-hit Broadway musical based on the hit film starring Will Ferrell arrives in Glasgow this Christmas. Across three stages, the show features a giant 30 foot-tall Christmas tree, a flying sleigh and stunt work from skilled performers.
And if you need a place to stay, Apex City of Glasgow Hotel is perfectly placed in heart of the action, within walking distance of Glasgow’s top attractions. Situated on Bath Street, just a short stroll from the city’s main transport links.
Dundee is always top of our list for a UK-based winter getaway destination. There’s lots of things to do, particularly over Christmas, and this year is no exception. All the local attractions are open and the town centre is lined with dozens of shops so you can get all your Christmas shopping done in one weekend.
Watch a show
The Christmas Theatre show at Dundee Rep Theatre is always a popular family event in the city. This year the show is based on Oor Wullie – a much-loved and famous Dundonian character. Join Wullie, Fat Boab, Soapy Soutar, Wee Eck, and the rest of the Sunday Post gang, in a brand new musical adventure celebrating their 80 year anniversary as Scotland’s most beloved comic strip.
The two-part Christmas Urban Market event is heading to Dundee this November and December, and promises an abundance of festive treats. All products sold here will be of extremely high quality, plus, all traders are local to Dundee and surrounding areas, making the event feel extra community friendly.
And if you've had your fill of German food and fairground rides elsewhere in the city, Crafted will give Dundee a market that's well worth visiting, as it fully embraces the city's identity as an arts town. If you're out and about in Dundee you'll be just a short walk from Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa, an ideal resting place once you’re done exploring.
We hope you'll join us for a winter break soon!