Day 1: Roman baths and English romanticism
Without passing through central London, set off from Heathrow airport on a road trip in search of Great Britain's out of the ordinary locations. Take a bus to Bath, to the west of London, a journey of less than two hours. You will then discover the second most visited city in the country. Bath is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, both for its preserved Roman heritage, and its exquisite Georgian architecture. In Somerset's largest city, water gushes from the earth at 46°C. Pay a visit to the perfectly restored Roman baths, wander around the pools, and marvel at the ingenuity of the hydraulic systems of the time and the sophistication of the treatments practised. To sample the city's lifestyle ethos, head to Gainsborough Bath spa. This newly renovated 5-star hotel offers direct access to the thermal springs in its luxurious spa.
Abbey Church Yard
+44 (0)1225 477785,
Gainsborough Bath spa
+44 (0)1225 358888
Day 2: in Jane Austen's footsteps
The urban layout of Bath's Victorian architecture is worthy of a theatre set. Take a walk to the Royal Crescent, a grandiose row of Georgian houses constructed in a crescent shape and appreciate its elegance. Behind these impressively spacious townhouses, secret gardens are hidden. A world wonderfully depicted by Jane Austen, who has earned the city a real cult following. Fans of the novelist can retrace her footsteps at the museum devoted to her. At number 16 Royal Crescent, you will find the discreet Royal Crescent Hotel & spa where you can sip a cup of tea amidst the squirrels in its sheltered garden. For dinner, opt for the Gainsborough Restaurant where Dan Moon, the new chef who everyone is talking about, promises you a top-notch culinary experience. A feast.
Jane Austen Centre
40 Gay Street
+44 (0)1225 443000
Royal Crescent Hotel & spa
16 Royal Crescent
+44 (0)1225 823333
Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant
+44 (0)1225 358888
Day 3: an immersion in a school of magic
At the wheel of your car, non-Brits can get accustomed to driving on the left while heading through undulating countryside towards the irresistible Iford Manor, in Bradford-on-Avon. Stride across its exquisite Italianate terraces designed by the English landscape architect Harold Peto, amidst the charming English countryside.
Next, head north to Gloucester, the country's most inland port, whose docks are regularly used as settings for major Hollywood productions. In the city's cathedral lie the remains of King Edward II. The cloisters will transport you to the magical corridors of Hogwart's School of witchcraft, the famous setting for the Harry Potter films. In the evening, take a break in one of its warehouses converted into restaurants like The Barge. Here, dishes are cooked using only the best local produce and seasonal vegetables. For example, why not try this dish of cod wrapped in cured ham, accompanied by roast vegetables and a lemon, white wine and crème fraîche sauce.
+44 (0)1225 863146
12 College Green
+44 (0)1452 528095
Unit A1, The Barge Arm
+44 (0)1452 506779
Day 4: yellow villages in the countryside
Leave Gloucester for the rural region of the Cotswolds. Follow the aptly named “Romantic route” which winds between verdant hills studded with low stone walls and enter the intimate surroundings of small unspoiled villages. Here and there are Victorian manor houses lived in for generations by the same aristocratic families. This circular route through timeless countryside has an irresistible and uniquely English charm.
Take the time to stop in its honey-coloured hamlets, to explore one, or stretch your legs in a park or across the fields. Stop off at Bibury, for example, with its delightful “hobbit village” atmosphere, as if straight out of the world of JRR Tolkien.
In the evening, check into the Swan Hotel, a quiet inn in the town. Take a walk to admire the sumptuous 17th century cottages, lining the banks of a river packed with trout.
The Swan Hotel
+44 (0)1285 740695
Day 5: an industrial and artistic ambience in Birmingham
On the following day, set off for Birmingham, one hour's journey away. Here the ambience is different. In recent years, the image of England's second largest city has had a makeover. To experience this breath of new life, book a room at the Malmaison Birmingham, in the renovated Mailbox district. You will love the urban aesthetic of this former sorting office converted into a hotel. Stroll along the innumerable canals, where the city's industrial heritage is concentrated. Head next for the hip neighbourhood of Moseley, lined with bars, boutiques and restaurants. When it comes to world cuisine you will be spoilt for choice, something which reflects the city's multicultural heritage.
Birmingham has lots of other nice surprises up its sleeve, with its museums and venues dedicated to modern art. If you have classical tastes, opt for the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which is home to the largest international collection of pre-Raphaelite art, a 19th century art movement inspired by Italian art before Raphaël. To nurture your avant-garde side, pay a visit to the exhibitions of the Ikon Gallery, an artistic hub where you can dine in the excellent ground floor Spanish restaurant. Continue your evening at the Custard Factory, a former custard powder factory converted into a trendy bar which celebrates art in all its forms.
1 Wharfside Street
+44 (0)121 794 3004
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
+44 (0)121 348 8032
1 Oozells Square
+44 (0)121 248 0708
+44 (0)121 224 7777
Day 6: Liverpool, the Tate Gallery and rock n'roll tour
Your journey to England will take you to another industrial city: Liverpool. After two hours on the A41, you will arrive at the famous port city. Make your way along the River Mersey to Pier Head. This walk through the vast commercial port is impressive with its three majestic buildings christened “The Three Graces”, symbols of Liverpool's commercial heritage.
Further away, you can soak in the Beatlemania phenomenon in The Beatles Story museum. An immersive tour will transport you to the world of the fab four who are all natives of the city. Continue this homage with the Magical Mystery Tour. Finally, a psychedelic-coloured coach leaving from Albert Dock will take you from Penny Lane to Strawberry Fields and all the key locations which have contributed to the legend of the iconic group.
But Liverpool is not just about the Beatles. The British Music Experience brings to life your favourite British musicians, through costumes, instruments and performances. Wake up your inner groupie as you admire the seductive outfits of Freddie Mercury, the guitars of Noel Gallagher and Adele's handwritten song lyrics.
On your return to Pier Head, take refuge in the Tate. This institution based in a former warehouse offers free admission to its national collection of modern and contemporary art. Try out the Matou Pan Asian Restaurant for an Asian-influenced dinner and a superb view of the River Mersey. On a quayside in the Docks, a night at the Yellow Sub barge offers an unusual way to end your stay. Climb aboard this submarine transformed into a floating hotel. You will adore its Beatles and 1960s Mod culture-inspired decor.
The Beatles Story
+44 (0)151 709 1963
Magical Mystery Tour
+44 (0)151 703 9100
British Music Experience
+44 (0)151 519 0915
+44 151 702 7400
Matou Pan Asian Restaurant
2nd Floor, Mersey Ferry
+44 (0)151 236 2928
Hollywood Apartments & Barges
Liverpool Marina and Yacht Club
+44 (0)7885 295413
Day 7: an immersion in history on the way to Edinburgh
It is time to leave Liverpool for Scotland. Take the M6 towards Edinburgh, 346 kilometres to the north. At the half-way point, the historic city of Carlisle marks the border with England. Take the opportunity to make a detour to Birdoswald, where stands one of the forts of Hadrian's Wall, the most impressive monument built by the Romans in Great Britain. As you retrace the footsteps of the legionnaires along this defensive wall, your gaze will fall on the immense and lush Irthing Valley.
Resume your journey to Edinburgh. After a two-hour drive, you will arrive in the Scottish capital, your final destination. Make yourself at home at Eden Locke, ideally located on George Street, amidst the trendiest bars and shops of the city. Inside this Georgian house, the decor is stylish and pastel-toned. After a refreshing nap, head out to explore the old city. Stroll through its narrow backstreets, otherwise known as “closes” or “wynds”, open the doors of its courtyards and marvel at the former merchants' houses in the Royal Mile.
Birdoswald – Hadrian's Wall
+44 (0)1697 747602
127 George Street
+44 (0)330 056 3363
Day 8: spooks and gilding in Scotland
In the early morning a visit to Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, is a must. Wander through the splendid historic apartments of Mary Queen of Scots and the state apartments with their impressive high-relief ceilings. Then make your way to Lovecrumbs, a delightful tearoom frequented by lovers of homemade cake: roasted walnut and melted caramel brownies, ice cream and blueberry cakes … Scrummy.
In the afternoon climb up to the medieval castle which overlooks the old city. This former royal palace will transport you back in time with the Stone of Destiny, on which Scottish kings used to be crowned, and its underground prisons, where innumerable prisoners have languished over the centuries. Take in the panoramic view before descending to Princes Street in the city centre. From there, take the number 22 bus which stops on the banks of the Leith. Climb aboard the royal yacht Britannia. In the former floating residence of the Queen, you can explore the engine room, the royal cabins and… a Rolls Royce.
In the evening, get ready to shudder. At 9.30 pm, you are off on the Ghost Tour, a free tour of the city, under the streetlights. Listen to the history of Edinburgh's underground city and meet its most gruesome criminals. Your immersion in Great Britain will have been an exhilarating experience.
+44 (0)303 123 7306
155 West Port
+44 (0)131 629 0626
+44 (0)131 555 5566
144 High Street
+44 (0)7778 828077
+44 (0)131 225 9846