I have been very fortunate to have travelled all over the place as part of my employment and am often asked by friends where my favourite place to go on holiday actually is.
The Western and Northern Isles of Scotland spring to mind, as they are so different from anywhere else, and the journey over the sea adds to the experience. Cal-Mac to The Hebrides and Northlink to Orkney and Shetland serve as an essential link for both locals and the tourist industry and even when the Scots advise you it will be a ‘wee bit choppy’, it adds to the excitement.
We are blessed in the UK with a wealth of historic houses, castles and attractions to choose from, and any coach tour that includes a visit adds to my enjoyment.
Nostalgia plays its part too – so a steam railway or industrial museum begs attention, as looking back at both recent and distant history I find both informative and thought provoking.
Giving my brain a rest, the traditional resorts suit me for a relaxing holiday. Eastbourne, Scarborough and Bournemouth not only have the sea, but beautiful gardens too and some of the smaller resorts have a charm and ambience that draws visitors looking for a quieter holiday.
When it comes to choosing any coach holiday, it is paramount that the hotel is up to the mark – both in quality and position. A central hotel can be very handy if you are not too good on your legs, but can be noisy (although not necessarily so) and a check with both the holiday operator and a website specialising in hotels may give a fuller view. However – I dismiss the best and worse opinions and read the middle of the road ones to give a true opinion.
If seeking a quieter location, the hotel may be anything from a gentle stroll to a hike away from both the seafront and attractions and even then may have other distractions such as a main road, so to my mind planning is essential to ensure you get what you expect.
Standards of hotel accommodation vary, with many offering their own version of a star rating system. I do not really care if it is old – but it has to be clean, very clean and as they say these days, ‘fit for purpose’. Some modern buildings may offer air conditioning (very helpful in very hot weather) and many have swimming pools. A caution here as the inclusion of a swimming pool does not necessarily mean a better quality hotel. Many hotels were built in the Victorian and Edwardian times and are the Grand Old Ladies of a resort, and can offer a grandeur and traditional feel modern equivalents may not be able to. It’s all a matter of taste.
Speaking of which, clearly the food element is important and I must admit to liking brochures with sample menus on display.
Look out too for loyalty offerings from the operators. These can add up to offer savings on future holidays and bar discounts or even a free bar at certain times may to be to your advantage.
This only covers my favourite places in the UK and as you can see I tend to go for the quieter holidays, but also ones with some added interest or just something different.
So where do I go? Sorry, but if I told you it wouldn’t be as quiet!
Written by: Jon Hartley