Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Extra availability for summer staycations.
It’s not too late to firm up plans for a staycation, with hundreds of new choices on the way as holiday companies rush to meet overwhelming demand for a great British summer.
Tour firm Leger Holidays is leading the charge by launching two dozen small-group holidays for dates in July onwards.
On location: Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, which featured in Bridgerton
Bridgerton stars Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury and Rege-Jean Page as Simon Bassett
The company is known for reinventing the humble coach trip with the introduction of its Luxuria vehicles. On board, you’ll find wide seats set three abreast, rather than the usual four, with armchair-style singles for those who prefer to travel solo.
The firm is also aiming to take guests off the tourist track to some unexpected attractions.
Pick the Historic Cardiff tour and as well as the ancient castle, you can tour the Millennium Stadium, discover why Italian families set up world-famous ice-cream parlours in Mumbles and watch money being made at the Royal Mint.
Guests also put on safety helmets and cap-lamps before retired miners lead groups underground at the Big Pit industrial heritage museum. Check out the five-day tours from £439pp at leger.co.uk and other new trips including Edinburgh, Chester, Chatsworth House and Newquay.
The Netflix series Bridgerton is the star of the show on a newly released ‘on location’ holiday with Shearings.
The coach tour includes tickets to the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, that doubled up as London for many scenes, and also appears in Call The Midwife.
The holiday then moves on to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, another Bridgerton location which also featured in the 1998 movie Shakespeare In Love.
Next stop is a final Bridgerton building in Ranger’s House beside London’s Greenwich Park, where there’s also an extraordinary collection of jewellery and art. Five-day holidays from £359pp from shearings.co.uk.
In August, hard-to-get tickets to the first Mamma Mia! Live shows in the grounds of Harewood House in Yorkshire come as part of a new, short-break staycation with Just Go Holidays.
Three-day breaks include transport, B&Bs, dinner and tours in York and Harrogate. Packages from £199pp with justgoholidays.co.uk. Alternatively, consider the firm’s other new holiday – the chance to ride the Flying Scotsman when it takes to the rails on the Mid-Norfolk Railway for the first time this autumn. Three-day breaks from £229pp.
A three-day break to Yorkshire includes transport, B&Bs, dinner and tours in York (above) and Harrogate
Extra trips are now on offer from Great Rail Journeys. However, it’s limiting numbers, with the new smaller groups designed to make this a more personal service on top of what’s normally offered.
A popular choice is the Yorkshire Dales and Moors tour, where guests check in to Grade II listed Gisborough Hall hotel and enjoy a private guided tour of Castle Howard plus a tasting tour of the famous foodie town of Malton. Five-day tours from £845pp with greatrail.com.
Or step aboard a West Highland Line train and ferry and get away from it all on the eight-day Outer Hebrides holiday, where you’ll see the ancient Calanais standing stones, taste local whisky and infused gin and browse for gifts in the home of tweed. From £1,545pp.
Other holidays focus on single cities. Titan Travel’s Oxford Short Break takes in Bletchley Park, Blenheim Palace and the Botanic Gardens as well as the university city. Five days from £899pp with titantravel.co.uk. Or take the Durham Short Break that includes Alnwick Castle and the cobbled streets and restored trams of Beamish open-air museum, from £799pp.