Archive for the ‘City Breaks’ Category

Book a city break with Sykes this January

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
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Christmas may be over, but for many, the shopping continues. With its legendary sales, January is the month of choice for many a big spender. If you’re planning to shop ‘til you drop this New Year, why not make a weekend of it with a short break from Sykes? We’ve got self-catering cottages to rent in some of the UK’s best loved cities, including Chester, Edinburgh and Norwich, giving you plenty of options for the annual bargain hunt. Here’s an in-depth look at the towns and cities you should consider taking a break in this January.

Chester

Chester City Centre – Via Flickr

Chester City Centre – Via Flickr

Get your spend on within the historic walls of Chester this January, and you’ll find more than just the usual hum-drum high-street. This remarkable heritage city is brimming with retail opportunities, with big name stores and independent retailers jostled together in the city’s distinctive town centre. Aside from its timber-framed shop fronts and olde-worlde cobbles, Chester has another stand-out feature: The Rows, a series of medieval walkways which effectively create a second high-street. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in town, make for Cheshire Oaks, where you’re bound to find a bargain or two.

Click here to view our Chester holiday cottages.

Norwich

Norwich Lanes – Via Flickr

Norwich Lanes – Via Flickr

From the Romans to the Saxons, we bring you the wonderful city of Norwich. Once England’s second largest city, Norwich has all the trappings of a proper ‘ye olde’ English city; think narrow streets, cobbles and oak fronted shop fronts. For shoppers, the city doesn’t disappoint. First, there’s the Norwich Lanes, a series of cobblestoned byways brimming with independent stores. Next is the Royal Arcade, whose elegant façade has attracted a number of luxury retailers. Then of course there’s the city’s two inner-city shopping centres, which each house an impressive array of shops.

Click here to view our Norwich holiday cottages.

Dublin

Grafton Street, Dublin – Via Flickr

Grafton Street, Dublin – Via Flickr

Shopping aficionado? Forget London and travel to the Irish capital instead. Dublin is not only a great place to spend your hard-earned, it’s a wonderful destination in its own right, with pubs, eateries and attractions aplenty. But enough about that; we have business to attend. As you’d expect from a capital city, Dublin is a real gem when it comes to retail therapy. The city boasts a number of famous shopping districts, including Grafton Street, which was dubbed the fifth most expensive shopping street in the world in 2008. Take a tour of the city and who knows what treasures you’ll unearth.

Click here to view our Dublin holiday cottages.

Edinburgh

Grassmarket, Edinburgh – Via Flickr

Grassmarket, Edinburgh – Via Flickr

From one capital to another; Edinburgh is the undisputed king of retail north of the border. High street stores, independent retailers, speciality markets – you name it, Edinburgh has it. For all your high street essentials, make for Princes Street or St Andrews Square. You’ll find luxury, high-end items on George Street, whilst the city’s historic Grassmarket is home to no-end of independent boutiques. Jenners is also well worth a visit. This unique department store was first opened in 1838, and features an eye-catching interior far-removed from the bright, white aesthetic of other department stores.

Click here to view our Edinburgh holiday cottages.

Book a 3-night city break today with Sykes Cottages!

A self-catering holiday home may not be the first thing that springs to mind when planning a city break, but they offer a flexible and affordable alternative to a hotel. Whether you opt for one of our inner city cottages, or rent one on the outskirts and catch the bus, a January short break in a Sykes’ holiday home could be just what you’ve been looking for.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

City Breaks: Why You Should Book a Self Catering Holiday Cottage

Friday, October 24th, 2014
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At Sykes, our self-catering properties are great for a variety of purposes, but one thing we seldom talk about is how great they are for city breaks. Now, I know ‘self-catering holiday cottage’ is probably not at the top of your accommodation list for the next time you’re planning on hitting up your favourite city, but I’m here to tell you why it certainly should be!

Eat what you want, when you want

Enjoy home cooking in a fully equipped kitchen like this one in 5 Albion Mews in Chester.

Enjoy home cooking in a fully equipped kitchen like this one in 5 Albion Mews in Chester.

Whether you fancy a quick bite or a sit down meal, cities are full of a vast amount of culinary delights. If you’re not a fan of eating out or have dietary requirements, sometimes it can be much easier to just cook for yourself! This is where a self-catering property comes in; you can get your ingredients from local market places in the city then head back to cook and eat at your own leisure in the surrounds of a lovely holiday property. Perfect!

More space than a hotel

Bath Garden Rooms

Enjoy the peaceful outside space at Bath Garden Rooms

I’m certain you’ll be spending more of your city break enjoying the city than you will be in your accommodation but a bit of extra space never hurt anyone, and our properties have that in abundance! Many of our city break properties also have a terrace or small garden, which is ideal if you fancy a quiet drink outside one evening.

Good for non-drivers… and drivers

Park your car safely outside Flat 50 in York.

Park your car safely outside Flat 50 in York.

One of the positives about city breaks is the easy travel! Cities are a breeze to get to via public transport, so they’re a great alternative if you’re not a driver. On the other hand, many of our city break properties have their own parking available, which makes them a great choice for drivers, too – we all know how expensive city centre parking can be and choosing a self-catering property with its own parking can really help cut costs!

Book yourself a self-catering city break

Edinburgh Castle

Beautiful views like this one await you when you head on a city break with Sykes Cottages.

Tempted? I hope so! If you’d like to add a self-catering touch to your next city break, take a look at our city break page and book your next city break with us at Sykes Cottages.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Picture Perfect – The UK’s City Landmarks

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
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Every year, thousands of visitors flock to British towns on a city break. And with so much on offer, who could blame them? From fine dining to rich historic culture, our towns and cities really do have a lot to offer. Regardless of the food we eat or the people we encounter, there is one holiday experience that every tourist shares; visiting the city landmarks.

That’s right, landmarks – like Edinburgh Castle and Big Ben – pop up in just about everyone’s holiday photographs whether you’re a first time visitor to the area or a proud local. If you’re planning a city break in the UK then keep reading for our choice of the best city landmarks to visit and photograph.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Image taken from Princess Street Gardens

Arguably the capital’s most famous attraction, Edinburgh Castle sits high on Castle Rock surveying the city below. Watching over the city of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, this impressive landmark has seen it all; from witch trials and drownings in the Nor Loch to modern events like the Fringe. Edinburgh Castle can receive up to 8,000 visitors a day with many flooding the drawbridge for pictures. For an alternative look at the castle, head to Princess Street Gardens where it’s a little quieter but the view is just as impressive.

York Minster

Image of York Minster via Flickr.

Image of York Minster via Flickr.

No matter where you are in York, gaze up and you’ll be greeted with the familiar sight of York Minster.  The cathedral opened its doors in 637AD and has dominated the city skyline ever since. Welcoming over 490,000 visitors a year, it’s no wonder York Minster graces the front of almost every postcard in town. There’s a variety of locations in York where you can capture an impressive picture of the cathedral but our favourite is from the city streets where you can really highlight its contrast in size from York’s other buildings.

Big Ben

Image of Big Ben via Flickr.

Image of Big Ben via Flickr.

As one of the most photographed landmarks in the world, Big Ben is not only London’s star attraction but one of the key images you picture when thinking of the English capital. From the bustling streets of Westminster, thousands of visitors ogle this iconic structure everyday, but only a few take the time to tour The Elizabeth Tower. That’s right, you can also tour this impressive building, although you’ll have to contact your local MP to arrange it (more information here). To make the most of your Big Ben holiday snaps, stand back and incorporate the Houses of Parliament too.

 The Roman Baths

Image of The Roman Baths via Flickr.

Image of The Roman Baths via Flickr.

It’s impossible to visit the City of Bath without taking a picture of the fascinating Roman Baths. People have visited these baths for thousands of years and the attraction draws in over one million visitors a year. You can capture some amazing images of the Baths from outside the attraction but for a really impressive image, head inside. Although visitors aren’t allowed to take a dip in the Great Bath, you’re welcome to capture its beauty through your camera lens, and who knows, you may be able to feature one of the costumed characters in your picture too.

Caernarfon Castle

Image of Carenarfon Castle via Flickr.

Image of Caernarfon Castle via Flickr.

As one of Wales’ top tourist attractions, Caernarfon Castle attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year. The castle’s creator, Kind Edward the 1st, wanted to show Wales that he meant business and Caernarfon castle was definitely the right way to do it with its impressive octagonal towers and unusual hourglass shaped design.  Boasting fantastic views over Caernarfon, this formidable fortress is sure to add drama to your holiday album. Make the most of the historic features and grab a picture with one of the giant cannons, or from atop of the castle walls.

This is just a small selection of the fantastic landmarks UK cities have to offer. If you’re dreaming of a city getaway, be sure to check out our City Breaks page. With fashionable city properties located throughout the UK, your holiday scrap book will be filled in no time!

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Sykes’ Guide to London: What to do, what to eat & how to get around

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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If you’re heading to Wimbledon over the next fortnight, you’ll probably want to explore the rest of our capital city. But with so much to do in London, where do you begin? Well, no need to worry as we’ve written up a short guide on where to eat, how to get around and a few things that you can get up to during your time in The Big Smoke.

Travelling around London

London Barclays Hire Scheme Bikes

Image via Flickr

Whether you plan on riding the underground, grabbing a cab, hiring a bike or just using your feet and walking, one of the fantastic things about London is how easy it is to travel via public transport. The tube is probably the fastest way to get around, although this means missing out on seeing all that London has to offer! Alternatively, if you want the full tourist experience of London, why not hop on one of those famous red buses or hail down a black taxi cab? This way you can travel through the city whilst also taking in some of the views.

Tourist tip: Buy a visitors Oyster card before you arrive to save time and money. Also, remember to stand to the right of escalators to allow people to get past on the left!

For an eco-friendly way to travel, why not make use of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and rent a bike? With bike docking stations located throughout the city and charges from just £2 per day, it’s an affordable way to travel around London! If you don’t have a destination in mind, you could even follow one of Transport for London’s leisurely cycle routes. Even more inexpensive and eco-friendly is just giving your legs a stretch and walking. London is one of the best cities for those travelling by foot due to its wide footpaths and frequent pedestrian crossings.

Did you know: The blue bicycles of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme are referred to as ‘Boris Bikes’ after London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Things to Do in London

With over 240 museums, over 100 theatres (around 40 on the West End) and a host of iconic attractions, you’ll never be short of things to do in London! If you only have a short amount of time to explore but want to take in a few museums then head to South Kensington where you’ll find the Science Museum, the V&A and the Natural History Museum just a short distance from each other. If you’re a fan of checking out all of the typical tourist attractions that a city has to offer then you will be in your element in London. Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, The Shard, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are just some of the many iconic buildings that call London home.

Tower Bridge in London

Image via Flickr

Tourist tip: Whilst most museums are free, it’s worth taking a look at any temporary exhibitions. They will most likely have a charge but if you’re interested in the subject it will definitely be worth it.  

It goes without saying that London doesn’t stop when it gets dark and there is no need to retire to bed once the museums are closed as there is as much to do in the evening as there is in the day! London’s West End is the place to go if you want to experience a fantastic musical or performance. From classic shows such as Wicked and The Lion King to new favourites like Shrek The Musical and the fantastic The Book of Mormon, there’s bound to be a show that everyone can enjoy!

Did you know: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the longest running of any play in history. The show premièred on the 6th October 1952.

Where to Eat in London

In a city as culturally diverse as London, it’s no surprise that you can find any cuisine that your rumbling stomach desires. Whether you want a sit down meal somewhere luxurious, a family friendly meal in a chain restaurant or you just want to grab something quick, you will be spoilt for choice in London. The city is also home to a range of innovative restaurants that offer diners something a little different alongside their meal. If you’d like to be in full control of ordering your food, Inamo in Soho has an interactive system where diners can peruse the menu and order from a projection on their table. For a fun family meal, Rainforest Cafe in Piccadilly Circus will delight the children with its rainforest décor and sounds. Boasting amazing views of London and a luxuriously indulgent menu, why not treat yourself to a meal at Duck & Waffle, which is located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower.

A box of Laduree Macroons

Image via Flickr

Tourist Tip: Dining out in London can be expensive, particularly in the evening. Look out for set menus or other dining offers that can reduce the cost.

It’s not only in its array of savoury dining experiences that London excels at; it also has an impressive number of places to grab a quick dessert or a box of something sweet to take away. If you’re a fan of macaroons then popping into Ladurée in Covent Garden is a must for a box to take home. On a hot day, nothing is better than heading into one of London’s many frozen yoghurt shops and leaving with a cold, sweet treat!  Popular shops include Snog and Pinkberry.

Did you know: London’s oldest fish and chip shop, Rock and Sole Plaice, has been open since 1871.

Although this guide barely touches the surface of all that London has to offer, we hope that you have found it useful. We’d love to know your favourite things to get up to in London so tell us on twitter or facebook!

 

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Top UK Cities of Culture

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
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Thinking of booking a city break this year? Forget about booking a flight overseas because here in the UK we’ve got some of the best cities for catching some culture. All three of the cities featured below have won recognition of some kind, whether it be the title of European Capital of Culture or the UK’s City of Culture, for what they offer visitors like you, so take a look and find out why you should pay these fantastic places a visit!

Liverpool

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Hear the name Liverpool and what pops into your mind? The Beatles? Football? Well, they’re just a couple of the things that saw this vibrant northern city dubbed the European Capital of Culture back in 2008. Since receiving the accolade, the city has undergone a radical transformation with the construction of the world famous Liverpool One, the UK’s largest open air shopping centre, perfect for a touch of retail therapy. Or if you fancy something a little more educational, you could spend a few hours in one of the city’s fantastic museums or art galleries. Then there’s always the famous Albert Dock, the biggest collection of Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK, ideal for a spot of food and a tipple or three.

Hull

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

I’m sure that you can remember Hull being voted the UK’s City of Culture for 2017. Well here at Sykes HQ, we’re lucky enough to have our very own Hullite in the office who, suffused with pride following the achievement, put together a handy local’s guide to the city. Aside from all of the fantastic suggestions in there, a trip to The Deep, the world’s only ‘submarium’ (underwater aquarium to you and me) comes highly recommended. Alternatively you could head over to the Hull New Theatre, the largest venue in the city, to catch a show, or pay a visit to the marina which is undergoing a massive regeneration as part of the City of Culture campaign.

Glasgow

via. Flickr

via. Flickr

Ok, it might not have been officially recognised as recently as either Liverpool or Hull, but Glasgow is definitely deserving of a space in this blog. Back in 1990 it was named as the UK’s first ever European Capital of Culture and 24 years later, it’s still a choice destination for all of the culture vultures out there.  Attractions include things such as the Finnieston Crane, a throwback to the city’s industrial and engineering heritage, right the way through to the ultra modern science centre. Or you could head over to the Merchant city, a haven of boutique shops and cafés- just make sure that you stop off in Trongate 103, the home of a wide range of Glasgow based creative organisations.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading all about some of the UK’s top cities and are now looking forward to booking yourself a city break. Just remember to have a look at our selection of cottages that are perfect for a city break so that you have a home away from home where you can rest your legs after a long day of sightseeing.

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.