“Dynamic.” That’s the word Gavin Landry, Director, The Americas, VisitBritain, uses to describe Great Britain. “It’s always changing.” And that’s true—there are always new hotels popping up all over Great Britain; new world-class attractions continuously luring first-time and repeat visitors; and for those who’ve been there and done London, there’s a world of unexpected surprises awaiting visitors throughout Great Britain.
Right now, adds Landry, “Great Britain offers value for money, and it’s perceived as a safe destination.” Airlift continues to increase, as well—“we are working with airlines to continue to have airlines bring new routes to gateway cities.” Landry adds that there are perceptions VisitBritain wants to debunk and is thus focusing on three main pillars: “Great Britain DOES offer a great gastronomic experience,” with dozens of Michelin-star restaurants in Britain, including a couple of pubs; “there is luxury beyond London”; and rail service offers easy connectivity—“you can do it all by rail.”
New for 2018 beyond London
Today, Jan. 11, is the official launch of Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture for 2018. The celebration will continue throughout the year: Tate Liverpool is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an Egon Schiele retrospective; China’s famous terracotta warriors will come to the city as they visit the UK in more than a decade; the award-winning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the nation’s premier Beatles group The Bootleg Beatles are teaming up for a special performance; and the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta linking Liverpool, Dublin and Bordeaux, will take place May 25-28.
This year, Scotland will see the debut of the first V&A to be opened outside London—the waterfront V&A Museum Of Design Dundee; and there’s a new 90-mile scenic route, the Snow Roads, that takes trekkers through the Highlands from Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Spey.
The Bear Grylls Adventure is opening this year in Birmingham, with challenges that include conquering small spaces, indoor skydiving and the highest free-roam high ropes in Europe.
Over in Wales, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will stop in Cardiff, it’s first stop in the UK in over a decade. The Cardiff Race Village will be open for two weeks in Cardiff Bay, from May 27 to June 10, with fans getting the opportunity to get a first-hand taste of the race with a new “pit lane” experience, and the chance to get up-close with the sailors and their vessels.
2018 Openings—Just a Handful of Our Favorites
One of the coolest accommodations to open this year in the UK will be a floating hotel in Edinburgh (set for a spring opening). The 237-ft.-long historic Fingal, a former Northern Lighthouse Board ship, will debut this spring in the city’s Port of Leith with 23 signature cabins, each named after Stevenson lighthouses and inspired by Fingal’s maritime heritage.
This summer, Britain’s first Hard Rock Hotel will open in London, complete with a lobby area hosting live music, as well as a Hard Rock Cafe, speakeasy bar, spa and Rock Shop selling brand merchandise.
The high-end, 54-room Belmond Cadogan Hotel will open this year on Sloane Street. The building, built in 1887 and formerly known as The Cadogan, location of Oscar Wilde’s infamous arrest, has undergone a 2-year renovation and is downsizing from 64 to 54 accommodations.
Bristol’s Guildhall and Assizes Courts in Bristol’s old city is set to become the city’s first five-star hotel, with 91 luxurious bedrooms, a spa and a rooftop pool. The reception area will be restored to its original 1843 triple-height layout, and bedrooms will be adapted from towers and other existing architectural features such as stained-glass windows, pitched roofs, dormer windows and the occasional statue of a famous judge. Even the historic prison cells in the hotel’s basement will be converted for use as changing rooms for the luxury spa and gym.
Principal Hotel Company is converting the historic Martins Bank building in Liverpool into a 227-room luxury hotel with a spa, bar and restaurant. Completed in 1932, the Martins Bank building is considered to be among the finest classical buildings built in England during the interwar period and was used to hide Britain’s gold during World War Two.
And spa lovers will want to know that the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, west Wales, just refurbished its spa and renamed it Rock Spa.
For more goings-on in Great Britain, go to visitbritain.com.