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9 holiday destinations you won't believe are in the UK – inspiration for your staycation

A definitive guide of the most beautiful places to stay in the UK

uk destinations abroad
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
Updated: 12 May 2021
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The pandemic has shattered travel dreams for so many of us, with the current international travel ban meaning holidays abroad are off the cards. If you're looking for some escapism but feel overwhelmed with staycation options, from rural house swaps to luxe city breaks, you've come to the right place.

READ: Is it illegal to book a summer holiday & when can we book?

We've put together a list of stunning destinations you won't believe are in the UK, so you can fuel your wanderlust with Caribbean-like lagoons and Indonesian-esque beaches – without the hefty £5,000 travel fine.

Norfolk Tulip Fields

Looks like: Amsterdam

norfolk tulip fields

Norfolk's tulip fields bloom in late April to early May. They're set to welcome visitors again after their closure last year due to the lockdown. The stunning, vibrant fields possess an uncanny resemblance to Amsterdam's tulip fields, so a day trip here will have you feeling like you've got a spring in your step.

For beautiful stays in Norfolk, we recommend checking out for some staycation steals.

Tinside Lido Plymouth

Looks Like: Bondi Beach, Australia

tinside lido

If you're looking for the UK's most Instagrammable pool, we might have found it. Although we might not have the Australian climate, a trip to Plymouth's Tinside Lido in the peak of the British summer will feel just like a day at Sydney's Bondi Iceberg Pool.

From small fishing boats to huge ferries, enjoy watching a vast array of boats glide into the harbour as you relax by the pool. Visit the lido by night, and watch a film at one of the many open-air cinema events hosted at the pool.

For a staycation you can't wait to dip your feet in, check out Plum Guide for some exquisite Plymouth stays.

RELATED: 10 best outdoor swimming pools you can visit this spring

St Michael's Mount, Cornwall

Looks like: Mont Saint Michael, France

st michaels mt

It might look exactly like Normandy, but St Michael’s Mount is actually in Cornwall. Just like its French counterpart, Mont Saint Michael, this glorious seaside spot has limited opening hours due to the tide limiting access across the causeway. Luckily, there are hot pasties and delicious ice cream's in the island café to keep you occupied until the causeway re-emerges from beneath the waves.

Where to stay near St Michael's Mount

marazion hotel

The stunning Marazion Hotel is just a stone's throw from the idyllic seaside location. Perfect for your summer staycation, the Cornish retreat is ideally located within a few miles of Cornwall's most beautiful towns. Did we mention the exceptional restaurant, bar and stylish rooms, and sea view rooms towards St Michael's Mount?

For other glorious Cornish staycations, Trip Advisor has a list of the very best places for overnight stays - you might want to extend that day trip!

Brighton Pavillion

Looks like: Taj Mahal, India

brighton pavilion

Situated in Pavilion Gardens in the bustling city of Brighton, this former royal residence was once a seaside pleasure place for King George IV. Bearing an uncanny similarity to one of the seven wonders of the world, India's Taj Mahal, this seaside spot makes for the perfect seaside visit. 

Where to stay near Brighton's Pavilion

jurys inn

If you're on the hunt for a waterfront stay, Brighton's Jury's Inn offers unbeatable seafront views and an ideal location in the heart of the bustling city. Stoll down Brighton's colourful seafront and cut through The Lanes until you find the mesmerising Pavilion. This fabulous hotel is currently running a rare offer - £199 for a two-night stay with breakfast. Book it before it goes! 

If you fancy resting your weary feet in a different fancy Brighton hotel, check out the list of accommodation on

Durdle Door, Dorset

Looks like: Nusa Penida, Penida Island, Bali

durdle door

Ah, Bali. The tropical paradise at the top of every backpacker's bucket list. Known for its welcoming culture, trendy cafes, jungle retreats and unforgettable beach clubs – Nusa Penida is a must-see destination. For those of us unable to take the 24-hour journey across the Atlantic to get to it, its English doppelganger can be found on the Jurassic Coast, near Lulworth Cove.

Dorset's Durdle Door has an ideal sea swell for beginner surfers, so a trip to this seaside retreat really will feel like you're stepping onto a Bali beach – don't forget your wetsuit though.

MORE: 12 best outdoor bars and restaurants in London to visit from 12 April

Where to stay in Durdle Door

rafters dorset

Located in West Lulworth in the Dorset region, Rafters is a 5-star luxe sea view property with 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms – the ultimate post-lockdown retreat for the Bali-seeking traveller. The exquisite holiday home features an indoor pool, access to stunning cycle paths and an idyllic garden.

This beautiful house can accommodate up to twenty guests in ten bedrooms, all benefiting from wetroom style showers in each of the en-suite bathrooms, some with the added luxury of a roll top bath – we know where we'll be heading when restrictions allow…

If you're not looking for a group surfing trip, Expedia has a helpful list of the best accommodation in Dorset for all budgets.

Shetland Gorge

Looks like: Finland

shetland gorge

As Shetland lies closer to the North Pole than any other part of Britain, it’s the best place to see the Northern Lights. If seeing the aurora borealis has been on your travel wish list, an autumn or winter trip to this island off the Scottish coast is your best bet at seeing the dancing sky.

If you're desperate to see Shetland's Northern Lights, Trip Advisor has a list of hotels you'll want to check out.

New Forest, Hampshire

Looks like: Forks, Seattle

new forest

If you're looking to live out your Twilight fantasy, the picturesque New Forest National Park is an uncanny comparison to Forks in Seattle, the magical setting for Stephanie Meyer's Twilight films. Experience the New Forest's peace and fall in love with its idyllic glades, open moors, and cliff top walks in this stunning location.

Lush scenery makes this part of England particularly popular for outdoor activities, whether that’s horse riding, paddle boarding, hiking or wild pony-spotting – perfect for a full schedule of staycation activities.

Where to stay in the New Forest

harrys campsite

Harry's Campsite promises to be the perfect pitch this summer, complete with luxury bell tents and chic glamping essentials for those looking for the ultimate relaxation retreat. Situated at the mouth of endless walking trails right from your tent's doorstep and some of the New Forest’s most popular cycle tracks.

Nature lovers can bring a hammock and set up a chill-out pad under the branches if the weather hots up too much, or pop down to Highcliffe or Mudeford beaches for some water sports and fish and chips by the sea!

If glamping isn't your thing, has the ultimate list of hotels for the luxury-loving traveller. 

Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Looks like: Athens, Greece

minack theatre

If you're a lover of theatre and travel, you'll really be feeling the slump of lockdown restrictions that have prohibited both for over a year. Fear not – Cornwall's idyllic Minack Theatre is a unique open-air theatre perched on the cliffs high above the Atlantic ocean.

Its architecture takes inspiration from Ancient Greek theatre, and in the summer, this sun trap boasts a climate easily mistakable for the Mediterranean. You'll be mad to miss the unbeatable atmosphere of this stunning theatre as the sun retreats behind the waves.

For a staycation to remember, visit TripAdvisor for a list of the very best stays in Penzance, just a stone's throw from the Minnack Theatre. 

MORE: 25 UK hotels you need to visit for a post-lockdown weekend getaway

Isles of Scilly

Looks like: Caribbean

dolphin house tresco view

The paradisiac view from Dolphin House, Prince Charles' holiday retreat

 The glorious Isles of Scilly are a subtropical escape for those who prefer an exotic getaway. Just a stone's throw from the Cornish coast, the royal-owned Isles boast stunning beaches, untouched coastlines and idyllic scenery that could easily be mistaken for a Caribbean island.

Don't know where to stay on the island? have you covered. 

Loch Uaine, Scotland

Looks like: Banff, Canada

View post on Instagram

This picturesque loch situated in the Cairngorms National Park boasts unbeatable forest hikes and crystal clear water, similar to that of Canada's Banff. The Cairngorms boasts five of Scotland’s six highest mountains with 52 summits over 900 metres. From granite tors to Ice Age glaciers, the park also holds some of the best examples of different landforms outside arctic Canada.

For beautiful Scottish stays, check out Plum Guide for your staycation inspiration. 

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