International travel might be back on the cards for now, but the uncertainty of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions make the appeal of UK staycations even more tempting. And with the country being so well connected by rail, your favourite cities and undiscovered locations are only a train ride away.
READ: Eco Royals: The Queen's favourite method of travel is so sustainable
Not only is rail the Queen's favourite way to travel, it's also the most sustainable form of public transport. According to the Climate Action Network, the aviation industry alone contributes to around five per cent of global emissions, with train travel emitting up to 75 per cent less carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Travelling like a royal and saving the planet? Where do we sign up…
WATCH: Inside the Queen's royal train
Putting the ultimate eco way to travel the UK to the test, I ventured to Manchester from London Euston on Avanti West Coast, leaving my car behind and passing on the tempting 50-minute flight. So, what was it like, I hear you ask? Well, without further ado, here's my take on what it's really like to take the train to your next staycation.
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How to travel to Manchester via train
Manchester is one of the UK's most well-connected destinations, with several cities offering direct routes via train. We opted for Standard Premium on Avanti West Coast, a quieter, more spacious carriage with personal desk space that allowed me to finish up some work emails before relaxing into the weekend. The best part? I jumped on the train at London Euston just after 9am and was pulling into Manchester Picadilly two hours later.
First Class passengers are treated to complimentary food and drink on all journeys, including full English breakfast, afternoon tea and fresh pasta onboard the luxury carriage. While Standard Premium offers the same spacious seats without the complimentary dining, food and beverages can be bought and ordered to any seat using the hassle-free website.
We arrived in Manchester Picadilly just two hours after boarding the train at London Euston
It's not just the ease of train travel that's tempting, to help you make the most of your commute by train, Avanti West Coast have teamed up with popular brands to offer exclusive discounts and free treats to all those who travel with them. To discover more about how to make the most of your train ticket, check out the Let's Get Back on Track campaign.
Where to stay in Manchester
Where luxury meets home comforts, those in search of a charming Manchester hotel will be hard pushed to find a better location than The Kimpton Clocktower.
Located just a 10-minute walk from Manchester Picadilly station and a stone's throw from Manchester's central shopping district, there was no need for taxis as navigating the city by foot was incredibly easy from the hotel's front steps.
Despite the hotel's grandeur Victorian entrance and pristine marbled pillars, the atmosphere felt warm and welcoming, made even better by the homely lit Christmas tree and warm tonal furnishings. Our room was illuminated by a stunning chandelier, while palatial floor-to-ceiling curtains hid the view of Manchester's bustling Oxford Street below us.
Each of the 270 rooms at the Kimpton Clocktower comes complete with crisp white sheets, pops of plush green velvet and mustard yellow details, as well as a spacious white tiled bathroom and rainfall shower complete with Elemis essential toiletries.
Best places to eat in Manchester
For those trips when the day rolls into the night, The Refuge is a relaxed all-day and late-night destination with a delicious menu of eclectic small plates and international-inspired sharing dishes to accompany a luxe cocktail menu and trendy vibes. Stroll down to Mackie Mayor on the edge of Manchester's Northern Quarter for an easy brunch, lunch, or dinner, made possible by the several independent food vendors offering mouthwatering meals and tempting light bites. From wood-fired pizza to zingy Thai dishes and buttery flanks of steak - there's something for every Mancunian and visitor alike at this unmissable, reimagined market hall.
No trip to Manchester should be complete without a visit to Australasia. Described as a 'stylish sanctuary' Australasia is an eclectic and elegant basement restaurant hidden inside a glass pyramid beneath the heart of the city's Spinningfields. More than just an Instagram hotspot, Australasia's pan-Asian dishes and laid-back luxury vibe have coined the spot one of Manchester's most popular places to dine - and it's easy to see why.
Australasia was easily one of the highlights of our trip
Highlights include the vibrant array of sushi dishes, mouthwatering sharing plates from the robata grill and fresh seafood seasoned with South Asian spices. No menu is complete without a dazzling cocktail menu, of which Australasia perfects.
Prices for journeys to Manchester from London Euston start from £35.90 from www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk. When you travel by train you can book with confidence with fee-free changes up to 6pm the day before you travel. Plan your next journey at www.nationalrail.co.uk
READ: 4 unmissable day trips from London to visit by train
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