Clients who don’t want to spend precious hours of their mini break queuing at an airport, or wasting time on a long flight simply to get away for a couple of days may well be tempted by a UK city break instead.
Autumn is the time of year when our cities really come into their own, especially London and other heritage destinations such as York, Edinburgh, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Bath. “People are becoming a lot more interested in what they can see and do on a short break,” said Superbreak sales director Ian Mounser. “They are looking for some culture.”
Other cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle are also attracting a reasonable share of short-break business.
“The look and feel of these big cities now compared to five years ago is very different,” said Mounser. “The city centres have been redeveloped, waterfront areas have been spruced up, new arts centres have been added and shopping centres opened, and all this investment has attracted new hotels.”
Though some of these cities might be short on cultural attractions, each has other key selling points. Shopping is a national pastime and Birmingham’s Bull Ring, Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Newcastle’s Metro Centre provide retail therapy, while Cardiff is gaining a reputation for its thriving arts scene.
If your clients want to sample the best of British, here are five of our favourite UK cities:
Suits:couples, families, history buffs and trainspotters
Don’t miss: the city is crammed with historic attractions and several excellent museums including the Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum and the National Railway Museum, not to mention York Minster, making it a year-round short-break destination. It’s also great for boutique-style shopping in the historic Shambles area of the city.
Sample product: bed and breakfast at the three-star Ramada York hotel in the city centre costs from £95 per person for two nights on a bed-and- breakfast basis in November and December, booked through Superbreak.
Suits: everyone from singletons to couples with kids, from teenagers to OAPs.
Don’t miss: no trip to London would be complete without seeing a West End show and with several new musicals, including The Sound of Music, Cabaret and Dirty Dancing running alongside favourites such as The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Phantom of the Opera, this looks set to be the West End’s best ever year.
Sample product: two nights’ bed and breakfast at the three-star Hotel Mercure, Bankside costs £135 per person including a theatre ticket to see The Lion King on November 24, booked through Somewhere2stay.com.
Suits: couples, families and stag and hen parties.
Don’t miss: a chance to step back in time by wandering through the warren of underground streets, hidden beneath the City Chambers on the Royal Mile, where people lived until the 19th century; visit the new Museum of Scotland for a snapshot of Scottish history; see the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith port; and spend a night at The Stand Comedy Club, providing laughs seven nights a week.
Sample product: Two nights at the Best Western Bruntsfield Hotel, located close to the city centre, costs from £130 per person, including breakfast.
Suits: Couples, stag and hen parties, and families
Don’t miss: for the best retail therapy, suggest clients hit the Bull Ring shopping centre where they’ll find Selfridges and other big high-street brands; for nightlife seek out the clubs on Broad Street, including Jongleurs and The Works. Kids will love Cadbury World with tours and tastings available from £9.50, it’s the next best thing to Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Suits: Families and sports enthusiasts.
Don’t miss: Watch the Welsh national rugby team take on Australia, the Pacific Islands, Canada or New Zealand in the Autumn Series at the Millennium Stadium – a tourist attraction in its own right. Wander down to Cardiff Bay, the spruced-up former Docklands, to watch some sailing and grab a bite to eat at Mermaid Quay, or soak up some culture in the Millennium Centre, home of the Welsh National Opera.