Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the country they are travelling to as well as the availability and opening information of individual venues.
Spend your next holiday in the UK for a fuss-free, cost-effective trip. Our top picks include places where you can try a hands-on culinary experience – every foodie is sure to love these recommendations.
Sample home-grown wines in countryside vineyards with stunning views, forage for fresh shellfish on Welsh beaches, or learn how to make gourmet cheese in Norfolk cottages.
To learn more about other foodie destinations, see our travel hub.
The Pig at Bridge Place, Canterbury
Best for: local artisan producers
Local fizz, seasonal pies and plenty of cosy nooks in which to curl up – a stay at The Pig is sure to make you feel at home. Checking in feels like slipping on a cosy cashmere jumper.
Rooms in the main house – a smartly converted grade II-listed Jacobean red-brick building just outside Canterbury – are decorated in a colour palette of soothing sage, ivory and burnt orange, with wooden floors and brickwork softened by linen and velvet fabrics.
There are also luxe lodges set in the surrounding 10-acre parkland, which come equipped with kitchens, squashy sofas and wood-burning stoves. The Hop Pickers’ Huts, neat retreats for two, sit on stilts over the estate’s water meadow. All rooms have a larder stocked with goodies (think sourdough, local butter and good coffee).
Sit back with a Squerryes Kentish fizz or local cider served in the bar’s colourful glassware and kick off your evening with ‘piggy treats’; a snack board of pork scratchings, chipolatas and mini hock eggs (£3.95). In the laid-back dining room, the pie of the season might be game accompanied by a pile of buttery colcannon and liquor (starters from £6, mains from £14).
The Pig’s menu highlights local artisan producers, and the kitchen sources ingredients within a 25-mile radius. Snoad Farm in Faversham supplies the pork and The Wonky Parnsip in Canterbury provides veg, fruit and herbs. Shelves heave with jars of forced rhubarb, pickled radishes and heritage carrots, showing commitment to bottling summer’s abundance for use in the winter months.
The room has an indoor-outdoor feel, and potted herbs reflect the plot-to-plate ethos– it may even encourage you to take a stroll around the garden. Warm up afterwards with a relaxing massage in the Potting Shed treatment rooms, accessed through the walled kitchen garden.
How to do it: Rooms at The Pig from £109 per night, room only.
Best for: Michelin dining and local gems
Cumbria punches above its weight in the culinary stakes. The picturesque county of lakes and mountains is decorated with eight Michelin stars, Simon Rogan’s Enclume being one of its best-known restaurants.
Allium at Askham Hall Penrith, received a Michelin star in 2019, where Cumbrian chef Richard Swale uses seasonal food from the large estate garden, rearing the resident chickens himself.
The restaurant’s memorable tasting menu features dishes like langoustine cooked over pinewood, turbot with gnocchi and chive sauce, and geranium cream with Campari granita; the ‘maitre de maison’ matches each course with wine and talks through pairings at the table.
The 19 guest rooms that make up Askham Hall’s hotel are also set on the medieval estate of the Earl of Lonsdale. Grand yet comfy and characterful you can expect neat topiary gardens and gargoyles, but also well-worn in antique furnishings, vases of fresh gardens flowers, and old photos (the Lonsdale family still owns the property after turning it into a restaurant with rooms in 2012). If you want to play at land gentry life, this is the place.
The ‘honesty box’ bar allows you to self-pour drinks before relaxing in the cosy lounge by the fire and grand piano. Breakfast includes a fancier-than-your-average full English with Askham’s sausages, and each table has a pot of local honey for smothering on toast.
Make sure you leave time to tour Cumbria’s fast growing food and drink landmarks. The Lakes Distillery in Cockermouth, is a must-visit for whisky, gin and vodka fans. Go for a tour of the impressive site (one hour from £12.50) and have lunch at the Bistro afterwards. The menu changes seasonally but expect lunch platters, croque monsieur with Cumbrian ham and house-made pork pie (two courses £20).
A short drive away in Keswick you’ll find The Lingholm Estate. The water-side grounds are a leafy haven – its walled garden is said to have inspired Beatrix Potter who used to holiday there. Lingholm Kitchen is a modern, airy cafe space with an in-house bakery, recently refocused on sustainability and plant-based dishes. Its afternoon tea features an exemplary custard tart (from £22 per person).
Grasmere Gingerbread is a must-visit. This Lakes institution operates from a tiny former schoolhouse in the blueprint-pretty Cumbrian village of Grasmere. Go for their trademark gingerbread – the recipe hasn’t changed since 1854. Pick up rum butter (£3.50) and local produce like Hawkshead relish (£2.95) as gifts.
For more Michelin action, book into Cottage in the Wood. This diminutive 17th century guesthouse and restaurant are cosy with amiable service. The restaurant serves refined plates like crab with chilled watercress, and hen of the woods mushroom with salt baked kohlrabi and fermented turnip (dishes around £7).
Take lunch or dinner at The Old Stamp House in Ambleside. Also Michelin-starred, here chef Ryan Blackburn uses locally foraged ingredients. We dined on Herdwick lamb loin with wild garlic oil, Jerusalem artichokes and elf cup mushrooms, and Cumbrian gingerbread cheesecake with rhubarb (three courses average around £47).
If you’re dining with kids, offshoot restaurant Kysty is explicitly family friendly. The more casual, seasonal menu features dishes like chalk stream trout, and Roscoff onion broth (mains around £17; kids’ mains £5).
How to do it: Double rooms at Askham Hall are from £150 for bed and breakfast, and £230 at Cottage in the Wood for dinner, bed and breakfast. See visitlakedistrict.com for more travel information and support.
Howgill Fells, Yorkshire
Best for: contemporary comforts
The scent of fresh sourdough pizza isn’t what you’d expect to smell wafting out of a Victorian manor house in Yorkshire’s Howgill Fells, but Brownber Hall delivers this and other such contemporary comforts in spades. Chef-owner Amanda Walker serves a modest yet accomplished menu of pizza and pasta, plus seasonal starters including a charcuterie board with Cumbrian air-dried ham (starters from £3, pizza and pasta from £9.50). Arrive early to enjoy a fireside drink from the rather grand honesty bar, but rise in good time the following morning to indulge in breakfast – it features Amanda’s mum’s marmalade, homemade granola and local Cumbrian sausage.
Brownber is a family affair – the floral-printed drapes and velvet cushions (also courtesy of Amanda’s mum) are brought to harmony with antiques, modern prints and mid-century treasures (all salvaged from Soho House) by Amanda’s interior designer sister. One of the eight bedrooms even comes fitted with an iron-framed four-poster bed hand-hewn by a local metalworker. Amanda’s husband, Peter, serves as front of house, and is almost always accompanied by their black lab, Bella. Speak to him for suggestions for walks on which your own hound can join, as the hotel offers some dog-friendly rooms.
On the doorstep of the hotel you’ll find a section of the old North Eastern Railway line, an easy, scenic walk from Smardale Gill Old Viaduct. If it’s an ice cream day, the spicy apple crumble ice cream at Howgill Fellside is highly recommended, but if it’s not your thing, there are many other flavours that all come courtesy of the farm’s dairy herd. Howgill Fells is virtually unknown outside of the hillwalking set, save for the small ‘book town’ of Sedbergh.
Select a title from one of its eight bookshops to read after dinner at The Black Bull, a 17th-century inn run by James Ratcliffe and chef-partner Nina Matsunaga that’s been revamped into a chic space. Rooms (again, some pet-friendly) are stylish, with natural blankets, wood panelling and canvases of the area by renowned photographer Rob Whitrow. Bathrooms are fitted with free-standing baths and stocked with Petrichor toiletries by The Sedbergh Soap Co.
House-baked biscuits can be found on bedside tables and are a total treat, as are all of The Black Bull’s bakes. Bread and pastries come from Three Hares, a café across the street run by Nina and James. The café also provides the crumbs for Nina’s sourdough ice cream, a hearty finish to a refined menu that riffs on Nina’s Japanese heritage and James’ Dales roots, plus the couple’s background as veterans of Manchester’s food scene. Try the aubergine miso & kimchi, Howgill Hereford beef & ale pie and cherry blossom gelato (two courses from £21.75).
South Downs, Sussex
Best for: wine connoisseurs
With over 200 vineyards to visit and tour in England and Wales alone, there’s never been a better time to treat yourself to a quintessentially British boozy getaway. Home-grown wines and bubbly are making a mark on the international wine map, with many high-profile producers tucked away in the south of England. Surrounded by rolling hills and sheltered by woodland on either side, Bolney Wine Estate, on the edge of the South Downs in sunny Sussex, has protected pastures, sandstone soil and the ideal microclimate for a viticultural sweet spot. To explore the vineyard and winery and enjoy a tasting of five wines with cheese, try the taster tour (from £20 per person).
For something more luxurious, book the ‘grand gourmet’, a tour of the vineyard plus a seasonal, two-course buffet lunch matched with five wines (from £45 per person). If you’re happy to linger, take a seat at The Eighteen Acre, the elegant on-site restaurant that boasts panoramic views of the estate. Expect hearty ploughman’s made with local cheeses and meats, or warming soups.
Don’t leave without sampling a glass or two of the latest harvest on the terrace overlooking the vineyard. The Estate bacchus is a delicious balance of zesty acidity and sweet, fruity flavours, with a hint of hedgerow fruits such as gooseberry and elderflower. Fancy something bubbly? Try the blanc de blancs, a classic sparkling wine packed with citrus and floral notes. Bolney’s efforts to use up excess ingredients from wine productions has resulted in a few wonderful, sustainable spirits. Sip a rosso vermouth and tonic (£6), or foxhole G&T (£6.50) for a tasty alternative to the traditional wines.
Combine a day of wine-fuelled wanderings with a stay at Ockenden Manor, an Elizabethan manor house and spa that’s around a 10-minute cab ride from the estate. Indulgence is the order of the day here: fill your time with pampering spa treatments and home-grown food in peaceful surroundings. Choose from a traditional room in the main manor or a modern spa suite. The contemporary spa is set in a 19th-century walled garden, and its indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzis and seemingly endless relaxation nooks are worth the trip in themselves.
Unwind before dinner with a muscle melt massage (£64), then start your evening with a tipple in the drawing room while you browse the menu. Ockenden is ideally located to take advantage of local produce, from Golden Cross goat’s cheese to sparkling wine. The Sussex menu offers mouthwatering Trenchmore Farm salt beef, local lobster and molten goat’s cheese croquettes. Georgina Kiely
How to do it: Junior spa suites at Ockenden Manor start from £299 a night, or a cosy room in the main building costs from £189 a night.
Best for: seaside foraging
Sandwiched between the Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire, the often overlooked county of Carmarthenshire has a cove-studded coastline that’s full of breathtaking scenery – plus great food, if you know where to look for it. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to catch wild mussels, clams, prawns and other seafood, then cook and eat them metres away. You’ll need a guide, though, and few know more about the wild food, biodiversity and conservation of this stretch of coast than forager Craig Evans.
Craig is the real deal, and is as local as they come; he’s been foraging in the area for over 50 years and knows every rockpool. A day out with Craig will take you to several locations to get different ingredients – a bay for mussels, an estuary for oysters, then a beach for razor clams. Craig is like a beach magician, pulling fish and shellfish from out of nowhere. The foraged goods are cooked on an open fire, beachside, and the whole experience is seafood nirvana.
A day of sea air will work up an appetite, so head deep into the Towy Valley where you’ll find one of the best pub restaurants in Wales. Y Polyn offers unpretentious dishes that showcase local produce, such as salt marsh lamb and local game (mains £16-£20). There’s also Y Sied, a cafe new to the Carmarthen food scene that’s run by Welsh cook Lisa Fearn. The titular ‘shed’ is a converted barn that houses a coffee shop and cookery school specialising in kids’ cooking classes (from £25).
Off the beaten track in Llanarthney, Wright’s Food Emporium has one of the finest biodynamic wine cellars in the country, and serves brunch, big sandwiches and homemade cakes (dishes £2-£10). Wright’s now also offers two smart, two-bedroom rental cottages from £100 per night – they include essentials for your arrival, such as Wright’s bread and jam, local milk, butter, Brew Tea Co tea and proper coffee. Preorder breakfast and supper from the shop online before you get there. Barney Desmazery
How to do it: Coastal foraging courses with Craig Evans from £80 per adult (children aged 16 and under go free).
Hackney Wick, London
Best for: exploring fermentation
Head to industrial-chic Hackney Wick for a fizzy treat. A charming, retro canal boat called Alfred Le Roy – moored on the River Lea next to its brewery – is home to Jarr Kombucha. An innovator in one of the fastest-growing drinks sectors, Jarr Kombucha hosts a series of workshops teaching the fascinating history, science and health benefits of kombucha – a raw, fermented, tea-based beverage. You’ll also have the chance to make and flavour your own brew. Whether you’re a well-seasoned kombucha fan, have dabbled in making your own, or are a complete novice, Jarr Kombucha’s workshop caters to all interests and abilities.
After being greeted with a kombucha cocktail, you’ll be taken on a guided tour of the brewery to learn about the commercial side of fermentation and how the brand was born. Then, you’ll step aboard the boat to begin your own experimentations with the provided starter kit. Guides will talk you through the process of fermenting organic tea with sugar, then you’ll add the starter liquid and wait for the magic happen. You’ll also be provided with cold-pressed juices to blend with premade kombucha – a great opportunity to let your creativity flow.
After an hour, you’ll come away with a litre of your own homemade ‘booch’ to nurture, plus a goody bag. While in the area, check out the newly opened Silo restaurant, adjacent to the brewery. This zero-waste concept originated in Brighton and makes use of fresh, local ingredients, with dinner dishes such as purple sprouting broccoli & native oysters (£9.50), or caramelised oats, Silo yogurt & preserved fruits for brunch (£7). Plus, Jarr’s kombucha is available on tap. Alice Johnston
How to do it: An hour-long workshop and guided tour of the Jarr Kombucha brewery costs £25 per person, and includes a kombucha cocktail, Jarr tote bag and a kombucha flavour of your choice to take home. Upcoming workshop dates TBC; check Eventbrite for tickets.
Bet for: hands-on chefs
Paul Ainsworth has been quietly carving out his own patch in this picture-postcard Cornish harbour town for the last decade, which now includes the Mahé Cookery School & Chef’s Table. The intimate, modern and well-equipped school run by chef John Walton hosts a range of courses, from the seasonal flavours of the Mediterranean and game cookery to the more technique-led pasta masterclasses.
The maximum five-person classes are hands-on; John demos a dish or technique, then you repeat it. The Mediterranean course, for example, might find you filleting fresh Cornish mackerel, braising lamb or perfecting custard tarts. Refreshments are offered and lunch is a tasting menu from the restaurant, so you can take home what you’ve made.
If you’re not full from lunch, Paul now also runs iconic beachside boozer The Mariners, a short ferry ride across the bay. The menu pays homage to pub classics, but they’re elevated to their best. The same ethos applies to Paul’s chic boutique hotel, Padstow Townhouse – its six suites are named after treats such as rhubarb & custard and honeycomb, and are decorated in a matching palette. The annual Padstow Christmas Festival showcases West Country wares like artisan bread, chocolates, cheeses, preserves and pickles, plus craft beers, ciders, local spirits and Cornish arts and crafts. Barney Desmazery
Best for: coffee lovers and latte artists
Fancy yourself a budding barista? Learn the secrets of tamping, frothing and making beautiful coffee designs with a 90-minute latte art enthusiast course at Origin Coffee Roasters in London (the class is also available in Cornwall). Held in Origin’s education lab at its café in Southwark, the class is led by one of the company’s expert baristas, whose knowledge of coffee is astounding.
The class begins with a brief introduction to the basics of milk steaming, and the chance to ask anything you want about coffee-making, from tips on the best kit and beans to which milk to use. The theory part can be as long or short as you want (depending on how best you learn), then you’ll get hands-on time at the machines. Using state-of-the-art La Marzocco espresso machines and Origin coffee, you’ll weigh out your grounds, learn to ‘tamp’ it (or press it down), draw the coffee, steam the milk, and have a go at the art, starting with a simple heart shape. The class size is normally two to four people, so you get plenty of one-on-one attention and advice.
If you do master the heart – it’s harder than it looks! – you can move on to the more complicated leaf or tulip. Unfortunately, the best part of the course is also the worst: you get as many attempts as time allows to master the art, so you end up wasting coffee and milk (there are only so many cups you can drink, after all). Happily, Origin is trying to find a solution. It already uses surplus milk in its porridge, and produces a zero-waste croissant loaf. Anna Lawson
How to do it: The latte art enthusiast course costs £30 per person and includes 15% off food and drink on the day. Courses are held at Origin Coffee Roasters in Southwark, London, or The Roastery in Helston, Cornwall.
Best for: cheese enthusiasts
British caseiculture is on the up: there’s been a huge resurgence in regional cheeses, and Britain now produces more than 700 varieties nationwide. Immerse yourself in the trend by making a weekend of it on a cheesemaking course in Norfolk, the home of award-winning Fielding Cottage goat’s cheese. Set in the peaceful village of Honingham in the heart of the countryside, Fielding Cottage is a small family farm run by owner Sam Steggles, complete with holiday cottages overlooking a goat paddock and the cheese factory where Sam’s courses take place. Classes run for six hours, and you’ll learn a huge amount during this time.
Starting with tea, coffee and a safety debrief, you’ll then head to the cheese factory where you’ll don protective clothing and hairnets. Everyone on the course has their own work station and equipment, and you’ll be guided through the hugely satisfying cheesemaking process – start with just a bowl of heated milk in the morning, and by the end of the course, you’ll have transformed it into a large dome of goat’s cheese to take home.
You’ll also be taken on a tour of the factory to learn about the science of cheesemaking, production and storage, and you’ll taste plenty of Fielding Cottage goat’s cheese en route, including Norfolk Mardler, Wensum White, Ellingham and creamy goat’s curd. At the end of the course, you’ll box up the cheese you’ve made to take home, along with several of the farm’s cheeses, a booklet on how to make and look after your cheese, and a cheesemaking certificate.
Accommodation is on-site, and includes three modern, comfortable cottages (sleeping two to four) with bedrooms, kitchens, huge bathrooms, and a separate living space. There’s also a self-service farm shop, The Goat Shed, where you can pick up free-range eggs, juices and jams for breakfast, plus other locally sourced treats such as ice cream, veg, honey, popcorn, oil, the farm’s own goat meat, and its goat’s milk skincare range. All of the cottages have access to a games room with table tennis, books, toys and other games, and your stay includes free passes to The Edge Health and Fitness. Just five minutes’ drive from the farm, it has an indoor heated pool, a sauna, steam rooms and a gym, and Espa spa treatments are available.
If you want to walk off some of that cheese, there are plenty of woodland trails in the area, or explore the Broads with a self-drive boat trip – picnic boats can be hired from Barnes Brinkcraft in Wroxham (£91 for a half day). While in the area, it’s well worth visiting Norwich, a medieval city packed with great independent foodie spots. Smart neighbourhood bistro Benedicts is a highlight.
Great British Menu winner and judge, chef-patron Richard Bainbridge, showcases local produce and serves comforting yet refined plates with immaculate attention to detail. Order the Norfolk mutton with pearl barley, swede, beetroot & sage jus and his winning GBM dessert, ‘nanny’s trifle’ (two courses, £31, three courses, £39). For unbeatable sweet treats including brookies (brownie-cookie hybrids) and beautiful macarons, stop off at Macarons & More, a lovely little shop in the Royal Arcade owned by MasterChef’s Tim Kinnaird. Fiona Forman
How to do it: The next cheesemaking courses at Fielding Cottage run on Friday 17 January and Saturday 18 January 2020 from 9am-3pm. £80 per person, including lunch. On-site cottages start from £85 per person a night. For more info on things to do in the area, see Visit Norwich.
The Yan at Broadrayne, Cumbria
Best for: cosy farmhouses
It doesn’t get much cosier than a stay at The Yan, a boutique hotel in a converted 17th-century farmhouse that’s tucked away within the dramatic landscape of the Lakes. This friendly, family-run bistro with beds is in perfect harmony with its location, and ideally set up for those who want to make the most of its surroundings.
In keeping with that theme, The Yan’s bistro menu focuses on hearty food that’s ideal for fuelling outdoor adventures. Start your day with the farmer’s feast: every element of this breakfast is made from scratch, from the hash browns and baked beans to the ketchup, and even the eggs are fresh from the farm. The bistro reopens early for dinner at 3pm, just in case you return hungry from a day of walking. The menu features nostalgic, filling favourites, like roast dinner sharing platters served with pork crackling, apple sauce, roast potatoes, veg and cider gravy.
Just a 20-minute stroll down the road, the postcard-perfect village of Grasmere is home to an abundant choice of cafés and restaurants. Head to Mathilde’s Café at Heaton Cooper Studio for soup or slice of cake (£6.50 for soup with bread) and take a peek at the adjoining gallery to see locally painted landscapes and prints. Tweedies Bar & Lodge is popular for Sunday roasts, and offers an impressive range of local craft beers and ales. Just across the street, Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread, the oldest gingerbread shop in the country, is a must-visit. Dating back to 1854, it’s tucked away in the tiny cottage next to St Oswald’s Church, and sells freshly baked slices of warm, chewy gingerbread.
There’s no shortage of stunning scenery in the Lake District, and just a short drive from Grasmere you’ll find plenty more picturesque villages and walks, including one from Skelwith Bridge to the beautiful Elterwater lake. Start with lunch at the hugely popular Chesters by the River. Set right on the river Brathay near Skelwith Bridge, you can enjoy lunch among the trees on a bright day. Dishes at this vegetarian café-restaurant include satisfying salads and flavour-packed, globally inspired dishes like onion bhajis and raita flatbreads or hummus & falafel buddha bowls, as well as a very tempting selection of cakes and bakes (lunch mains from £4.50).
For a truly special foodie experience, dinner at Lake Road Kitchen is an absolute must. Open in the evenings from Wednesday to Sunday, you can book a five-, eight- or 12-course tasting menu created by head chef James Cross and his highly skilled team. Innovative dishes change regularly, but all aim to show off local produce; we enjoyed mutton broth made from local Herdwick sheep, a seriously clever celeriac taco starter filled with glazed duck leg & pickled cabbage, and a creamy baked goat’s cheese cheesecake with pear caramel & sorbet (£90 per person).
How to do it: Standard double rooms at The Yan start from £100 per night (breakfast not included). Going for an extra-special reason? Just down the road between the villages of Ambleside and Windermere, The Samling is great for romantic or special occasions. Classic double rooms start from £280 per night. For more information, visit golakes.co.uk.
Enjoyed these holidays? Read more travel recommendations
Which foodie experience do you want to try? Leave a comment below…
All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of December 2019 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.