Cotswolds Staycation

2020, a year that we will never forget. Whilst it’s easy for me to sit here and write a love letter to the woes and sorrows that we’ve collectively experienced around the world this year, I have chosen to focus my energy on the positive moments. The first time experiences and the relived adventures. In particular, My Best UK Staycation Moments Of 2020, that made me feel content being right here at home, safe and sound.

1. The Landmark London – Best Solo UK Staycation of 2020

With my thesis handed in and my exams completed, in a blink of an eye, we have arrived to September 2020. And with the new-found freedom, I was off onto my first Solo Best UK Staycation Moment of 2020, The Landmark London.

The Landmark Winter Garden
The Landmark Winter Garden

Yes, it was only half an hour from my place, but it was a change of scenery that allowed me to unwind from home, work, and university. And if you saw their indoor Winter Garden, you wouldn’t even believe you were in London.

Not to mention that this was my first real moment out of the house ever since Covid-19 arrived in the UK in March, so I wanted to ensure that I was close to home in case if things got worse.

Afternoon Tea The Landmark London
Afternoon Tea The Landmark London

Whilst it may have seen as a silly idea to some, to have a Staycation in my own city, it was everything that I needed. I was able to be alone for a few days, turn off my mind, and realign myself. I had spent the weekend prioritising self-care and it did wonders for myself and those around me when I had returned home to my bubble.

TIP: If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that self-care should always be a priority. Even if it’s not always at the top of my priority list.

Curious how I spent my first best UK staycation moment of 2020?

Solo Staycation At The Landmark London

2. Four Seasons Hampshire – Best Country Chic Staycation of 2020

For a super chic UK staycation, I headed to The Four Seasons in Hampshire to mark my second Best UK Staycation Moment of 2020. With its large acres of land, it meant that we were able to go outside on never-ending walks without another soul in sight.

Four Seasons Hampshire
Four Seasons Hampshire

Not only would this please Boris Johnson as we were always socially distant, but it was a refreshing breath of fresh air from our London flat situated in the heart of the city. To top it off, I even got to go horse riding for the first time in three years!

Four Seasons Hampshire Horse Riding
Meet Elton

Yes, 4 days here may have cost me the same as 2 weeks in Thailand, with flights included. But the joy of being grounded with nowhere to go meant that I got to indulge myself in some of the best hospitality that the UK has to offer. Honestly, the staff here, (in addition to the views and food) really made this trip for us. They were so welcoming that every time we went down for a meal, it felt like we were coming back home.

The Wild Carrot

Lemonade at Four Seasons Hampshire
Lemonade at Four Seasons Hampshire

Did I mention the food? Just in case I will repeat it again, the food served here at The Wild Carrot was phenomenal. From the warm hazy days enjoying a lemonade with a fresh bowl of Eton mess on the patio, to charming evenings enjoying the BEST STEAK of my life, every moment spent here was perfection.

Find out why The Four Seasons Hampshire was part of my Best UK Staycation Moments of 2020 here:

Staycation At The Four Seasons Hampshire

The Wild Carrot Restaurant At The Four Seasons Hampshire

3. The Cotswolds – Best Girls Only Staycation of 2020

Holding on to the last bit of summer, I headed off on a girls road trip to The Cotswolds, to mark my third Best UK Staycation of 2020. From endless Instagram photo opportunities to the best afternoon teas that can rival any top London eateries, the Cotswolds plays the perfect backdrop to any girls trip in the country. Even the city princesses.

Cream Tea at The Old Bakery Tearoom Stow On The Wold
Cream Tea at The Old Bakery Tearoom Stow On The Wold

As someone that’s never spent time in the countryside, this was truly a new and refreshing experience that came with lots of learning curves.

Firstly, seeing an old lady who could easily be in her 80s jogging alone on a deserted road surrounded by endless greenery, was new to me. I was in awe of not only her energy levels but how free and safe she must have felt. I have to be conscious of the time and route that I take to get to and from work, just to ensure that I feel safe. And I live in the heart of the city.

Arlington Row Bibury Cotswolds
Arlington Row Bibury

Secondly, seeing a teenager horse riding along windy bendy roads whilst dodging traffic on her own, was also new to me. I don’t even know how to ride a bicycle as the roads surrounding my house growing up, was considered to be unsafe for cyclists.

Not to mention that it was an eye-opener that I could have lived out my horse riding dreams growing up if only I had lived somewhere else. Yes, I know it sounds silly when I say it out loud, but it has always felt more of a fantasy than a possible reality.

Bourton On The Water Cotswolds
Bourton On The Water Cotswolds

Not to mention seeing all the picturesque English cottages lined up neatly in Bibury that made me feel like I had stepped into a fairytale. Or sitting around Little Venice in Bourton on the water with my face buried into a Cornish Pasty that I so loved.

This was a chilled and easy-going trip that allowed me to be in the moment and share many waves of laughter with those around me. I was able to slow down and be at one with nature, and I have learned that I loved it. So much so, that I’m even considering a move out of London.

To find out how The Cotswolds made this city girl crave a move to the country, read below:

The Ultimate Weekend Guide To The Cotswold

The Ultimate Guide To The Cotswold Water Park

4. Bath – Best Roman Staycation of 2020

Whilst I wasn’t able to hop on a plane and head to Italy this year, Bath took the spot of my fourth Best UK Staycation of 2020.

Roman Baths England UK
Roman Baths England UK

Not only did I get to finally experience the famous Roman Baths whilst buskers played in the background, but I was also able to see the river Avon and the famous bridge sitting above it. This transported me to Ponte Vecchio in Florence where I have some very fond memories from a previous trip with my family.

During my walks around the city, I came across an ice cream parlour selling my newly discovered and beloved ice cream flavour, rhubarb, and custard. Whilst this wasn’t exactly like walking around Rome with a Gelato in hand in the middle of winter, it surely was a refreshing break from the summer heat. So all in all, I don’t think the experience was too bad.

Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate the beauty of Bath as you enter the city!? I never thought that somewhere like this existed in the UK. This trip highlighted how much more of the UK I have yet to uncover.

5. Home – Best UK Staycation of 2020

Lastly home. By staying home I was able to experience some of London’s must see attractions that I would usually miss whilst I’m away travelling. I was finally able to see central London’s Christmas lights after having deprioritised it over the recent years.

Christmas At Kew Gardens London Light Trail
Christmas At Kew Gardens London Light Trail

It reminded me of the many annual family trips growing up, where it was a tradition for us to go for a drive and take in the Christmas lights. Even though I haven’t been able to see the majority of my family in a while, it allowed me to feel that much more closer to them.

Christmas At Kew Gardens London Light Trail © The Veiled Explorer
Christmas At Kew Gardens London Light Trail © The Veiled Explorer

And for the icing on the cake, I finally snapped up tickets to Christmas at Kew Gardens after spending years trying! And was it worth the wait? Hell yes!

To experience the light trail from home or to find out how to purchase tickets in the future, be sure to check out my Christmas At Kew post here.

The Veiled Explorer Takeaway

If 2020 has taught me one thing, is that I don’t have to wander too far to find an adventure. Especially when I still have so much of this gorgeous land that I call home to yet explore. It taught me that everything that I need is already here and that I don’t have to escape the country to find peace.

As we go into 2021, we hope not only for a better version of ourselves this year, but we all also hope for a better future for humanity. So acknowledge the teachings that 2020 has taught us, and channel that into a better 2021. But, don’t lose sight of the positives that 2020 brought us, even if it’s a little hard to see them right now.

Whether it’s travel-related or not, my challenge for you is to list your own 5 best moments of 2020. Leave a comment down below, and let me know what they are.

And with that, I wish a very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! May it be one filled with health, happiness, and joy.

– Noor xx

My 5 Best UK Staycation Moments Of 2020

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