Now spring has finally sprung, we can look forward to a bevy of bank holiday weekends in the coming months – and there's no better time to book some time away to explore another part of the UK. We've rounded up our favourite spots with both sumptuous spas and plenty of other activities to keep you occupied.
If you love nothing more than grabbing a rucksack and a pair of walking boots and setting off into the countryside, there's nowhere more beautiful than the Lake District to get lost on a bevy of tracks and trails. For a gentle walk with incredible views, head to Derwentwater, where you can trundle around the lake and take in the stunning across-water views – be sure to go on a clear day though, when the lake is so still that the panoramic landscape is perfectly reflected on the surface. If hills, rocks and mountains are more your thing, there's plenty of well-trodden paths to choose from – though of course most challenging is Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain at an only-for-the-brave 3,209 feet.
Label lovers won't be able to resist the incredible choice of designer outlet stores at Bicester Village, which welcomes shopaholics from all over the world every day. With 160 boutiques to choose from – including Burberry, Dolce and Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and Mulberry – and discounts of up to 70 per cent off, it's the ideal spot for retail therapy, whether you want to bargain hunt or splurge. Keep your eye out for events such as Bicester's private sales, which see further discounts on top designers, or foodie pop-ups to refuel mid-spree.
Stay at: Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa
The birthplace of William Shakespeare is the perfect spot for a cultured weekend away – with plenty to do whether you're a fan of the iconic British playwright or not. Just a short walk amongst the pretty medieval streets gives an instant feeling of history, but head to the Guild Chapel to see some stunning examples of 15th and 16th century paintings, or to Shakespeare's Birthplace on Henley Street to see the bard's childhood home. You can't go to Stratford-upon-Avon without experiencing the market town's incredible theatre offering, either. The spectacular Royal Shakespeare Company doesn't just offer the classics (though their contemporary productions of Shakespeare's most iconic plays have to be seen to be believed), but a host of modern performances that all theatre-goers can enjoy.
Stay at: Stratford Manor
Scotland is arguably the best place in the UK to enjoy 18 rounds – with an incredible choice of courses that fans of the gentleman's game come from all over the world to play on. Ayrshire has witnessed some of the sport's finest moments, not to mention being the motherland of the Open, having held the very first championship in 1860. You can even play at Prestwick Golf Club, where the original competition took place. There are plenty of other spectacular courses to try, including the Trump Turnberry, which many believe is the finest golfing destination of all.
If you fancy a bit more pace, a city break in the UK capital will offer endless opportunities to explore. Take in the iconic landmarks on an open-top bus tour, stroll along the South Bank or head to the city's endless supply of museums (those feeling plucky can even brave the London Dungeons, where all manner of guts and gore await). Stop off at Primrose Hill for a picture-perfect view of the city skyline, or head to St James's Park for a picnic – but watch out for the large flock of pelicans that also call the park home! Again, theatre-lovers can't visit the Big Smoke without a night on the West End – try the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for last-minute tickets.
Stay at: Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush
Why not head to the south coast for a sunny seaside break and try some water sports? Those who have dreamt of taking to the high seas can finally do so with a sailing experience day at one of beautiful Devon's many providers – which includes fresh cooked food on board, and a chance to take to the helm of an impressive yacht. Active-types will be spoilt for choice for other ocean-based activities, too, with plenty of opportunity to try kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and solo sailing (weather-permitting, of course!).
Stay at: Cranberries Hideaway, Exeter
The beaches along the South Wales coast are some of the most beautiful around, and a great spot to learn how to catch and ride the waves. From the Glamorgan coast south of Cardiff all the way along to Pembrokeshire in the west, you’ll find more stunning sandy coves and well-equipped surf schools than you can handle. The Gower, near Swansea is a great place to start with its array of options for different abilities (complete newbies should head to Oxwich Bay). Or combine city and surf by catching the waves at Coney Beach in Pothcawl, which is well under an hour’s drive from Cardiff.
Stay at: The Vale Resort, Hensol