Rainy days don’t need to ruin your UK city break. Whether it’s a girls’ weekend away or a romantic retreat with the other half, there are plenty of adult-friendly indoor activities to help you make the most of a new city, wherever you happen to be.
Hiding indoors from the rain doesn’t mean you have to compromise on culture, and there’s plenty of theatre to enjoy outside of London. You can catch the big West End shows on tour (Legally Blonde and Hairspray are touring UK theatres this autumn and winter), plus smaller or independent productions at regional theatres. Venues not to miss include the Royal Exchange Theatre, one of the most beautiful buildings in Manchester, and the Theatre Royal in historic Bath.
Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually the days to catch matinee performances (check local schedules). And if you can’t find anything you fancy, there’s always a day-time screening of that movie you’ve been meaning to see for ages but just haven’t found time for a trip to the cinema.
Whiling away an afternoon in a museum or gallery is the ultimate way to spend a rainy day on a city break. If you’re taking a city break in London, of course you’re spoilt for choice; you could spend a whole weekend in South Kensington alone, and still not see everything that the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A have to offer.
But you don’t have to be in the capital to find some fantastic – and free – cultural attractions. Oxford’s Museums of Natural History and Science History are both excellent competition to their London counterparts, or check out the Ashmolean Museum or Art and Architecture, the oldest public museum in Britain. Elsewhere, don’t miss the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh or the Tate Liverpool.
Afternoon tea is a deliciously indulgent indoor activity, plus those delicate pastries and elegant finger sandwiches stacked up on ornate tiered cake-stands accompanied by beautifully patterned chinaware make perfect fuel for your Instagram feed. You don’t even need to leave your hotel.
At Cardiff’s St. David’s Hotel & Spa, for example, your afternoon tea will be served in the chic restaurant with panoramic views out across Cardiff Bay, or check out the menu at the Rembrandt, in London’s upmarket Knightsbridge (with Harrods just down the road). And don’t forget to upgrade the classic by swapping your pot of earl grey for a couple of glasses of bubbly.
Of course, going to the pub is an obvious indoor activity to fill a rainy afternoon. But instead of heading straight to the bar, why not learn a thing or two first, by taking a tour of the breweries and distilleries making your favourite tipple?
A tour of York Brewery will show you how real ale is made, or if you;d rather get your hands dirty, you can serve as apprentice for in a Derby microbrewery. For something stronger, the Black Friars Distillery and Plymouth Gin Distillery both offer tours, or if you’re in the capital, try the Sipsmith Distillery in west London.
If rain has scuppered your plans for a romantic city break, booking in a last-minute spa day can quickly turn that around. Whether it’s just an afternoon spent lounging poolside after a session in the sauna, or going all out with a couple’s massage, there are often deals to be had when you’re looking for something tout de suite.
Depending on your budget, a spa day voucher can include anything from a simple use of the pool and facilities, through to a cocktail of treatments to leave you preened and pampered with afternoon tea thrown in (so you can get two rainy day activities in one). And there’s not much more satisfying than soaking in the hot tub while the rain pounds down outside.