Ask Joan: a honeymoon in England or Scotland

Castles in Northumbria, lakeside lodges and boutique hotels in the Lake District and Edinburgh

 

I’m looking for some advice on booking a short break after our New Year’s Eve wedding. We would like to travel on Monday/Tuesday, returning the following Sunday. Preferably, flights should be from Cork.

We’d like to go somewhere that has an olde worlde feel, luxurious, but relaxed. My visions are of accommodation in a cosy old castle, but with easy access to a friendly village for pub lunches, and local banter, etc. An area with historical roots to explore would be a bonus.

We like the idea of Scotland but, bearing in mind the time of year, it may be impractical. I don’t have much experience of travel in Northern England, but have heard good reports of short breaks there. Our budget is flexible. - DG

If you went to Edinburgh you would get many of the things you would like. It is an olde worlde city with lots of beautiful buildings and places to see. There is no guarantee for the weather, but at least in a city there would be places open.

Arriving after the madness of New Year, hotel rates drop quite considerably for the first week in January. You could treat yourselves to Edinburgh’s most famous hotel the Caladonian, now a Waldorf Astoria. Join Hilton Honors and it will cost from £153 (€201) per night.

For something really unique the Witchery at the Castle may tempt you. It is a fine restaurant with quirky and gothic suites. They have four-poster beds, baths for two and are right at the top of the Royal Mile. The Witchery is not cheap but would be an extraordinary experience. Rates are from £325 - £395 (€427-519) per night and include a bottle of champagne and breakfast in your room or in the traditional Scottish dining room.

Other hotels in Edinburgh to consider are the George Hotel, George Street, rates from £126 (€166) per night. There is also a good variety of period apartments in Edinburgh that might be suitable, see theedinburgraddress.com and ownersdirect.co.uk.

The Lake District is beautiful and has some really great hotels, and tons of character. You can fly to Manchester and rent a car. It is about a two hour drive. There are many olde worlde hotels in the area, upmarket guesthouses, fine rentals and gastro pubs for lunches.

Armathwaite Hall near Keswick is a stately mansion that is now a luxurious hotel and spa. It is set in 400 acres of woods and lake lands. Rates in January are from £225(€295) per night. The MacDonald Hotels have three traditional hotels in the Lake District and prices are from £100 per night. The area is lovely for sightseeing, lots of pretty villages. You can visit Wordsworth’s House and maybe do some walking. See also golakes.co.uk.

Newcastle is on a direct service from Cork and Jesmond Dene House, on the outskirts of the city might be a good place to consider. It is a country house boutique style hotel, well regarded for its food, rtes from £120 (€158) per night.

Near Hexham, Langley Castle began life in the 1400s and is s fine Medieval castle now a hotel. Rooms in January will cost from £245 (€322) per night.

You could also explore the city of Newcastle which is very lively and good fun. The county of Northumberland has the most castles of any place in England and stunning coastal scenery.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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