As another year draws to a close and we start to look to the year ahead, we've been reflecting on some of the amazing destinations we've visited this year, and some of the best experiences we've had within said destinations. We've made it our mission to scout out the hottest, most unique activities and experiences across the UK and Ireland (it's a tough job) and here are a few of our favourites from 2018.
This October, Chloe and Rita spent three days exploring the stunning Lake District National Park while staying in luxurious hotels including Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, and Linthwaite House. Meeting the best local guides in the area, they visited quaint villages and attractions such as William Wordsworth's cottage, the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Lake Windermere, England's largest natural lake.
Rita's Highlight: A day trip onboard the Steam Yacht Gondola is a must-do on Coniston Water. We were taken down to the engine room and learnt how to take helm of the boat before enjoying a picnic hamper above deck, taking in the beautiful lakeside views.
This autumn, OTUK were delighted to host a US agent trip to explore the beautiful English countryside, the idyllic Cotswolds and the fascinating cities of Oxford and Bath. On their six-day itinerary, our US travel agents met special guests including luxury headwear designer Vivien Sheriff, a couple of our favourite expert guides and stayed in some wonderful English countryside estates en route.
Letitia's Highlight: Boarding a traditional heritage steam train between Cheltenham Racecourse and stunning Broadway felt as though we were stepping back in time. It was also a fantastic way to take in the quintessentially English scenery of the Cotswolds. When planning this for clients, we always like to add something extra special, such as a bespoke hamper of British treats and a bottle of fizz to enjoy onboard!
In spring, Chloe travelled up to Scotland's capital to rediscover some of its old classics in style, from going underground to explore Edinburgh's history at Mary King's Close to visiting the medieval Edinburgh castle on an early morning private tour. Chloe's trip also included visiting some of the finest restaurants in the city and embarking on a Scotch whisky tasting tour, drinking it all in.
Chloe's Highlight: The Royal Yacht Britannia was a definite highlight for me. It's amazing to think that the Queen has walked the very same decks, especially for a The Crown enthusiast like me!
This October, Susie and Letitia were lucky enough to embark on a whistle-stop tour of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. They explored historic sites like Culloden Battlefield and Fort George, enjoyed the beautiful views of Glencoe and the Isle of Skye, and indulged in plenty of delicious food including 'from farm to fork' scallops which they watched being dredged before enjoying them for supper. They even made some local furry friends in the form of Highland cows and horned sheep (be warned, these animals don't adhere to the Highway Code and will only move off the road when they're good and ready!).
Susie's Highlight: Getting deliberately lost on the Isle of Mull and stumbling across secret black beaches and silent forests - what a wonderful way to spend an autumn day. It's a good job we packed a picnic and car snacks!
London Day Out
There is a lot to soak up in London and at times it may seem overwhelming; even the savviest of Londoners won't have discovered half of the city's hidden gems. That's why the whole OTUK team often dedicate a day out of the office to explore the latest experiences that the city has to offer. This September, we started with a vintage Mini Cooper tour whizzing around the cobbled streets and taking in some of the best sights London has to offer, before cruising on a Thames limo boat with a glass of bubbly. Onwards and upwards, the adventure didn't end there as we took to the heights and climbed up the O2 stadium for panoramic views across the whole of London.
Chloe's Highlight: After all of the adrenaline-fuelled activities, a spot of Willy Wonka-esque chocolate tasting was just what the doctor ordered. After learning how to properly taste chocolate in a masterclass (apparently there's a technique other than just stuffing it in your mouth), we headed out to explore a number of London's best boutique chocolate shops - delicious!