Seize the holiday: four tips on taking a spontaneous UK break

Seize the holiday: four tips on taking a spontaneous UK break

It’s time to unshackle yourself from the tyranny of advanced holiday preparation. Get rid of that calendar, stop trying to anticipate the future, and start going with the flow. You won’t be alone: recent research from Hilton* has found that only 22% of UK travellers consider themselves meticulous planners.

Eschewing the itinerary could even help you feel a greater sense of freedom on holiday: “Ditching the methodical organisation that so often goes hand-in-hand with a planned holiday, and instead choosing to enjoy an impromptu break, can be really liberating,” says psychologist Emma Kenny.

Other benefits include a refreshing lack of admin – and I speak as one who has been known to make spreadsheets for trips in advance, detailing where I’m staying, what I plan to visit, and where I plan to eat.

Of course, your destination determines how spontaneous you should be. You wouldn’t necessarily head to China with no plan of action. But with the trend for a UK holiday still going strong – research shows that 81% of consumers plan to stay in a UK hotel this year – right here could be the perfect place to throw caution to the wind and let the vibes guide you.

Here’s how to make the most of spontaneous travel within the UK …

Tourist family taking selfies at the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Try going somewhere new and unfamiliar. Photograph: Imgorthand/Getty Images

Live in the moment
A spontaneous trip allows you to be more present. You won’t have an itinerary you need to stick to, as you won’t have had time to create one, so you’re able to take more in and not feel the pressure of needing to rush from one major sight or experience to the next. Take it slow – stroll around, be guided by what you see, rather than what you’ve read about, or chat to locals for their recommendations. Without worrying about what to do and where to go, you can simply tap into your sense of adventure, and go with the flow.

Senior man using smart phone while walking with male and female friends at railway station platform
Make the most of that special offer from a train company. Photograph: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Book somewhere you can rely on
There’s usually one thing a holiday needs to be successful and enjoyable, whether it’s spontaneous or not, and that’s a reliably good hotel. If you at least know what to expect from where you stay, it doesn’t matter if the rest of your trip is more unpredictable. If you book with Hilton, you’ll be able to choose from hundreds of options, all in central locations, so even the most last-minute trip will result in a comfortable, quality stay. And you’ll have the convenience of being close to many local attractions, so you can take advantage of all the culture your chosen destination has to offer.

Keep an open mind
There are destinations right across the country with secrets; landmarks, histories and things to do that aren’t necessarily the first thing you think of. So keep an open mind and find unexpected ways to explore the UK.

For example, Manchester is of course famous for its industrial links, football and musical heritage – but did you also know it’s perfect for lovers of all things ancient, having once housed a Roman fort, Mamucian, built circa AD79 and housing a garrison of 800 infantry and cavalry. Parts of the Castlefield fort have been reconstructed, along with the foundations of granary buildings. Stay at Hilton Manchester Deansgate and you’re just minutes away from connecting with this Roman history – you can also check out a Ford Madox Brown mural of the fort being built, at Manchester town hall.

You might think Glasgow is all whisky tours and architecture, but did you know that it is also a vibrant independent theatre city too? Explore it all from a comfortable base – Hilton Glasgow, on the outskirts of the city centre, has all you need, plus a pool, sauna and afternoon tea.

And while Newcastle could seem like a traditional city break, you can experience the beach there too – the quiet, calm shorelines around Whitley Bay and Tynemouth are all within reach of Newcastle. Stay at Hilton Newcastle Gateshead and you’ll get to enjoy the city’s spectacular bridges and industrial heritage before heading for a brisk beachside walk.

If you head somewhere you didn’t know much about beforehand, you’ll get the gratification and excitement that comes from discovering somewhere new and unfamiliar.

Seize the day
You’re at work when an email pops into your inbox. Instead of the usual spam, or something from your boss asking why that report’s not been delivered yet, it’s a train company offering discount travel for any mid-week journey if you book by Friday. So carpe diem – seize the day, quickly check the diary, and book it, now! See? That was easy! Now you just need to book a hotel and you’ve got something to look forward to this weekend when all you had planned was giving your oven a deep clean and catching up on The Great British Bake Off.

*Opinium research survey, July 2023 (surveying 2,000 UK adults)

Be spontaneous this winter and book somewhere you can rely on with a Hilton hotel

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