While May travel to the UK could be either chilly or pleasant depending on the weather patterns, we were fortunate to experience some of the best sunshine and warm temperatures in recent months, which made for the perfect honeymoon. Our journey began in Bath, England, an hour ride from Heathrow airport and 2+ hours from the London city center.
Bath is home to many architectural icons from its Roman Baths built by the Romans in 60 AD to Bath stone, local limestone quarried over hundreds of years to build some of the city’s most spectacular structures. Bath was also the home of Jane Austen where she gained inspiration for many of her novels. Her home is now a popular museum that recounts her life and career.
Our hotel in Bath was the Royal Crescent, a true gem in the English countryside. Our room overlooked the beautiful courtyard where they serve afternoon tea and cocktails. The afternoon tea was delicious as was the included breakfast each morning. The bar serves creative cocktails many featuring Bath gin, a local floral gin that packs a punch. The spa is intimate but lovely, especially the pool and sauna area that gives a slight nod to the Roman baths down the street.
We discovered a new tour operator called Around & About Bath who was the perfect tour guide to kick off our trip! Their founder Jules is a former history professor and gave us two tours during our stay. The first tour was Historic Pubs, Mining and Dining which included 3 stops to the oldest pubs in the area, a delicious English pub dinner, and a detailed history on the mining culture of the Victorian era and how the town of Bath became the epicenter of industrial innovation. The following day we joined Jules once again on a tour called Hidden Cotswolds: Past Glories and Forgotten Stories where we retraced the footsteps of the Anglo Saxons and learned the story of England’s birth. We drank tea at the oldest hotel in England, toured the quaint and hidden cottages of the Cotswolds and predicted which estate may be the new home to Prince Harry and his bride, and we ended the day with a pub lunch in a locals-only restaurant.
The next day we took a private car to London for our 4 night stay at The Curtain hotel. The Curtain opened last year and sits in the heart of East London’s Shoreditch neighborhood. The hotel boasts very spacious city rooms including terrace suites that overlook the city skyline. The rooftop restaurant and pool is extremely popular during the summer time and features fabulous cuisines like ham hock hash with duck egg for breakfast and freshly made pasta for dinner. Red Rooster is their other restaurant featuring American southern soul food with an English twist. The private club located in the basement is for hotel guests and members only. The bar area has a jazz age vibe with a beautiful bar and live music. The hotel also features a spa and nail salon known for its innovative nail art designs. The property is a 10 minute walk to Spitalfields market and Brick Lane, where we discovered fantastic shopping and food. We spent our days in London exploring must-sees like the Tower of London, sipping a truly decadent high tea at the Langham London, and exploring the unique and quirky cocktail scene at bars like Mr. Fogg’s.
The second half of our honeymoon brought us to beautiful Scotland. Our first three nights were spent in Nairn, a small village about 25 minutes outside of Inverness. We stayed at the charming estate Boath House. The 9 room property feels very much like staying in someone’s home. We were welcomed into the parlour where check-in simply consisted of filling out the guest book before receiving our room keys and being escorted to our room. We stayed in Room 3 which was very large with a sitting area and king sized bed overlooking the lake. The bathroom was our favorite room as it featured two side by side claw footed tubs, also with a lake view, and a shower. Boath House is widely known for its cuisine, which uses only local ingredients, many from its own garden. Until recently the kitchen held a Michelin star, but the owners felt it brought too much attention to the property and they have since lost their status but kept the fine quality and spectacular presentation in each dish. The dinner menu changes weekly but features 5 entrees daily. Breakfast is beautiful and is included with the room. Dinner can also be included with your room rate.
Our first tour in Scotland was with Scenic Routes of Scotland. Our guide David took us through the Scottish Highlands to visit ancient castles, unique whiskey distilleries and luxury shops. Our highlight of the day was having the privilege (or luck) of touring two castles completely on our own, without another tourist in sight! The first, Dufus Castle, was built in the 12th century and while it is mostly in ruins, there is something profoundly romantic about a fortress slowly falling into the hillside it once stood tall upon. The second was Spynie Palace, originally built from wood in the 12th century but was fortified and enhanced with stone over the following centuries. The castle has an intriguing history as it welcomed many royal visitors including Mary Queen of Scots in 1562. A visit to Scotland is not complete without a whiskey tasting. We visited several large and small distilleries but our favorite was Glen Grant in Speyside, which features beautiful gardens and a behind the scenes distillery tour. Our day finished with a quick stop in Johnstons of Elgin the preeminent wool and cashmere designer in Scotland. The large boutique offers a wide array of cashmere blankets, clothing and accessories for men, women and children.
The following day featured a full day tour to the Isle of Skye by Happy Tours Scotland. Our charismatic Highlander guide (sporting a kilt and all), drove us through the infamous town of Loch Ness, past Urquhart Castle, and all the way to Skye, to take in the most breathtaking views of the British Isles. The long ride back to Nairn included several stops at battle sites and a close encounter with the famously adorable Highland cows.
Our journey continued south to Gleneagles, a five-star luxury resort with all the amenities and services you would expect, but immersed in Scottish charm. We spent our first day on the Kings course for a round of golf with a trusty caddy, followed by treatments at the spa. The treatment known as ͞the Source features herbs and fresh honey all produced on property in the gardens. The spa also features a large indoor/outdoor pool and adults-only pool and sauna. The resort features four restaurants, including the two-Michelin starred Andrew Fairlie and the classic Strathearn that features desserts made table side. The American Bar, one of Gleneagles’ newest establishments, pays homage to the roaring 20s and serves clever cocktails in a deco space reminiscent of Gatsby days gone by.
One of the best things about Gleneagles is its assortment of activities for couples and families. From training hunting dogs and horseback riding, to tennis and golf, there is a sport for everyone. We were lucky enough to have a falconry lesson. With the guidance of a falconer, we each carried a hawk around the grounds and let it hunt for small prey. Whenever we lifted our arms, the birds immediately flew back to us and were rewarded with a small treat. It was fascinating watching the birds follow us through the forest while simultaneously hunting for rabbits and small birds. By the end of the lesson, we felt bonded to our hawks and were sad to say goodbye.
After two fabulous (but too short) days in Gleneagles, we concluded our honeymoon in Edinburgh. We stayed in the heart of the city at the G&V Royal Mile, just a short walk from Edinburgh Castle. The modern hotel was a unique contrast to the surrounding city, and being a Radisson property it offered many comforts of home. We explored the ancient castle and the many charming historic pubs and shops along the Royal Mile. Our final evening was spent tasting Scottish oysters in a trendy seafood restaurant, followed by a few pints in a locals’ pub that featured an up and coming folk musician who we befriended.
From the volumes of history and the luxurious accommodations, to the charming locals and breath-taking scenery, we fell in love with England and Scotland. Every stop offered a new way to celebrate our recent marriage and we look forward to returning and exploring more!
To book your next trip to England and Scotland, or to learn more about the destinations and properties in this post, contact our travel advisors at: 866-846-3889 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org