If you’re itching for an exciting foodie escape – without straying too far – we’ve rounded up 10 great places to get away to in the UK and Ireland, from emerging culinary regions to happening cities, new destination dining spots to new rural trails and idyllic beach breaks.
Top 10 UK culinary escapes for 2022
Herefordshire: pick your own Orchard Cycle Trail
The Newton Wonder and the Redstreak: celebrate Hereford’s native apples on self-guided Orchard Cycle Trails taking in the county’s prettiest rural lanes calling in at cider and perry producers en route. Visit the home turf of Bulmers and Westons, along with such smaller artisan producers as Little Pomona, Oliver’s, Gregg’s Pit, Butford Organic and Newton Court. Tour orchards and learn the art of cider making on two trails heading 50 miles either north or south of Hereford Cathedral, part of the county’s ‘Claim Back the Apple’ movement, which includes plans to create an urban apple orchard in central Hereford (crab apple trees are already blooming around the city’s old walls). Stay at farm-to-fork restaurant with rooms, Crumplebury, where, in season, your breakfast apple juice is freshly pressed from fruit grown just a few feet from your bed. Or tour local orchards at Bodenham Lake, part of Herefordshire’s Wildlife Trust.
Isles of Scilly: an indie island food scene
Battered by storms and isolated from the mainland by sea swells, the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the south-west coast of Cornwall, have always done things their own way. And lately that includes food. Market gardens are blossoming in sheltered plots once used as flower farms, now producing a range of veggies not before seen on Scilly soil. Locavore leader, the Star Castle Hotel on St Mary’s, the largest of the five inhabited islands that comprise this 140-isle archipelago, is where chef Billy Littlejohn offers ‘one-mile’ dishes and owner Robert Francis oversees Britain’s most southerly vineyard. Try the one-mile lobster lunch served with home-grown rocket salad and new potatoes and a flight of Holy Vale wines. Further afield, hit The Beach for barbecued local catch, order specialist camper’s meals prepared by Tanglewood Kitchen out of its HQ in St Mary’s old post office, and cook up at storm at a seaside Scandi-style lodge at 50-acre Peninnis Family Farm.
Pembrokeshire: festivals and foraging
Just outside the post-card pretty Pembrokeshire village of Lawrenny, deep in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, idyllic Little Retreat glamping has added a new 12-seat restaurant, by renowned Pembrokeshire chef and forager Matt Powell. Set in an old potting shed overlooking the Cleddau Estuary, ‘Annwn’ (which translates from Welsh as ‘Otherworld’) serves up 10-course tasting menus, low in food miles, high in seasonal ingredients. Try velvet swimmer crab with littoral zone seaweeds or Hen Gymro, ancient Welsh grains slow-cooked in wild onion stock and Dolwerdd blue sheep’s cheese. Then check into an eco-dome where you can soak in wood-fired hot tubs or outdoor bathtubs, and go wild swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and stargazing, take art lessons or go foraging with Matt. Book ahead for June stays during The Big Retreat, Lawrenny’s annual feelgood festival of music, mindfulness and nourishing food, or stay at the end of September to coincide with two of Wales’s premier food festivals: in the Pembrokeshire market town of Narbeth and further afield in Abergavenny.
West Cornwall: explore off-road
Avoid the traffic and crowds that can plague southern England’s most popular summer holiday spot, and wheel into the wilds of West Cornwall following the new 150-mile West Kernow Cycle Route. Beginning and ending in Penzance, travel off-road via some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery, including Land’s End, Lizard Point, Britain’s most southerly spot, and castle-topped St Michael’s Mount. Refuelling is a joy in West Cornwall, which packs a big foodie punch for a small rural area, notably in Padstow. Visit just off-season, in September, when the Great Cornish Food Festival brings some 60 regional producers and Cornwall’s top chefs to Truro’s Lemon Quay. Book ahead for stays at Carbis Bay, a family-friendly hotel with a relaxed fine-dining restaurant, and several smart lodges (sleeping eight), with views of a blue flag beach, private chefs for hire and St Ives’ Farmers Market a short stroll away.
North Tyneside: surf, snack and stay
Beloved of surfers drawn to high winter swells and low-key surf outfits, North Tyneside is attracting a broader crowd for its burgeoning food and festival scene. North Sea Weekender festival, which debuted in 2021, brought together music, local food outfits and international surf heats to Tynemouth. Equally festive, beach shack stalwart, Riley’s finally found a home on Tynemouth’s Percy Park Road; the new fishmonger deli serves Riley’s signature sustainable fish, immaculate oysters (and custom-brewed Oyster larger), and all manner of local grocery goodies. Nearby in Whitley Bay, where Park View is the high-street home to a more than respectable range of indie shops promoting local goods, Stay Coastal is the spot for those who want to bed down by the beach in boutique self-catering run by three local ladies who are plugged into the local community. Hit The Roxburgh for nose-to-tail six-course tasting menus and a rock’n’roll soundtrack, while Papa Ganoush offers Levant-Asian-inspired street food.
East Sussex: toast the Creative Coast
Weaving some 2,800 miles around byway, beach and bay, when the England Coast Path sees completion this year it will be the world’s longest continuous seafront walking trail, encircling England’s circumference. Much is already open, and many sections offer more than a good walk: hike or bike along England’s Creative Coast, an East Sussex trail lined with galleries, museums and great places to eat. Take in Britain’s headline modernist painters at Hastings Contemporary, then eat catch landed daily by the town’s beach-launched fishing fleet, the UK’s largest, with double-fried chips at Maggie’s– and seek out some native Hastings Lemon Ketchup to accompany. Head inland to the Crow’s Nest in Rye, a bijoux boutique stay run by Marsha who owns the cute as a button crafts boutique below. Sample the town’s ample food offering, including lamb from nearby Romney Marsh, and see some the stars of low-intervention British wines at nearby Tillingham Winery.
Galway: boutique stays and Green Stars
At the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the world’s longest coastal routes, seafood looms large in Galway – oysters notably – as do Michelin stars. And the most recently awarded restaurants were those offering seriously sustainable sustenance, with both Kai and Loam now holding Michelin’s new Green Star award for organic menus focussed on zero waste and seasonal, hyper-local produce, the latter joining pioneering Anair as holder of a shiny traditional star, too. Book well ahead for Anair’s local produce – seaweed broths, Connemara duck, oyster ice cream – elevated with New Nordic and Japanese flair over epic 18-course tasting menus. Or earn your eats: go foraging for vitamin-rich kelp, wrack and dulse straight from the surf, and eat them as part of a seaview shellfish lunch with Mungo Murphy; or get in some culinary treats and a good craic with Sheena Dignam and Gosia Letowska on their lively Galway Food Tour. Then check into The Dean, the spanking new art-packed boutique hotel set in a 19th-century post office on Eyre Square.
North Yorkshire: from foodie capital to culinary countryside
Check into Malton’s recently revamped boutique coach house Talbot Inn to be at the heart of Yorkshire’s food capital. Make it the second Saturday of the month to explore the town’s food market, the best way to fast-track tour Malton’s ever-expanding crop of regional producers. Or book yourself into The Cook’s Place for demos, classes at bi-weekly dinners hosted by local chefs. Then set out into the countryside to show some love for The Star Inn, a Michelin-star village pub set in a converted 14th-century inn on the edge of the North York moors. Recently devastated by a fire in the thatch, the Star’s Cross House Lodge hotel will be offering tasting menu dinner and B&B packages until they get back on their feet. Then it’s an appetite-enlivening hike across the moors to the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead where chef Tommy Banks conjures an 11-course tasting menu, largely from the family farm.
Loch Fyne: fine dining and shepherd’s digs
The foodie raison d’etre to make a pilgrimage to this oh-so remote corner of Argyll & Bute, Inver is where Noma and Fäviken alumna, chef Pamela Brunton does awe-inspiring things with foraged and local Scottish produce. À la carte and tasting menus shine with Loch Creran Oysters, Loch Fyne langoustines and crab, wild chanterelles and Ardyne Farm pork. Its four, modernist tin-roofed bothies set just across a little wooden bridge from the restaurant have made Inver a proper destination dining spot but, all mid-century furnishings and hand-dyed Hebridean wool, it could be a budget-buster for some. Ever industrious, over lockdown Inver introduced two, more affordable smart shepherd’s huts – and stays automatically include dinner reservations.
Hampton Manor: gut health and great food
Known for its Michelin-starred Peel restaurant, set in the baronial manor house built by Sir Frederick Peel, son of 19th-century prime minster, Sir Robert Peel, Hampton Manor is now making the very most of its beautiful Warwickshire grounds. The hotel’s walled garden, already home to lovely leafy Smoke, a grill-cum-greenhouse restaurant, is joined in 2022 by The Cottages hosting three-day guided wellness escape led by BBC regular, Dr Sally Bell. Practicing GP and healthcare expert Sally has worked with Dave Taylor, formerly chef at three-Michelin-starred Maaemo, in Oslo, to devise Health Rewilded, celebrating organic produce, grass-fed stock, regenerative farming and natural wines. With a restaurant, cookery school and nine bedrooms, stays at the cottages delve into our connections to food, with yoga, breath workshops and cookery classes exploring how to maintain a healthy gut. But with a chocolate tasting, a bountiful wine list, and a Michelin-starred kitchen preparing your meals, foodie stays here are most definitely not about denying yourself the good stuff.