Tailor your weekend break around some of Britain’s best historical attractions. Here are four of our favourite destinations
Home to vaulted cathedrals and atmospheric castles, architectural marvels and wonders of engineering, Britain is one of the world’s great heritage destinations. Unlike some countries, where the sites of historical interest can be concentrated almost exclusively in the capital, Britain is blessed with a rich landscape of attractions the length and breadth of the country. Which is exactly what Mercure understood when it created its brilliant “Discover Local” packages for history buffs keen to explore our many storied cities.
With its iconic castle, almost impossibly handsome streets and famous festival, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s great weekend destinations. And there’s hardly a hotel in the city that can claim to be better located than Mercure Edinburgh City Princes Street Hotel, which sits, as its name suggests, imposingly on iconic Princes Street. With its incredible views over the city and wonderful modern Scottish restaurant, Scott’s, it’s the ideal base to explore the city’s rich heritage, being just a short walk from the Scottish National Gallery and the famous Royal Mile. The latter plays host to the smoky, peaty delights of the Scotch Whisky Experience (where the collection of malts numbers more than 3,500 bottles) and also, of course, the castle, which sits on at the top of the Royal Mile on its craggy rock, home to the Scottish crown jewels and the famous cannon, Mons Meg. Make sure you hike up nearby Arthur’s Seat, in glorious Holyrood Park, for incredible views over the city.
When it comes to history, York’s got a bit of everything. There’s the Jorvik Viking Centre which brings the 9th century so vividly to life, the brilliant National Railway Museum and, of course, York Minster, the largest medieval cathedral in northern Europe and one of the world’s great Gothic buildings. Meanwhile, guests at Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel can revel at the 18th-century Georgian manor house’s gorgeous interiors, stylishly enhanced with contemporary architecture and features, and its six acres of gardens opening up to stunning views. The city itself also has a quirkier history as the unlikely capital of British confectionary, thanks to its three pioneering chocolate-making Terry, Craven and Rowntree families.
There aren’t many buildings in the world that can claim a thousand years of history but Winchester Cathedral is no ordinary attraction. The 11th-century cathedral is one of the country’s finest sights with its extraordinary scale and intricate detailing. And there’s barely a better place to see it than the dining room of Mercure Winchester Wessex Hotel, where the Discover Local package includes an overnight stay, breakfast and a two-course dinner overlooking the cathedral. In addition to the cathedral there are plenty of other intriguing attractions to easily fill a weekend break. Make sure you visit prestigious public school Winchester College with its 14th-century chapel, and don’t miss the atmospheric ruins of Wolvesey Castle.
Guests at Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel & Spa get a locally inspired dinner for two on one night and on another, a visit to St Fagans National Museum, a stunning open-air exhibition of historic buildings from all over Wales, which have been dismantled and then reconstructed on the grounds of a 16th-century manor house. Look out for a charming workmen’s institute from 1917 and an 18th-century wool mill. The hotel is also brilliantly located for exploring the city’s ancient centre, being just a short walk from Cardiff Castle with its medieval keep.