Self-catering used to mean Mom (okay, maybe sometimes Dad) in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, just like home, while out in the woods the kids were getting poison ivy (stinging nettle rash in the UK).
Of course, self-catering isn't like that anymore. There are all sorts of great houses, cottages and flats to rent so that any place in the UK can feel like home from home, as we say. There are even a few amazing tree houses to stay in. And lately, a lot of gorgeous, big luxury houses have come on the market, with hot tubs, swimming pools, private cinemas.
So what's that about splinters, midge bites and stinging nettle rashes?
- Find out about luxury self-catering and vacation rentals.
- Which vacation rental websites would I recommend.
- Stay in a treehouse?
Photo of Stuckgowan House on Loch Lomond, courtesy of House Parties
Ever fancy staying in a New York-style loft apartment, all exposed beams, huge windows, flying staircases and loads of stainless steel? Well one of the Hot Deals on offer this week is just that - a huge loft in the Brighton's North Laines that sleeps 10 in chic, minimalist style. Take it midweek for the Brighton Festival or for dates well into June. And it's just one of the Fresh Hot Deals available this week.
Check it out, and all the rest as well as a few older deals that are still available.
Recently I stayed at a famous 5-star hotel in one of Bath's most iconic buildings. I was looking forward to a luxury treat in period surroundings. But my stay at the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath left me wondering how recently its five-star status had been reviewed.
© Ferne Arfin
Now that the weather has finally broken and it's hard to deny that spring is here - most of the time, anyway, the song of the open road is playing in my head. Time to bite the bullet, fill up the petrol tank and point the car in the direction of adventure.
I know that I am usually a big promoter of UK train travel. And there's no denying that most of the time, if your objective is getting from point A to point B, trains are the fastest and most environmentally friendly way to go.
On the other hand, if you are after leisurely touring through scenic villages and breathtaking scenery, there really is nothing that can replace the car.
If you are going to drive, though, and sacrifice all that eco-cred you've accumulated through all other aspects of your green lifestyle, you'd better make sure those miles really count.
These scenic routes, some of my favorite to drive, are definitely going to count.
Check out these Great Scenic Drives in Britain
© Ferne Arfin
Eating out and eating out well in Bath is getting easier and easier these days. The Good Food Guide for 2013 lists dozens of entries for the World Heritage City. There are plenty of cafés, bistros and pubs and quite a few familiar chains if you are in a hurry or are more comfortable with what you are used to. Several of the museums have rather respectable cafes attached or you can always pretend you are Jane Austen and pop into the Pump Room for tea.
What impressed me on my recent visit to Bath, however, was the growing number of fairly priced, independent restaurants offering their own tasty interpretations of what dining out is all about. Check out my reviews of:
© Ferne Arfin
Bath's reputation as one of Britain's great shopping destinations is not undeserved. But it does take a little time and a nose for boutiques to winkle out the best. Give yourself time to explore the compact city center and you'll find some great little stores and surprising merchandise. Or, just check out why I think Bath is Heaven for Shopaholics.
But, do remember that in a fashion conscious place like Bath, there's a certain amount of "churn". The cute little boutique I found may not be there by the time you arrive. If you are a confirmed shophound though, finding your own shopping treasures down a narrow lane or around a quiet corner is one of the pleasures of visiting Bath you should not miss.
© Ferne Arfin
When it comes to visitors from abroad, East Anglia - the counties of Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk and some of Essex - is surprisingly under appreciated. What a shame because the ancient kingdom of the Angles which became one of the Medieval economic centers of Britain, has loads to see and do including some of the best Medieval public buildings and houses in the country.
And it's all so close to that popular destination in the South of England - um...London.
I've put together a three-day itinerary for East Anglia that you can easily stretch to six. Or, if you are pressed for time, any leg of this journey can be done as a day trip in a pinch.
Alan Baxter/Getty Images
St George's Day celebrations will start kicking off this weekend, to celebrate England's patron saint.
April 23 is the official day and, for many years, no one even noticed. But with St Patrick's Day, St David's Day (Wales) and St Andrews Day (Scotland) all gaining steam, St George was bound to become a celebration worthy of note. Besides, as this picture of London Mayor Boris Johnson and British PM David Cameron illustrates, it's a great day for politicians to do a bit of schmoozing.
Now why the England's patron saint should be a Roman soldier of Greek/Turkish origins, celebrated for a dragon slaying miracle in Libya, is anybody's guess. But he's also the patron saint of Germany, Lithuania and Portugal.
St George's Day celebrations, from About April 19th onward, are taking place all over the country.
Learn where to join in the fun.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Everyone is tightening their belts these days and it would be a real shame if you allowed your taste for frills and extras prevent you from traveling in the United Kingdom. When you are touring - spending a night here, a night there, all you really need - and all you really need to pay for - is a series of clean, dry, reasonably equipped lodgings, well located along your route.
Why pay for the fancy lounge, the spa treatments and the pool if you won't be around long enough to use them - or if you are more interested sightseeing than lounging around your hotel?
That's when the cheaper chain hotels come into their own. The best ones provide a reliable standard of basic accommodation for an affordable price.
Ever wonder what it's like to soar over the landscape like a seagull on amphetamines? You could experience that kind of adrenalin rush - or just relax and enjoy the view at Zip World, a new Welsh zip line attraction that promises the world's fastest zip wire flight and Northern Europe's longest at more than a mile.
I was too much of a coward to have a go so we asked have-a-go travel journo Helen Ochyra to,well, go for it. Read about her experience and watch her video
© Douglas Whelpdale