Uncover wild-swimming spots, then warm up in yoga classes, hot tubs and country-house hotels with this weekend-ready rundown of rural retreats in South East England.
Surrey may cling to the edge of Greater London, but it’s not just a collection of commuter towns. In fact, it’s calm and green, blessed with sprawling vineyards and the undulating Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which rises dramatically at Box Hill – beloved by walkers and cyclists. From country-manor spa breaks to sweaty workouts and icy swims, here’s how to unwind and destress in Surrey this winter.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
From its Michelin-star restaurant to its opulent rooms overlooking acres of greenery, this 19th-century house on the outskirts of Bagshot oozes luxury. The spa is vast and opulent: you could easily spend an indulgent day hopping between heated relaxation beds, hot tubs and hydrotherapy pools. Want to chill out for real? The ice igloo is said to reduce inflammation and calm your nervous system.
The architecture of this Victorian mansion hotel in Redhill was inspired by the Palace of Westminster – but unlike the UK’s Houses of Parliament, you’ll find no tense debates or stressful politics here. Instead, serenity reigns: curl up by the fire with a good book in the cosy panelled library; soak in the epic views of Surrey’s green landscape from your elegant suite; or indulge in an Elemis facial and frangipani-scented body wrap at the spa.
Surrey is England’s most wooded county, with twice the average tree cover. So, it’s the perfect spot to try forest bathing – a mindful way of walking among the trees. The concept originated in Japan and is known to lower stress levels and increase concentration – the ideal antidote to our tech-heavy lifestyles. And there’s no better place to ponder the passing of the seasons than Winkworth, where you’ll find over 1,000 species of trees and shrubs shimmering with winter frost.
Want to live like the rich and famous? Check in to the Grade II-listed former home of publisher and politician Lord Beaverbrook, whose guests included Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Rudyard Kipling. The 470-acre (190ha) estate provides soothing views, while inside, every wall is adorned with original art. Even if you’re not staying, the open-to-all Coach House Spa is a masterpiece, designed to reflect the healing power of nature with colourful stained glass and floral decor. Swim, cycle, try Tai Chi or get a vitamin IV drip – your wish is Beaverbrook’s command.
Keeping your hands busy calms the mind and spending time on creative endeavours can unleash a joy many of us haven’t felt since childhood. Learning something new is mood-boosting, too – so what are you waiting for? Try your hand at pottery painting at Mrs Potts’ Place in Camberley. Take your pick of mugs, jugs and Christmas ornaments, add a splash of colour and enjoy your newly glazed creation.
Brave enough to go open-water swimming in the darkest depths of winter? Shiver on over to this crystal-clear, sandy-bottomed reservoir in Godstone. Non-members are welcome to join the Saturday morning swim sessions (which are meticulously lifeguarded) – but you’ll need to prebook and bring (or borrow from the on-site gear hut) a brightly coloured swim hat and wetsuit. Warm up after a rejuvenating dip with a stint in the outdoor Swedish hot tub and lakeside sauna pods.
Yoga under the stars sounds heavenly but could get a bit chilly at this time of year. At Ebb & Flow you can practise your warrior poses in the warmth of a celestial studio, under a ceiling flecked with twinkling lights. As well as hot yoga, gentle pilates and hatha-flow classes, you can enhance your health and wellbeing with reiki treatments, massage therapy and nutrition consultations.
Aiming to up your fitness? From core-blasting body sculpt classes to group boxing sessions and high-intensity circuit training, workouts at this boutique sweat studio will push up your heart rate and give you a massive endorphin hit. Surrey’s Box Hill may be one of the county’s most popular rides, but fairweather cyclists can maintain their fitness here instead, with a two-hour indoor endurance spin class.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.