Monday, 18 November 2013 2:16 PM
With an array of new and refurbished luxury hostels opening throughout the country, a rush of British musicals hitting the West End and a 15 percent annual growth in cycling, VisitEngland predicts that ‘poshtels’, the arts and lycra will all play a part in English holidays next year.
Glamping is going one step further in 2014, with budget holidaymakers opting for something more than the regular budget hostels. There’ll be a rise in the popularity of the poshtel, which is a posh hostel. The YHA has recently spent over £10million on refurbishments, creating not just private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, but bridal suites with roll-top baths and four-poster beds and even on-site art galleries. YHA York now boasts a six-foot art installation and also has a brand new hostel on the South Downs, offering a contemporary take on country life. Hoax is another new luxury hostel brand which launched with its first opening in Liverpool in August 2013 to rave reviews, and of course there’s the Safestay Hostel in London’s Elephant & Castle, recently awarded 4 stars in VisitEngland’s accommodation quality assurance scheme. It is one of a series to open across London over the next three years.
If 2012 was the year of sport and 2013 was the year of culture (Benjamin Britten’s centenary and 200 years of Pride and Prejudice, to name just two events), 2014 looks set to be the year of the arts. Manchester sees two key openings: Manchester Central Library, will open in the spring as the city’s ‘living room’, a unique space that will house a brand new lending library and performance, exhibition and creative spaces. The Whitworth Art Gallery is to reopen next year following a £15m investment that has funded two entire new wings. The West End will also see a bumper year with six new British musicals opening including: Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward, Marianne Elliot (erstwhile producer of War Horse) and The Light Princess, I Can’t Sing – the X-Factor Musical and Rupert Goold’s, Psycho, starring former Dr Who, Matt Smith. Outdoor art also continues grow with Hauser & Wirth Somerset opening at Durslade Farm, where visitors will enjoy new and innovative pieces of contemporary art and architecture. Also new is Alex Chinneck’s From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes, an installation in Margate, which appears to show the front of a house slipping into the front garden. More exciting arts projects will be announced in January 2014, as part of VisitEngland’s three-year partnership with the Arts Council to help fund cultural experiences.
The so-called Wiggo effect (not to mention Hoy, Pendleton and Storey effect), has seen a phenomenal number of people getting into cycling. The cycling market is growing 10-15 percent per annum and will be worth over £3bn by 2015. As such there will be lots of investment in infrastructure – £160m will be spent cycle-proofing Britain’s roads, National Parks are investing £12m in cycle paths, seaside towns are opening up their promenades to cyclists and new city-centre cycling hubs are in the pipeline. VisitEngland’s own research shows that 25 percent of us (3.8 million) are keen to go cycling on holiday. In March 2014, the Lee Valley VeloPark opens to the public, allowing access to its four cycling disciplines (track, BMX, road and mountain biking) and L'Eroica, the famous historic Tuscan bike tour dubbed as 'the most handsome bike race in the World' is coming to the UK in June 2014. L'Eroica Britannia will travel through the Peak District National Park on a three day festival, known as 'The Great British Adventure'. Adventurers can choose a 30, 50 or 100 mile route to be ridden on pre-1987 bikes. Plus of course, there is the Tour de France, which will begin in Yorkshire next year. Yorkshire’s Grand Départ 2014 will feature two stages of the world’s largest annual sporting event.
A recent survey by VisitEngland showed just what a foodie nation Britain has become and gastronomic hotels (gastrotels) are more popular than ever. Stats reveal that 13 million day visits last year involved a trip to a food festival or farmers’ market, and what’s more, 26.2 million of us want to go to a food festival on our next holiday. Research also reveals that nearly 8/10 (76 percent) of us want to dine at restaurants serving local dishes, so these hot new openings should serve our tastes: The Pig, currently consisting of two ‘restaurants with rooms’ in the New Forest and Southampton, will expand with new properties in Bath (Feb 2014) and Studland, Dorset (May 2014), both of which will offer the renowned 25-mile menu; Heckfield Place, a manor house hotel in Hampshire, has been reunited with its 330 acre farm, which means its restaurant will be stocked with hyperlocal produce when it opens in 2014. Drink connoisseurs will be interested to hear about Hampshire’s other notable opening: Laverstoke Mill, a Bombay Sapphire Distillery also opening in the spring. Thomas Heatherwick has designed the glasshouse, which will house Bombay Sapphire's 10 botanical ingredients and there will be a bar school on site.
The evolution of the stately home
Gone are the days where you could only peer at a stately home’s treasures from behind a dusty red rope. In a bid to attracts more tourists, historic houses are opening their doors wider than ever, with increasingly inventive ways for visitors to enjoy the house and grounds. 2013 saw the introduction of a new flower show at Blenheim Palace, a glampsite at Leeds Castle and the world’s biggest assault course – aka The Dirty Weekend – at Burghley House. All proved so successful that they will be back again in 2014, as will half-marathons, car rallies, jousting tournaments, gigs, dog shows and much more.
Connecting with nature
VisitEngland has noticed a distinct trend towards holidays that connect with nature and pit people against the elements. Wild swimming and barefoot walking are both fairly recent phenomena and new openings last year included WildRootz at Pensthorpe Wildlife & Gardens in Norfolk, where children can get up close and personal with nature, and Bear Grylls Survival Academy. Next year will see the opening of The National Forest Way, a 75-mile footpath from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in Leicestershire. English Heritage meanwhile are busy working on a series of underwater trails of some of the shipwreck sites off our coast, complete with waterproof guidebooks and seabed signage.
Commemoration of World War I
2014 also marks the centenary of the start of World War I, a time for reflection and commemoration. The Imperial War Museum is coordinating a programme of cultural events throughout the country and over 1,400 partners have signed up so far, from museums to music and art organisations. Events will range from new works for the English National Ballet, inspired by the Great War, an exhibition of works by celebrated war artist Stanley Spencer at Somerset House and, of course, the reopening of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) London following the £35 million refurbishment of its First World War galleries. 4 August, the day we entered the war, will be marked with a candle-lit vigil of prayer at Westminster Abbey finishing at 11pm, the time that war was declared.
For more holiday ideas, visit www.visitengland.com.