View of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
London

Five fantastic day trips from London

Whether you’re on holiday in the capital or a resident, there are plenty of brilliant day trips you can take for a change of scene – from Michelin-star dining in Bray via a trip to Windsor to a whistle-stop visit to Paris

Winchester Cathedral at sunrise

Winchester: for myth and romance

This Roman city, on the edge of England’s South Downs and just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from London, is so stately and cinematic that Netflix’s The Crown has been spotted filming at the cathedral (one of the largest in Europe) and the 600-year-old, honey-coloured Winchester College. Speaking of Royalty, at Winchester Castle you can view what is said to be the Round Table of King Arthur. Back in modern times, stop by The Dispensary Kitchen for a chai latte and hot croissant, then shop for souvenirs at The Hambledon, a quaint independent department store, where you can pick up ornate carved ornaments or chic, embroidered silk cushions. Be sure to make a dinner reservation at The Black Rat – and don’t let the name put you off. This excellent restaurant in a former pub has a rustic feel, with Turkish rugs, quirky candlesticks and continent-crossing dishes such as Cornish cod poached in squid ink and spiced duck breast in hazelnut dukkah.

Margate tidal pool

Margate: for retro seaside charm

A stretch of golden, sandy beach, and a leading art gallery, Turner Contemporary, are just part of the appeal of this Kent seaside resort, which has undergone a startling regeneration in the past decade and is connected to London St Pancras by a high-speed train link. The British artist JMW Turner created more than 100 paintings in the 1820s while sitting on the town’s harbour wall looking out to the sea here. Margate is also the hometown of another key British artist, ‘YBA’ Tracey Emin, whose work has also been shown at the Turner. Once you’ve toured the current exhibition, lunch lazily on sparkling Westwell from a local Kent vineyard at Angela’s, where the changing daily menu might include sustainably sourced seafood dishes such as turbot with hollandaise and fresh rock oysters with a zingy shallot vinaigrette. And don’t forget to make some time for a dip in the four-acre, grade II-listed tidal pool on the promenade, which dates back to 1937.

Dining at The Fat Duck

Windsor: for royal connections

Just a short hop from Heathrow, and an ideal half-day trip on a stop to or from the airport, the almost ridiculously pretty Thames-side market town of Windsor is all sprawling parks and Georgian townhouses. The jewel in its highly ornate crown is Windsor Castle, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world (and the backdrop to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex). Make sure you photograph the view from the start of the three-mile Long Walk, where you might spot a roaming herd of red deer. For a unique experience, see the castle with a glass of Champagne in hand with a private guided tour, organised by the Royal Collection Trust. The town of Bray is less than a 15-minute drive away, and has a constellation of multi-Michelin-starred restaurants such as Alain Roux’s The Waterside Inn and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck

Paris: for fine food and fashion 

Breakfast in London before hopping on the Eurostar and you could be in Paris for lunchtime (the journey is two hours and 20 minutes). Enjoy a kir royale and a squid ink risoni and cuttlefish tagliatelle at Camélia, Mandarin Oriental, Paris’ acclaimed garden courtyard restaurant. You’re perfectly placed for shopping afterwards at the likes of Hermès and Christian Dior on the fashion-centric Rue Saint-Honoré, too. The gallery of the moment is the grand Bourse de Commerce, a new exhibition space for the Pinault Collection located in Paris’s former stock exchange, right next to the Louvre. Make a dinner reservation at neo-bistrot Septime, where the seven-course tasting menu might include dishes such as line-caught tuna with raspberry and purple basil or cured venison, pine buds, fermented berries and caviar. You could still be back in London for bedtime – just. Or check into Mandarin Oriental, Paris.

Edinburgh by jet: for Scotch luxury

Private jet travel is booming right now, and you can fly in style on the hour-long trip to Edinburgh Airport in a plush private plane from NetJets, one of the partners of Mandarin Oriental, which it’s easy to access via the free-to-join guest recognition program, Fans of M.O. For your arrival in Edinburgh, why not book a private tasting experience with the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queen Street? In the drawing room of a former townhouse, whisky experts walk you through rare drams from all over the country. Breathe in Scottish fresh air at the top of Arthur’s Seat on the edge of the city, an unnatural feature which is an extinct volcano. It’s a 45-minute brisk hike to the top, where you’ll have the most dramatic view of the city and sea (as seen in the movie One Day). For dinner, ask your MO concierge to book a private dining room on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, formerly belonging to Queen Elizabeth I and dating from 1953. It’s a majestic floating palace that travelled more than a million nautical miles around the world and hosted spectacular international state dinners.

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The view of the back of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, as seen from Hyde Park

A concierge's guide to London

Discover the best of London from legendary concierge, Francois-Xavier Girotto, be it horse riding in Hyde Park to enjoying a pint at an old-fashioned pub