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5 Best Day Trips within an Hour of London

Oxford Street (2)

There is so much going on within your immediate surroundings when you stay in Hotels Near Paddington. If you wanted, you could stay completely within its parameters and still get a reasonably wholesome experience of the city, from treatments in the Paddington Spa to delicious meals at restaurants in Paddington London. However, part of the charm of London is that there is so much to do and all of it is pretty accessible, whether it be by foot or by train. Not to mention, there is a wealth of experience waiting for you just outside the parameters of London – you could be in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, within two hours, or as far as Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, within four.

 

However, for now we are going to focus on those that take an hour or less to get to from London, because this timing is perfect for a day-trip that avoids the kind of crazy-early wake-up calls or late-night arrivals that force you to miss out on the dreamy selection at the continental buffet breakfast at The Devonshire hotel, or the range of cocktails at the bar.

 

  1. Oxford

Trains: Paddington/Marylebone Station to Oxford Station

Time: Shortest: 50 minutes, Longest: 1 hour and 4 minutes

 

Overview

The city of Oxford is the perfect day-trip for someone staying in Hotels Near Paddington, as the train to Oxford leaves from Paddington Station and takes as little as 50 minutes if you catch the right train. Oxford is a world-famous city, known mainly for its high-status university as well as for its 12th century architecture and medieval center. Whether you walk the length of the high street, from Carfax Tower to the Botanic Garden on the River Cherwell, visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, or go punting along the river, you can get a really good feel for the city and still be back to London in time to enjoy the restaurants in Paddington London.

 

Food

Everyone knows that a daytrip is incomplete without a grand old lunch spot to refuel before continuing exploring, as well as a pitstop for tired legs to catch a rest and for your to enjoy a coffee. If it is a pub-lunch you are after in Oxford, head to The Eagle and Child. Famously, this pub was the meeting-spot for an informal literary group that included Alice in Wonderland’s C.S. Lewis and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings’ J.R.R Tolkien. If you are looking for something a little more upmarket, head to Personage Grill for a classy continental bistro and smashing cocktails.

 

When it comes to the perfect coffee-spot, head to Vaults & Garden – because who in their right mind would say no to an interlude to their architectural site-seeing, that involves coffee in a 1320 building with a vaulted ceiling and garden?

 

Address: The Eagle and Child: 49 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU

Personage Grill: 1-3 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN

Vaults & Garden: University Church, 1 Radcliffe Square, Oxford OX1 4AH

 

Top tourist attraction

While a number of cities and towns have many reasons to visit, like London where the list seems never ending, there is always that one spot in a place that draws the majority of tourists in for a selfie. You do not necessarily want to spend your trip falling into one tourist trap after another, but there are certain things, like visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, that you have to do at least once or else you can hardly claim you have been there.

 

In Oxford, that unmissable visit is probably the various features of Oxford University – and what many people fail to realise is that this is not simply the process of observing students at the local student’s union. Oxford University is embedded in the city, with iconic buildings like Radcliffe Camera actually being a library of the university, or Ashmolean Museum, which is located within the university.

 

Address: Radcliffe Camera: Radcliffe Square, Oxford OX1 3BG

Ashmolean Museum: Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH

 

Interesting fact!

Historians believe that the reason Oxford was not bombed by the Germans in World War Two was because Adolph Hitler intended to use Oxford as his capital if he successfully conquered England. This is not all that remarkable a wish, either – Oxford was England’s capital during the English Civil War, too.

 

  1. Cambridge

Trains: King’s Cross/St Pancras International to Cambridge Station

Time: Shortest: 49 minutes, Longest: 1 hour and 16 minutes

 

Overview

If you are visiting Oxford, it seems unfair to not visit Cambridge too given the rivalry between the two cities (mainly as a result of their universities). The train leaves from King’s Cross Station and can take as little as 49 minutes depending on the route you select. Though similar to Oxford in that it is a university town known for its architecture, punting and prestige, it is also a unique and awe-inspiring city to visit in its own right. Though some people might try to tell you that once you have seen one of them, you have seen them both. This is just a complete and utter fallacy and will lead you to miss out on a top-quality day-trip if you buy into it. Its university museums exhibit archaeology and anthropology, polar exploration, the history of science and zoology, while a punt along the River Cam will take you past the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s and the Mathematical Bridge.

 

Food

All those photograph opportunities and mind-boggling doses of information can really take it out of a day-tripper, so make sure you factor in some time for food and coffee! It seems a bit of a rite of passage to eat in a pub which was frequented by one of the great minds of Cambridge University when visiting – given that they were all students at one stage, pubs would have been their port of call, after all. So, head to the coincidentally similarly named to Oxford: The Eagle. In this very pub, geneticists Francis Crick and James Watson announced that they had discovered the structure of DNA, and in their words: “the secret of life”. If you were hoping for a little more fine dining during your visit, then look no further than the Victorian-era Midsummer House. This elegant riverside cottage serves up sublime French cuisine.

 

When it is time for a little caffeine-boost, head to Bould Brothers Coffee for a freshly baked cake and a steaming cup of coffee.

 

Address: The Eagle: 8 Bene’t Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN

Midsummer House: Midsummer Common, Cambridge CB4 1HA

Bould Brothers Coffee: 16 Round Church Street, Cambridge CB5 8AD

 

Top tourist attraction

It is simple: if you told someone you had been to Cambridge, but that you had not seen the Bridge of Sighs, they will wonder whether you are telling the truth. It is a covered bridge at St John’s College, Cambridge University – so, again, like with Oxford, you will find that the majority of critical-visits are in one way or another linked to the university. The best view of it is from the water, meaning you will have to participate in another of the city’s famous attractions: punting down the River Cam.

 

Address: Bridge of Sighs: St John’s College, St Johns Street, Cambridge CB2 1TP

 

Interesting fact!

Book-lovers listen up: Cambridge, with its 40.7 km² compared to London’s 1,572 km², has more than a hundred libraries. That works out roughly to a library for every 400 meters!

 

  1. Brighton

Trains: Victoria/London Bridge to Brighton/Preston Park Station

Time: Shortest: 53 minutes, Longest: 1 hour and 7 minutes

 

Overview

Brighton seems further away from London than it actually is, given that it is fully south of the city and on the coast. However, the quickest trip takes just 53 minutes and this bustling seaside town is well-worth your time. Home to Brighton Pavillion, fish and chips on the promenade, walks along the pebble beach, shopping on the cobblestone alleyways and drinks with a sea-view, Brighton is an extravagant seaside resort city with a lot to offer visitors.

 

Food

Brighton is a notoriously hilly place – somewhat surprising for some given that it is a seaside city. This means that you are going to need maximum energy to make the most of all the things it has to offer. You can’t visit the coast and not find the best fish and chips in the city – it would be absolutely criminal. However, fish and chips is often sold from chippy-style shops rather than sit down meals. If this appeals to you, the best chippy is Bankers Traditional Fish & Chip Restaurant. But if you would rather have a sit-down meal, no worries – head to a pub serving fish and chips and you can have the best of both world. A top-notch pub to choose would be The Cricketers, just up from the seafront. If you were hoping to keep things upmarket, then The Gingerman. With modern European flavours retaining a British flare, expect starters like pressed ham and rabbit terrine, mains like Yorkshire venison or roast duck, and desserts like pumpkin and cardamom soufflé – only the best of the best, with seasonal produce and changing menus!

 

If it is just coffee you are after, visit Pelicano Coffee Co. It is rustic, cool and cosy – all the building blocks of a relaxing, regenerative pitstop.

 

Address: Bankers Traditional Fish & Chip Restaurant: 116A Western Road, Hove, Brighton BN1 2AB

The Cricketers: The Cricketers, Black Lion Street, Brighton BN1 1ND

The Gingerman: 21A Norfolk Square, Brighton BN1 2PD

Pelicano Coffee Co: 28 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EP

 

Top tourist attraction

When in Brighton, do as the tourists do – at least, do it for this particular attraction so that you can put a big check on the Brighton-must-see list. Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is an incredibly unique and interesting regency palace and museum. It is not only remarkable because of its Grade I listed building or its wordly contents, but because it looks in design as if it has been plucked straight from India. This Indo-Saracenic architecture, sat in the middle of this arty, seaside resort city, is one you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

 

Address: Royal Pavilion: 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE

 

Interesting fact!

One of Brighton’s top tourist attractions is its pier, where visitors enjoy sea views and fish and chips. However, in 2013 – so, this is recent history we are talking about here – an arson attack meant the pier was left as but a shell. Until 2014, it remained as such, until heavy winds and stormy weather split the pier and swept away the eastern side.

 

  1. Maidstone

Trains: Victoria/St Pancras/London Bridge to Maidstone Barracks

Time: Shorest: 47 minutes, Longest: 1 hour 33 minutes

 

Overview

In just 55 minutes, you can be in the quaint county town of Maidstone in Kent after being in the metropolitan hub of London. Not only is this town, within its own right, a beautiful picture of the British countryside, but it also has historical significance so makes the dya-trip a culturally enriching one as well as a relaxing, back-to-basics kind. It has been a settlement for both the Romans and the Normans, and was vital in the Peasants’ Revolt and the English Civil War. Dating back to the Napoleonic times, it has been home to big Army barracks and it has also played a pivotal role in Kent’s brewing and papermaking industry. You may want to sit, cycle or walk along The River Medway, or perhaps book a ride on Kentish Lady River Cruises. There is also a Maidstone Museum which is host to regional items of significance for those looking to really broaden their knowledge of the area. Between that and the rustic local pubs serving up traditional British fare, you will get a proper taste of the countryside and still be able to catch your train back to London once the lights go out.

 

Food

The Brenchley is one of Maidstone’s most traditional, ornate pubs with an expansive beer garden and located easy-to-find on the highstreet. It is the perfect place to get a hearty meal of fish and chips or sausage and mash before continuing your exploration of this small but bustling town. Buenos Aires Nights Steakhouse can be your slightly more upmarket option, if the pub-fare isn’t quite what you are looking for. This is an absolute tribute to Argentinian beef and wine, and the meat is cooked on the traditional parrilla grill. This is also on the high street, so if you are feeling stuck between the two, why not head to both and see which you like the look of the most?

 

For a cosy, living-room style coffee-stop which is also located on the restaurant-dense high street, visit Leah’s Bistro for top quality service and, most importantly, delicious coffee and cakes. If you are more in the mood for a pint than a coffee, the formula is simple: countryside town plus traditional alehouse equals pure bliss. So, head to the local Ye Olde Thirsty Pig, which has been around since 1430. This tudor-style, restored location looks slightly as if it is on the precipice of toppling over, but it is completely safe and this only adds to the rustic charm of it. Though not on Maidstone high street itself (where you will find a range of other pubs, including ones serving food, which this particular stop doesn’t), this is your best bet.

 

Address: The Brenchley: 91 High Street, Maidstone ME14 1SA

Buenos Aires Nights Steakhouse: 63 High Street, Maidstone ME14 1SR

Leah’s Bistro: 63 High Street, Maidstone ME14 1SR

Ye Olde Thirsty Pig: 4A Knightrider Street, Maidstone ME15 6LP

 

Top tourist attraction

Maidstone is not quite like cities like Oxford and Cambridge, because it is more of an attraction in itself than being dotted with different ones. However, a great place to get a look at more than 660,000 artworks and artefacts from Old Masters to fossils, in a gabled manor house, is Maidstone Museum – in fact, just the setting and the building acts in itself as an attraction, giving you a real look and feel of the countryside town of Maidstone.

 

Address: Maidstone Museum: St Faith’s Street, Maidstone ME14 1LH

 

Interesting fact!

Maidstone’s coat of arms depicts a reptile and a lion – as one of the town’s most famous inhabitants was Iggy the Iguanadon. Iggy’s skeleton was discovered in the town quarry in 1834.

 

  1. Canterbury

Trains: St Pancras to Canterbury West Station

Time: Shortest: 54 minutes, Longest: 1 hour and 39 minutes

 

Overview

The train leaving from St Pancras International train station is the quickest route to Canterbury, which takes 54 minutes. This cathedral-baring, historic city was a Middle Ages pilgrimage site. This means it is filled with ancient Roman walls, Gothic and Romanesque stained-glass windows, the 597 AD Canterbury Cathedral as well as narrow streets to shop in (and stop for a pint along the way). Literature fans will be familiar with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Middle English classic, The Canterbury Tales, which tells the story of a pilgrimage to St Thomas Beckett’s shrine from Southwark to Canterbury. There is a Canterbury Tales themed tour of the city, which is well-worth getting involved with – you will meet costumed characters along the way, too!

 

Food

You are never going to be hard-pressed to find a rustic-looking pub in Canterbury – it seems they are simply overflowing from its core. While all of them will offer a standardly good fare, The Shakespeare is an absolute gem. It not only serves all the classics like hand carved roast ham and eggs alongside international dishes like spicy Cuban mojo chicken wings, but it also comes with an adjoining wine bar and coffee shop, making it your go-to no matter what you feel like eating or drinking. Alternatively, if you would like to visit somewhere that is more of a restaurant than a pub, take yourself straight to Cafe du Soleil, which is inside a low-lit 18th-century mill with a terrace. They serve up Mediterranean cuisine – classically simple, but with fresh, local ingredients.

 

It is not a great Canterbury pilgrimage until you have had a stong cappuccino – that is what Chaucer’s primary message in his Old English literary masterpiece, right? If you are not quite sure that this is exactly what he intended, you will know that by the time you visit Tiny Tim’s Tearoom, where the Canterbury Tales tour of the city starts and finishes on Margaret’s Street. Tiny Tim’s Tearoom is about as quaint, delicate and bursting with flavour and character as it sounds.

 

Address: The Shakespeare: 5 Butchery Lane, Canterbury CT1 2JR

Cafe du Soleil: 5 Pound Lane, Canterbury CT2 8AA

Tiny Tim’s Tearoom: 34 St Margaret’s St, Canterbury CT1 2TG

 

Top tourist attraction

As has been hinted at previously, the Canterbury Tales Tour is a top tourist attraction in Canterbury. Not to mention, it is particularly useful because, as in the story, the tour takes you to all the city’s important parts, giving you a sweeping, summarising tour of everything from the textbooks. After that, you can explore the nooks and crannies for yourself, finding the features off the beaten track that have yet to be documented as extensively as Chaucer did in his Old English story collection.

 

Address: St Margaret’s Street, Canterbury CT1 2TG

 

Interesting fact!

Despite the city focusing on Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales, there is no recorded history to prove he had ever actually visited the city.

 

While nobody would ever say that the best way to enjoy London is to leave it, what is being said is that London is so spectacularly central that within just an hour, you can be in all these different places, from seaside resorts and cathedrals, to countryside villages and Roman fortresses. Which, in itself, is a smashing reason to book tickets to enjoy Hotels Near Paddington. All you need to do is make your way to the train station and bring a book or something to enjoy en route, and before you know it you will be in a totally new and exciting place.

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