Right now London is probably the most exciting city in the world. In the last couple of years this dynamic global city has completely reinvented itself as the frontrunner of lifestyle trends, contemporary art and cutting-edge architecture and now even rivals New York as the food capital of the world. London plays host to world-class luxury hotels, restaurants covering over 90 different cuisines, outstanding art exhibitions, first-class museums, royal parks, theatre and opera and shopping opportunities that rival any other city on earth. In addition to having a colourful history that spans from Roman Times to the Tudors, the Regency period, Victorian London and two World Wars, over the last couple of years London has played host to 21 st century global events such as the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and, of course, the 2012 Olympics. Even if you have visited the UK & Ireland before, at Ampersand we always recommend starting and/or ending an itinerary in London. This dynamic and multicultural city always has something new to see, visit and discover.
A county in the very heart of Ireland, County Laois is home to the Slieve Bloom Mountains, which are a great place to walk, hike and cycle. Just over an hour from Dublin, County Laois is the perfect place to spend a couple of days enjoying the countryside after a stay in the capital. However, due to its central location, County Laois is not on the traditional tourist trail, making it perfect for those looking to experience the ‘real’ Ireland.
An outdoor lover’s paradise, the Lake District, located in Cumbria, is England's largest national park. Rich in natural beauty and birth place of William Wordsworth, the Lake District has been an inspiration to artists, poets and authors such as Beatrix Potter, Samuel Coleridge and John Ruskin. Climb England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and swim or sail on its deepest lakes as you meander the Lake District’s 3,500km of walking and cycling paths. For those seeking a little more adventure there are vast opportunities to rock climb, abseil, horse ride and kayak, fish and take a boat ride on the park’s 16 lakes, including Lake Windermere. A scenic round of golf is highly recommended, weather permitting! Alongside its spectacular natural scenery, Cumbria’s many towns and villages play host to idyllic country hotels, pubs and shops.
Known for its infamous monster, Loch Ness is Scotland’s largest loch by volume and a site of outstanding natural beauty. Incredibly deep, the loch reaches nearly 230m below sea level in parts and is said to contain more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Boat cruises on the loch are common but the loch is equally striking seen from its many green banks. Also popular to visit is the eery but beautiful Urquhart Castle on the banks of the loch which dates from the 13th century.
Considered one of the England’s most beautiful cities, Oxford is a town worth visiting on any trip to the United Kingdom. As the setting of the third oldest university in the West (after Bologna and La Sorbonne), Oxford has a beguiling mix of sites on offer from the university’s colleges and quads to Christ Church Cathedral and Modern Art Oxford, one of the region’s leading galleries of modern art. Other highlights include Magdalen College, the Bodleain Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and the Venetian style Bridge of Sighs. Unsurprisingly due to its impressive backdrop of historic buildings, Oxford has been the setting for a long list of novels and films from Alice in Wonderland to Brideshead Revisited and, more recently, the Harry Potter films. Just outside Oxford lies Blenheim Palace, the birthplace and ancestral home of Winston Churchill, considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the country. The Palace is also the site of the famous Woodstock Literary Festival which takes place in September every year.
Celebrated as the town of Shakespeare’s birth, Stratford-upon-Avon is not to be missed for die-hard Shakespeare fans. Essentially a small market town, Stratford can be easily explored by foot; spend the day wandering down charming streets lined on each side with black and white timbered Tudor buildings and numerous cafes, pubs and restaurants. Stratford-upon-Avon highlights include Shakespeare’s house, Mary Arden’s farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, and Anne Hathaway’s cottage; a quaint thatched farmhouse just outside the town provided the setting for Shakespeare’s courting of his wife-to-be. Also worth a visit is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which re-opened in 2010 after a three-year refurbishment. Based on Waterside, by the scenic banks of the River Avon, this Grade II listed art-deco style building is a creative combination of old and new.
The British Isles, tailor-made.
We love luxury and style at Ampersand Travel, but we also love to engage with our destination. Our motto is ‘luxury is in the experience’: superb food, art, architecture or the great outdoors – these are the things we adore. All over the British Isles – from London to the Scottish Highlands, from the New Forest to County Laois – we know the best country house hotels, the smartest city hangouts, the most ravishing mountains to scale and the loveliest lakes to relax by. What we love most of all though, is revealing these treasures to our clients by designing their perfect tailor-made British Isles experience.
Founder & Managing Director of Ampersand Travel
Browse our luxury UK & Ireland itineraries to get inspiration for your own tailor-made journey.
Hot off the press from our favourite destinations
Itinerary of the week
Not just for fanatics, our 11 day Downton Abbey itinerary takes you on a tour of the UK giving the perfect taste of the grand history of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th century. It conveniently provides the perfect backdrop for an exploration of the most beautiful, iconic and interesting properties across the UK.
Top 10FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTELS
The British Isles are perfect for family holidays, be it a short weekend break or a school holiday. From natural landscapes like the Lake District, New Forest and the Scottish Highlands to the Harry Potter Studios, London’s many child-friendly museums and world-famous toy shop Hamley’s, there is just so much on offer.
Hotel of the weekGIDLEIGH PARK, DEVON
An impressive Tudor style manor house in the heart of the ethereal Dartmoor National Park, this property provides the perfect escape deep into the country side. Picturesque walks, historical houses and quaint villages are a stone’s throw away, just waiting to be explored. This historical hotel has gone from strength to strength, building a name for itself around the two-Michelin star restaurant under the Head Chef Michael Wignall.
The Bespoke Luxury Travel Experts
At Ampersand we believe that ‘luxury is in the experience’: whilst we love travelling in style, we’re not afraid to step off the usual circuit in order to experience something exceptional. We specialise in exclusive, luxury tailor-made holidays that are perfect for honeymoons, cultural tours, family trips, wildlife adventures, sabbaticals and multi-generational holidays.
Since 2003 we have established ourselves as a leader in creating luxury tailor-made tours to the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Far East. And in keeping with our desire to share the places we know and love best, we are thrilled to add Africa and the British Isles to our portfolio of destinations.
Our clients are mostly private individuals who recognise that time is their most precious asset and want to entrust it to experts with a well proven track record. This smoothes out the planning process and ensures that they have the most rewarding and memorable experience possible. We also look after some of the world’s most acclaimed museums and organisations who rely on us to arrange once in a lifetime small group tours for their most important patrons.
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Anonymous, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India