Where to stay in England
England's hotels have changed beyond recognition in recent years, with smart boutique hotels steadily replacing the grotty bed and breakfast and excellent hotel chains expanding to major cities outside the capital. It is rare to find a town in England, however small, which does not have at least one hotel. Some grand London hotels, for example the Savoy, are famous the world over, and there is an increasing amount of stylish and modern accommodation across the country.
Grading:VisitBritain, the AA and RAC (as well as VisitWales and VisitScotland) have agreed common standards for quality assessment. Hotels and guesthouses are classified by use of a 1- to 5-star rating system.
Bed and breakfast
There are thousands of guest houses and bed and breakfast facilities throughout England – these range from the cheap and cheerful places where you can bed down for a night, to much grander residences where all mod-cons are provided and customer service is at the fore. The traditional image of the dingy B&B has been elevated as properties are spruced up to withstand the high expectations of paying guests (and avoid the wrath of TripAdvisor), and many B&Bs compete with hotels in terms of the level of service provided. Guest houses, inns and farmhouses providing bed and breakfast services are classified by a star-rating system.
There are camping and caravan sites for short and long stays, in or near almost every village or town, especially in popular areas for walking and adventure sports. Some sites hire out tents or caravans. Most sites in England offer basic facilities, while some have playgrounds, clubs, shops and sporting areas.
Self-catering: Cottages, flats and bungalows can be rented in many areas and whilst self-catering apartments have always been a good option for those on a budget or travelling in the countryside, the more recent trend of renting out of private flats in urban areas is a fast growing sector. Some true bargains can be found, particularly if travelling in a group or out of season.
Hostels: Standards vary greatly, from very basic night-time dormitory accommodation for hikers and cyclists, to modern hostels often used by families and groups. Prices are usually very reasonable. The Youth Hostelling Association (www.yha.org.uk) has a comprehensive list of hostels in England.
Holiday parks: These offer accommodation, food and a full range of leisure activities generally at an all-inclusive price. Well-known names include Center Parcs (www.centerparcs.co.uk) and Butlins (www.butlinsonline.co.uk).
Unusual rentals: A growing number of accommodation rental properties offer more unusual stays for people wishing to stay somewhere special. Canopy and Stars (www.canopyandstars.co.uk) offers glamping holidays where guests can stay in accommodation ranging from yurts and converted barns to boats and Romany wagons. Alternatively, with the Landmark Trust (www.landmarktrust.org.uk), which rescues buildings of architectural and historical importance and rents them out. Choose from castles, forts, stately homes and more.