The best city breaks within an hour of London

·2-min read
 (University Arms )
(University Arms )

Try a jaunt to one of these much-loved English cities all less than 60 minutes away from the capital.

Oxford

The Randolph hotel

The Randolph’s exterior (The Randolph)
The Randolph’s exterior (The Randolph)

If you think you’re familiar with this Oxford stalwart, think again. Gone are the fusty tearooms and stuffy clientele; instead, the city-centre institution has risen from the ashes of fire damage. Nestled between Balliol College and the Ashmolean, the whimsical and charming hotel has benefited greatly from Graduate Hotels’ multi-million pound refurb. The Randolph pays homage to notable Oxonians via its ‘Morse’ bar and its Lewis Carroll tribute ‘Alice’ restaurant, and issues alumni ‘ID cards’ as room keys, immersing guests in The City of Dreaming Spires. Book for the novelty value, stay for the soon-to-open spa and elegant brasserie under one roof. Rooms from £200 per night (graduatehotels.com) Jessica Benjamin

Brighton

Selina Hotel

Selina hotel’s pastel interiors (Selina)
Selina hotel’s pastel interiors (Selina)

Yes, it’s a hostel — but stick with us here. Selina’s teal-hued new opening on the Brighton seafront is no shabby interrailing crash pad. Self-styled as a ‘unique travellers’ hub’, Selina is a hostel-cum-hotel that offers digs ranging from a deluxe sea-view private loft right down

to a shared dorm for the night. All are equipped with towels, toiletries and chic decor including a jungle of vivid monster plants to greet you. Head down to either the beach-front bar and restaurant or the ever-so-millennial co-working space, or book into one of the craft events to really get into the Brighton groove (think nipple pasty workshops, new moon circles and sound-healing evenings). Joining its other UK branches, Selina Brighton is sure to appeal to travellers young and old for a budget-friendly city escape that doesn’t compromise on style. Rooms from £34 per night (selina.com) Jessica Benjamin

Cambridge

The University Arms

The heavenly bathrooms (University Arms)
The heavenly bathrooms (University Arms)

Literary types will love it here. Each of the 192 rooms is filled with stacks of books and there are more in the elegant wood-panelled library — Alan Bennett’s reading of The Wind in the Willows is even piped in to the bathrooms. This is Cambridge, after all. Once a 19th-century coaching inn, the hotel was rebooted in 2018 by classical architect John Simpson (his CV includes Buckingham Palace) and London nightlife interiors whizz Martin Brudnizki. The result is a luxe blend of trad and modern. One minute you’re admiring the grand porte-cochère out front, the next you’re enveloped in the warm buzz of chic brasserie Parkers Tavern, headed by Pétrus and Le Gavroche alumnus Tristan Welch. More good news: the breakfast buffet is back, and more epic than ever. Rooms from £159 per night (universityarms.com) Kerry Potter

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