The best foodie weekend breaks in the UK | Short & City breaks | Travel

The Samling has impressive views (Image: The Samling) This article contains affiliate links, we may receive a commission on any sales we generate from it. Learn more
The Samling, Cumbria

Panting and exhausted after a steep, drizzly climb, my boyfriend and I were relieved to reach the top of Wansfell Pike. 

Or so we thought. 

As we broke through the low-lying clouds, we looked up to see its peak still a good 50 feet above us.

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Once we did finally reach the summit, though, any aches and pains were instantly forgotten as we stood on top of the Lake District, looking down at mesmerising views.

On the way down we found a welcome respite at The Mortal Man in the village of Troutbeck, a self-titled “good old-fashioned English pub” serving doorstop-sized sandwiches and local ciders. 

It was just the thing to see us through the final stage of our walk, through Troutbeck and Skelghyll Woods before arriving back where we started at Ambleside.

Cold, tired and wet, the white-brick Georgian building of our hotel, The Samling, a short walk out of town, was certainly a sight for sore eyes. 

In contrast to the wild outdoors, The Samling’s interiors are modern and neutral, with enticing log fires, perfectly plumped cushions and a plush cream carpet you’ll wonder how they keep free of muddy footprints. 

The 12 bedrooms are comfy, spacious and perfect for lounging.

But one of the hotel’s top draws has to be the incredible views out over its ornamental gardens, Windermere and the surrounding countryside.

Fine dining at The Samling (Image: The Samling)

If guests don’t come for the views, they must surely be here for the dinner – it’s not surprising the hotel’s modern, glass-walled restaurant is often voted the best in the area. 

Choose from the three-course à la carte or five-course tasting menus, where head chef Robby Jenks combines flavours in the most innovative (and delicious) ways: mackerel with apple and wasabi, halibut with pumpkin and coffee, chocolate with whiskey and sesame. 

Even The Samling’s bread and butter is excellent – a generously-sized loaf accompanied by two perfect quenelles of flavourful gold butter.

To complement the food, there’s an impressive 43-page wine list. 

If this seems a little daunting, there’s a very helpful sommelier on hand to help you find your perfect pairing.

It’s worth ambling into Ambleside, too, a proper Cumbrian town and top tourist hot spot. 

Stop for a pint at the dog-friendly Royal Oak pub or enjoy a hearty dinner at The Priest Hole next door, one of the town’s oldest buildings.

We saw the Lakes from a different angle as well – on the road. 

We’d hired one of the new Ford Ranger Raptors for the drive from London, a car which made for a comfortable six hours on the M6 with elevated seats that gave great views of the area’s dramatic scenery.

Which was just as well, because after our indulgent weekend of gourmet delights, we couldn’t have walked another step even if we wanted to.

* Rooms at The Samling (015394 31922, thesamlinghotel.co.uk) start at £280 including B&B.

The Ford Ranger Raptor (Image: Ford)La Fosse, Cranbourne, Dorset

For a couple of foodies who love a rural stroll, a weekend at La Fosse in Dorset ticked all our boxes. 

A multi-award-winning restaurant with just six guest rooms (each named after a local cheese), it’s run by chef Mark Hartstone and his wife Emmanuelle, who had stints at the Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa and Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons before opening their own establishment.

La Fosse uses fresh, seasonal and local produce wherever possible and the menu has a whole page listing the provenance of its ingredients. 

A lot of the herbs, fruits and vegetables come from Mark’s own allotment, with virtually everything else sourced within a 50-mile radius. 

Even the salt on the tables comes from Dorset’s Jurassic coast.

La Fosse has a Scandinavian BBC hut for fine dining outdoors (Image: La Fosse)

We soon realised how well placed Cranborne is for exploring some stunning scenery. 

It’s Dorset but close to the borders of Wiltshire and Hampshire, with a huge number of attractions close by.

The pretty village boasts a microbrewery that sounded inviting, but we headed to Wimborne, 10 minutes away, to check out the farmers’ market, full of artisan treats. 

We then took a 20-minute drive to Salisbury. 

For history buffs, the cathedral really is a must-see.

All that fresh air gave us a suitably healthy appetite for the main event, the most memorable dinner. 

Highlights included beef three ways and delicious turbot and duck. 

I could only manage a light dessert, but Tony took on a 10-cheese cheeseboard. 

He managed to sample them all, but only just…

Food at La Fosse (Image: La Fosse)

We also had high hopes for breakfast, and it didn’t disappoint. 

We couldn’t resist smoked haddock with poached eggs, but made sure to sample the full English on our second day.

Also nearby is West Bay, where the thriller Broadchurch was filmed. 

But for me the biggest mystery was how we’d never discovered this perfect little pocket of rural England before…

* Double rooms at La Fosse (01725 517604, la-fosse.com) start at £89 including B&B.

Liverpool

Everyone knows Liverpool for The Beatles, Cilla Black and the famous Scouse sense of humour.

But who would have thought it was such an amazing city for foodies. 

On a weekend break we managed to eat, drink and walk our way around some of the most incredible restaurants – and with portions your nana would deliver.

Liverpool’s Albert Dock is the epitome of cool (Image: Getty)

Our base for the weekend was the Albert Dock, a Unesco World Heritage site and now a hub of cool bars, shops and eateries.

First stop was Lunyalita, a totally chilled Catalan restaurant and deli. 

We opted for delicious cauliflower with Za’atar spices and shallots as well as garbanzos, a fabulous chickpea stew, washed down with cava.

Next door is The Beatles Story, which tells the Fab Four’s journey from their humble beginnings to Sgt Pepper success. 

There are exhibits and replicas of everything from The Cavern Club to Abbey Road, John Lennon’s glasses to George Harrison’s guitar. 

It is hard not to get emotional when you see how extraordinary their fame was, way before social media and the internet.

Peckish again, we popped into Maray, where the Middle East meets the Mersey. 

The waiter recommended three dishes each – we had the most enormous slab of halloumi, torched broccoli and a beetroot bowl. 

We then headed off to the Titanic Hotel at Stanley Dock. 

Used as a backdrop in the BBC’s Peaky Blinders, it is a great place to pop in for a spa treatment or a glass of wine overlooking the water. 

We finished off the evening back at Albert Dock at The Smuggler’s Cove, putting our feet up with brilliantly named Ginny Hendricks and Rhubarb Rumble cocktails.

Maray has an array of colourful dishes (Image: Maray)

The next morning we headed to the Peaberry Coffee House for a final blow-out. 

With great coffee, super friendly staff and the most delicious breakfast plates, it really set us up for the day.

On our final day of sightseeing we took in the ferry across the Mersey to see both cathedrals, the Georgian splendour of Hope Street and the Liverpool ONE complex, with more than 170 shops and restaurants. 

Our final stop was the brilliant Museum of Liverpool, for a wonderful overview of the city’s social, cultural and historical heritage. 

Maybe now they need a food section… 

* Weekend room rates at the Holiday Inn Express, Albert Dock start at £70. To book, visit hiexpress.com.

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