Home for the holidays: the staycation

With such gorgeous hotels and dazzling culture to explore in her own home town, our London local decides to eschew exotic shores for a perfect staycation

What we all love about travelling is the chance to step out of our daily routine and discover new sights, sounds and – top of my list – tastes. But sometimes you could do without the hassle of airport security and having to decant all your toiletries into teeny-tiny bottles. No wonder more and more savvy travellers are opting for a staycation in their home town.

It’s not just the convenience that makes a staycation so appealing. I realised, with embarrassment, how little I know about my local area when a friend from out of town came to stay and I’d barely ticked off any of her must-dos. It’s funny how we explore every nook and cranny of a holiday destination but neglect to do the same in the place we call home.

That’s why I’m planning to stay put and embrace my home town like a visitor for a week-long staycation. But to make sure I don’t just end up watching box sets in my pyjamas, I need some semblance of a plan. Here goes…

One way to ensure it feels like a bona fide break is to check into a hotel – namely that boutique beauty I pass on my way home from work, enviously looking in at the guests sipping cocktails. There’s something delightfully naughty about the idea of staying at a hotel in your home town – and, as I sink into crisp Egyptian cotton sheets and order room service, I’ll giggle at the thought of my empty, messy bedroom a short cab ride away.

As well as availing myself of the hotel breakfast facilities, lazy café brunches will be top of my agenda (thoughts of food are never far from my mind on holiday… or ever). I’ll linger over a latte and people watch from the (hopefully) sunny terrace of that café I usually dart in and out of for a takeaway coffee on the sprint to work. Then I’ll work off my eggs Benedict with a dip at my local pool, which will be empty at this time of day.

To properly play the tourist, I need to immerse myself in some culture at the museums I’ve been meaning to visit for ages – not the obvious ones, but the smaller, less well known ones. A friend told me years ago about a tiny museum tucked away down a side street – no queues means more time to appreciate it all.

I’ll want to catch a show too – another cultural pursuit I love, but rarely have time for. Lots of theatres have cheap tickets if you buy on the day (one of the joys of a staycation is that you can be spontaneous) and weekday matinées are a much better deal than Friday and Saturday nights.

After all that cultural enrichment, I’ll no doubt need a stroll. There are lots of walking and cycling tours that take in hidden parks and squares, showcasing the history, architecture or even food scenes of an area – perfect for showing off next time my friend visits from out of town.

I’ll wrap up my week with a spot of shopping, and I want to discover a new neighbourhood while I get my retail therapy fix. I’ll jump on a bus (the best way to see a city) to that market I’ve never visited, and search for bargains among the unfamiliar winding streets – getting lost is half the fun.

I’m hoping my staycation will help me see my city in a whole new light, and I’ll make discoveries that will last beyond the week. I’ve no doubt the travel bug will bite again, but for now I’m homeward-bound.

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