The 24/7 grind can feel relentless. From your early gym session to a sweaty commute followed by a day’s graft - plus all that requisite screen time - it’s a wonder we don’t spend all weekend under a duvet.
But we should all be making time for a little self care - and if we can manage to treat ourselves on the cheap too, then even better.
Good news is, you don’t need a millionaire’s bank balance to enjoy the finer things in life. A lot of the things that seem super luxe are just a quick drive away: from stays in castles (seriously) to visits to home-grown vineyards.
Go gung-ho on fine art
If schmoozing at the Art Basel fair is a lifelong dream - but also a bit of stretch - then head to Somerset instead. Wait, come back: the Swiss powerhouse Hauser & Wirth gallery looks over the Grade II-listed Durslade farmhouse - and entices art-lovers from all over the world with buzz-worthy exhibitions. The other draw is the excellent farm-to-fork restaurant, Roth Bar and Grill. Head chef Steve Horrell is a master of the fire pit, and his locally-sourced dishes are melt-in-the-mouth good and more than justify a jaunt out to the West country. Leave after a weekend here with both your hunger and cultural appetite totally sated.
Enjoy fancy farmhouse living
While all the celebrities flock to Soho Farmhouse for a weekend of wholesomeness and covert selfies, the prices for a weekend at the Oxfordshire retreat will likely make you wince.
However, there are other boutique farmstays across the country where you can go for a hike, chill out in a outdoor hot tub and relax by a roaring fire in the evening. Try Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall, Monchyle Mhor in Scotland or a log cabin at the cool Featherdown Farm in Kent. There’s no mucking out required the next morning, but don’t let that stop you from donning your wellies.
Lunch like an A-lister
There are plenty of restaurants in the UK honoured with one or more Michelin stars. And while normally, the bill for a dinner for two would be eye-wateringly expensive, many restaurants offer a set lunch at a fraction of the cost. Head to London for the best and most delicious selection, like Dinner at Heston Blumenthal, Murano and Texture, where a prix fixe meal costs as little as £29. Nothing tastes as good as a discount menu feels.
Have bubbles for breakfast
The French have Champagne, the Spanish have Cava and we have...sparkling white wine? If you’ve got a taste for Champagne but not the budget to spend a day sipping the golden stuff, head to a vineyard here in the UK. English sparkling wine may have had a bad reputation previously, but now it more than rivals produce from our Gallic cousins. That doesn’t make it cheap - but it does mean that you can pay very reasonable rates to take tours around estates and sample a few glasses.
Kingscote Estate in West Sussex, for example, hosts tours and tastings for £15 per person. Take a few bottles back and keep on living the high life at home.
Shuck oysters like a Queen
It’s a fact: life is better by the seaside. So take a road trip to the coast, breathe in that clean air and get shucking some seafood. It’s native oyster season any month with an ‘r’ in it and while fancy restaurants across the country will be charging top dollar for these molluscs, head to the source of some of the UK’s best in Whitstable, Kent. Here, you can get your fix at close to cost price. Perch on the bar at the iconic Wheeler’s and enjoy a few with a Bloody Mary granita dressing, or head to a beachside shack and get six shucked for a fiver, served with a twist of lemon and some Tabasco. There’s nothing more invigorating than a shot of that salt-water liquor.
Castles in the sky
Always had delusions of grandeur? Don’t worry, so have we. That’s why we suggest living out all your prince or princess fantasies with a night’s stay in a private room in a castle. You don’t need to be on first-name terms with royalty to bag a room in a stately home, just search Airbnb’s ‘unique homes’ filter and tick the ‘castle’ box to see the UK’s greatest tower-and-moat homes for rent. From a gothic Grimm-fairytale-esque home in the Scottish highlands to a Napoleonic fort and drawbridge by the coast in Cornwall, all that’s missing is horse-drawn carriage to arrive in. Sorry, a minicab will just have to do instead.