Get out of town: Mini breaks outside London
A short stay, just two hours away: we've found the best places for a cheap boutique holiday, with the help of Doris & Dicky
Just a pebble's throw away: Brighton
How to get there: An hour on the train from London Victoria
Why visit: The small, coastal city of Brighton might only have pebbles on its beach but it has a lot of fun in the streets. Brighton Fringe is the largest festival in England and runs until early June. The residents clearly love being here and town pride isn't short on the ground (especially now that the local football team has made the Premier League for the first time in decades). It's marvellous in the sun and as beautifully bleak as a cold portion of chips when it rains.
Best for: Nightlife. There's live music pretty much constantly throughout summer, on the seafront, in restaurants in the Laines and in most pubs. Expect excellent beer courtesy of Sussex craft beer companies and befriend wonderfully weird local residents on a night out.
Stay the night: at Blanch House. Just East of Brighton Pier, the district of Kemp Town is where upmarket hippies settle down. Minutes from the beach, this boutique hotel is set in one of the converted Regency Homes (think tall white houses with grand sash windows) that are synonymous with Brighton and Hove. There are just 12 rooms, with names like Peony and Orchid. Each room is decorated differently, so you can pretty much pick a room that suits your mood. Book the Perrier Jouet room if you want a little more space, and a charming balcony.
Run to the hills: The Chilterns
How to get there: Take the Metropolitan line towards Amersham. The station is right on the High Street, and this town is in the heart of the Chilterns.
Why visit: The chalk hills to the north west of London are an ANOB (area of outstanding natural beauty, for those who don't get out much). Walk on the chalk or bike the area, or even visit Milton in the Chilterns. The blind poet finished Paradise Lost in Chalfont St Giles in the 17th century. The Seasons Cafe Deli in Amersham comes recommended by The Independent - just five years ago it won accolades for being both one of the best delis and best cafes in the country.
Best for: The Roald Dahl museum. For 36 years of his life, Dahl wrote in a fabled Writing Hut at the bottom of his garden in the village of Great Missenden. In this museum, you can sit in a replica of his writing chair and think gloriumptious thoughts.
Stay the night: The Crown Hotel has a summer croquet lawn and serves breakfast. It's set in an Old Coach Inn complete with cosy fireplaces and timber beams, but the rooms are a breath of fresh air. It's right on Amersham High Street, is steps away from the station and also has free parking.
Have a dreamy time: Margate
How to get there: An hour and a half from St Pancras, or an hour and 45 minutes from Victoria by train. Two hours drive by car.
Why visit: In 2011, The Turner Contemporary opened – a massive, modern gallery that jarred with much of the local architecture on Margate's waterfront. It made a statement. That statement was: Margate is changing. And so it did. The restaurants came, including 'best restaurant in Kent' The Ambrette and festivals filled up the town's summer bill. There's now always something to do. And you can still wander the old town's independent shops, cafes and vintage stores.
Best for: Dreamland (pictured) a 1920s theme park, recently restored with 'pay as you go' rides, including a Grade II listed wooden rollercoaster.
Stay the night: The Crescent Victoria Hotel is in two renovated seafront houses, and half the rooms take in the view of the coast. White Company toiletries are a nice touch.
A great escape: Ramsgate
How to get there: By train, 70 minutes from St Pancras International. Take a taxi from the station to the town centre (0.8 miles).
Why visit: The area of Thanet, Kent, includes Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate. Each have great beaches. Ramsgate, in particular has south-facing sandy beach that gets more sun than Margate. Margate next door might be attracting the hipsters, but Ramsgate is more 'authentic' - and you can still pick up records and coffee at Vinyl Head.
Best for: A traditional seaside town with a beautiful harbour and it's own Meridian line. Eat oysters at the Royal Harbour Brasserie on its terrace right on the harbour arm, for unrivalled sea views.
Stay the night: The Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate has a nautical theme, but it's a subtle one – think patterned throw cushions rather than rotting ropes and portholes in the shower. Many rooms have harbour views and glorious four poster beds: live the dream when you sleep.
Dune with a view: Camber Sands
How to get there: A two-hour drive from London. Or change trains at Ashford International and get a taxi from the station.
Why visit: Whenever a TV drama requires a desert scene, they normally head to Camber Sands. The miles of beaches, backed by rolling dunes, are big and romantic enough for a weekend of exploration. The nearby town of Rye has Lamb House, where Henry James wrote his last three major works, including 'The Wings of a Dove'.
Best for: A little further inland takes you to Chapel Down winery, where you can tour the vineyards and buy a couple of England's best bottles.
Stay the night: At The Gallivant. This popular boutique hotel has wonderful views over the dunes. There is yoga twice a week in the summer. Breakfast is served in the dining room, which also does a great evening meal, perfect if you've tired yourself out on the beach and don't want to travel.
Rustic retreat: Daylesford Farm
How to get there: Located in Kingham, Gloucestershire, Daylesford Farms are 90 minutes from London by car or two hours from Paddington Station by train.
Why visit: Daylesford will be hosting a range of seasonally inspired floristry workshops for everyone, even for kids, out of their new Garden Shop this summer. Most workshops will include trips to their cutting garden, a meadow of blossoms cultivated for the express purpose of being picked, gathered, and used in workshops. The upstairs shop holds everything from baskets to beautiful linens, ensuring you have the tools and skills to make the most of your own garden this summer.
Best for: The sustainable farm offers a less regimental wellness retreat than all-inclusive resorts, like the BodyHoliday. Immerse yourself in the Daylesford experience by booking spa treatments, learning about sustainable farming, or taking courses at the cookery school. You couldn’t get further from London, closer to London.
Stay the night: Rent one of Daylesford’s five Cotswold cottages. Each beautiful farmhouse has been renovated to a modern, luxurious living standard without losing its original charm, and comes with a complimentary hour-long treatment from the Bamford Haybarn Spa.
Go west: Yattendon
How to get there: An hour and a half's drive from London.
Why visit: This quiet village is a good night's stay before a visit to the races, or to the city. Newbury is nearby – this course has 29 fixtures a year, and Reading town centre isn't far. The charming glass hothouses of the Living Rainforest are even nearer.
Best for: Real ale in the pub garden at The Royal Oak.
Stay the night: At The Royal Oak, Yattendon. In just ten rooms above a pub, this cosy venue has a good selection of real ale on the taps and log fires for the chilly nights. All the rooms have king-sized double beds.
For more great boutique hotels for around £100/night see dorisanddicky.com