Q: I'm traveling to London this summer and would like to spend a week touring outside the city. Any suggestions for budget hotels and interesting places to visit? What are your thoughts on Stratford-upon-Avon, castles and Cambridge?
Several chain hotels in Britain offer rooms at budget rates, or what passes for budget there these days. Paul Chibeba, of VisitBritain, the country's tourism office, recommends Premier Inn (www.premierinn.com), the country's largest chain, with rates from about $94, and Travelodge (www.travelodge.co.uk), whose “saver rooms” run from about $57 to $116 and must be booked online at least seven days in advance.
Chibeba suggests either Oxford or Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon and perhaps Bath. “The advantage of driving means that they can drive through the Cotswolds and stop at villages, for example, en route from Oxford to Bath,” he said. Thistle Hotels (www.thistle.com), another popular chain, has “a really nice property in Stratford-upon-Avon,” with rooms starting at about $157 a night.
Two good castle choices: Berkeley Castle (www.berkeley-castle.com) in Gloucestershire and Warwick Castle (www.warwick-castle.co.uk) near Stratford-upon-Avon. Admission to both is included in the Great British Heritage Pass family pass, which costs about $187 for seven days and provides entry for two adults and up to three children younger than 15 to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stonehenge, Hampton Court Palace and almost 600 other stately homes, castles and gardens in Britain. Details: www.visitbritain.com/onlineshop.