Even the most seasoned, avant-garde traveler deserves a break every now and again. I have always believed in a balanced lifestyle and that includes a little bit of luxury. Although my home has been New York City for the past four years, I’ll never forget my months living in London and traveling throughout the country. For me, England is a perfect blend of innovative culture, varying landscapes and colorful personalities. For those reasons, it’s also the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Whether taking a spa retreat or just soaking up the sunshine at your local park, here are five ways to indulge in cultural luxury when traveling through the UK (or anywhere really).
1) Stop and Smell the Roses
I mean this both figuratively and literally. The UK and Ireland have a reputation for bad weather and in my opinion, they don’t deserve that title. Without the storm clouds and afternoon showers, the fields and flowers wouldn’t be nearly as vibrant. My favorite park in London is Primrose Hill mainly for the picturesque view but Hyde Park has a beautiful rose garden as do the Queen Mary’s Gardens in Regent’s Park. The fresh aroma will awaken your senses and remind you to live in the moment. Flowers always make me smile and I have a feeling I’m not alone in that.
2) Indulge in a Spa Treatment
It’s easy to feel guilty when opting for a massage rather than an active run on the beach but in reality, balance is key. There have been trips when I’ve opted to skip out on an outdoor excursion to instead spend a few hours zoning out at the spa. Traveling is incredibly rewarding but it can also be extremely exhausting and if you are on the road for an extended period of time, spa breaks can completely rejuvenate your mind, body, soul and spirit. There are countless hotel spa breaks to choose from, depending on your budget and what muscles you want to target.
3) Experience High Tea
If you are in England, there’s really no reason not to experience a traditional ‘High Tea.’ While there aren’t any hard core rules involved, sometimes it’s fun to get dressed up and play the part of a princess. Actually, most people’s perception of ‘High Tea’ is more characteristic of ‘Low Tea’ or ‘Afternoon Tea’ but whatever you want to call it, you’ll likely be drinking cream tea and munching on freshly baked scones, finger sandwiches and sweet, bite-sized desserts. Many times, hotels and tea rooms offer fancy ‘High Tea’ packages so that’s a good place to start looking for deals.
4) Channel Your Spiritual Side
During my semester living and studying in London, my Pop Culture professor (yes, that was an actual class!) took us to the Radha Krishna Temple in Soho for a crash course on how to relax in stressful environments aka the city. Granted, our session mainly consisted of a few readings and meditation tips but I left the temple that day feeling a new found sense of purpose. If you don’t feel like reading from the Bhagavad Gita, I’d recommend connecting with nature. This always gives me a lot of insight into my life and helps me figure out my next steps in accomplishing my goals.
5) Slip into a Good Book
The English countryside is the perfect setting to slip into a good book. As a self-proclaimed literary nerd, I always find inspiration when I visit towns like Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and Canterbury. England in particular is also home to a slew of famous authors like Jane Austen, Sir James M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll and more. Head to Oxford if you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles or Narnia, the Harry Potter series or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If in London, visit Keats’ house in Hampstead Heath and then find a quiet park bench to read some poetry.
What is your go-to relaxation activity?