Slow holidays by train for 2020
In a world that seems to be getting more and more frenetic, the concept of “slow travel” feels like a great idea. Alongside addressing some environmental concerns, the key is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination itself. With ABTA identifying it as a trend for 2020 travel, we’ve chosen a selection of easy slow travel destinations by rail – with London as the starting point – some of which you’ll get more out if you hire a car at the other end, others which you can just do by train. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
1: Grand Maison, Loire Valley
A wonderful French guest house, perfect for wine lovers or those just looking for an escape. Packages available including an eco tour offering two days of wine tastings, great food as well as transfers from Saumur train station.
Getting there by train: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Montparnasse to Tours and then a short journey to Saumur. Journey time: from 6hrs. Also check out this handy guide to buying train tickets in France.
2: The Crofter’s House, Skye
A truly slow destination. Tucked away in meadows a short walk from the Sound of Raasay, it’s small but perfectly formed for two and is ideally located to explore the island – or simply retreat if that’s what you’re after.
Getting there by train: London Euston to Glasgow Central and then Glasgow Queen St to Mallaig from where you can jump on the ferry to Skye. Consider hiring a car on the island. Journey time: from 12hrs.
3: Abbey Stables, Penzance
Head to this cottage for two in the heart of Penzance and you can easily fill a few days without going very far. Shops, galleries, a lovely harbour, fantastic walks and numerous great places to eat all on your doorstep.
Getting there by train: Frankly it’s quicker than by car! London Paddington to Plymouth and then just under two hours to Penzance. Journey time: from 5hrs.
4: Cuq en Terrasses, Toulouse
In a tiny hamlet 40 minutes by car (or taxi) from Toulouse, Philippe and Andonis have created a truly beautiful guest house with a top notch restaurant. New for 2020 is a spa room with a hot tub overlooking rolling countryside for a complete switch off.
Getting there by train: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and then Paris Montparnasse to Toulouse and maybe hire a car to explore the area. Journey time: 8hrs.
5: The Lumiares, Lisbon
A longer journey, but one which takes in the famous night train to Lisbon – how cool. Once in this stunning and historic city, staying in this chic hotel in trendy Bairro Alto means you can explore all day before retreating to the luxury of the hotel’s fabulous suites.
Getting there by train: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye and catch the night train. Journey time: from approx 24hrs.
6: St Valery, Alnmouth
Just four rooms means St Valery has an intimate and welcoming vibe, helped by the charming service of its owner Harvey. The beach is just down the road or jump on your bike to explore a bit further. Alternatively stay in the village and check out why it’s becoming known as a foodie’s destination.
Getting there by train: There’s a direct train from London King’s Cross to Alnmouth. Journey time: from 4hrs.
7: Le Pavillion, St-Emilion
The elegance of Le Pavillion sets it apart from the crowd. Uncluttered, elegant spaces with views across the surrounding vineyards, plus cakes and wine, create a laid back yet luxurious feel. Medieval St-Emilion is simply stunning.
Getting there by train: London St-Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Montparnasse to Libourne and from there to St-Emilion. Journey time: approx 7hrs 30mins.
8: Teardrop Cottage, North Yorkshire
Another English beauty is Teardrop Cottage on the banks of the river Nidd in Knaresborough. It’s a lovely spot with views across the river and alongside the town’s famous viaduct. The King size room has its own terrace and hot tub.
Getting there by train: Take the train to York from King’s Cross and from there to Knaresborough. Journey time: approx 3hrs.