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United Kingdom

A hotel boom + Champagne-esque vineyards.


Trafalgar Square in London.   

Town:
London

Post-Olympics, the city’s hotel scene is still thriving. Among the latest launches: Ian Schrager’s Fitzrovia-based Edition (from $487; edition-hotels.marriott.com), with its scene-y restaurant and nightclub, and the Ace (from $295; acehotel.com), whose brasserie is accessed through a flower shop in the East End. As Shoreditch has reached Williamsburg ­levels of gentrification, creative types have drifted north to formerly gritty Dalston, now buzzing with shops, bars, and restaurants like ­Mayfields. If scraggly scenesters are less your thing, this is still a civilized town: Visit the newly made-over Tate Britain, or take in candlelit Shakespeare at the Globe’s just-opened Sam ­Wanamaker Playhouse.



South Downs National Park   

Country:
Kent


Drive about an hour southeast of London and you’ll find yourself in Kent County, a.k.a. the Garden of England, known for its lush, green landscape—and, lately, its wine country. Thanks to climate change, conditions here are now similar to those in Champagne circa 1970, and En­glish wines—the sparkling ones, at least—have recently been racking up international awards, believe it or not. Some of Kent’s top wineries offer tastings and tours—including, as of last year, Hush Heath, located near Staplehurst; being the vineyard most conveniently located to London, it’s the best place to start your tour. While strolling the 400-plus acres of vineyards, orchards, and ancient woodlands, you can sip the latest vintages—like the Balfour Brut Rosé 2010, which won gold in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards—and sparkling ciders made using the méthode traditionnelle. Surrounded by farmland in tree-lined Tenterden, 15 miles southeast, Royal Wedding bubbly-supplier Chapel Down also creates award-winning beers that combine brewing with winemaking techniques, while its seasonal restaurant sources all ingredients from the county. Nearby in Appledore, the 100-acre Gusbourne Estate—English Wine Producer of the Year in the 2013 International Wine & Spirits Competition—plants grapes cloned from Burgundy, sometimes producing a Pinot Noir. (It’s not open to the public, but you can schedule a personalized tour with the winemaker by calling in advance.) End your tour at the country’s smallest commercial vineyard, Terlingham (from $98; terlinghamvineyard.co.uk), which just opened three cozy rooms with oak furnishings and complimentary bottles of house fizz. From here, you can cycle to the White Cliffs of Dover or walk to Folkestone, a quaint coastal town where Gordon Ramsay protégé Mark Sargeant has opened Rocksalt, a glass-walled restaurant (plus four exposed-brick bedrooms) known for its just-caught shellfish and views out to France.


Alt-Escapes

1.5 hours: Traverse the chalky crest of South Downs National Park, Britain’s newest national park (fully operational since 2011), holing up at one of a number of quaint B&B’s within walking or cycling distance.

2 hours: Bruton, a tiny riverside village in Somerset, is home to a 17th-century chapel turned cult-favorite restaurant with rooms, At the Chapel (from $165; atthechapel.co.uk). This summer, Hauser & Wirth Somerset will open on a five-acre farm nearby, turning the old barns into contemporary-art galleries.

2 hours: The historic fishing port of Hastings, East Sussex, is now dubbed Shoreditch-on-Sea. Converted local-newspaper offices called the Printworks (from $115; theprintworkshastings.com) house a design store helmed by two Central Saint Martins grads, as well as a loft-style B&B and soon-to-open bar.


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