Why you shouldn’t forget about cities as the perfect summer vacation

The past year has been particularly difficult for UK cities. Long months of lockdown have deprived our usually bustling metropolises of their lifeblood, with locals and former waves of visitors favoring more distant destinations and experiences that are naturally more socially distant. But, as summer approaches and cities begin to open up with enthusiasm, urban centers should not be overlooked and can in fact offer invigorating breaks to stimulate the senses and welcome the kind of energizing exploration once again. which can only be found by discovering (or rediscovering) a city.

I savor the cacophony of noises that come from city life

I love the ebb and flow of cities and the energy that emanates from them, whatever the pace. I have been fortunate to live in many cities – from my childhood in Birmingham, my studies in Newcastle and now in London, including Paris, Moscow, Johannesburg, New York and Los Angeles. I like to discover places, be it a bar or a restaurant, which become almost reliable friends. There is something so satisfying about getting tangled up deep in the fabric of such a vast place. I was first taken to Gordon Wine Bar in London – a really classic and family-friendly place – before living full time in the capital and, it turned out to be not far from where I first worked in the bustling city that I now call home. This little place to drink has been a constant in my life and always a place where I am for important moments in my life, whether to celebrate a new milestone in work or in life. It’s charming in the winter and charming and lush in the summer – here and there you’ll find a multitude of vibrant characters. always interesting conversation and jokes. It’s the same with The French house in Soho on Dean Street, another place that I think fondly of and visit frequently. It’s steeped in theater history and full of interesting people, and really captures what makes London such an amazing place.

Alexander Spatari

Each city has a very particular soundtrack that makes it distinct and I enjoy the cacophony of noises that come from city life – things that in and of themselves can seem quite abrasive – but when put together you feel deeply connected to it. The chirping of car horns, the buzzing of sirens, the screams of taxi drivers, the buzz of buses, the opening of store shutters, the barking of dogs in Central Park – they have their own melodies. This soundtrack envelops you and, to me, means promise. When that is interspersed with moments of silence, it is pure magic. Recently on a warm warm sunny day I went for a walk with my wife in London and you could feel this buzz – the enduring joy of others; it was like a vibration. The many noises make the silence and the freer places even more special when you return. The smells of street food in London or honeysuckle in Central Park as spring arrives – it really doesn’t get any better than this.

You could feel that buzz – the enduring joy of others outside

The renewal of urban areas fascinates me, and as those in the UK begin to wake up and reinvent themselves, it reminds me of the stunning towns we have on our native soil, many of which are often overlooked by visitors. After a historically difficult start to 2021, this summer is a great time to experience the vibrancy of our recently reopened cities – and in a very different way, with lower visitor numbers allowing ample room to see some of the sites and most remarkable attractions. relished without the intrusive crowds. Exploring cities as they begin to buzz again after Covid will also provide an inimitable glimpse into the special ability of cities not only to regenerate and reinvent themselves creatively, but also to show the resilience of an unwavering human spirit.



While London naturally attracts the attention of UK and international travelers, a plethora of other cities from Bristol to Glasgow deserve to be recognized and adored as well. As people seek out destinations and experiences that are by design inspiring and invigorating, from industrial cultural powerhouses like Manchester and Birmingham, to the mighty historical and intellectual heavyweight, Oxford, there are a myriad of reasons to fall in love with the cities. British people outside the capital.

The pandemic has made us remember that there are incredible places on our own shores, with stories so rich and deep that are absolutely worth exploring. We find that the level of domestic tourism has exploded, but ‘doing’ UK is not just about seeing London and beautiful countryside retreats, as well as typical destinations like the Cotswolds, Devon and Cornwall. , Edinburgh and the Highlands. It is this interesting tapestry of stimulating and progressive cities and long-standing industrial centers that are reborn and continue to evolve and create and challenge expectations that must not be forgotten.

So challenge yourself if you are a local or if you are coming from further afield reading this article planning to come to UK at some point in the future and go beyond places the most frequented. Ideally, take a tour on foot, by bike and other “slow” forms of public transport, which allow you to reflect on the surroundings and soak up the atmosphere.

UK cities to have on your radar this summer:




I’ve often thought Manchester deserves to have a globally iconic skyline, but its premier arts and culture and imaginative nightlife make up for any lack of aesthetics. Manchester International Festival (July 1–18) is a highlight, packed with national and international performances and premieres in spectacular venues and public spaces across the city, and much of the program is free. As a Unesco City of Literature, I am delighted to see Manchester Poetry Library smooth launch over the summer with some special events, and another for literature fans is The Library under the Assouline police station at the Edwardian Manchester, a fun place to dine, have a cocktail and browse exclusive collections of fine handcrafted books, paying homage to the art of luxury bookmaking.


the birmingham canal system with a roundabout where two canals meet in the gas street basin


I grew up in Birmingham and loved to see how it changed and evolved. It was interesting to see the nation’s interest pique after watching Peaky Blinders, especially in Digbeth (where the term “Peaky Blinder” was first written), which is a neighborhood I’ve always loved for its amazing graffiti art. Ahead of hosting the Commonwealth Games next year, there are some notable new additions; The Grand Hotel, just opened (May 18) with original Victorian architecture and striking modern features; a new heritage center in 19th century place by the canal, The rotunda (from July 23); and the still buzzing Jewelery Quarter, home to tons of independent businesses, from florists and stylists to chocolate makers and Michelin-starred restaurants.


tsunami of roses in stokes croft a colorful area of ​​bristol full of street art avon, england, uk photo by andrew michael education images group of universal images via getty images


Home to some of the best British street art, Banksy – of course – and booming pop culture, with every corner adorned with avant-garde art, independent boutiques and cute cafes. There is also the possibility of having an active adventure in Bristol this summer with surfing and glamping at The wave, which I haven’t been able to access yet but I have a lot of friends who are big fans, and who also praised the recently renovated closeness Thornbury Castle and the great restaurant there – as well as a luxury hotel for those who don’t like glamping. Artist residency, opening this summer, looks like another stellar option to lay your head down and i will try to check out the new one Vanguard Bristol Street Art Exhibition (June 26 – October 31, 2021) celebrating Bristol as the birthplace of modern British street art.




With Oxford not far from Birmingham, I’ve spent a lot of time growing up there and it’s always dazzling to be in the mighty and historic City of Dreaming Spiers. There is something magical about following in the footsteps of so many great intellectuals and being moved by their work, which is why we recently developed a Black Tomato Oxfordshire route inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as part of our new Take me in a story», Featuring a storytelling experience exclusive to the new History museum. Another novelty for this summer, the Oxford Graduate Hotel, that I can’t wait to see, given the success of Graduate Hotels in the United States.


View over the city of Glasgow, Scotland, from University grounds towards the Kelvingrove adobergb color space

lucentiusGetty Images

I used to visit Glasgow regularly while studying in Newcastle, especially for the impressive music scene, and have always thought about how interesting and contemporary it is. Glasgow has many more advantages than Edinburgh, but it is still eclipsed, especially from the perspective of international travelers, although for me it is the epitome of an interesting, contemporary and progressive city. Spoiled for choice when it comes to exceptional dining and new art tours and exhibitions – including, Glasgow International biennial contemporary art festival (June 11 – 27), my ideal break will be to stay at the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, where I look forward to exploring the new ‘The Green Room’ – an intriguing multisensory experience combining biophilia theory with CBD rituals, meditation and sound therapy – and a visit to the new I am a nomad, a fabulous interior store and a great place for gifts.

Tom Marchant is co-founder of Black Tomato, a leading luxury travel company delivering innovative and inspiring experiences.

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