With cobbled streets sprinkled with independent boutiques, quaint pubs and charming hotels, this lesser-known Warwickshire town makes for a great day trip or micro break within easy reach of London.
Shipston-on-Stour, Cotswolds, UK
Perched on the northern edge of the Cotswolds in Warwickshire, the handsome Shipston-on-Stour is your quintessential historical English town, with narrow streets lined by sloping roofs and a happy mish-mash of red-brick, stone and half-timbered fronts. Don't be surprised to see a smattering of bunting.
Less than a couple of hour's drive or train ride from the hustle and bustle of London, it's prime territory for city types in need of a bucolic day trip or micro weekend break - there's plenty of free parking should you bring your car.
Beyond the pretty townscape studded with independent shops - you'll find antique homewares, women's clothing and wine cellars - there's plenty of greenery to delve into. In need of a creative recharge? Head just outside town to the Court Barn Museum and beyond that to Chedham's Yard - both places champion local, traditional craftsmanship.
Where to stay?
Bed down at The Bower House in part for its central location, but mainly for its rooms that hit the sweet spot between stylish and snug. Its restaurant menu is rather spectacular, also - the flat-iron Cotswold chicken salad followed by a gooseberry fool is a strong order. Don't miss the award-winning A Taste of the Country deli next door.
Where to go for dinner…
You'll want to reserve a table at The White Bear. Dig into its classic Sunday roasts, hearty soups and fish and chips (mushy peas, optional). All produce comes from local farms, so if you're after a taste of Warwickshire, this is it.
And for a drink…
Standing at the centre of the high street, The George Townhouse fuses 18th-century style with modern flair. On a summer's evening, its spacious terrace is where we like to linger with a Cotswolds Dry Gin.
Who to take with you…
Your friend that religiously weaves through the crowds of Columbia Road Market. They'll appreciate the tranquillity of the countryside and will likely have the determination to wangle the last punnet of strawberries from the farmers' market (held on the fourth Wednesday of every month).
When to go
The town is especially inviting in winter. Locate a hearth - be it in a pub or a hotel - and cosy up with an extra-large mug of hot chocolate.
Essentials to pack
If you plan on some off-grid exploring farther afield, a pair of Hunter Original Tall Wellington Boots won't go amiss.
How to get there
Trains from London Paddington take 1 hour and 45 minutes. If you're travelling by car, the M40 will get you there in a similar time, traffic depending.