Mystery Vacation: Accommodations in England

Could you imagine packing for a ten-day trip with NO idea of where you were going or where you were staying? What would you do if you had to plan for not one, not two but three different locations?!?

When we agreed to a mystery vacation with only one doing the planning and three doing only packing, the panic started to set in immediately after the airplane tickets were purchased. We couldn’t even start to think about what to pack until we got closer to the date. Weather? Activities? Where do you even begin?!?!

We got our “packing” list, which kinda helped, but really didn’t narrow down what we should actually pack. For those familiar with the Chicagoland/Midwest area, we were told to pack as if we were flying to O’Hare and staying in Chicago, followed by a drive to Galena for a few days then up towards Door County, Wisconsin for the remainder of the trip. While this helped a little bit, I still was at a loss to pack. I was even repacking some items moments before I was to leave for the airport. It was maddening.

When we found out we were flying into London, we were we thrilled to know our destination and we more excited to find out where we were staying! Our travel planner extraordinaire is known for finding unique places to stay during vacations and she did not disappoint!


Location. Location. Location. We were told to keep this in mind when we riding in the taxi towards our first hotel. After waking up at 5 am, flying all day and wandering Heathrow Airport customs close to midnight I was about willing to sleep anywhere.

The hotel was perfect for what we used it for, sleeping. The rooms had two twin beds, a small table, and a kitchenette. Room was quaint, clean and the wifi worked with no issues. No real view out the windows (our rooms faced the back. The only downside of the room was the bathroom. It was a very tight fit. The sink was right in front of the door, the shower was immediately to the left and the toilet was to the right. I could barely dress/undress in the bathroom, and couldn’t do it in front of the sink if the door was closed; had to step a bit closer to the toilet to do that. Drop something on the floor? Seriously it was easier to open the door than to try to bend down and navigate the sink or walls and risk a bump on the head.

It was the perfect location. We had quick walking access to the Tube (Bayswater stop). We were close enough to walk to Kensington Palace for Afternoon Tea and explore the grounds of Hyde Park. The selection of restaurants on Westbourne Grove made it difficult to decide where we should eat – only there for two nights and could have easily dined for a week with our options!. One of the best places we found was for breakfast at a vegan restaurant, Farmacy. I had the best Chai Latte and Porridge breakfast the entire trip. A return trip just to repeat that breakfast is in order! If you’re thinking of going you need to make reservations. While breakfast was easy to grab a table, we were unable to try the dinner or lunch menu.


Our next drive took us to the Cotswolds. Our rental was on the grounds of Sudeley Castle, in Winchcombe. This was an old mill house that had been converted and had stone walls and timber beams.  Between the castle in the distance, the quaint town up the road and our accommodations – we were dropped right into a fairy tale.

During our stay in the Cotswolds we spent a day wandering the grounds of Sudeley Castle, drove to Bath for a fantastic day at the thermal spas and to Stratford Upon Avon to see Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Isle of Wight

The view! The quiet! The hills! The Isle of Wight was just breathtaking.

View from our balcony at low tide

The only route to the island was the ferry – departing from Lymington we arrived a short time later at Yarmouth. From there we started our drive west around the island towards our final few night quarters.

Our apartment had the most amazing view. Our Airbnb rental was the perfect way to wind down our vacation. Two of the bedrooms faced the English Channel, as did the large sitting area where we relaxed after a busy week of travel.

Hopefully, during your next adventure around England, you will have the chance to check out one of these rentals. While I love staying in hotels, you really have to try and explore some unique places while on vacation.

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