Ah, the “mini break”. That must mean a 1950s headscarf and shades. An overpriced and impractical valise. A picnic hamper in the boot. And a drive to a country house retreat, where you shall waft around in floaty fabrics, and bathe in champagne, candlelight, sunsets and smugness.
Or maybe not.
It’s been 25 years since Bridget Jones’s Diary hit the shelves, the mid-1990s heyday of the clichéd long weekend, when imaginations strayed no further than romance and room service in a fancy hotel. Thankfully, the British short break has come on a bit since then. Now, all manner of escapades can be packed into a few days, whether you travel with your significant other, your friends, your family or alone. After all, why simply “waft” when you could run the length of a National Trail, board a quick wildlife-watching cruise, descend a whole river by canoe, let the kids go feral in the semi-wilderness, tick off a ton of castles, get your well-being realigned, learn to write a novel, or find out if you can survive the weekend on your wits alone?
Even the indulgent end of the market has become a lot more original – a quick spin in a supercar with a famous female racing driver, anyone? Move over old-school mini-break, action-packed microadventures and chic coastal stays are in. And with ongoing airport chaos and lingering Covid rules abroad, now may be the time to embrace the potential of this evolved breed of extended weekends.
Alternatively, if you’re stockpiling that annual leave for a longer trip later in the year, these short breaks can bridge the gap to your next big trip. They offer a lot of bang for only one or two days off work – refreshing, adventurous, unusual, diverse and indulgent escapes across Britain that will make you feel like you’ve had a much longer, more exotic holiday than you actually have. No headscarf required.
Gorge by the sea, Devon
The Salcombe Food & Drink Trail makes for a delicious mini-break: follow it for artisan chocolate and ice cream tastings, crab sheds and lobster shacks, cookery demonstrations and chilli farms, and a lesson at Salcombe Gin School (to craft your own tipple). Stay at Salcombe Shepherd Huts with its cosy hideaways, which overlook the estuary and lie within easy reach of South Devon’s fine sands. A three-night shepherd hut stay (sleeps up to four) costs from £200 (01548 843635; salcombeshepherdhuts.co.uk).