Spring Holidays For Food Lovers

UK spring holidays

Bowhouse, Scotland – for seafood lovers

After a winter break, market season returns to the Scottish town of Bowhouse (just outside Anstruther in Scotland) from March. Supporting Fife’s local food and drink businesses, foodies can expect stalls packed with the region’s finest fish, meat, veg and bread (St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese, East Coast Cured and Perthshire Preserves among them) alongside a lively street food market.

While you’re in the area, join the Fife Coastal Path on a seafood safari through postcard-pretty fishing villages, stopping for smoked fish tacos at East Pier Smokehouse in St Monan’s, deservedly popular fish and chips at Anstruther Fish Bar, and a pint of prawns at Elie’s Harbour Café.

Where to stay: Just five minutes outside Bowhouse, you’ll find The Ship Inn on the beachfront at Elie. The six airy bedrooms are done up in fresh, coastal style with a smattering of eclectic junk shop finds for character. Contemporary comfort comes in the form of roll-top baths, monsoon showers, flat-screen TVs, espresso machines and free Wifi. In the cosy pub below, dogs lie in front of a roaring fire, seafaring photos pepper the walls and a beer garden just above the beach is perfect for a sundowner (try a local Eden Mill gin and tonic). Don’t miss the hearty pub grub and famous fish and chips.

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Doubles from £100 per night, check availibility at shipinn.scot or booking.com

Spring at Bowhouse, Fife

Porthleven – for classic Cornwall

Cornwall makes a great option for a UK spring holiday and if you’re not sure where to choose, Porthleven is buzzing base. The Porthleven Food Festival (26-28 April 2024) celebrates Cornwall’s food and drink producers with demos, workshops and live music in a takeover of the whole town. Even if you’re not there for the festival, Porthleven is full of foodie gems. The Ship Inn pub has an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the harbour, head to Amélie for their famous Sunday lunch or pick up a classic Cornish pasty from Ann’s Pasty Lounge.

Where to stay: Go for a self-catering option in the heart of the action and stay in Harbour View Cottage, seconds from the centre of town and with views over Porthleven Harbour. This compact cottage for two has a cosy feel with underfloor heating, plus a well-equipped kitchen perfect for foodies wanting to take advantage of cooking the local produce. There is a separate private enclosed terrace opposite the cottage with a table and chairs with panoramic harbour views and is perfect for outdoor eating or just enjoying a bottle of wine watching the sunset.

From £595 per week, check availability at porthlevenholidaycottages.co.uk

Porthleven Harbour

Wye Valley – for spring produce

The banks of these Severn and Rye rivers come alive with lush greenery and produce in spring, making it the perfect time to visit and road trip through the countryside. Stop off at Wye Valley Produce’s farm gate shop to pick up seasonal asparagus, rhubarb and more. Aside from food, a star attraction of the valley is the historical Tintern Abbey, on the Welsh side, whose romantic ruins sent Wordsworth and Turner wild. Nearby you’ll find Parva Farm vineyard, whose wines (notably its Dathliad Sparkling) are winning serious prizes. Head to The Whitebrook for a Michelin-starred experience which makes the most of local ingredients, from wild boar to foraged mugwort and sea woodruff.

Where to stay: Parva Farmhouse is a gourmet bed-and-breakfast with impressive cooking and stunning views of the River Wye. The three-storey farmhouse has eight bedrooms – our top pick is Room 4 to maximise the river views. Dinner is available Wednesdays to Saturdays and served in the property’s simple 16-cover dining room (open to non-residents, too). Menus are changed fortnightly, based around scrupulously sourced and fiercely seasonal ingredients. Breakfast is also a highlight, with twists on classics including homemade granola and fruit compotes or fried duck egg on sourdough.

Doubles from £105 per night, check availability at parvafarmhouse.co.uk or booking.com

A white bowl filled with homemade ravioli pasta

European spring holidays

Utrecht – for flowers and canalside cafés

The best time to visit the famous Dutch flower fields is spring, as the flowers are in full bloom from March to May. Combine your visit with a city break in Utrecht, one of Netherland’s oldest cities with tree-lined canals, a charming personality and buzzy cafe culture. Talud9 is a coffee bar by day and wine bar by night, all delivered in a pretty ancient warehouse on the canal. For top-notch seafood, visit the huge atrium dining room in Vis en Meer and order a seafood platter from the lively open kitchen. Dutch colonial history means The Netherlands also has a thriving Indonesian subculture with excellent cooking and BLAUW, serving Indonesian rice tables, is worth a visit.

Where to stay: Eye Hotel is a smart boutique hotel in the centre of the city. Housed in an ancient eye hospital (hence the name), rooms have a Scandinavian feel with light and bright decor and a variety of room sizes to choose from. Amsterdam is just a 20-minute train ride away, should you want to combine two city breaks in one.

Doubles from £109 per night, check availability at eyehotel.nl, booking.com or expedia.com

Utrecht Flower Market

West Sweden – for foodie walking trails

Enjoy the improving spring weather by exploring the Swedish countryside. Follow the Gotaleden walking trail, treading through forests blanketed with tiny flowers, winding along rivers and clambering over rocks around Lake Aspen. Reward yourself in Lerum at psychologist-turned-fromager Hans’s Garage Fromage. If you’ll be arriving into Gothenburg, the city’s courtyards and terraces come to life in spring – try flash-fried herring at quirky food truck Strommingsluckan or head out on the ferry to the archipelago for a taste of Styrsö’s car-free island life and cinnamon buns at charming Café Obergska.

Where to stay: Spend the night at Nääs Fabriker, an old cotton factory built in 1890, now home to a stylish hotel with onsite restaurants, shops, bakery and brewery. Wrap up in your robe and pad to the al fresco lakeside spa to sink into the jacuzzi, dip in the lake and warm up in the sauna. Book a table in the plant-adorned conservatory room in the main restaurant for dishes such as grilled scallop with fried chorizo crumble, venison tenderloin with Swedish mushrooms and blackberries, and lingonberry and malt hop sorbet.

Doubles from £97 per night, check availability at naasfabriker.se, booking.com or expedia.co.uk

A lake surrounded by trees and a large cotton mill converted into a hotel

Porto – for dining beneath the blossom

Base yourself in Porto’s arty neighbourhood of Cedofeita, a network of cobbled streets brimming with independent shops, tavernas and bars. Browse the neighbourhood’s galleries before seeking out sunny terraces to soak up the lively atmosphere – an olive tree provides shade for locals catching up over a glass of wine at Aduela, while Restaurante a Taska serves a great-value set lunch of hearty Portuguese traditional dishes under the jacaranda trees, which bloom bright purple during the spring months. No-frills bistros in the quieter residential streets include Adega Do Carregal and Lareira – chef Pedro Braga’s Mito has a fancier feel for contemporary sharing dishes. Hole-in-the-wall Generosa Pão e Pizza churns out hunky cinnamon rolls and pizza slices all day, to provide sustenance before an evening of wines by the glass at local hub Genuíno wine bar.

Where to stay: Rosa et Al Townhouse, a six-room hotel, is a lesson in boutique design. Rooms blessed with original wooden floorboards, cornicing and sash windows that lead to balconies are made even more beautiful with claw-footed baths, contemporary furniture and local art. There’s a trendy food shop that doubles with a reception desk. For breakfast and brunch, 50 jars of tea (some made with herbs from the garden) cover a large serving table; you can choose your own Portuguese tinned cod or sardines; and there’s a dinky walled garden out back where you can sit around tiled tables, eating eggs with spruced-up sides and drinking freshly squeezed orange juice in the sunshine.

Doubles from £117 per night, check availability at rosaetal.com, booking.com or mrandmrssmith.com

Porto jacaranda trees

Seville – for a sunny city break

This orange-tree filled city comes into full bloom in spring. One of the best ways to experience Seville’s fabulous gourmet scene is to engage in your own little ‘tapeo’ – a relaxed wander around some of its many bars. Sixto Tovar’s Eslava bar is at the forefront of innovative tapas in Seville. Park yourself at the counter for must-try honey pork ribs and award-winning huevo tapa, along with a recommended wine. Set a few hours aside to try all the food on offer at Lonja del Barranco Gourmet Food Market, an indoor food market with plenty to choose from, from steak to seafood, tacos to croquettes. Dig into a bowl of spicy paella or try over 150 artisan cheeses from all over the world.

Where to stay: The Hospes Las Casas Del Rey De Baeza is a charming hotel housed in a beautiful 18th-century ‘corral de vecino’ (characteristic of the city, these are apartments built round a courtyard) in the barrio Santa Cruz. Rooms are elegantly decorated in neutral tones and a suntrap rooftop pool with plenty of loungers is a highlight to come back to after days exploring the city.

Doubles from €135 per night, check availability at hospes.com, booking.com or mrandmrssmith.com


Spring holidays further afield

Nashville – for food festivals and live music

Spring is a busy time to be in Nashville, with plenty of festivals to visit – from the Annual East Nashville Beer Festival to the Cherry Blossom Festival or Nashville Food & Wine Festival at the end of April. Every corner of Nashville pulses with live music and street food – tuck into The Grilled Cheeserie’s famous cheese toasties or sample from the eclectic range of cuisines at Assembly Food Hall in downtown Nashville. Biscuit Love is where to head for buttermilk biscuits topped with the likes of spicy fried chicken, local sausage gravy or berries and butter toffee syrup. Visit Butcher & Bee for unique mezze dishes and standout burgers using locally grown ingredients. Before you leave, Nashville hot chicken is a must. Get it at Hattie B’s, where the extra brave dare to try the ‘shut the cluck up!!!’ spice level.

Where to stay: the sleek double rooms at stylish Noelle provide a calm oasis from the buzz of the city, despite being close to broadway and the heart of the action. Rooms have plush king-size beds, custom furniture and luxurious bathrooms. Make sure to save time to head up to Rare Bird, the rooftop bar and lounge, for a golden hour cocktail.

Doubles from £237 at noelle-nashville.com, booking.com or expedia.co.uk

Superior burger at Butcher and Bee

The Philippines – for remote island adventures

The month of May is a great time to visit this stunning archipelago of 7,000 tropical islands. The warm climate hasn’t quite reached rainy season, and tropical fruits are in abundance – taste Java plums, jackfruit, watermelon, pineapples, pomelo and the islands’ national fruit, mangos (try to find the champagne mango, considered the sweetest in the world). Chicken adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines and every family has their own recipe – try a variety to find your favourite.

Where to stay: Community-based hospitality initiative Tao offers different sustainable tours of the islands from two to four nights. A true escape (don’t expect room service or Wi-Fi), here you can wake up each morning in a bamboo hut before heading out on a private boat tour, going snorkelling or swimming off deserted beaches or enjoying a traditional massage. In the evenings, return to sip on rum cocktails and feast on fresh fish in the company of your fellow adventurers.
From £380 for a 2 night trip, check availability at taophilippines.com

A tropical beach in the Philippines

Japan – for cherry blossom season and local tours

Japan’s cherry blossom season is famous around the world and whilst the precise best time to visit depends each year on the weather, most cherry blossom festivals begin around the end of March and can last well into the month of May. Visit Tokyo for plenty of scenic opportunities along with a jam-packed food scene from super-fresh sushi to Michelin-starred ramen at Tsuta. Katsu fanatics should head to Mai Sen for their signature tonkatsu that attracts queues, whilst family-run Kyubey is the place for high-quality sushi.

Where to stay: Soak up contemporary Japanese design at stylish OMO5 Otsuka. Situated on the third floor of a sky-high modern building, there are 125 rooms with an upmarket hostel feel. The OMO Café specialises in vol-au-vents for breakfast and lunch, alongside pastries made on site, all served with OMO speciality coffee. Head out with one of OMO’s “rangers” for a foodie tour of the local area. Tailored around specific niches, you can choose between a local brewery crawl, a tour specialising in nostalgic Showa-style food, and one highlighting the hippest foodie spots in the neighbourhood

Doubles from £99 per night, check availability at omo-hotels.com, booking.com or expedia.com

Breakfast at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka OMO Cafe

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