Bleisure in England

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By Glynn Burrows


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Glynn Burrows shares how to get the most out of your business travel in England. Hear about unique lodging destinations and meeting venues, attractions and activities, and how tour guides can help professionals “get the lay of the land” according to their business needs. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.

“Bleisure.” Yes, it’s that word again and let’s think of another way of putting it:  “Making the most of your business travel.”

As I talked about last time, visiting other towns, cities, or countries on business trips can be very boring and lonely. Sitting on an uncomfortable chair, in a dreary hotel room, looking out of the window at the back of some tower block is about as good as it gets in a lot of places, but it doesn’t need to be like that.

If we plan before we leave, we can actually make it an adventure.

The first thing to think about is where we are staying. Yes, most of our business trips will take us to large towns or cities, but a short taxi drive will often take us out into the countryside and a privately owned bed and breakfast or small hotel. Why pay over the odds for a “cardboard” hotel room, where they charge extra for a cheap, mass-produced breakfast when just up the road, you can stay in a beautiful old farmhouse and enjoy a proper breakfast for the same or even less total cost?

As a great example, I was staying near Cambridge in October this year and, instead of staying in the city, we stayed in a village just six miles from the centre, in an elegant 16th-century country house which also has sixteen meeting rooms available for hire. The accommodation is all in converted outbuildings and the site is set within seven acres of spectacular gardens and grounds, designed in the 18th century by ‘Capability’ Brown.

This particular accommodation is run by Cambridge university and is used as a conference centre. Breakfast is served in a magnificent room, with an amazing fireplace, and tables are arranged so guests can network over breakfast if they wish. It is so friendly, with the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to strike up conversations which will always be interesting.

  • Cheese scone and Stilton Cheese. Yummmmmm!
    Cheese scone and Stilton Cheese. Yummmmmm!

If you want more isolation, why not stay on a farm or in a small bed and breakfast with fewer letting rooms? I was at a conference last Summer, at a country retreat and the setting was just pure serenity. Situated beside a river, with lots of swans and other birdlife, the accommodation was all in tree houses. Now that is different! Quality wasn’t missing and the food was amazing, all sourced locally too.

Another b&b I use regularly is a 14th Century Monastic College. It has so much character and your host’s family has owned it since it was built. Yes, that’s right, the same family has owned it for over 700 years! You will get a fresh baked cake or biscuits with your coffee or tea in your room and breakfast is all locally sourced, including eggs with a few feet of “food miles”.

So, the one part of business travel which is often the most boring, the accommodation, is sorted by simply going a few miles outside the centre of the area you are staying. You can get a taxi or hire a car and it could still work out cheaper than a “cardboard” city centre “rabbit hutch”.

Now, finding things to do while you are there is really easy if you hire a car, but, if you have a few days, why not contact a local guide to show you around? One type of tour I love to do is the one where someone contacts me and tells me their interests and asks me to “put together a day to show me the best the area has to offer”.

If you want to do it yourself, just do some research on the internet before you arrive. Just about every area and most towns, have their own websites, telling visitors what there is to see in the surrounding countryside and the tourist organisations will be only too pleased to point you to places which would be just perfect for you. An email to the local tourist organisation will give you lots of things to look at and give you lots of time to plan what you want to see.

It is quite funny really, that we take time to plan the business side of things, arranging meetings and seminars, etc., but spend no time at all thinking about what we are going to do in our spare time in a strange town or city. How often do you end up sitting in a boring hotel room, watching foreign tv, and drinking some factory-produced beer from a can? Just think, with a bit of planning, you could be sitting in a country pub, eating fresh local food, chatting to the locals over a pint of beer brewed in the barn at the back of the pub.

It could be even better if you take the family too and extend the trip for a few extra days after the conference!

Glynn provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. Past guests have visited and experienced stately houses and gardens, castles and churches, ruins and villages, birding and wildlife, World War II airfields, and general area taster tours too. Accommodations can be in all types of establishment, from character buildings such as windmills, thatched cottages and castles, self-catering or five star luxury –  just say what you want and it can be arranged. Nothing is too much trouble for Glynn! Visit 

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Glynn provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history.

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