Hotels in the United Kingdom choose from 99,181 hotels. Made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom may be a tiny country yet it’s crammed with more history, culture and scenery than you can possibly imagine. London, the capital, is the obvious draw. It’s got the hitlist of the country’s most famous attractions – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament – yet it’s much more than just history and landmarks. London brims with urban sophistication and attitude. Contemporary trends and innovation is everywhere – chow down at hip eateries, see cutting-edge architecture (the Shard) and widen your horizons with its diverse cultural scene. Go beyond London and you’ll find the ancient jostling alongside the modern. In England, time travel to centuries-old cities –Oxford and Bath – and quaint villages, immerse yourself at regal palaces and historic cathedrals. While northern cities such as Liverpool and Manchester blast you with their on-trend vibes and character. And then there’s the scenery. Draw breath at the majestic mountains and lochs in Scotland, gaze in awe at nature’s art at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, hike the sublime Welsh countryside and coastline. Britain’s diversity also lies in its hospitality. Reside in the world’s finest, swankiest hotels in the world, be hip at a boutique hotel, nestle in a cozy cottage or B&B, the choice is yours.
From smoky, fall-off-the-bone BBQ pork to sweet, melt-in-your-mouth jamón ibérico de bellota, pork has played an influential (and tasty) role in the day-to-day lives of many cultures throughout the world. And we’ve picked some of our favourite pork dishes that have been cured, smoked, dried or fried to perfection but be warned – it’s guaranteed to make you hungry.
Best enjoyed on a platter with bread, cheese and other cured meats or as a pizza topping
Italy is famous for its cured meats and exports many delicious pork products to be devoured around the world – one of the most popular is Italian salami, of which there are hundreds of different kinds. Typically, these marbled sausages are three to four inches wide and are made with ground pork and fat, seasoned with garlic, salt and spices and stuffed in a natural casing made from a pig’s large intestine. They are then hung and air-dried, smoked or salted then left to age – depending on what type, size and the desired meat-to-fat ratio, this process may take between four to eight weeks. It’s best enjoyed thinly sliced on a platter with bread, cheese and other cured meats or as a pizza topping. Visit Emilia-Romagna, which is arguably home to some of the best salami in Italy, basing yourself in the city of Piacenza. And after you’ve had a bellyful of this local delicacy, head back to rest at La Meridiana R&Breakfast.
British pork sausages, UK
Try a classic and comforting dish of ‘bangers and mash’
Aside from fish and chips, pork sausages are one of the most popular foods enjoyed throughout Britain. They’re often more fondly referred to as a ‘banger’, a term that was coined during WWI when rationing meant that fillers and water were added to the sausages causing them to burst while cooking. Even though this isn’t representative of the quality of ingredients used before or since – a decent British sausage will usually contain a variation of spices like white pepper, mace, nutmeg and sage, alongside refined, high-quality meat – the nickname stuck. Try a comfort dish of bangers and mash (pork sausages on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, sometimes topped with a drizzle of gravy) at a typical British gastropub. Or if you’d like to cook them yourself, pop into Flock and Herd in Peckham, London, and pick up some of their award-winning pork sausages. Head back to the self-catering Landlondon15 Peckham.
Breaded in panko crumbs, deep-fried and sliced
Pork is widely popular in Japan, with tonkatsu being one of its most common incarnations. ‘Ton’ translates to pork and ‘katsu’ derives from the Japanese word for ‘cutlet’. It’s a dish heavily influenced by European cuisine, since Portuguese merchants were the first to introduce breading and deep-frying as a cooking method to Japan (another aspect of their culinary legacy is tempura). The recipe involves the pork first being breaded in Japanese panko crumbs, then it’s deep-fried and sliced thickly (in a way that’s easy to eat with chopsticks). Traditionally served with a mountain-sized side of thinly sliced green cabbage and a brown sauce. Take a food excursion through Tokyo and stay at Hostel wahaku kura.
Jamón ibérico de bellota, Spain
Let the wafer-thin slices melt in your mouth
Known for its distinct acorn-rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavour – that takes up to three years to create – jamón ibérico de bellota has been crowned the most expensive ham in the world. The secret behind this perfectly marbled meat is the beast’s – traditionally a black Iberian pig – diet, which consists of acorns naturally fallen from scrub oaks and cork trees. The curing process also plays a crucial role in refining its flavours; first, the hind legs are hung during summer to sweat out the fat, followed by complete immersion in pure sea salt for up to a week to preserve the meat. The legs are then hung again for between 40 to 90 days to ensure that the salt is properly infused, before going into the ‘secadero’ (drying room), where it dries and ripens for up to three years. This cured-to-perfection leg is traditionally brought out to the table and carved into wafer-thin slices – let it sit on your tongue and enjoy the melting sensation. Experience an authentic Andalusian meal in a homestay Alcazar de Eva Maria, which is renowned for its jamón ibérico production.
Stegt flæsk med persillesovs, Denmark
Roast pork with parsley sauce is Denmark’s national dish
Denmark is one of the world’s largest pork exporters, so there’s little surprise it’s also the most popular type of meat to dine on here. Stegt flæsk med persillesovs, which translates to roast pork with parsley sauce, is the national dish. Traditionally, thick cuts of pork belly are lightly seasoned with salt and fried until golden and crispy. A creamy, buttery white sauce with chopped parsley is then either drizzled on top or over a side of peeled, boiled potatoes. If you’d like to try it, you can find this dish in any number of restaurants throughout Denmark. After a delightful meal, come home and rest at Copenhagen Admiral Hotel.
Barbecue pork, USA
Find your favourite BBQ on the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail
Barbecue in the USA is a craft and a passion that has been passed down from generation to generation, along with fierce opinions about who does it best. Today, this fiery method of cooking meat still reins strong throughout the country but particularly in the southern states. Pork is the traditional meat used and is cooked in a fire pit for as long as 18 hours until the meat is so tender it falls off the bone – it’s a long process, which is often considered a labour of love. The meat is then generously smothered in barbecue sauce, with many restaurants using their own top-secret recipe. Take on the barbecue challenge and visit the BBQ kings along the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail. Get a good night’s sleep at Hilton Greenville before your first pit-stop at barbecue joint Skylight Inn in Ayden.
Tang Cu Li Ji (Sweet and Sour Pork), China
Crisp-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside strips of pork
Chinese sweet and sour pork is a dish known throughout the world but its western variant’s flavour is more or less unrecognisable from the original recipe. The dish is traditionally made using thin strips of pork tenderloin, which have an egg and cornstarch coating. The meat is quickly fried until lightly golden, resulting in a crisp-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside texture. The strips then get smeared in a perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce that complements the fresh pork. You can find incredible offerings of this feast anywhere in the capital of Sichuanprovince, Chengdu. And after a hearty serving, head home to rest at Xishu Garden Inn.
Off the coast of eastern Spain, the Balearic Islands boast some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. Here is a guide to the most unmissable coastal spots across the archipelago, featuring bareback horse riding along oyster-white sands and sunbathing beneath slender, leaning pine trees.
Mallorca has 262 glorious beaches
Mallorca is the biggest of the Balearics, with 262 beaches ranging from coves wedged between wind-carved cliffs to wide bays backed by pine groves and citrus plantations.
Playa de Formentor
Playa de Formentor looks like it could be in the Caribbean
Playa de Formentor is a thin strip of oyster-white sand that looks like it could be in the Caribbean; the conical, pine-clad hill that stands at one end is particularly reminiscent of St Lucia’s volcanic peaks. The drive to get here is precipitous but each hairpin bend cut into the limestone cliffs will reward you with far-reaching views, as you descend from the Serra de Tramuntana mountains towards the sea (but if you’re not a confident driver, you can take the ferry from Port de Pollença instead). Upon reaching the long, slim playa, you’ll find clear water and breezy spots of dappled shade cast by pine trees leaning over the sand. During peak season, the beach does get busy so – to avoid the bulk of visitors – aim for the early morning (perhaps even rising before dawn and hiking over the wild Cap de Formentor, followed by a refreshing morning dip) or the evening (when most day-trippers have departed leaving the beach nice and quiet in time for sunset). Treat yourself to a stay at Formentor, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, and enjoy its excellent location right on Formentor Bay.
Discover Ibiza’s white-washed villages and equally gleaming sandy beaches
Ibiza’s reputation no doubt precedes it but it’s not all super clubs and dancing until dawn. Its white-washed villages and equally gleaming sandy beaches have long drawn an alternative crowd seeking the island’s pared-back lifestyle, its range of wellness retreats (yoga on the beach is a very popular pastime here) and Mediterranean landscapes that include forest-covered hills popular for hiking.
The small cove of Cala Xarraca
Cala Xarraca is a small cove in the north of the island where you’ll find cobalt waters sheltered by ruddy, tree-topped cliffs. Spend some time snorkelling around the rocky shore or hike through the forest to even more well-hidden beaches such as Cala Es Canaret (a half-hour walk away, or a very easy drive) and Sa Cova de Xarraca (a short stroll around the headland) – though swimming or hiring a kayak is another lovely way to explore and find the quietest spots. After a day at the beach head to the nearby Ibiza Horse Valley, located within 173-acre natural park, Es Murta. Here, a rehabilitation centre for abandoned horses takes visitors on bareback riding treks through scented forests and along the coast. You can even go swimming in the sea with the horses during certain months of the year. Check into Agroturismo Ca Sa Vilda Marge, a renovated farmhouse set amid gardens and orchards, with homegrown produce served for breakfast.
Mellow Menorca is quieter than its larger Balearic counterparts
The mellow island of Menorca is quieter than its larger Balearic counterparts and is a popular summer holiday destination for families – perhaps courtesy of the fact that it has more beaches than Ibiza and Mallorca combined. Walk part of the ancient path that circles the island (the ‘Cami de Cavalls’), patronise some of the island’s family-run restaurants and while away sunny days on its shallow, gently-shelving sandy beaches.
Rust-red clay cliffs that frame the bottle-green sea at Cala Pilar
Cala Pilar stands out for two reasons; the fact that it’s very remote, and the rust-red clay cliffs that frame the bottle-green sea. It’s also located within a nature reserve, with abundant marine life for snorkelling – though, before your visit, check the strength of the ‘Tramuntana’, the local term for the north wind that can create fairly large waves and thus reduce water visibility. To find this removed beach, hire a car and drive along the Me-1 road following signs to the ‘Camí del Pilar’ exit; here, you’ll find a carpark from which you need to walk for half an hour through the forest to the beach. As it’s so secluded, there are no services or facilities, so pack plenty of sunscreen and a picnic of fresh Menorcan peaches and artisanal cow’s milk cheese from Mahón, the island’s capital, for sustenance. Return home to Agroturismo Son Vives Menorca for the night and relish the sea views from the garden.
Formentera is the smallest but possibly the most glamorous island
The smallest island of all – and often overlooked – is Formentera. In the 1960s, visits from the likes of Bob Dylan paved the way for the island to attract a hippy crowd and develop an infectiously nonchalant atmosphere – note the lasting popularity of naturism on the island. These days, it’s still something of a celebrity escape, with stars like Leonardo DiCaprio still sold by the appeal of the island’s remoteness. Formentera doesn’t have an airport so you’ll have to catch the short ferry from Ibiza, or take a 25-minute private water taxi if you’re feeling flush. Once you’ve arrived, hire a car or moped to scale the island in style.
Playa de Ses Illetes
Playa de Ses Illetes is a long sliver of blindingly bright white, fine sand that protrudes into the Mediterranean
With a ban on beachfront buildings on Formentera, it’s a place that feels unspoiled. And Playa de Ses Illetes is one of the island’s most popular beaches; as a long sliver of blindingly bright white, fine sand that protrudes into the Mediterranean with ocean on both sides, there aren’t any trees or shady spots. So if you’re sensitive to the sun, bring plenty of protection. While there are no proper buildings here, you’ll find a number of palm-roofed beach shacks serving up sophisticated gourmet fare for the glamorous crowd (note the super yachts moored just offshore). Indulge in some people-watching over grilled seafood at swanky beachside restaurant, Juan Y Andrea (book ahead), or head to Beso Beach for cocktails and paella. Stay just next to the playa at Hotel Bahía.