Our reporters dash to locations across England as domestic holidays resume

·41 min read
Domestic holidays restart today - Getty
Domestic holidays restart today - Getty

Domestic holidays in England resume today as the UK hits the first major date in the roadmap out of lockdown.

Self-catering accommodation (including camping and glamping) can reopen in England. Wales has already allowed self-catering accommodation to reopen, but it also lifts rules against non-essential travel to and from other parts of the UK today, allowing English holidaymakers to also take holidays in Wales.

Only those within the same household, linked household or support bubble will be allowed to stay within the same accommodation until May 17 at the earliest, when inter-household mixing indoors will be permitted. This is also when hotels in England will be able to reopen, though many are able to reopen facilities today including restaurants (with outdoor space) and spas.

Hotels in Wales should be able to reopen before the spring bank holiday at the end of May, while hospitality in Scotland, including both self-catering accommodation and hotels, should reopen from April 26, though no date has yet been set for restarting cross-border travel.

To mark the beginning of domestic holidays in the UK, Telegraph Travel has a team of journalists on the road, covering the #GreatUnlock. From glamping in Suffolk to a campervan trip in the Cotswolds, via a self-catering getaway in Devon.

Follow all the latest today on our live blog (scroll down for updates).

04:44 PM

What happened today?

We've been bringing you updates from our reporters on the ground as self-catering accommodation has reopened in England and holiday travel has resumed between England and Wales.

Here are some highlights, alongside some of today's travel headlines:

  • Seaside trips to Wales back on for English visitors: we headed to Llandudno

  • Wildlife parks welcome back visitors

  • Pubs and restaurants reopen for outdoor guests

  • Self-catering holiday businesses enjoy fully-booked calendars

  • Spas reopen in England

  • Malta to pay tourists who visit this summer

  • Private firms charge holidaymakers £300 a Covid test

​Catch-up with the rest below. Thanks for following today, join us tomorrow for more travel news.

04:31 PM

Shared toilets permitted at campsites in England

A late change in policy around campsites reopening in England with shared toilets has led to confusion among both site owners and holidaymakers.

Pitchup.com, a booking platform for outdoor accommodation, said:

Since the first announcement on February 22 of the earliest reopening dates, the outdoor accommodation sector has questioned why campsites with shared loos were prevented from opening, when pubs and restaurants could reopen from 12th April with indoor shared toilets. The question was even raised in the House of Lords the very next day, to no avail. When asked whether she could explain why it is considered safe to use a shared toilet in a pub not in a camping site, Leader of the House Baroness Evans of Bowes Park replied ‘No, I am afraid I cannot’.

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, added:

With at least three different versions of the rules in circulation, further confusion was created by DCMS guidance that ‘no household mixing’ was allowed in shared toilet blocks (effectively closing the typical campsite). However, updated guidance issued on Thursday April 9 makes it clear that toilets can open as shared facilities [in England].

04:22 PM

Tempted by campervanning?

One of our regular roving reporters, Lottie Gross, is testing it out for you. She's parked up a VW camper in the Cotwsolds.

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04:13 PM

Look to Somerset, Suffolk and Sussex for self-catering stays

UK self-catering holidays booked up fast in some areas of the country following the publication of the roadmap out of lockdown in England. Among the providers noting this surge in reservations was Oliver's Travels.

St Peter's Court, Somerset - Oliver's Travels
St Peter's Court, Somerset - Oliver's Travels

Oliver Bell, co-founder at Oliver's Travels, said today:

We now have just 50 properties left that have availability in April which equates to 13% of our total portfolio in England and Wales. Availability in hotspot coastal destinations like Cornwall and Devon are particularly scarce for the spring and summer months, with availability during peak summer weeks virtually non-existent. Quieter and less trodden destinations like Somerset, Suffolk and Sussex have some weeks left available to book but will likely get snapped up soon.

Among the properties that still have availability is St Peter's Court, Portishead, Somerset. Rates for a group of five start from £6,837 for a seven-night stay during April.

04:04 PM

'My first meal out wasn't what I expected'

What utter bliss it is to finally eat out again – the tastes, sights and sounds, and even trying to pay the bill, writes William Sitwell.

I’m on the coffee now. The restaurant is teeming, bookings filled, I hear, until July. For my taste of freedom I’ve come to a relative newcomer in the UK culinary firmament. Stanley’s in London’s Chelsea has as its head chef the young star Olivia Burt, who was manning the pass at Claridge’s when she grabbed a taste of fame as a finalist on MasterChef The Professionals.

There’s been buzz and chat about this place since it launched in July of last year, between lockdowns. When I heard its large, covered and heated terrace would open on the Day of Hope, April 12, I quickly booked a table.

As I now sip my black Americano I’m surrounded by one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, one that has been silenced for so many months, until now: the clatter of knives and forks, sporadic bursts of laughter, catches of conversation all around me and the general, nicely loud, murmur of people.

Read the full story.

03:57 PM

Something for spa lovers ....

Charlotte Johnstone describes the aches, pains and other lockdown ailments many of us have experienced in the last year. She's found a solution, however.

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03:47 PM

Woodland walks and wild swimming in Cheshire

Many larger venues and hotels are offering self-catering stays within their grounds this spring and summer. Among them is Combermere Abbey in Cheshire.

cottage courtyard - Combermere Abbey
cottage courtyard - Combermere Abbey

Sarah Callander Beckett, owner of Combermere Abbey, said:

We are so excited to be reopening today after being closed for what feels like an eternity. We know that people are ready and raring to get away in this country. After the first lockdown was lifted last summer, we had over 100 bookings within the first few weeks. We really noticed people getting into the idea of staycations, self-catering retreats and even holidays based around woodland walks and wild swimming.

Prices start from £415 for a two night stay in a four-bed cottage this May.

03:33 PM

Things cyclists see: unusual roadside animals

Simon Parker is used to tackling long bike rides for Telegraph Travel. Today he's trying another 75-mile trip. He's already enjoyed some cracking views along the way.

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03:28 PM

Hawaii plans interstate vaccine passport scheme

Hawaii Governor David Ige has given the green light for a state-wide vaccine passport scheme for out-of-state travellers in the US. The scheme could begin as early as May.

Hawaii officials are reportedly working with the developers of several apps including Clear, CommonPass and FirstVitals to verify pre-flight vaccination results and integrate them into the existing Hawaii Safe Travels program. Travellers with checked vaccination results will be able to travel without taking a Covid test.

Unvaccinated visitors will still be allowed entry with a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours from the final leg of departure to avoid quarantine.

"Businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here so there's a lot to recoup but more importantly, we're anxious to get this economy moving forward in a safe and healthy manner," Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association, told Hawaii News Now.

03:16 PM

Ready for a pub-poured beer?

Ash Bhardwaj is enjoying a pint in Brighton where local businesses have set up plenty of outdoor socialising spaces.

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03:06 PM

Czech Republic enjoys reopening as state of emergency expires

Elsewhere in the world, there are people enjoying a lifting of restrictions: a six-month state of emergency has expired in the Czech Republic.

Since midnight restrictions on movement have lifted, including a ban on non-essential travel and a nighttime curfew. Zoos and some shops also reopened on Monday, alongside schools and libraries.

The government has kept non-essential shops, restaurants and sport and entertainment centres shut since October except for a brief re-opening in December that was quickly reversed.

02:53 PM

London hotels line up to offer discounts

Today might mark the reopening of self-catering stays, but many will be looking forward to the return of the hotel experience.

On May 17 hotels and B&Bs in England should be permitted to welcome back guests under the next stage of the roadmap.

Some 35 London hotels will collaborate to kick-start business after lockdown with discounted room prices value-added packages. Bookings are available from today for Hotel Week London, which runs from May 28 to June 6. The packages have been especially made for the campaign, but many will be extended until the end of June.

Some of the capital's most luxurious properties are participating, including Dukes London, Hyatt Regency London, The Churchill, Corinthia and The Dorchester.

Among others taking part are The Tower Hotel, The Standard, Ruby Lucy Hotel and Mama Shelter London Shoreditch.

02:41 PM

Warwick castle pulls in family crowds

Natalie Paris has found the ideal spring trip for young history buffs.

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02:25 PM

'Viral goats' but not a pint in sight: a trip to reopened Llandudno

Richard Franks crosses the England-Wales border to soak up the new-normal in Llandudno (which, in lockdown, has often attracted a local herd of curious goats).

Relieved retailers lift their shutters for the first time since Christmas Eve; waves crash ever so gently against the glistening beach pebbles; and the internet-famous goats can be heard from afar.

It’s a surprisingly mild morning in Llandudno as I legally saunter along its palm tree-lined promenade that – like many others – I’ve yearned to revisit. In its summer pomp, North Beach and the adorning pier throngs with Midlanders like myself who regularly pop across the border for a dose of vitamin sea. Early this morning, it’s mostly local dog walkers and runners scattered along the seafront… though, I imagine many back home are packing up their cars as I write this.

Such retailers reopening include Petticoat Lane, a charming independent boutique in the shadows of the promenade’s pastel hues. “It’s a mixture of relief and excitement, [to re-open]” said store owner Kate Russell, as I pop in for a chat at opening time. “We have a really great relationship with our customers, and it’s been quite strange not to see our customers for two quite long periods of time.”

Read the full story.

02:19 PM

Devon serves up views, and chocolate cake

The Devon countryside is proving worth a five-hour drive for Telegraph Travel's Emma Cooke.

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02:12 PM

A view from the Lake District

Telegraph Travel's Lucy Aspden has been in the Lake District today where she's been enjoying a little of the "old normal".

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01:58 PM

Bhutan surges ahead with vaccination drive

Away from England, we're keeping a keen eye on which destinations are vaccinating their populations the quickest. The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has nearly completed its vaccination drive, a mere 16 days after it began.

taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger's Nest - Getty
taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger's Nest - Getty

It has vaccinated nearly 93 per cent of its adult population since March 27, and some 62 per cent of its 800,000 people.

Its rapid vaccination drive puts Bhutan just behind Seychelles, which has given jabs to 66 per cent of its population of nearly 100,000 people.

Bhutan success has been attributed to its citizen volunteers, known as “desuups”, and established cold chain storage used during earlier vaccination drives (alongside its small population).

01:42 PM

Self-catering holiday businesses enjoy fully-booked calendars

Red Paxton, director at Habitat Escapes, which offers lakeside self-catering properties in The Cotswolds and Dorset, said:

Lower Mill Estate - Habitat Escapes
Lower Mill Estate - Habitat Escapes

We are still seeing the staycation market boom, with both Silverlake, Dorset and Lower Mill Estate, Cotswolds, fully booked today and at 90 per cent capacity next weekend. We expect to see this increase in demand continue long into summer whilst international travel is still uncertain, and will be ready to provide our guests with the break they deserve this year. Bookings for 2022 are also looking stronger than ever with a 100 per cent increase year on year.

Judith-Ann Wardlaw, who runs Isaac’s Byre holiday cottage in the North Pennines AONB, near to Alston Cumbria, said:

We officially reopen today after being closed since November. We are excited to be welcoming back our returning guests. We also look forward to being able to introduce new visitors to this area. The first guests to stay after lockdown have been here more than 20 times. Our Covid safety practices have been inspected by Quality in Tourism. We make every effort to keep our guests safe.

We have taken the time during lockdown to have all the bathrooms refurbished and look forward to hearing what our regular guests have to say. We were fully booked until September but have recently received some cancellations from overseas visitors. Some of these are regulars. The only problem on reopening that we have is the need to check with each lead guest that they are all one household plus support bubble. We have to trust that people are telling the truth. The onus is on us to check.

01:21 PM

Lunchtime celebrations: no washing up and a spa-side coffee

Our reporters have had lunchtime break, making the most of professionally-cooked meals, without the need to clear up afterwards.

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01:13 PM

Sharp increase in footfall as England eases lockdown

Footfall across all retail destinations in UK was up 101 per cent by midday on Monday compared to a week earlier, according to the most recent figures from Springboard.

Footfall at shopping centres rose 148 per cent, while high street footfall rose 130 per cent, the figures show. Meanwhile, retail parks saw a 12 per cent drop in footfall.

Across all destinations footfall was still down 36 per cent compared to Monday April 15, 2019. It rose 346 per cent compared to Monday April 13, 2020 –the height of the first lockdown.

01:09 PM

Wildlife parks welcome back two-legged visitors

Claire Irvin, The Telegraph's Head of Travel, has headed to Shepreth Wildlife Park today – and found some baby otters.

Thankfully, the weather has improved since this morning!

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Last month, Natalie Paris took made a visit to Longleat ahead of its reopening.

12:58 PM

UK farm holidays: 'Incredible demand for family stays'

Staying on a farm is the perfect antidote to Covid times. It’s outdoorsy, well-spaced and taps into our newfound love of nature. No wonder, then, that one operator, Feather Down Farms, is booking up fast.

Mark Gordon at Feather Down Farms comments:

This year has seen incredibly high levels of interest in Feather Down Farms and our UK business has doubled year on year. School holiday periods at some farms are currently around 80% booked and whilst there is still some availability, this is changing daily.

This year more than ever before, I think our offering has huge appeal and gives people a very welcome escape to a different and healthy setting and slower pace of life. Feather Down is the only nationwide operator offering an escape back to the simple things in everyday life in the middle of the countryside, away from the all too familiar fraught lockdown world of wifi, screens and instant gratification.

With each tent offering private facilities, we are open again from today and currently have 32 farms in the UK, most within 2 hours drive from major urban centres making them easily accessible short break escapes for either midweek or weekend stays.

anna brock - Luke MacGregor
anna brock - Luke MacGregor

12:45 PM

Comment: 'Travel is a privilege, not a right – people appear to have forgotten this'

As a child Rob Crossan's family rarely went away on holiday – a fact that, he says, his parents found somewhat embarrassing.

However, not going on a summer holiday didn’t, and still doesn’t, mean you’re on a fast track to Benefits Street. It’s actually very, very normal, he writes:

One study, published by Statista, showed that, between 2011 and 2019, between 10% and 23% of Brits took no holidays at all over a 12 month period. So it baffles me that it’s only now, with a wave of pricey Covid-testing and quarantining that looms large for 2021’s potential holidaymakers on the horizon, that a wave of protest has begun, howling that, from now on, holidays will be only for the rich.

Wasn’t it ever thus? The evidence is right in front of us in the form of the current Give Them A Break campaign to give holidays to key workers who have sacrificed so much over the last year. A significant chunk of the population have become far, far too entitled; complaining about the countries on the green list and whining about how unfair it is that they can’t go to Italy, South America or South Africa this summer. It’s a horribly unpleasant, hitherto unexpected consequence of Covid among the vacationing classes.

The pandemic should, logic suggests, make us more grateful than ever that we can go anywhere at all. But the opposite seems to be occurring.

Read more from Rob here.

12:37 PM

Suffolk flourishes on first day of outdoor venues reopening

Simon Parker is today embarking on a 75-ride through Suffolk. One hotel, The Swan, has turned its 'Garden Rooms' into individual dining rooms.

Elsewhere, he's witnessed two men having a Champagne breakfast al-fresco, followed by a 12-pack of beers...at 11.05am. And who can blame them?

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12:20 PM

Bought a dog over lockdown? How to take it on holiday (and avoid disaster)

Dog sales boomed during the pandemic, and you are among the new owners, Lottie Gross has some expert tips on how to avoid catastrophe on your UK holiday. Below is one; read the rest here.

Follow the hotel’s rules – within reason

Lots of hotels and even some self-catering accommodation will give you a list of rules to adhere to during your stay. The number one request is usually: “Keep dogs off the furniture.” It sounds reasonable enough, but when your dog is used to hopping up next to you on the sofa or snoozing at your feet on the bed, such a simple rule can make your holiday quite stressful. No one wants to be constantly telling their pet off for doing things they’re allowed to do at home.

That’s why I always bring a large throw to chuck over sofas or on top of the bed so when the dog does hop up, it’s protected from any sharp claws and muddy paws. I also bring a foldable crate for Arty to sleep in, which stops him from climbing under the duvet in the middle of the night.

Lottie Gross - Amanda Forman/Rutland Pet Photography
Lottie Gross - Amanda Forman/Rutland Pet Photography

12:11 PM

Brighton busy already as Britons fill the streets

Telegraph Travel writer Ash Bhardwaj is exploring Brighton today. Thus far, he's enjoyed feasting on oysters and reports bustling scenes as the #GreatUnlock gets underway...

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12:03 PM

Comment: I am that chav who loves to get drunk in the airport

Julie Burchill fondly recalls her days in the sun, when no breakfast buffet was complete without a Bloody Mary, no beach day any fun without fizz, and no airport experience complete without booze:

At home, because I love writing even more than drinking, deadlines keep me on the straight(ish) and narrow(ish); on holiday, all bets are off. And I like to start as I mean to go on; I am that chav who loves to get drunk at the airport.

Coming back from the Mayr Clinic in Austria, having lost half a stone in a week, I put it all back on drinking butterscotch schnapps at a stopover in Vienna. On the way to Sardinia, I consumed two champagne breakfasts before I got there (one at Gatwick, one on the plane).

Because I am a polite drunk around strangers, kind air stewardesses would invariably let me go on drinking after ruder boozers were curtailed, which meant that sometimes a holiday was in danger of ending before it began; more than once my husband had to run back on to the plane to retrieve my passport while I giggled inanely at customs.

Read the rest here.

11:46 AM

Where star-starved city dwellers should go to see the night sky

Has lockdown had you looking up? Or perhaps you feel it’s been ages since you’ve seen the night sky. In the age of social distancing, there can be few better ways to contemplate and take stock than a staycation with the stars.

Jamie Carter has 20 parks, coastlines and even pub car parks that are some of the best spots to find dark starry skies across the UK, and gives advice on the best times to go.

dorset - Getty
dorset - Getty

Read the guide here.

11:30 AM

Airbnb welcomes back guests in England

The ever-popular rental site is back in business for English holidaymakers.

Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb told us:

The re-opening of self-contained accommodation is an important and immensely welcome step towards recovery in England. We know that Hosts are eager to throw open their doors once again and safely welcome those looking to spend time away from home with their household or support bubble. What’s more, the demand for local staycations is an exciting opportunity for Brits looking to boost their earnings through Hosting on Airbnb while also supporting economic recovery in their local communities.

Last summer, Airbnb hosts in the UK earned more than £225 million with the average member pocketing nearly £1,000.

This summer, the top 10 trending destinations Britons are searching for are Saint Clears in Carmarthenshire coming out on top – alongside Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire and Clovelly, Devon.

11:21 AM

Blizzards hit pub gardens and the high street as lockdown ends, in pictures

11:08 AM

Best pub walks: 10 post-lockdown rambles in the Cotswolds

With pub gardens now reopened (albeit under less than ideal weather circumstances), Richard Madden selects the best walks that start and end at a country inn.

cotswolds - Getty
cotswolds - Getty

Read on for the best of the Cotswolds.

10:55 AM

Woodland stays for later this year

If a stay in a cabin in the woods has piqued your interest, here are some potential packages with Forest Holidays for later this year:

Early summer: Three-night break on June 11 2021 in a Silver Birch 2 bed cabin in Argyll from £615

School summer holidays: Three-night break on July 23 2021 in a Silver Birch 2 bed cabin in Strathyre from £755

Autumn break: Three-night break on October 1 2021 in a Silver Birch 2 bed cabin in Keldy from £520

October half term: Three-night break on October 22 2021 in a Silver Birch 2 bed cabin in Keldy from £720

10:49 AM

North York Moors and Cornwall popular for Forest Holidays

City-dwellers hoping to immerse themselves in nature might opt for a stay at one of Forest Holidays' locations, seven of which have reopened in England today.

The accommodation provider has seen large demand for smaller cabins for people travelling with immediate family. However, there’s still good availability for those looking to book with larger groups in the autumn.

The most popular locations for bookings have been Cropton and Keldy located within the North York Moors. Deerpark in Cornwall is proving the most popular for summer stays while new location Delamere Forest is seeing a surge in bookings for its opening month in April and through May. Its two locations in Scotland will reopen from April 26 and Beddgelert in Wales began a phased reopening to Welsh visitors on March 29.

Bruce McKendrick, chief executive of Forest Holidays, said:

Nature is fundamental to the nation’s wellbeing. Simply being in the forest can be great for your health, helping to reduce anxiety and boost the immune system. Every day we see the real, tangible benefits that just a few days spent in nature offers our guests. More than anything, we look forward to sharing these benefits with them with all our England sites opening today and with our Scottish sites opening in a few weeks.

10:40 AM

A 75-mile bike, anyone?

Keen cyclists might celebrate the #GreatUnlock like Simon Parker, with a long bike ride. Check out the views on his Twitter feed.

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10:33 AM

Crowds build at the Kumbh Mela festival in India

Tens of thousands of people have headed to the sacred Ganges river at the Kumbh Mela festival in the town of Haridwar in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

A Naga Sadhu, or Hindu holy man wears a mask  - DANISH SIDDIQUI/REUTERS
A Naga Sadhu, or Hindu holy man wears a mask - DANISH SIDDIQUI/REUTERS

Police officials say they are struggling to control Covid-19 safety protocols and issue fines to those not following the rules due to the huge crowds at the site.

evening prayer on the banks of ganges river  - DANISH SIDDIQUI/REUTERS
evening prayer on the banks of ganges river - DANISH SIDDIQUI/REUTERS

10:23 AM

A stay fit for a king: Warwick Castle reopens to visitors

History-lovers might fancy following the lead of Natalie Paris. She's heading to Warwick Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror.

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10:13 AM

No fair-weather travellers: Britons make the most of reopenings

Despite today's low temperatures (sitting at 4°C/39.2°F in south-west London, in case you were interested ...), many Britons have made a beeline to pub gardens and theme parks as lockdown rules ease. Traders and staff in non-essential shops are also welcoming customers.

people drinking beer - HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS
people drinking beer - HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS
visitors to thorpe park - MATTHEW CHILDS/REUTERS
visitors to thorpe park - MATTHEW CHILDS/REUTERS
covent garden - Joseph Okpako/Getty
covent garden - Joseph Okpako/Getty

10:02 AM

'Despite an affinity for In Bruges, I left the the city out of my plans'

For those among you daydreaming of a trip to Europe, this fairytale Belgian town might be on your wishlist. Ben Parker explains why he's yet to visit.

bruges - iStock
bruges - iStock

Ralph Fiennes is the reason I’ve never been to Bruges. Him, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson. In fact, I’ll lay the blame squarely at the feet of the 2008 film In Bruges, a black comedy set in the city in western Belgium, and starring the aforementioned trio.

Not because it’s a hatchet piece on Bruges; beyond the gritty nature of Martin McDonagh’s critically lauded flick, the city enthrals: the “lake of love” in Minnewaterpark, Rozenhoedkaai from the water, market square. For many years, after closing time at the pub (remember that?), I’d totter home and play an In Bruges DVD, dozing as shots captured the ancient Church of Our Lady or the botanical garden.

But an overexposure caused Bruges to slip from my plans. Instead of booking to see the “ all those canals and bridges and cobbled streets and those churches”, as Harry, Fiennes’ crime boss character puts it, the city felt too familiar, especially when compared to something “different” (the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments in Prague, for example).

Read the full story.

09:52 AM

Planning a weekend trip to Brighton?

Just a couple of weeks ago, local sunseekers made the most of the mini heatwave on Brighton beach. While today's weather is less inviting, the seaside resort still has plenty on offer as self-catering stays reopen.

Telegraph Travel writer Ash Bhardwaj is testing it out for us today.

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09:42 AM

Thailand reports highest daily increase amid New Year holiday

Thailand reported 985 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic, and health officials said they were worried the number of new infections could be far higher after this week's traditional Thai New Year holiday.

Health experts said the third major surge in the country was proving more difficult to control as it was mostly a variant of the virus first found in the U.K. and has mostly affected younger people because it broke out at nightclubs and bars.

"The third wave is different. The origin is the young generation who have active lifestyle. They went to clubs, go back to their hometowns on very long holidays and caused the wide spread," said Dr. Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, a senior consultant for Health Ministry.

Millions of Thais are traveling around the country – often from urban areas to rural villages – for this week's annual Songkran festival, which marks the traditional Thai New Year. The government has not prevented people from traveling, as it did when it canceled the festival last year.

09:31 AM

Where are the goats of Llandudno?

Travel writer Richard Franks is in Llandudno making the most of the relaxed border rules that came into effect today, permitting non-essential trips between England and Wales once more.

However, he's yet to spot the local herd of wild Kashmiri goats that became somewhat of an internet sensation in the first lockdown when they headed onto the town's deserted streets.

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09:22 AM

Record summer on the way for UK breaks, predicts holiday let firm

Hot tub holidays and pet-friendly breaks look likely to be two of the most popular types of UK getaways in 2021, according to one of the largest providers of holiday properties, cottages.com.

As self-catering breaks return in England today, cottages.com said it has seen bookings for properties including a hot tub rise by 135 per cent compared to the same point in 2019, while pet-friendly breaks are up more than 100 per cent over the same period.

Demand for the brand’s luxury properties is up 145 per cent as holidaymakers look to treat themselves after a long lockdown, while sales of seven-night summer breaks are a huge 200 per cent up on 2019 as people look to get away for longer than just a few days.

Simon Altham, Group Chief Commercial Officer at Awaze – the parent company of cottages.com, said:

Everything we are seeing suggests it’s going to be a year like no other for the domestic holiday industry. People have clearly had enough of the uncertainty surrounding foreign travel and are locking in their summer staycation now to make sure they have something to look forward to.

09:12 AM

Self-catering providers welcome the #GreatUnlock

Holiday accommodation businesses across England have spent weeks preparing to reopen to guests today.

Among them is Helen Masse, owner of Runswick Bay Cottages, which includes 16 properties on the North Yorkshire Coast.

runswick cottages - Runswick Bay Cottages
runswick cottages - Runswick Bay Cottages

Helen said:

The feeling is like the very first day I opened 15 year ago. Guests are super excited to get away, some of whom are taking the holiday that they should have had this time last year so hopefully there will be lots of smiles and positivity! I’ve got a few dates available here and there over the coming weeks but largely everywhere is booked from today with people eager to get away and enjoy a change of scenery.

09:04 AM

Spas reopen in England today

Charlotte Johnstone, Telegraph Travel's resident spa expert, is heading to Sussex this morning. She'll be covering the reopening of spas with a trip to South Lodge, a country house hotel and spa.

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08:58 AM

Spanish tourism boss 'concerned' by Global Travel Taskforce report

A leading Spanish tourism official has voiced concern at the "lack of certainty surrounding summer holidays" based on the Global Travel Taskforce's (GTT) framework for a return for international travel for people in England.

Jet2, the UK's second-largest tour operator postponed its holiday programme until June 24 following the publication of the GTT's report.

Andalucia’s tourism minister Juan Marin said: "We are saddened to hear that major airlines such as Jet2 have taken the difficult decision to postpone their operations given the lack of clarity around likely start dates or requirements."

Mr Marin, who represents one of the most popular holiday regions in Spain, added: "While the announcement of the Global Travel Taskforce’s framework for restart highlights a route out of the pandemic and back to international travel, we are still concerned at the lack of certainty surrounding summer holidays.

"We would like to re-emphasise that Andalucía is a safe destination, ready to receive visitors with a series of measures in place including our international travel insurance for Andalucía. The international travel insurance offers travellers up to €4,000 of cover on medical expenses, sanitary repatriation and extension of stay in the case of a Covid-19 infection, providing visitors with the confidence that they are safeguarded during their trip."

08:43 AM

Fancy a trip to Devon? We've got your questions covered

Telegraph Travel's Emma Cooke is on her way to Devon for the #GreatUnlock. Send your questions her way, or tweet @TelegraphTravel

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08:34 AM

Train bookings up 135pc

Trainline data reveals bookings for travel this week have increased 135 per cent compared to last month and are up 52 per cent since only last week.

cornwall - Getty
cornwall - Getty

Longer trips departing this week are also on the up, with bookings for open return journeys up 204 per cent compared to four weeks ago, as self-catering accommodation options start to open.

Same-day returns for travel next week are also up 192 per cent as more shops, restaurants and other amenities becomes available to visit. Stations at beach destinations have seen some of the greatest relative growth in comparison to four weeks ago, with bookings to the following revealing the greatest increase in popularity:

  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach

  • St Ives

  • Clacton-on-Sea

  • Penzance

  • Brighton

Similarly, stations in countryside destinations have seen a significant relative increase in bookings, notably Totnes in Devon and Penrith in the Lake District.

08:21 AM

Seaside trips to Wales back on for English visitors

Non-essential trips between Wales and England are permitted from today. Travel writer Richard Franks is in Llandudno for Telegraph Travel. Thankfully, his beach trip comes without a smattering of snow.

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08:17 AM

India and Sri Lanka secure air bridge

India and Sri Lanka have secured a bilateral air bubble arrangement, it was reported over the weekend.

This will allow the operation of special international passenger flights between the two countries.

“India has finalized an air bubble agreement with Sri Lanka, making it the 6th such arrangement in SAARC region and the 28th in total,” the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Twitter.

“All the eligible passengers will be able to travel between the 2 countries in the near future,” it added.

Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been running under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under bilateral air bubble arrangements since July 2020.

08:07 AM

UAE celebrates vaccine roll out with 'fully-vaccinated' flight

A "fully-vaccinated" Emirates service took passengers on a four-hour round trip flight this weekend.

It took off from DXB at 12.30pm on Saturday and landed in Dubai at 4.30pm.

The UAE has delivered 8,975,014 vaccine doses thus far and is third in the worldwide vaccination league table, behind Israel and the Seychelles.

07:55 AM

Pubs and restaurants face confusion under new rules

Scores of pubs and restaurants face confusion as Covid rules ease on Monday after being told their outdoor seating spaces primed for reopening do not count as outdoors, reports Ben Riley-Smith.

Government guidance says that shelters, marquees, and other temporary structures with roofs must have half their walls open at all times to be classed as outdoor areas.

Local authorities are interpreting the rules differently, leading to outcry from some landlords and restaurant owners who have only just been told they supposedly fall foul.

One Lancashire publican has written to the Prime Minister after being told his walled bar garden is not compliant, meaning he cannot reopen despite taking bookings for 1,000 meals. Another landlord in Brighton said he was “devastated” after being told his pub garden in the city, which is just below street level and walled, did not have sufficient air flow to be allowed.

Read the full story.

07:44 AM

Airlines call for investigation into Covid test prices

Airline trade body IATA has called for an investigation into the costs Covid tests travel as the industry warns that the PCR tests required under the Government's traffic light scheme will effectively block most people from foreign holidays this year.

Iata director general Willie Walsh demanded ministers enable more cost-efficient rapid testing, exempt tests from VAT, and engage the UK Competition and Markets Authority to launch an immediate investigation.

IATA said in a statement: “Engage the UK Competition and Markets Authority to act in the interests of consumers and launch an immediate investigation into coronavirus testing charges.”

The CMA said any new cases or investigations would be announced on its website.

07:30 AM

A chilly, but hopeful day in the Cotswolds

Lottie Gross is among the writers reporting on the restart of domestic holidays for Telegraph Travel today. You can follow her journey on Twitter.

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07:26 AM

People must behave 'responsibly' as lockdown eases

Boris Johnson has called today’s easing of lockdown a “major step forward” to “freedom”, but warned people must still behave “responsibly”.

Pubs, restaurants, cafes and social clubs will be able to start serving outdoors again for the first time this year, with takeaway pints allowed too.

As outlined above, staycations in self-catering accommodation return with people able to spend nights away from their homes, providing they do not mix with other households, and retail shops can open their doors once again. However, indoor meet-ups to socialise are still barred and social distancing rules remain in place, as the Government attempts to loosen rules while keeping down Covid-19 cases.

Mr Johnson said: "I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme."

Read the full story.

07:13 AM

Cruise ships deployed in St Vincent evacuation effort

Cruise lines have sent ships to help rescue people who have been forced to escape the Caribbean island of St Vincent following two powerful volcanic eruptions.

Neighbouring islands have opened their borders for the evacuees: Royal Caribbean has taken some of the estimated 16,000 people to St Lucia on its vessels.

Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line have also sent ships to assist with the rescue mission.

However, St Vincent prime minister Ralph Gonsalves said: “The chief medical officer would be identifying the persons already vaccinated so that we can get them on the ship.”

It is the first time in 40 years that La Soufriere volcano has erupted, creating a 3.7-mile plume of ash and causing power cuts across the southern Caribbean island.

06:59 AM

Malta to pay tourists who visit this summer

Malta plans to offer foreign visitors a handout of up to 200 euros (£173.45) each if they stay in the country at least three days this summer.

Colourful Boats in Harbour of Marsaxlokk, - Getty
Colourful Boats in Harbour of Marsaxlokk, - Getty

The Mediterranean island could also be set for the UK Government's green list based on its vaccination rate: 35 per cent of its population has received at least one dose.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo announced the scheme to boost the tourism industry on Friday, saying that with most Covid restrictions expected to be lifted by June 1, tourists booking summer holidays directly through local hotels would receive the handout.

The country attracted more than 2.7 million foreign visitors in 2019 but figures have fallen by more than 80 per cent since the virus was detected in March 2020. Mr Bartolo said tourists booking accommodation at a five-star hotel will get 100 euros from Malta’s Tourism Authority, which will be matched by the hotel for a total of 200 euros.

In a similar arrangement, those opting for a four-star hotel will receive a total of 150 euros and those booking a three-star hotel will receive 100 euros. The grant grows by 10 per cent when bookings are made with hotels on the smaller Maltese island of Gozo, two miles north of the mainland.

Read our guide to which destinations could make the "green list" this summer.

06:49 AM

Private firms charge holidaymakers £300 a Covid test

Private Covid testing firms have been accused of profiteering with charges that can add up to £1,000 to the cost of a family of four’s summer holiday, reports Charles Hymas.

The firms are charging up to £300 for a single PCR test despite the chemical processing costing little more than £20, an investigation by The Telegraph has found.

The cheapest companies on the official list of Government-approved firms are charging as little as £60 for providing PCR test results within a day. But the most expensive companies on the list are four times that price and five times if you want a 24-hour turnaround for results out of normal office hours at the weekend.

It is the difference between adding £1,000 to a family of four’s summer holiday abroad and a potentially more affordable charge of £240.

Read the full story.

06:44 AM

Domestic breaks are back – but how about foreign holidays?

A traffic light system will replace the current ban on overseas holidays the Global Travel Taskforce report confirmed last week. The system looks likely to come into force sometime in May.

Countries will be labelled green (no quarantine on return, but testing requirements), amber (self-isolation on return and testing) and red (a stay in a quarantine hotel for returning Britons and a ban on direct flights).

However, the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers, including Spain and France, look set to be off limits this summer, with much of Europe failing to meet the Government’s criteria to make the new “green” list.

The Government has said it will consider infection rates, variants prevalence and access to genomic sequencing, as well as vaccination rate. It is expected to deliver information on which destinations will meet its criteria for the green list in early May.

06:37 AM

It's a snow day for the #GreatUnlock

Our roving reporters are setting off to experience the reopening of self-catering accommodation and more today.

Travel writer Lottie Gross has been greeted by an unexpected view before heading off on her camping trip. Follow her journey on Twitter with #GreatUnlock

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