Why not spend a little time exploring somewhere new without the hassle of going abroad? We tell you all the best things to do and see in St Albans
Blending old-world community with upmarket style, St Albans is often underestimated. Home to 58,000, it sits within the greater London commuter belt, offering a picturesque, leisurely pace while still influenced by the hustle and bustle of city living. If you’re looking for a weekend out of the capital, try out some of our must-visits below…
Where to stay
Sopwell House offers an experience nothing short of luxury. Set within 12 acres of countryside, it hosts 128 rooms, two restaurants, a spa, cocktail lounge, gym and 14-metre swimming pool… what more could anybody want?
Should Sopwell be fully booked, St Michaels Manor is just as sumptuous, with a more boutique feel. Go all out and choose a Garden Wing Room—a king size bedroom overlooking the garden and lake.
Where to shop
St Albans is a city for those with plenty of spare cash, so it’s unsurprising that it plays host to an array of shopping opportunities. Christopher Place Mall stocks all the familiar high-street brands plus a few local names.
For retro and antiques look no further than Fleetville Vintage Emporium, while The Dressing Room and Husen Moda offer stylish ladieswear, including many niche brands that see customers travel from as far as Italy to get their glamorous hands on.
Looking for treats of the edible variety? St Albans Street Market is quite the sight to behold, stretching right along the length of St Peters Street. Open every Wednesday and Saturday, it was granted a special Royal Charter in 1553, making it an important historical landmark.
Where to eat
Labelled by Giles Coren as “everything a modern local restaurant should be”, Lussmans Fish & Grill comes heavy with recommendation.
Championing sustainable and organic produce, they offer daily set menus and changing monthly specials, with a three-course set menu pricing in at a very reasonable £17.50. We’ll be opting for devilled sprats with herb mayonnaise, mutton and rosemary shepherd’s pie and a slice of cherry and kirsch tiramisu.
Should you be in the mood for a pint with your dinner, take yourself down to Ye Old Fighting Cocks. The oldest pub in St Albans (and one of the oldest pubs in the country), this is the place to be for a hearty Sunday lunch in front of the fire. Start off with a chicory and pear salad, before moving on to slow roasted duck in cranberry sauce, rounded off with a bowl of sticky toffee pudding and clothed cream ice cream.
What to see
A feat of true beauty, St Albans Cathedral features architecture that dates back to Norman times. Head inside for a moment of reflective peace, or to admire the array of medieval painting or rose-themed stain glass window, unveiled by Princess Diana in 1989.
If an evening tucked up in the warm sounds more appealing, The Odyssey Cinema is thought to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the country, recently restored to it’s full 1930’s glory.
Choose a regular theatre seat or opt for the more restaurant-style table seating at the bottom of the screening—ideal for those who want to enjoy a more intimate date night experience.
Take a bracing stroll around 100 acres of Veralamium Park. Awarded both the green flag and green heritage site awards, it’s kept in impeccable condition despite offering a wide range of activities—children’s play areas, hiking trails and even a 9-hole gold course.
Fancy trying a new activity? Apollo Archery will bring out the inner warrior in even the least coordinated sportsperson.
The estate also offers quad biking, axe throwing and air pistol classes, with plenty of options available to adults and children alike.