Once upon a time, Americans were Brits who had a bone to pick with the monarchy. And even though we’ve parted ways, become friends and insist on confusing the heck out of each other by randomly dropping or adding the letter “u” to words like “color” and “humor,” there’s still a lot of love between us. England, with its rich film scene has left us more than a few roadmaps to create an itinerary, so why not take a note from your favorite movies and let them double as tour guides? After all, you’re already binging them on the plane ride over. From a Dowager Countess to a crime-fighting duo to a singleton superhero—here’s a few of our favorite characters and locations to start with.
Have a Cup of Tea at the Real Downton Abbey
The smash PBS series was filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which now welcomes visitors for tours and events. At the bottom of the estate’s extended driveway, many taxi drivers will play the Downton Abbey theme song. While this may seem like a case of setting expectations a tad high, Highclere Castle is one of the few real-life places that actually delivers. Highclere Castle—all 5,000 acres and 300 rooms—truly is an impressive piece of larger-than-life architecture. Book a tour to see its ornate interior, including a library with enough tomes to make a bookworm cry, or Instagram up a storm in the perennially manicured gardens. And don’t forget to ask Carson to bring tea—or just book your own in their accompanying café.
Where to stay: Since you can’t actually stay at Highclere (sorry—that’s reserved for friends and family), pick a compound-like hotel such as Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa where you can live like a modern-day member of the elite between rounds of golf, spa treatments and room service.
Take the Plunge with Mr. Darcy
For better or worse, we don’t all have two men fighting over us. (Sup, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth?) But visiting Kensington Gardens in London, the location where the Bridget Jones franchise slyly rehashed the ultimate chick flick trope, is still a literal walk in the park. Delete your dating apps (or swipe for participants willing to create the clever Pride and Prejudice tribute), then take a stroll in Kensington Gardens to find a spot for sunbathing and magazine perusal. You know Bridget would approve.
Where to Stay: Whether you’re belting out “All By Myself” on a hot date with both Ben and Jerry, or just engaging in normal Bechdel test-passing activities, Ham Yard Hotel, with its bright colors, airy rooms, neon lit bowling alley, and backyard full of lavender and vegetables, is the perfect place for a girls’ night in—or the perfect place to come back to after a long night out.
Imagine a World Where Penny Lane is Just Another Street
In his new film Yesterday, Danny Boyle asks us to imagine a world where the Beatles don’t exist—tricky if you happen to be in Liverpool where it feels like every inch of the city is covered with memorabilia. But to experience a small sliver of what his characters grappled with, take a stroll to the real Penny Lane, where yes, at the top of a quiet traffic circle there still is a barber (now a hairdressers), and a shocking lack of references to the band that put the city on the map.
Where to Stay: If you’re going to go all in on The Beatles, why not have appropriately themed accommodation? Hard Day’s Night Hotel is within walking distance of The Caravan Club, where the Fab Four got their first big break.
Find Your Favorite at Loseley Park
In The Favorite, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone fight for Queen Anne’s affection, and ultimately, their security in patriarchal society. It’s heady stuff, set against the imposing 1568 estate near Guildford. So, once you’ve appreciated the drawing room and desk where so many pivotal letters were written in the film, take a breather in the wild garden. The green space was marginally tamed by a design by Gertrude Jekyll and features “rooms” for a rose garden, herb garden and flower garden—each surrounded by walls covered in a tangle of Instagram-ready wisteria.
Where to Stay: Yes, many spas have multiple pools—but for the true royal experience, Pennyhill Park, Hotel and Spa has eight—one complete with underwater music. Even Queen Anne would be impressed with this level of detail.
Drink Like a Spy at Dukes London Hotel
It’s rumored that the martini at Dukes hotel in London inspired James Bond’s favorite drink—shaken, not stirred, naturally. Even now, the bartenders enforce a two-drink maximum. So beware, you’re about to linger in the plush bar interiors with a seriously stiff sip. If you’re in the mood to drink Ian Flemming under the table, try their signature negroni, a summery Italian cocktail featuring gin, one part vermouth rosso and Campari.
Where to Stay: Even Bond needed to sleep at some point. Stick around the Duke and make your way upstairs to your room, and let your remaining 007 ambitions play out in your sleep.
Find Your Bookish Prince Charming in Notting Hill
Hugh Grant, a foppishly charming actor who appears in many films about London, plays a foppishly charming bookshop owner in the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill. Unfortunately, the Notting Hill neighborhood’s Travel Bookshop has since been sold, and 142 Portobello Road is now a shoe shop. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, the famous shopping street still holds the same bohemian charm. And if that doesn’t work, grabbing a cheer-up cupcake at Hummingbird bakery (located just down the street at 133) always does the trick.
Where to Stay: Take one look at the Corinthia Hotel‘s lounge full of desks and books, and just try not to get a jump start on reading—or writing—the next great novel.
Disappear into Hogwarts at Platform 9 ¾
Honestly, would any list of England’s filming locations be complete without a Harry Potter reference? Yes, Platform ¾ does exist. (Why would the sign lie to us?) It’s in London at the King’s Cross Tube stop and yes, you can get a photo opp with a luggage trolly disappearing into a brick wall. You say cheesy, we say, “Hey, Hogwarts, did our letter of acceptance get lost in the mail?”
Where to Stay: Why sleep in a cupboard when you could snooze in a wizard room? That’s a thing at Georgian House Hotel.
Utter “Elementary, Dear Watson”
The area around Manchester’s Northern Quarter and Town Hall was Sherlock Holmes’ stomping ground in the 2009 Guy Richie/Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law film. The untouched buildings double for turn-of-the-century London—but don’t let that stop you from donning a deerstalker and taking a walk while you consider life’s great mysteries.
Where to Stay: At Principle Manchester, you might finally solve the mystery of one of the most haunted hotels in the country. Or if it’s just a case of meddling kids—oh wait, wrong franchise.
Get Lost in the Hundred Acre Woods
Despite getting a heavy assist from CG, the 2017 film Goodbye Christopher Robin was concerned with reality to the point where they shot the movie in Ashdown Forest in Sussex, where the real Christopher Robin used to play. And good news: The land is now protected, (despite sitting on substantial oil reserves) so that future generations can experience the same magic.
Where to Stay: Since Winne-the-Pooh is the symbol of everything that’s right about childhood, stay somewhere that evokes an equal sense of comfort. That place is Cider Mill Inn Bed and Breakfast. If you ask nicely they might even give you a pot of honey with breakfast.
Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.