On paper, business travel sounds great. To those whose job doesn’t require any travelling, the thought of visiting new countries and cities under the guise of ‘work’ sounds like a dream. But the reality is often very different. You’re there to work, not play, and meetings, conferences and working dinners can take up all of your time.
If you do find yourself with some time off, make the most of it and check out the green spaces which surround some of the UK’s leading business hubs.
Use your lunch hour wisely in London
It is all too easy to lose yourself in the commuter chaos of the city without catching a glimpse of the greenery that London has to offer. With a bit of careful planning, however, you can fit some exploring into your day. Use your early mornings, lunch breaks or late evenings to see some of the capital’s wonderful parks on your next business trip.
If you're staying out west on an overnight trip, plan an early morning run with the deer in Richmond Park. Mid-morning meet in the city? Pack your running gear or grab a sandwich afterwards and head for Hyde Park. If you find yourself with an evening free, the views from Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath are worth capturing and there are some lovely pubs in nearby Hampstead Village where you can end the evening with a relaxing drink.
Take an afternoon off in Liverpool
A city by the sea, Liverpool has an infectious and vibrant buzz that lends itself well to both business and leisure. It has gradually transformed into one of the UK’s leading business centres, so the chances are you will find yourself with a meeting or conference there at some point. If you can, escape for an afternoon and take in the city's skyline from the wonderful Wirral Peninsula.
Just 20 minutes away across the River Mersey, accessible by car, train or ferry, the Wirral combines coast and countryside and is a haven for wildlife. There are an abundance of opportunities for walking, cycling and golfing on the peninsula and, with 25 miles of coastline to explore, watersports are also popular. The Dee Estuary, which sits on the Wirral’s west coast, offers great sailing and windsurfing.
Hop on your bike in Bristol
Earlier this year, Bristol was named Europe's most business-friendly city of its size by FDI magazine, and an increase in the number of companies starting-up and relocating to the area has certainly put it on the map for business travellers. In 2008, Bristol was awarded the title of the UK's first cycling city, and many of the city’s residents and commuters use two wheels as their main method of getting around.
Whilst you're in town, why not join the masses, hop on your bike and explore. The Avon Cycle Way is a circular route that runs for 85 miles into the countryside surrounding the city, encompassing quiet lanes and off-road tracks. You could bring your own bike along and make a weekend of it or, if you are just in town for a night and have a free few hours, hire a bike from Bristol Cycle Hire and head off for a few hours to burn some calories and clear those cobwebs.
Plan a weekend escape in Edinburgh
The Scottish capital city of Edinburgh is certainly worth taking the time to explore. The city oozes historic charm, with cobbled streets, castles and cosy bars perfect for working lunches or business dinners. And, not far beyond the city centre, lays the unspoilt scenery of the Lothians.
A short 20 minute train ride from Edinburgh will lead you straight to the heart of the craggy East Lothians coastline. Amble around the John Muir Country Park or head for the pretty village of Gullane. Just 20 miles east of Edinburgh, Gullane has three golf courses and an award winning sandy beach with a great surf. Why not schedule a Friday meeting, then spend the weekend wandering the Scottish wilds.
Anita Doherty is the Editor for Enjoybedandbreakfast.com a travel website for accommodation with personality in the UK. The website offers a growing selection of quaint B&Bs, charming inns, small boutique hotels and guest houses. You can find her on twitter @enjoybnb when she’s not travelling the world!
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