If you’re obsessed with all things design and want to surround yourself with beautiful interiors, historic buildings, and vibrant art scenes, then you’ve come to the right place: because so do we! While reading design magazines or creating an array of Pinterest boards is great for getting inspired and keeping up with the latest interior trends, ultimately, there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the real thing. So, we did the research and found out which UK cities can offer people their most stylish staycation yet!
Not only do staycations help keep travel costs to a minimum, but heading to destinations across Great Britain also allows you to experience more of the beauty and culture that our country has to offer. In fact, even if you’ve already visited a city before, you’ll often be surprised by what hidden gems you missed the first time — which is something any avid antique aficionado or art lover knows all too well! So, if you’re ready for a weekend trip with a difference, we’ve ranked 20 of the UK’s most populous cities according to some of our key design credentials, including the number of independent interior shops, art galleries, designer Airbnb listings, and architecturally significant buildings.
Ranging from coastal escapes to city breaks, here’s our shortlist of interior design havens that are sure to help bring your Pinterest board to life.
The UK’s Top 20 Design Destinations
- Southampton & Portsmouth
- Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Bournemouth & Poole
Coming in at number one on our list, it’s safe to say that design enthusiasts won’t be disappointed when visiting England’s capital. London not only has a staggering 121 art galleries and 34 independent interior shops to choose from, but the city is also home to 52 RIBA Award-winning buildings (accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects). So, once you’ve been inspired by the work of local and globally recognised artists at your favourite gallery, you can discover beautifully unique furniture provided by passionate independent businesses. What’s more, after a long day of sightseeing, you’ll have your pick of over 110 designer Airbnb listings to spend the evening in style!
Closely following London is Edinburgh, which boasts a plethora of stunning, sophisticated Airbnb listings, and is home to over 70 registered art galleries and four major Scottish National Trust-protected buildings. This means you can enjoy all the beautiful design and architecture this city has to offer and learn more about the Scottish capital’s heritage, all in one unforgettable trip. In fact, with Glasgow also occupying a spot in our top five, Scotland will no doubt make an excellent destination for design lovers seeking style and sightseeing in equal measure.
Destinations for art lovers
If you’re an avid gallery goer and use art as inspiration and decoration in your home, then we have a few honourable mentions to make within our top 20 rankings. For instance, Brighton is known as a cultural hotspot for many reasons, but this is mainly due to the wide array of independent art galleries dotted throughout this coastal city. With 67 galleries to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a destination bursting with more colour and creativity. Additionally, Glasgow has its vast choice of 72 galleries to thank for placing fourth on our list, making it another top choice for those entranced by the art world.
Despite occupying slightly lower positions on our list, Belfast, Leicester, Cardiff, Leeds, and Newcastle also showed some great promise in terms of a blossoming — or already thriving — art scene, proving that there’s just as much culture to experience outside of London! In these cities, you’ll no doubt find a healthy dose of inspiration for your next interior design project, and may even leave with prints, paintings, or photography by local artists to inject your home with some extra colour, personality, and special memories from your staycation.
Destinations for design enthusiasts
If your favourite magazine is Architectural Digest, then there are a few destinations within this list that you simply can’t miss out on. As well as our reigning top three cities, our research also found that Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Cardiff all had a great range of independent interior shops just waiting for you to browse. Ranging from small boutique designers and vintage markets to family-run furniture shops, these cities proved to be perfect for interior design lovers on the lookout for well-made, unique pieces to decorate their homes with.
Similarly, while London and Edinburgh might have clinched the top spots with their impressive selection of designer Airbnb listings, make sure you don’t overlook some of the smaller cities ranked above. In fact, it seems that those looking for chic, stylish accommodation would be wise to head to the south of England: Reading, Bournemouth, Brighton, and Southampton & Portsmouth all offered an excellent range of designer listings. And certainly, combining bold, unique, or timelessly chic interiors with coastal views will no doubt make your staycation feel even more special.