Happy March from Need To Know Club,
No-one wants to mention the 'B' word, but the uncertainty around the issue had us thinking our recommendations better be within UK shores this month. It's a salve to our UK members who may find their travel arrangements (never mind everything else in their lives) disrupted over the next few months. Have sympathy. This month we're exploring King's Cross in London which has completely transformed in the last decade; York, whose historic streets have become a stamping ground for great food and drink; and some of the most interesting corners of Kent. If you want exhaustive lists, go to Trip Advisor – our mission is to save you time and money by picking out a few places we know you're going to rave about.
King's Cross, London
The area around one of London's busiest transport hubs was grimy physically and emotionally before development wiped away a lot of the dirty corners. Walk behind King's Cross these days and you'll find shiny pedestrianised walkways lined by swish restaurants and bars, leading up to immaculate Granary Square where fountains and students from Central St Martins give the eye something to rest on. Walks along the canal are no longer risky, and instead the waterside pathways have become a star attraction for all age groups. Stop along the way at the surprisingly engaging London Canal Museum, check what's on at the House of Illustration, drop into the Camley Street Natural Park (now accessible from the canalside) or browse the boutiques in Coal Drops Yard. For a longer walk, the canal takes you Camden to the west or Islington to the east in half an hour. It's still worth exploring the less salubrious area around the Cally Road for stand-out restaurants like Supawan Thai Food.
The centre of York is a cobbled, timber-framed muddle of historic streets and buildings. Tourists come from all over the world to see York Cathedral, the Jorvik Viking Centre and The Shambles, now even more popular thanks to Harry Potter, whose Diagon Alley is based on this medieval wonder. Of course you could ignore the rich history altogether and just enjoy the city's blossoming food and drink scene. It's said there's one pub in York for every day of the year (we haven't had time to count them); but if you only go to one, let it be the House of Trembling Madness. Off the tourist trail, although by no means a secret locally, The Pig & Pastry serve one of the best brunches in the country.
Kent's coast is incredibly varied. The north portion leading into the Thames estuary features Whitstable, long-established as a weekender's idyll with its cottages, small shops, galleries, cafés and quaint streets drawing you to the seafront. Kent's eastern tip is all about Margate and Ramsgate, both gentrifying steadily but with plenty of tacky essence of classic English seaside for contrast. For old world charm it's got to be Deal's cobbled streets full of one-off shops or the genteel picture-postcard Broadstairs. Inland, from the Downs to the Weald, you'll find well-preserved town centres, the most famous being the grand Tunbridge Wells. With Kent's proximity to London, you can do a lot in a day trip by train; for an amazing set lunch lunch with a pretty walk, it's got to be The Fordwich Arms near Sturry station. Or to see a tiny church full of Marc Chagall's stained glass windows, head to All Saints' in Tudeley from Tonbridge station.
This month's most eye-catching nominations from members
Thanks to Need To Know Club members Shona O'Donnell for nominating Holborn Dining Room and James McGough for nominating The Palomar, both in London. Thanks also to James McMurray-Cole for nominating Pairings Wine Bar in York and to Paul Gilfrin for nominating Bar Centraal in Amsterdam. Our writers have put them on their list of places to visit. This month Dave Cook reviewed a recent nomination by Justin Bond, Dry Martini in Barcelona.
Best Restaurant and Café
Best Bar and Pub
Best Thing to Do
Best Shop and Market
Best Hotel and Resort
Restaurants and cafés from around the world
Bars and pubs from around the world
Things to do from around the world
Shops and markets from around the world
Hotels and resorts from around the world