Leamington Spa should be the obvious choice in this part of Warwickshire. Described by some as "the Bath of the Midlands", it's affluent, smart and offers convenient shopping. Sadly, like Bath, it is let down by the increasingly soulless selection of chains (Gap, River Island) and restaurants (Bill's, Zizzi) that occupy those lovely Regency buildings. But that's OK, because you don't actually have to live there to enjoy the good bits (which also include the bountiful Victoria Park and the brilliant cafe Coffee Architects). Instead, get yourself a Warwick address.
The county town is less than 20 minutes from Leam by bike and offers a less glossy take on life in the historic heart of England. It has two top private single-sex secondary schools and good transport links: it's just off the M40 and you can take the train to London Marylebone (90 minutes) and Birmingham (30 minutes). A busy arts centre, an annual folk festival and the attractive - and central - racecourse keep life on track, and there's a choice of independent restaurants, notably La Mesa, which serves an ever-changing selection of seasonal Mediterranean delicacies. All this takes place in a lovely Georgian/medieval streetscape, overlooked by a magnificent castle. Best address Georgian Northgate Street. Why we love It The unvarnished heart of England.
As published in The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
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