Looking for a family day out or a good lunch in historic surroundings? See the winners of the UK Heritage Awards 2018.

When planning a day out with the family, it pays to do the groundwork before leaving home. Will the younger members of your party be entertained? Will granny get the cream tea she's dreaming of, all served in magical surroundings in one of the UK's most stately of homes?

Help is at hand in the form of the UK Heritage Awards 2018, celebrating the best visitor experiences, judged by an independent panel of heritage experts. We were lucky enough to be invited to the 2018 event at Goldsmiths' Hall in London on 6th March where the winners were announced. Categories ranged from best Family Day Out, Wonderful Places to Stay, Shopping Experience, Hidden Gem and even Best Loos got a look in (Hampton Court Palace, if you're wondering).

You can see the full list here but we've chosen our favourites, each with a similarly sparkling online presence, which is where our journeys all begin.

FAMILY DAY OUT: ALNWICK CASTLE

Harry Potter fans will already know the allure of the UK's second largest inhabited castle The castle dates back to the Norman period and its history has been intertwined with the Percy family since 1309.

Judges’ verdict: ‘A family visit to Alnwick Castle promises a true cornucopia of entertainment.’

HIDDEN GEM: THE CHARTERHOUSE, LONDON

The Charterhouse has been living the nation's history since 1348 and has served as a monastery, private mansion, boys' school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day.

Judges’ verdict: ‘The survival and preservation of so much history – all just moments from Smithfield Market – is extraordinary, and a visit is truly fascinating.’

GREAT PLACES TO EAT: CASTLE HOWARD

One of Britain's finest historic houses, this 18th century house with its contrasting baroque and Palladian wings and dramatic dome, world renowned works of art set amid lavish interiors, sits in 1,000 acres of parkland with rolling lawns, lakes, fountains, temples, woodland, ornamental walled garden and children's playground.

Judges’ verdict: ‘Castle Howard’s special Afternoon Tea is reason enough to visit Sir John Vanbrugh’s baroque masterpiece.’

WONDERFUL PLACES TO STAY: THE VICTORIA, INN HOLKHAM

The Victoria Inn is ideally situated just a few minutes’ walk from the golden sands of Holkham Beach and at the gates of Holkham Hall, a Palladian ancestral home. Houghton Hall is close by and of course the Norfolk coast and pretty towns and villages.

Judges’ verdict: ‘The Victoria Inn’s location couldn’t be better; less than a mile from England’s best beach, views over Holkham National Nature Reserve and with brilliant access to Holkham Hall.’

CONTRIBUTION TO HERITAGE: ENGLISH HERITAGE & GOOGLE ARTS & CULTURE

A ground-breaking collaboration between English Heritage and the digital expertise of Google. Detailed images of 2000 objects at twenty-nine sites are now online, photographed with ultra high-resolution Gigapixel and Art Camera technology.

Judges’ verdict: ‘A ground-breaking collaboration… free, instant access to treasures not normally available to view, including Frank Wilkins’ 1820 painting of the Battle of Hastings or a 360° curator-led tour of Osbourne House.’

ABOUT HUDSON'S

Hudson’s Historic Houses & Gardens is a comprehensive annual heritage guide in print, matching detailed up to date information on when, where and how to visit with inspirational photographs and interesting asides. The UK Heritage Awards were established in 2011, under the leadership of Norman Hudson OBE. The scheme celebrates the high quality experiences enjoyed by visitors to a wide range of heritage attractions.

March 2018