Whisk yourself away for the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…
Idling on the bank of the River Usk on a summer’s day, out of the corner of your eye you spot a white rabbit in a waistcoat bounding by.
See him pull out his pocket watch? He’s late! Follow him, but be quick, he’s disappearing down a rabbit hole.
Gather your wits into an orderly gaggle; take a leap of faith, a mad dash, a waggle! You fall and find yourself in a long, low hall surrounded by doors. You come upon a little bottle with the words ‘drink me.’ Smaller, smaller…
Gliffaes Country House Hotel, Brecon Beacons, South Wales
“Behold the Welsh mountain pony. Breathe in. You’re in the shadow of the Black Mountains. Breathe out. You’re staying at the Brecon Beacons’ only 4-star hotel.”
Ten inches tall, you’re small enough to fit through the smallest of doors. It’s locked! There’s a little golden key on a table too high to reach. You spot a cake marked with the words ‘eat me.’ Bigger, bigger…
You’re big enough to reach the key on the table, but too big to fit through the small door – ohh dear! Please don’t cry. Look! you’ve made a reservoir of tears. Adrift in the middle of Lake Vyrnwy, you befriend a mouse and swim to shore.
Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Powys, Mid Wales
“Location, location, location. Nestled in 24,000 acres of National Nature Reserve with mesmerising views. Watch the sun set over the lake. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
You’re sopping wet. Perhaps the Mouse can tell you a ‘dry story’? No, you’re right, there’s no better way to dry off than a golf tournament in the Dedham Vale, freshly painted by John Constable.
Play the even-numbered holes, then, the odds, and finish on the 1st. Add up your par and divide by a hole. We all win hurrah! Prizes all round.
Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, Dedham Vale, Essex-Suffolk border
“This scene-stealing resort flies the British flag in John Constable’s Dedham Vale, on the Essex-Suffolk border, the inspiration behind his most famous landscape paintings.”
Oh no! The White Rabbit’s lost his fan and gloves. Enter his house, once owned by a friend of Peter Rabbit’s (am I mixing my cotton tales?), but don’t drink the… too late…
How are you to find his things now? You better eat those cakes he’s just thrown in through the window. That’s it. Wait! Don’t run off!
Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, Lake District (Lake Windermere)
“The captivating country house. The magical hillside setting. The inspiration for Beatrix Potter. And now? The small luxury hotel with an afternoon tea to die for.”
The White Rabbit’s house vanishes. You find yourself in the magical Puzzlewood. Careful, these are royal woods; property of the Queen of Hearts. Focus. You need to eat something that’ll return you to your proper size.
You blink twice, first with one eye, then, the other. A caterpillar comes into focus. What’s it focussing on? It sits on a mushroom smoking. Kindly explain to the Caterpillar that it’s dangerous to smoke. In a wood. On a mushroom.
Chase Hotel, Wye Valley (Forest of Dean)
“You pause at the southern gateway to Middle-earth. A place where nature plays out its drama. You explore forests and gorges. Here is a place to stop and stand in awe.”
I see you’ve come to a clearing. And you’re back ‘on-size.’ Knock on the door of that house over there. I’ll open it for you.
Ahha, here’s the Duchess and her grinning cat. Try her cook’s award-winning pepper soup – it’s made from fresh, Suffolk pepper.
Feeling lost? Ask the Cheshire Cat for directions. Right, and we’re off! To the March Hare’s house! To the Kent Coast!
Hintlesham Hall Hotel, Suffolk
“Stay in the country house that fired the creative heart of A-list chef Robert Carrier. Explore the countryside that inspired landscape master Thomas Gainsborough.”
You’re late. The March Hare and the Mad Hatter are already taking tea. But where to sit?
And “why is a raven like a writing-desk?” Or is it that a writing desk is like a raven? A woody desk. A glossy raven. A glossy, woody desken.
Gosh, it’s six o’clock. Teatime. Mmmm… Home-made chocolate scones with chocolate dip, chocolate brownies, chocolate profiteroles, chocolate macaroons, chocolate muffins, and chocolate tarts… Where are you going?
Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, Kent Coast
“You wake up to the murmur of England’s dramatic sea and landscapes, its ancient castles and cathedrals. You wake up inspired. Godspeed intrepid explorer!”
Found you! I thought I’d better look for you in the Red Queen’s gardens. They’re Grade II* listed you know; sculpture by Sir Henry Moore.
May I join your game of croquet? Great! Throw me a flamingo and hedgehog.
Dartington Hall Hotel, South Devon
“When’s the last time you lost yourself in Grade II* listed gardens, dozed off by the River Dart and slept in a 14th Century palace? It’s never too late to have a first time.”
Ahh, I see you’ve made some friends.
We’re just in time to dance the Lobster Quadrille as the sun dips below the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. Let’s dance round the giant hare on the Cathedral lawns! And then on to Stonehenge!
Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, Salisbury (City Centre)
“You’re served award-winning food. You’re pampered by Vinotherapists. Rest weary traveller, rest. Salisbury waits for when you wake. Welcome to Milford Hall Hotel.”
You hear the shrill shriek of the Queen–
“Who stole the tarts?”
–and you’re summoned to witness the trial of the Knave of Hearts. The King and Queen sit impatiently on the promenade of Llandudno, facing out towards the Irish Sea. There’s a reason it’s called “Queen of the Welsh resorts.”
Imperial Hotel, Llandudno, North Wales
“You sit enthroned on the promenade of Llandudno, ‘Queen of the Welsh resorts.’ Take in the sea air, the sea views – the beauty of North Wales unravels before you.” Visit the sites inspired by Carroll’s Wonderland. Discover the real Alice this summer. Find out more…
Before the Queen can shout “off with his head!” you find yourself dozing on the bank of the River Usk, a cool breeze tousling your hair.
The year? 2016. The season? Summer.
What are you waiting for? Don’t be late for a very important date! “Every adventure requires a first step” (The Cheshire Cat).
Pack your bags and a child-like sense of wonder and venture down the rabbit hole with Classic British Hotels.
If you book a break through Classic British Hotels and quote ‘Wonderland’ at the time of making your booking, there’ll be a copy of the novel waiting in your room on arrival*.
Share this post with your family and friends. Start planning your next great British adventure.
*T&Cs: Offer applies to 10 hotels featured in this short story only. Penguin Classics 2003 edition. No cash alternative. Valid from 1 June to 31 July, 2016.
Disclaimer: This short story is based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Artistic license has been taken. Peter Rabbit and Cottontail are fictional animal characters in various children’s stories by Beatrix Potter.