As Joni Mitchell put it, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. And if the stratospheric rebound of the culture and travel industry tells us anything about life after COVID, it’s that Joni was right!
Cities are buzzing once again with adventure-starved travelers eager to get back to exploring the cultural treasures that were inaccessible for long stretches of time, as lockdowns and travel restrictions gripped the world. What a difference a year makes.
With great expectation comes great responsibility to provide awesome experiences. But as the winners of this year’s Remarkable Venue Awards for the UK clearly demonstrate, the next wave of travel innovation and in-destination activities are already upon us. And we here at Tiqets feel like that’s something worth celebrating.
The Remarkable Venue Awards place the spotlight on the best attractions from around the world in the previous year. The nominees are shortlisted based on Tiqets user reviews from over 1.1 million customers, and industry expert judges including Antony Amos, Head of Business Development & Membership at UKInbound; Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Industry Manage at Visit Scotland; and Jim Richardson, Founder of MuseumNext.
There are seven categories for our winners this year, including the coveted Most Remarkable Venue Award. Read on to find out who gets the honours this year for the UK’s best attractions!
Best Hidden Gem: Hidden London Underground Tour, the London Transport Museum
“Very good plenty to see and very interesting in the history of transport in London“
– Martin United Kingdom.
London’s abandoned tube station at Charing Cross was closed in 1999 when the city extended the Jubilee Line. The eerie space has since become a firefighter’s training ground, an atmospheric movie set, and also the scene of the UK best attraction in 2022 in the Best Hidden Gem category.
Join this spooky tour and get into London’s weird, wacky, and downright scary side in a uniquely immersive experience that’s well off the typical tourist trail. You won’t have to worry about rush-hour crowds in this subterranean world of shadows and twisted history. Talk about dark tourism!
The abandoned spaces of Charing Cross Underground station wind around Nelson’s Column beneath the streets of London. You may recognize spots that set the scene for blockbuster movies such as Skyfall and Paddington, and the hit television series, 24.
Most Innovative Venue: Mercat Tours, Edinburgh’s Haunted Vaults
“Amazing museum, I love how the exhibition is structured according to the timeline of his life!”– Sarah, the Netherlands.
With its moody Gothic architecture and severe medieval castle looming large over smoky rooftops, Edinburgh is the type of place you can easily imagine being extremely haunted. It comes as little surprise then, that Auld Reekie is home to what might just be the UK’s most spine-tingling tour: The Blair Street Underground Vaults Tour, by Mercat Tours.
Combining expert storytelling that’s as rich in historical details, perfectly timed humor, and bone-chilling scares, these tours are an absolute must if it’s your first time in Edinburgh. Join a small group and follow the soft Scottish lilt of your storyteller guide’s voice, as you discover the haunted depths of the city.
With only a single candle lighting the way and total darkness all around, you’ll see shadows dance on the gloomy walls of the vaults as you learn about the unfortunate souls who perished in this very location. Hear gristly tales of the bubonic plague that wiped out scores of unfortunate people, and learn all about the vengeful spirits and spectral entities that are said to linger in the darkness to this day. And be prepared for a jump scar or two…
But don’t just take out word for it! Our users voted Mercat Tours’ Edinburgh Vaults tour the Most Innovative Venue in the UK in 2022. Leave it to the Plague experts to come out of the pandemic unscathed!
Most Remarkable Venue: Windsor Castle
“Excellent experience. Windsor Castle is a fantastic place to visit and is very well set up with first-class facilities for visitors.” – Jane, United Kingdom.
The Most Remarkable Venue award goes to the venues that are the most popular and top-rated with visitors, based on customer reviews on Tiqets.com. And this year’s UK winner is none other than (queue regal trumpet fanfare 🎺🎺🎺) the medieval marvel of Windsor Castle!
With just shy of 1,000 years of rich history to draw upon, this magnificent royal residence has been home to 39 monarchs and bears the architectural hallmarks of several important historical periods within its storied walls. From its fortress-like stone facade and Gothic spires that recall the stern Middle Ages to the Baroque and Rococo splendor of the furnishings within, Windsor Castle provides a right royal tour through time and a king-size dose of palace intrigue.
The dizzying opulence of Windsor Castle’s State Apartments really can’t be exaggerated. Originally conceived to rival the Palace of Versailles, the deep pockets of the British crown are on full display here, with gilded golden fixtures, plush Rococo furnishings, gloriously frescoed ceilings, and paintings by Holbein, Van Dyck and Rubens casually hanging the walls. A modest country dwelling, this is not.
Windsor Castle tops our list of the UK’s best attractions in 2022. The time to visit is now!
Best Museum: The Postal Museum
“Going on the train was the best part, seeing and learning about the history during the ride, small museum, but that suited us, gift shop very reasonable prices. Would definitely go back again for the train ride.” – Gemma, United Kingdom.
Putting the ‘post’ in post-pandemic success stories, The Postal Museum takes things back to basics, while simultaneously pushing the envelope for what an immersive museum experience can be. This is far from your grandad’s stamp collection.
This boutique museum experience unseals the history of the postal service and its key role in the evolution of mass communication. From five-wheeled cycles to rockets and an escaped lioness, the story of the postal service is long and full of incredible tales. The Postal Museum delivers them directly to your curiosity receptors as you explore cutting-edge exhibitions, interactive exhibits and informative talks.
Inside, you’ll see a restored mail coach that once thundered across the countryside. Get up close to the world’s only sheet of Penny Black stamps, the world’s first postage stamps. Send anonymous messages to a friend (or stranger) through pneumatic tubes, and see a horde of unread love letters recovered from maritime misfortune.
Visitors can even explore the Postal Museum’s Mail Rail, a 100-year-old subterranean network of tunnels now open to the public as a 15-minute miniature train ride.
Forget what you think you know about the post, and what you think you know about museums, and come and visit.
Best Attraction: RHS Garden Wisley
“Lovely garden, very well looked after. Visited it in mid-August. Lots of beautiful flowers, wooden structures and benches. Loved the potager garden by the cafe. Would like to return again” – Lina, United Kingdom.
There are gardens, and then there are gardens. With over 30 different areas to appreciate across a 240-acre plot, Wisley Gardens will refine your appreciation for landscape architecture and deepen your respect for its groundskeeping staff, if nothing else. The Royal Horticultural Society has been working wonders in this stunning outdoor space since 1903, and the century of hard work really shows. In 2022, it was voted the UK’s best attraction – which is really saying something!
The fairy-tale scene is set from the moment you set foot under the cherry tree canopy of the welcome building, and it only gets more breathtaking from that moment on as you explore this impeccably nurtured nature haven in all its seasonal glory.
Head to the Jellicoe Canal for the country’s second-largest collection of water lilies, or get up close to floral blooms in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden. With the smell of roses fresh in your nostrils, explore the tranquil rock garden, the glasshouse and its collection of exotic flora from across the globe, or the ever-impressive Battleston Hill and its rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, hydrangea, and Chinese cedar.
The Garden of Eden had some stiff competition in 2022.
Best Landmark: Stamford Bridge – Stadium Tours
“It was a great experience. My son enjoyed the additional shirts brought out in the changing room belonging to previous players who he loved. I am not a Chelsea fan but found the history of the club very interesting so a good experience for both of us. Thank you.“– Paula, United Kingdom.
Match tickets at Stamford Bridge are not always easy to come by or affordable, but an authentic matchday experience certainly is! The Stamford Bridge Stadium tour is one of the best UK attractions, and in 2022, this cauldron of football went above and beyond, delivering not just the best stadium tour in the UK, but the best landmark attraction to boot.
Inside, visitors explore Chelsea Football Club’s rich history with a guided tour of The Bridge and its museum. It’s the closest to the football action you can get without being slide-tackled by a steward, or shushed into silence by the ghost of José Mourinho. You even don’t need to be a dyed-in-the-wool Chelsea diehard to enjoy the experience. An encyclopaedic guide and brilliant multimedia exhibits in 12 languages will make the history of Chelsea come alive with engaging storytelling and rich detail.
If you are a Blues fanatic, however, the behind-the-scenes tour will likely give you chills, as you explore areas normally off-limits to fans. Limber up in the home and away dressing rooms, field some questions in the press room, then head down the tunnel towards the dugout with the scowling determination of the ‘Special One’. You’ll also get to check out some of the stands – including the ‘Matthew Harding Stand’, the former North Stand.
Spurs fans need not apply.
Best Onsite Experience: Western Approaches HQ
“It was brilliant, takes you back to that time and gives you a taste of what life was like working underground for a lot of hours at a time during the second world war…“ – Kenny, United Kingdom.
Situated beneath a stately Art Deco building on Liverpool’s historic dockland area, the Western Approaches HQ is arguably one of the most important sites in British history.
It was here that the Navy and RAF coordinated the protection and navigation of transatlantic supply routes at a time when German U-bombers were decimating shipping fleets coming in and out of Britain. It’s not hyperbole to say, this modest bunker is where the war was largely won.
Needless to say, in its heyday as a top-secret military command centre, you used to have to sign the Official Secrets Act to enter the Western Approaches HQ, but these days the barrier to entry is significantly lower; all you need today is a ticket and an appreciation for historic time capsules. As the 2022 winner of the Best Onsite Experience award, you can rest assured that your visit here will be made special and unforgettable.
Inside you’ll see the bunker laid out exactly as it was in the 1940s, complete with original documents, tools, and maps used to analyse the movement and positions of German forces. There’s even one of two surviving phones that had a direct line to Churchill’s War Rooms.
Aside from the incredible array of artefacts, archival material, and the setting itself, what makes the Western Approaches Museum one of the best UK attractions is the passionate staff dedicated to making each visit as entertaining and informative as humanly possible.