Discover why a National Holidays coach holiday is great fun for travellers of all ages, especially on a Mystery Tour weekend !
I’ll admit it – it’s nearly two decades since I last went on a coach trip. And I also have to admit that since then, I’d never really considered booking another one.
So when National Holidays invited me to go on a Mystery Tour Weekend, I was both intrigued and a little bit sceptical. I mean, coach holidays aren’t really something I do. I always fly or drive when I go on holiday, or occasionally I take the train.
But I happily accepted the challenge and so at the end of June, I found myself in Manchester city centre at 7am on a Saturday morning. My travel companion (or partner in crime) for the weekend was my good friend and fellow blogger, Mellissa from The Diary of a Jewellery Lover.
Over the course of the next 48 hours, I would discover that my pre-conceptions about coach travel were really outdated.
Where do National Holidays go?
National Holidays specialise in coach travel, and provide short breaks and holidays across the UK and Europe. They operate across the Midlands and North of England, with several departure points available.
Their range of tours includes thousands of different holidays to choose from, catering for all sorts of different tastes.
In the UK, you could go and see a show in the West End or take a weekend by the seaside. Or maybe you’d prefer to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or watch a top flight sporting event.
Click here to read my review of an F1 Spectacular Weekend at the British Grand Prix
And National Holidays’ European breaks cover everything from an action-packed break at Disneyland Paris to a relaxing stay on the Amalfi Coast. You could even take a river cruise on the Rhine or the Danube.
Every National Holiday break includes carefully selected accommodation, excursions, and of course reserved seating on one of their plush coaches.
But I know what you’re probably thinking – is a coach holiday really for me?
Who travels with National Holidays?
So you might be thinking that coach holidays are only for the older traveller. It’s certainly a common assumption.
And yes, the group that I was travelling with did have quite a few people aged 60+. But there was a real mixture of people on our coach, so I wanted to find out who books a National Holiday tour.
Well, in addition to the senior travellers, there was a family with young children, a group of friends in their thirties, and a works trip from a school. One woman had travelled over from Canada to take her Mum away for a National Holidays weekend.
Caroline and Ryan are a couple in their thirties who have been on several National Holiday tours. When I asked them why they keep coming back, the cost of the trip was one of the big attractions.
The 2 day Mystery Weekend costs as little as £59 per person based on two people sharing a room, which is fantastic value for money!
Caroline told me that they had visited Isle of Wight during the school holidays, and paid around £170 each. She said “You just can’t beat it for value, and the beach was right outside the hotel!”
They also visited London between Christmas and New Year. Ryan was really impressed that although the cost of the trip was reasonable, the hotel was in Canary Wharf, just a quick train ride into town.
And then there were the ‘golden girls’ – Rita, Jane, Sylvia, Anne and their ringleader Kath from Buxton. These seniors love to go away on regular girls’ weekends to get a break from their husbands!
This was their first National Holidays trip, and they told me that they will definitely be booking another one.
“They’re such great value,” said Kath, “and I definitely want to do another mystery weekend. We’ve really enjoyed it!”
On Board the National Holidays Coach
If I was surprised by the mix of people on board a National Holidays coach, then the coach itself was another surprise.
The last time I travelled by coach was nearly 20 years ago, and they’ve really changed since then. Our National Holidays coach was plush and spotlessly clean inside.
National Holidays coaches all have free WiFi on board so you don’t have to eat through your data allowance while you travel. And their new on-board entertainment system will allow you to choose from films, music and box sets on your journey.
These comfy seats are all fitted with a safety belt. There’s also an adjustable foot rest and plenty of leg room, far more than I was expecting.
The coaches have air conditioning and tinted windows, which were very welcome on an incredibly hot and sunny June weekend. There’s a small fridge filled with chilled bottles of water that you can buy, and yes, of course there’s a loo on board!
Based upon my previous experience of coach travel, I was expecting to have an aching back by the time we reached our first destination. But in fact I actually arrived feeling fresh and relaxed.
The Man in Charge: Gary, our Driver
Of course, a good coach driver is a vital part of your National Holidays tour.
They do far more than just get you from A to B safely. They’re also responsible for building the excitement, keeping you informed about where to go, and when to meet back at the coach.
Without a good driver, the whole experience could be a let down.
Luckily we had a fantastic driver on our Mystery Weekend. Gary has been driving for National Holidays for over 28 years, and his partner drives for them as well – it’s a real family affair!
Gary built up the anticipation for our weekend brilliantly. Every time we reached a point where the motorway split, he’d tell us where each of the motorways could be taking us. But the actual destination wasn’t revealed until we were just a few miles away from our first stop.
As Gary told us on board the coach “I never tell you where you’re going, because that way it doesn’t matter if I get lost!”
I chatted to Gary about what it’s like working as a National Holiday driver for so many years. He told me that he used to think he would have driven every tour that the company does by now. But they keep adding on new routes, so there’s always somewhere new for him to visit.
And the mix of the group always varies, so a route is never exactly the same each time. Gary told me that some groups really gel together and that makes it even more fun. And he loves it when passengers have a joke back with him!
But has he got a favourite route from all the different options that National Holidays have?
“No, I couldn’t pick a favourite, as they are all so good!”
Day 1 of my Mystery Weekend with National Holidays
So what happened on our Mystery Weekend?
After a slow start to the journey, while the rest of the passengers joined the coach, we headed down the motorway towards the Midlands. And of course, our driver kept on teasing us about where we might be heading. There are so many Mystery Tour locations, but which one would be our destination?
At first I thought we might have been heading to London to visit the Warner Brothers Harry Potter experience. Then I thought it might be Cadbury World in Birmingham or the West Midland Safari Park.
I even thought for a few minutes that we might have been en route to Shrewsbury – that’s only about 25 minutes from where I live!
Stratford upon Avon
Of course Stratford upon Avon is famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. You can tour the actual house where he was born and grew up, and at the other end of the scale, you can visit the place where he was buried.
And of course you can watch his works being performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
On the day we visited, an open air theatre company was performing Much Ado about Nothing in a park. What a lovely way to spend a summer’s afternoon!
But our itinerary only allowed for a few hours in Stratford upon Avon.
So rather than spending time indoors, Mel and I decided to investigate the River Festival. As you can see from the bridge above, the town was absolutely teeming with people.
And what a fantastic event it is, definitely one that I’d love to return to in the future.
Away from the crowded parts of the festival, the River Avon was host to several small rowing boats and narrow boats.
I love being near the water, and for me this peaceful view really was heavenly.
We had time for a spot of lunch in Stratford as well, and there is a wide range of places to choose from.
As well as well known national chains like Carluccio’s, you’ll find plenty of small independent eateries. I can highly recommend the Garden Cafe on Sheep Street. The service was very speedy, which is great on a flying visit and my sandwich was stuffed full of guacamole, hummus and grated carrot. It was so good!
After a few hours of sightseeing in Stratford, we returned to the coach for the journey on to our hotel.
Accommodation on a National Holidays tour
Each National Holidays tour includes accommodation on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. The standard price is based upon two people sharing a room but if you prefer, you can book a single room by paying a small supplement.
On a Mystery Weekend you won’t know exactly where you’re staying until you get there. But you can work on the assumption that you will stay in 3 or 4 star hotels.
On our weekend, the accommodation was at the Holiday Inn Northampton, not far from the motorway.
I was staying in a double room on my own, and the room was very clean. The bed was comfy, and there were plenty of pillows and crisp white bed linen.
The room had free WiFi and 24 hour room service was available. It was actually a very comfortable place to rest my weary feet, and I slept very well at this hotel!
Although the decor in the bedroom looked a little dated, the hotel had obviously had the bathrooms remodelled recently.
My bathroom looked fresh and modern, had a fantastic shower, and was spotlessly clean.
Dinner at the hotel was a buffet meal, with salad and soup as a starter. There was then a choice of three main courses: Spaghetti Bolognaise, chicken Tikka Masala and Four Cheese Ravioli with Spinach. And a selection of cold puddings rounded off the meal nicely.
I was really impressed by the level of service at the hotel, all of the staff were very friendly and helpful. And although drinks are not included in your holiday price, it was very easy to set up a tab on my credit card to cover anything else I needed.
Day 2 of my National Holidays Mystery Tour
I woke up early the next morning, feeling refreshed and ready for the second day of my mystery tour.
Breakfast at the hotel was also served as a buffet, with everything from fruit and yoghurt to a full cooked breakfast.
After packing up, it was time to get back on the bus and discover where we were heading next. This time, Gary let us know straight away that we would be visiting two idyllic villages in the Cotswolds.
Bourton on the Water
Our first stop was the popular village of Bourton on the Water.
It’s known as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’ because the River Windrush flows right through the middle of the town, spanned by several little bridges.
It’s ridiculously picturesque, and there were gorgeous honey-coloured buildings at every turn.
As well as the beautiful scenery, there is a miniature village and a car museum to visit, amongst other attractions.
It’s very popular with tourists though, so it’s worth heading away from the main High Street. Down the quiet side roads, you’ll find plenty of chocolate box cottages with gorgeous gardens.
And of course you’ll find lots of places to indulge in a cream tea. I definitely recommend the Green and Pleasant tearoom, which also has a fantastic shop full of gorgeous furniture, homewares and ornaments.
After a couple of hours in Bourton on the Water, we got back on our coach for the short journey to Broadway.
No, not Broadway in New York City!
Broadway may not be as well known as Stow on the Wold or Bourton on the Water. But it’s quite possibly the loveliest village in England, and I definitely fell in love with it.
It’s a little quieter than Bourton on the Water, with fewer tourists around. Again, you’ll find quaint cottages built from Cotswold stone, and Hollyhocks growing in every nook and cranny.
My lunch at the Tisanes Tearoom was a home-made cheese, tomato and rocket quiche, still slightly warm from the oven. It was served with granary bread and a fresh crisp salad – just what I wanted on a hot summer’s day.
There are several shops to look around in Broadway, and a selection of tea rooms and restaurants. But there isn’t much else to do, so it won’t take too long to visit.
The two day Stratford upon Avon and the Cotswolds tour really is a flying visit to each of the locations. If you want to look around at a more leisurely pace, you may like to consider the four day version of the tour.
Time to Go Home
We started back up the motorway towards Manchester around 3pm, and the journey went without a hitch.
By now lots of the passengers were chatting amongst themselves, playing guessing games to while away the journey. It was strange to think that we had only met less than 48 hours ago. I could really see what Gary had meant when he said that the holiday is even more fun when the group gels together.
By early evening we were back in Manchester and it was time to say ‘Goodbye’ to Gary and the rest of the passengers. I headed back to the train station with one question on my mind…
National Holidays Mystery Tour Review
I really enjoyed my first National Holidays tour – the first coach holiday I’d been on in over 18 years.
The coach was incredibly comfortable, the company was excellent, the hotel accommodation was very good and I enjoyed the places that we visited.
How Much does a National Holidays Mystery Tour cost?
And of course, the holiday was exceptionally good value. I travelled as a guest of National Holidays, but my 2 day Mystery Weekend Special, with the single room supplement, would have cost just £73. A Mystery Weekend for two costs just £118.
The hotel room and meals alone would have cost at least that much if I’d booked it myself!
So the question is, would I consider travelling with National Holidays again?
Of course I would!
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, and would definitely love to go on another coach holiday with National Holidays. I’ve already been browsing through some of their European holidays, and I’m also quite tempted by the Christmas market tours.
If you’ve never considered a coach holiday, or think that they’re just for the older traveller, I really urge you to think again. A National Holidays tour is great fun and great value – what more could you ask for?
National Holidays Mystery Tour: The Details
Visit the National Holidays website to check the range of holidays available and current pricing, find the latest special offers and book your National Holidays coach tour.
Thank you to National Holidays for a fantastic weekend!
This Competition has now closed, and the winner is Sarah Morris – congratulations Sarah!!
Yes, you could find out for yourself how much fun a National Holidays Mystery Weekend is. National Holidays will be sending one winner plus a guest on a Mystery Weekend for two, worth £118.
There are a few extra terms and conditions for this giveaway:
- The holiday must be taken within 12 months of prize winner being announced.
- The prize is one Mystery Weekend Special break with National Holidays for two adults.
- The dates and pick-up destinations are limited based on availability.
- The prize includes transport from the selected pick-up destination to the hotel and return travel back to the original pick-up destination with reserved seating, one night dinner, bed and breakfast in select hotel accommodation and a full inclusive touring itinerary.
- The prize is as stated, non-transferable, and cannot be exchanged for an alternative trip or a monetary value.
- Travel to the departure point is not included
- The competition is only available to people 18 and over
- It is the winner’s responsibility to ensure they have travel insurance
To enter this fantastic giveaway, you simply need to log into the Rafflecopter below and answer the simple question. There are a number of optional social media entries that you can use to boost your chances of winning.
You can get an extra boost by following National Holidays on Instagram. Using this entry method will give you an additional 4 bonus entries into the draw!
So take a look at National Holidays’ range of tours and let me know: which of their destinations would you most love to visit?
This competition will close at 11.50pm on 12th August 2018 and entries after this date will not be counted.
Listed on Loquax, Competition Database, Prize Finder, SuperLucky
208 thoughts on “Get on Board with a National Holidays Mystery Tour!”
What a fab review!! I’d travel a long way for a slice of that warm quiche…but lots of tempting destinations- the Lake District – Torquay- the wonderful faded Victorian splendour of Scarborough…hmmm I think I’d go for the Yorkshire Dales x
That looks so much fun! Totally going to look them up :-)
I’ve never been to Weymouth but everyone says it’s really lovely, clean beach and plenty to do so this would be my number one choice!
would like to try The Cotswolds
I’d most like to visit Scotland.
Thank you for a very interesting review. I’d most like to visit the Isle of Bute.
thank you for such an inspiring review id love to visit the Scottish Highlands.
Seaside or Eurodisney!
I’m ashamed to say; I’ve never been to Wales. So a weekend in Snowdonia would be a dream for me. It looks absolutely beautiful. If there was time to swing by a town or city too, to load up on cheese, all the better!
we did the italy 7 day hol and tho there was a lot of sitting in the coach, we made so many friends and still know them on fb even now! I’d love to do the france, especially Paris and versailles trip!!
I would like to visit Brighton
Bath would be wonderful
Llandudno, childhood memories relived there
I’d love to go to Durham
I would love to head up to Fort William, always wanted to go further North
round the cotswolds would bring back lots of memories for me
I’d most like to go to Bath.
Great Britain is such a beautiful place I would be delighted to travel anywhere at all, if I had to choose maybe somewhere in the Highlands or Islands.
I’d like to go to yorkshire
The Cotswold’s would be really lovely
Fingers crossed! I’d love to visit Bath!
I would like to go to Chester
I’d love to go to the Lake District!
My pattern adores the Lake District – but I totally love the idea of a surprise mystery tour – going somewhere you’d never think to go!
Would love to visit Loch Lomand!!!!
I would love to try this out with my sons. We often do what we call ‘mystery tours’ which usually are just me following my nose and seeing where we end up but it would be exciting to go on an arranged trip!
I think I’d like to visit Paris
Bath would be lovely
I’ve never been to Wales, I would love Snowdonia.
Sounds like great fun!
I want to go to the isle of sky
I think York Fayre & Lincoln Christmas Market sounds lovely
Love that National holidays do mystery tours and at such great value!!!!
I would love to go on one of the Christmas market tours, the German themed Leeds one sounds amazing.
Whitby, because of the Dracula connection!
I’d love to see Bath, it’s been on my list for a while! The mystery tour looks so much fun!
I would love to go to the Manchester Christmas Market
I know the Cotswolds is lovely, as I live there! But one place I’ve never been to (and I can’t believe it, because I’m such a Jane Austen fan!) and would love to visit, with my mum, as a special treat, is BATH.
thanks for the lovely competition. Coach holidays have certainly moved on, haven’t they?
Always the Lake District, can’t visit it enough!!
My daughter is 16 in December would love to visit one of the Christmas markets with her.
I would love to go on one of their tours of the Lake District.
The Lake District
I’d love the Yorkshire Dales
Where I would like to go would depend on who I went with, Germany or Poland with hubby, London with eldest granddaughter, Drayton manor with youngest grandson
We have done a lot of National holidays holidays and short breaks plus weekend trips all have been exceptional value and we have enjoyed all of them.
I’d love to revisit my childhood holiday and visit Yarmouth & the Norfolk broads x
this looks so much fun
Done a lot of the tours but would love to go on the Fort William one
I’d love to do the Fort William tour!
there are so many places in the UK that im yet to visit. Edinburgh, Stratford Upon Avon, The Cotwolds, The lake district etc etc! i love the idea of a mystery trip sounds amazing!
I’d love to go to Torquay
they all look pretty amazing such a hard choice maybe somewhere in the south west
A West End show would be fabulous x
Llandudno, as never been there and friends have said it is a nice place to visit.
Would love to win this for my mom and dad so they can have a nice surprise as there always helping me with my kids
Been on a couple of National Holidays trips, favourite one up to now was… Dancing On Ice Live tour……..absolutel brilliant
It would be the Cotswolds for me, it looks spectacluar
Wales – its years since ive last been
The Lake District
I would love to go to Cornwall and for as little as 59 quid that’s cheep as chips
I would Love a mystery weekend to Harry potter studios or York Think I’m definitely going to check out National holidays x
amazing! would love to see the lake district
I would like to visit Bourton on the Water
I would love to visit Wales by coach!
id love to go back to Torquay,i haven’t been since i was a very small child
I’d love to visit the lake district!
I think it would be bath
The Lake District
cornwall would be fab for me!
Llandudno for me
I would love to visit The Cotswolds!
It would have to be The Cotswolds for me! Beautiful.
I’d love to visit the lake district :)
The Cotswolds would be my choice! I have never been to that part of the country before!
disneyland woop woop
I would love to visit London as I have never been!
I think Bath or the Cotswolds maybe :) Although anywhere would be nice!
I’d love to take my Mum to the Lake District as a thank you for all she does for me
There’s so much of the UK that I’ve not visited or explored yet. And it would be wonderful to be able to relax, enjoy and not have to drive!
Bath Christmas market
Northumberland, The Yorkshire Dales, or Scottish Borders
I must admit I did have a bad judgement of coach trips before but this looks lovely!
I would really like to go to the Lake district. My other half has never been but its absolutely stunning.
I think for me it would have to be London
Bourton on the Water looks fabulous so I’d love to go there! It looks like you had such a wonderful time, it was very interesting to read! :)
Would love to visit the Lake District as I’ve never been there
LOVE TO VISIT SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
I’d love to go to Torquay!
Bourton on the water as it’s not far from me and it’s really lovely, Meant to be going there next month for Grandma’s 86th birthday to the model village.
The Cotswolds looks wonderful and being on a coach trip is fabulous. You are always well looked after.
Love going on a coach trip, always well looked after. The Cotswolds look lovely.
Somewhere in Germany at Christmas time with an amazing Christmas market would be amazing.
I’d love to go to Bath
I’d love to visit Bath!
i would love to visist staford upon avon, it looks so lovely. your blog is fab too xx
It would be the Lake District
The blackpool illuminations sound lovely
I would love to visit Chester .
You made Broadway look very appealing for a nice cuppa- I must be getting old!
I’d like to visit Torquay as I haven’t been there for many years. Great comp – thanks fotr running this.
I would like to visit Torquay as I haven’t been there for many years.
Somewhere in Scotland I think.. A mystery weekend sounds like so much fun!
The lake district sounds tempting, but I love the idea of a mystery tour! :)
I would love to take my mum to the Scottish Highlands
It would be nice to visit Lake District!
I would love to see Rome!
The Lake District or the Cotswolds would be brilliant
Would love the chance to give this type of break a try!
I think I would like to visit York
I’d love to visit The Cotswolds!
I’d love to visit the Cotswolds
Italy or Lake District would be nice.
I’d love to visit paris and Versallies :)
the lake district
I would love to visit Cornwall as I havent been since a little girl. This looks like an amazing prize! A mystery tour would be awesome!
Liverpool or The Yorkshire Dales as I have never been to those places.
I would like to go to Venice – but if it was a choice in the UK I would choose Scotland
I’d love to visit the Lake District.
I’d love one of the mystery tours as you don’t know where you will end up but one of the Christmas markets would be a great second choice!
Fantastic review, it looks really good fun and a great way to met new people, I’d love to visit Stratford upon Avon.
I would like to visit Stratford upon Avon.
Love the Christmas markets tour!!
Scotland -although would be a very long journey!
Dublin would be great
What an amazing prize! My great-grandparents love National Holidays and would love to re-visit the Lakes. This prize would be amazing gifted to them
I would love to go to Stratford upon Avon and the Cotswolds
I would love to revisit Bourton on the Water, because it is the heart of the Cotswolds and ideal to travel by coach to.
The Cotswolds FOR US
It has been a long time since i visited Stratford upon Avon and would love to go back
I would love to visit scotland, this would be amazing!
I would really love to go to Yorkshire.
I would really love to visit Yorkshire the most.
Definitely a West end show
Cotswolds it looks fab xxxxxxxxx
Paris would be fab
I would love to go on the Foodies Festival Christmas – Tatton Park
Bonny Scotland is calling!
Oxford & Stratford
I love surprises but actually Stratford would be a fab place to go
I have always fancied the Yorkshire Dales but the thought of driving that far is daunting. What a wonderful opportunity to sit back and just enjoy the view and let someone else get me there!
I’d love to visit the lake district.
I’d most like to visit Bath
Dublin, i would love to visit most of all but love travelling to new places making memories with my lovely husband and meeting new people fingers crossed xxxxxx
The fort william tour looks epic
I’d like to go to Durham but a mystery sounds perfect.
I would like to visit the Scottish Highlands
The Christmas Market tours sound amazing, there’s always something magical about Christmas Markets
I’d love to visit Stratford upon Avon
The Fort William tour
Snowdonia would be amazing as I’ve always wanted to visit.
I would love to go back to my childhood homeland of Scotland especially Loch Lomond where my family lived.
Scotland & The Secret Lochs Cruise
I’d like to visit The Cotswolds guys
I would love to go to Stratford Upon Avon
I would love to go to The Cotswolds. I have not been there yet.
There are so many, Wales and Snowdonia, Isle of Wight, the Cotswolds and Manchester Christmas markets would be top of my list.
Would love to go to one of the Christmas markets
The place that I would most like to find myself as a result of a Mystery Tour is, The Lakes. I must admit that as a lifelong inhabitant of the UK, in all my time I have never so much as travelled through this region. By all accounts it is a spectacular area of the country so it would be great to see it for myself.
Beautiful Scotland looks like a wonderful five days. We’ve never visited Scotland so it would be very interesting to see the landmarks that we have only heard about.
I have never been to Scotland so would love to go there
i would love to go to Scotland or Cornwall. Decisions decisions lol
Stratford upon Avon
I’d like to go to the Cotswolds
Would love to visit Bath
Would love to take my mum round York with our cameras :)
I’d love to go to the Lake District
Somewhere on the coast.
I’d want to go everywhere!
I would most like to go to Dublin or Belfast :)
I’d love to visit snowdonia as I haven’t been in Wales yet!
The Cotswolds looks amazing, I would love to escape to that part of the country,
We’ve been n several holidays with National Holidays in Europe, but never in the UK. I’d love to go to the Cotswolds!
the cotswolds, been a few times and the countryside is stunning…. rain or shine
It would have to be the Scottish Highlands for me.
My parents took my daughter and niece on a coach holiday to the Isle of Bute Scotland a few years ago and they all loved it we always say we are going to go on one together after reading your review I think I will remind everyone again we should definitely go on one maybe to the Cotswolds or Scotland
I’d like to visit the Scottish Highlands.
Scotland or Yorkshire for me
If Europe it would be the Amalfi Coast. If UK then Isle of Wight
always wanted to go down to cornwall
Oooooh you have me tempted!!
I would love to visit Bath
Fort William would be lovely
Whitby or Scottish Highlands
the christmas markets
I’d most like to visit Scotland.
id go anywhere really!!! i love travelling and finding new places….. there is always something new to see even if you have been to a town many times before!! great comp!!!
i would love to visit dublin ive never been to ireland before
Bath – so beautiful! I’d really love a couple of days there.
Anywhere! But definitely would love to explore Scotland some more :)
Haven’t been on a coach trip since I was a child, I’d love a trip to the Scottish highlands
I would love to go to Bath.
I would most like to visit Scottish highlands with national holidays
I would most like to visit Cotswolds with national holidays
I would love to visit Cambridge
Comments are closed.