Few counties blend the old with the new like Essex. From the ancient Roman town of Colchester with its castle, cathedral and cobbled streets to Southend-on-Sea with its modern funfairs, theme parks and buzzing nightlife scene, the county is loaded with activities, attractions and entertainment. That diversity extends to the food and restaurant scene, with everything from simple-but-tasty fish shacks to fine dining with a contemporary twist. Impressively, Essex has the most extensive coastline of any English county and has some stunning beaches, nature reserves and sea life centres. And our hotels in Essex are on hand across Chelmsford, Harlow, Colchester and more to make sure you’re never far from the action.
Things to do in Essex
On the northern banks of the River Thames opposite Dartford and 21-miles east of London, Lakeside Shopping Centre is one of the largest shopping areas in Europe covering over 200 acres. Home to over 250 stores and more than 50 cafes, bars and restaurants, the shopping centre also boasts a trampoline park, modern cinema complex, bowling alley and mini-golf course.
The Water Gardens in Harlow is a stylish, open-air shopping centre with a wide range of stores, big-name chains and eight food and drink outlets. The other shopping centre in Harlow is the Harvey Centre, a large indoor, multi-storey centre which also boasts a six-screen Cineworld complex.
If you’re staying at one of our hotels in Chelmsford, your closest retail centre is High Chelmer. The large shopping mall in the town centre has nearly 80 stores covering everything from fashion and jewellery to health and beauty and lingerie.
Lastly, Southend-on-Sea shoppers should head to The Royals Shopping Centre, a compact but action-packed mall with 30 stores and nearly 500 parking spaces.
Stretching from London to nearly Cambridge and out to the edge of Ipswich, Essex is a sizeable South East county. If you’re driving to the region, Essex is well-served by motorways including the M11, the north and eastern edge of the M25 and the A12 which connects Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester.
If you’re flying into the region, Stansted Airport is the major terminal in Essex. One of the busiest airports in the UK, you can fly to over 200 destinations across the UK, Europe and Africa and is the main base for low-cost flier Ryanair. The airport is less than an hour’s drive from the larger towns in Essex, with a strong bus service and regular direct trains into London. Alternatively, make your travelling even simpler by staying at one of our hotels near Stansted Airport before you travel.
With miles of coastline, Essex is also home to several ports, the biggest of which for travellers is Harwich International which runs daily services to Hook of Holland near Rotterdam.