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The best of the UK's travel news

Discovering the pick of this Spring's new hotels, tropical butterflies return to RHS Wisley and the Crystal Maze Live Experience gets an upgrade

(Picture: The Crystal Maze Live Experience)
(Picture: The Crystal Maze Live Experience)

Start the fans… The Crystal Maze Live Experience in London has had a new upgrade for 2018.

Unveiling version 2.0 of the Futuristic Zone, the Islington attraction is also introducing another game to its challenges.

Recreating the 90s TV show, which returned to screens last summer, teams of up to eight in retro satin bomber jackets compete to collect crystals.

Guided by a Maze Master, it follows the format of completing timed challenges in the four classic adventure zones — Medieval, Aztec, Industrial and Futuristic.

Tickets are on sale for visits until May 2018, as well as to March at the Manchester attraction.

(Picture: The Seven hotel)
(Picture: The Seven hotel)

New year, new hotel

If you want to start 2018 with a short break away, there are three new hotels coming to the southeast.

In London, New Road Hotel in Whitechapel opens next month on the site of an old textile factory where the owners’ father once worked. 

Designed to reflect this part of the East End’s history, the hotel promises guests sleek, efficient design and five-star functionality. 
Compact rooms feature Fine Bedding Company, plus hot tubs in loft rooms, and communal spaces on each floor. Rooms from £169 per night.

The traditional seaside gets a boutique twist as the luxury new Seven Hotel opens in Southend-on-Sea later this month. 

With 37 individually designed bedrooms, and views to Southend Pier, the hotel will also have a gin-focused bar, stocking over 30 types, and Aurum restaurant, focusing on local Essex produce such as wild turbot, smoked celeriac and seaweed. Rooms from £100 per night.

The newest UK property from YTL Hotels opens this Spring — the intriguingly named Monkey Island Estate in Bray-on-Thames. 

The island has seen monarchs, artists and writers on its shores over its 800-year history, although the name comes from the monks who lived here rather than the painted monkeys added by the Duke of Marlborough. 

With 27 bedrooms and three suites set in seven acres of grounds, it will also have its own brasserie featuring modern British cuisine.  

(Picture: Luke MacGregor / RHS)
(Picture: Luke MacGregor / RHS)

Tropical Surrey

The tropics are returning to Surrey as RHS Garden Wisley opens its Butterflies in The Glasshouse exhibit again. 

Running to March 4, there will be more than 50 species of free-flying butterflies in the tropical zone, among palm and banana trees as well as the aquatic plants around the jungle pool.

New species are set to join some previous favourites, with spotter guides available to help identify the ones you see, plus a family-friendly Education Zone.

Entry is free to members, or book online for a 10% discount at the RHS website with prices starting from £14 for adults and £7 for children aged five to 16.

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