Dinah Hatch

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Whether you are an enthusiast or not, the sight of seeing the world's top cyclists whooshing past at incredible speeds in the Tour de France is pretty special. And this year, fabulously, you don't even have to cross the channel to see it either as Stage 1, 2 and 3 are all being held in Blighty. Day one on July 5 sees competitors saddle up in Leeds and ride a 120 mile loop around to Harrogate. On day two, it's York to Sheffield (127miles) before the final UK leg on day three from Cambridge to Buckingham Palace (99 miles). Britain's Finest, of course, has plenty of great hotel suggestions for you to stay in close to the action along the route. Here are our top ten…
The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa

If you'd rather see the race after the initial hullaballoo of the start in Leeds, leafy Skipton in north Yorkshire may well be the perfect spot to stay in, thanks to the rather lovely Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel. Sitting on the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate which sprawls across stunning acre after stunning acre in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the hotel is an oasis of very smart, very stylish country living with a generous dollop of pamper factor thrown in. So, go, claim your spot in this bustling market town with its gorgeous medieval castle, see the action and then retreat to the hotel, perhaps for a treatment or two in the Spa at the Dev, housed in an ancient barn, or for a spot of afternoon tea (renowned here for their freshly baked scones and clotted cream and their amazing cakes and pastries).

Hotel Felix- Cambridge

And onto Stage Three, where the crowds will gather in the historic city of Cambridge at Gonville Place by Parker's Piece, a green famously associated with the birthplace of Association Football. But all eyes will be on a different sport on July 7 as the cyclists begin their long descent to London and Buckingham palace where the race ends. So where to stay here? We strongly recommend the charming Hotel Felix on Whitehouse Lane. We love this grand Victorian villa's many original features, the fact that it is dotted with interesting artwork and its utterly beguiling exterior, smothered as it is in lilac wisteria. Do book up for Graffiti Restaurant, which overlooks the terrace and pretty gardens and is a treat in summer.


Just a scenic 30 minute drive to Braintree where the tour will pass on July 7, we suggest you book in at Milsoms in the heart of Constable country in Dedham. Set by the River Stour, the village (where the great painter went to school) centres around a quaint high street filled with Georgian-fronted houses, old pubs and a lovely art and crafts centre and makes for perfect pottering once you have seen the riders pass through this lovely section of Essex. Milsoms sits on the Stratford Road just off the A12 amidst two acres of lush English country garden but despite its ultra luxurious feel, it's very informal. There are just 15 en-suite bedrooms, a little gastro bar and brasserie serving food all day plus a library at the front of the house overlooking the garden. Top notch, peaceful and very relaxed.

The Old Ship Inn Hackney

Right across the road from the famous Hackney Empire in London's East End, book a room at the Old Ship and you will be within easy reach of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which the riders will sweep into in the final hour of Stage 3. This cracking traditional British inn combines London's rich history with the 21st century punter's need for great food and drink and comfortable lodgings. It serves excellent craft beers, classic British Sunday roasts and features a whole feast of seasonally sourced goodies on the menu. Check out the v cool deluxe double's décor where free wifi, flat screen TV and comped tea and shortbreads are standard.

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