You might be surprised to learn that over 70% of Essex is rural, with 350 miles of windswept coastline to explore - and with one of the driest climates in Britain. (All that, and a wondrous selection of quirky places to stay, of course!)
Essex is not only a gorgeously rich county of contrasts, it's also temptingly close to London, with excellent transport links that make the county an ideal choice for that blessed escape from city life.
Marvellously eclectic, you can visit historic houses and gardens (such as Audley End in Saffron Walden), eat fish and chips on Southend Pier, and wander through Constable country along the River Stour.
Harwich and Walton-on-the-Naze are ideal for natureful, quiet breaks by the sea, while Wivenhoe is an up-and-coming coastal town with a thriving arts scene. Oh, and Old Leigh is the place to head for if you want to sample some traditional cockles or jellied eels (if it's good enough for the cast of ‘EastEnders', it's good enough for you!)
Stir up those creative spirits with a trip to leafy North Essex, or marvel at the rich cultural history on display in the old Roman capital of Colchester. Meanwhile, the spectacular Norman keep at Hedingham Castle is the best preserved of its kind in England.
As if all that wasn't enough, the long list of Essex delicacies include fruity Tiptree preserves, Maldon sea salt, Colchester oysters...and not forgetting the delights of New Hall Vineyards, one of England's oldest. Indulge to your hearts' content.