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Essex

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Close to London, Yet Far Removed

Half-timbered houses lining village greens. Picturesque estuaries and sweeping countryside. Traditional seaside resorts. Affluent Essex has all of this and more.

Its county town Chelmsford has a flint cathedral and waterfront shopping complex. To the east Maldon is a pretty estuary town with a colourful high street, and further south is Southend-on-Sea, a popular seaside town with a good helping of fish and chip shops and the world’s longest pier.

Another pier with amusements is in Clacton-on-Sea, the closest Essex seaside resort to Colchester, the former capital of Roman Britain. City walls remain from this period, and it has a Norman castle and first-class zoo.

From nearby Harwich ferries depart to the Netherlands and Denmark, while Braintree houses the Freeport Outlet Shopping Village. Further west is Stansted Airport, an important hub for low-cost airlines. Closer to London, modern Harlow has the most Essex spa hotels and is close to the Lee Valley Regional Park and Epping Forest.

Brentwood is a bustling commuter town from where you can see the City of London skyline on a clear day. Close by is Basildon with its Hollywood-esque sign, and forming a triangle with them is Grays, home of the huge Thurrock Lakeside Shopping Centre.

Wherever you are staying, Booking.com has an excellent range of guest houses, country inns and hotels in Essex.

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