Like Boston Spa and Harrogate, this pretty riverside Yorkshire town found fame as a spa town in the 19th century, when tourists would pour in for bracing country air and mineral-laced waters. It’s the setting for the 2020 feature film Say Your Prayers, where two Christian hitmen come to Ilkley to assassinate a famous secularist during the town’s popular annual literary festival. Filming took place across Ilkley at locations including Grove Street’s bandstand, The Grove Bookshop and at the 16th-century Stone Bridge over the River Wharfe, as well as on Ilkley Moor.
In 2021, The Grove in Ilkley also made an appearance in the fourth series of Kay Mellor’s The Syndicate (streaming on BBC iPlayer now), which was set in Wharfedale.
Beyond the Ilkley Literature Festival, the leafy town is popular year round for the scenic hiking trails on its doorstep. Its grand Yorkshire stone buildings are full of upmarket shops and local butchers, and there’s a Bettys Tea Rooms – a Yorkshire institution that celebrated its centenary in 2019.