On the Suffolk Heritage Coast, Aldeburgh is one of Britain’s prettiest seaside towns. The Wentworth Hotel gazes across the shingle beach with an air of solid reassurance. Brightly furnished with antiques, log fires and Russell Flint prints, special touches include binoculars in its sea-facing rooms and a bar menu that occasionally lapses into Swahili.
Yet to be convinced about glamping? Book into Trevella Park, near to the glorious beach at Crantock, and the comfy beds, fluffy duvets and fridges that come with the safari tents should help to convince you. The site itself is pleasingly free of ‘entertainment’ and instead offers nature trails, fishing lakes and a heated outdoor pool.
Feel like somewhere different for a city break? Germany has some of the most fascinating cities in Europe – there are the flamboyant streets of Berlin, the architectural beauty of Dresden and the art collections of Cologne for starters. From grand palaces to medieval streets, each city its own distinctive character, cuisine and appeal.
East Anglia houses a trilogy of pleasures: seaside, countryside and Broads-side. Its long coastline offers fine sandy beaches and birdwatching. The interior has market towns and flinty rural churches built on the proceeds of the medieval wool trade. And the huge patchwork of the Broads is a boater’s paradise. Explore from a cosy cottage or stately manor house, yours for the weekend.
The big decision in magical Marrakech is whether to stay in town in a traditional riad, or outside the city walls. I lean towards the tranquility and incandescent night skies of the latter, but it’s tempting to be within a short walk of the souks, snake charmers, acrobats and fortune-tellers of Djemaa el Fna.
One of the classic ‘see before you die’ destinations, the rose red city of Petra, carved straight out of the sandstone escarpment, ranks alongside the Pyramids as a triumph of ancient architecture. With its scores of temples, palaces, theatre, tombs and a museum, it’s a rewarding destination, even if only for a short stay.
Can’t tell a Sancerre from a Sauvignon? Book a wine-themed break with A&C and you’ll be sipping, comparing and learning, while staying in luxurious, authentic hotels and discovering some of the world’s most beautiful wine regions. Foodies are catered for, with fabulous gourmet breaks in France and Italy, and river-cruises and city breaks are also on offer.
Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel might not sound the cosiest place to spend a night, but once you’re wrapped up in a sleeping bag and swathed in reindeer skin your ice-bed will feel deliciously toasty (honestly!). Most guests spend one night in this amazing frozen palace, followed by a night or two in a more conventional hotel room – but it’s a night to always remember.
A city break with kids? If it sounds like a recipe for a high-stress weekend, try Family Twist, which aims to make cities such as Paris as accessible and enjoyable for families as loved-up couples. Every aspect, from child-friendly accommodation to activities such as treasure trails and cookery classes, can be pre-organised, helping to create a family jaunt to remember.
With direct Eurostar services from London’s St Pancras, you can zip down to the Provencal sun in less then six hours. As well as intrinsic interest – including its 14th century ramparts, medieval Palais des Papes and Le Pont of all ponts – Avignon is also home to some outstanding hotels and superb cuisine.
Trying to plan the annual golfing break with the boys, but budget proving a problem? Stay at one of these holiday villages for great golf on your doorstep, with comfortable accommodation that won’t break the bank. Some villages – such as Port Bourgenay in the Vendee and Moliets on the Cote d’Argent – have on-site courses.
Even with only a few days in Istanbul, you can gaze in wonder at the Topkapi Palace and harem, the Blue Mosque, St Sophia, The Grand Bazaar and the spice market. The big decision is whether to stay on the banks of the Bosphorous for a tranquil retreat, or pick a hotel in the thick of it.
If you’re looking for the ultimate short break, it’s got to be New York. Sip cocktails in the shadow of the Empire State Building, take a stroll through Central Park, soak up the art at MoMA and shop till your credit card drops on the streets of Soho. Trailfinders has a great choice of the best hotels, so all you have to do is pack those cocktail frocks and prepare to party.
Barcelona might just be the perfect city break – fabulous shopping, tapas bars on every corner, Antoni Gaudi’s unique architecture and a buzzy beachfront for sunny days. Travel with Kirker and their Concierge Service can organise everything from tables at the city’s hippest restaurants, to a private guide who will introduce you to some of the city’s best-kept secrets.
If you are interested in the idea of a personal development holiday, Skyros’ weekend breaks are the ideal first step. From a four-star country house on the Isle of Wight to Paris, Venice and Marrakech, combine sightseeing with expert guidance on life coaching and mindfulness to writing, yoga and art with a house party atmosphere.
A cottage in Cornwall, what could be more relaxing? Until you have to shop and cook, or find a good place for dinner. Book a luxury bolthole in the West Country with Boutique Retreats and they do all the hard work, from booking restaurants to arranging a private chef or deliveries of local produce. All of which leaves little to do but put your feet up and enjoy the peace. Perfect.
Reykjavik is a youthful, compact, friendly city set in dramatic countryside and less than three hours’ flying time from the UK. Wander around art galleries and museums, linger in stylish restaurants and cosy coffee bars then take a healing dip in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. If you have the energy, party the night away at the city’s legendary bars.
Ireland has reinvented itself in recent years; the iconic new Titanic Experience is just one of the big draws in Belfast, while beyond the city there are wonderfully diverse landscapes to discover, from the spectacular Mountains of Morne to the Cork and Kerry coastlines. Take a road trip in style in a classic Mercedes or MGB Roadster.
To discover the real Spain, head to the beautiful northern regions where the beaches are unspoilt, cities such as Bilbao and Santander have the best tapas in the country and there are dozens of wineries to visit. On a short-break driving trip, you can discover all northern Spain has to offer, while staying in charming, small hotels.
Take a pre-Christmas trip to Finnish Lapland and see the real Santa on his home turf. Children get a private audience with the bearded one, and there is plenty of time for fun in the snow, with husky sled rides, snowmobile jaunts, tobogganing and ice fishing all included.
St Petersburg is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Its art collections, palaces and grand architectural set pieces are matched only by its magnificent hotels. Whether you go in winter when the snow is thick under foot, or in summer when the “white nights” offer dazzling evening skies, you’ll be beguiled.
Portugal’s River Douro winds through one of Europe’s most spectacular landscapes before emptying into the Atlantic at the charming World Heritage city of Porto. Stay in atmospheric quintas and visit centuries-old terraced vineyards to sample the Port that made this region famous, and some delicious local cuisine.
Work on your fitness against a stunningly scenic European backdrop. You’ll stay in considerable comfort whilst a team of personal trainers will design a programme to suit your aims and fitness level. Choose from running, hiking, mountain biking, boxercise, core training and cardio. Relax in the pool and enjoy superb meals on the sun terrace.
Explore the natural beauty of Provence along a range of trails, soaking up the fresh air and discovering sleepy hamlets, ancient priories and lively local markets. There’s nothing too strenuous but it’s a joy to indulge in guilt-free lunches and dinners having burned off the calories.