Spa holidays – wouldn’t it be good if they were a bit more, well, indulgent? Book with Sardatur and you can give your treatments and therapies a delicious Tuscan twist, staying in gorgeous, five-star hotels that offer state-of-the-art spas alongside traditional Italian hospitality. Who says you can’t have your wrap and eat it?
The best holiday houses have a story to tell, and few come with more history than the properties offered by the Vivat Trust. Historic buildings that have fallen into disrepair are rescued by the Trust and painstakingly restored, offering all types of accommodation from picturesque boltholes for two, to spectacular rural halls that are perfect for an unforgettable houseparty.
Who doesn’t love Cornwall? Gorgeous sandy beaches, picturesque villages and all the pasties you can eat. Make your trip really memorable by booking one of Stay in Cornwall’s cosy log cabins – complete with barbecue area – in favourite spots such as Polperro, Bude and Fowey. The website also has loads of information on all aspects of holidaying in Cornwall.
Planning a short-break to Italy? Pick your date with care, as there are dozens of unique events and festivals taking place throughout the year that can make a break truly memorable. Join the party at the iconic Venice Carnival in February, watch the spectacular Il Palio horse race in Siena in June or July, or listen to world-class music at the Verona Opera Festival or the Ravello Music Festival.
Egypt’s Red Sea coast is around five hours flying time from the UK, and offers the promise of sunshine and warm temperatures at any time of year – at great value prices. There is plenty to do both above and below the water: grab a snorkel and mask and you’ll enter an underwater world of coral reefs and colourful fish, or take a safari into the adjoining desert.
Cairo is home to one of the world’s finest museums, a collection of ancient treasures that includes King Tut’s gold death mask. Must-sees include the Pyramids and the Sphinx, but lesser known sights are equally memorable, including the amazing warren of traders in the Khan el Khalili market and Mohammed Ali’s castle-like mosque.
Even the approach to this grand Palladian mansion, along a mile-long drive arching through 500 acres of parkland, is outstanding. Just six miles from Bath, Lucknam Park offers an array of activities including walking trails, horse riding, swimming and tennis, plus fine dining and a superb new spa.
Remember when flying was fun? Before the days of long queues, endless checks and airports that are more like shopping malls? Book with Flybe and it’s a whole different experience; they fly from small, regional airports that connect to dozens of European destinations, ideal for a stress-free start to your citybreak or week in the sun.
There are few trickier customers than sulky teenagers, but hand them a surfboard and a wetsuit and they invariably brighten up. Surfing is just one of the activities offered to families at Penha Longa in Portugal, along with tennis, golf, cycling and horse-riding. Younger children can join others for a host of activities while weary Mums retreat to the luxurious spa.
What’s the greater pleasure – cooking or eating? The joy of these short-breaks to some of France’s top foodie hotspots is that they offer an abundance of both; cookery classes in a professional kitchen, paired with visits to local food markets, wine tastings and plenty of opportunity to dine at the bistros and brasseries in such gourmet destinations as La Rochelle, Carcassonne and Bergerac.
The ideal way to get to know the richly diverse landscapes of Europe and the UK is on two feet. Travelling from the mountains to the sea, you’ll pass through medieval hill towns, vineyards, forests and fishing villages. Each evening your luggage will be waiting at your hotel, so you can unwind over a delicious meal featuring regional food and wine.
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.
You don’t have to be a military history buff to be interested in visiting historic battlefield sites. Over 100 years since the start of the First World War, you can join a small-group tour of memorials and cemeteries, as well as battle sites, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. It’s a truly moving experience for all ages.
Head for the golden beaches of northern France where Pierre & Vacances has a selection of holiday villages in Normandy, Picardy and Brittany. They offer comfortable self-catering accommodation in villas, cottages and apartments, while the on-site restaurant, shop and swimming pools make life easy for everyone.
History, architecture and long, sandy beaches combine to make Sicily the perfect choice for an Italian short break. Choose from a city weekend among the faded grandeur of Palermo, or a chilled-out foodie few days among the trattorias and locandas of Syracuse. Drive up Mount Etna, eat gelati on the promenade in Cefalu and sip cocktails at sunset in pretty Taormina. Bellissima.
We all love a buy one, get one free deal. Sadly, it doesn’t often work with city breaks, but book a trip to beautiful Budapest and you get two cities for the price of one. The older part, Buda, boasts stunning Gothic architecture and pretty cobbled streets, while across the river Pest has wide boulevards, tranquil parks and buzzy cafe culture.
Time, space, peace. If you’re craving one – or all of these – (and frankly who isn’t) then sneak a look at the clutch of gorgeous Scottish cottages offered by the Little Domain. Choose from a seaside billet or an urban apartment in the heart of Edinburgh; a range of perfect spaces for two, all with a delicious feeling of escape.
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.
Planning a trip to Paris should be easy – book the train, find a hotel and hey presto, you’re en vacances. Only it’s rarely that simple – trawling though endless websites to find the lowest prices can feel like hard work. That’s where trivago comes in. It scans over 200 websites to find the best deals – from five-star luxe to a budget Left Bank B&B, with prices from £40 per night.
Downton Abbey may be over for another season, but that’s no reason to let standards slip! Book a break with Oliver’s Travels to stay at some of Britain’s most elegant properties – from Georgian townhouses that sleep six, to grand country estates that sleep sixty. All can be rented for exclusive use, with properties in Scotland, England and Wales.
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 with Boutique Retreats and they do the hard work, from booking restaurants to arranging a private chef or deliveries of local Cornish produce. All of which leaves little to do but put your feet up and enjoy the peace. Perfect.
Private jet travel is not the sole preserve of the mega rich. Get together with a few friends and a trip to Paris and lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant can cost less than £1,000 each. It’s not just the onboard luxury you’ll love. You can fly from a hassle-free local airfield and even if you’re late, the aircraft will wait for you.
Keen to lose a few pounds, or shift into a more healthy way of eating but don’t have the time for a week of bootcamp? Essential Escapes has a great range of short-break wellbeing trips, including a three-night yoga and fitness break in a sumptuous villa at the gorgeous Vilalara Thalassa Resort on the Algarve.
A short-break across the Atlantic doesn’t have to mean New York – Montréal is closer, oozes style and combines the atmosphere of a chic French city with the traditional laid-back Canadian feel. Pair serious shopping with outdoor activities; try white-water rafting or jet boating and reward yourself with fabulous French food and lazy afternoons enjoying the cafe culture.