Wylde World: Spring Breaks
Report by Leanne Bracey
Easter is fast approaching and there are a multitude of travel options to suit every taste. Sightseeing or relaxing? City or countryside? We've rounded up a great selection of options.
BEST FOR: SIGHTSEEING
Once associated as a holiday retreat for 'the older generation', the island of Malta has since found its cool and has been firmly placed on the destination map for 2016. A friend recently visited and hasn't stopped raving about how great the island is. The Maltese capital has 300 days-a-year sun, a rich history and a growing Maltese food scene. Spring is a great time to go for some exploring, as the heat hasn’t quite reached its maximum strength. Architect Renzo Piano, has completed a glorious overhaul of the City Gate in Valletta and there’s some stunning architecture to be seen, thanks to St John’s Cathedral. It may not look like much from the outside, but the interior is like opening up a jewellery box. Valletta Vintage is a funky collection of five properties set in historic buildings over the capital. The interiors are cool and modern and some have fabulous views over the city.
BEST FOR: VALUE
Portugal is probably the best value destination for UK tourists this year, so the city of Lisbon is a good bet for a great value getaway destination. Lisbon hints at its Latin roots with its cobbled streets and wooden trams, plus there's a good slice of nightlife in the Barrio Alto district. Try the Pousada de Lisboa, a new and very affordable luxury hotel that still has a lot of its original features, right in the centre of the city, with views of the Targos River. Unusually for such a central hotel, it also has a spa and indoor swimming pool, and the nightlife continues in the sleek bar, a popular haunt for locals too. Lisbon has the bonus of being a city right by the sea but if a more relaxing break is what you're looking for, then perhaps try the Algarve, right at the bottom of Portugal. We recommend The Conrad Resort Hotel as not only is it set in a beautiful location, it has a great restaurant and spa. You can also swim with Portuguese Water Dogs. It's also worth going for the fact that in-resort prices have dropped by almost a third this year.
BEST FOR: RELAXATION
For golden sands and long stretching beaches without the flight time of the Indian Ocean, head to Naxos, one of the Cycladic islands' most beautiful spots. Spring is a great time to visit. Stay at Villa Marandi Luxury Suites (above), perfect for a group of people. We love their light, airy and spacious rooms. Alternatively if a beachside bungalow with views out to the Aegean Sea sounds appealing, then check out Ikos Olivia, perfect for families, activities or just relaxing on a beach.
BEST FOR: WINE ENTHUSIASTS
It's no secret that Spain produces some of the best European wines, and those who appreciate a good tipple will be in awe at the Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine a beautiful hotel set in 1,730 acres, of which 500 acres are vine. The winery is one of the most-advanced in Europe, so will satisfy any wine buff's knowledge for fusing old wine-making traditions with that of the newest technology available. If full butler service appeals, then look no further, as this Spanish hotel was the first to offer this service in Spain. And that’s not the only 'first' the hotel has: it’s the first hotel in Europe to offer guests Google Glass for their stay. It boasts a brand new spa, a Michelin-starred restaurant set in the Abbey’s dining hall, plus tapas-style dining outdoors in the beautiful garden. La Domaine is a short flight to Madrid with Easyjet and then a two-hour drive from the airport.
The hotel has special offers so do check the website for more details:
BEST FOR: FOOD LOVERS
Northern Italy produces some of the best food in the country and with a UNESCO Heritage status recently given, the city of Parma is a must for any Italian food fan. I recently spent a few days here and fell in love with it. As Bologna, Piacenza and Reggio Emilia are also nearby, it makes sense to check them all out at once. Bring back amazing 3 and 5 year Parma ham (not available outside of Italy), aged parmesan and sample the best tortellini and balsamic vinegar. In Parma, the Grand Hotel de la Ville is central to everything you need for a good foodie trip. In Bologna, try the Art Hotel Commercianti, situated right in the heart of the city. Or, if you go to Modena, try Quartopiano, a two bedroom boutique hotel in the centre of town. Further South, Rome is a popular city destination and it's had a flux of cool hotel openings recently. We love the look of G Rough, a modern contemporary hotel situated by the Piazza Navona.
BEST FOR: A DIFFERENT CITY AND SKIING
Switzerland isn't just about skiing. For a weekend break try Basel, a Swiss city right near the border of France. It may not be the most obvious choice for a getaway but we highly recommend it. It's a great choice for those who don't like flying, as in about 7 hours you can train it all the way from the UK (via a change in Paris). There are plenty of great quirky boutiques tucked away in the backstreets, and fantastic chocolate shops. Book a few nights at Krafft Hotel and ask for a room overlooking the Rhine. The views are fantastic and the rooms have a cool, contemporary, Nordic feel. Make sure you visit the gorgeous Paper Museum, where you can learn to make your own paper. But if ski is your thing, then take a train down to Andermatt for some of the most advanced skiing in the country. This pretty little valley town is steeped in history and is a popular destination for the Swiss to hone their skills on the black runs. Plus you won't find a hotel chicer then The Chedi (see above), to soothe aching muscles after a hard day on the slopes. The brilliant spa has a great full length pool with an outdoors section and hydrotherapy pools, large saunas and steam rooms, plus a 18 degree plunge pool. Ask for a room facing the Urensen Valley and watch the weather change dramatically.
BEST FOR: DRIVING TO
Sometimes a short trip in the UK is all that’s needed to reinvigorate the soul after a miserable start to the year. There are plenty of offerings in Devon, so there’s no need to take a flight if all you want to do is drive the car. For a family break try The Boat House in Kingsbridge (above), a spacious reverse level house with fabulous sea views. Members of The National Trust will love the cliff top walk over over in Ifracombe, as Black Pitt Cottage sits on its own in a secluded setting just 200 metres away. Cosy up with a wood burning stove and look out to sea.
Both locations can be booked at