Originally published on Tuesday, 20th March 2012
TRAVEL SUPPLEMENT SPRING
Easter is imminent, May Day’s a-coming and those of you who were clever enough to book days off around the Queen’s Jubilee will surely be planning for far-off shores. And, as if there weren’t enough temptations to up sticks already, Virgin Atlantic have opened a new clubhouse at JFK, as well as a new route from Heathrow to Vancouver, and you can even choose who to sit next to with KLM’s new Meet & Seat service. Failing that, head to Shoreditch in April for an airline-inspired pop-up by British Airways, which will include a restaurant, cinema and gallery. Read on to see UJ’s mix of top destinations to head for this Spring. Happy sunning!
BREATHE: Aran Islands
Head to the least visited of Ireland’s Aran Islands, Inis Meáin, for a much needed top up of fresh air and unique scenery (don’t worry, there is Wifi). The island’s stylish accommodation is family run, with a restaurant using locally sourced ingredients – fresh lobster and crab in abundance – and a knitting company. The four suites and one apartment are minimalist, with soft furnishings, Iroko beds and Phillipe Starck bathrooms. Even books, bicycles and fishing rods are provided. We like the attention to detail. Don’t leave without purchasing some Aran knits, or visiting the one pub on the island.
Suites from €500, apartment from €700 (for two nights during the shoulder season)
For rustic escapism (and red wine on tap) Les Sources de Caudalie offers everything you want from a French break: wine, cuisine, and did we mention wine? Recommended by UJ’s WineChap, the hotel has the world’s first Vinotherapy spa. Say what? You heard right – grapes are mixed with natural spring water to create unique treatments: try the Merlot wrap, Cabernet scrub, or a full-on barrel bath. Or, if you’d rather drink than bathe in the vin there’s a wine cellar with tasting sessions. We recommend the L’Île Aux Oiseaux suite, a cabin which stands on stilts in a bay, and was decorated by Maison Martin Margiela.
Les Sources des Caudalie, Chemin de Smith Haut Lafitte, 33650 Bordeaux-Martillac, France
Spa treatments from €65, rooms from €250
SOAK IT UP: Basilicata
The sixth hotel in cult director Francis Ford Coppola’s portfolio has just opened in the quaint town of Bernalda, Basilicata (where his grandfather Agostino was born, and where Sofia recently celebrated her wedding). The 1892 Palazzo Margherita has been completely restored, with a Baroque edge to its interiors and furniture, designed by Jacques Grange. Soak up the atmosphere: the 9 palatial suites are unique, the Roman-style pool is secluded in a walled garden, and at night the Salon turns into a private screening room showing cult Italian films from Coppola’s personal collection. Plus: ancient streets, Southern Italian food, flowing wine and Mediterranean sun.
Palazzo Margherita, Corso Umberto 64, 75012 Bernalda, Basilicata, Italy
Suites from €720 for 2 nights
We’re avid Tulum enthusiasts here at UJHQ, but we’ve decided to branch out (ie go West coast) and share the Mejico love this season. Playa Escondida, a secluded beach resort near the small town of Sayulita, is on the tails of Tulum with its hippie edge and boho-chic clientele but here the surf is always up. There are private beach villas (think canopied beds, wooden terrazas, open showers, hammocks), a natural infinity pool, private beach cove, spa and restaurant serving local cuisine. The beach covers 350ft of the Pacific coastline so the swells shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Playa Escondida, Ave Playa Escondida #1, Sayulita Nayarit, Sayulita 63734, Mexico
Beach villas from $175
HIT THE STREETS: Tokyo
Another one from the Coppola clan. Sort of. You’ll recognise the spacious corridors, panoramic cityscapes and marble bathtubs of the Park Hyatt Hotel from whimsical romantic comedy Lost in Translation. If you can drag yourself away from the 47th floor pool and spa, head into the heaving metropolis: lifestyle brand Beams is a must, as is the new Dover Street Market in Ginza. And stop by Culture Convenience Club’s Tsutaya store, a chic high-tech library, bookstore, travel service and archive rolled into one. Make sure to bring fresh socks as you’ll have to go shoeless in many restaurants.
Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, 163-1055, Japan
Rooms from €419
Pisco may have found a home away from home in Soho but there’s nothing like the real deal. Holidays to Peru are on the up, and our friends at Mr and Mrs Smith recommend boutique 16th century manor house Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco for those after an on-trend break. Expect immersion into Inca culture: the furniture, local art and interiors are traditional with added modern touches like rain showers, freestanding tubs, heated floors and a candlelit spa – which you’ll be thankful for after the trek to Machu Picchu. There is the option of a scenic train ride to the ruins as well, for you not-so-active types.
Inkaterra La Casona, 113 Plaza Las Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru
Rooms from £265 (including breakfast, excluding tax)
A world away from London, the colourful streets and exotic landscape of South America’s queen Rio aren’t as far away as you think in terms of time difference: only two hours, in fact (how does that work?). So forget the jet lag and head straight for the parties, making sure you check into the Hotel Santa Teresa on the way (the loft suite is preferable). Situated in Rio’s artistic quarter on a hillside in Santa Teresa – accessible by the Selarón steps – the hotel’s design is based on local materials and artwork. If you’d rather beach over pool-time, then Ipanema Posto 9 is a good spot.
Hotel Santa Teresa, Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 660, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rooms from £314