Where to go, and what to pack, for your winter escape
As temperatures continue to plummet and England displays it’s famous (read: miserable) winter weather, our minds wander off to exciting cities and sunny beaches. Once you’ve decided that a winter break is in order, you then need to decide where to go and – importantly – what to wear.
I’ve sought the expertise of travel blogger Its All Bee to create a wish-list of winter escape destinations to help you narrow your choices, and have selected the must-pack items for your suitcase for each.
Amazing food, architecture, and art in abundance – what more could you want? It’s All Bee recommends basing yourself near the Piazza Santa Croce, which she says is “Busy enough with Italian cafes, restaurants, shops, and galleries but quiet enough to enjoy surroundings without hordes of tourists clogging up the area too much.” It’s also only two streets from the Arno River, close to the Ponte Vecchio and directly across the river from the gorgeous vista you’ll find at the Piazza Michaelangelo. The shopping is exceptional too – Florence has given birth to many luxury goods companies including Salvatore Ferragamo.
Denmark’s capital, while still on the chilly side, is a chic and quiet haven after the Christmas rush. Stay at boutique Hotel Skt. Annæ – a perfect example of cosy but pared-back Scandi style. It’s located just behind Nyhavn, the colourful 17th-century waterfront entertainment district where you can snuggle down with a blanket under a heater and indulge in local seafood and beers at one of the many restaurants and bars. There are plenty of palaces and museums to explore or browse a multitude of shops selling beautifully designed homewares and unique art.
What to pack for a city break in winter:
A city break demands a beautiful overcoat and scarf. Choose these well and packing is easy: simply add dark jeans and warm knits in solid colours for daytime, or tailored trousers and a blazer for the evening and you’re set. Layering is the key so that if it’s chilly you’re well equipped and if it’s warm, you know you can take those layers off.
Cosy countryside retreats
You don’t have to venture far for a cosy retreat to help you forget what stresses you. It’s All Bee recommends Spitbank Fort, a man-made island on the Solent. It’s perfect for a luxe getaway for couples, but large enough if you fancy bringing friends. Bee also suggests Snowdonia national park where you can rent cottages with stunning views of the lake or quaint Cotswold villages like Burford. I have it on good authority that The Old Stocks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold – a refurbished 17th-century Cotswold coaching inn – is a must for food lovers with two exceptional restaurants. This elegant, but unpretentious boutique even offers garden rooms for those who can’t be parted with their canine friends.
Think outside Paris and there are some beautifully scenic destinations that practically beg you to sit in a gorgeous chalet or chateaux and sip wine while enjoying the views. Chalet Pelerin in the Alps village of Le Miroir offers five-star luxury whatever activities you enjoy – from heli-skiing and private guided hikes to relaxing on their mountain view terrace or under a fur by the fire. (Book via Mr & Mrs Smith.)
You could also head to a provincial mansion in LʼIsle-sur-la-Sorgue. A well-traveled friend recommends Le Domaine de Palerme – a six-minute ride from the town which holds an amazing 300 antique shops.
What to pack for your countryside retreat:
For a getaway where you plan on holing up in a beautiful hotel with a bottle of red and never venturing outside (a great idea, I say) soft, warm knits in rich colours like burgundy, navy or dark forest green are a must. Our lighter Merino knits are perfect for looking smart when popping downstairs to the restaurant for dinner, rather than having to get the suit out and go to town. You’ll feel comfortable while still looking smart.
Comfortable trousers are ideal compared to the stiffness of jeans. We recommend a pair of made to measure flannel trousers, corduroys (which are on trend right now) or a pair of our aubergine super soft evening trousers. Pop them in a beautiful leather holdall and you’re good to go.
Winter sun escapes
Sometimes there is nothing for it but to find some sun to chase away the winter blues. Costa Rica has wildlife-rich national parks to explore, gorgeous beaches to laze on and exceptional coffee – what more could you want? It’s steep in most places, but that does mean a plethora of luxury hotels with amazing sea (and sometimes volcano!) views, private plunge pools and balconies perfect for candlelit dining for two. Travel Magazine has helpfully picked out the five best locations to stay for romantic getaways in Costa Rica.
Bee is a big fan of Swakopmund – one of Namibia’s largest coastal towns sandwiched between the beach and dunes. Located on Africa’s Atlantic coast, the weather is mild during Europe’s winter so you’ll be comfortably warm. As a relatively unknown spot, you’ll have plenty of space to yourself, too. There is a multitude of activities on offer from wind-surfing to sand-boarding, or you could explore delicious food at the seaside restaurants and gaze at German colonial architecture. Bee recommends staying at Gecko Ridge Lodge.
Yes, it’s in the news half the time, but Bee says that those in the know understand how peaceful and safe places on the Mediterranean side of Israel are. Take Tel Aviv, it was founded in 1909 as a suburb north of the ancient city of Jaffa, believed to be the oldest port in the world. With 300 days of sunshine, art and culture, beautiful beaches, fresh seafood restaurants lining the coast and great nightlife it’s an ideal location for some winter sun. Try the luxurious David InterContinental Hotel or soak up the most stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea at the Hilton Beach Apartment. Jerusalem also has a lot to offer beyond its famous religious sites and architecture including great markets and delicious food.
What to pack for your winter sun escape:
Easy to wear short-sleeved shirts in super light fabrics will be your go-to suitcase staples. We have designed shirts that have a balance of silk, linen and cotton so that you look smart but seriously cool at the same time.
Thinking about a winter sun cruise? I put together my top tips for staying stylish while adhering to tricky at-sea dress codes in this post.
Started packing already? Our December Style Doctor post has some great tips for packing to ensure you arrive with crease-free clothing.
For more of It’s All Bee’s travel tips, photos and stories, visit www.itsallbee.com
Photos of Florence, Namibia and Tel Aviv by Its All Bee.
Feature image by Francesca Tirico on Unsplash
Copenhagen photo by Julien Widmer on Unsplash
Ski photo by Urban Sanden on Unsplash
Snowdonia photo by Leo Sammarco on Unsplash
Costa Rica Sloths image by Sebastian Molinares on Unsplash
Words by Katrina Strathearn @ Veracity Content