Azerbaijan is sandwiched between Georgia, Armenia and Turkey, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, and bound by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains. We're making the historical and dazzling capital, Baku, our base.
An ancient walled city dating back to the seventh century, Baku's cutting-edge architecture is a honeypot for design lovers and creatives. Throw in its diverse culinary offering and myriad shopping opportunities, and you're looking at a destination that offers a real feast for the senses. Spend mornings walking along the sun-drenched promenade or join a walking tour to marvel at the wonders of the old city.
Ever find yourself lost in the rugs room at Liberty London? Ditto. Azerbaijan Carpet Museum is on hand to fulfil all of our flooring fantasies. Having taken 300 pictures of the extraordinary rolled-up-rug exterior (no judgement), dive inside for a close-up look at both historical and modern weaving techniques - but be prepared to end up questioning every carpet choice you've ever made. Music connoisseurs, meanwhile, should make a beeline for the International Mugham Centre, whose aim is to preserve this complex, centuries-old musical genre.
Where to stay?
Bed down at the Art Gallery Hotel. Just a short stroll from the picture-perfect promenade and the iconic Fountain Square, this 30-bedroom hideout doubles up as an art showroom - hence the name. Flaunting a sensational reception space, plant-clad walls, white marble floors and blush-pink velvet chairs, you can be assured of a first-class stay. Upstairs, two-floor soundproofed rooms (yep, seriously) are decorated with artworks by world-renowned Azeri and international artists. After peeling yourself off the Tempur-Pedic mattress, slip downstairs to enjoy the tasty in-house breakfast buffet.
Where to go for dinner?
Sumakh might look like your average restaurant, but don't let the hard-faced exterior fool you. Inside, a happy mish-mash of ceramic plates and oriential artefacts form a backdrop to spacious tables that are made even more inviting by super-comfortable seating and Aztec-print cushions. Truth be told, we'd happily jump on a flight just to come and taste-test the entire menu. Our order? The shah plov (a rich, traditional pilaf known as the "king of dishes"), followed by a generous serving of the succulent ribs or superb sturgeon.
And for a drink…
For a setting just as spectacular as its cocktails, head to CaféCity. Home to an elegant restaurant that conveniently backs onto the bar, we're pegging this as the perfect spot to pack in lunchtime dining and evening tipples, all under one roof.
Who to take with you
A design lover. They'll enjoy rambling around the city, taking in the brilliant blend of old and new architecture.
When to go
Visit in September or October, when humidity levels have plummeted and the temperature is comfortable. Alternatively, embrace the scorching mid-summer sun and visit in June, when the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and plenty of sunny music festivals take place.
Essentials to pack
The flight to Baku from London is just shy of six hours, which means only one thing for us: dreaded skin dehydration. That's why we've partnered with skincare brand Gazelli to give new SUITCASE subscribers an indulgent, carry-on-friendly gift that will ensure you're still glowing even after a long-haul trip. Simply sign up for an annual or biennial SUITCASE subscription and you'll receive the Gazelli Ultimate Firming Serum and the Gazelli Saviour Mask, with a combined value of £130. Stock is limited, so act fast.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Heathrow to Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport, which is only 24km from the city centre.