Five of the Best Bank Holiday Escapes

Spring is one of our favourite times to travel: it's the start of summer in southern Europe, cities are sunny again, snow-sure resorts are still skiable and Britain is blooming. So with a slew of bank holidays coming up on the horizon, now is the perfect time to float some getaway plans with your friends - as this year you've promised not to spend all the long weekends in a pub, remember?

Five alternative destinations for a long weekend

Isles of Scilly

Cornwall, UK

With a sub-tropical microclimate, uncrowded beaches and water the same shade as the Caribbean's, the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast deliver island vibes in spadefuls, making them the perfect alternative to crowded Cornwall. Freewheel past honesty stalls selling fudge and eggs, scoff (proper) fish and chips on empty beaches and snorkel with seals. There are plenty of stone-walled, sea-view cottages strewn across the main isles of St Mary's, Tresco and St Martin's, meaning you can pick one according to your budget and group size - the views from Rosmarinus are particularly dreamy.


Puglia, Italy

Scoot along from Bari - which often resembles Bournemouth during Easter and has about as much allure - to the sun-faded palazzi of Otranto. Sweeps of (empty) sandy beaches sit alongside whitewashed houses sporting Capri-blue shutters and an Old Town stacked with family-run delis, which are the place to pick up steaming hot panzerottis. Mix beach days with hikes to the Cava di Bauxite, an otherworldly landscape of fiery red rocks and lagoon-like lakes, and sate cultural appetites with tours of Otranto Castle. The whole brigade can bed down at Janela Blue, a spacious two-bedroom townhouse in the centre of the Old Town.

Check out our other favourite hotels in Puglia here.

Val Thorens

The Alps, France

Time to squeeze in one last ski trip for the squad. Vast and fast with runs to suit everyone from the Bambi-on-ice to the black-diamond bonafides in the group, Val Thorens' high-altitude pistes are snow-sure until late April. For après-ski, eschew slamming Jägerbombs at La Folie Douce in favour of Rhum Box, a dinky dive bar that serves 30 types of rum. Check in to Le Val Thorens; it's ski-in/ski-out, the fondue is exceptional and the spa will suit those who only came for the après.


Morocco, Africa

With its cappuccino-coloured, windswept beaches, fishermen's shacks and mellow, manageably sized medina, Essaouira is Marrakech's blissed-out, beachy sibling. Musicians flocked here in the 60s - the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Cat Stevens - and you'll still find an infectious artistic spirit winding through the rampart walls, the smart boutiques stocked with up-and-coming African designers, the galleries on every corner and the vintage stores full of eclectic finds. Spread over two 18th-century, vine-covered merchant houses, Villa Maroc is an easy ramble from the port, harbour and beach, and makes an ideal base. Surrounded by desert scrub and decorated with traditional archways, courtyards and mosaic tiles, Dar ZINZIN sleeps 12 and is our pick for total seclusion.



After two years of frantically changing at Brussels Midi to make the 20.22 train back to London, Eurostar has finally launched its direct return train from Amsterdam. Once there, paddle the canals, shop at clean-lined concept stores - source eco-conscious beauty buys at newbie CODA - and sample and sink Japanese whiskeys in Taiko Bar, before hitting the sack at Boat & Co, a darling aparthotel that has racked up a trophy cabinet of accolades for its pioneering sustainability initiatives.

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