Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
Travel editors. They’re never far from an airport, have always checked out the newest hotel openings and can reel off a list of restaurant recommendations quicker than you can recite your own address. But where do they spend their downtime? With the holidays afoot, we’re letting you in on where the SUITCASE team is headed. From Dublin to Kuala Lumpur via North Norfolk, the scope is broad, the flight times variable and the mass food consumption a certainty.
Having made The Great Escape from London earlier this year, I’m focusing not on going away this Christmas but getting stuck in to my new home in Brighton. The city may be best known as a summer destination, but at Christmas it takes on an altogether more magical hue. Hove’s beach huts transform into a life-sized advent calendar, artists open their houses and winter solstice is marked by a Burning of the Clocks parade. Between a bit of DIY and a lot of snuggling my cats, I’m looking forward to bracing walks across the South Downs, picking up gifts around North Laine, skating at the Royal Pavilion and maybe – just maybe – a dip in the sea on Christmas morning.
I spent all my holidays as a child on the North Norfolk Coast. As an adult, no matter where my job has taken me I make a point of returning every year for Christmas with my close family. I think like most people it always revolves around a lot of good food and wine, with several family arguments thrown in for good measure (I am the middle child of five). I’m always sketchy on New Year plans as I’m pretty nonplussed about the whole thing and reticent to commit to some half-baked party plans, but this year I’m going to visit friends in Amsterdam, where I’m somewhat ashamed to say I have never been before.
This year I will be spending Christmas at home in Soho with my friends and family. There is something magical about Soho on Christmas Day when the streets are completely empty and the whole city is sparkling with lights. We all sit down to a big meal, sometimes we have up to 40 people round table, and then spend the afternoon playing games, opening presents, listening to music and dancing around. This will be my daughters first Christmas and the first Christmas my two-year old son will likely remember so I am extra excited to celebrate with them this year.
I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t have Christmas without having a mulled cider and/or black sambuca in my hometown of St Ives, Cornwall. It’s the only time of year that everyone who has left returns to get merry on sherry in the Sloop Inn – an old local fishermen’s pub on the harbour front. Here, you’ll find people of all ages singing sea shanties together punctuated by a little Dizzee Rascal; our grandmothers love it. Before I head back to Cornwall though, I’m going on safari in Botswana with our Print Editor-in-Chief, Olivia, for our next issue. After much Googling and with Lion King on repeat, I’m almost prepared for the trip of a lifetime.
Every Christmas I head back to Australia to partake in festivities with a cold beer in one hand and sun cream in the other. With half my family based in Sydney, this yearly tradition helps me reconnect with a country I spend so much time away from. After a Christmas day spent beachside, I will hop on a flight to visit my other homeland, Malaysia – making short trips to Bangkok, Nusa Lembongan and Bali en route. Without fail, large quantities of roti canai and mango sticky rice will be consumed.
As a not-so-secret introvert I’m silently delighted to be missing the merry-go-round of festive social events (no networking under the mistletoe for me!) in favour of a Wi-Fi-free escape to Botswana. I’m going in high for my first-ever safari in the Khwai Private Reserve, Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, where I’ll be attempting to channel old-world glamour on a 15kg baggage allowance. Then it’s back to my parents in Sussex for windy walks along Beachy Head, checking out the new gallery at my favourite place in the world of Charleston Farmhouse and snaffling as many green Quality Streets as I can.
I’m heading to Florence for a long weekend to visit friends ahead of the Christmas rush, so it is likely to be a Negroni-fuelled and pasta-heavy foray. Gucci Garden, the Uffizi and a walk up to San Miniato church are all on the agenda, interjected with several gelato stops at the famous Vivoli. For Christmas, I’ll be in the Suffolk countryside for long walks, cosy fires and copious amounts of cheese and chocolate (right down to the coffee-flavoured dregs).
With a ski trip planned to Beaver Creek, Colorado, in February, I’m spending Christmas and New Year at home in Cork, Ireland. Cork City at Christmas is so festive – there’s a great buzz around the place and all my friends are home. St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day to the Brits) is spent at my grandparents in Kerry and my family have a house in the coastal town of Glandore, which is usually where we spend New Year. While it’s always tempting to plan a trip a little further afield, there’s also something lovely about a few drinks in a cosy pub and a brisk beach walk the next day to get rid of the hangover – or a swim if you’re feeling brave (I never am).
This Christmas I will be dodging the cold and heading south to the Maldives. I always stay at the same hotel, the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. I will be spending my days surfing (a la Kate Bosworth in Blue Crush) and diving – I’ll probably end up growing gills by the end of the trip from the amount of time I’ll spend in the water. Back on land, I’ll be doing so much yoga you’d think my Class Pass expiration date was looming.
I will be making my annual pilgrimage back to Northern Ireland to return to the family nest. I grew up in a small town outside Belfast called Holywood (pronounced “Hollywood” but physically and metaphorically thousands of miles from its American namesake). After touching down in Ireland, my first action is to receive and obligingly relish a pint of Guinness. Holywood also has the perfect conditions for dog-walking, with Belfast Lough and Holywood town both less than 10 minutes away – we’ll take our portly beagle through the parks and coastal paths on the way to the town regularly. This, however, can take longer than usual because Irish people prefer to ramble in a different way by chatting to every person they encounter. A “Hello. The days are getting shorter. What breed is your dog? This weather is woeful.”
Every Christmas I disappear to the west coast of Scotland. In a small seaside town overlooking the Isle of Arran, long walks along the beach and across the famous golf courses (listening out for a distant “four”) have become an annual ritual – and the perfect antidote to a Christmas hangover. After the festive merriment, I am travelling much further north to the Highland village of Ullapool, wedged between frozen lakes and snowy mountains, to spend a week reading by the fire. Bringing in the New Year in true Scottish style, I’m heading to Edinburgh for Hogmanay and an abundance of whisky, live music and fireworks by the castle.
This Christmas, as with most Christmases, I’m spending the holidays in Dublin with family and friends. After our annual Christmas Day dip in the Irish Sea (plunging in at the Forty Foot in minus conditions) we’ll warm up with flasks of hot chocolate – consumed in the car to save our towels from freezing over. In between bouts of bingeing (on both food and films) I’m keen to check out new(ish) openings in the city – including The Alex hotel for a post family-time escape – and The Grayson when Christmas leftovers have become too bland to eat for yet another meal.
I’ll be heading home from New York to Canada for a wintry week away. Days will be spent skiing in Quebec and crossing the border to catch some snow in Vermont, while evenings will consist of fondue dinners and drinks by a roaring fire. For Christmas Eve through Boxing Day I’ll be travelling to Toronto to visit extended family and tick some of the city’s new restaurants off my list. Then it’s back to the countryside just outside Montreal to spend the very beginning of the new year snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and attempting to cook.
To get into the festive mood before I head home, I’m going to Dresden to relish is the festiveness of the season at one of Germany’s best Christmas markets. I can already taste the Dresdner Stollen (a traditional German fruit bread that originated there in 1474) and multiple servings of lebkuchen (like a German gingerbread) I’m sure to consume. After a good stuffing, it’s back to Hamburg for family time and more than likely more Christmas markets to explore.
I will be spending Christmas at home in Shropshire with a family invasion of aunts, uncles, cousins and babies. When we are not being merry around the Christmas tree or fire place we will be rambling over the Shropshire hills and settling into the local pubs. For New Years I will be doing similar things, however this time on the Isle of White.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
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