The kids are back at school but the sun is still shining (in some places!). September is the best month to get away, writes Sarah Marshall, who selects her top short breaks.
If you had to imagine the perfect hotel in the south of France, it would probably be something very like Domaine de la Baume. There’s the shady gravel terrace, where you could have a glass of rose with your lunchtime salad, and the beautiful swimming pool, surrounded by roses and cypress trees. Then there’s the hotel itself, which has the intimate feel of a private home.
The Domaine is the latest addition to the Sibuet collection; an 18th century gem, an hour and a half’s drive from Nice, set in 100 acres of landscaped gardens and meadows, and once the home of celebrated modern artist Bernard Buffet.
Bedrooms are beautifully and tastefully furnished with antique furniture and Provencal fabrics, alongside state-of-the-art flat-screen TVs (artfully hidden inside gilt-edged mirrors) and super-fast internet connection.
Spend days riding around the estate, taking part in a cookery lesson with the head chef, or visiting the spa, set in a log cabin next to a series of waterfalls.
Doubles from 440 euros per night, half board. Visit en.domaine-delabaume.com
British Airways (www.britishairways.com) flies to Nice from London airports from £40 one way.
Fine art, grand architecture and a love of the outdoors make Vienna a great choice for a warm weather city break. Drawing even more attention to the Austrian capital is new luxury hotel Park Hyatt Vienna, located in the city’s Unesco-listed First District in a renovated 100-year-old building that once served as a bank.
Smooth marble pillars, crystal lanterns and Viennese mirrors evoke the grandeur of the Habsburg dynasty, who once ruled the city, while there are also references to the Secessionist arts movement, championed by Gustav Klimt.
A subterranean spa features a 15m pool in the bank’s former vault, while The Bank restaurant occupies a dining room that could compete with some of Vienna’s greatest palaces. A menu features European regional cuisine made with locally-sourced products, including river salmon and pike-perch.
Doubles from £297, room only. Visit vienna.park.hyatt.com
Book flights to Vienna through Expedia. Visit Expedia.co.uk
Swing open the door from the back bedroom at Villa Bila, and in the distance, you might see a yacht bobbing up and down on the sun-dappled, teal Adriatic sea. Perched on the south-east coast of the Brac, the biggest island in Dalmatia, the spacious, gleaming white five bedroom property is literally on the water’s edge at the port of Sumartin. A speed boat can even take guests directly from the airport to the front door.
The sound of waves crashing can be heard from every room, and the only thing more awe-inspiring than the beautiful artwork on walls is the picture perfect view of the rolling mountains and glittering sea, viewed through the large French windows.
Guests have access to a speed boat and 33ft yacht for the duration of their stay, allowing them to explore other islands such as nearby Hvar, and reach secluded restaurants which are only accessible by water.
For an extra fee, Villa Bila staff can cook and serve dishes such as local fish and black ink risotto, in the dining room, or the private garden filled with pine, olive and lemon trees. There really is no need to lift a finger while staying there, except perhaps to click away on your camera.
From 550 euros per day including all taxes. Visit Villabila.com
easyJet fly to Split from London, Bristol and Glasgow from £22.99 one way. Visit www.easyjet.com/en
Foraging in dense thickets and sliding down dusty verges is all part of the day job for truffle hunter Giulio Benuzzi, who, accompanied by his shaggy-haired Lagotto Romagnolo dog Eda, roams the Tuscan hills in search of the the highly prized delicacy.
Last year, he collected a kilo in an hour - worth an impressive 500 euros - and reveals that a large number were found in the grounds of 15th century villa Il Salviatino, which now operates as a five-star hotel. He regularly guides guests on tours of the surrounding woodland, teaching them about a passion that has even led him to make sketches and write poems about the gourmet fungus.
Set on a hillside in Fiesole, with views of the terracotta Duomo in Florence, the hotel has been meticulously restored to its former glory by the Pigozzo family. Paint has been stripped away to reveal original frescoes, and lemon trees in the terraced gardens cultivated to their original height. The food served is excellent, with many ingredients found on site.
Doubles from 322 euros with breakfast: visit the website: salviatino.com
Ryanair fly to Pisa from Bournemouth, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester, from £19.99 one way. Visit ryanair.com
POLAND LODZ TO OFFER
A major city 80 miles south-west of Warsaw, Lodz (pronounced “wooj”) has a rich textile history dating back to Poland’s Industrial Revolution. Today, the city’s fashion credentials hold their own against the style powerhouses of London, Paris, Milan and New York, making it an alternative choice for a chic weekend break.
Visit wizzair.com for information on flights and costs.