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ENJOY A CREATIVE WEEKEND: Vinegar Hill Pottery
For a creative weekend, book a pottery course to learn how to make beautiful ceramics and unique pieces. Vinegar Hill Pottery (featured on the BBC's The Great Pottery Throwdown) offers pottery retreats in the seaside village of Milford on Sea in Hampshire, just a short distance from the New Forest. The family-run business is headed up by Lucy Rogers and guests can choose from a range of accommodation options: The Garden Room in the main house which sleeps up to four, a self-contained loft suite for two or a cosy holiday home on the estate which sleeps up to 12. Guests can choose from day-long or three-day pottery courses which covers the basics as well as more advanced techniques. Tea and cake plus seasonal lunches are provided daily.
PLAY TENNIS IN BARCELONA: Emilio Sanchez
For an active weekend abroad, book a tennis weekend with the girls to perfect your skills on court. There are several renowned academies to choose from, but Emilio Sanchez in Barcelona comes highly recommended – Andy Murray trained here as a teenager. With 27 courts and just 20 minutes away from the centre of Barcelona, the academy has a five-day adult training programme consisting of two hours of training on court each day, as well as an hour of personal physical training with a top coach. Suitable for all abilities, the programme is designed to improve your game and technique, while building stamina. Guests can stay on campus in self-catering apartments which overlook the swimming pool or find accommodation elsewhere.
RENT A CASTLE IN SCOTLAND: Duchray Castle
Airbnb has created a new search function where you can find unique holiday homes by type of holiday or property – search the castle listings to find a selection of historic homes around the UK. For a memorable trip in the beautiful Perthshire countryside, Duchray Castle is just outside Aberfoyle in the Queen Elizabeth Forest. The 500-year-old castle sleeps eight across four modern en suite bedrooms and has a formal living area with an indoor wood burner, as well as a snug, a kitchen/diner and a separate dining room built into the castle vaults. The whole property is powered by a renewable biomass heating system, and there’s an impressive 80 acres of parkland to explore on the estate. Guests can also visit the nearby Trossachs National Park (just a 15-minute drive away) where you’ll find acres of beautiful scenery consisting of lochs, forests, hills and glens.
STAY AT A VINEYARD: Rathfinny Wine Estate
For a relaxed weekend, book an overnight stay at one of UK’s vineyards – there are 800 to choose from and, right now, British wine is better than ever due to our changing climate where southern vineyards can produce wine of a similar quality to that found in France. Autumn is one of the best times to visit when the harvest is ready for picking. Our choice of where to stay? Rathfinny Wine Estate in East Sussex produces one of England’s top sparkling wines as the vineyards occupy a south-facing slope, just three miles from the sea. In October, guests can book a harvesting tasting tour which includes a walk around the vineyards followed by a wine tasting. You can also book self-guided tours (no booking required) before staying overnight at the Flint Barns – packages include a three-course dinner at the on-site restaurant, breakfast and a special tasting experience.
SHOP ITALIAN BOUTIQUES: Torino Outlet Village
Italy has some of the best boutiques and designer outlets in Europe. As well as the obvious choices of Rome and Milan, Turin – the capital city of Piedmont in the north – has an excellent selection of high street and designer shops. Browse the independent boutiques, delis and flea markets in the city centre before heading to Torino Outlet Village, just five minutes away via a shuttle bus. Easily recognised by its 84-metre spire sculpture at the entrance, the outlet opened in 2017 and has already established itself as a top shopping destination. Here, you’ll find outlet shops by Italian designers like Armani, Gucci, Luisa Spagnoli and Elisabetta Franchi, as well as other brands including Coach, Nike, Diesel and New Balance – all up to 70% off the RRP. Once you’ve hit the shops, stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafés.
HIT THE CULTURAL SIGHTS: New York City
Visiting New York City is always a good idea, but the city really comes into its own during the autumn months when new Broadway shows hit the stage, exhibitions pop up around the galleries and temperatures are more comfortable. During October, cultural highlights include the New York Film Festival, the Columbus Day Parade and Open House New York – when some of the city’s most interesting building are open to visitors for a limited time. This year, tickets are free to one of autumn’s must-see fashion exhibitions: ‘Dior and Balenciaga: The Kings of Couture and their Legacies’ at The Museum at FIT (until 6th November), while Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer-winning play Topdog/Underdog will have its first Broadway revival at John Golden Theatre (from 20th October).
BOOK A RIAD IN MARRAKECH: Riad Yasmine
For late autumn sun, Morocco is a top choice when temperatures hover around the mid-20 degrees for much of October and November. To make the most of Marrakech’s cultural sights and excellent food scene, book into Riad Yasmine, a small hotel in the middle of Marrakech’s Medina. French couple Gabriel and Alice moved to Marrakech in 2015 to take over the riad and have since transformed it into a modern green paradise. The verdant riad has eight well-designed bedrooms – each filled with plenty of plants and cacti – a swimming pool, a rooftop solarium plus a friendly resident cat named Bowie. If you’re after a spot of relaxation, enjoy a mint tea in the living room and reading nook. The whole place can also be booked exclusively for up to 16 guests.
TRAVEL ON A LUXURY TRAIN: Belmond Journeys
For an ultra-luxury experience, book a train journey on one of Belmond’s historic trains, inspired by the golden age of travel. Guests can sit in a 1930s-inspired carriage or book the exclusive Cygnus carriage designed by film maker Wes Anderson. Over the next few months, there are several journeys to choose from – most departing from London Victoria. Highlights include a trip to Chatsworth house in the Derbyshire Dales, a guided tour of Oxford which includes a three-course dinner and glass of champagne on board the train, and a round-trip to the English countryside with a dinner hosted by Dom Pérignon. There’s also a murder mystery lunch aboard the historic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (the sister to the iconic British Pullman, A Belmond Train).
HEAD ON A LITERARY TOUR: The Lake District
The Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. It’s also home to historic literary sites relating to William Wordsworth, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter. Martin Randall Travel operates walking tours that visit sites related to each of those writers, consisting of five short walks to the authors’ homes and places of interest. If you’d rather focus on one, Viator offers a range of walking tours in the area, too – we like the sound of the Beatrix Potter & Peter Rabbit private tour which takes place in her hometown village of Sawley. There’s no shortage of places to stay in the Lake District, but one of our favourite hotels is Another Place in Ullswater which has three types of room to choose from, as well as suites and on-site cottages, all of which are warm and inviting. As well as ample activities, the hotel has an indoor pool with lakeside views, plus an outdoor hot tub.
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