by Chris Leadbeater, The Telegraph, October 29, 2018
Escape the icy grip of British winter with a last-minute break to a city where the welcome is warm.
Depending on your taste in temperature, you might argue that the former imperial city of Marrakech, in Morocco, is at its best in November. The raw heat of July and August (in the mid-90s, or over 34C) will by then have been replaced by a more restrained 72F (22C), making a walk around the medina – or across the central plaza, the Djemaa el-Fna – an altogether more palatable prospect.
Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com) is offering three-night escapes to the boutique Villa des Orangers from £1,069 per person, including flights and breakfast. The hotel boasts a swimming pool, just in case the days are still too hot. See our guide to the best hotels in Marrakech.
While New York is lost in winter whiteness, Florida’s most fashionable city does what it always does and plays on the sand. It is not true to say there is nothing to Miami but sun and sea – its Pérez Art Museum (pamm.org) features works by modernists such as Diego Rivera. But the bars of South Beach are the city’s prime attraction, even at year’s end – when the mercury is still hovering around 75F (24C).
Virgin Holidays (0344 739 6384; virginholidays.co.uk) is offering seven nights at the five-star Delano Hotel (room only), flying from Manchester on Dec 8, from £2,124 per person. See our guide to the best hotels in Miami.
3. Buenos Aires
If you are happy to put in the distance (6,910 miles, but still within direct flight range of Heathrow flying with British Airways), then Buenos Aires is a sensible place to head for winter sun. The Argentine capital hits full summer mode in December, feeling positively aglow at 82F (28C). The city is short of decent beaches, but it lacks little else – and the steak restaurants of Recoleta are awash with wine and conversation during the long evenings.
Last Frontiers (01296 653000; lastfrontiers.com) is offering a 12-day Classic Argentina tour from £3,460 per person, including flights from the UK. The wide-ranging itinerary includes three days in Buenos Aires.
4. Rio de Janeiro
If you are going to target South America in search of a city swaddled in sunshine then you may as well head to the mother lode. The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro never really bothers to mess with the temperature gauge (you can expect temperatures of 75-85F/25-30C at all times) but has an extra allure in December and January as Europe shivers. Go in March, meanwhile, to catch the blur of Rio Carnaval (March 1–9 2019; riocarnaval.org).
Abercrombie & Kent (01242 386476; abercrombiekent.co.uk) is offering a nine-night Classic Brazil holiday starting at £4,695 per person. The itinerary includes three days in Rio de Janeiro, as well as economy flights.
Photo by ventdusud/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Head to the largest city in the UAE for the shopping, for the luxuy hotels, or simply for the chance to say you have climbed the planet’s tallest building – the 2,717ft (828m) Burj Khalifa (burjkhalifa.ae) – drawing a line through one item on your travel bucket list. As an added incentive, the temperature is an agreeable 77F (25C) in February.
Destinology (01204 208456; destinology.co.uk) is offering a seven-night, half-board holiday to the Palazzo Versace Dubai, flying from Glasgow on Feb 16, from £1,625 per person. See our guide to the best hotels in Dubai.
Caribbean cities are not just found on islands, of course (see Havana Clue, below). Colombia’s north coast is also lapped by the planet’s most eulogised sea. And Cartagena is the urban gem on the mainland, as awash with faded Spanish buildings as the Cuban capital (the 16th-century Convento de Santo Domingo being a case in point) but with more of an off-the-beaten-path vibe. It tends to be a focal point of any tour of this alluring country.
Journey Latin America (020 3131 7959; journeylatinamerica.co.uk) is offering an 11-day Culture and Coffee itinerary from £2,208 per person, culminating in a stay in Cartagena. Flights cost extra.
Don’t tell Paphos the European summer is over. In November, this city on the west coast of Cyprus is still flirting with temperatures in the low 90s (over 30C) – enough solar oomph to bathe Faros Beach and Coral Bay in agreeable afternoon warmth. There is ancient history to be had here, too. In Paphos Archaeological Park there are Greek and Roman ruins to explore – not least the mosaic-filled House of Dionysus.
Sovereign (01293 839587; sovereign.com) is offering seven nights at the five-star Annabelle Hotel from £648 per person, including breakfast. Departs Nov 24, flying from London Gatwick.
The nominal end of the Castro era in Cuba (Fidel’s brother, Raul, retired as president in April) does not seem to have diminished the Caribbean island’s romantic appeal. And the capital, Havana, remains a crucial part of any break to the region’s biggest island. Its faded but glorious colonial architecture makes a fine precursor to time spent on some of the Caribbean’s best beaches. Havana will also be marking its 500th anniversary in 2019.
Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000; coxandkings.co.uk) is offering a nine-day Spirit of Cuba holiday, including four nights in the capital city, from £1,975 per person including flights.
You don’t need to see yet another photograph of Bondi Beach surfers in Santa hats to know that Sydney is a pleasantly warming antidote to Christmas back home. Nor do you have to eat turkey. The New South Wales capital has one of Australia’s most exciting culinary scenes, with restaurants such as Rockpool Bar & Grill (rockpoolbarandgrill.com.au) to the fore.
The Ultimate Travel Company (020 3131 5588; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk) is offering a 16-day Golden Triangle holiday in Australia (featuring Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef as well as Sydney), from £8,990 per person including flights.
There are limited options on the Egyptian edge of the Red Sea for British travellers, as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to place restrictions on visiting Sharm El Sheikh and Taba. However, the launch of a new easyJet service from London Gatwick to Aqaba on Nov 10 will open up the Jordanian side of the water for beach holidays, while also providing swift access to the historic “Rose City”of Petra, some 80 miles to the north-east.
A week’s stay at the Intercontinental Aqaba hotel costs from £654 per person, including breakfast, departing on Dec 8 and booked through easyJet (020 3499 5232; easyjet.com/holidays).