As I sit in a cafe on a rainy day in England my mind can’t help but wander to scenes of sunshine and summer holidays. I’m definitely not the only one who starts to think about summer as soon as Christmas is over; there’s no better way of getting through those January blues than to daydream of travel.
Scorching destinations | where to go on holiday this summer
Find sunshine in Scotland with a summer trip to the Hebrides
These western windswept isles really are the stuff of rousing daydreams. If you like a beach but don’t want to sweat it out in the sunshine, you’ll appreciate Scotland’s Hebrides in the summer.
I used to think you had to venture south of the country for pale sands and emerald seas, but the beaches here are some of the finest in Europe, and the Scottish weather makes them perfect for sandy rambles and wildlife spotting.
Go in search of silvery sands and wildlife on the island’s Calgary Bay and Laggan Sands. Delve into the water with a spot of kayaking, you might even find a dolphin on the way…
The pastel houses of Tobermory are beautiful in the summer sunshine, and Mull has its fair share of castles. There are also a few tartan weavers and distilleries if you want the typical Scottish splendour.
A hotel perfect for an adventure break
My parents have been visiting the Isle of Mull for years, gushing about its ability to make you feel as though you’ve truly found some headspace away from the daily grind. I searched for my own with a stay in the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, whose indoor pool looks out over the craggy highlands and really was one of my favourite places to be.
You’ll eat like a Scottish king here too, with fresh-out-of-the-water crab, oysters and scallops. Beef and lamb comes straight from the local fields, and then there’s the finest single malt whisky, to give you a little warmth before bedtime.
A good old British summer break in Blackpool
As a child, I’d be taken to Blackpool in December to visit relatives. I’m not saying that Blackpool in the dark depths of winter isn’t fun, but it’s much better in the summer.
You’ll find classic Brit seaside charm at every turn here, from the all-singing-and-dancing Pleasure Beach to entertainment shows in the Tower.
Blackpool is known for its family fun, with big-name attractions such as Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and the Illuminations. Simple pleasures are just as enjoyable, whether it’s eating chips along the promenade or building sandcastles on the beach.
The Pleasure Beach amusement park boasts some pretty huge rollercoasters that I never dared ride… they’re great for white knuckle thrills, or like me, you can have just as much fun watching from steady ground.
Outside the hotel, along the New South Promenade, you’ll find what looks like a giant mirror ball. It marks part of the town’s Great Promenade Show, a collection of outdoor art installations that are dotted along the shore.
You’ll find all the charm of the seaside with a walk to North Pier and its Victorian tea room, Venetian carousel and ice cream parlour. There’s usually a sunset cinema in the summer too.
Don’t leave without visiting the famed Blackpool Tower and its Victorian ballroom. You can visit during the lunchtime tea dance if you fancy a bit of Strictly style dance floor action, or just sit back and enjoy the olde worlde tones of the Wurlitzer.
A hotel perfect for a family holiday
Every time my boyfriend and I visit the seaside we have to search for doughnuts. Luckily, you don’t have to you don’t have to look far in Blackpool. The retro South Pier boasts lots of traditional treats, from candy floss and doughnuts to bumper cars, go-karts and dazzling arcades. Nearby is the Hampton by Hilton Blackpool, a recently welcomed stylish addition to the South Promenade. Pick a room with sea views to make the most of its location.
Lapping up the sunshine on a Jersey summer break
It’s only a hop, skip and a short ferry ride across the English Channel to Jersey, but it feels like a million miles away. Everything from its chic harboursides and sandy beaches to its rugged countryside makes this island a must see in the summertime. You can enjoy sunny days on the sands, on the harbour in St Helier, or – if the typical Brit weather prevails – there’s plenty of culture in the island’s museums and zoo.
I consider myself to be on a continual life mission to visit all the best beaches, and one of Jersey’s best is found in St Brelade. A sweeping stretch of white sands and rocky headlands, it’s a true sun trap in the summer and perfect for lazy days and water sports.
A hotel great for a beach break for two
St Brelade’s Bay Hotel looks out over the bay, so treat yourself to a sea-facing room to lap up the view all stay. The hotel is decorated with cottage chic interior, there’s an indoor and an outdoor pool, tennis courts, a spa… all perfect for a restful break, and on a sunny day at the poolside, it feels like you could be somewhere in the Caribbean.
Beachside culture on a summer holiday to Barcelona
Beautiful Barcelona is one of my favourite destinations in Spain, and it certainly sings in the summer. If you can’t decide on a city break or a beach stay, Barcelona gives the best of both worlds, with as much culture as you can muster and a beach with plenty of sunshine to boot.
Visit Barcelona in the summer to alternate between days on Barceloneta Beach and kayaking in the sea, to strolling around La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla and the Picasso Museum. And there’s no better time to visit Park Güell than in the sunshine. Take a bus to the entrance and wander up and down the hillside pathways covered in sculptures and art created by local legend Antonio Gaudí.
Barcelona is also a drinking and dining mecca, whether it’s tapas at a beachside chiringuito, or full-scale Michelin star dining in an underground restaurant.
A hotel perfect for foodies and culture vultures
Countless chic restaurants, shops and hotels have popped up in Barcelona over the last decade, whether it’s stylish Soho House or hidden hipster retreats such as The Wittmore. Here, you’ll find a dapper hotel presided over by the fabled Lord Wittmore – whose portrait hangs in the hallway. Make believe or not, Wittmore’s dark and alluring decor, sun terrace and wading pool are definitely a tangible Barcelona bonus.
Art in Arles for summer
Arles is definitely on my hitlist for summer. Any art fan will appreciate a trip to this Provençal city, it’s where Van Gogh painted over 200 works, it’s also where he cut off his ear after arguing with his then housemate Paul Gauguin. That said, unfortunately, the famed ‘little yellow house’ where they lived is no longer standing. But the city is still filled with snapshots from his canvases, and a new Frank Gehry twisting tower is taking shape this year, with the Arles Luma Foundation to open inside in 2020.
A hotel perfect for fans
As well as art, I have a weakness for fashion and recently learned that Arles was also the birthplace of Christian Lacroix, who designed the Jules César hotel. If I visit, I’ll be heading for its grand Romanesque entrance, eager to sleep in its pattern clashing bedrooms, which boast high pattern carpets, curtains and even walls. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s unashamedly Lacroix.
An Ibiza summer holiday with a difference
When I was younger, Ibiza set the standard for big clubs and all-night parties, but now my exploring takes me elsewhere, to the bohemian White Isle, which is surprisingly chilled out and peaceful (I never would have believed that as an 18 year old bunking up with three girlfriends in a tiny apartment in San Antonio Bay.).
I’ve been told that many a visiting traveller has been bewitched by Santa Gertrudis, and it’s easy to see why. This friendly, relaxed town sits in the heart of the island, enclosed by fruit trees and countryside and with a charming local artisanal food scene.
Santa Gertrudis is a little foodie haven, with everything from vegan and raw food to upscale Italian on the menu – even the local tapas of jamón serrano and manchego cheese are tastier than your average.
A hotel perfect for a luxury couples retreat
The Gatzara Suites bring some of that lovely pared-back, bohemian chic to the village. Natural materials, a stunning rooftop bar area with pool, sustainably sourced breakfasts and maximum privacy in the suites make this renovated Finca difficult to leave.
Scorching summer breaks in Dubai
I used to work in Knightsbridge and every summer I’d see Dubai locals coming to West London to avoid the Emirates’ heat. Yes, it’s scorching and not great weather for working, but if you want a holiday with guaranteed sunshine and high temperatures, Dubai in the summer is ideal.
My favourite sunshine holidays are all about beach naps and dips in the pool – August is my favourite month in Spain, and I did once visit Egypt in high summer – and Dubai is perfect for that. Yes, it’s hot, temperatures do reach a sizzling 50c, but if you’re doing little more than lazing on the sands or at the hotel pool, it’s a perfect time to go and visit.
If you can tear yourself away, tourist attractions such as Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall are all quieter in the summer, and restaurants and shops are all less expensive, meaning you can enjoy a little luxury for less and more room at the beach.
A hotel perfect for luxury for less
The poolside at Park Hyatt Dubai is a great place to spend your days in Dubai. Middle East meets the Mediterranean in this stylish hotel, which boasts lavish, minimal rooms (air-conditioned, of course), tropical gardens, an infinity lagoon, private beach and views of Dubai Creek.