Where to do Spring

Spring is in the air, the season of renewal, the perfect time to get away and recharge before the long hot summer strikes. We’ve got the lowdown on how to do it, any way you like it…
In the city 

New York
The Big Apple’s weather can be extreme, with bone-chilling winters and scorching-hot summers, which means spring is the sweet spot. Catch the acclaimed Warhol retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (until March 31), and explore the brand-new Hudson Yards neighbourhood, which this month opens its first shops, restaurants and cultural attractions on Manhattan’s west side. In May, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens on Liberty Island, with multimedia displays and iconic artefacts including Lady Liberty’s original torch.

Where to stay: The Edition has 273 sophisticated rooms – the best overlook the Empire State Building – and a Michelin-starred restaurant by Jason Atherton.

Cherry blossom with skyscrapers in background
Central Park, New York city, USA

Paris
Paris is always a good idea, especially in springtime. As cherry blossoms and chestnuts start to bloom, make the most of the city’s glorious gardens and then park yourself at a pavement café to sip café crème and people-watch. After you’ve done the big-name sights, explore lesser-known locales such as the 11th arrondissement. Check out L’Atelier des Lumières – the city’s first digital museum of fine art – and refuel at the Michelin-starred Septime (reservations essential) or the seafood-focused Clamato next door.

Where to stay: Near the Champs-Élysées, the 40-room La Réserve is a fashion editor favourite with a luxurious spa and two-Michelin-star restaurant, Le Gabriel. 

Paris view
View of Paris and the Champs Elysees. Sunset with trees winter and spring light

Copenhagen
As Copenhagen wakes from its winter hibernation, you’ll discover a city that’s equal parts Scandi cool and storybook charm. To get a feel for Denmark’s capital, take a canal boat tour past must-see sights including the Amalienborg Palace and Little Mermaid statue. But to experience the city like the locals do, hire a bike and whizz around on two wheels. Design fans should make a beeline for the Denmark Design Museum, while foodies can savour the seasonal seafood menu at Noma.

Where to stay: Near the royal palace, Hotel Skt. Annae has 145 rooms in neutral tones, as well as a buzzy Italian restaurant. 

Amsterdam
Home to gable-lined canals and treasure-packed museums, the Dutch capital is a popular city break destination year-round. Come springtime, Amsterdam bursts into bloom during tulip season, which can last until early May, while the annual King’s Day celebrations take place on April 27. Pack some orange threads and join the crowds for one of Europe’s biggest street parties, with live music and markets. Art lovers, meanwhile, should pre-book tickets online for fast-track entry to the world-famous Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.

Where to stay: In the hip Noord neighbourhood, Sir Adam Hotel has 108 rooms, a gourmet burger joint and a fun rock n’ roll vibe.

Bicycle parked on a bridge in Amsterdam
Amsterdam cityscape in spring time

Ljubljana
It may be small in size, but Slovenia’s charming capital makes a big impression. At this time of year, café tables start to spill onto the car-free streets of the Old Town, while locals stroll along the leafy banks of the Ljubljanica River which flows through the city. Take the funicular to the 16th-century castle that hovers above the city, resplendent with Baroque architecture, then head to the Museum Quarter to browse the exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Where to stay: In the Old Town, Vander has 20 cool and contemporary rooms, along with a rooftop pool and trendy Slovenian restaurant.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio’s rainforest-meets-beach scenery and samba-fuelled spirit make it a bucket-list destination. If you don’t mind the crowds, visit the Marvellous City in March for Carnival, the biggest week-long party in the world. Samba dancers parade in exotic costumes, while drum beats ring out from every corner of the city and revellers boogie at exuberant blocos (street parties). The post-party weather remains warm, so you can spend your days lazing on Copacabana beach, hiking up Sugarloaf Mountain, and exploring the city’s world-class museums, including the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Museum of Contemporary Art.

Where to stay: In upmarket Ipanema, the 91-room Hotel Fasano features a mid-century aesthetic, rooftop infinity pool and contemporary seafood restaurant.

Natural spring #1
Cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan

During this time of the year, blush-hued posies plunge from the trees to make pools of pink on the normally spotless roads of Kyoto. Springtime in this city (once the capital of Japan) is synonymous with Hanami (flower viewing), the centuries-old tradition of enjoying the blooming cherry trees, resplendent in pink. 

Though Kyoto is the country’s most popular destination for flower-watchers, cherry trees blossom across Japan, starting in the south and moving northward. Yet the bloom is short-lived, typically lasting a just a couple of weeks. As such, the Japan Meteorological Agency issues an annual forecast to predict the dates that the buds will bloom. JT

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Off-grid

Where to power down in style  

1) On one remarkable island, where flocks of flamingos wade in a mangrove lagoon and a coalition of cheetahs roam the land, are three equally remarkable resorts comprising Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island. Each sets a slow pace you’ll succumb to in an instant. 

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Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

2) One of the most unique (and remote) resorts in the world, the multi-award-winning Amangiri neighbours the largest Native American reservation in the US, from where it blends into some 600 acres of raw beauty in Utah’s ‘red rock’ landscape of canyons, mountains, rapids and desert.

Amangiri setting
Aman Amangiri setting

3) A legendary resort hidden within the sweeping sand dunes of a wildlife rich conservation reserve, at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa you can switch off beneath a nightly show of stars after a day spent watching the graceful Arabia oryx saunter passed your infinity pool. An easy escape from the bustling big city that never fails to enchant.

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Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

 

4) Backdropped by the World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley invites guests to explore their spectacular surrounds (on bike or horseback) which are alive with native animals, before seeing sunset from their soaking tub.

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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
By the water

The Maldives
With white-sand beaches and balmy temperatures averaging 28.5°C year-round, the scattered isles of the Maldives make an idyllic getaway at any time of year. But the spring shoulder season brings fewer crowds (bar the Easter break, of course) so you’ll have no trouble finding a secluded patch of sand to work on your tan. Conditions are also perfect for snorkelling and diving among coral reefs, while whale shark sightings are all but guaranteed in the South Ari Atoll.

Where to stay: On a powdery, postage-stamp sized island, JA Manafaru packs in idyllic experiences and fine dining to boot. 

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JA Manafaru

Bali
As the rainy season comes to an end and the mercury stays high, spring is a great time to visit Bali. Head to the south coast for palm-fringed beaches, pumping surf breaks and hip beach clubs, then find your zen in the lush highlands of Ubud, home to wellness retreats, terraced rice fields and Tomb Raider-style temples. This month, join thousands of yogis from across the globe for workshops and world music at Ubud’s annual Bali Spirit Festival (March 24-31).

Where to stay: Overlooking Echo Beach in the island’s south, the Como Uma Canggu resort boasts a swanky spa, buzzing beach club and huge lagoon pool.

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COMO Uma Canggu

Udaipur
On the shores of Lake Pichola, Rajasthan’s most romantic city seduces travellers with its magnificent palaces, whitewashed havelis and maze of tightly winding streets. Summer is scorching, but low season brings hot weather and fewer crowds, so you can explore the sights at your own pace. Cruise the shimmering lake, admire the peacock mosaics at the City Palace, and catch a nightly screening at a rooftop café of James Bond’s Octopussy, filmed here in the eighties.

Where to stay: With 83 opulent rooms and round-the-clock butlers, Taj Lake Palace is an all-white marble dream that seemingly floats on the lake.

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Taj Lake Palace 

Ibiza
Before the midsummer madness ensues, the White Island feels like a tranquil slice of paradise. With clear skies and temperatures nudging 20°C in April and May, Ibiza’s pine-clad hills are perfect for hiking and mountain biking – although it’s tempting to spend your days lazing on crowd-free beaches and swimming in remote rocky coves. Dine among locals in quaint villages such as Santa Gertrudis and Es Cubells, and shop for unique handicrafts in arty Sant Carles de Peralta and Sant Rafel de sa Creu.

Where to stay: In a 19th-century farmhouse near Santa Gertrudis, the boutique Cas Gasi has just 12 rooms, plus a spa, yoga deck and outdoor pool.

Ohrid
In the newly named Republic of North Macedonia, this picturesque town on the edge of Lake Ohrid is the country’s most popular tourist destination. Outside of July and August, Ohrid is still, somehow, an undiscovered idyll of cobblestone streets, medieaval buildings and lakeside cafés. Wander around the Old Town, sunbathe at rocky beaches and visit the Fortress of Tsar Samoil for the best lake views. Just out of town, Galicica National Park, situated on Mount Galicica, is a biodiversity hotspot dotted with hiking trails. 

Where to stay: With gorgeous lake views, the four-star Park Lakeside Hotel has an outdoor pool and 49 modern rooms and apartments. 

Sydney
March may signal the start of spring in the northern hemisphere, but it’s autumn Down Under. Daytime temperatures hover in the low 20s and the harbour city’s relaxed outdoors lifestyle is still in full swing. Stroll along the spectacular clifftop coastal trail from Bondi to Bronte – keep your eyes peeled for migrating humpbacks in May – and pack your glad rags for the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, the city’s biggest horse-racing festival held over six weeks in March and April.

Where to stay: The 200-room QT Sydney has highly Instagrammable interiors and a so-called Director of Chaos to help craft unique experiences. 

Natural spring #2
Whale feeding at Glacier Bay, Alaska

During the spring, humpback whales travel to the 5,000-square-kilometre Glacier Bay National Park, on the southern tip of Alaska.  And they do so for one reason; food. Back from their fast from winter season, these colossal mammals will feed here for the entire summer to fill their empty stomachs. Serving as a humpback whale sanctuary, the mammals benefit from Glacier Bay’s strict protection, which has resulted in a steady rise in the number of whales spotted every year. Along with the chance to see these serene mammals up close, springtime at Glacier Bay bestows spectacular scenery (most of the snow has melted, allowing the green of the mountains to peek through) and a chance to see the aurora borealis. JT

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On the move 

for those in need of adventure

1) The alien-like landscape of Turkey’s Cappadocia region is among the world’s most dramatic – all distinctive cone-shaped rock formations lovingly christened ‘fairy chimneys’ and Bronze-age homes carved into cave walls. For a view of it that is equally wondrous, book a balloon ride, best taken as the sun rises to illuminate all below. 

Hot Air Balloons over Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey.
 Hot Air Balloons over Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey

2) Nothing represents the style and glamour of a bygone era of travel quite like a train. And no train does it quite like the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which made its first journey from Paris to Venice back in 1883. You can take the same trip in April, departing springtime Paris and arriving next day in the City of Water.

Belmond Cipriani Hotel, Venice
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

3) Take the strain out  of travel this season by cruising your way across the Mediterranean aboard the flagship Costa Diadema. You’ll fly in for a night in Barcelona (spend it dining at the restaurant Disfrutar) before seven nights at sea and stop-offs in the likes of Civitavecchia, your gateway to Rome and its myriad ancient wonders.  

Casa Batllo house design by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
 Casa Batllo house design by Antonio Gaudi, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

4) Swathes of bright and blooming wildflowers (and a merciful lack of fellow visitors) make driving the Amalfi Coast an absolute joy in spring, winding around cliff-hugging roads that bestow astonishing views.

Narrow bridge on the Amalfi Coast road
Amalfi Coast
In the country 

Gidleigh Park, England
Hidden in a peaceful valley on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, this postcard-perfect country house hotel features Tudor-style architecture and classic English interiors (antique furniture, wood panelling, stone fireplaces). The 24 individually-decorated rooms come with giant marshmallow beds and roll-top baths, while a two-bedroom thatched-roof cottage overlooks the croquet lawn. There’s a tennis court, bowling green and 18-hole putting course, but most guests come here for the Michelin-starred restaurant. The menu features traditional, pared-down British dishes, such as salt-aged beef with potato terrine and cauliflower purée, with seasonal ingredients often sourced from the hotel’s own vegetable garden. 

Gidleigh Park and Michael Caines
Gidleigh Park

Montali Country House, Italy 
High on a hilltop in Umbria with views of Lake Trasimeno, Montali is a rustic country house hotel with a difference: Brazilian-born chef Malu Musacchio serves purely vegetarian cuisine. Sublime dishes such as ravioli with truffle and saffron risotto will convert even the most devout meat-eater, while soft balls of mozzarella drizzled with olive oil equals Italian simplicity at its best. Nestled among an olive grove, the converted farmhouse has nine comfortable rooms with traditional stone walls and tiled floors. Days are best spent lazing by the sun-dappled pool, with occasional sorties to nearby Perugia, Assisi and Siena. 

Villa La Coste, France 
Surrounded by 600 acres of rolling vineyards, pine forests and lavender fields in Provence, this contemporary hotel features artworks by the likes of Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei. There are 28 villa-style suites with all-white interiors, clean-lined furniture and marble bathrooms; 10 come with private pools, while all have muslin-draped four-poster beds and private terraces offering bucolic valley views. Once you’ve settled in, head to the sleek spa for salt scrub exfoliations, mud massages and frankincense facials. All three restaurants serve organic produce from the garden, but the highlight is the Argentinian restaurant by star chef Francis Mallman. 

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand
For those who prefer lush countryside and elephant sanctuaries to swaying palm trees and coral reefs, this tranquil resort in northern Thailand ticks all the boxes. Dotted among the rice fields are 64 pitched-roof pavilions and 12 pool villas, along with all the five-star facilities you’d expect, including a nirvana-inducing spa and resident yogi. The signature restaurant serves lesser-known local dishes such as crispy catfish with tangerine, while the acclaimed cooking school is a must for gourmands. But what really sets this resort apart are the individually-tailored experiences, from planting rice with local farmers to art classes with a watercolourist.

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Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

Santani Wellness Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka 
On a former tea plantation near Kandy, Santani is Sri Lanka’s first dedicated wellness resort. The 20 hillside villas are deliberately minimalist – think polished concrete floors, floor-to-ceiling windows and teak beds draped in mosquito netting – to promote rest and relaxation. There’s a similarly stripped-back aesthetic in the spa, with a thermal salt pool, cedar-wood sauna and open-air treatment rooms. There’s an Ayurvedic doctor on hand to diagnose your dosha, daily yoga, and meditation classes, plus hiking trails through lush rice fields. The dress code for dinner is ‘barefoot’ and the customised cuisine – ranging from cleansing to ketogenic – is healthy and delicious. 

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Santani Wellness Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka

Castell Son Claret, Spain 
Set on a rambling private estate in the foothills of the Tramuntana Mountains, Castell Son Claret is Mallorca’s most exceptional hideaway. There are just 38 neutral-hued rooms spread throughout the 18th-century manor house and former stables; some boast private pools and all have sun-trap terraces. Active travellers can fill their days with tennis and hiking, while sybarites will love the blue-tiled pool and subterranean spa. Meanwhile, Zaranda is the only the two-star Michelin restaurant in the Balearics. 

Natural spring #3
Damask roses on Al Jabal Al Akhdar 

Peaking at 2,500 metres above sea level, Oman’s Al Jabal Al Akhdar (commonly known as Green Mountain) is where one of the world’s oldest roses adds colour to rugged mountain terrain. Indeed, from the end of March through April, scores of the dusty pink damask roses mask the mountain range, infusing the air with their fragrance. Stay at Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort at this time of year and you can fully immerse yourself in this seasonal highlight by meeting the local families who continue the centuries-old tradition of making rose water from the damask bounty. JT

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