SUNSOAKED CITY BREAKS
Lisbon Istanbul, Palma
Capital of the sun-drenched Balearic island of Mallorca, Palma sits snugly between the sparkling ocean and lush hills, offering sun, sea and sophistication in one atmospheric spot. Compact and picturesque, this glamorous Mediterranean town pulses with Majorcan magic, with cobbled streets, honeyhued old buildings, gorgeous beaches and a lively dining scene. Home to one of the world’s biggest cathedrals – the Gothic masterpiece of La Seu – Palma enjoys wonderful ocean frontage along the pretty Bay of Palma. After a morning’s exploring, head for one of the town’s five beaches, the breezy harbourside promenade or lively marina for apéritifs and great people-watching. STAY Palma’s coolest boutique hotel, the five-star Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, is a restored neoclassical 19th century manor in the historic centre. With just 42 rooms, it features wooden beams, original frescos, knock-out interiors and a gorgeous rooftop terrace with pool. Offering low-key luxury, it’s an indulgent spot for a high-end holiday with your best pals (from €285 per night, hotelsantfrancesc.com). PLAY Make for Purobeach Palma, a glam beach club perfect for partying, posing and pool fun.
The stylish waterside club offers sunbeds for €35 a day, with Balearic beats, spa treatments, an al fresco restaurant and yoga available at this hip spot, purobeach.com. EAT For lunch, make a beeline for the Mercado Gastronómico San Juan, a buzzy gourmet food market in a refurbished 110-year-old abattoir with high-beamed ceilings and beautiful floor tiles. By night, discover everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to casual tapas joints dotted around the town. SHOP Well-heeled visitors and locals mean Palma’s quite the retail hotspot, with good shopping centres, high street names and independent boutiques. Edgy label lovers will find a suitably slick edit in Suivi’s gorgeous boutique (suivi.es), while Rialto Living is a swoon-worthy lifestyle store with cool fashion and interiors (rialtoliving.com). LOCAL KNOWLEDGE Mallorca’s hottest chef, Maria Solivellas, is running dinner pop-ups of her seasonal island cooking from May until October at the amazing rooftop restaurant at Sant Francesc Hotel Singular. Book at hotelsantfrancesc.com.
Thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the city is hotter than ever – edgy and eclectic, trendsetting and traditional. Many of its most important historical landmarks can be found in the central district of Mitte, surrounded by a jigsaw of Kieze – residential neighbourhoods, each with its own unique identity. Food lovers will enjoy the cosmopolitan culinary offering, shoppers the market scene, and clubbers the spectacular nightlife. Choose an itinerary of memorials, museums and cool neighbourhoods, and you’ll enjoy a riveting weekend. STAY Treat yourselves to rooms at the luxurious Hotel de Rome, a Rocco Forte five-star created within a 19th century bank in the historic heart of East Berlin. The impressive building retains many original features, a superb art collection, and swanky spa in the bank’s old vaults (from €330 per room per night, roccofortehotels.com). Fancy being nearer the nightlife? Base yourselves in Kreuzberg, at the clubby Orania. Berlin, a restored 1913 Art Nouveau building with live in-house gigs (from €280 B&B per room per night, orania.berlin). You can fill your weekend with cultural and historic attractions, but Berlin is a 24-hour party town with hedonism at its heart. Don’t worry if techno isn’t your thing: Berlin may dance to its beat, but offers everything from live music venues to cool jazz clubs, glam cocktail bars to mainstream pubs. EAT No matter what you crave, Berlin’s cosmopolitan food scene will bamboozle with its choices. From German sausages to authentic Turkish cuisine, Asian street food to modern vegetarian, juicy steaks to Michelin-starred plates, it’s best to book ahead before your trip. SHOP From big name brands to local labels, you’ll find Berlin’s fashion game strong. Alongside great department stores, shopping centres and outlets are dozens of cool independent boutiques and Berlin’s famous markets. For vintage gear, hit up Fesche Lotte flea market at Kranoldplatz; for unique homewares, head for boho “Boxi”, the Sunday market at Boxhagener Platz. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Don’t miss out on Bite Club, a monthly street food party with food trucks serving everything from espresso martinis and mezze to dumplings. A sound system, liquor licence and friendly locals make this a fun experience (biteclub.de).
Less a tale of two cities, and more a tale of two continents, Istanbul straddles the mighty Bosphorus, connecting West with East. This heady combination makes Turkey’s capital one of the most thrilling cities on earth. The final citadel on the Silk Road, its various Greek, Roman, Venetian and Ottoman rulers all left an exotic legacy of landmarks, traditions, foods and cultures. Thrilling to explore, its rich heritage is matched by a sophisticated contemporary scene, hip neighbourhoods and friendly locals.
STAY Get the best from the city with a twin stay at Four Seasons Hotels’ two magnificent properties. Mix chill time (rooftop drinks overlooking the Hagia Sophia, anyone?) at Sultanahmet, a century-old neoclassical building in the Old City (rooms from €290 a night, fourseasons.com/istanbul/), with a stay at their glam riverside property, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, a 19th century restored Ottoman palace. Make sure to plan hammam time with the girls at the hotel’s indulgent Turkish baths (rooms from €322 a night, fourseasons.com/bosphorus/).
PLAY For a night out, head to the Beyoğlu district for everything from cool rooftop bars and hot clubs to live music venues and more traditional bars. EAT Book a city food tour with Donegal woman Terre Duffy. Her Istanbul Food Walks (istanbulfoodwalks.com) are five hours long and take you off the beaten track to experience the very best of Turkey’s authentic delicacies. They’re a brilliant way to discover the city’s culinary riches. SHOP Head to the city’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, across 61 covered streets. From spices to souvenirs, leather goods to jewellery, it’s a heady shopping experience that calls for your best haggling skills. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE Explore the twin neighbourhoods of Fener and Balat, which date back to Byzantine times. Their labyrinthine streets are packed with cool coffee shops, galleries, tea gardens and design boutiques.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP The rooftop pool at boutique Sant Francesc Hotel Singular; glamorous sunset cocktails at Purobeach Palma; lifestyle store Rialto Living, a must-visit for fashion, interiors and food lovers
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Berlin’s Kreuzberg area; up top at the Hotel de Rome; street art in Kreuzberg; the Oberbaum Bridge tram; contemporary shopping at Bikini Berlin; sweeping staircase and buzzy bar at the Orania.Berlin hotel; terrace dining at Hotel de Rome
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus; Turkish coffee on an Istanbul Food Walks tour; a traditional Turkish donor kebab; the colourful houses of Balat; the Grand Bazaar; meet local artisans on an Istanbul Food Walks tour; Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet