It always surprises me that not everyone loves autumn. Yet I really shouldn’t be surprised. One of my progeny really laments the loss of summer and always has done. Every year there’s a real downturn in mood and productivity as the days grow shorter – perfectly timed to coincide with the start of the school year, when you most want to see your children happy and focussed. So in that child’s milestone years we always tried to plan a sunny autumn break – something on the horizon to look forward to, to keep spirits afloat. And these are the Autumn sunshine destinations we’ve writ large and obvious in the calendar over the years, with hotel recommendations by the Hotel Gurus.
Hot, fragrant, mysterious and exotic, yet just a hop and a skip from northern Europe, Marrakech has long been one of the places to come to escape the home chills. Desert caravans have converged here for centuries, bringing in wonders from all over Morocco and the world beyond. Here you can buy almost anything imaginable, and the flavours of the spices, and the recipes brought in off the desert, are a one-of-a-kind wonderland for travellers and foodies.
If you haven’t been, stop reading here and start planning your trip: this really is an incredible destination and one you need to see while it retains its romance and exoticism. The medina, the old souks, the ancient architecture, the food, the way of life, it’s all unique, and will stay with you forever. For the full experience you should try and stay in a riad close to, or within, the medina. Living and breathing this colourful, spicy atmosphere is what travelling is all about.
Where to Stay? Dar Les Cigognes is an understated but elegant, 11 room riad in the heart of Marrakech – right by the medina. The decor is a beautifully sophisticated meeting of Moroccan and European styles, the roof terrace is a wonderful place both for views and for atmosphere, there’s a spa, a hammam and a jacuzzi, and the restaurant is award-winning. Dar Les Cigognes was actually two riads, and they have been joined by a bridge over a small alleyway – which adds to the charm. And each of the rooms has been individually designed and decorated, with prices starting from €125 per night B&B.
Practical Details: You can fly direct to Marrakech-Menara Airport from a number of UK airports, and once you’re at the airport you’re only about five kilometres from the city and the medina. You can get the airport bus or a taxi – but it’s a good idea to book it in advance from a reputable agency. During October the average daily maximum temperature is still 29°C, dropping to 23°C come November.
Historic and sunny, Malta is another classic spot for warming your toes come the cooler months. If you can dive or snorkel your efforts will be well rewarded. IIf you’re even remotely interested in history and architecture then you’re in for some swooning. Even Valletta, the capital of this Mediterranean archipelago, is a World Heritage site. There are sandy beaches, but it’s the dramatic rocky coves edged by turquoise seas that really typify this beautiful coastline for me.
Where to Stay? The Phoenicia Hotel is the grande dame of Malta’s hotels, a glamorous, Art Deco charmer with a ballroom, views over Valletta’s Harbour, marble floors, arched glass windows, lush gardens and a fabulous 1930s era cocktail bar. The best rooms are those on the third and fourth floor – these have the best views, but they all have access to the seven acres of gardens and all the other five star facilities this hotel has to offer. Rooms start from €170 per night.
Practical Details: You can fly direct to Malta International Airport from London and Edinburgh, with more connections operating during the summer. The airport is in Lupa, just outside Valletta, and there’s plenty of transport available between the two.
Malta is known for its sunshine, and autumn is no less sunny than the rest of the year, though there is more rainfall. October’s average maximum temperature is 25°C, and the minimum 22°C, and November’s average maximum daily temperature is 21°C, with the minimum still 18°C. So it takes quite a while to cool down at this latitude in the Mediterranean.
The Canary Islands?
The sunny, subtropical climate gets top billing for reasons to come to the Canaries, but sand and sea and fun are up there too. Probably closely followed by sailing, surfing, snorkelling, diving and walking across volcanic landscapes. But there’s a lot beyond this too, a very rich tapestry of local life, featuring agriculture to compliment this unique environment, impressive historic occasions and a burgeoning food scene.
Where to Stay? For great value the four self catering cottages of La Bodega, in the pretty town of San Miguel on Tenerife, are hard to beat. The location is great for seeing this island’s highlights, the cottages are elegant and well equipped and there’s a lovely communal garden with a pool, terraces and a barbecue and dining area. Some of them even have views out to sea. And the room rate starts at €95 per night.
Practical Details: Tenerife is large enough, and popular enough, to warrant two airports, Tenerife North, formerly Los Rodeos, and Tenerife South, formerly Reina Sofia, which is where you’ll find more of the budget airlines, but both are well connected to the UK. It’s warm enough to swim in the sea here on Christmas Day, but in October the daily average temperatures range between 25°C and 19°C, and November expects between 23°C and 17°C. November is one of the rainiest months, but there’s still an average of seven hours of sunshine a day, and it is possible to dodge the showers.
Spectacular scenery – including the world’s highest ocean cliffs, and some fascinating lava tubes and volcanic caves – sunshine and warmth all year round, and Madeira cake AND wine, make Madeira an attractive destination. It can be fun and sunny, or packed with activities or relaxing. It just depends what you’re looking for, but any holiday is going to benefit from this beautiful, sunny backdrop. And the cake and wine. It might not sound like a highlight when compared to the beautiful coastline and spectacular mountains, but Madeira’s levadas, the stone and concrete-lined waterways which distribute water from the wetter north to the drier south, keeping Madeira looking so lovely and green all year round, make for fantastic walking trails. Once you’ve walked beside a levada for a bit you’ll have a new respect for the lush pleasures of Madeira’s famous botanical gardens.
Where to Stay? The 41 room Quinta da Casa Branca is modern, tranquil and elegant, surrounded by beautiful, floral gardens. The glass-fronted modern wing has been added to the mid-19th century building, which was first opened as a design hotel in 1998. Here the aim has been to build in harmony with the beautiful grounds and sub-tropical gardens, and offer guests a choice of staying in the original manor house with its elegant, traditional suites, or something more modern. There’s also a pool, a health club, and a very nice restaurant. Room start from €180 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: You can fly direct to Madeira Airport from London airports, or you can fly to Lisbon and change for a 90 minute TAP flight. The airport is just outside Funchal at Santa Cruz.
Autumn in Madeira is lovely, but it does rain – you can tell from the verdant colours here that this island gets a lot of rain. During October and November you can expect rain every second day, but there’s still plenty of sunshine, and average daily maximum temperatures are 25°C in September and 21°C come November, with November average daily minimums at a very mild 17°C.
Essaouira spreads along a long sandy strip of Morocco’s Atlantic coast. The kind of place you’d imagine Peter O’Toole’s Laurence of Arabia riding in to from the desert. Definitely Moroccan, but with a European familiarity – it was designed by a Frenchman. The powerful and constant wind, the locals call it alizee or taros, which makes this sunny, sandy destination unpleasant for people who want to sit on the beach, makes Essaouira heaven for windsurfers and kitesurfers. And in a way it’s these active travellers who’ve helped protect Essaouira’s natural charms from becoming over touristy.
Where to Stay? Perfect for families, or anyone looking for a really friendly, relaxing beachside villa resort, the Rebali Riads is about 20 minutes along the wild Atlantic coast from Essaouira. These six villas are traditional and varied, some even run to a private pool or roof terrace, and there’s a personal dining service and enviable facilities designed to appeal to all ages of guest. The room rate starts from €120 per nigh B&B.
Practical Details: At the moment you can fly direct between Luton and Essaouira. Essaouira Airport is about 10 miles out of town, but most of us will probably end up travelling via Marrakech, which is about two and a half hours away by car.
November in Essaouira is rainy, but September and October are bright and sunny and the seas are warm. The average daily maximum temperature for October in Essaouira is 20°C and November 19°C.
Hotel Guru has done your hotel research for you. We’ve commissioned a collection of leading travel writers and journalists to offer their recommendations on where to stay, found out all the important, and minute, details about each property, and then cross referenced that with guides we respect. So if having a hot tub is important to you you can search by that, likewise pet-friendly properties and hotels with a great wine list.