The first thing I’ve been greeting my friends with in these post-Christmas weeks is, of course “Happy new year!” – and, of course, I wish CountryWives’ readers a happy and successful 2018 too. The second thing I have been saying has invariably been something along the lines of “and do you have your summer holiday booked yet?”
I have been driving my friends and family mad with this question for about 20 years now, but it really does pay to plan. Or, more accurately, it costs less. And, as well as finding a better deal, you’ll also have the widest choice of flights and accommodation. Then when everyone else starts to think about it in March you’ll already have snapped up the room with the best view. Plus, daydreaming over beautiful photos of sun drenched beaches is a real distraction from January’s greyest days. So, wait for a really rotten one, get a cuppa on, and start browsing. Here are some recommendations from the well-travelled souls at the Hotel Guru to get you started thinking about where to go in summer 2018…
Mykonos: sunshine and buzz
By day the bright sun gleaming off the ocean and white architecture makes Mykonos glitter, but by evening it glitters with the coloured lights of fun. This is one of the best of the beautiful Cyclades if you want your sunshine with buzz. Wander along the narrow and cobbled Matoyianni Street, lined with a wonderful mishmash of boutiques and shops, spend an afternoon at Platis Gialos Beach which is lined with super restaurants, and take a day trip to Delos, legendary birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Mykonos is known for booking out with repeat visitors, so if you fancy the sound of it you should definitely organise your hotel as soon as you can.
Where to Stay?
The Semeli Hotel is a bright, white oasis of calm with stunning views and a great position, close to Mykonos Town. This is the perfect Mykonos hotel, from the beautiful pool to the view from private balconies across the bougainvillea-clad rooftops towards the sea, and they get repeat visitors year in and out. There are 60 rooms and suites, and, in the height of summer prices start from around £230 per night, including breakfast.
Practical Details: Mykonos Airport is in Chora, about 4kms outside of Mykonos Town. British Airways and Easyjet both offer direct flights from London to Mykonos. But you can also arrive via Athens, either changing planes there or changing to the ferry. Ferries to Mykonos leave from Piraeus and Rafina, which are Athens’ two largest ports, and these ferries connect Mykonos with the rest of the Cyclades too. During summer temperatures regularly push into the 30s, and there’s around 14 hours of sunshine a day. Even at night the lows are warm, averaging at between 18°C and 21°C.
Maratea: surprisingly quiet for such a beauty
If you adore the Amalfi Coast, but abhor the crowds, Maratea is for you. The road in is even bendier and narrower than the infamous Amalfi Coast road, but the similarities don’t end there: there’s also a stylish harbour, a charming medieval village and a selection of pretty sandy coves. Don’t get the impression that Maratea is a secret though. The word is definitely out, it’s just that the population density here is apparently similar to that of the Amazon, and there are hardly any hotels, so even when full, Maratea doesn’t feel too touristy. Its popularity with Italians probably helps too.
Where to Stay?
The Santavenere Hotel is an iconic resort set amongst stunning gardens and overlooking the Med. There are just 34 rooms, with classic, elegant design and often a private balcony or terrace. There are indoor and outdoor pools, an extensive wellness centre and the opportunity to dine well while sitting outside and looking out to sea. Prices during the peak summer months start from around £150 per night for a double room.
Maratea is about halfway between Naples International Airport and Lamezia Terme Airport. From Naples it’s about two hours and ten minutes by train or car to Maratea, and from Lamezia Terme it’s about two hours by train and an hour and a half by car. Alternatively you can catch the train down from Rome, or arrive by boat if you happen to know someone who’ll drop you off! During the summer months visitors to Maratea can expect 12-15 hours of sunshine a day. And temperatures in the high 20s to 30°C.
Asturias: ”the REAL Spain”
Locals claim the Asturias region is the REAL Spain, the rest is just land which has been reconquered. It’s quite a claim, but it’s certainly true that this dramatic, rocky landscape and wild, green coastline, has proved difficult to occupy. The Asturian culture has thrived off this pride. Asturias’ wild beauty doesn’t make it inhospitable though. On the contrary, this coastline is lined with hundreds of sandy beaches, and there are rolling green hills and valleys, just in from of the dramatic Picos de Europa range of sheer rocky pillars and peaks.
Where to Stay?
El Gran Sueno is a beautiful, five room, boutique B&B run by a friendly couple. With balconies overlooking the El Sueve Natural Reserve, home cooked meals and spacious, chic interiors, this is a memorable and magical place to stay. Rooms start from around £105 per night, B&B.
Practical Details: Asturias Airport is located in Castrillón and its traffic is mostly domestic, but there are some international connections during the warmest and coldest months, and London is on this small list. Alternatively you can transfer via Madrid or Barcelona. Ryanair flies to Santander, which is around 3 hours from the capital, Oviedo.
August is the hottest month in Asturias, with maximum average temperatures of around 22°C a day – so it’s not a hot destination, but it is reliably warm and pretty sunny, so perfect for walkers and adventurers.
The Côte d’Azur: sunshine and glamour
Once the place for artists and the wealthy to ‘winter’, the glamorous Côte d’Azur is now de rigueur in summer as well. The Côte d’Azur stretches from Théoule-sur-Mer in the west to Menton on the Italian border, spreading the good life through Cannes, Nice, St-Tropez, Cap Ferrat and Antibes on its bright-blue-watered way. This is the French Riviera at its glamorous and most beautiful best, with stretches of perfect golden sand, dramatic cliffs, pretty fishing hamlets and an interior of medieval villages and verdant wilderness.
Where to Stay?
Le Bailli de Suffren offers all the glamour of the Côte d’Azur, and right on the seafront. There are 55 large and luxurious rooms and suites and an enormous pool – all with ocean views. There are also three restaurants on site and a therapeutic spa. Doubles this summer are starting from around £215 per night.
Practical Details: Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport is the closest airport to most of the Côte d’Azur, and offers direct flights to London, Bristol Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Belfast and Edinburgh, but some towns and hamlets are closer to Marseille-Provence Airport, which has connections to London, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Summer is the time to come to rub shoulders with the beautiful people, and enjoy temperatures in the mid. 20s and low 30s and clear, blue skies. It even stays warm in the evenings.
Fethiye: perfect beaches
On a broad bay dotted with pretty islands, Fethiye has one of the most beautiful natural harbours on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. It’s also within a short drive of two of Turkey’s most beautiful beaches, Çal Beach and Ölüdeniz. Swim, lounge, parasail, paraglide, sea kayak, sail or jet ski, for Fethiye is a wonderful place to be out on the water. It is one of the best places in the world to try paragliding, because of the spectacular view of Ölüdeniz’s perfect lagoon on descent.
Where to Stay? The Avalon Hotel is a picturesque paradise overlooking the Aegean. There are just 11 simple, wooden bungalows scattered amongst an olive grove, and designed to make the most of this spectacular spot, a beautiful infinity pool, designed with the same thought in mind, and a fantastic, cliffside restaurant. Double B&B rooms start from around £115 per night this summer.
Practical Details: The closest international airport is Dalaman Airport, which is about an hours drive from Fethiye. In season BA flies to Dalaman from Gatwick, Easyjet flies from Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol. Fethiye’s summers are long and hot, in July and August the maximum temperatures average at 33°C and there are 13 or 14 hours of sunshine a day. Cool sea breezes offer some relief though, but there’s barely ever any rain.
The 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.