Ultimate City Breaks For 2019

Earlier this month I mentioned Tokyo, Zadar, Palmero and Cairo as being locations that would be fascinating to visit in 2019 and these are still on the list if you are looking for the ultimate city break this year. However it’s quite easy for me to expand on my recommendations if you are looking for a city-only break rather than an extended exploration. As usual, I have had help with the hotel recommendations from the experts at The Hotel Guru.

Copenhagen

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019 Copenhagen

I’m not alone in loving Copenhagen. It’s cool and it’s achingly-design-beautiful, and it’s somewhere I don’t stay away from for more than a couple of years. Furthermore it’s the kind of place you can visit any time of year and still walk the streets and enjoy the parks and gardens.

I last visited in 2017 and saw the change on Refshaleoen Island: it was full of random design-y businesses, but was gradually added to by cafes, bars and restaurants and some beautiful boutiques and markets, so I’d really like to visit again. Plus, the Nationalmuseet is brilliant, it would be impossible not to find the Viking galleries impressive. 

The Christiansborg palace, with its incredible tapestries is impressive too, and you’ll not want to miss the Tivoli Pleasure Gardens, or the changing of the guards at the Amalienborg – the difference from Buckingham Palace being the colour of their uniform and opportunity to shout at visitors who’re standing in the wrong place. And frankly I love an open sandwich, preferably served with some kind of smoked or semi-smoked fish, and there’s no shortage – the Design Museum does a nice platter, but don’t overlook the Torvehallerne market, where you can eat but also get lovely bits to take home.  

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019 Copenhagen Skovshoved Hotel

Where to Stay? If you’ve been to Copenhagen before then you might want to try staying somewhere a bit different.  Like the centuries old and romantically positioned Skovshoved Hotel, which is on the ‘Danish Riviera’ five miles outside of the city.  There are 22 rooms, with white-washed walls, some with four-poster beds, and an ethereal atmosphere, plus fantastic cuisine in the Michelin-recommended French/Italian restaurant. Rooms start from around £189 per night.

Practical Details:  Copenhagen’s Airport is big and well connected. And it’s only about 15minutes from the station at the airport, to the centre of town.  

Miami

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Miami

And if you devour the gorgeous design details of Copenhagen as a taster, then you might also think about visiting Miami this year. I passed through on my way to Cuba a couple of years ago and wished I was staying. I had thought that it was just sunny and colourful, but it’s also home to fantastic Art Deco architecture, bold art and design and some seriously expansive and inspiring cultural events. I’d love to stroll amongst the Art Deco beauties, then the street art, and visit the Design District and the new Science Museum, not forgetting pretending I’m a glamorous 1920s starlet sipping cocktails by the sand.  

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Miami National Hotel

Where to Stay? The lovingly restored National Hotel is a 1940s landmark on Miami’s wonderfully Art Deco oceanfront. It has the longest pool in town, 151 rooms, an atmospheric French restaurant, plus a gym and spa. It’s been lovingly restored to the original specifications, so the 150 rooms and suites have antique pieces of furniture and authentic accents in chrome and dark woods. Rooms start from around £160 per night.

Practical Details: International visitors fly into Miami International Airport, just eight miles outside the city centre. From here, you can either take the bus or the train on to downtown Miami. Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and British Airways fly direct from Heathrow, with the journey lasting around 10 hours.

Apparently Savannah is also really coming into its own in 2019, with some restaurant openings so widely acclaimed that even I have heard of them…

Mexico City

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Mexico City

I was only going to choose one city in the Americas, but I have to carry Mexico City over from 2017 and 2018. Last year the closest I came was the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A in London, but I got on the tube at South Kensington even more determined to visit her home city and to see the bright colour and lively culture for myself. But I will add that it’s on the Lonely Planet’s list too, apparently included because Mexico City has been named the World Design Capital in 2018. So my advice is to get in now before everyone wants to go!

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019 Mexico City Downtown boutique hotel

Where to Stay? Downtown is just two blocks from the central plaza and situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 17 room boutique, design property has been beautifully converted from a 17th century colonial palace. The rooms are all suites, beautifully designed with impressively high ceilings, and the chic rooftop bar and swimming pool are the ‘piece de resistance’. Rooms start from around £130 per night.

Practical Details: Most visitors arrive in Mexico City by air via the Benito Juarez International Airport, which is in the eastern part of the city. From there you can catch a bus or the Metro, or a taxi – this can be a slightly more complicated system than you’re expecting and involves buying a ‘taxi ticket’ from licensed vendors.

I’m also quite keen on San Juan in Puerto Rico. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, ‘Hamilton’, is going there, and he’s reprising the title role. And so much has been rebuilt and refurbished post-Hurricane Maria that the city is reportedly looking fresh and even more exciting than before.  

Berlin

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Berlin

Berlin is celebrating 100 years of the Bauhaus School (it was shut down by the Nazis in 1933, but its interdisciplinary approach, combining crafts with fine art, design and architecture, was an extremely influential movement in modern design while it lasted). There will be events on all year round, and the Original Bauhaus is at the Berlinische Galerie all year. Plus, it’s thought of by many as being ‘the’ international city these days, and I am keen to see the multicultural and gritty bits, as well as the glamorous and grand bits.

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Berlin Das Stue hotel

Where to Stay? In recently redeveloped Charlottenburg, Das Stue, housed in a former 1930s embassy, is an upmarket boutique hotel with a Michelin starred kitchen and an excellent spa. The 67 rooms are contemporary in style with splashes of modern artwork on the walls and plenty of natural light. And the location is adjacent to the 210 acre Tiergarten Park, just steps from Berlin Zoo. The Reichstag and New National Gallery are also within easy reach, as is Potsdamer Place, and the Brandenburg Gate. Rooms start from around £175 per night.

Practical Details:  Berlin has two airports: Berlin-Tegel and Berlin-Schönefeld. From Berlin-Tegel to the centre of town it’s just 20 minutes on the X9 Express Bus, which departs every ten minutes. From Berlin-Schönefeld you can take the regional RE7 and RB14 trains which take around 30 minutes to reach Central Station. Berlin Central Station is an international rail station, which connects to the Eurostar lines as well as other European railways, so you can easily arrive by train.

Hong Kong

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Hong Kong

I wanted to include one more exotic destination, as I feel as if I have been quite traditional this year, with my old favourite Copenhagen, and long-term lust Mexico City…  Also, Hong Kong’s new waterfront development, known as Victoria Dockside, is supposed to be full of great design, so how could I not include it!  Much of it has been planned by trendy New York architects, but once it all opens come February and March it will be local artists and designers who move in as well as international ones. 

Aside from that, I am fascinated by the contrasts Hong Kong promises, the way ancient traditions exist alongside fresh technology. Apparently the ultra-modern developments are still aligned with care according to the advice of feng-shui masters, and historic trams rumble above one of the world’s most advanced subway systems. I am also fascinated by the way China and the West have co-existed in this city for so long and what that looks like. Plus, the markets, shopping… the list is endless!

Ultimate City Breaks For 2019  Hong Kong  The Pottinger Hotel

Where to Stay? Superbly located in the heart of Central, The Pottinger is a heritage property which has moved with the times. The 68 rooms have chic, European-meets-Chinoiserie décor and are filled with light and dressed with hand-painted silk wallpaper, latticework, jade pendants, and tea sets. Located on one of the Hong Kong’s first stone cobbled pedestrian-only streets, the hotel entrance is charming, low-key, and feels almost secret. Plus there’s an excellent restaurant. Rooms start from around £320 per night.

Practical Details: Hong Kong Airport is a huge international hub with connections all over the globe. There are great public transport connections into the centre of town – it’s 24minutes to Hong Kong Island on the Airport Express Train, and from there many hotels offer a free shuttle service.