The year ahead is filled with the promise of adventure but narrowing down a world of choice can be tricky. We’ve done the work for you, picking out the best destination for each month, and found a holiday home to match…
Looking for some winter sun? This stretch of the Mexican Coast is fabled for its white beaches and mangrove jungles, which are home to Mayan ruins, pyramids, jaguars and panthers. Explore the Sian Ka’aan Biosphere Reserve from the comfort of the Tulum Treehouse, a minimalist villa set at canopy level. The rustic retreat is a collaboration between local practice Co-Lab Design Office and Berlin designer Annabell Kutuc.
Best for: eco-living; jungle wildlife
Cost: from $1450 per night (direct)
Flaine in the French Alps
January guarantees snowfall in the French Alps, but February is when the action really starts to hot up on the slopes. Purge your back-to-work blues with a stay at Marcel Breuer’s avant-garde art village, Terminal Neige in Flaine. Set at 2,000-metres elevation, the 96-room hotel underwent a total revamp in recent years, and is a masterclass in Alpine Brutalism hung with artworks from Picasso to Vasarely.
Best for: ski buffs with a penchant for Brutalism
Cost: rooms start from €210 per night, rising to €770 for a loft apartment
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
March is the peak of the dry season in Costa Rica, which makes it ideal for exploring the country’s verdant jungles and pristine beaches. The Nicoya Peninsula offers the best of both worlds and is a burgeoning spot for surfing. Book a stay in at the Hotel Nalu Nosara, designed by architect Benjamin Saxe, which comprises three private villas with their own saltwater swimming pools and shaded terraces. The complex includes a purpose-built yoga pavilion that can be used as a dance studio or gym for wellness freaks.
Best for: surfing and exploring nature
Cost: starting from $255 per night direct
Cherry blossom season is big news in Japan, where it’s monitored day-by-day across the country throughout March and April. Peak Kyoto Hanami is usually in the first week of April, (weather permitting) when the city is bathed in pink and white blooms. Chase the colours from gallerist Elmar Weinmayr’s converted warehouse loft in the city’s historic centre. It even provides bicycles for exploring the surrounding neighbourhood, which is home to Kyoto Imperial Palace – one of the best places to see cherry blossom in the city. Weinmayr loft is attached to his art gallery, which specialises in Japanese ceramics, so much sure you have room in your suitcase.
Best for: viewing the cherry blossom
Cost: from €204 per night via Welcome Beyond
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s top summer tourist destinations, but we recommend beating the masses and visiting in May to see this stretch of the Italian landscape in full spring bloom. UNESCO singles out Amalfi’s plunging cliffs, pristine beaches and verdant woodland as an ‘outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape’ – and there’s no shortage of beautiful holiday homes along this span of the Sorrentine Peninsula. Venture down to Punta Campanella, Nerano and stay in a 16th-century watchtower that looks out across the Tyrrhenian Sea towards Capri. Freshly restored, it blends contemporary and classic Italian design.
Once you’re finished visiting southern Italy, head north to Venice where the 16th architecture biennale kicks off on 11th May. This gargantuan extravaganza pulls stars from the world of architecture and design. Here’s our guide to where to stay in the city of bridges.
Best for: dramatic coastline; fresh seafood
Cost: From €500 a night via Boutique Homes
The summer months are the perfect time for wandering Valletta’s shady, sloping streets, which are a welcome retreat from the hot midday sun. Several of the city’s baroque buildings have been newly restored, thanks to its programme as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, and historic architecture is hiding around every corner. Valletta sits at the edge of the sea, offering plenty of rocky patches to dive off, and is a 40-minute drive from sandy beaches for those that like to bask. Malta’s ancient temples are also close by.
Explore the city and its surrounds from Atelier – a tiled apartment converted from a former architect’s studio. It’s furnished with a mix of old and new design and includes one of Valletta’s traditional gallarija wooden balconies, as well as a roof terrace.
Best for: short city breaks; ancient architecture
Cost: from €95 per night (direct)
Kegalle, Sri Lanka
July-September is inter-monsoon season in Sri Lanka, and this jungle hideaway is a launchpad for exploring the Kagalle district’s jungles and paddy fields. Ranjan Aluwihare, principal of RA Designs, designed Guava House. It sits on shallow stilts atop a tree-covered hill with views of Bible Rock, the Ambuluwawa Mountains and Hemmathagama village’s paddy fields. Guava House’s pitched roof design evokes the silhouette of a mountain chalet that has been adapted for a tropical climate, with folding glass doors that open living spaces up to outdoor terraces. A thatched ‘iluk’ roof blends the five-bedroom home with the surrounding tree canopy.
Best for: jungle scenery
Cost: from £300 per night via Airbnb
Comporta is the ‘secret treasure of Europe’ where you can expect to see celebrities, artists and creatives mingling with locals. It’s also home to a cache of architectural holiday homes, like Casas nos Rios designed by Pessoa Prize-winning practice Aires Mateus. Inspired by local fishermen’s huts, the holiday home comprises two small wooden cabins, one housing the bedroom, the other the living space, which bed between rice fields and the Sado River. If you fancy a day trip, Comporta is just over an hour’s drive south of Lisbon. (See what’s on offer in the city.)
Best for: flamingo and dolphin spotting; rubbing shoulders with artists
Cost: From €200 per day direct
Temperatures are still high in September across California, which brags some of the best Modernist architecture in the world. Saddle House is an earthy modern retreat that’s embedded in the Santa Monica Mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. ‘The feeling is of being completely immersed in the landscape,’ says its architect-owner Michael J Sant, principal of Sant Architects. Explore the surrounding Topanga State Park, or drive 20 minutes to nearby Malibu. Santa Monica, Venice Beach and LA are also within an hour’s drive.
Best for: contemporary architecture
Cost: €870 per night via Welcome Beyond
Though October’s considered a ‘shoulder season’ across the Greek islands, it’s a good time to visit Santorini, where the days are sunny, the weather is still warm and the island’s historic sites are much quieter. Santorini is known for its sugar-cube Cycladic architecture but it also has its fair share of interesting adaptive reuse projects too: Villa Fabrica is the handiwork of architect Yannis Kaklamanis who turned a former wine factory into four minimalist apartments, which incorporate the building’s original machinery.
Best for: weekend getaways
Costs: from €280 per night direct
Blaskogabyggd, western Iceland
Chasing the Northern Lights is an imprecise art, but peak season is from November – March, when the nights are longest, cloaking Iceland in darkness. And where better to experience Aurora Borealis in all its glory than from the comfort of your own bed? Iceland’s 5 Million Star bubble hotel is a futuristic retreat comprising heat-controlled domes that are dotted across a wild stretch of woodland, 90-minutes drive from Reykjavík. Enjoy daytime treks through the unspoiled landscape, and watch the heavens come alive at night.Looking comfier digs? Here are more retreats where you can glimpse the Northern Lights.
Best for: Northern Lights
Cost: starting from ISK 28,900 to 29,900 per night
Beat the bleak mid-winter blues with a trip Down Under. December is the beginning of the Aussie summer and if you’re staying on the NSW coast, temperatures average around 21C (ideal for swimming or surfing) while inland it gets a bit more humid. We recommend heading for the bush – but you don’t need to rough it… Enjoy wilderness views from Dangar Island house, near Brooklyn. It was designed by Aussie practice Robertson & Hindmarsh Architects to evoke a bird watcher’s hut and perches on the side of a ravine at canopy level.
Best for: dramatic views, wildlife watching
Cost: from $400 per night via BoutiqueHomes