November is one of travel’s most underrated months, perhaps because those in on the secret are reluctant to share it. Corners of Europe remain pleasantly mild (and blissfully tourist-free), with a cool evening breeze demanding little more than a light jumper. In the UK, the countryside is ablaze with autumnal hues of claret and russet brown and the temperature drop makes pampering spas and ruddy-faced country boltholes with roaring log fires all the more tempting. November’s far-flung winter sun options include sleepy Caribbean islands and Mauritius’ jungle-meets-sea landscape to Oman’s dramatic, sun-drenched coastline.
South Africa’s Winelands
The pretty Cape Winelands towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are ripe for visits in November, with the harvest’s vintages ready to sample and the climate delightfully warm and dry. Less than an hour from Cape Town, vineyards comb hills doused in a golden sunlight and even the most imposing of the old world estate houses (often toying with modern design notions) are belittled by the mighty Cape Fold mountains surging in the distance. For a thrilling dose of historic Stellenbosch’s Cape Dutch architecture, book into Boschendal Wine Estate (one of the region’s oldest) where gently restored cottages and go-slow rural rhythms pair perfectly well with the Pinotage. Or, for a dash of auberge charm, Le Quartier Francais is a sumptuously understated boutique hotel with Provencal appeal and an undemanding agenda: expressly wine and languid afternoons by the pool.
Culture-laced City Breaks
November’s darker nights and cooler days pull cities inside, animating its bars and restaurants and shining light on its various exhibitions and theatre productions. Europe’s labyrinth of cities, many a thrilling mix of antiquity and burgeoning food and art scenes, thrive in November; some take a more leisurely step out of summer, while others have already embraced hats, gloves and cockle-warming menus. Edinburgh does November particularly well – its streets’ transform into an amber-and-grey warren of historical pubs, independent coffee shops for warm hot chocolate and its fabled arts scene clicks into seasonal gear. Gothic beauty, Dunstane Houses embodies Edinburgh’s new groove – where tweeds, merlot-hues and wood panelling are given a fresh treatment, retaining that storied Scottish charm and heritage while fine-tuning it for the 21st century. Further south and Lisbon is one of those cities reluctant to let go of summer. A melting pot of cultures and ventures has filled its city’s ancient bones, fanning out inside its tiled walls and spilling out onto its cobbled streets or abundance of roof terraces for pasteis de Nata and Portuguese reds. Bairro Alto is the perfect expression of Libson’s old-meets-new itch, where luxurious modern touches must contend with a grand, noble canvas. Peering over the staggeringly pretty Praça de Camōes in its stylish namesake district, this hotel has one of Lisbon’s best rooftop restaurants, with heart-tugging views across the Tagus River.
Seize the opportunity to recharge in November, before the festive season is in full swing and diaries become jam packed. Steamy spa breaks really come into their own as the gloomy British weather sets in, with deep tissue massages, hammams and oily, zen-focused afternoons an appealing proposition. This is also the best time of year to see the Northern Lights, one of several euphoric experiences at The Retreat Blue Lagoon – a hotel carved into volcanic rock and suspended in time amid a mossy, mottled and other-worldly landscape. An exhilarating scene of glass walls, minimalist furniture and restrained fireplaces plays out inside, while the geothermal seawater with its healing properties lures guests outside for a memorable dip. But back to Blighty, whose autumnal shades of ochre, chestnuts and golds are at their most ravishing in the Cotswolds, where honey-hued Calcot Manor & Spa cocoons guests in its newly refreshed, gold-standard spa amid lavender terraces and meadows.
November is a trigger word for sun-worshippers to pack their bags and escape to more tropical corners of the world. Fly-and-flop aficionados will have the Caribbean and Mauritius firmly on their radar, the latter being a deliciously mild, with bath warm, glassy lagoons to float in and gaze at the tangle of jungle flanking the beach. One & Only Le Saint Geran has that Robinson Crusoe wow-factor, occupying its own peninsula of flawless white sand and shifting palms. Oman’s November appeal has always been strong, with temperatures teasing the low 30s and knockout hotels, such as the legendary Six Senses Zighy Bay, making the most of the cinematic landscape. The mighty Al Hajar mountains make their jagged (and rather sudden) descent to a powder-soft beach peering out to the Gulf of Oman, while the hotel itself is carved into limestone and sewn into the surrounding landscape, echoing a traditional Omani villages, just with private pools and smooth, contemporary interiors.
To plan your November getaway, speak to our friendly travel experts Gemma or Jo on +44 (0)1306 264 005 or by emailing [email protected]. And, if you’re the organised type then we would also recommend chatting through 2023 holiday plans whilst you’re at it.