Been a bit busy? Sunshine giving you itchy feet? Getting that sinking ‘Oh no, I forgot to book a holiday’ feeling and now hunting for last-minute hotel getaways? Help is at hand: here’s a top-10 hotlist of stylish summer destinations from London and Paris (below) to Dublin with late availability and last-minute offers to help you plan the perfect whirlwind getaway…
From the hip happenings of the East End to the swish haunts of Notting Hill, London has heritage beauty and street cred. This feisty lady has it all: glorious parks and historic squares, monuments galore, museums piled with colonial swag, galleries where art soothes or surprises, and stages attracting theatre’s hottest talent.
Where to book now Moments from Mayfair, St James’s Hotel & Club is newly revamped and restored, with Murano chandeliers, a priceless collection of portraiture and the most snooze-worthy beds you’ll ever sleep in.
Best deal? Smith members who book before 4 September get 20 per cent off room rates.
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Forget kiss-me-quick hats and candyfloss on Palace Pier – with its pretty terraced squares, Brighton gives Bath a run for its Regency money. As well as a wealth of restaurants, bars and cute boutiques, there’s the beach and pier for that classic ‘Brighton breezy’ coast experience.
Where to book now Square offers a very sleek version of a Brighton weekend. A super-stylish townhouse hotel and bar, just off the seafront in an immaculate Regency square in Kemp Town, it’s a far cry from the traditional chintzy B&B. And – bonus! – it still has rooms available in August (hurry, though: they’ll be snapped up quicker than you can say ‘fish ‘n’ chips’).
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The city with a village mentality. After you’ve dipped into the nightlife, jump on a tram to the Museum District for Van Goghs and Rembrandts; shop in the picturesque Nine Streets area; hire a bike to tour architecturally interesting Zuid; or hit the beach – it’s only 30 minutes away.
Where to book now Hotel Seven One Seven is an attractive townhouse on Amsterdam’s beautiful Prinsengracht canal. The new owners of this former weekend-party pad wanted everything: the pictures on the walls, the books on the shelves, the drinks in the cabinet. Other options include newly launched Canal House and The Dylan (look out for a post about its amazing new Michelin-star dining boat, Vinkeles on the Water).
Best deals? Book Hotel Seven One Seven before the end of August and you can pick: 20 per cent off room rates or a free Sunday night when you stay Friday and Saturday night.
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04 New York
With its fantastic bars and irresistible shopping, NYC always has something new to show off. Browse the boutiques of NoLita, get limited-edition trainers and vinyl in the East Village, take in art and culture in SoHo, see a show on Broadway and have a cocktail back in your boudoir.
Where to book now Boho Gramercy Park Hotel is idiosyncratic and imaginative. Lush scarlet drapes tickle stark black-leather furniture, and Louis XV chairs sit beneath works by Cy Twombly and Damien Hirst. Summer bonus: it has a wonderful East Side location, access to the city’s only private park and rooftop gardens.
Best deals? Gramercy Park is offering a fantastic three nights for two until 5 September. Other New York steals include 20 per cent off suites at Smyth Tribeca; and 20 per cent off at the Surrey, plus a $50 spa credit.
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Whether you’re drawn in by the tartan heritage of the Royal Mile, the New Town’s elegant Georgian façades or the Castle, whichever angle you look at it from, Edinburgh is a knockout. This month, the city hosts the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Where to book now If you get your skates on, you can still find Edinburgh Festival hotel rooms – Hotel Missoni has weekend availability for the last two weekends of August. This rainbow-coloured Royal Mile retreat is close to the castle; the D’Argento Suite is the headline act, with views of the Old Town stretching beyond Arthur’s Seat as far as the Firth of Forth, and one-off Missoni-designed furniture pieces.
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From the top of Montmartre to the tip of the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre or on the Left Bank, Paris is stylish to its bones: the 8ème and 16ème arrondissements are about couture-clad swanking; diehard romantics will always have Montmartre; and Montorgueil is the up-and-coming area to watch.
Where to book now La Réserve Paris is a top-drawer set of serviced apartments facing the Eiffel Tower, perfect for travellers who come with family, friends or entourage. Each apartment has superbly equipped kitchens, and dining tables seating eight to 10, so you can either shop for groceries, spending a squillionth of the cost of a gourmet restaurant meal (try Bon Marché’s La Grande Epicerie) and cook your own dinner, or have a chef called in.
Dublin’s young, energetic population ensures there’s always a buzz in the air, and the city has no shortage of new bars and boutiques to keep Liffey-side life full of surprises. Enjoy the ‘craic’ over a Guinness, take in the Georgian architecture, or visit some of the many-splendoured museums and galleries.
Where to book now Victorian on the outside and victorious on the inside, the Dylan hotel‘s rather austere exterior conceals playfully modern interiors and beds you’ll never want to get out of. The decadent Dylan Bar could have sprung from the combined imaginings of David Lynch and Lewis Carroll, and a night of cocktails here is a Dublin must-do.
Best deals? The Dylan hotel has a fantastic offer: three nights for two until the end of December 2011.
Barcelona has always embraced style, bold design and all things new. Pockets of lively bars and restaurants around the Gothic Quarter and El Born ensure the city stays alive late into the night, as do most of her visitors. No wonder cava is the drink of choice – this is a place with much to celebrate.
Where to book now ME Barcelona is a 37-floor expanse of stylish luxury, offbeat cool designed by French architect Dominique Perrault, with two elegant restaurants, a seductive bar and slinky nightclub.
Best deals? Book before the end of this week and get 20% off room rates.
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Spain’s sunny islands also make it into our top 10 last-minute destinations – what’s not to like about sparklingly clear seas, beautiful sandy bays and an array of diversions from mountain biking in Sóller to beach-bar hopping in Ibiza’s south?
Where to book now Mallorca’s your best bet for August availability: there are still rooms at Hospes Maricel, a converted 16th-century mansion set right on the water’s edge with a bar overlooking the Med, an enticing restaurant and a spa set in the caves by the waves. Other options include Convent de la Missio and Cap Rocat in Palma and party playground Puro Hotel.
See more Mallorca hotels. See hotels in Ibiza.
Reborn as a players’ destination, Marbella oozes old-school glam. The Costa de Sol’s classiest joint is looking spruce, its avenidas made over with palm-trees and marble pavements. Take an Andalucia road trip to explore a little further and you’ll find the region’s star attractions on your doorstep, from the horse-loving tipple producers of Jerez to the Moorish marvels of Ronda and Granada.
Where to book now Whisk your lover away for some super-luxurious relaxation at Finca Cortesin near Estepona on the Costa del Sol. Not only does it have both the best spa and best golf club in the region (some say in Europe), there are also three pools, plus a private Beach Club 1km away, with another pool, restaurant and potent cocktails.
See more hotels in Marbella and southern Spain.