Have you ever witnessed a colleague activate their ‘out of office’ before a three-week holiday? Have you endured the pervading smugness and unbridled joy of their final afternoon, their hulking suitcase in the corner, distracting and expectant? There are few things more demoralising, especially if you’re desperately deciding how to use your two remaining days, most of which will likely be spent in the car on the M5 to Cornwall.
But fear not, a good holiday is not dependent on its length. With that in mind, here are some of the best places to go for a long weekend away.
One of the best ways to plan a mini-break is to base it around fine dining; there can be no greater excuse to board a plane than the promise of a bread basket. And thus we turn to Zass, a Michelin-starred restaurant on Italy’s Amalfi Coast which was featured in Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold List 2017. It is located at Il San Pietro, a five-star hotel set in the hills of Positano. Chef Alois Vanlangenaeker uses produce grown on the slopes of the hotel itself to create superb dishes, such as his famous lemon crust with a buffalo yoghurt and potato purée and his Spaghetti Positano (made with a variety of local tomatoes). Quoted on the Relais & Chateaux website, Vanlangenaeker says; “when I create a new dish, I always think of guests who choose a Michelin-starred restaurant not only because they want to eat well, but also because they want an unforgettable experience. And that’s precisely what I want to offer them.” This unforgettable experience is due almost as much to the setting as to the food. Zass is surrounded by the bright blue of the Mediterranean and its tables on the terrace are exposed to the glorious Italian sun.
Make the most of the weekend by staying the night at Il San Pietro Hotel and roll in and out of Zass like a seasoned mini-breaker. The philosophy of Il San Pietro is to create spaces of understated luxury with ‘surprising yet delicate details’. No two rooms are the same but they all feature the vibrant colours of Amalfi with a modern and sophisticated twist. Some rooms have astonishing views overlooking Positano, some have terraces jutting out to sea. All are simply stunning.
Il San Pietro is also the only hotel in Positano with a direct access to a private beach, complete with a solarium, restaurant and bar by the sea. Sunday can be spent here on the beach, or on the hotel’s private yacht, Morgan 44, rentable for either a half or full day. The towns on the Amalfi Coast are perfect for even the shortest breaks; they are made for rambling exploration, lunches that turn languidly into dinners and luxurious lounging under a bright blue sky.
Continuing on the theme of food-orientated long weekends away: Fäviken in Northern Sweden. Included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, this is a destination that requires considerable planning. To reach Åre Municipality, where Fäviken is located, you must first go to Stockholm. From there, it is a one hour flight to Ostersund and from Ostersund another hour-long drive out into the countryside. Alternatively, a helicopter can be procured for the last leg, delivering you directly to the remote old farmhouse, run as a restaurant by chef Magnus Nilsson since 2012.
Fäviken has six rooms overlooking a vast hunting reserve. On its grounds, you’ll find a sauna, a tepee and a fire-pit where guests gather to smoke cigars after dinner. The food is traditional Scandinavian; think herring, moose and scallops reinvented and transformed by Nilsson. Local ingredients are picked at their peak and pickled, jellied and salted for use in extraordinary dishes. Fäviken is a one-night-only establishment making it the perfect place for a weekend away.
Finally, we have Austria’s Lake Wörthersee which, according to locals, is best visited in Spring. Wörthersee, Austria’s largest and warmest Alpine lake, is lined with modern hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, chic boutiques and lively bars. We recommend Hotel Schlosshotel Velden, a five-star resort right on the shores of the lake which also boasts a private beach club and swimming pool. The most popular way to get around the lake is by bicycle and designated cycle paths create an easy and safe environment for children. Alternatively, take a short boat trip from Pörtschach to the town of Velden which can be explored by foot. Velden is a market town on the western shore of the lake and it is one of the country’s most popular holiday resorts, often dubbed Austria’s answer to Monte Carlo. To reach the lake, fly directly from London to Klagenfurt airport and either take a train or drive the twenty minutes west to Wörthersee.
So, next time you’re faced with the gloating grin of a holiday-hoarding colleague, don’t despair: there is plenty you can do with a weekend. And if times get really tough there’s always Cornwall…and at least you can take all your liquids.