Sicily's second city has a famously good local cuisine, baroque palaces and impressive Roman ruins that put the capital Palermo in the shade. It's also located at the foot of the active volcano Mount Etna which makes for an excellent daytrip and, as the city is wedged between mountains and the coast, in early spring (snow permitting) you can even ski in the morning and be on the beach in the afternoon.
We recommend a Stay at Una Hotel Palace. Get there from Gatwick.
Danish design set the tone for slick, functional Fifties modernism and the look that's been so fashionable since the Nineties, so if the shape of a chair or the curve of a coffee cup sets your heart racing, head to Copenhagen where it all began. Check out the work of Poul Henningsen and Arne Jacobsen at the national art and design museum Kunstindustrimuseet and then start your own collection by shopping at the city's design emporia. Moderna 10 (Ravensborggade 10a), Kolmorgen (Bredgade 10, kolmorgen.com) and Retrograd (Gunlogsgade 7) are among the best.
We recommend a Stay at Hotel Fox, where each of the rooms has been designed by young locals. Fly from Edinburgh and Gatwick or Stansted.
Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in this chic Normandy resort almost a century ago and its glamorous ambience has stuck as every September it's awash with Hollywood starlets flocking here for the American film festival. But for the less wealthy and well-connected, it's also a perfect place to spend a weekend full of fresh air and exercise.
We recommend a Stay at the Du Golf Hotel Barriere, which overlooks two golf courses. The concierge can arrange horse-riding on the beach, quad-biking and kayaking. A new route has just been launched from Stansted.
This Baltic capital has Scandinavian charm with a Russian twist. Its architecture is a mix of neo-classical, elegant austerity and the cutting-edge modernist marvels created by its most famous resident Alvar Aalto. For a tour of the best of its built heritage, take a turn along the waterfront and visit the Lutheran Cathedral on Senate Square, then move on to the new Opera House, Finlandia Hall and the fanastical art nouveau train station. The excellent collection at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is proof that the Finns produced more than the Moomins, and the delicious contemporary Scandinavian fare at Demo shows that they're not half bad cooks either.
We recommend a Stay at Klaus K, the city's latest designer hotel. Fly from London Stansted.
Bijou, beautiful and cheap, Slovenia's charming capital makes for a perfect weekend break. Head for the tourist office on Krekov trg 10 and pick up a rental bike which is free for the first two hours. Visit the castle for its spectacular views of the city and then the modern art museum Moderna Galerija stopping for lunch and a browse in the design bookshop at Vale Novak Concept Store Kick off the evening at chic lounge bar Minimal in the Old Town, continue on to Bacchus Centre Club and then detox at super-cheap spa centre Atlantis.
We recommend a Stay at Hotel Mons with rooms housed in coloured glass. It is the coolest crash-pad in town, despite the 10-minute drive from the centre. Get there from Stansted.
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