If you’re thinking about planning a luxury city break, there are a number of factors to consider. You’ll want somewhere that’s easy to reach within a short space of time. You’ll also want a city that has enough to offer to make a visit worthwhile and enough luxury hotels to make your stay comfortable.
Luckily, there are many fantastic city break destinations just a hop, skip and jump from the UK. Our handy guide includes all the information you need to plan the perfect city break holiday. Below, you’ll find some of our favourite destinations, must-see attractions and truly splendid five-star hotels.
As one of Europe’s most popular city breaks, Prague is easily a top choice. Its compact city centre can be explored within a couple of days and there’s a fantastic nightlife for when the sun sets. You can spend your days wandering through one of the world’s largest castle complexes, strolling along the iconic Charles Bridge or leisurely sipping coffee in the Old Town. At night, you can sample locally brewed beer or dance till dawn at some of Europe’s best clubs. Whether you’re travelling with friends or looking for a more romantic city break, Prague has something for everyone.
Things to Do
Prague Old Town. If you’re only visiting for the weekend, you’ll probably spend most — if not all — of your time in Prague’s Old Town. Old Town Square is a natural starting point as this square has served as the city’s marketplace and beating heart for over one thousand years. Here, you’ll also find some of Prague’s most famous sites like the astronomical clock and Municipal House.
Astronomical Clock. Prague’s intricate 15th-century astronomical clock is one of Europe’s best-known attractions. Each hour, on the hour the clock springs to life with a short show which attracts a large audience. Make sure to take time to admire the clock’s beautiful design and learn about its interesting symbolism.
Prague Castle. High up on the hill, a short distance from the Old Town sits Prague Castle. Prague Castle is one of the Czech Republic’s most important cultural sites and as such has UNESCO World Heritage status. Plus, as the largest castle complex in the world, you could easily spend an entire day exploring its beautiful grounds and buildings.
Where to Stay
Prague has a number of luxury five-star hotels. Many are located in the Old Town, providing easy access to the city’s top sites and best restaurants.
Hotel Kings Court. Located in the Old Town Square, next to the Art Nouveau Municipal House, Hotel Kings Court is a fantastic choice for luxury city break holidaymakers. In addition to stylish rooms, Kings Court also has an exclusive spa and fitness centre with a small pool, Finnish sauna and steam bath. There’s also an onsite cocktail bar and a restaurant serving traditional and international fare.
Hotel Paris. With a history that dates back to the early 20th-century, Hotel Paris has an old-school, Neo-Gothic charm. You’ll find this gorgeous five-star hotel in the Old Town Square, opposite the Municipal House. Rooms here are elegantly decorated and guests can take advantage of the hotel’s wellness centre, onsite restaurant serving French, Czech and international dishes, and a 1920s Parisian style cafe and bar.
Carlo IV. Located in the centre of Prague, a 10-minute walk from Wenceslas Square, Carlo VI has gorgeous rooms and extensive onsite spa facilities. The onsite spa includes an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and Turkish baths. You can also book exclusive treatments. Carlo IV also has an onsite Salon restaurant serving modern Czech and international dishes, a New York cafe and relaxing lounge.
When to Go
Prague, like most of Continental Europe, experiences short sunny summers (June to August) and cold, snowy winters (December to March). Most people visit during the summer months, but Prague, with its festive Christmas markets and snow-covered buildings, is also a magical place in winter. If you want to escape the crowds, the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons of April to May and September to November as temperatures are mild and the weather is fine.
Step back in time with a visit to one of the UK’s most beautiful cities. Both Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites and are compact enough to explore on foot. You can spend your days wandering through Edinburgh’s almost perfectly preserved castle complex, shopping along Princes Street or climbing Arthur’s Seat. Edinburgh is perfect for those travelling with young children as well as adults looking for renowned restaurants, classy cocktail bars and an internationally-renowned entertainment scene.
Things to Do
Edinburgh has a number of world-class attractions, most of which can be found in the Old Town along the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh Castle. Perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the city, Edinburgh Castle should be at the top of any itinerary. You can hire an audio guide to learn about the castle’s fascinating history or explore the many rooms and exhibits unguided. And don’t be alarmed as the clock strikes one – the cannon from the Castle will be fired. Afterwards, wind your way down the Royal Mile to visit Holyrood Palace, the formal Scottish residence of the Queen.
Sample Scottish Whisky. Home to many distilleries and within throwing distance to the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh is an ideal place to sample one of Scotland’s most iconic drinks. You can join a guided walking tour to visit some of Edinburgh’s best whisky bars and learn more about the distilling process.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe. During August, Edinburgh hosts the world’s largest performing arts festivals. You can choose from more than 55,000 performances and over 3,0000 different ticketed shows. There’s dance troops from Japan, live music concerts, entertaining comedy and magic shows, and much much more. The city gets very busy when the festival is on, so it’s best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Where to Stay
Edinburgh has a fantastic collection of five-star luxury hotels. Most are located in the Old or New Town, so are within easy walking distance to top attractions.
The Edinburgh Grand. Located only a three-minute walk from Edinburgh’s shopping district, The Edinburgh Grand offers apartment five-star accommodation. Apartments come with a fully-equipped kitchen, rainfall shower and flat-screen TV. There’s also an onsite restaurant, bar and coffee house.
Balmoral. The Balmoral is an Edinburgh institution and its gorgeous stone facade is a graceful part of the city’s skyline. With a history that dates back to 1902, The Balmoral offers swanky, timeless rooms featuring spacious marble bathrooms and sweeping views of Edinburgh Castle and Old Town. There’s also an onsite Michelin-starred restaurant, whisky and cocktail bar, a high-end fitness centre and luxurious spa.
Waldorf Astoria. With direct, unobstructed views of Edinburgh Castle, the Waldorf Astoria is another great choice. Originally built in 1903 as part of Edinburgh’s central railway station, this five-star hotel has an old-school charm. In addition to luxurious rooms, guests can also access an onsite spa and fitness centre featuring a steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, swimming pool, and a modern gym and offering exclusive treatments. There’s also two onsite Michelin-starred restaurants, afternoon tea room, and trendy cocktail bar.
When to Visit
Edinburgh is a fantastic luxury city break destination at any time of year. Summer brings sunny days and highs of 20 degrees. If you want to experience Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, you’ll need to visit in August. While slightly rainier, winter is also a great time to visit as Edinburgh is home to some of Europe’s best Christmas markets and hosts one grand New Years celebration.
Discover San Francisco, Northern California’s golden child, on your next luxury city break. With the San Francisco Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, this quintessential American city is known for its natural beauty, foggy weather and, of course, The Golden Gate Bridge. Spend your city break exploring San Francisco’s many neighbourhoods like Fisherman’s Wharf alive with vibrant seafood restaurants or the always trendy Haight-Ashbury. It’ll be hard not to fall in love with San Francisco.
Things To Do
San Francisco is packed full of activities for travellers of all ages. Younger kids will love splashing in the waters at Crissy Park, while adults can visit the Grateful Dead House and much more. Some of our favourite things to do in San Fransisco include:
Golden Gate Bridge. When it was built in the 1930s, this suspension bridge was the world’s longest and tallest bridge. Today, it’s known around the globe and as such should be at the top of any itinerary. You can get up close and personal with this giant beauty by cycling, walking or even driving across it. If you want a more relaxing experience, try picnicking at Crissy Park, one of the best places in San Francisco to view the Golden Gate Bridge.
Alcatraz Island. Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is mostly known for its notorious prison. It was here that criminals like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly were held. You can take a guided tour of the prison, which provides first-hand stories from the prisoners that called this place home.
Pier 39. Located along the waterfront, Pier 39 has a vibrant, party-like atmosphere with restaurants serving American and international dishes, entertaining street performers, virtual 3D rides, and one of the pier’s most prominent features – a two storey carousel. Kids will enjoy meeting the resident California sea lions or learning about local animals at the Bay of Aquarium.
Where to Stay
San Francisco has some excellent five-star hotels located throughout its many neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood has its own unique vibe and areas Ghirardelli Square, Haight-Ashbury, and Union Square are known for being more upscale and trendy.
The Fairmont. Overlooking Ghirardelli Square and San Francisco Bay, The Fairmont offers guests luxurious, spacious apartments with fully equipped kitchen, outdoor terraces and fireplaces. Staff are available to assist with grocery shopping, cooking and driving so you can have a truly relaxing stay. There’s even a daily wine reception, room service from nearby restaurants, and direct access via elevator to Ghirardelli Square restaurants and boutiques.
Huntington Hotel. Located at the top of Nob Hill in central San Francisco, the five-star Huntington Hotel has spacious, elegant rooms with panoramic views and an award-winning spa. At the spa, you can enjoy a variety of exclusive treatments or relax in an adult-only indoor hot tub. There’s also a lounge with a fireplace which is perfect for reading your favourite book in the evening.
Palace Hotel. A short cable car ride from Fisherman’s Wharf, The Palace Hotel is another excellent choice for luxury city break travellers. Rooms feature 11-foot ceilings, leather tufted headboards, marble baths and touches of west-coast impressionism. Guests can dine at the grand crystal chandelier restaurant serving savoury bites or enjoy hand-crafted cocktails at the contemporary onsite bar. The Palace Hotel also has a glass dome indoor swimming pool, which provides stunning city views and exclusive spa and fitness centre.
When to Visit
San Francisco is a great destination for a luxury city break as temperatures are consistent year-round. Summer (May to August) brings highs of 21 degrees Celsius while winter (December to February) sees lows of 13 degrees. It rarely snows and most days are graced with glorious Californian sunshine.
The city hosts some fantastic events throughout the year like the San Francisco Pride Festival in June, Fillmore Street Jazz Festival in July, and Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival in September.