City Breaks In Spring - Where To Explore In 2018 (Part 1)
With spring on the horizon, we're turning our thoughts to the cities of the world. Our City Collection includes a variety of luxury properties in 11 of the world's most exciting, vibrant, and enjoyable cities - and during the springtime, each takes on a new charm.
With all kinds of events including festivals, exhibitions, and annual celebrations to experience, as well as the traditions and cultures that make these cities unique in the first place, we've compiled a few of the best things to see in each destination.
Bangkok experiences soaring temperatures throughout the year, but the weeks between February and April are some of the hottest on the calendar. A spring visit to Bangkok is therefore a great chance to revitalise after the cold of winter, and the good weather makes it an ideal time to visit the many outdoor attractions that the city has to offer.
The Grand Palace, the Erawin Shrine, and the hundreds of temples (known as 'Wats') are not only impressive, but offer an intriguing insight into Thai culture. While the weather is warm, it's also a great chance to enjoy the now-iconic rooftop bars of the city, such as Moon, the perfect setting for an evening meal or cocktail.
A particular highlight as spring arrives is Chinese New Year, which takes place on the 16th of February in 2018. During this period, Chinatown - already one of Bangkok's most vibrant areas - is completely transformed. Legend has it that as the new zodiac year arrives, a mythical beast known as 'Nien' would ransack the homes of citizens, and families would lay out food and set off firecrackers to ward off the beast.
In the modern world, this tradition has evolved into the iconic festivals we associate with Chinese New Year. Chinatown in Bangkok is replete with dragon dances, acrobatic displays, and firecrackers, all set to red paper lanterns and banners - the whole of Chinatown is, quite literally, painted red.
Dubai is well-known for its soaring temperatures, which remain consistently high throughout most of the year. During early spring/late winter, however, the weather becomes a little more bearable, with the average temperature dropping from the low 30s Celsius, to the low-mid 20s.
In March, a couple of highlights include the Dubai Street Food Awards (held on the 9th), which offer visitors a chance to sample some of the highly-regarded quick eats in the city; and for culture-lovers and art fanatics, the Van Gogh Alive exhibition. The latter is well worth experiencing, and features over 3000 images, including many paintings of the master artist. The exhibition has been touring globally to uniform acclaim, and will grace the Dubai Design District between March 10th and April 11th.
Berlin is a thriving hub of art and culture in all mediums. Combined with its rich history and iconic architecture, it's the perfect spot for a spring city holiday. With instantly recognisable sights like the Brandenburg Gate to take in, or the Victory Column at the centre of the Tiergarten, the clear skies and warm weather transform the city into an open-air museum of European history.
Capitalise on the sunshine by cycling to the nearby locality of Lübars, a lovely way to experience the natural beauty of the German countryside and only an hours ride from your apartment. Sights closer to your Hideaway include Die Gärten der Welt, or 'the garden of the world'. The park was embellished after the fall of the Berlin wall, and includes 9 immaculately maintained gardens from around the world, including Korea, Japan, and Italy. They're beautiful year-round, but really come alive in the spring.
The many museums and galleries throughout the city also hold a number of special exhibitions and events throughout the year. From November 2017, for instance, the Jewish Museum will present 're.o.nant' a new light and sound installation by the Düsseldorf-based concept artist Mischa Kuball. Set over 350 square metres of the Rafael Roth Gallery, this is sure to be a memorable experience for art lovers.
While Istanbul may not hold the same international acclaim as a city such as New York, it's one of the most enriching and enjoyable places to experience the magic of Turkey. It's the most populous city in the country, and a bustling hub of sights, smells and sounds.
Spring in Istanbul starts later than some of the other cities in our Collection, getting underway in mid April, with daily temperatures between 18 and 27 degrees C. During spring, the terraces are reopened, and the city is filled with colour as its famous tulips start to bloom.
A few great ways to enjoy Istanbul in the spring include visiting one of the many coffee houses for an authentic Turkish coffee - the city was in fact home to the first coffeehouse - or heading out on a walking tour to explore some of the city's architecture. Notable sights include the Galata Tower, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.
If you have a penchant for authentic food, you could take things one step further and embark on a private walking foodie tour of Istanbul. This 6-hour experience will have you explore everything from hidden restaurants to some of the best food stalls - a perfect way to make the most of the spring weather. Take the time to sample some genuine Turkish cooking, and find some inspiration for your own dishes back at your hideaway.
As one of the busiest cities in the world, London has something to offer everyone, at any time of year. But as spring rolls in and the weather warms up, the British capital embraces the new season with all kinds of exciting events and outdoor experiences.
There are events tailored to visitors with all tastes, but a few stand out. From the 10th of February to the 11th of March, the iconic Kew Gardens are hosting their annual orchid festival. As one of the world's most highly respected botanical gardens, Kew Gardens host a beautiful celebration of the Thai culture, with handcrafted umbrellas, and a Bang Pa-In inspired orchid palace on loan from the Thai embassy. A stroll around the gardens in the spring sunshine is always special, and this event makes it even more memorable.
If, after enjoying a relaxing afternoon among the flowers, you feel like some light refreshment, London Beer Week is held between the 12th and 18th March. Now in its fourth year, the 7 day event is held across the city, and lets you try some of the best beers in the world.
If you'd prefer something a little more cultured, April 22nd marks the start of the open air season at Shakespeare's Globe. The Globe itself is a peg-for-peg reconstruction of the eponymous bard's original theatre. There's nothing quite like enjoying a performance of one of the most seminal plays ever penned under the sun (or stars), just as Shakespeare's 16th-century audiences would. The 2018 season kicks off with Romeo and Juliet.
Nicknamed the 'capital of Latin America', Miami is the largest city in the States with a Cuban-American plurality. The result is a unique blend of cultures, epitomised by the 'Calle Ocho' festival in March. It's the largest Hispanic street festival in the southeastern US, and features 12 stages set along Miami's legendary Calle Ocho (8th Street). The road is closed to traffic, couples dance salsa in the street, and the scents of mouthwatering Latin American and Caribbean cuisine waft through the air. It's a unique chance to experience the impact of colliding cultures first hand.
Also in March, sports lovers can visit the Crandon Park Tennis Centre, which plays host to the Miami Open. The city provides an atmosphere unlike any other, with glorious weather and a unique energy. Combine this with the best players in the sport, and the Open is an unforgettable tournament to attend.
For those with a more refined, stylish sensibility, there's plenty to see and do in the city during spring. Particular highlights include a wellness and fitness fashion festival organised by 'Funkshion' (May 4th and 6th), and the globally recognised Miami Fashion Week (30th May to 3rd June).