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Luxury Escapes for Winter Sun in Europe

Lauren Hill

Contributor

Despite the festivities in December, drab and dreary winter weather can take its toll and leave you checking flight prices to the nearest bit of sun. If you’re in search of winter rays in Europe, make the journey to these seemingly perennially sun-soaked pockets of the continent.

Malta

Located in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta has temperatures reaching around 17 degrees throughout winter. This is also the time of year when tourism is at its quietest, meaning those who do make the journey are able to explore the streets of UNESCO World Heritage Site Valletta when they’re less crowded and have the island’s beaches and historic sites to themselves. Throughout the festive season, Valletta also lights up with Christmas decorations making it an even more picturesque place to be at this time of year.

Where to Stay

The Phoenicia is often referred to as the most luxurious hotel on Malta. This neoclassical building boasts a prominent position at the main entrance of Valletta, with plenty of space for an outdoor pool and gardens, as well as close proximity to the city’s historic sites. You can still see all the signs of this hotel’s 1930s origin, but recent updates mean interiors are also kept current. Here, you can expect a room with a view of the harbour, indoor and outdoor dining options, a lavish Palm Court and relaxed Club Bar, and a concierge who can organise fascinating excursions.
Valleta - Malta

Cyprus

Daytime temperatures of well over 20 degrees make Cyprus one of the warmest parts of the Mediterranean in winter. Head south to the coastal city, Limassol, to wander through the old town without the tourist numbers summer brings and to be based in a hub known for its restaurants and luxury hotels. You’ll find beaches celebrated for their black sand, golden shores and dramatic white rocks along this stretch of coast, and ruins of the ancient city, Amathus, to the east. Venture inland to seek out the mountain hiking trails, rural villages and the island’s wineries.

Where to Stay

Amara Cyprus opened earlier this year on Limassol’s coast. Restaurants by internationally renowned chefs including Nobu Matsuhisa made it an instant hit, and appealing design by studios including David Rockwell ensured it impressed in style. Palm and olive tree-filled gardens with infinity pools overlook a narrow strip of sand and the Mediterranean Sea, while restaurants and bars spill out to panoramic terraces. The sprawling spa comes with thermal facilities and a saltwater open-air pool.
Limassol - Cyprus

Southern Spain

As the capital of southern Spain, Seville, along with its surroundings, is a steadfast draw for winter sun. Temperatures at this time are typically around 17 degrees so you’ll still be able to enjoy the parks and alfresco bars offering tapas and flamenco but you’ll also find exploring the city’s sights more comfortable without the heat of summer and, towards the end of the year, you’ll be able to stroll through a number of Christmas markets. Cultural events take place in the lead up to Christmas and into the New Year. See the decorations of nativity displays of Feria de Belen and catch the Cabalgata de Los Reyes parade in January.

Where to Stay

Stay in the landmark property, Hotel Alfonso XIII. Now a Luxury Collection Hotel, this historic property has hosted guests since it was commissioned by the King of Spain to accommodate dignitaries during the 1929 Exhibition. The hotel lies at the heart of the historic quarter, so is within easy walking distance of sites like Seville Cathedral. Impressive architecture, ornate interiors, gastronomy and gardens make this a remarkable place to stay in the Andalusian city.
Seville, Spain

The Canary Islands

With temperatures rising above 20 degrees throughout winter, the Canary Islands are a popular retreat at this time. Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are said to be the warmest islands here during winter, meaning you can still soak up some sun from your hotel’s (heated) pool and on a stroll along the beach. And while summer can seem too hot for hiking, these cooler months provide the ideal conditions for exploring the trails of spectacular landscape like Teide National Park in Tenerife, which is home to the highest peak in all of Spain - take a cable car to the summit to see the sunset before stargazing with one of the national park’s starlight guides.

Where to Stay

Luxury hotels are dotted across these islands, with some of the most appealing located in secluded areas of natural beauty. Among these is the restored 150-year-old lighthouse, Faro Punta Cumplida, which made its debut as a hotel on La Palma last year. The lighthouse is still active but it now incorporates three luxury suites — one with two bedrooms, a fireplace and terrace — as well as an infinity pool, patio and garden. Over in Tenerife, stay at Royal Hideaway Corales Suites beachfront hotel on the southwest coast. And check in to Lani’s Suites de Luxe on Lanzarote for its oceanfront setting, lavish suites and ocean-view restaurant.
Tenerife - Canary Islands

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