Our favourite season is drawing to a close, and while we've got that back-to-school excitement, we want to keep some of that summer chill.
So here is an ode to our most beloved holiday spots, to the linens we threw into our suitcases, and that we will now be throwing over our family table as the mercury dips, to remind us of those long, lazy days.
Happy holidays forever!
[The South of France]
A place in the world that is so close to our hearts at Summerill & Bishop. Our founders June and Bernadette both chose to have homes here, and found many of our most beloved artisans on their annual pilgrimage to this beautiful sun-drenched part of the world. In Summer, the key is to never (ever) be in a rush to get anywhere or do anything. Instead, assume a position of laid-back leisure, ambling through the charming lanes of Aix-en-Provence, enjoying delicious Provençal dishes (and some major art, too) at Colombe D’Or, and hitting Plage de Pampelonne in St Tropez, getting comfortable at one of the many beach clubs, our perpetual favourite of course being Club 55.
The teeny island of Ischia has some of the oldest and best thermal baths in the world (like Spa Aphrodite Apollon), uncrowded beaches and food that celebrates the sea. Capri may be nearby, but Ischia is far less pretentious and the perfect place to experience the beauty of Southern Italy without the fuss. That’s not to say you can’t find sophistication (take Ristorante Alberto in Ischia Porto, with a celebrity following and seaside views), however the real charm is found in the fishing villages, like Sant' Angelo, which faces a volcanic islet dotted with the ruins of an ancient monastery.
[The English Countryside]
This is one travel scenario where your companion cannot begrudge you a large suitcase. After all, your packing will need to cover all manner of scenarios. From wellies and raincoats to your lightest linens, it’s impossible to know what you’ll get weather-wise. One thing you can be sure of is that it will be glorious. Fields dotted with wild flowers, pebble strewn beaches, ruins and castles to explore, and when the sun does come out, everything sparkles.
[Big Sur, California]
It’s hard to believe that just five hours drive from LA is the isolated and beautiful wilderness that inspired writers like Jack Kerouac. We recommend you don’t miss any of it by taking a road trip from San Francisco and working your way down. There’s dramatic rocky coastlines against forests of giant redwood trees, and you’ll be able to hit beach towns like Santa Cruz and Carmel, before arriving at Big Sur itself, where you have to stay at Ventana, a tranquil and luxurious hotel overlooking the Pacific.
The undeniable star of the Mamma Mia films, we can never tire of the Greek Islands when there are so many to chose from. From the party beaches of Mykonos, to the laid back arty vibe of Hydra, and the sophistication and beauty of Symi (our vote for the prettiest port in Greece) – there is the perfect island for whatever your holiday mood. The common factor? That wonderful palette of blue and white, set against the Greek light. Stimulation for the eyes and the soul. Our favourite for getting away from it all in 2019, is the beautiful island of Milos, with its magical hot springs. Don’t miss the bottle-green swimming hole at Papafragas, and the colourful, rickety syrmata, (tiny fisherman’s houses) wedged between rock and sea in the picturesque fishing village of Skinopi.
Montenegro has stolen our hearts and this tiny Balkan nation will capture yours too. Some highlights include the Bay of Kotor, which feels a bit like a Norwegian fjord and is lined with ancient villages including Tivat and Perast. Then there’s Budva, which may be known for its seventeen unspoiled beaches and nightlife, but we were taken by the walled Old Town with it rust red roofs, narrow winding lanes and lovely squares. Finally, Sveti Stefan is a stunning islet off-limits to anyone not staying at the luxurious Aman resort, but the onshore town of the same name is super picturesque.
For a chilled-out beach holiday in Europe, the West Coast of Portugal is quietly growing quite a reputation as the place to be for the kind of untouched beauty you might have found in Ibiza or St Tropez decades ago. There is a laid-back vibe with surfers dotting the waves and beach shacks along the coast. The surrounding area is rice fields, vineyards and salt plains, with yellow carpets of wildflowers and thatched cabanas and highly protected nature reserves. The place to stay is the region around Comporta, which is a stretch of coast with seven hamlets: Pego, Carvalhal, Brejos, Torre, Possanco, Carrasqueira and Comporta, too.
[South African Safari]
Despite watching 'Out of Africa' several times and eagerly wearing khaki, nothing quite prepared us for the magic of our first safari. Standing ten feet from an actual lion with nothing between you except the shell of your jeep...is humbling. And thrilling. And South Africa is a great place to experience this wild world. There are private game reserves, like Tswalu Kalahari, that are malaria-free and cater for families. But if you want to see the big five ( that would be lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo) then head to Krugar Park, a national park with nearly 5 million acres to explore.
Whilst part of heart will always remain in Tulum, Sayulita, a one-time sleepy fishing town on Mexico's rain-forested Pacific coast is definitely pulling us out West this year. Dominated by the pulsing waves and the habitual surfers, Sayulita still retains a youthful innocence and open friendliness that has been lost as Tulum has developed over the years. Surfers, boho travellers and a new wave of designers from New York, co-exist in perfect balance alongside Nayarit's native, white and red dressed Huichol tribe, whose peyote-fuelled visions of bears, stars, gods' eyes, monkeys and eagles are illustrated in their paintings and embroidery all over town. For a central location, if you don’t mind a bit of noise, we love the colourful playfulness of the tiny Petit Hotel d' Hafa.
[Ibiza, Balearic Islands]
The beaches. The food. The unapologetic bohemia of the place. It’s hard not to love Ibiza. And while hoards of visitors may beat a path for the party spots, we’ve always found it to be a tranquil place to be if you head North - where you can still find some of the spirit of peace and love that launched Ibiza onto the international scene. That’s where you’ll find charming spots for lunch, hidden seaside gems and plenty of good shopping too. Some things we will never (ever) tire of doing when we visit: dining al fresco at La Paloma under the bougainvillea, hiring a boat and setting sail for Formentera, and a day in the countryside at La Granja, an organic farm which grows most of the food it serves.
Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram everyone knows about Morocco’s famous blue city, Chefchaouen, nicknamed the “blue pearl of Morocco.” But whilst it is undeniably photogenic, and a mecca for bloggers, nothing can beat the experience of visiting the ancient walled town yourself. For a start, what you do not see in those photos is quite how beautiful the surrounding region is, when viewed from this mountain side jewel. Secondly, what the lens cannot capture is that Chefchaouen is not just blue, but it is about every shade of blue that you can ever imagine, and those shades change throughout the day with the shifting light. It is magical in the true sense of the word. Our tip – combine two days in Chefchaouen, with a stay in Fez just a few hour’s drive away – and check out the interesting selection of Airbnbs in Cefchaouen for a more authentic experience.
[Las Vegas, USA]
Don’t let the Hangover franchise turn you off—there’s plenty to do in Vegas that doesn’t involve gambling chips under fluorescent lighting. If you’re craving pool time (it is the desert, after all), the JW Marriot is the place to go if you do not want to see your kids; otherwise, the Mandarin Oriental is a stylish option. For old-school glamour, we have it on good authority that Michael’s Gourmet Room at the South Point Hotel is the place to go. And nature lovers will find serenity a little further out at Valley of Fire, a state park one hour north of Vegas.
[The Hamptons, USA]
When August hits, New Yorkers migrate from the scorching city to The Hamptons, and the villages that make up this narrow tip of Long Island transform from sleepy fields and empty beaches to the summer playground of well-heeled city folk. The towns are utterly charming and life is totally low-key. From Montauk to Sag Harbor and East Hampton, there are pop-ups, restaurants, health retreats and, of course, the beach. Some things we love: downing lobster rolls at Duryea’s, taking in a Soul Cycle or Tracy Anderson class in East Hampton, or drinks at The Surf Lodge in Montauk, which always has a buzzing crowd.
We make no apologies for Mexico making a second appearance on this list. As lovers of all things colourful and fun, there is too much for us to ignore. One place that is a must visit for anyone staying in the Yucatán region, is the magical yellow town of Izamal. This town is not just magical in our opinion, but is one of the 35 towns officially classified as 'Magical' by the Mexican authorities. Izamal is the oldest city in Yucatán, and still one of its most religious. A beautiful place of tranquillity and also completely yellow!! Everything - the colonial buildings, the market, even the huge convent - all yellow. Clean, peaceful and quaint, this is a great town to stroll through. There are Maya pyramids, colonial-style buildings, parks and plazas, horse-drawn buggies, and perfect people-watching. Our tip – take a detour from that trip to Isla Holbox, or Tulum and spend a day in Izamal on your way to a stay in Mérida.
[A yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean]
The stuff of our dreams. Total freedom to drop anchor wherever you want...and to sleep under those life affirming starry skies, free from all the light pollution on land. Our tip - never get onboard without our blue falling stars tablecloth of course, to gather friends and family around the night sky, whilst dining under it.
Or if you can’t get onboard a yacht – just hang your tablecloth up as a home-made canopy and catch a few winks below your own perfect sky.