Morocco between land and sea in Oualidia
On the wild Atlantic coast of Morocco, halfway between Casablanca and Essaouira, Oualidia uses all its natural charms to wow thinkers and those who enjoy the good life. Come and relax in this peaceful seaside resort and give in to the charms of its white sand lagoon stretching out towards the waves. Out of season, you will appreciate the deliciously quiet life permeating this centuries-old fishing village, famed for its water sports and excellent fish restaurants.
Overlooking the lagoon, La Sultana hotel welcomes you into its realm of sophistication, built from stone and tadelakt (a traditional plaster wall coating) and decorated with antique furniture and original works of art. Fine food and drink are on the menu when you stay at this exclusive establishment in typical Moroccan style. Surrender to the expert hands of the therapists in its sensuous spa.
After this relaxing interlude, you set off to explore the luminous lagoon, sheltered from the wind, then walk up the large deserted beach running alongside the estuary. Totally relaxed and lulled by the cry of seagulls, you feel like you have reached the edge of the world. Continuing north, the lagoon takes you through a protected nature reserve, home to oyster farmers and colonies of birds. It is time to taste the famous Oualidia oysters, renowned throughout the Kingdom.
Next stop is the L'Hippocampe restaurant, just perfect for lunch on the terrace, looking out over the majestic entrance to the lagoon. While your children play on the beach, you treat yourself to a feast of plump spider crabs, cockles, clams and more. Savour the tastes of the sea to your heart's content.
During this revitalising stay, take a trip over the lagoon in a small boat. A fisherman will drop you off on a sandbank just made for daydreaming. If you are in Oualidia on a Saturday, go for a wander around the town's weekly souk where the region's farmers and fishermen congregate.
La Sultana hotel
Parc à huîtres no. 3
2 rue du Palais
+212 5233 66108
An intoxicating escape to Trinidad
In Cuba, November marks the transition between the rainy season and dry season. It is still warm and there is less rain than previous months. So, it is decided, you are on your way to crocodile island!
You leave the bustling capital of Havana behind and head to the colonial jewel of the island, Trinidad.
After a four-hour journey by car or bus, you arrive in a town with a human touch which attracts visitors from all over the world. You cannot contain your delight when you see your hotel, located slap-bang in the middle of the historic centre. An architectural gem, the luxurious Iberostar Heritage Grand Trinidad overlooks a square straight out of a film set.
In the early morning, enjoy the warm light and absence of tourists to wander around the Plaza Mayor. Superbly preserved, this square with its Baroque Revival architecture cannot fail to impress. Take a seat on a bench and watch as lines of schoolkids in their smart uniforms file by in front of imposing colonial buildings. You make your way down cobbled streets where, wonderfully, time seems to stand still. The hooves of horses pulling carts laden with goods clip-clop on the worn cobblestones, while the few old American cars are each more elegant than the last. From their windows, Cubans shout out friendly greetings to each other. For a great view over the whole town, climb to the top of the square tower of the Museo Municipal. Your eyes come to rest on the lush-green Escambray Mountains rising up on the horizon.
Next day, you set off to explore the surrounding area and re-join the coast. From Ancón Beach, you can take a catamaran for a seafari trip to Cayo Iguana. The schedule is full of thrills: swimming in turquoise waters and a lobster lunch on the coral sands of a desert island, inhabited only by iguanas. In the afternoon, you head to the Topes de Collantes nature park for a hike in the jungle with a guide, the highlight of which is a refreshing dip in a natural swimming pool.
Back in town, a delicious fish supper cooked in white wine awaits in the family atmosphere of the Paladar Malibran restaurant. As the evening progresses, Trinidad enters party mode. Your nocturnal revelling starts at El Rintintin bar, where musicians play as you sip your canchánchara, a local cocktail made from rum, lemon juice and honey, then moves on to the Casa de la Música, in the main square, where salsa bands liven things up. The night is still young in Cuba…
Iberostar Heritage Grand Trinidad
Calle Jesús María
+53 41 996070
Calle Media Luna
+53 5 3530190
+53 41 993685
Casa de la Música
+53 41 93414
Autumnal reverie in Seoul
With mild temperatures and azure-blue skies, autumn is the most beautiful season to discover Seoul. Trees bedeck the streets with their with bronze hues, while maple forests in Bukhansan National Park, in the mountains north of the city, are swathed in red.
For a serene introduction to the South Korean megalopolis, check in to Bonum 1957. This hotel is set out like a hanok, a typical traditional Korean house. Built to a centuries-old architectural style, it marries luxury and comfort, guaranteeing a wonderful stay. After a cosy night's sleep, build up your strength with a flavourful Korean breakfast, starring the famous kimchi, a traditional dish made from chillies and lacto-fermented vegetables. The restaurant also offers international menus. The weather is still pleasant enough to eat outside on the hotel's roof terrace, overlooking the quiet, hilly district of Bukchon.
Revitalized, you wander along Gyedong-gil, a delightful village-like street lined with micro-cafes, Korean clothes shops and other hanok-style guest houses. Nearby, you will come to Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have booked a guided tour of its secret garden in English. This stroll through the former playground of the kings of the Joseon dynasty will blow you away with its gigantic 300-year-old tree, its bucolic lake and its pretty painted wooden pavilion. In the shadow of its city-centre skyscrapers, Seoul also reveals its rich Buddhist culture. Opposite the monumental temple of Jogyesa, get ready for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience at the Balwoo Gongyang restaurant. Its delicate vegan temple food, inspired by the dietary rules of the Buddhist monks and awarded a Michelin star, will win over the most sceptical diner. You are presented with a delicious and harmonious marriage of the five Far-Eastern flavours (bitter, sweet, spicy, salty and umami – savoury).
Head up to Bukhansan, a mountainous national park to the north of the city, where you can enjoy a hike and breathe in the fresh pure air. A taxi will drop you off in the Jeongneung district, the starting point for a three-hour circular route, taking in the summit of Baegundae. As you climb up, the view opens out over dizzying sharp granite peaks. You will also see an 18th-century fortress, made up of a nine-kilometre-long wall connecting a number of defensive towers. Seoul and its crazy urban life stretch out as far as the eye can see amidst this protected landscape. The chanting of monks, coming from Guknyeong temple, intermingling with the murmur of a stream are the only sounds to break the silence.
A riotous hustle and bustle await you on your return to the city that never sleeps; you are captivated by the buildings that, all of a sudden, spring to life with a million lights. For a quieter city-centre itinerary, stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream at dusk. Guides are on hand to walk with you and tell you all about the history of the river, which is highly symbolic to the city's residents. Do not miss the Candle Fountain, the district's number 1 attraction. It is made up of three different lighting systems and rises to a height of four metres. At night, its light and water show will stay in your memory for many years to come.
53 Bukchon-Ro, Gahoe Dong Jongno-Gu
+82 2 762 8261
55 Ujeonggguk-ro, Jongno-gu
Balwoo Gongyang restaurant
+82 2 733 2081
Cheonggye Square (Candle Fountain Square)
Lisbon – secret and serene out of season
Who said that the Portuguese capital was made for summer? The low season starting in November is a chance to sample the city's charms far from the crowd. It is the ideal opportunity to discover hidden places off of the well-trodden tourist track.
Somewhere on Lapa Hill facing the Tagus River, you find yourself in front of the facade of an old building. This convent dating from the 17th century is where you will find your hotel: welcome to York House Lisboa. Follow the age-old passageways to get to your room where the wooden beams and comfortable four-poster bed reflect the history of the place. Before setting out again, pause for a while in the hotel's peaceful courtyard with its ivy-clad interior walls.
Next stop is the LXFactory, the new temple of cool worshiped by Lisbon's bright young things. This huge former textile factory was transformed a few years ago into a real hipster village and is now home to an eclectic mix of designer boutiques, a large co-working space for start-ups and a concert hall. It is also a bastion of street art; make sure you do not miss the gigantic bee designed by Bordalo II (Artur Bordalo) as you admire the numerous murals. For his ‘Big Trash Animals' series, the Portuguese artist created animal collages using rubbish found in the streets, with the message of “giving life back to animals with the things that were used to destroy them”. You can find other examples of his work around the city, especially in the Park of Nations, where a giant, multi-coloured Iberian lynx has pride of place.
At the 1300 Taberna restaurant, meals are served in a modern yet warm setting. Metal structures recall the industrial past of the neighbourhood, but are tempered by light woods and colourful chairs. Try the egg cooked at 64 degrees accompanied by a garlic mousse and smoked bacon. The grilled cod fillets are excellent and every day, the chef Nuno Barros dishes up a signature fish tartare.
Lisbon is renowned for the beauty of its sunsets. In autumn, the sun's rays pass low over the horizon producing a stunning dusk sky. Follow the river, tinted with bronze at the day's end, back to the heart of the city. To experience the sight at its best, head to the rooftop at the Park bar. Surreptitiously, you have to take the lift to the top of the Bairro Alto multi-storey car park, where you step out onto a large plant-filled terrace. You are overcome with a feeling of fulfilment as you gaze out over the city bathed in warm glowing light, a fresh fruit juice or a cocktail in your hand.
York House Hotel Lisboa
32 Rua das Janelas Verdes
+351 21 396 24 35
103 Rua Rodrigues de Faria
+351 21 314 3399
+ 351 21 364 9170
58 Calçada do Combro
+351 21 591 4011