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Short Escapes For A Long Weekend

Whether you’re mid-northern hemi spring or southern autumn, it’s an ideal time to book a mini-break. Here are our top picks of where to stay from Cali to the Cotswolds.

Black Oak Estate, Sonoma, CA

Escape from: San Francisco

What it offers: Wine country glamour

Must-takes: Winery go-to list, Acne knits and beanie

Planning a Cali mini-break en famille? This vast contempo-country farmhouse is perfect for serious R&R in wine country Sonoma. Beyond the sleek log cabin exterior, a modish interior marries rustic relaxation with urban chic; a neutral palette is enhanced by bold n’ bright native rugs, artwork, lighting and whimsical knick-knacks. Chambers each have their own private deck for when romance comes a callin’, or you simply want some time out from the group think.

It being wine country, eating and drinking are at the forefront of Black Oak’s design; a large dining room seats up to 12, while aspiring chefs will love the kitted-out kitchen complete with pro Wolf stove. Outside, a huge patio and BBQ area beckon with layered views of the verdant gardens, woodland and mountain range beyond. Splash around in the pool, take up a game of bocce and, come evening, cosy around the fire pit roasting s’mores.

Beyond the cabin are outdoor adventures aplenty, with hiking, biking and trail-riding in nearby Annadel or Sugar Loaf State Parks. The town of Kenwood is close by, and St Francis Winery & VineyardsKunde Family Winery and VJB Cellars are but a cork’s toss away. Split up the tastings with a long lunch at nabe fave The Shed, followed by a spot of shopping in Healdsburg. Sleeps 10.

Wolseley House, Berry, NSW

Escape from: Sydney

What it offers: Country-meets-seaside designer digs

Must-takes: Mag stash, box of organic cheese and wine; Zimmerman beach togs in summer

Two hours south of Sydney along the Hume Highway is the bustling little town of Berry, sitting pretty between the Pacific Ocean and lush green NSW hinterland. Long known for its gourmet pies, sourdough and coffee, Berry is firmly on the style list due to a handful of boutiques showcasing designer homewares by upcoming and established Aussie names. It’s also home to the award-winning Hungry Duck restaurant and the Great Southern Hotel pub, the perfect perch for an afternoon ale. 

The ravishing, mod-meets-classic Wolseley House is nestled amid 50 acres, close to the famous Seven Mile Beach, with high ceilings, a sweeping staircase, in/out living areas and lavish bedrooms. A secluded, sumptuous retreat for an easy, out-of-Sydney escape. Sleeps 8.

Fleurs de Provence, Provence

Escape from: Marseille / Paris

What it offers: Palatial Provençal comfort

Must-takes: Equipment linen threads, Bensimon sneakers, rustic straw bag for market shopping

For when you’re travelling with an entourage, check into this beautifully refurbed C.19th rural manor. Ancient beamed ceilings and stone walls are the canvas for elegant furny, antiques and modern accents that evoke country houses of yore, while offering bang up-to-date comfort. It being the south of France, chances are you’ll be outdoors more than in – the expansive grounds, shaded courtyards, pool, tennis court and summer kitchen all cater for leisurely days and nights. Sleeps 18.

Thyme House, Gloucestershire

Escape from: London

What it offers: Luxurious country chic

Must-takes: Hunter wellies, Stella McCartney oversized sweater, hire car

A cross between boutique bower and private estate, the gorgeous eight-bed Thyme House is English country-chic personified. Located in the Cotswold village of Southrop, this C.18th limestone pile offers a choice of rooms in the main house, or individual cottages beyond. Whatever your sleeping pleasure, all guests have access to the drawing room, dining hall and entertainment snugs decorated with that inimitable, eclectic-Brit aesthetic, which mixes English and French furnishings, antique with modern, plus a smattering of local artworks.

If you can tear yourself away from the cosy comfort of your luxurious pad, there’s a spa, highly rated cookery school and pretty walled gardens to gambol about in, while Kate Moss’ fave pub The Swan at Southrop is but a stumble away.

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