By Rose Shepherd
There is a lot to be said for deferring your holiday until the mad rush of July and August is over. The days are shorter, but September and October can still bring beautiful, balmy weather to enjoy without the frenetic crowds. Some hotel prices will be lower, too. Here are just a few suggestions of places to check out for an early autumn break.
A tapas lunch on the terrace and an outdoor pool heated till the end of October are among the attractions at this chic, boutique hotel, run with pride by hands-on owners. At night you have a choice of chef Robert Thompson’s Spanish grazing options in the bar, library or alfresco, or tasting menus in the restaurant. With a temperate maritime climate, the island rarely experiences extreme weather, and daytime temperatures from September to November average between 12°C and 19°C, when the peak tourist season is over.
Bohemian Brighton is about so much more than the beach, and this glamorous seafront hotel in adjoining bow-fronted Regency townhouses is an ideal base from which to discover its many diversions. You could lose yourself in the galleries, jewellers and antique shops of the cobbled Lanes, gawp at the oriental fantasy of the Royal Pavilion, take in panoramic views from the British Airways i360, then return for cocktails in the bar. Drakes is not wildly expensive, even for a sea-view room, and if the tasting-menu at Amarillo restaurant isn’t for you, nearby you’ll find every eating option under the sun.
With its balmy subtropical climate warmed by the Gulf Stream, the Roseland Peninsula is paradise in late summer, and Olga Polizzi’s very special hotel retains its Mediterranean feel, while offering many diversions. You can take a trip aboard the skippered 1930s yacht Pinuccia, visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan (lost no more) and the Eden Project, walk the South West Coast Path, eat a beach takeaway of chowder at the Hidden Hut near Portscatho, or simply stay put and linger over lunch alfresco – or a bite and a board game by the fire in the Dogs’ Bar.
This stylish but relaxed, 12-bedroom, self-professed ‘hotel for all seasons’ stands on the shores of Loch Linnhe, with glorious views from the sun terraces to Lismore and Mull. The sea feels very present, with activities including boat charters, kayaking, and wildlife trips to spot seals, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and minke whales. Menus offer plenty of variety if you’re staying a few nights, with loch seafood, steak and chips, and plant-based options. When it’s dreich you can warm yourself with a toddy by the wood burner, if you’re not drunk already on the intoxicating fresh air and beauty.
There are sublime views across Cardigan Bay to Snowdonia from this friendly hotel, run today by a fourth generation of the Fletcher-Brewer family. It stands in 20-acre grounds with an outdoor pool heated from May to September. Bedrooms are traditionally, individually designed, most with a coastal outlook. From 11th September the price of a room drops from £115 to £100 for a single, and by £30 to £430 a night for two sharing. You can take lunch on the terrace from a varied menu, with an imaginative but short seasonal à la carte at night.
Guernsey is one of the sunniest places in the British Isles, and La Colinette, just up from the harbour, has the benefit of a sun-trap terrace by an open-air pool, just the place to enjoy a crab salad with a chilled glass of wine. This is a friendly, informal hotel, run by the same family for more than sixty years, with no grand pretensions and Guide Shorlist status. From 1st September prices drop by £10 per person, with a further cut of £5 in October. Ground-floor junior suites have a small lounge, dining area and kitchen with microwave and hob, for partial self-catering, and there are fully self-catering options.