Here comes the sun: dawn over the rooftops of Alfama, Lisbon. Photograph: Getty
Take me there: Alfama, Lisbon
A ride on the rickety yellow “Tram 28″ through the steep, narrow streets of Alfama is on every tourist’s to-do list, but the opening of a new boutique hotel is the perfect excuse to delve deeper into this atmospheric hillside neighbourhood.
What to do
Get a bird’s-eye view of Lisbon from the ancient ramparts of Saint George’s castle or the Portas do Sol miradouro (viewpoint). Learn about two of the city’s most distinctive art forms – azulejo tiles and fado music – at the Tile Museum (museudoazulejo.pt) and Museum of Fado (museudofado.pt), which often has live music in its café.
Where to stay
Since it opened in September, the rooftop winebar of the Memmo Alfama, with its striking red swimming pool, has become the place in which to hang out in Lisbon. Bedrooms are simple but stylish (from €115 a night, memmoalfama.com).
Where to eat
With its comfortable sofas, books and artsy, laidback vibe, Pois Café (poiscafe.com) is something of a local institution. It serves up brunches, light meals and cocktails.
Célia Pedroso, food writer and co-founder of Eat, Drink, Walk (eatdrinkwalk.com) which offers culinary walking tours of Lisbon, recommends Patrono for “simple, honest Portuguese food”, such as arroz de marisco – or seafood rice – and salt cod (Largo di Chafariz de Dentro, 20). Finish off with a cocktail at Chapitô à Mesa (Costa do Castelo, 7). “This circus school has one of my favourite terrace bars for a sunset drink overlooking the city,” she says.
Winter wonderlands: Teepees are this season’s favourite pop-up
In certain neighbourhoods of London, Manchester and Brighton this summer, you would have struggled to find a car park or factory roof that hadn’t been transformed into an urban beach, supper club or even a hot-tub cinema. But just when you thought the pop-ups had packed up, a new breed of winter spin-offs has arrived on the scene, complete with reindeer skins, hot punches and open fires.
Summer saw a disused factory in Hackney taken over by the team at Forza Win, which creates seasonal “dining experiences” in offbeat spaces. Now they’re back on the rooftop with an Italian winter feast featuring minestrone soup and wood-roasted porchetta (until 21 December, forzawin.com).
Also in east London, WigWamBam (pictured), the popular rooftop bar at the Queen of Hoxton, is back with a Nordic flavour, including a candlelit tipi adorned with deer hides, and a menu of Arctic-inspired goodies including wild boar sausages and marshmallows for toasting (until March 2014, queenofhoxton.com/wigwambam).
Continuing the Nordic theme, Brighton Music Hall bar and restaurant will launch a Tremendous Tipi Christmas Festival in an 8m teepee on the seafront (weekends from 23 November to 22 December, brightonmusichall.co.uk).
In Manchester the Oast House restaurant’s Curious Teepee bar is spreading seasonal cheer on Spinningfields (theoasthouse.uk.com), and Bath will host its first-ever “après-ski” bar at the Abbey Hotel, with schnapps and falling snow (28 November to 20 December, abbeyhotelbath.co.uk).
For the great outdoors, head for… Snowdonia
Plas Curig, Capel Curig Wales’s first five-star hostel packs a big design punch with bespoke bunkbeds, Welsh-wool blankets and wooden floors. The lounge area wouldn’t be out of place in a boutique hotel, and there’s a large kitchen and dining area. Plas-Y-Brenin, the National Mountain Centre, is just around the corner, for climbing, canoeing and kayaking. From £22.50pp (snowdoniahostel.co.uk)
Y Golchdy (The Laundry), nr Bets Y Coed (pictured) This former dairy and coach house has recently been converted into a cosy retreat for two, surrounded by 14 acres of Victorian parkland on the Ffin y Parc estate. Explore the grounds and you’ll discover an art gallery specialising in 20th century and contemporary Welsh art and a coffee shop serving lunch and afternoon tea. >From £62 a night based on a four-night midweek break (underthethatch.co.uk/laundry)
Castell Deudraeth, Portmeirion This intimate boutique hotel in a Victorian castellated mansion makes great use of the surrounding resources, from the Welsh slate floors to the locally sourced food in the restaurant. It’s a great base for exploring the Llyn Peninsula and the fantasy village of Portmeirion, backdrop to cult 60s TV show The Prisoner and also the setting for Festival No. 6. From £109 (portmeirion-village.com)
Ffynnon, Dolgellau From the honesty bar to the Butler’s Pantry, where you can make yourself a cup of tea or a snack, the owners of this classy B&B in a Victorian rectory work hard to make their guests feel at home. The market town of Dolgellau and Snowdonia National Park are on your doorstep, but you could stay in with a book in the cosy library or soak in the outdoor hot tub. From £150 (ffynnontownhouse.com)
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