1. New year detox
Recharge yourself for the year ahead at the stunning new Scarlet eco-hotel in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. Its motto is “sumptuous need not mean unsustainable”, and while it comes with the trappings (and price tag) of a luxury hotel, the building is heated by a biomass boiler and the indoor pool by solar panels. The hotel’s tented, holistic spa offers ayurvedic treatments, an outdoor reed-filtered pool and clifftop log-fired seaweed baths, looking out to sea. Free yoga lessons are available.
scarlethotel.co.uk: 30 mins from Bodmin Parkway train station. Doubles from £180 incl breakfast; £250 for a spa break.
2. Valentine’s weekend
Kent just got a lot closer to the capital, thanks to the launch last month of 140mph regional trains on the high-speed Eurostar line. You can now reach the east-coast town of Broadstairs in 84 minutes from St Pancras. A new boutique B&B offers quirky chic rooms, green initiatives including solar panels and a warm welcome. Belvidere Place is just a few minutes’ walk from the station and a stone’s throw from the seafront. Owned, run and refurbed by former London photographer Jilly Sharp, it blends retro furniture, contemporary art and stylish, low-lit interiors.
belvidereplace.co.uk; 01843 579 850: double rooms from £100 per night including breakfast.
3. Half-term hangout
Hire a traditional Welsh longhouse, sustainably restored by the Guardian- award-winning Under the Thatch collection of heritage properties. They use repurposed furniture, eco and organic cleaning products and offer recycling and composting. Abercegir comes with eight acres of hillside pastures for your brood to explore, a trampoline, wendy house, ping-pong table in the barn and is 20 minutes from sandy beaches. Packing a car full of people can be as efficient as taking the train in terms of CO2 emissions.
underthethatch.co.uk: sleeps nine, pets welcome. From £449 for a seven-night stay, £168 for two nights.
4. Active spring break
Go Dutch and join the cycling masses on 15,000km of largely level cycle routes. In spring, the Flower Bulb Route from Haarlem to Sassenheim is in full, vivid bloom. Take your bike on the Harwich-Hook of Holland ferry or rent one when you get there: 2wheeltreks.co.uk offers four-day guided trips along the Flower Bulb Route or week-long bike and barge trips from Amsterdam to Ghent.
If you prefer wine to windmills, cycle the Loire valley, with 160km of marked bike trails including riverside routes through Blois, Tours and Amboise. Find your way with “Cyclopedia”, a GPS handheld guide for cyclists exploring the area. It’s free and available in English – just leave a deposit at one of the tourist offices on the Loire à Vélo trail. See loire-a-velo.fr for maps and suggested routes.
The ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland runs morning and evening: from £30 each way for a foot passenger with bike (stenaline.co.uk; 08447 70 70 70). For the Loire, take the Eurostar to Paris or Lille, then the TGV to Angers, from £89 return (raileurope.co.uk, 0844 848 4070).
5. Romantic summer hideaway
Squirrel yourselves away in a treehouse just outside St-Paul de Vence, near Nice. The Orion B&B has two treehouses for couples, beautifully decorated with upmarket bathrooms. The 7,000sqm estate enjoys views of untamed woodland and the picturesque hill-top village. The outdoor pool is chemical-free, recycling its water five times a day through a combination of gravel, bacteria and plants. Bounce on the trampoline, swing in a hammock, or simply relax in the shade of oaks, pines, olive and palm trees.
orionbb.com. Take the train to Nice via Paris or Lille from £119 return.
6. European city escape
New high-speed trains from Brussels mean you can now get from London to Amsterdam in just over four hours, without going near an airport or its high-blood-pressure inducing queues and checks. Book in to the Dutch capital’s 300-year-old Seven Bridges canal house hotel, whose individual rooms are furnished with antiques, Italian drapes and ornate rugs. A city break is a particularly green option, as you won’t need a hire car: walk around, use public transport, or rent a bike. Book early to avoid spiralling rail fares.
Take Eurostar to Brussels, then cross the platform and take Thalys train to Amsterdam (from £115 return, raileurope.co.uk)
7. No-hassle kids’ summer holiday
The Canvas Chic luxury yurt camp in southern France is heaven for the free-spirited, and has family-friendly tents by the limestone gorge created by the Ardèche river. The living quarters are modelled on nomadic central Asian yurts, but with the trappings of a comfortable hotel – and with access to kitchen facilities for family groups. Activities include wild swimming, canoeing, hiking, climbing, bird-spotting, biking, horse-riding and caving. A popular, family-friendly sandy beach and the ancient Chauvet painted caves are close by.
Canvas Chic (canvaschic.com; +33 6 50 81 21 40) is 30 mins from Avignon station. Eurostar runs weekly direct trains from London to Avignon from 10 July to 4 September; fares from £109 return (eurostar.com, 08432 186 186).
8. Adrenaline adventure break
Few places offer as complete an escape from the hectic flow of urban life as the wilder corners of Scotland. Refresh yourself and get fit at the same time on a sea kayaking and remote camping trip with Wilderness Scotland, an award-winning and responsible adventure travel company. You will explore the remote Summer Isles off the north-west coast, a little-known archipelago with wild coastlines, crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. Trips run at regular dates through the year; four days’ sea kayaking experience is required.
wildernessscotland.com: from £575 for a five-night guided trip. The Caledonian Sleeper train runs from London Euston to Inverness: from £64 return for a reclining seat, from £100 for a bed (scotrail.co.uk/caledoniansleeper/index.html; 08457 55 00 33)
9. Foodie heaven
Join chefs, sommeliers, fishermen and small-scale producers at the biennial Salone Internazionale del Gusto slow food festival in Turin. The October event, which has been building momentum since 1996, celebrates regional Italian produce and global artisan producers and has become a forum for political debate on a range of issues from “good, clean and fair” food to globalisation. It also seeks to turn the traditionally elitist approach to quality gastronomy on its head. Rub shoulders with over 170,000 visitors including Senegalese fisherfolk, shepherds from Abruzzo and nomads from Mongolia, train your palate at a taste workshop, and work your way through the 2,500 wines exhibited.
salonedelgusto.it. Take Eurostar to Paris, then the Stendhal sleeper train to Milan and a one-hour high-speed train to Turin (from £115 return).
10. Winter sports wipeout
Check in to the futuristic pod resort of Whitepod near the Swiss village of Les Cerniers, which has set the bar for sustainable style and ethical adventure trips in the Alps. Founder Sofia de Meyer established a nomadic camp of geodesic domes, taken down annually, before switching to permanent low-impact structures. Whitepod seeks to offer comfort and relaxation with minimal impact on the environment, and has regenerated a nearby village and taken over a disused ski resort. Guests can stay in one of the 15 domes or go higher up to the dorms-based refuge. There is also a “base camp” chalet with a restaurant and 7km of ski runs and lifts for guests’ exclusive use. Opt for dog-sledding, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing to minimise your impact.
whitepod.com; +41 24 471 38 38: take the train to Aigle (from £159 return).
To buy The Guardian Green Travel Guide, edited by Liane Katz, for £10 (RRP £16.99), visit guardianbooks.co.uk or call 0330 333 6846)
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