It's that time of year when the whole world feels as if its gearing up for a week away somewhere hot and sunny - but if you haven't got the time or the budget, don't despair. A short-break somewhere different can be just as reinvigorating, and at this time of year there's a huge variety of trips on offer - from the simplicity of a shepherd's hut to the swankiest of the swank; a break by private jet.
There's more to a short-break in the UK than a cottage in the Cotswolds or a stomp up Scafell Pike. Put an original spin on a trip to Edinburgh with a stay on a houseboat, permanently moored in the Lochrin Basin on the Union Canal. Twin urban pleasures - all of the main sights are on the doorstep - with watery pastimes - there are fishing rods on the boat, and a barbecue for grilling your catch. Three-night breaks from £703, sleeping four
Foodies should head south to the sunkissed island of Jersey, where the island's rich produce and a clutch of super-talented chefs are putting the island on the gastro-map. The luxy Atlantic Hotel is offering a Michelin Experience Weekend; from £390pp for a three-night stay, including breakfast and dinner at a different Michelin-star restaurant each night.
If the new series of Top Gear has whetted your road-trip taste buds, head to Ireland for a road-trip in a classic car. McKinlay Kidd offers four-night breaks touring Athlone, Clare and Wicklow, from £695pp B&B, including the chance to get behind the wheel of an MGB roadster, Alfa Romeo Spider or a Mercedes 350SL.
If you're looking for a little peace and quiet, there are few more tranquil corners of England than the rolling hills of Shropshire. Pen-y-Dyffryn is a lovely country-house hotel, offering 15% discount on half-board stays (of two nights or more) until June 30th. There's also 10% off in-house spa treatments. Or have a romantic break a deux, staying in cosy 'Lola's Nest'; a restored shepherd's hut, close to the glorious beaches of the Norfolk coast. The hut boasts a well-equipped kitchen area, a barbecue for warmer nights and a log-burner if it gets a little chilly. Three-night breaks from £440, sleeping two.
For a really memorable celebratory break - maybe an anniversary or a Big Zero birthday, round up a gang of friends and family and stay in the Marine Fort, a historic sea fortress in the middle of the Solent, accessible only by private speedboat. It's not cheap; £15,000 per 24 hours (sleeping up to 44) - but the good news is you can book one-night individual breaks too; from £400 per room, for a one-night break, including all meals and drinks.
Take advantage of British Airways' new flights to Palermo, which started from Heathrow in May. The Sicilian capital oozes crumbling Baroque charm, and is a foodies paradise. Upmarket operator Cox and Kings has three-night breaks at the Hotel Central Palace from £455pp, including flights, transfers and B&B accommodation.
Art-lovers should head to Madrid, where the Bosch Cententary Exhibition at the Prado is running until September 11, featuring over 60 iconic works. Kirker Holidays has a four-night break from £569pp, including flights, transfers, B&B accommodation and an 'Art Pass', including entrance to the Prado.
If you're looking for an active break, walking specialist Inntravel has a new four-night break in the little-known region of Freiburg-Kaiserstuhl. The warmest and sunniest corner of Germany, it's also famous for its wines. From £450pp, including B&B accommodation, route notes and rail travel, but not flights.
Or head to Morocco's windswept coast to learn to windsurf in the picturesque town of Essaouira. The Healthy Holiday Company has a three-night 'Learn to Surf break' from £525pp, including B&B accommodation, flights, transfers and six hours of lessons. Or if that sounds a little too like hard work, the same company offers a four-night yoga break in tranquil Montenegro. Four nights at the Palazzo Radomiri, on the waterfront in the beautiful Bay of Kotor costs from £645pp including flights, transfers, B&B accommodation and yoga every morning.
If actually all you want to do is sneak off for a sybaritic few days of snoozing in the sun, try the DDG retreat in Southern Spain. Book Casa Pino, which has its own private plunge pool, outdoor bath and private BBQ. Guests can also use the spa, and infinity pool; prices from £284 per night (room-only). Or for something more quirky, stay in a cave hotel in Basilicata, in Southern Italy. Sunvil has three-night breaks in the Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita hotel in Matera from £968pp, including flights, car hire and B&B accommodation.
If you want to whizz the kids away for a bargain break, try Efteling Theme Park in Holland. Book within two weeks of travelling and the price for a family of four is considerably less than an equivalent break at better-known theme parks; two-nights from £320 for a family of four, including self-catering accommodation and three days' park entry.
But if money really is no object, then there's only one way to short-break in style; by private jet. A three-night break to Jersey, including private jet flights, limousine transfers and a family suite at luxurious Longueville Manor costs from £2,580pp with Jetscapes, based on two adults and two children. The beauty of private jet travel is you can choose your airport and the time you fly (even if you can't afford to ever travel anywhere again...)Suggest a correction