INSPIRATION • September 2019
From sand to seafood to Catalan secrets, travel writer Rob Crossan seeks out the perfect spots for some unique October holidays
As the scorching temperatures dip into the more manageable low 30s, this pulsating Gulf hub’s outdoor attractions come into their own. Take an early morning stroll along the pillow-soft sands of Saadiyat public beach before taking a taxi to the Souq Central Market to peruse spices, perfumes and antiques. Wadi bashing in the dunes is popular, but a sedate alternative is kayaking through mangrove forests outside the city. Come evening and, presuming no VIPs are landing, the helipad on The St. Regis Abu Dhabi takes some beating for sundowner cocktails.
Dream flight: Take BA73 from Heathrow at 12:45 and arrive into Abu Dhabi at 23:05.
It may be almost 60 years since Fellini immortalised Rome in La Dolce Vita, but the Eternal City and celluloid remain a perfect match – never more so than in October during the Rome Film Fest where the Auditorium Parco della Musica hosts screenings and panel debates. Rome’s real-life movie sets seem to lie around every corner: take a lunchtime stroll to restaurant Santa Lucia, where Julia Roberts devoured spaghetti in Eat, Pray, Love, and, although you can’t get into the Roman Forum after dark as Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg did in To Rome With Love, it’s fascinating enough in daylight.
Dream flight: Take BA546 from Heathrow at 10:40 and arrive into Rome at 14:20.
Vivacious Barcelona isn’t shy about showing off its charms, but even this Catalan city has its secrets, which, for 48 hours in October, are revealed in the Open House season. Previous years have seen rare access to the likes of the bell tower of Santa Maria del Pi. In the evening, head to the Pastrami Bar in the Born district: step through the café’s huge fridge and, hey presto, you’re in the secret Paradiso bar, which serves killer cocktails.
Dream flight: Take BA484 from Heathrow at 09:25 and arrive into Barcelona at 12:35.
The crowds that flock to the Danube’s banks retreat as the summer heat fades, making it easier to get a table in one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants. Start with Costes Downtown, where head chef Tiago Sabarigo uses the best suppliers, sourcing impeccable quail (served with lardo and fava beans) and John Dory with steamed fregola bonito broth. If you still have room the next day, snag a lunch booking at the more casual Borkonyha Winekitchen. Although serving fabulous cuisine, it is equally renowned for its superlative Hungarian wine list. Blow the budget and try a sublime bottle of Igazán Bikavér, made in the foothills of the Bukk mountains.
Dream flight: Take BA874 from Heathrow at 12:25 and arrive into Budapest at 16:00.
New direct BA flights from the UK mean one of the American South’s most seductive cities is now just nine hours away. The centre is compact and ideal for walking, so immerse yourself in the antebellum atmosphere and creaking adobe verandas, before taking a cab over the immense Arthur Ravend Jr. Bridge to Sullivan’s Island. Here you’ll find marshes, dunes, ancient beach houses and oft-deserted beaches. Make sure you’re back in town for nightfall because Charleston loves to party: sample a sublime mint julep at Poogan’s Porch, try fiery Gullah cuisine (think soft-shell crab), or sample craft beers on tap at Edmund’s Oast.
Dream flight: Take BA221 from Heathrow at 17:30 and arrive into Charleston at 21:30.
The Gallic-influenced architecture and sedate vibe in the centre of Montreal - Canada’s second-largest city - is well known, but the outlying districts are upping their game, too. The Plateau District’s alfresco wall mural collection seems to grow by the week – don’t miss the colossal portrait of the late, and very great, Leonard Cohen by artist Kevin Ledo (pictured). Over in Mile End, get yourself kitted out in designer threads: try Lowell Mtl for leather bags and Annex Vintage for thrift store chic. For late-night eateries, make a beeline for Côte-des-Neiges – Haitian, Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine are all served up on the main drag till late.
Dream flight: Take BA95 from Heathrow at 17:40 and arrive into Montreal at 19:50.