You need something to look forward to at this time of year. Subpar weather, resolutions on the brink and a bank balance still nudging the red all conspire to leave you feeling lower than DiCaprio at the Oscars.
So why not get away from it all? (Even if that does mean tunnelling into your overdraft.) Yes, a weekend city break may be a brief and sometimes tiring way of getting to know somewhere (like a one-night stand for travel enthusiasts), but it also allows you to recharge your batteries without eating too far into your annual PTO.
Like some kind of newfangled travel Tinder, this guide will hook you up with some attractive options for the coming months. Four different cities, four stylish breaks all waiting to be booty-called. Sorry, booked. We mean booked.
Nestled conveniently beside the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is the perfect location for replenishing your vitamin D stores. But, while the beach beckons, it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot more to Spain’s Catalonian capital than a 4km stretch of sand.
Put simply, if you haven’t been already, then you need to go: the coastline city’s packed full of quaint eateries, late-night clubs and a cosmopolitan café culture alien to rain-plagued Britons. Not to mention its seriously enviable football team.
There’s also something very special about the skyline; from gothic to Gaudí, the diverse architecture has – as much as it sounds like a tired cliché – something for everyone. Street art, music, fashion, food or rooftop bars – Barcelona delivers.
What To Pack
The influences of climate, culture and the global menswear market have given Barcelona a distinctively modern Mediterranean style. If you’re heading over in the next few months, it’ll be starting to warm up, but you’ll still want layers on call for when you get caught in a shower or stumble out of a club at 6am.
To cover different sartorial needs and iffy in-between temperatures, we’d suggest a versatile lightweight jacket like a bomber or field jacket, some cotton chinos and a few button-downs – all easy to adapt if it warms up or cools off.
Where To Shop: Boo
Established in 2006, Boo champions quality, impeccable tailoring and, most importantly, timeless design. Which is fitting for a store that takes its name from one of the most time-honoured literary breakthroughs, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Here, at its store on Bonavista, you’ll find the likes of YMC rubbing shoulders with St James, as well as a slew of local designers worth discovering.
Bonavista, 2, 08012 Barcelona
Where To Pit Stop: Tapas 24
It just wouldn’t be right for us to include Barcelona without suggesting tapas and a glass of cava. And this bar-cum-restaurant does exactly what it says on the tin.
Just off the busy Passeig de Gràcia, Tapas 24 serves up lip-smacking classics including braves (crisp French fries doused in a spicy tomato sauce and thick garlic aioli) and Iberian ham croquettes 15 hours a day. You can’t go wrong, really.
Carrer de la Diputació, 269, 08007 Barcelona
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Now, we know what you’re thinking. And that’s not the reason Amsterdam makes an appearance on our shortlist. Well, it’s not the only reason.
As well as the obvious debaucheries readily available, the Dutch capital is a forward-thinking city with a global reputation for its design, must-see architecture and contemporary menswear. As well as a shed load of history to counterbalance your indulgence.
What To Pack
Pretty much your worst bet for a few days in the sun, Amsterdam’s climate is similar to our own. Which means layering for all eventualities. The city’s also a street style hub, so you’ll want a look that’s practical but still on-point.
Our shout? Try some slim jeans, premium trainers (home-grown brands ETQ and Filling Pieces both offer an array of quality options) and a rain coat, mixing in a tee or sweatshirt depending on what the weather’s throwing at you.
Where To Shop: De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets)
Amsterdam offers up so many places to blow your hard-earned that we couldn’t really pick just one. So we’re going to let you loose on the whole area instead.
Situated in the heart of the city’s canal district, the 9 Streets is home to an array of vintage stores as well as the likes of Denham, Red Wing and Spoiled, a pop-up concept store housing names including Lavenham, Nudie and Tiger of Sweden.
De 9 Straatjes, 1016 EM Amsterdam
Where To Pit Stop: Burgerlijk Amsterdams
Sometimes you just fancy a burger. If only a fat, juicy chargrilled piece of beef can satisfy your post-shopping cravings, steer yourself towards a window seat at this joint where not only can you watch Amsterdam’s most stylish denizens stroll by, you can also savour whoppers piled high with – among other toppings – Old Amsterdam cheese and homemade truffle mayonnaise.
Hits the spot.
Runstraat 1, 1016 GJ Amsterdam
And so we head north, to a land of fire and ice – but there’s more to Iceland than active volcanoes and geysers (no, not geezers, come on). The capital, Reykjavik, has enjoyed a surge in visitors in recent years, and not just from lairy stag parties and geology students either.
As much as seeing the Northern Lights is an experience, that doesn’t answer the question of what to do with the rest of your trip. Luckily, Reykjavik punches way above its size in what it offers.
What To Pack
Unsurprisingly, this city isn’t one for a holdall full of racer back vests and sweat shorts. So you’re going to need to wrap up a bit.
Heavy-gauge knits, tough twill chinos, padded jackets and winter-ready boots are the Icelandic arsenal you won’t want to be caught without. You can also – in a pinch – pick up a lopapeysa, a traditional Icelandic wool jumper not unlike our own Fair Isle renditions, once there.
Where To Shop
Shopping in Reykjavik can be spenny, so tread carefully. If it’s vintage scores you’re after, have a browse through Spúútnik’s treasure trove.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more contemporary, stop by Húrra Reykjavik to survey its solid (mainly Scandinavian) line-up including Norse Projects, Nike and Carhartt.
Spúútnik, Laugavegur 28, Reykjavik
Húrra Reykjavik, Hverfisgata 50, 101 Reykjavik
Where To Pit Stop: Bambus
Whether it’s the Blue Lagoon or your bank balance you’ve been dipping into, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to refuel. Bambus, a buzzing restaurant in the centre of the city is our pick; offering Chinese cuisine prepared with the freshest Icelandic produce.
Borgartúni 16, 105 Reykjavik
To round out the list, we venture a little further afield, to the stateside city Condé Nast Traveller affectionately dubbed the ‘Hackney of the Pacific Northwest’.
Portland, a creative hub whose hipster status blossomed in the late 1990s, is the epitome of modern urban living: microbreweries, coffee, cycling and food carts. From modern skyscrapers and warehouses to rundown salvage yards dating back to Portland’s industrial logging past, there’s a mismatched charm to the place and its locals.
To quote the award-winning TV show Portlandia: “Portland is where young people come to retire.”
What To Pack
Style in Portland is relaxed and eclectic, a lived-in look made up of flannel shirts, outdoorsy jackets, worker denim and beards. So take that on board before you dig out your three-piece suit for a big night out.
The weather, like ours in the UK, is seasonal, so rain-ready layers are essential – even in spring. Trucker jackets, fisherman raincoats and cords will not only keep you warm and dry, they’ll put you right in step with the locals, too.
Where To Shop: Tanner Goods
For an authentic Northwest feel, check out Tanner Goods’ flagship store on West Burnside Street. As well as quality leather products including handcrafted belts, wallets, bags and dog accessories, the store also stocks some of America’s finest, such as Danner, Penfield and recent Gap x GQ collaborator The Hill-Side.
1308 W Burnside Street, Portland
Where To Pit Stop: Laurelhurst Market
Vegetarians, look away now. Famed for its extensive range of American prime cuts, this restaurant-cum-butcher shop is strictly for connoisseurs of a carnivorous persuasion.
Its pages-long menu of IPAs, wine and cocktails should offer something to quench any thirst, while the open plan style creates a buzz that’ll set you up for the night.
3155 E Burnside Street, Portland
Already filling out your card details? Or are you saving for a sojourn somewhere a little more sun-drenched?
Perhaps we’ve missed out a cracking little place in Amsterdam that you’ve been to? Let us know in the comments – but keep it clean though, yeah?