February may be billed as the month of love but, like Greta Garbo, sometimes a girl just wants to be alone. Running in Heels profiles Europe’s best do-it-for-yourself breaks for one.
Catch up on Culture in Amsterdam
The Dutch capital may be better known for boys’ weekends, but Amsterdam has plenty for the single girl too, and is the ideal place to spend some time catching up on your culture. Get settled in at the Hotel de Filosoof and find some solidarity with your favourite philosopher. Each room’s decor is inspired by a famous scholar, our favourite being that dedicated to Thoreau. His famous words, “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude”, rather aptly decorate the walls and should prove a suitable motto for your weekend of (self-)discovery.
For those who really want to treat themselves, check in to the luxurious Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam’s hip Docklands Area. The Cultural Embassy houses an extensive library – perfect for further quiet time – and also hosts events and exhibitions should you wish to rejoin the crowds. Further cultural stimulation is found through Amsterdam’s innumerable museums and galleries. The Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum are must sees, and easy to spend a full day in. Unhindered by a whining boyfriend, however, you’ll be free to give the masterpieces on show the undivided attention they deserve. For a more modern perspective check out the FOAM Photography museum. Its current exhibition showcases self-taught, 22-year-old Mylou Oord’s photos of her muse and Dutch fashion maverick Aynouk Tan.Singles at Hotel de Filosoof from €60 per night
Singles at the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy from €200 per night
Snowyogi in the Alps
If a ski break seems too strenuous, but a yoga or spa retreat monotonous, Snowyogi, a cunning combination of the two, may be the solution. Nestled deep in the French Alps is the Snowyogi chalet, a 19th-century farmhouse renovated and remodelled as a luxurious snowy oasis that accommodates a maximum of just 14 guests. The day begins and ends with relaxing group yoga sessions, but in between guests are let loose on the piste with expert skiers and chalet owners, Michelle & Phillip, or left to cosy up in the chalet if they feel like taking it easy. Although the sessions are led in groups, you’re free to follow your own schedule so you can take as much time to yourself as you wish.
Skiing and yoga go together like yin and yang according to the Snowyogi team; “Where skiing is fast and risky, yoga is slow and thoughtful. The two sports’ philosophies diverge, yet the physical demands of skiing call out for the counter movements of yoga.” A masseuse is also on hand to soothe any further aches and unlike many retreats, and while it all sounds very redemptive it’s not at all restrictive – gourmet food and organic wine are served nightly and après-ski hot chocolate-drinking encouraged.AdventureYogi organise week long retreats at La Rosière. Prices from £595 per person full board, excluding flights.
Personalise your Perfume in Provence
Thanks to a comprehensive rail network, Provence is easy to discover under your own steam. For a complete break from the stresses and strains of daily life base yourself in the charming Avignon and sink into the slow-paced, carefree Provencal way of life. The region is famous for its wine and with Châteauneuf-du-Pape only ten minutes away, it would be foolish not to indulge in a little tasting (purely as an educational exercise of course). Imagine Tours will tailor a wine-tasting tour including your transport so you need not worry about finding your own way back after all that red.
After getting a taste for Provence in its vineyards make your way to Grasse to discover its signature scent. The perfume capital of Europe, it boasts four perfumeries all open to the public. The perfume workshops at Galimard add a offer tours led by a ‘nose’ (a perfume expert) who will guide you through the art of perfume making before letting you have a go yourself, creating your own individual fragrance to remind you of your individual break, safe in the knowledge that no one else will have the same scent. It’s guaranteed to have you smelling irresistible and with no boyfriend to worry about, pucker up and take your pick of eligible bachelors at the bizarre Kissing Festival, a traditional Valentine’s celebration held in the village of Roquemoure near Avignon.Perfume workshops are held daily at Galimard, Grasse and cost €45.
Chill out in Iceland
Pre-recession, Iceland was one of the world’s most expensive destinations, but the silver lining of its recent crises is that the country is attracting swathes of tourists who can suddenly get a lot more for their krona. But that’s not the only reason to visit Iceland – this Scandinavian terrain is the perfect place for a single girl’s adventure. Check in at the opulently cool Hόtel Borg in Reykjavik which blends art deco with modern Scandinavian style to create an original, yet charming interior. If you begin your trip at the weekend, Reykjavik’s infamous Kolaportið flee market, held in a vast warehouse by the harbour, is a must see.
Work up an appetite browsing the second-hand books, records and clothes before trying one of the many Icelandic fish specialties on offer. A bigger draw than the shops however, are the country’s famed spas and landscape, both of which are infused at the famous Blue Lagoon spa. Located a short bus ride from Reykjavik in a moonscape of dormant lava fields, the Blue Lagoon is filled with six million litres of geothermal seawater, famed for its incredible skin-healing properties. And the health benefits don’t stop there. The extraordinary Blue Lagoon Spa uses materials from the water in all of its treatments, many of which take place in the open air or in the water itself. It’s the perfect place to treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime treatment. To complete your Icelandic adventure, let the staff at Hόtel Borg organise an excursion to the spectacular Northern Lights, which have been especially clear this year. An ethereal and unforgettable experience, seeing the lights alone will provide you with pure, untainted memories.Deluxe singles at Hόtel Borg in Reykjavik from €110 per night Entrance fee to the Blue Lagoon is €23 per day
Saddle up in Spain
Someone once said, “In riding a horse we borrow freedom”, and we reckon it could very well have been galloping through the sweeping sand dunes of the Spanish Costa Brava that inspired the quote. Ride World Wide offers a selection of breaks for different competencies and welcomes solo travellers by omitting those pesky single supplement from their most popular itineraries.
The Spanish Mountains, Beach and Coast itinerary, for example, leads you through the beautiful Ampurden coastal region, taking in stunning scenery and fascinating cultural highlights of this area, all guided by professional riders. The trips are in small groups, but organisers make sure that everyone gets their ‘me time’ too, with trails that take in vast panoramas and providing you with memories you’ll cherish forever.
Back at base, each night is spent at the Can Jou guest house, where a revitalizing swimming pool awaits weary riders and fresh, local food and wine is served up nightly.Ride World Wide’s one week Mountains, Beach and Coast itinerary in Spain costs €987 full board, flights not included
Chocolate Therapy in Barcelona
Considered one of Spain’s best spa hotels, The Gran Hotel Balneario Blancafort is the epitome of lavish self-indulgence. Set 25 minutes outside Barcelona in La Garriga, famed for its thermal springs, the resort is a self-contained sanctuary that contains every single indulgence a girl could possibly need – the thermal spa alone is 3000m². With so much space, every conceivable treatment is available but the standout indulgence is the spa’s chocolate therapy.
Beginning with a sugar peel, the highlight of the treatment is the melted-chocolate wrap, followed by a scrumptious chocolate and orange cream massage. The proteins and amino acids in the chocolate will hydrate, tone and nourish the skin, while being wrapped in chocolate is an unbeatable sensual indulgence. This is the ultimate weekend of luxurious, pampered ‘me time’.Rooms at The Gran Hotel Blancafort from €79 per night
Chocolate Therapy costs €130 per session