Put modern life on pause and travel back through history – relive the Jazz Age in Florida, relax Tudor style or get medieval in Umbria
1. BACK TO THE FUTURE
A mountaintop near the northern border of the Czech Republic is the unlikely location for a fast-forward to the future, or at least a 1960s Eastern Bloc vision of it.
Looking like a giant, silver spinning top and with interiors that suggest an intergalactic cruise-liner, Hotel Ještěd perches 1,012 metres high, linked to the city of Liberec below by a cableway. Head into the city to the iQLANDIA centre, with its interactive science displays – don’t forget that the word ‘robot’ is a Czech invention, courtesy of 1920s sci-fi writer Karel Čapek.
If you have time to stop in Prague, visit the 1980s Žižkov TV Tower, another bold, even dystopian experiment in design.
Arrive: BA, easyjet, Czech, Jet2, Norwegian, Ryanair, SmartWings and WizzAir fly from UK airports to Prague. From there, it’s 11/2 hours’ drive to Liberec.
2. MEDIEVAL ITALY
Tardis-free time travel is especially easy in Italy: this is a country where in many towns an 18th-century building looks daringly new.
On a hilltop in Umbria, the fortifications of Castello di Petroia have been built up for the best part of a thousand years, and the castle’s latest incarnation as a 13-room hotel is as close as you’ll get to Renaissance Italy and its warring city states, particularly if you sleep in the Tower Room, inside the brooding stone keep.
For a still more immersive experience, come in May when nearby Assisi celebrates Calendimaggio and Gubbio holds the Palio della Balestra, with archers, knights and flag-bearers in colourful medieval get-up making full use of the real-life film sets they call home.
Arrive: Castello di Petroia is a half-hour drive from Perugia Airport. Ryanair flies there from Stansted.
3. TIMELESS PARIS
Few cities transcend the centuries quite like Paris. Think of the Louvre, with its medieval fortress walls in the basement and modern glass pyramid in its courtyard. Relais Christine is another multi-era time capsule: built on the remains of an abbey founded in 1231, this courtyard mansion in Saint-Germain-des-Prés has a stone-vaulted breakfast room and gym, elaborate 18th-century-style toile wallpaper and fabrics in some rooms, and more daring historical-contemporary mixes in others.
Within a half-mile, you can find medieval inspiration at Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle and the Musée de Cluny, while fine restaurants include the romantic Coupe-Chou in an ivy-clad 17th-century townhouse, and Le Procope, open since 1686.
Arrive: Eurostar trains link London St Pancras with Paris Gare du Nord. Most UK cities have flights to Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.