olive travels: where to visit in February
From lively carnival vibes to Scandinavian ski resorts and cosy Cotswolds getaways, here’s our pick of where to travel to this month
Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in February? We’ve curated our pick of destinations for a food lover’s break this winter; street food in the winter sun, UK weekend getaways by the fire, and an eclectic curation of lesser-known ski resorts with gourmet après-ski. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides, click here for more inspiration, or check out our pick of where to visit in January and March. We also have the best UK culinary escapes for 2022 and Europe’s top food trips for 2022.
A romantic winter break in the honey-hued villages and rolling countryside of the Cotswolds promises log fires, long lunches and country walks. Take The Rectory Hotel, for example, an 18th century former rectory in the heart of picturesque Crudwell. Homemade cordial welcomes rosy-cheeked walkers into the drawing room, where you can warm up by the log fire and sink into pretty peacock feather-hued cushions. The restaurant’s comfort food includes fish pie, alongside pretty salads using fresh produce grown in the allotments behind The Potting Shed pub over the road, which is worth a visit in itself. Half an hour away, in the quiet village of Southrop, Thyme is exactly what you want from a rural escape. A 150-acre estate, it is home to a cookery school, pub, holiday cottages, boutique hotel, cocktail bar and restaurant, so you don't even need to leave the site.
If you prefer the privacy of a self-catered holiday cottage, Pineapple Spa in Lower Swell boasts a log fire, roll-top bath, luxurious kitchen, garden with a view, quirky interiors and pubs within walking distance. The best of the Cotswolds all seems to be within a 20-minute drive. Highlights include Bourton-on-the-Water (excellent motoring museum and syrupy ‘petal’ cake from the Bakery on the Water, best eaten in its riverside garden); the Miss Marple-esque village of Lower Slaughter, where the meandering River Windrush leads you to The Old Mill museum, craft shop and waterfront cafe – try the homemade elderflower ice cream; and charming Stow-on-the-Wold, where we tried 10 different flavours of still-warm fudge from Roly’s Fudge Pantry (our favourite was whisky and ginger). Lower Swell is also close to Daylesford Farm Shop and an abundance of pubs that serve good food, including The Porch House. Another little gem we found along the way was Locojo’s pizzeria in Moreton, where the veggie feast pizza comes topped with fresh figs and goats cheese.
February usually guarantees plenty of snow and blue sky days across European ski resorts, whether you choose to find a quieter spot in the French Alps, venture to Sweden or even stay in the UK. Tucked between chic Meribel and heaving Courchevel in the French Alps, La Tania is something of a smug secret between skiers on a budget. Stay at Chalet Nid Alpin for a full-board package that foodies would approve of (breakfast, afternoon tea and three-course dinners with French wine). Expect melt-in-the-mouth peanut butter cookies, giant tartiflette baked with whole reblochon cheese, and ski-pant-busting sticky toffee pudding. Make friends with the ski school, too, and you might be lucky enough to taste homemade génépi liqueur, infused with local artemisia flowers that are plucked from the slopes during the summer months. And when it’s the chalet hosts’ night off, head into La Tania for everything from Michelin-starred plates at Le Farçon to burgers at Le Chrome Bar.
For those in search of a spot of Scandinavian-style après-ski, Åre is one of Sweden’s most well-known ski resorts, and boasts plenty of great places to eat in the area, including Lillåstugan’s Waffle Mill (accessible only by skis) for sauerkraut stew and flower-shaped waffles topped with homemade cream and berries. Buustamons Fjällgård is a small, 12-bedroom inn with two self-catering cabins, set in the middle of the snow-dusted slopes. The kitchen likes to keep things local, using as many raw materials from Jämtland as possible. Finish dinner with a glass of schnapps from the inn’s own on-site distillery.
Want après ski vibes and days on the slopes closer to home? You don't have to leave the UK for a skiing holiday – head to Scotland instead and tuck into venison stew, hot chocolate and steaming bowls of cullen skink after a day on the mountain slopes, then curl up in a cosy chalet, gastro pub or family-friendly cottage. Here is our pick of Scottish ski resorts.
Lively carnival vibes
New Orleans’ Mardi Gras carnival falls on 1 March this year, so visit the city at the end of February to soak up the atmospheric anticipation in the air. While you’re there, tuck into Louisiana specialities at traditional haunts such as The Parkway Tavern for shrimp po’ boys, Willie Mae’s crispy fried chicken and Café du Monde’s sugar-coated beignets. For a break from the action, explore the grandeur of the quieter Garden District before a jazz and bloody mary-fuelled brunch of shrimp and grits, waffles or gumbo of the day at Atchafalaya. Just outside the French Quarter, the backyard party held each night at Bacchanal makes for one of the city’s great romantic spots. Enjoy wines from small producers and bowls of ceviche while listening to jazz under the night sky. Stay at Catahoula Hotel and catch carnival sounds from the street below at the rooftop pisco sour bar.
Further south in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago's carnival is celebrated from 28 February to 1 March. Join street parties and parades while tasting your way through the capital Port of Spain's street food. The island’s multicultural heritage ripples through the food culture, with its far-flung influences, including curried goat-filled roti parcels, eastern Mediterranean gyros, Jamaican jerk chicken, and curried chickpea parcels, known as ‘doubles’.
Want to celebrate Mardi Gras at home? Order Decatur’s Friday sharing feast of New Orleans-style lip-tingling seafood boil complete with all the trimmings.
Words by Alex Crossley, Charlotte Morgan and Aoife O'Riordain