By Kate Lester
Kate Lester is a Los Angeles based designer who has been practicing residential and commercial interior design for over 10 years. She aims to create spaces that are luxurious, livable, and unique. Visit her website at KateLesterInteriors.com.
It’s that time of the year again, where we all hop on a plane for some well deserved R&R. And what could be better than having an idyllic home away from home to go to? But selecting the ideal location for your vacation home can be tricky. Do you head to the majestic mountains, or straight to the nearest white sand beach to disappear beneath enormous sunglasses and a striped cabana? Picking the location may seem easy, but loving it enough to purchase a house is a whole other story, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorite vacation home spots and what to expect when you call that city your official second home. And if a second home is not in the cards for you right now, that’s okay. Most of these cities boast an amazing selection of luxury hotels as well. Bon voyage!
How can one write an article about vacation homes without including Paris? It may be a cliché, but a chic Parisian pied-à-terre is a must-have for anyone who loves the city of light. In the spring, the trees that line the Champs-Élysée come back to life, and the vendors return to their boîtes along the Seine. Temperatures warm up nicely in May, and stay that way all summer, when the café patios quickly fill with patrons eager to enjoy a latte and croissant al fresco once again. Jardin du Luxembourg is a must visit, as is the Champ de Mars for a picnic in the park under the Eiffel tower.
2. The Hamptons
Southampton is a luxurious town, with endless stretches of sea and flourishing vineyards. I prefer the early spring, as it is a quieter, chillier version of itself. The town exudes an air of relaxed luxury and there is the easy attitude of living in a well-deserved break from summertime’s younger, louder patrons. Afternoon walks on the beaches, which are equally quiet and isolated, are serene even with a cloud-filled sky. And come summer, of course, you can really have some fun. Either way, enjoying a home here is about experiencing a more authentic slice of local Southampton.
So it’s not hot in the literal sense, but if you’re hoping to stretch out the ski season, this is the place to be. Committing to permanent real estate here means you can enjoy Aspen in the spring when things are a little less bustling, and be the most popular in your inner circle during the winter when everyone will want to be your guest for ski season. Let’s not forget, aside from its world renowned skiing, Aspen is also home to some fantastic culinary treasures and excellent designer shopping. Something tells me that purchasing any property in this heavenly hilltop is an attractive investment no matter the season.
4. Lake Como, Italy
Lago di Como – made famous by the likes of George Clooney and his celebrity comrades – is surrounded by mountains and hills, and dotted with beautiful villas and resort villages. Lake Como is a popular vacation destination for residents of Milan, so the summer months tend to be busier. While I prefer to enjoy the classic European charm of Como when it’s less crowded and more tranquil in the spring, a second home here means you will never be lonely. Just be sure to have some spare rooms, as friends will flock from all over the globe to enjoy the majestic scenery and glorious architecture everytime you go.
If all of the tourists descending upon Paris is a bit much for you, then an apartment in Amsterdam may be more your speed. During the spring, you can watch the city peel back its winter layer and replace it with blooming tulips as you enjoy a coffee along Amsterdam’s canals, and be sure to check out the parties taking place in honor of Queen’s Day. In May, it’s both National Windmill Day and National Cycling Day, so this is a great excuse to schedule a bicycle tour of the Netherlands’ windmills. In the summer, the weather stays more temperate than the southern European countries, making it ideal for those who prefer to be active and don’t love a blazing hot sun.
6. St. Barts
What can I say, the celebs love their Caribbean islands, and over the years St. Barts has become one of the most visited (we’re looking at you Daniel Craig, Penelope Cruz, and Michael Douglas). Spring is a great time of year to stay, as are the summer months. With it’s pristine beaches, gorgeous resorts, and other A-list residents, a vacation home here will be a majestic getaway you will want to enjoy year round.
7. Palm Springs
Palm Springs may have been Old Hollywood’s favorite glam hangout, but now it’s where new Hollywood buys choice property to get away to warmer temperatures in the spring. Home of Modernism Week and endless vintage and mid-century boutiques, it’s easy to furnish your home away from home with local mid-century flare. A hop, skip and jump from LA, you can spend a quiet evening relaxing under the shade of the mountains, or head over to one of the exclusive hotels nearby for an after dinner drink.
What pairs better with the arrival of summer than a crisp glass of chilled Pinot Gris? A vacation home in Napa is for those who dream of getaways filled with perfect temperatures, serenity, and a place to unwind outside the hustle and bustle of the city. The spring is the best time to experience a winery tour with a tasting room staff that is more relaxed, ready to educate, and give you their full attention. Summer is fantastic for a long weekend of entertaining your friends in your glamorous vacation home.
I know, Florida seems to be the last place one might want to go in the spring or summer, as it’s inundated with college aged vacationers and families making the trek to Orlando, but I have found Miami is Florida’s diamond in the rough during this season. With an ample amount of luxury highrises and beachfront property available in more exclusive areas, it’s actually a fabulous place for a vacation home (or condo). Art and nightlife are top-notch in Miami, and there are a plethora of amazing restaurants for the foodie in all of us to enjoy.
10. Cabo San Lucas
This Mexican destination on the Pacific Coast is a favored getaway for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston and yours truly, so it must be hot, right? I suggest avoiding the more bustling center, Cabo San Lucas – where you can relive college breaks via whistles and tequila shooters – in lieu of quieter San José del Cabo. While deciding between the large beachfront properties available, you can test the waters by booking a villa in one of many five star hotels. That should serve as a pleasant tentative arrangement until you find the perfect casa to enjoy during the spring, summer and practically all year round.