“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with,” says the celebrated cultural essayist Pico Iyer. “How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.” Here are seven destinations (and hotels) that will help you to tend your inner garden.
Cooler temperatures spell apple picking and fantastic foliage in the Catskill region. From mountaintops to rolling hills, this unique landscape is perfect for experiencing the changing leaves. In its midst, on Hunter Mountain, is Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, a sophisticated luxury retreat that embraces a serene wonderland and offers over 20 acres of mountainside to explore. For an immersive experience, stay in a room with wallpaper by textile print artist Alexandra Reboul who created two designs, Winter Forest and Catskill Ferns, inspired by the mountains that surround the lodge and its seasons.
In Umbria, Eremito lets you savor a slowness and silence thanks to its monastic aesthetic and its surrounding 3,000 rolling hectares of forested Italian countryside. While this rich part of Italy is beautiful at any time of year, autumn is when the region’s seasonal bounty is at its peak. The otherwise tranquil countryside is a buzz of activity with wine, oil, and saffron harvests in full swing, and truffle and mushroom hunting in high gear.
For lakeside transcendence, the Masurian Lake District in northeastern Poland is an area of exotic natural beauty and up to 2,000 lakes. One of the best places to experience the great outdoors, the district lends itself well to cycling through thick forests, kayaking along the picturesque Krutynia River, or fishing in one of the area’s big lakes. The stylish Hotel Galery69 makes for an adults-only design retreat by the water where nature plays an instrumental role and you may well see no one during your stroll through the forest.
It’s hard to beat Switzerland when it comes to gorgeous natural landscapes, but Basel with its many well-kept parks, tree-lined avenues, and botanical gardens is a good contender for urban-nature prettiness. While there are many options to choose from, Kannenfeldpark—a short ride from the creative contemporary gem Art House Basel—with its 34 species of maple trees is especially colorful this season. What’s more, changing art and exhibitions ensure that no stay at Art House Basel is the same.
Fragrant clouds of incense mix with the mist-scented air in this mystical part of southeastern China, where traditional earthen-brick buildings known as “tulou” rise up against a backdrop of lush emerald-green hills ridged with oolong tea plantations and persimmon trees. At Tsingpu Tulou Retreat, guests are offered an immersive program of cultural activities, such as bamboo foraging in the hills around in Fujian.
Surrounding Château de la Resle is one of the more bucolic swaths of countryside in France—a landscape of wooded hills, rolling vineyards, and quaint old towns. Less than two hours from Paris, this well-preserved part of Burgundy lures you at this time of year to get lost in its flame-colored vineyards, savor gourmet recipes (paired with the region’s famous Chablis wines), and ponder life by a lake or riverside. On top of that, fall is the mating season for deer in Burgundy, and so stags, fallow, and roe deer are at their most visible.
Fall in the hidden valley of Sóller in the northwest of Mallorca is spellbinding with a painterly quality of light basking over the mountains. The spectacular sunrises and the flocks of birds preparing for migration south provide a never-ending supply of things to contemplate or capture. Your idyllic window to an authentic Mallorca, the Bikini Island & Mountain Hotel Port de Sóller, with its bohemian spirit and come-as-you-are attitude, is just the place to find your bliss.