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Girlie Getaways

Fed up of being a footie widow most weekends? Don’t despair – do what any wife and girlfriend would and choose one of these fun-filled breaks where you can shop, party and top up your tan!

The shopping break

NEW YORK

Why it’s a hotspot:
With incredible shopping (combined with a great exchange rate) and uber-cool atmosphere, New York is a must-visit for any girl who likes to stay one step ahead of the fashion pack.

Who goes there:
Victoria Beckham, Sheree Murphy, Gary Barlow, Madonna, Dannii Minogue and Elton John are all regulars to the Big Apple.

Where to shop:
The meatpacking district around 14th Street for serious spending (think Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and exclusive US designer Lucy Barnes), or stroll around the streets of Greenwich Village and Soho for independent boutiques and vintage treasures. Don’t miss Century 21, a huge department store near Ground Zero, for designer labels at knockdown prices. It can be a bit of a battle if it’s busy, so be prepared to rummage and try clothes on in the middle of the store – but it’s worth it for the bargains.

Where to stay:
Victoria stays at the Four Seasons when she’s in town, or check in to the funky Soho House Hotel, sister to the London members club. Staying at the hotel means you get to enjoy the exclusive members bar downstairs and the fantastic rooftop pool.

Where to party:
The hotel bar is a favourite with celebs, especially visiting Brits, so it’s worth having a few drinks there. Then head out to West Chelsea and rub shoulders with the gliterrati on the dance floor at Crobar.

Don’t miss!
Take a picnic in Prospect Park in Brooklyn – designed by the same people as Central Park, but with fewer tourists – it’s where the real New Yorkers chill out. And check out Williamsburg, north of Brooklyn, an industrial area touted as the new SoHo, for cool art galleries, cutting-edge restaurants and bars.

FOR MORE INFO
Flights to New York with BA start from £245 return in June.

The party break

PUERTO BANUS

Why it’s a hotspot:
With a breathtaking marina where the rich, famous and beautiful moor their yachts, Puerto Banus has a well-deserved reputation for being the party capital of the Costa Del Sol. The rich and famous flock here from all over Europe to revel in the atmosphere.

Who goes there:
Britney Spears, Carly Zucker and beau Joe Cole holidayed here recently and Victoria and David Beckham decided to name their son Brooklyn when they were here.

Where to shop:
If you’re flush, there are lots of boutiques dotted around the harbour front. Or head to the huge El Corte Ingles department store (the Spanish version of John Lewis).

Where to stay:
Hotel Puente Romano, a five-star hotel offering suites with living areas and private terraces for your absolute comfort. It’s surrounded by 120,000 square feet of subtropical gardens, complete with streams and waterfalls.

Where to party:
In the summer the whole of Puerto Banus is one big party. Hang out in one of the many alfresco bars and restaurants draped around the marina and sea front. Sip cocktails on a bed around the pool at the seriously sexy celeb fave Nikki Beach, or at the Ocean Club which is brimming over with beautiful people.

Don’t miss!:
The lively street market near the bullring on Saturday mornings. Take a trip north, to the breathtaking Bermeja mountains or into the Old Town of Marbella – just a five minute drive away.

For more info:
Return flights to Malaga from Cardiff with bmibaby start at £171.98. Puerto Banus is a 45-minute drive from the airport.

The luxury break

DUBAI

Why it’s a hotspot:
Fantastic shopping, year-round sunshine and super luxurious facilities have made this United Arab Emirates resort a Mecca for celebrities.

Who goes there:
This is where Ashley Cole proposed to Cheryl Tweedy, Cristiano Ronaldo holidayed here in February this year, and several England players have holiday homes here (including the Beckhams).

Where to stay:
Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a massive waterfront property. With 72 television channels, a well stocked mini bar, pools, a private beach and staff that fall over themselves to help you, there is plenty here to keep you happy.

Where to shop:
The Mall of the Emirates is a huge complex with over 400 shops and the world’s largest indoor ski slope, Ski Dubai.

Where to party:
Head upstairs to the Jumeirah’s Uptown bar on the 24th floor for a view to die for, then head to Boudoir at the Dubai Marine Beach Resort for dancing and cocktails into the early hours.

Don’t miss!:
The magnificent architecture. The traditional Persian Grand Mosque and the contemporary Jumeirah Mosque are both equally impressive. Non-muslims are allowed inside the Jumeirah Mosque as part of a guided tour. Sheikh Al-Maktoum’s house is a national monument that has been turned into a beautiful museum, with 30 rooms built around a courtyard. Or, like Cheryl and Ashley on a recent visit, you could always try camel racing.

For more info:
Return flights from Heathrow to Dubai with Emirates start from £396.50.

The cultural break

BARCELONA

Why it’s a hotspot:
With its incredible architecture, laid back atmosphere, lively nightlife and waterfront setting, it’s an exciting and versatile city, perfect for a weekend break.
Who goes there Elen Rives was born in the Catalan capital and she and Frank Lampard are rumoured to be getting married here soon.

Where to stay:
Hotel 1898 is in a great central location on La Ramblas and has stylish rooms and a fantastic funky roof terrace and pool.

Where to shop:
Maremagnum shopping mall is set by the sea and contains clothes shops as well as bars and restaurants. For high-end clothes and shoes, head off to Placa Catalynya at the top of La Ramblas along Passeig de Graica. The lanes of the bottom end of La Ramblas are home to smaller boutiques. And check out Lefties on Placa Universitat, the Zara outlet shop, for great bargains. Remember to shop early morning or late afternoon to avoid the siestas – from around 11am to 3pm.

Where to party:
Head to the bars and clubs on Marie Cubi street – in the posh Barrio Alto area – to see how the rich people play. For the more adventurous, try traditional Bar Marsella, Sant Pau 65, which has been serving absinthe for 150 years – Picasso and Dali are reputed to have been regulars. For dancing, try La Paloma – an impressive ballroom. In the early evening it has a live orchestra for ballroom and latin dancing, then in the early hours of the morning it becomes a nightclub.

Don’t miss!:
Strolling around the narrow atmospheric lanes of the Gothic Quarter; a trip to the Gaudi designed Park Guell; the Picasso museum and the amazing Gaudi cathedral, Sagrada Familia.

For more info:
Flights from Birmingham to Barcelona through Opodo are available from £136.20 return.

The beach break

ST TROPEZ

Why it’s a hotspot:
With its amazing sandy beaches draped along the coast and million-dollar yachts moored at its harbour, it’s no surprise St Tropez has long been a Mecca for the world’s elite looking to let their hair down.

Who goes there:
Coleen McLoughlin and Wayne Rooney holidayed here after the World Cup; Kate Moss, Bruce Willis, Joan Collins, Sting and P Diddy are also fans.

Where to shop:
St Tropez is pricey, so get ready to flash the plastic in the town’s designer boutiques. For more inexpensive, individual finds head to the town of Cogolin, at the base of the Maures mountains, for handcrafted items, rugs and pottery. Or check out Place des Lices, the morning market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, where you can pick up local, handmade produce.

Where to stay:
Stay at the small but luxurious Hotel Byblos, with 94 individually designed rooms and suites, right in the heart of St Tropez.

Where to party:
The Byblos club, Les Caves du Roy. It’s seriously flashy and frequented by A-listers who can afford the prices – Cristal champagne is €30,000! Mere mortals can enjoy the VIP treatment if you stay at the hotel, although it’s worth fluttering your lashes to get someone to pay your bar bill.

Don’t miss!:
Top up your tan and take a dip in the crystal clear waters at Pampelonee beach. If the glitz of the town gets too much, head to the nearby village of Grimaud. With its cobblestone streets and Romanesque churches, you can wander the canals, browse in the antique shops and get a taste of real, traditional, old France.

For more info:
Return flights to Nice from London via www.expedia.co.uk cost from £113.

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