Sense that slight chill in the air? That’s autumn, nature’s kind and forgiving way of prepping us for the colder months with generous helpings of roasted chestnuts and beautiful autumn leaves. Oh Mother Nature, isn’t she kind?
Your sunnies and swimwear are back in the drawer, and memories of your holidays in the Riviera Maya bring about pangs of nostalgia.
Yes, summer is over, and it hurts, but thankfully, nature eases the pain with its own form of paracetamol: beautiful crisp and golden, fall foliage.
Seeing autumn leaves is like a balm for the soul.
It’s a time to clear out those banging summer anthems from your playlist to make way for some Damien Rice and Einaudi to go on long walks in the parks.
It’s a time to crank the thermostat and settle down with a hot chocolate and a book when you get back home, and it’s a time to ignore your phone and work on your sporadic relationship with Netflix.
If you want to be a homebody for the next 6 months, that’s totally kosher, but you can satisfy your travel bug and get a taste of what Autumn is like in other parts of the world. To help you along, we’ve selected some of the most beautiful places to view autumn leaves, and the best homes away from home to return to once you’re done.
Tokyo – Japan
If you’ve never been to Tokyo, it’s hard to picture any greenery amid the city’s skyscrapers, neon lights and massive train stations, and yet it does have it, and it’s beautiful.
Tokyo offers many parks and gardens for you to go and press pause on the city’s frantic pace and the Kiyosumi Garden in Fukugawa, is one of the best if you want to watch the city shed its green and don the colors of fall.
Traditional to a fault, this Edo period Japanese garden looks like it’s been plucked from another era and dropped at the heart of Tokyo.
A Riyotei (tea house) sits on the edge of a large pond where carp, turtles and ducks thrive. Underneath the shade of the garden’s cherry trees and black pines, lies another world; one where the chirping of the cicadas and birds drown out the sounds of Tokyo, and where locals dressed in kimonos and donning paper parasols, stop to ponder at a statue of the Buddha or to scoop fresh water from a stone trough.
You might never want to leave, but that’s a bad idea. Autumn nights in Tokyo are chilly. The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo however, is a short nine minute drive away and offers the best views over the Nihonbashi district and incredible dining options. The selection of teas at the hotel’s Sense Tea Corner are to die for.
New Forest – United Kingdom
New England is one of the most beautiful slices of British countryside you can come across. In autumn, the crisp air, multicolored canopy of leaves, and dramatic landscape makes it a joy to discover on horseback or on bike. All of which you can do from the Chewton Glen.
We might come across as Chewton Glen obsessed, but you have to give credit when credit is due. It is one of the most unique hotels out there, and autumn adds a thousand golden and crimson reasons to visit.
Prague – Czech Republic
They say Prague is the most beautiful city in the world.
It’s too bad that “they” couldn’t keep it to themselves because you’ll struggle to see its beauty through the crowd of visitors who flock there during spring and summer.
But, luckily, there’s always autumn. In fact, it might even be the best time to visit.
The sunlight takes on a particular quality during this season and Prague’s historical buildings and cobbled streets look like they’re being viewed through nature’s beauty-enhancing filter… and there’s less tourists too.
Autumn leaves run the color spectrum of gold, copper and orange and though they’re everywhere to be found, the best place to see them are the Petrin Park (located on the city’s tallest hill) and Letna Park (which overlooks the Vlatva river).
Petrin Park is only a short drive away from the Mandarin Oriental Prague. Built on the site of a 14th century monastery, and set in the historical quarter of Mala Strana, you’ve never seen anything quite like this hotel and staying here is nothing short of soulful.
Hangzhou – China
People think inspiration is an elusive beast, but for 13th-century Chinese poets and artists, finding it was as easy as sitting beneath a willow on the banks of Hangzhou’s West Lake.
Immortalised in the verses of Bai Ju Yi and the chronicles of Marco Polo, Hangzhou is one of China’s most culturally significant cities, and its rich and diverse flora looks spectacular in the fall.
There’s never a bad time to visit this UNESCO Heritage List site, but since the lake is known to be the best viewing spot in China for the mid-autumn festival (you’ll find it on the 1 Yuan Banknote), it could well be one of the best times to visit.
Amsterdam – Holland
Autumn leaves in Amsterdam are the fuel for the soul you never knew you needed. Granted the city’s reputation as a European party hub doesn’t peg it as a place for soul searchers and mellow crowds, but look past the myths, and what you’re left with is a destination made for slow travel.
Maybe it’s because of the canals, historical buildings, or the ever present cyclists, but every bit of Amsterdam would fit snugly on a hipster’s feel good instagram account alongside top – down food shots and a beard maintenance infographic. No filters required.
As the season settles in, Autumn leaves cover the water of the canals, and the sidewalks with a crisp golden carpet, and the simple act of stepping inside a café for a good read and a warm chocolate becomes the most gezellig thing you can do. And boy is it good.