Flying time from UK: 7 hours
Typical air fare: Around £450
Temperature: 26°C
Hours of sunshine per day: 8
Chance of rain: 6 per cent
Why go: Dubai’s dry desert climate means hot, rain-free days, and although the coastline can feel over-developed with its glitzy hotels, the sand is soft and the sea warm. Beyond the beach, there are vast shopping malls, spice souks – even an often-derided but much-enjoyed indoor ski slope; and 45 minutes’ drive from downtown you’re among desert dunes, where you can go wadi-bashing or horse-riding.
Get me there: Kuoni (01306 747008, www.kuoni.co.uk) has five nights at the Jebel Ali Goif Resort and Spa from £1,036pp, including flights from Heathrow, accommodation and transfers.
Or try: Oman, Dubai’s much less-visited sibling. It has fewer crowds, footprint-free beaches, medieval forts, Bedouin villages and world-class dive sites.
SUNSHINE SCORE:4
Great heat and great shopping – don’t come to Dubai for peace and quiet though.

Flying time from UK: 4.5 hours
Typical air fare: Around £190
Temperature: 18°C
Hours of sunshine per day: 6
Chance of rain: 19 per cent
Why go: Cyprus enjoys long, sunny days and T-shirt temperatures well into December. Avoid the popular seasonal resorts and head instead for Paphos, Limassol or Larnaca – working towns that stay open all year. Paphos is a favourite for its beautifully preserved Roman mosaics and attractive harbour: a long promenade with excellent restaurants. Try Hondros, on Apostolos Pavlos Avenue.
Get me there: Olympic Holidays (0870 429 4242, www.olympichoiidays.com) has seven nights’ B&B at Almyra from £486pp, including Gatwick flights.
Or try: Egypt – only 30 minutes more flying time from the UK than Cyprus lies the Red Sea, where you’ll find warmer weather, great diving and sandy beaches.
SUNSHINE SCORE: 2
It’s sunny, but Cyprus isn’t bikini weather- 18°C is the same as London in September.

Flying time from UK: 4.5 hours
Typical airfare: Around £120
Temperature: 21°C
Hours of sunshine per day: 6
Chance of rain: 19 per cent
Why go: Lanzarote is the classiest of the Canaries, with whitewashed villages, smooth volcanic sands, family-owned tapas bars and great surf breaks. The island works hard to conserve its natural beauty, especially the dramatic lava patterns in Timanfaya National Park. Eat a scenic lunch nearby at El Diablo, a restaurant created by local artist Cesar Manrique, with a kitchen that uses the volcano’s geothermal heat.
Get me there: Thomas Cook (0870 160 9192, www.flexibletrips.com) has seven nights’ B&B from £289pp, including flights from Gatwick.
Or try: The Cape Verde Islands, another archipelago off the West African coast, with an exotic blend of African, Portuguese and Brazilian cultures.
SUNSHINE SCORE: 4
If you’re looking for affordable, quick-fix winter warmth, Lanzarote is a good bet.

What’s it like?

A cluster of 18 timber-framed cocoons of warmth and sanctity on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Natural Retreats is the perfect place to indulge in some carbon-neutral comfort. As the name suggests, the lodges have a clear ecological conscience and, with their solar-glazing walls and grass roofs, evaporate miragelike into the woodland, A wood-burning fire built into the exposed Yorkshire-stone wall sits in each, while the snuggly sofas are of the come-take-the-weight-off-those-feet variety. You’ll find a hamper of organic morsels in the kitchen -fresh bread, free-range eggs, apples and Wensleydale – and a bottle of white in the fridge. Once you’ve unpacked and located your slippers, slide open the glass doors and drink in the views across the Swale Valley.

And the food?

Each lodge has its own kitchen with the full kit and caboodle. If you’re not in the mood to cook, FIGS Catering (01609 882143, www.figscatering.co.uk) will rustle up a beef Wellington for you, or you could drive 10 minutes down the road to the local – the Bridge Inn at Grinton (01748 884224, www.bridgeinn-grinton. co.uk) – for a deliciously hearty Grinton lamb and barley casserole. Day trips nearby? Wake on Saturday morning and hike some of the famous Coast-to-Coast path. Then spend an evening at the Georgian Theatre Royal (01748 825252, www.georgiantheatre royal.co.uk; £5), in Richmond, part-1788 living museum, part contemporary arts space.

How much?

From £360 for two nights (sleeps six; 0161 242 2970, www.naturalretreats.com).

What’s it like?

Conran’s latest London outpost is a detour from his usual clean lines and safe colour schemes, possibly to match its leftfield location. Here, on a corner plot in London’s East End, each room is inspired by a creative movement: Eileen Gray, Bauhaus, Eames. The last is littered with the design duo’s iconic chairs. In another, there’s a literary slant: rows of bottle-green Dickens novels, Japanese comics featuring rats (not one for bedtime) and the Adventurous Lover (one definitely for bedtime). Zinc balcony walls are topped with startlingly red geraniums and chairs to match, while a light bulb adorned with angel wings looks ready to fly off the bookshelf. It might sound pretentious but modern comforts are not compromised, and beds are wrapped in silvery-grey throws, with green velvet headboards, while bathrooms are warm underfoot. All in all, snug and cosy.

And the food?

Pick a floor and a flavour: the basement is fine dining (Chateaubriand); ground is Brit-nostalgia (kedgeree); the rooftop has a Mediterranean grill serving lobster with a portion of Gherkin, Canary Wharf and Shoreditch Church views on the side. Day trips nearby? Your room keycard comes with a nifty mini map of London: art-lovers should scribble a route to White Cube gallery in Hoxton Square (free); shoppers to Spitaifields Market; and late-night drinkers can sup a cocktail while attending the Jonny Woo dance class at the new Book Club on Leonard St.

How much?

Weekend doubles from £184, B&B (020 7729 1051, www.theboundary.co.uk).