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How to make the most of a socially distanced summer

Summer 2020 will undoubtedly be rather different to the usual. While we look for ways to stay connected and switch off, with the summer solstice upon us marking the start of the new season, KATIE BERRINGTON recommends the best ways to make the most of the sunny months when daily life is still far from normal


Vacation reading

We might not be packing 2020’s newest releases into our travel bags just yet, but we can still make a vacation reading list to delve into for the season ahead. Books on our literary read-list include Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close (ideal for those missing loved ones), Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, and (one to pre-order for the end of summer) The Lying Life of Adults, Elena Ferrante’s first novel since her bestselling Neapolitan quartet. And the best way to lose yourself in a page-turner as if you were on your vacation? Clear a space in your diary, find a sunny spot by a window or (guidance and weather-permitting) in the open air, pretend you are poolside, switch off your phone and totally immerse yourself.

Distanced dining

It is still possible to evoke the senses of summer travels while at home – from the wafts of an early evening barbecue in the air to the crisp first sip of a glass of wine at golden hour. Order in from your favorite restaurants (many of which are now serving takeout menus) and hotels to enjoy as an indoor picnic or an alfresco occasion. Claridge’s, for instance, is offering a taste of its Davies and Brook restaurant, featuring a few of its best summer dishes and desserts. For the drinks menu of your socially distanced soirée, try shaking up a signature summer cocktail from our selection of world-famous hotels.


As our global consciousness has risen in recent years about the toll that travel can take on the planet, staycations – along with eco-friendly alternative trips – have already been on the rise. Take this opportunity to make the most of the summer season in your neighborhood – exploring the local parks and sights – and incorporate vacation habits into your daily routine, like a leisurely stroll to pick up coffees from a newly discovered haunt.

Now is an ideal moment to revamp the space you are spending most of your time in: take notes from interior designers on the best ways to inject self-care into your home. Hotels are also offering ways to bring a piece of them back – from produce made on site to toiletries and interiors, such as the Somerset Harvest Hamper from The Newt country estate and Soho House’s interior collections.

Summer playlist

While some of this year’s releases have been pushed back, there are still several albums expected to form the playlist of the season. Haim’s Women in Music Pt. III will be out in late June, and Lady Gaga’s Chromatica is already topping charts. But hazy summer days also lend themselves to a trip down memory lane, so dig out the carefree albums that are synonymous with previous summers and play on repeat with the windows open wide.

Remote culture

Far-flung adventures might be off the cards for the foreseeable future, but remote trips have never been so easy. From virtual festivals, where you can take a front-row seat from the comfort of your own sofa, to performances, exhibitions and explorations to give you a cultural fix at home, make sure you plan online outings to fill your calendar this summer.

Summer school

World-class courses are now available online from a number of renowned institutions, such as Harvard, to complete in your own time – meaning you can cultivate existing interests or learn about something totally new. But self-education doesn’t need to be so formalized. From podcasts that expand our perspectives to must-see documentaries, this is a summer best spent furthering our experiences and understanding, in whatever ways we can.

The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown