What is travel for? For some of us, it’s a break from work. For others, it’s a way to journey through time, into new cultures, with enchanting smells and unknown tastes. Travel is an experience. Here are some of the finest…
1. Study the open waters in West Cork (Ireland)
Just thinking about what lies beneath the Wild Atlantic waters mystifies. In West Cork, the unspoiled waters are home to common dolphins, minkes and humpback whales. Taking a boat trip beyond the coastline on a whale and dolphin watching experience gets you up close and personal with the creatures who dwell where land and sea collide. Set on the same waters is Eccles Hotel – an 18th century stay renowned for its wellness experiences, artisan cuisine and breathtaking views.
2. Go back in time in Vienna (Austria)
You wouldn’t be crazy for believing you’d stepped back to the year 1600 when you stay at Hotel Stefanie in Vienna. The astonishing hotel is the oldest in the Austrian capital, wonderfully preserved in the centre of the city. You’re a stone’s throw away from St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Vienna and Belvedere Palace – if you can bring yourself to leave your beautiful bedroom or suite.
3. Feel mentally and physically transformed in Turčianske Teplice (Slovakia)
Looking for a complete wellness transformation? In-the-know travellers hankering that kind of luxury flock to Hotel Royal Palace. Living up to its name, this regal stay boasts five-star pampering. Immerse yourself in the healing thermal spring in the Royal Bath (dating back to 1281) or book in for a royal massage or wellness treatment – some of which involve real gold (a world-exclusive speciality).
4. Get out of your comfort zone in Newport (Wales)
Known as the ‘Mountain of the Angels’, Carn Ingli in Wales provides the most mystical backdrop for a holiday in Pembrokeshire. Make sure you bring your hiking boots – the area is a treasure trove of fascinating archeological sites, perfect for hiking. Ramble your way through 170 acres of ancient oak woodland, home to more than 400 species of lichens: strange organisms made up of fungus and algae that thrive in the fresh, wet air of the area. Fill up, rest up, and live your best Welsh holiday life at Llys Meddyg, right in the centre of it all.
5. Become a Yogi in Kenmare (Ireland)
It’s traditional – but it does it with a modern edge. Country house Park Hotel Kenmare delivers yoga and meditation classes throughout the week, with stunning views of Kenmare Bay beyond. Whether you’re craving a delicious Indian asana session or a meditative guided power naps, there’s a soul-charging session for all levels of Yogi.
6. Conquer your singing nerves in Uggdal (Norway)
Experience proper Norwegian village life at Haaheim Gård – a time-warp country stay boasting twilight suppers accompanied by opera, theatre and enchanting talks. Spending a few days here will reset your soul – far away from the hustle of modern life, you’ll indulge in good old-fashioned experiences and live the simple life. Arguably one of the most unique and life-changing hotel experiences you could book this year.
7. Sail the Greek islands
Learn the ropes on the Aegean (where else?) with our Greek island-hopping itinerary. There’s no finer way to experience the glittering blue waters up-close, hopping off at UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Chios, historic Rhodes, postcard-perfect Santorini and an ancient Cretan village along the way.
8. Get high in Kronplatz (Italy)
Jumpstart a new exercise regime in the inspirational Dolomites. South Tyrol’s high altitude holiday experiences see you working on endurance, strength and flexibility on the elevating peaks. Whether you’re skiing or hiking, Kronplatz serves up a natural playground for all abilities. Rest weary bones at nearby Hotel Alte Goste, which serves nourishing meals and mountain-view rooms to relax and power you through.
9. Be quiet in Vadstena (Sweden)
It doesn’t get any closer to Heaven than a serene stay in a monastery. Once the home of monks and nuns, Vadstena Klosterhotel now brings peace and serenity to stressed-out travellers in need of out-of-office silence. Escape from the hubbub and discover the power of peacefulness by shutting up for a weekend or a week in this Swedish oasis of calm. You’ll return home de-stressed, well-fed and refocused.
10. Learn to cook in Sils Maria (Switzerland)
Tasting Swiss food takes us closer to the country’s heart. Cooking it yourself gets you right into the centre of its nucleus. Waldhaus Sils, a Wes-Anderson-style hotel in the Sils Maria wilderness, lets you do just that. On Thursdays, the five-star hotel invites families into the big Waldhaus kitchen for pizza-making lessons – good practice for the little ones when you return home.