As soon as the days get shorter and cold days loom, some of us go into full on winter mode, investing in beautiful knits and getting super excited over the tiniest flake of snow.
Others, like your writer here, feel a sense of dread over months of cold weather, wishing it were summer already, and planning an escape somewhere exotic (and hot). To cater to both camps, here are our favourite cold and hot winter destinations and hotels, each offering experiences only a wintertime holiday can provide.
THE PACKING EDIT
Icehotel, Swedish Lapland
Sitting above the Arctic Circle in the tiny village of Jukkasjarvi, you’ll find the Icehotel, one of our favourite hotels ever for a winter escape. Every November the hotel is built from blocks of ice from the local river and moulded into a huge igloo, with individual bedrooms to sleep in (complete with ice beds and tables) and featuring ice art designed by artists from all over the globe. There’s even an ice bar where you can drink vodka from ice cups.
Don’t miss the classic Icehotel experiences: spotting the northern lights, ice sculpting, snowmobiling, reindeer sleigh rides and arctic sushi making (who knew!). Get ready to don your snowsuit and get lost in a totally different world.
(Photo credit: Art suite – Livoq by Fabien Champeval & Friederike Schroth ∏ Asaf Kliger)
Jamaica Inn, Jamaica
With its blue sky, reggae beat and stunning beaches, Jamaica is the perfect antidote to grey skies and cold days. For a bit of old school colonial glamour, Jamaica Inn fits the bill. Renowned for its beautiful grounds, friendly staff and beautiful white-sand beach, Jamaica Inn is all about a bit of R&R. We love the big event made around dinner too – guests are encouraged to dress up and make a proper evening of it with live reggae and legendary cocktails.
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland
On a private inlet in a UNESCO Geopark is The Retreat, a strikingly designed eco-luxury hotel set in the volcanic landscape of the world-famous Blue Lagoon. The spa is a real focus here, with luxury pampering the name of the game. Amazingly, the hotel has their own private access to the geothermal Lagoon, so you’ve not got to jostle with the tourist crowds.
We love the idea of a massage whilst floating in the lagoon or drinking hot chocolate on the hotel rooftop with the northern lights overhead. This is definitely a blow out option but if you have the pennies, you can’t go wrong here.
Shambala Private Game Reserve, South Africa
With only 30 rooms and a contemporary, striking style, you can see why the fashion and design crowd wait months to secure a room here. Il Sereno, based on Lake Como, is the most stylish hotel in the area, with its remarkably simple, naturalistic design, led by Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola, it makes the most of local colours, materials and artisans as well as those stunning lake views.
The hotel’s food is widely acclaimed with three-star Michelin chef, Andrea Berton, heading up the restaurant, serving simple Italian fayre from locally sourced ingredients. When they aren’t enjoying the gastronomic delights, guests spend lazy days by the freshwater infinity pool or take a tour of the lake on the hotel’s handcrafted wooden boats.
Zanzibar, just off the coast of Tanzania, is perfect to visit in wintertime when temperatures hover around the early thirties. There is so much to see and do, from the fascinating history of the capital Stone Town, to the wildlife in the national parks, to spice farms and snorkelling in the turquoise waters. Or sunbathe on the pristine white sand beaches.
On the northwest coast of the island is Killindi, a luxury boutique hotel with fifteen Middle Eastern style pavilions, each with private plunge pool overlooking the ocean. There is no set restaurant, instead you can eat by the pool, in your room or on the beach. We love the laid-back feel and unexpected history of the place – it was originally designed for ABBA member Benny Andersson.
The Gallivant, England
There is one thing that the Brits do very well and that is a luxury, snugly hotel, the ultimate retreat from long, cold winters and general dreariness. With Scandi inspired interiors, roaring log burners and deep sofas, the Gallivant, which is actually a very fine Restaurant with Rooms, is one such hotel. Popular with Londoners, its location (one hour from central London) is super, just across from the golden sands and dunes of Camber beach and only five minutes from the quaint town of Rye. You can even have a spa treatment at their beach hut mini spa, and take your dog (to the hotel, not the spa). What’s not to like?
For more of our favourite hotel round ups, click here