The new year is upon us and things are already looking brighter for holidays. If you’re worried you’ve missed out on the buzz already, fear not. We have the low down on every kind of trip you might be thinking of booking.
From world-class skiing in chalets that make the A-list swoon, and luxurious adventures off the beaten track, to family fun in Europe and cultural excursions that the fashionable jet set (don’t really) want you to know about. This year it’s about honing into your superlative travel desires and grabbing life by the passport. Here are some ideas to get you started.
If you want… Snow and skiing
St Anton am Arlberg, Tyrol, Austria
Best for: High-rolling snow-seekers
A ski resort with the rich cinematic history of St Anton needs a residence worthy of the A-list, and Scott Dunn founder Andrew Dunn has created it with his personal retreat. The six-bedroom property was renovated in recent years, with Dunn choosing the decor himself – from the vibrant Paul Smith rugs to the emperor-size beds that are wider than they are long. I loved the all-natural Haeckel’s bathroom products. Off the slopes, the chalet has a pool and cinema room. What really sets it apart, though, is the service, which genuinely made us feel like no request was too big.
Stella loves: Chefs Rob and Rosie (who once worked at Noma) can turn their hand to anything from tasting menus to movie snacks; their sensational Spanish tapas was a highlight.
Out and about: World-class skiing is the reason people flock to St Anton. Some of the most memorable drinking and dining experiences were slope-side, but not inaccessible to non-skiers, who can access them via cable-car. Head to Verwallstube, a gourmet restaurant 2,085m above sea level, for truffle pasta and spectacular views (verwallstube.at), and the MooserWirt for its wild après-ski scene (mooserwirt.at).
How to do it: Chalet from £27,150 a week (sleeps 12), including breakfast, afternoon tea, bar drinks, five dinners with wine pairing, driver service. (Flights, transfers, ski passes, childcare and beauty treatments can be arranged on request); chaletartemis.com. Read the full expert review here.
The Wort Hotel
Jackson Hole, USA
Best for:‘Old West’ luxury
Once a livery yard, the building dates back to 1941 and today it sits on the west side of an Elk-horn-arched town square, with bars, galleries and plenty of hand-tooled cowboy boot shops nearby. Beyond the hotel’s mock-Tudor facade is a striking decor, all stuffed moose heads and grand staircases. Rooms are a luxurious mix of Western styles, with original landscape paintings and hot tubs in some. There’s also a gym and Jacuzzi downstairs. The hotel’s Silver Dollar Bar and Grill, is worth visiting to see the 2,032 coins displayed under its snaking glass countertop – it serves a mean margarita and there’s regular live music; it’s a hub for Jackson Hole’s entertainment scene.
Stella loves: Silver-dollar chocolates left on the pillows every night.
Out and about: The famous Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area a 20-minute drive away, while Yellowstone National Park is 80 miles north. If you’re interested in tracking Elk, moose and coyote, book a safari in the National Elk Refuge (jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com). Plenty of interesting stores on your doorstep too – from Mountain Man toy shop on Center St (newwestknifeworks.com) to brunches at the delightful Persephone bakery (persephonebakery.com)
How to do it: Rooms from £283 a night; worthotel.com.
Courchevel 1850, France
Best for: Michelin-starred dining
This five-star hotel is tucked in a pine forest, high up in this exclusive ski resort (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are believed to have visited the town). Inside it’s the pinnacle of cosiness, much like a family home, albeit one with in-out slope access and handsome ski instructors on tap, plus crepes and hot chocolate offered for warming up after skiing. Families will love the games room, and if you’re taking the wider family, there are also three-bedroom flats, complete with full kitchens. Not that you’ll want to use them, as presiding over the kitchen is Michelin-starred chef Fanny Rey. Did someone say fondue night?
Stella loves: Pets are welcome – there are custom dog beds to match the decor in every room.
Out and about: The resort is home to the largest interconnected ski network in the world. The hotel’s instructors cater to everyone – from black slope regulars to complete beginners – with patience and encouragement. Luxury fashion boutiques, including Chanel and Valentino could, be enough to tempt you off the slopes. And of course you’re going to need to refuel: ski or take the snow tractor to mountainside restaurant La Cave des Creux for champagne and cheeseburgers with a staggering view – then ski it off after (cavedescreux-courchevel.com).
How to do it: Rooms from £700 a night, b&b;.hotel-la-sivoliere.com
If you want… Off-the-beaten-track adventures
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
New South Wales, Australia
Best for: Eco-aware A-listers
This ultra-luxurious conservation resort, located in a national park and surrounded by the romantic landscape of the Blue Mountains, is the stuff of bucket lists. A blue haze hangs in the air, lending the view a dreamlike quality – the result of the oils in the eucalyptus trees in the region. It’s a three-hour drive from Sydney airport or a shorter helicopter ride to reach but it’s worth the journey. Our villa had a lawn, private infinity pool and stylish living room area with open fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows. Meanwhile, the hotel’s bar has similarly spectacular mountain views and serves the best Negroni we’ve tried outside Italy. The resort also distils its own delicious gin. Days are best spent on the cabanas around the kidney-shaped pool – there’s also a sumptuous spa with Elle Decor-worthy interiors and a Japanese-style soaking tub. For the more active, bushwalks and 4×4 tours of the 7,000 acre grounds can be arranged..
Stella loves: The focus on sustainability and eco-initiatives – from solar panels to water recycling, to talks about bushfire regeneration in the region.
Out and about: Plenty of tours and activities are on offer at the resort, all of which can be booked in advance – stargazing tours, archery and horse rides through wildflowers and fields on the estate, which is a UNESCO site, home to kangaroos, wallabies and wombats, and all manner of birdlife. The resort is family friendly with lots of children too, including a Wolgan Rangers programme where children can follow animal tracks, search for ancient fossils and build bush shelters.
Inkaterra La Casona
Best for: Historic grandeur
A hidden gem, discreetly located on a quiet square, this 16th-century grand mansion has been beautifully restored and operates like a private home, with no front desk and just 11 bedrooms with no numbers on the doors. It’s decorated with a wealth of treasures and original features, including elaborately carved dark wooden furniture (it was once the home of a Spanish conquistador), alongside warm, colourful Andean textiles, freshly cut flowers and piles of thoughtfully curated books. Bedrooms are found around a pretty courtyard, each is filled with a unique collection of antiques and art. Huge marble bathrooms (one with a 400- year-old frieze), roll top baths, and impressive stone fireplaces all add to the ‘wow’ factor. There is a small therapy room using local botanicals and an intimate dining room (for guests only) that serves excellent regional dishes and a complimentary daily afternoon tea.
Stella loves: The impeccable service – you can ask for your open-fire to be lit or to have your bath drawn with bubbles whilst dining downstairs.
Out and about: The Cathedral at Plaza de Armas is worth a visit for its striking silver and wood altars. Look out for the cheeky 18th-century Andean painting of The Last Supper where a guinea pig is the order of the day. Cusco has several outdoor and indoor markets selling alpaca-wool jumpers, gloves and throws. For guaranteed provenance, visit The Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco where you can pick up small samples of Andean weaving including placemats, table runners (textilescusco.org).
Franschhoek, South Africa
Best for: Wine lovers
Established in 1685, this is one of the oldest Cape wine estates. As well as offering wine tastings and tours, it is now home to two restaurants and a deli. The farm itself spans 2,000 hectares. On the main homestead, The Werf, there are beautifully restored rustic cottages with kitchens, ideal for couples, while ‘The Retreat’ and ‘Orchard Cottages’, a short ride away, have larger family-friendly cottages; every view has a backdrop of the grand craggy mountains. The Werf restaurant, found in the original cellar, has a focus on sustainability; 90 per cent of the menu is from Boschendal or the surrounding area. A highlight is the 60-day, aged on-the-bone Angus steak that melts in the mouth. Pair that with a bottle of Boschendal red and you have a match made in heaven. The farm is also renowned for its picnics, served on tables under the oaks.
Stella loves: The bottle of Boschendal wine and olive oil that awaits you on arrival.
Out and about: Perfectly located to explore the Cape Winelands – Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are roughly 15 minutes away. Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, just a 20-minute drive, is a must, with some of the most beautiful gardens and orchards in the region and you can book workshops, from juice jamming to making your own soap (babylonstoren.com). Cape Town is less than an hour away by car – there, sights such as Table Mountain and word-class beaches are waiting to be explored.
Best for: Stylish interiors
There’s off the beaten track, and then there’s this tucked-away gem, down narrow roads in the medina: take up the owner’s offer to meet you at the Bab Agnaou gate. The traditional riad has been restored into a terracotta and whitewashed oasis, with five simply but beautifully decorated bedrooms and fabulous bathrooms, and on the roof, a dinky, unheated pool and a canopied outdoor lounge (straw hats are thoughtfully provided), where you can also have dinner. Sitting with a glass of wine listening to the birds and call to prayer is magical.
Stella loves: The impeccable design: we defy you not to immediately start scouring the souks for similar rugs, tufted bedspreads and more.
Out and about: Marrakech is a very walkable city, so the mesmerising nighttime vibes of Jemaa el Fna square and the shopper’s paradise souks are easily reachable from the Riad (spices, sandals and slippers are ubiquitous), but there’s also plenty to see nearby. Bahia Palace, which was built by a former slave, is very close by, as are the Saadian Tombs, which were shrouded from the public until the 1920s, but there’s little in the way of information at either, so for a more fulfilling experience be sure to pack a guidebook (we love DK Eyewitness’s Top 10 Marrakech, £8.99, books.telegraph.co.uk), or the hotel can organise guided tours. Part of the same hotel group, The Beldi Collection, is Nubia Luxury Camp in the Moroccan Sahara, where you can camp in the desert: an experience never to be forgotten.
How to do it: Rooms from £96 a night; riad-louhou.com
If you want… Sunbeds and sunshine
Four Seasons Fairways
Quinta do Lago, Portugal
Best for: Active families
This sleek resort is home to 132 villas, all with minimalist modern interiors and private Jacuzzis or pools. With views of green landscapes wherever on the resort you stay, two restaurants, activities aplenty (from bicycle rental to tennis court hire), a gym with fitness classes and live music, it’s a one-stop resort with no need to leave. There’s plenty to entertain little ones too – swimming lessons can be arranged and the kids’ club holds baking, face painting and Disney cinema afternoons. Or if relaxation is the order of the day, sprawling out by the clubhouse pool with a bowl of delicious local river clams steeped in white wine and garlic will do the trick.
Stella loves: Order meat and fish from room service – then char it to perfection on your terrace barbecue.
Out and about: Kayak your way down the Ria Formosa, a naturally formed network of lagoons and islands, which lines 60km of the Algarve coast (arturwatersportsacademy.pt). The region is a big draw for golfers – there are more than 30 golf courses, and guests at this resort get reduced green fees at the majority. Time your trip to coincide with Amateur Golf Week (22-29 January; see resort website for details). For more local activities go to visitalgarve.pt/en.
How to do it: Two-bedroom apartment from £890 a week (with swimming pool or Jacuzzi); fourseasonsfairways.com.
Parklane Resort & Spa
Nr Limassol, Cyprus
Best for: Stealth wealth
Found on the country’s glittering southern coast, this large beachside hotel is fabulously upmarket, all white geometric architecture and slick swimming pools (there are three, including an adults-only one). Service from your sunlounger or cabana is attentive, the landscaping scented by date palms and rosemary bushes. There are watersports off the hotel’s sandy beach (everything from paddleboarding to scuba), a hi-tech gym, clay tennis courts, plus the spa has five Thalassotherapy pools – one with the salinity of the Dead Sea – and a Russian banya. Kids will be out of sight: a fantastical turreted castle houses the children’s club, featuring crafts, messy play and a zip wire.
Stella loves: It’s a toss up between two of the glamorous restaurants: Mathis by the Sea, a seafood spot offering piles of caviar and people-watching, and The Grill, which serves wagyu steak on dreamily-situated tables that seem to float in the water.
Out and about: Limassol city centre is 20 minutes by taxi; it combines a glitzy marina with ancient sights, including the chapel where Richard the Lionheart married in 1191. The hotel offers free excursions to nearby ancient archaeological sites and a halloumi-cheese farm. A few minutes away is the ancient Greek and Roman Archaeological Site of Amanthous, occupying a hillside and dating back to 10BC.
MarBella Nido Suite Hotel & Villas
Best for: Serene sea views
The open-plan pastel-coloured rooms with spacious balconies at this adults-only hotel set the pace for your stay, which is total chill. Many rooms come with private plunge pools or hot tubs on the balcony; ours looked out to the Mediterranean Sea. A Blue Flag sandy beach is just below the hote,l while back on site there’s a serene roof-terrace with restaurant and pool, a lounge bar and two restaurants, one with a wine cellar that’s stocked with undiscovered Greek wines. Nothing is too much for the staff at the hotel, whether they’re ferrying you around on golf buggies or recommending a favourite cocktail (the maragrits is zesty and refreshing); their attentiveness sets the place apart.
Stella loves: The chocolate-filled Greek breakfast pastries. Utterly moreish.
Out and about: Corfu Old Town, a 30-minute drive away, is unrefined but charming – fans of BBC’s The Durrells will be delighted to see filming locations pointed out by locals. Fashion lovers should head to Mezzo Mezzo, a stunningly curated boutique in the town centre, stocked full of Greeks finest designers (mezzomezzofashion.com).
Best for: Surfers and beach bums
This large, modern design hotel found in an unspoilt part of the western Algarve, has an easy-going vibe, with a made-for-selfies pool and surfer’s paradise beach nearby. The coastal views are the highlight – the panorama stretched on for miles from our balcony, all golden sands and limestone rock formations. The breakfast buffet is magnificent, with everything from quinoa porridge to pastéis de nata. Rooms are simply but chicly furnished in keeping with the minimalist vibe, while the spa is gorgeous and has an indoor swimming pool; try the Tibetan Bowls massage.
Stella loves: The tiered areas near the outdoor pool for secluded lounging.
Out and about: It’s right on the coast so sea activities are the order of the day: book on a dolphin- and seabird-spotting trip with marine biologists (visitportugal.com). The hotel’s surf school Freeride is highly recommended too, whatever your level (frsurf.com). Or hire a car and take a road trip down the coast, stopping at beautiful local beaches, Praia do Amado and Praia de Odeceixe. Stop by Mum’s, one of the best restaurants in Sagres; it’s a low-key joint with home-cooked meals and an impressive spirits collection (mums-sagres.com).
If you want… Culture in the city
Best for: Showstopping interiors
The stunning Belle Epoque hotel, a stone’s throw from the River Danube, has had a five-year-long facelift, transforming it from down-at-heel apartments to its aristocratic former glory. Built as a royal palace by Duchess Cotilde of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at the turn of the century, it once again exudes elegance and easy luxury. Preserving the bones of the building – stone staircases and art nouveau embellishments, fairy-tale turrets and golden lifts – the past and present are perfectly brought together. Visitors are greeted by a spectacular double-height picture wall featuring photographs of the Duchess and vintage images of Budapest, topped by a glass ceiling-floor (requiring nerves of steel to walk across). The easy elegance continues at Spago restaurant, of Wolfgang Puck fame, on the ground floor, and the hotel’s rooftop bar The Duchess, where fabulous views across the Elizabeth Bridge accompany your cocktails.
Stella loves: Old Friend cocktails at Spago’s horseshoe-shaped bar
Out and about: No visit to Budapest is complete without a thermal bath session. The two most famous are the Széchenyi, in City Park, and Gellért, housed in a fabulous art nouveau building at the foot of the Liberty Bridge (bathsbudapest.com). The West side of the Danube is great for shopping, dining and sightseeing – don’t miss the monumental Heroes’ Square by City Park. Head to Café Gerbeaud on Vorosmarty Square for a taste (literally) of old-school Budapest’s café society, where the leisurely pace makes it seem like you’re stepping back in time as you sample whipped-cream-topped coffees and wicked cakes (gerbeaud.hu). Work off the gateaux by putting on your flattest shoes and heading to Buda, across the Danube, to explore the city’s royal past as you wind up from the river to Castle Hill (budacastlebudapest.com).
How to do it: Rooms from £397 a night, b&b; marriott.com/hotels
Best for: Fashionable jet-setters
Housed in a neo-Renaissance palace, this grand dame hotel, which opened in 1857, has relaunched as a Raffles property and is seriously stylish. The interior feels fresh, melding classic design tropes with popping contemporary Polish art (see the enormous splashy modern artworks in the lobby). The elegant Long Bar, named after the original at Raffles Singapore, is frequented by Warsaw’s style set; the offices of Polish Vogue were housed in the top of the building. Don’t leave without stocking up on the exquisite treats at the in-house Lourse Warszawa patisserie; or settling in at the spa, a striking space with hundreds of shiny mosaic tiles and treatments using Sisley products. The staff are a delight and the modern Polish food is divine.
Stella loves: The Humidor lounge, all tan leather armchairs: it serves cigars, single malts and brandies. Look out for the ceiling covered with striking floral green wallpaper.
Out and about: The city is foodie heaven. For something special, set in Wes Anderson-esque interiors, Opasly Tom is incredible (kregliccy.pl/opaslytom/). For luxe shopping,the joint Chylak and Le Petit Trou store is a must (chylak-x-le-petit-trou.business.site). The city’s Presidential Palace, built in 1643, is on your doorstep, as is the city’s largest square where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies, guarded by soldiers and lit with an eternal flame. The city also has a dark past – it’s 350,000-strong pre-war Jewish population was obliterated during the Holocaust. Today, you can tour the Great Synagogue and the remains of the city’s Jewish ghetto – both poignant reminders of a heartbreaking history.
Best for: City buzz
This stylish 28-room boutique hotel, found in a renovated 18th-century building, is elegant and quirky in equal measure. The highlight is the interior design and charming home comforts: Colmol beds, pretty Castelbel bathroom products and pastel-coloured tableware from Ceramicas Na Linha. It’s just five minutes from the main shopping centres and a short walk to the bustling nightlife in Bairro Alto. The excellent concierge can suggest other local activities too – we loved the wine cellar tour, accompanied by a traditional Portuguese lunch, and the walking tour of the city led by an archaeologist.
Stella loves: The finishing touches – from textiles to soaps, they are all Portuguese.
Out and about: Head to the Time Out Market where many top chefs in Lisbon have a stall – fun for lunch and impromptu dancing at night (timeoutmarket.com). For the best meal visit Taberna da Rua das Flores, a small, local taverna that doesn’t take reservations (Rua das Flores 103). Bag a bargain at Feira da Ladra, Lisbon’s biggest flea market, which has some real finds if you look hard enough (every Tuesday and Saturday).
How to do it: Rooms from £165 a night, b&b; almalusahotels.com
If you want… Romance à deux
The Merrion Hotel
Best for: Classic Irish charm
Situated on one of Dublin’s most elegant streets, the understated-looking hotel comprises four Georgian townhouses knocked into one. But oh, the luxury inside! The original buildings have elegant drawing rooms and a bar with open fires, and the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, while the modern extension has a second restaurant. Rooms are exquisitely decorated (ours was charmingly chintzy), and feature fabulous Irish artworks. A highlight is the spa and health club with its delightful blue-tiled pool and treatments by Espa and Biologique Recherche – try the restorative mud envelopment treatment.
Stella loves: The heated massage beds in the spa.
Out and about: The hotel is slap-bang in the heart of the city: the Department of the Taoiseach (head of government), is over the road, and the National Gallery of Ireland is practically next door – catch the end of the Jack B. Yeats: Painting & Memory exhibition, which runs until next month (nationalgallery.ie). It’s also a short hop to St Stephen’s Green Park with its ducks and chickens, as well as the shops and restaurants of Grafton Street.
Palacio Can Marqués
Best for: Rooftop cocktails and Spanish sunsets
Behind the striking historic facade of this 18th-century palace, located in the heart of Palma, is a lavish hotel, brought to life with detailed modern design and peppy service. The 13 rooms – each one a unique suite – are vast, with king-sized beds, floor-to-ceiling shuttered windows and thoughtful touches, including handmade Murano chandeliers and beautiful Nepalese rugs. Look out for the majestic stone foyer with original staircases – and stop by the champagne bar, which really sets the regal tone.
Stella loves: The Terrace rooftop cocktail bar, which serves a stunning sunset vista over the port.
Out and about: The palace is found in Palma’s buzzy culinary hub. Try local tapas and wine at La Paloma, a traditional Mallorcan restaurant with an upbeat vibe (lapaloma.es). The city’s cathedral is within walking distance (catedraldemallorca.org). And the waterfront where sleek yachts are moored is a three-minute stroll from the hotel. For a full day out, head to The Miro Mallorca Foundation, Joan Miró’s hillside studio and museum, which offers incredible mountain views and a vast exhibition of the artist’s work (miromallorca.com).
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
Lake Como, Italy
Best for: Garden enthusiasts
An hour from Milan airport is this spectacularly glamorous hotel overlooking one of Italy’s largest lakes, famous for its gorgeous views and enchanting architecture. George Clooney is far from the first to have a holiday house on its shores: Lake Como has been popular since Pliny the Younger built a villa there in Roman times – so about 1,900 years of history to revel in. The hotel – 75 rooms and suites housed in a 19th-century villa – is a perfect spot for an uplifting few days: it has a sumptuous Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Aria, a sophisticated bar and lovely outdoor area in which to sit and take in the views of the lake. There is also a spa (the largest on the lake) and the most glorious botanical gardens – including a couple of magnificent Lebanese cedar trees and 54 species of plants and flowers in the gardens.
Stella loves: The floating pool, in the lake, entered through a tunnel
Out and about: Take out the hotel boat to enjoy the sites of the villas and palazzos on the shores of Lake Como, and visit the gardens and museum of Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, (villacarlotta.it) and the sculptures and terraced gardens of the magnificent Villa Balbianello. For a romantic outing, borrow the hotel’s 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta for the day and explore Lago di Como’s landscapes – the hotel can recommend scenic routes.
Edited by: Laura Powell
Overseas travel is still subject to restrictions. Check the latest advice before you travel.
This article is kept updated with the latest information.