How to make a hotel feel like home by interior designer Beata Heuman
1. It sounds obvious but the first thing I do when arriving in my room is unpack my clothes. Even if it’s just for a short stay, you will feel more settled if you’re not living out of a suitcase.
2. A bath is the best way to unwind after a long flight — bring some nice products that smell like home.
3. I’m a bit of a sucker for good silk pyjamas; Olivia von Halle and Poplin make the best. I always pack a set.
4. Pillow sprays are great for helping you sleep. This Works makes a lovely one with chamomile, lavender and vetiver, to help you drift off.
5. I would never travel without a good book and a set of noise-cancelling headphones. If you end up somewhere uninspiring it’s all about escaping into your own little world…
This year, you needn’t leave the capital to see some of the best new hotels on offer
The Londoner, Leicester Square
Opening this summer, it will be the city’s first hotel with more space underground than above, with cinemas, a pool and beauty salons.
Launching in February, it’s dedicated to peaceful slumber: rooms are designed with innovative soundproofing and calming colours to reduce anxiety.
A new ‘aparthotel’ (part-apartment, part-hotel to you and me) for long or short stays, complete with huge crittall windows and muted interiors. Swoon.
With a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants and a thriving new bar scene, Belfast is having a moment as 2020’s new foodie destination. Book into the old headquarters of shipbuilder Harland & Wolff, recently transformed into the elegant Titanic Hotel, and dine at the handsome, tucked-away Muddlers Club with its ambitious menu using the best seasonal ingredients. Finish off with some briny Galway Bay oysters teamed with cold Riesling at wine bar Ora.
Cruise operators are attracting the hipster millennial crowd over old-age pensioners with new destinations and on-board offerings. Sir Richard Branson launches the Scarlet Lady from Virgin Voyages (complete with on-board tattoo parlour and vegan menus in place of garish casinos and kid-packed crèches) while Gwyneth Paltrow is getting on board (literally) by partnering with Celebrity Cruises on an 11-night, £3,488 wellness cruise. Starting in Barcelona and working its way around Spain and France, you can sail away with GP herself, Goop’s chief content officer, Elise Loehnen, and a team of hot-shot healers and wellness experts.
Her name is Rio
Set deep in a pristine Andean valley, make Rio Palena Lodge your hideaway of choice. The majestic landscape is breathtaking (volcanoes, bamboo forests, glacial lakes and rivers that offer the very best fly-fishing, perfect for go-slow mindfulness) while the lodge sleeps up to 14 in rustic-chic rooms.
How to pack by Ally Betker, editorial director at Away and editor-in-chief of ‘Here’ magazine
1. Stackable packing cubes help with organisation: ideal for spending less time rummaging and more time enjoying your trip.
2. Never roll, always fold: it allows more to fit into your case and keeps things neatly stacked.
3. Plan ahead: I pack in outfits, so that I’m only packing what I need and nothing extra.
4. You never need as many shoes as you think!
5. Away’s Bigger Carry-On has thoughtful features like a built-in laundry bag and a compression pad to maximise space. Bonus: it comes with a built-in, removable charger.
Into the wild
Googling gorilla tours in Rwanda after watching an Arsenal game? The fourth-smallest country in mainland Africa is the club shirt sponsor, but don’t let that put you off. Known for its resplendent stop-and-stare scenery, Rwanda is also home to a growing number of mountain gorillas thanks to conservation efforts. Try to spot them at the new One and Only Gorilla’s Nest ‘jungle sanctuary’ in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes, which offers hiking through gorilla habitat as well as 21 stilted wood cabins and a steaming hot infinity pool.
The only way is Norfolk
Norfolk is now the must-book spot for the staycation cool crowd. Not only is it Her Majesty’s favourite hangout (Sandringham’s here), but soon you can stay at The Harper, an exquisite 32-room retreat close to Blakeney’s beach that opens in April and promises a full-service spa and in-house restaurant, Stanley’s. There’s loads to discover in this bucolic county.
The holiday buzzwords you’ll hear this year, decoded
Doing good while you kick back, also known as ‘volunteer tourism’, is set to be one of the fastest-growing travel trends of 2020 — more than 5,000 people signed up to a maintenance scheme on the Faroe Islands within 24 hours. The newest brand of eco-tourism.
Forget destination weddings: more couples are asking their mates along on honeymoon, in place of a romantic retreat a deux.
Blame Jennifer Aniston, who kick-started the movement a few years back by taking her Hollywood circle on her honeymoon with Justin Theroux to Bora Bora. This year it’s set to go mainstream.
The new slang for a mini-break, mostly co-opted by time- and cash-poor millennials, ‘micro-cations’ are long weekends, reborn as three-day trips with action-packed schedules. Not the most relaxing, but worth it for the Instagrams.
Yes we Canouan
Canouan, a five square mile paradise in the Grenadines, is set to become the namedropper’s ultimate destination. Home to a superyacht marina, Glossy Bay, Canuouan already hosts the luxe Mandarin Oriental on dreamy Godahl Beach and Soho House opens its doors there this summer. The island’s vibe is unhurried (like its resident tortoises) with an emphasis on high-end, laid-back chic.
Walk this way
Dovetailing with both the trend for spiritual tourism and the slow-travel movement, a renaissance in pilgrimages is gaining pace. A record 347,578 people from 190 countries completed the Santiago de Compostela in 2019 and now the UK is getting in on the spiritual act with The British Pilgrimage’s UK cathedral tour.