With so many remarkable cities, sights and places around the world, it is often easy to bring together long lists of must-see places, and there will always be stunning sites that get cut from lists like this.
However, if you were to visit these 25 places, not only would you be extremely well-traveled but you’d also have seen some of the most amazing sights this planet has to offer!
In no particular order, here are 25 destinations to visit in your lifetime!
25. Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is an archipelago of about 1,500 remote islands located in Indonesia’s West Papua province, and is known for the beautiful beaches, pristine coral reefs, and turquoise waters. It is part of the “Coral Triangle” which is considered the global center of marine biodiversity, and has the richest marine life I’ve ever seen while scuba diving.
With more than thirty-eight million people, Tokyo is the largest city on the planet. It’s a vibrant, fun and busy city full of culture and adventures for all types of travelers!
23. Plitvice Lakes
Often referred to as the home of fairies, Plitvice Lakes in Croatia might just be one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet. Its cascading lakes in hues of green and blue are a feast for the eyes.
22. The Alhambra in Spain
The Alhambra is a palace from the Moorish rule of the 14th century located in Granada, Spain. For math whizzes and design buffs, the Alhambra is a great treat because of its remarkable architectural symmetry.
21. Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world located just off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Unfortunately, the reef is rapidly disappearing due to climate change, pollution and the overpopulation of certain species.
20. The Ring Road in Iceland
One of Europe’s most magical and unforgettable spots; Iceland is the ultimate road trip destination. The Ring Road, or Route 1, is the prime Icelandic route, circling the entire country (along with a few essential detours!). We drove the Ring Road road trip in 10 days and journeyed around the entire island — don’t miss my tips for driving the Ring Road and how to survive in a camper van for ten days before taking your adventure!
19. Las Vegas
Also known as “Sin-City,” Las Vegas is located in the Nevada Desert and is famous for being a place where almost anything goes. From amazing hotels to world-class restaurants to fantastic night life, this is a city that has to be visited at least once.
18. Tiger’s Nest Monastery
High in the mountains of Bhutan, Paro Taktsang (known by many asthe Tiger’s Nest Monastery) is a sacred Buddhist site that appears to be precariously located halfway up a cliff face.
17. Iguazu Falls
On the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, Iguazu Falls sees huge volumes of water drop down several hundred feet, and it is a truly one of a kind sight that dwarfs other huge waterfalls such as the Niagara Falls.
16. Cape Town
Cape Town has stunning landscapes, delicious cuisines and so many activities for all ages! The city is full of eclectic neighborhoods and a growing foodies scene. Plus, it is just an hour from the Stellenbosch winelands, and 5 hours from Gondwana Game Reserve, you can have the best of South Africa within your reach.
15. The Colosseum
Rome has so many attractions that it is hard to pick one favorite but, for history buffs, the Colosseum is one of the most impressive sites in the world. It’s a stadium from nearly 2,000 years ago, where chariot races and gladiators once entertained the citizens of the Roman Empire.
Maybe it’s the movie magic of Indiana Jones or the incredible history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but Petra is one of the most incredible places on Earth. This 312 BC ancient city in Jordan is carved out of a sandstone rock face and is considered one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
13. Uyuni Salt Flats
On a 4-day Uyuni Salt Flats tour through Bolivia, you can see everything from pink flamingos to blue lagoons. On your final morning, you arrive at the salt flats before sunrise where white stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s a magical place!
The city of romance is an amazing destination for cuisine, sightseeing and for simply enjoying the atmosphere. Whether you climb the Eiffel Tower, roam the streets of Montemarte, or examine the stunning art collections of the Louvre, Paris is a must-visit.
11. The Pyramids Of Giza
Built around 2560 BC, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and only remaining Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still intact. Historians are still amazed at the methods used by the ancient Egyptians to create the giant pyramid complex of Giza.
10. Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park is located in northwestern Arizona, and is the United States’ 15th oldest national park. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, there are stunning views, and you’ll be overwhelmed at the beauty of the gigantic landforms.
9. Galápagos Islands
The superb wealth of natural life in these islands is second to none. The Galapágos Islands make a wonderful destination for scuba diving and nature cruises around the islands.
8. Greek Islands
Greece: where historic ruins, volcanic cliffs and friendly locals meet the blue Mediterranean Sea. There are some islands that are famous for their beaches and natural features, while others have a significant nightlife scene or strong cultural traditions. Mykonos, Athens and Santorini are the most popular spots to visit!
7. The Maasai Mara
The migration of the wildebeest on the Maasai Mara is one of the world’s most amazing sights. Taking a safari here is one of the most desirable nature travel experiences in the world for a chance to see the big five animals – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinoceros.
6. Ha Long Bay
Seeing the columns of stone rising from the waters of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is an amazing sight, particularly on those misty mornings when each one appears to be an isolated peak. Take a junk boat cruise for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
5. New York City
The Big Apple of the United States is a true feast for the senses. From the amazing shopping to the thriving arts scene, New York has something for everyone.
4. Machu Picchu
This once forgotten temple in the highlands of Peru is now one of the world’s premier historic tourist attractions, and whether you arrive by bus or on foot on the Inca Trail, the remarkable views and the history of the site will take your breath away.
3. Mount Everest
Exploring the majesty of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is something that many people do every year. While it takes approximately 18 days, the view from the summit is described as life changing.
Home of arguably the greatest party in the world, Rio Carnival is a festival of dancing, music, drinking and celebration. Parades, floats and Samba make Carnival one of the best times to travel to Rio!
1. Angkor Wat
Angkor spreads over 400 square kilometers and consists of temples and structures from the Khmer Empire. Watching the sunrise at the Angkor Wat temple is one of the most incredible sights on Earth!
If this is your first time traveling abroad — or maybe you just need a refresher — here’s a list of 20 tips you should do or bring before your trip. loads of hidden tricks to save cash and ensure you’re Havana great holiday.
Security & Health
1. Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage, consider supplemental insurance.
2. Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship.
3. Leave a copy of your passport. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
4. Register with your embassy. If there’s a problem in the country, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety.
5. Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 19 cents … bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.
6. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting.European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.
7. Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centers in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact.
8. Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses.
9. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Jersey, and they will turn off your card as a security measure.
10. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.
14. Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. A power strip can be a way to cheat and charge multiple devices off of one adapter.
15. Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country.
16. Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge for doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.
17. Download the Travelzoo app. The Travelzoo app can help you find great deals in a variety of countries, and has options from local deals to transportation options.
Luggage & packing
18. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travelers decked out in J’adore Paris apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear.
19. To check a bag or not to check bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees. And, if you are connecting during your trip, know the luggage rules/fees for those airlines as well — especially for regional or low-cost carriers.
20. Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
11. Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.
12. Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, keywords or phrases, and give you enough detail on certain sites that you won’t need to purchase the pamphlet at the venue. And download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.
13. Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing what its known for.
Having travel insurance that offers you the coverage that you need and is also affordable is essential to their peace of mind that you are safe during your travels. If you are in the process of planning your next trip and you are looking for the right travel insurance policy, here are some tips for you.
KNOW THE TYPE OF COVERAGE YOU NEED
There are five major areas covered in insurance policies:
Cancellation insurance – this type of coverage protects you in case you need to cancel your trip entirely or partially because of unforeseen events, such as issues related to the weather, medical issues or legal duties, e.g. jury duty;
Medical insurance – the most common issues that these policies or the comprehensive policies that include this type of insurance include are hospital care, emergency assistance, emergency dental treatments, and ambulance costs, but if you suffer from some other condition pre-existent to your travel, it is a good idea to buy insurance to cover that issue, too;
Flight insurance – these policies provide coverage in case your flight gets delayed or cancelled;
Baggage insurance – this will provide you reimbursement in case your baggage arrives late or is lost;
Evacuation insurance – if you travel to a remote place where no medical care is available, this type of policy will give you coverage for the costs of transporting you to the nearest care facility in case you need medical care.
READ THE DOCUMENT BEFORE YOU PAY
Many people make the mistake of not reading the policy entirely before they buy it. Knowing exactly what your policy covers you for is essential to your safety during your journey, so take the time to read the entire document, small print included, and to find the answers to all your related questions before signing on the dotted line.
Not all insurers offer the same rates and premiums, so you should compare as many of the available solutions as you can to be able to make the best final decision. There are lots of great comparison tools available online – they allow you to enter your age, your destination, the duration of your trip and many other parameters, and the tools will display the available solutions offered by insurers.
A great contender for travel medical insurance is SafetyWing. What makes them stand out from the others?
Reliable: SafetyWing is a Y-Combinator company and the policy is administered by Tokio Marine, one of the largest insurance companies in the world.
Very flexible: it works like a subscription, you can choose your start date and cancel any time. There is no cap on the duration of a trip and no need to know how long you’ll be travelling in advance. You can set up monthly auto-renewal payments to avoid having your coverage expire and forgetting to renew in time. But if you are going on a shorter trip, you can also take up the insurance for a specific duration, starting from 5 days.
Affordable! Travel medical coverage starts from $37/4 weeks, or $1.32 a day.
Offers worldwide coverage as well as limited home country coverage (up to 30 days every 3 months).
Available for purchase in 180 countries and can be purchased while already travelling.
TALK TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW
You probably know people who have recently returned from a trip and have experience with travel insurance. Your tour operator can also provide valuable advice about the type of insurance coverage that works best for your journey.
HAVE A COPY AT ALL TIMES
Print out a copy of the insurance and take it with you on your trip in the folder that contains your other travel documents, and also create a digital copy of the document and save it in a protected folder online to make sure you can access it using your phone or your tablet in case you need it.
Growing up, I was really, really messy. If you had walked into my teenage bedroom you would have come across: a mountain of clothes piled atop my desk chair (that included everything I had and hadn’t worn to school that week), books and binders scattered around my bed (because I couldn’t work at the desk since the chair was covered in clothes), and an extensive collection of mugs and empty plates (because aside from being a messy teenager I was also a big snacker).
Needless to say, this disorganization kind of filtered its way into my packing once I started travelling in my late teens and early twenties. I could never understand why I always found myself with a labyrinth of a suitcase by Day 2 of a trip and it used to drive me crazy. Where was my shampoo and that clean pair of underwear when I needed it?
Oh, how times have changed!
Over the past few years of travel and living out of a suitcase, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about organization out of necessity. Not only have I learned to pack only what I’ll wear and keep things light, but I’ve also learned to keep my backpack organized so that I’m never rummaging when I need something. Today we’re going to look at 5 items that can help YOU keep your luggage tidy too.
Packing cubes are the best because they prevent your luggage from becoming an absolute mess by Day 2.
Packing cubes allow you to compartmentalize your clothes so that you know where everything is: 1 cube for pants and shorts, 1 cube for t-shirts and tank tops, 1 cube for cardigans and sweaters, 1 cube for socks and undies, and voila, you’re set!
I’d also recommend packing cubes that have mesh at least on one side so that you can easily see what’s inside of them. I also think this makes a great travel gift for friends and family.
Hanging Toiletry Kit
I’m all about travelling with a hanging toiletry – it makes life so much easier! Whether you’re staying in a hostel where you can’t really scatter all your stuff around, or you have your own private bathroom but very limited counter space, this item comes in really handy.
Not only do hanging toiletry kits allow you to keep everything you need for the bathroom in one single place, but you can also compartmentalize things so that they are easier to find: one section for your toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss; a section for travel sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash; and so on.
This one probably isn’t necessary for the average traveller, but if you travel with a lot of electronics, cables, batteries, hard drives, and chargers like Sam and I do, it can be a really nifty way of keeping things organized.
These organizers come in different sizes and they can be easily packed into your checked luggage. This way you’re not sifting through your luggage whenever you need that laptop charger or spare camera battery.
Because you don’t want your dirty laundry mixing in with your clean clothes (cross contamination, ewww!)
But seriously, I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves shoving dirty laundry into plastic bags or external luggage pockets more than once before.
A travel laundry bag means you can keep all your dirties in once place until you find a laundromat in your next destination.
So this is a fairly new travel product that I haven’t yet had a chance to use myself, however, I’ve been seeing it featured in press releases that land in my inbox.
The idea is that you pack your clothes into this 3-tier stackable shelf so that when you arrive at your destination, your clothes are wrinkle-free and you can hang up the shelf in the closet.
It’s something that I think would work for short weekend trips or business trips where you are packing carry-on, but it’s not something I can see myself using for long-term travel (I tend to be away for months at a time and my clothes would not fit on 3 shelves).
So there you have it, 5 items that can help keep your luggage organized next time you travel. If you know of any other tips, tricks, or useful items, please feel free to share those in the comments section below.
We’ve carefully selected the 19 destinations to watch in 2019, from Tahiti to Romania, Greece to India, Scotland to Egypt.
The New Art Pilgrimage
The opening of the game-changing Grand Egyptian Museum has been delayed again – until when, we’re no longer exactly sure (though the latest word is 2020). And yet, the news from the ground is for the first time in 8 years, there’s a waitlist for city hotels and boat trips along the Nile. After a tumultuous few years, Egypt, it seems, is back on the map. It had been hoped that the $1 billion, sleek, marble temple to the country’s antiquities would have swung open its doors by now, revealing, among a wealth of other national treasures, most crucially King Tutankhamun’s entire burial collection – more than 5,000 pieces – displayed to the public in an exact replica of the tomb itself. Which means visitors will be able to see everything – bejeweled sandals, embroidered tunics and the Boy King’s death mask – just as Howard Carter did when he made his milestone discovery in 1922.
And yet, while everyone waits patiently, elsewhere in the country the momentum mounts. Nile cruise liner Sanctuary Retreats has just launched weekly sailings of its boutique wooden boats, kitted out with art deco fixtures and leather deck chairs to sink into while gazing at Nubian sandstone cliffs and the teeming ancient tombs and temples of Luxor. Oberoi’s ship in the meantime, the Philae, has been given a top to bottom refurb, including a rooftop pool and much fewer, more spacious rooms as well as a spa with views out to Medinat Habu, the resting place of Rameses II and one of the new spots on their itinerary. And in March 2019 the much-talked about St Regis will open right on the river, injecting Cairo‘s dusty hotel scene with a much-needed dosage of glamour; it’s floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening onto terraces that offer the sharpest views of Cairo’s pedestrian-friendly Corniche promenade anywhere around.
THE PELOPONNESE, GREECE
A go-slow corner of the Mediterranean
While the starriest Greek islands – such as Santorini and Mykonos – grapple with over-tourism, forward-thinking visitors are heading to the mainland and discovering the wide-open spaces of Greece off-season. The Peloponnese has been bubbling just below the radar since Costa Navarino opened in 2010. Soon afterwards, the local airport at Kalamata opened up to international flights, shaving off several hours’ driving time from Athensand boosting arrivals to the region by 15 per cent last year.
In 2019, the rail service linking the port of Patras with the town of Pyrgos, in the south-western Peloponnese, will resume after a seven-year halt. A train ride is the perfect way to explore this laidback region which has been a destination for wellness and fitness since Hippocrates prescribed therapeutic olive oil massages and naked athletes limbered up in Olympia. Athletes (dressed in more than just a slick of olive oil) will be hitting Costa Navarino in April 2019 for Greece’s first Iron Man race. After a 1.9km swim in the Ionian Sea, competitors will cycle through olive groves before embarking on a half marathon that runs alongside Voidokilia beach, a perfect semi-circle of burnished sand.
The west coast of the Peloponnese is rippled with mile upon mile of sand dunes. Kourouta may not be the quietest beach, but it will soon become the hippest. In May, Dexamenes hotel opens in an abandoned wine factory on the waterfront. K-Studio (the architects behind all the coolest new hotels in Greece, from Branco on Mykonos to Perianth in Athens), have barely interfered with the industrial aesthetic: bedrooms are fashioned from old storage tanks, their gritty concrete walls punctuated by black steel piping, with polished terrazzo bathrooms screened by textured glass and sliding windows framing the sea views.
The adjacent buildings are being transformed into a taverna, a grocery selling local produce, and a history room that will connect guests to the local culture of wine-making. The Peloponnese has more wineries and grape varieties than any other region in Greece. It’s a tradition you can taste at Eumelia, a farmstead set among 50 acres of organic olive groves and vineyards, which has quietly built a reputation for immersive foodie and creative retreats; and Zz Kyllini LA, a swish new estate in Kyllini that produces its own wine, grappa, honey, and Zea flour.
Euphoria Retreat, Greece’s first destination spa, is modelled on a Byzantine monastery, but it’s not all about spiritual awakening and slowing down. Active retreats include the ‘Spartan adventure in nature’, which features rock climbing, rafting and paragliding. There’s more off-grid action at Villa Vager Mani, from hiking and archery to kayaking and scuba diving. This family-run guesthouse has four suites in a fortified mansion built in 1858.
It’s a 20-minute drive from the village of Kardamili, where the most desirable property in the Peloponnese will be available to rent for three months of the year from 2020: the peachy stone house poised above a private cove was built by travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor in the 1960s – ‘a world of utmost magical beauty’ where he wrote, swam, and entertained poets and painters until his death aged 96.
A romantic ravine in Italy attracting travelers looking for an immersive experience
Down in the arch of Italy’s foot, Matera is built into the rock of a ravine. This strange, prehistoric-looking city is miles from anywhere, and so out of time that it has been used as a set for films needing an authentic Jerusalem: Ben-Hur, and The Passion of the Christ, for which a crucifix was made that remains on the hillside. But Matera’s sassi are what people come to see, the troglodyte cave dwellings where, even in the mid-20th century, its impoverished citizens lived in dank darkness until it was eventually abandoned. In 1993, UNESCO declared Matera a World Heritage Site. Slowly its fortunes changed, and now, as in Santorini, they’ve become hot property among travellers keen for an immersive stay. Many sassi are being rented out on Airbnb or turned into galleries, restaurants and charming cave hotels, upscale hideaways in limestone grottoes, such as the Palazzo Gattini, Corte San Pietro, Relais La Casa di Lucio (which has a new royal apartment) and Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, one of the most romantic digs in all Italy. A short drive away, in Bernalda, is Francis Ford Coppola’s splendid Palazzo Margherita.
In 2019, Matera will be thrust into the light of the 21st century as a European Capital of Culture. The year’s cultural programme kicks off on 19 January with more than 2,000 musicians and dozens of brass bands, all marching to their own tune around the city’s ancient candlelit streets.
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The wild West Coast’s riverside capital
For the first time ever you can, finally, fly direct to Australia – on Qantas’s new 17-hour London-Perth route. That suddenly opens up a new continent for consideration – and the country’s west coast is booming right now.
The Margaret River region is well established as a foodie destination, with its Gourmet Escape pulling in international chefs (Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson) every November. Now its top-notch produce and wines are fuelling a proliferation of independent new cafés, bars and restaurants in the state capital.
In 2019 the Ritz-Carlton Perth opens on redeveloped Elizabeth Quay, joining the new Westin Perth (which launched in 2018 in the heritage-listed Hibernian Hall and has 2,000 artworks, including aerial photography of WA, and a great rooftop pool) and other relative newcomers COMO The Treasury and Alex Hotel (founded by the brewers behind Little Creatures, stars of the city’s enthusiastic craft-beer scene).
There’s culture in the form of Sculpture by the Sea, an annual exhibition held in March (in 2018 Damien Hirst’s giant inflatable head in snorkel and mask emerged from the bone-white sands of Cottesloe Beach); while on Rottnest Island, so close you can swim over from Cottesloe, Pinky’s new tented eco-retreat will welcome guests from February 2019. North of the city there’s been £100-million investment in Scarborough Beach – where the fine sands and sunny disposition can never be confused with Britain’s own Scarborough beach – with a smart new pool and restaurants such as The Peach Pit.
Beyond the city – because let’s face it, you’re not flying 17 hours for a weekend break – Perth is the jumping-off point for further explorations into Australia’s wild west: Ningaloo Reef where you can swim with whale sharks; and the dramatic Kimberley, with wilderness escapes such as El Questro homestead. And until April 2019, travellers making the detour south to the whaling town of Albany will be rewarded with Bruce Munro’s captivating new ‘Field of Light: Avenue of Honour’, a reiteration of his artwork in Uluru, with 13,000 lightbulbs planted to commemorate the centenary of WW1. Stop off en route for a night at Katanning’s new Premier Mill Hotel, which brings hipster cool to the outback-of-beyond; then while you’re down there, there’s a new-for-2019 trip to see killer whales at the feeding grounds of Bremer Canyon.
THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
A sweep of visionaries are shaking up the Scottish Highlands
Travellers walk the earth to find monumental landscapes, a sense of complete isolation – yet relatively few go looking in their own back yard. Perhaps if (OK, when) Britain leaves Europe in March 2019, that will change, and we will finally head for the Highlands, our own true wilderness, for our country kicks and skiing breaks.
Certainly, Europeans can’t get enough of the place. The Danish team behind the exquisite Killiehuntly Farmhouse and Kinloch Lodge – clothing billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his interior-decorator wife, Anne – are busy revamping additional tumbledown properties with their Scandi-Scot good taste. Kyle House – a former smokery turned Danish-minimalist masterpiece, with mountain views from every seat in the house, including the bath – has just opened.
Set to follow soon are lovely lochside Hope Lodge and Lundies, a restored manse aimed at bikers and hikers on the North Coast 500, which is bringing new life to this beautiful area. The Povlsens have also just opened Kennels Cottage, in the Cairngorms, while the village of Braemar, across the peaks, is all abuzz as the Swiss gallerists behind Hauser & Wirth undertake their epic makeover of the Fife Arms, transforming it into a top-notch, 46-room hotel with Jinny Blom gardens, a spa, a restaurant and, of course, a bar – plus a knockout collection of Scottish and international art and installations.
Additionally, down in the Lowlands, Dundee’s culture credentials are multiplying. The V&A opened here in September 2018, and now a former mill is being turned into a massive multi-venue arts destination.
THE TURKISH RIVIERA
A chic-but-affordable alternative for the beach-party crowd
A couple of years ago the Turkish Riviera was all but off-limits for British travellers – so what welcome news that this glorious coast is back with a bang. British Airways has resumed its direct flights from London to Dalaman, making secret beach spots such as Datça and Bozburun super accessible. Meanwhile, the Bodrum Peninsula is all of a flutter with smart new developments that are taking the scene up a notch. Around the corner from the superyacht-filled Yalikavak Marina is Ian Schrager’s all-white Bodrum Edition, which launched in summer 2018 with a restaurant by El Bulli’s Diego Muñoz, a full-on disco (including a giant pink glitter ball), and a non-stop deep-house soundtrack that resonates from the pool to beach club. More ambitious still is Kaplankaya, an entire new coastal town north-west of Bodrum. Already launched is a Six Senses hotel and destination spa, five beaches and various restaurants, and there are several more hotels in the offing plus a Foster & Partners-designed marina. Old favourites reopened this spring, too: Nicolas Sarkozy was among those holing up at peaceful Amanruya in summer; Mandarin Oriental Bodrum made a splash with new nightclub Kai; while round the headland Macakizi has a new waterfront restaurant and club and is working on an exciting place to stay nearby called Macakizi Lofts.
With the value of the Turkish lira having fallen significantly, the Turquoise Coast is currently a well-priced, chic alternative for Europeans who want to swim, sail, eat and party.
ST BARTH’S, CARIBBEAN
The Caribbean comeback
In 2017 the most powerful storm ever to sweep the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma, struck the Caribbean – swiftly followed by the equally devastating Hurricane Maria. Several entire islands were wiped out.
St Barth’s was one of the worst hit. One year on, and the breezy-breathe-easy island is definitely, defiantly open for business again. Renovation efforts have been phenomenal as islanders have beavered away to rebuild lives, homes and infrastructure, as well as the hotels and beach bars we cross oceans for – so going to the Caribbean in 2019 is a philanthropic act, too.
Hôtel Le Toiny, which was relaunched only three years ago by new English owners Charlie and Mandie Vere Nicoll, has been revamped again. It reopened in October with eight new suites added (all with pools and ocean-view terraces), and its beach club has been so well re-landscaped that it’s hard to believe it was destroyed; just in time for the Saint Barth Gourmet Festival, which took place in early November.
At the other end of the island, Villa Marie Saint-Barth (sister hotel to the St Tropez original) has been restored to its former French-tropical, palm-print glory with two brand-new villas.
Meanwhile, the legendary Eden Rock St Barths is set to reopen for next Christmas, in November 2019, after a complete face-lift. It’s owned by the Matthews, Pippa Middleton’s in-laws (although Pippa might have to skip Christmas on the beach this year).
Across the water, in the British Virgin Islands, Richard Branson has also reopened his Great House on Necker Island in October and will be gradually adding newly rebuilt villas and rooms throughout 2019.
A city flexing its artistic muscles in honour of its most famous resident
Vincent Van Gogh’s dream is finally coming true. It was his vision for Arles to become a kind of utopian refuge for a collective of artists – and now, with a major new arts venue being created, including a centrepiece by Frank Gehry, this Provençal city in the Camargue is set to become an important art destination for Europe.
He was hugely prolific during his year in the city’s ‘Yellow House’, where he lived, painted and cut off his ear after a row with his housemate, Paul Gauguin. Philanthropist Luc Hoffmann launched the Foundation Vincent Van Gogh here in 2014; and now Luc’s billionaire daughter Maja Hoffmann is transforming a disused railway site into a vast arts campus called the Parc des Ateliers with the Luma Arles foundation and Gehry’s gleaming tower at its centre, and studios and exhibition spaces in the old engine sheds. An exciting programme is already underway with shows and site-specific installations in its finished spaces. Catch ‘Gilbert & George: The Great Exhibition’ there until 6 January 2019; then May 2019 will host a major arts and ideas forum.
And there’s more. The international photography festival Les Rencontres de la Photographie expands year on year; while the Roman amphitheatre (Arles was a provincial capital of Rome) will host progressive cultural events; and the beautiful new art hotel Le Collatéral, a Design Hotel set in a medieval church, showcases international contemporary art in its public spaces and bedrooms, including one inspired by van Gogh’s blue and yellow ‘Bedroom in Arles’.
VALLE DE GUADALUPE
New flavours for Mexico’s wine country
This boulder-strewn bronze sweep of Baja California has been luring wine-lovers and weekending West Coasters for some time (it’s just a 90-minute drive from the American border). Now it’s earning itself the lofty billing of Mexico’s Napa Valley, for its architect-designed tasting rooms and complex bottles – many of them innovative organic, biodynamic and minimum-intervention.
The foodie landscape has been maturing as well, drawing on farm-to-table ingredients and seafood from the nearby Pacific. One of the area’s best-loved chefs is Javier Plascencia, who set up in the Valle in 2012, when it first turned heads as an emerging wine region. His Finca Altozano now encompasses the original outdoor grill restaurant, an Airstream tortas truck, an ice-cream shop and a pop-up space under a 100-year-old oak tree. Close by, Finca La Divina is his beautiful four-bedroom B&B. Among the other foodie trailblazers are Corazón de Tierra and Laja, both of which notch up on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list – René Redzepi raves about the latter’s off-menu vegetable tostada.
And at Deckman’s En El Mogor, American chef Drew Deckman cooks anything from ribeye to octopus among the pines. Other outdoor hits include Baja Med restaurant Malva and TrasLomita, but the latest talked-about spot is Fauna, recently opened at slick winery-hotel Bruma. Its chef, locally raised David Castro Hussong, a graduate of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Eleven Madison Park in New York, crafts elevated tasting menus that play with Mexican classics served at relaxed communal tables.
Fresh places to stay are ramping up the options in the valley too. In August, Hotel Partana’s striking steel, wood and glass rooms were revealed, while Mexico design-hotel hit-makers Grupo Habita are working on glampsite Cuatro Cuatros to add a hotel, cabins, spa and restaurant, all set to open next summer. With the annual Valle Food & Wine Festival launched by Plascencia and LA-based chef Nancy Silverton, and following in the tradition of Napa and Sonoma, the area is well on its way to having a restaurant scene as world class as its vineyards.
Hip hotel openings lead a revival parade
In New Orleans, a city of sensory overload, you can pick up wafts of chicory, spilled rum, warm beignets and stale cigarettes in the same breath. But in the lobby of the new Hotel Peter & Paul in Marigny, it’s more like… gardenias. There’s a feeling of lightness here, from the extra-high ceilings that give the rooms a bright glow to the cheery canary-yellow check-in desk.
This is one of the most anticipated hotel launches in a city that really needed a hotel resurgence. Fusty places with antique-cluttered rooms were the standard here. Properties either nailed the bar and courtyard, or had great rooms. Finding both seemed impossible. Until now. Peter & Paul is actually a bundle of buildings: a 19th-century Catholic church, schoolhouse, convent and rectory reimagined by ASH NYC, with gingham curtains woven in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, near the French Quarter, The Eliza Jane has taken over the old Times-Picayune printing press. Its curated vintage aesthetic still feels fresh and alive, with deep sofas in jewel-toned purples and reds, a long bar built for slinging sazerac, a terrace that works for both coffee meetings and happy hour and the already popular restaurant Couvant.
In April 2019, the Atelier Ace team opens Maison de la Luz in the Warehouse District. It is meant to be that quiet place you retreat to at the end of a long night of debauchery, but there will be a craft cocktail bar from Quixotic Projects. At Peter & Paul, however, the new Elysian Bar is from the team behind local haunt Bacchanal, which hosts the best backyard party in the Bywater. This is New Orleans after all.