A world of travel inspiration for an end-of-year escape

Perhaps you want to leave colder climes for some winter sun or experience a classic Christmas, straight out of a Hollywood movie. Maybe you simply want to welcome in the new year by doing something completely different. We take a look at some of best places for a luxury break in December, from sunny cities to winter wonderlands.  

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

Iceland is the most epic setting for a wild winter escape that you could imagine. Hike across glaciers and see geysers erupt through the snow. Watch the northern lights send shimmering green and purple ribbons across the sky. Or just cosy up in the Sandhotel’s bakery, to savour a freshly-baked cinnamon bun or two.

New Zealand in December is pleasantly mild, making it an ideal time to explore its cinematic scenery. Make for Queenstown to enjoy sweeping lake and mountain views – and to take your pick of adrenalin-fuelled outdoor activities. Settle into coastal Christchurch to explore its cosmopolitan centre, before heading out whale and dolphin watching. Or hike, bike, sail (or sip) your way around the drowned river valleys, secluded beaches and wineries of Marlborough Sound.

Stay at: Eichtard’s Private Hotel in Queenstown, for lakeside luxury in New Zealand’s adventure sports capital.

WONDERFUL WINTER FESTIVALS

Vienna conjures up the magic of an old-world Christmas, with plenty of traditional food and drink to savour. Stroll around a Christmas market, mug of gluhwein in hand. There are plenty to choose from, but one of the most scenic has to be Belvedere – where stalls pop up right in front of the palace. Regular carol concerts take place at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or you could get dressed up for a night at the State Opera House.

Stay at: Altstadt Vienna, a 19th century townhouse with an impressive modern art collection.

New York City features in countless Christmas films – and for many people, captures the festive mood like nowhere else. As well as December must-dos such as ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, there are plenty of more off-beat activities to enjoy. Catch a Rangers ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Watch a holiday music concert in the Guggenheim’s spiralling atrium. Or, if you’re celebrating Hanukkah, head to Latke Festival in Brooklyn to feast on gourmet interpretations of the humble potato pancake.

Stay at: HGU New York, an old-world gem with modern flair in New York City’s trend-setting NoMad district. 

SUNNY CITY BREAKS

Hong Kong is pleasantly mild and mostly dry into early December, setting the scene for city strolls, hilltop hikes and island hopping. Join the cheering crowds at Happy Valley racecourse, or browse the luxury shops of Causeway Bay. Then follow your senses to street food stalls serving up steaming noodle bowls, or to the fine dining restaurants that are hotspots for gastronomic invention in this culinary capital.

Stay at: Lanson Place Hotel, which brings a touch of Belle Époque glamour to Causeway Bay.

Dubai comes alive in December, with cooler temperatures bringing festivals and sporting events to the city’s dazzling streets. If you’re here at the end of the month, follow spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations with diving into the designer sales at the Dubai Shopping Festival.

The winter months are also the best time for beach dwelling – something you won’t be able to resist if you’re staying at Nikki Beach Dubai, with its sleek white cabanas facing out across the Arabian Gulf.

LET’S GO TO THE BEACH

Bequia is that rare kind of Caribbean island that few people have heard of. And once you’ve seen it for yourself, you may want to keep it that way. Sleepy beaches bordered by cedar trees. A tiny island capital of colourful wooden buildings, sheltered by green hills. Natural harbours dotted with gently-bobbing yachts. This is somewhere to master the art of doing nothing.

Stay at: The Liming Bequia, a luxury resort made up of thirteen private villas, with sweeping views.

Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula offers the best of both worlds: a blissful beach to laze on, and fascinating cultural sites to explore. With one of our 4 boutique hotels as your base, walk along white sands to discover the Mayan ruins crowning the clifftops. Or venture into the jungle-clad interior to dive in sacred cenote caves, and drift along Mayan-made waterways in the Sian Ka’an reserve, which meander through mangroves and rainforest.