As a freelance adventure & luxury travel writer, I spend a lot of my time on the road, and this year has been no exception. From the mountains of Canada, to the beaches of St. Barts, 2017 has been a year of extensive wandering. Although many destinations spring to mind, I have whittled them down to just three, and each one, for me, offered endless charm and exclusivity from the outset.
Out in the mountains:
La Ferme du Bois
Where: Chamonix, France
Suits: Ski enthusiasts looking for the very best in chalet lifestyle
At over 400 years old, La Ferme du Bois is one of the oldest buildings in Chamonix. Evidence of its age is apparent from the outset, with uneven, exposed oak beams, enormous stone fireplaces, and the aged smell of alpine wood everywhere you go. Yet it also offers the latest in modern technology too, with a cinema on a hidden mezzanine, and an outdoor hot tub with undisturbed views of the mountains around.
Chamonix is widely considered the adventure ski capital of Europe. With seven resorts in the immediate vicinity, skiing during the day is an absolute must. At night, lie in the hot tub and gaze at the might of the Aguilles du Dru under starlight; it’s otherworldly. With a full-time host looking after you, all you have to do is relax, and with space for up to 12 people, it is the ideal escape with family and friends. If I could, I would spend every winter here.
Under the midday sun:
Hotel Hassler Roma
Where: Rome, Italy
Suits: Suave city dwellers who crave old-world charm and opulence
Few things touch on the romanticism of Rome, and sun can be found here year-round. Even in February, the sun splays off the rooftops, crisping your skin, and there’s hardly a tourist in sight. Indeed, Rome also offers some of the very best hospitality in the world too.
One such destination is the Hotel Hassler Roma, an opulent 5-star hotel in the centre of the city. It overlooks the Spanish Steps, and its interior harks back to the 1920s with pure, unadulterated old-world charm. If you can, pick one of the very few rooms with a balcony overlooking the Spanish Steps themselves; it is one of the most magical places to stay.
Off the beaten track:
Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert Resort
Where: Dubai, UAE
Suits: Anyone looking to completely escape normality in refined luxury
For those wanting to try something a little more unique, the Al Wadi Desert Resort in the middle of the UAE desert is certainly up there. Set within the Wadi Khadeja nature reserve, little over an hour from Dubai, this resort takes luxury and quietness to another level. No rooms here, only villas, and each comes with its own private pool.
Although you’re entirely secluded from the rest of the world, there’s plenty to do. From hawking and safaris, to horse riding and off-roading, there’s something for everyone. Personally, I’d turn everything off, open a book, and completely relax. Nothing quite compares to swimming in a private pool in the middle of the night under moonlight to the sound of nothing at all. It is tranquillity at its best.
Hugh Francis Anderson is a freelance writer specialising in adventure, motoring and luxury lifestyle. Visit his website, hughfrancisanderson.com, for more information.