Let’s face it, this is the time to go big. After so many missed travel moments, there’s pent-up demand for the very best holidays around the world. We’re talking five-star hotels that ooze style and sophistication, indulgent upgrades and exclusive experiences, topped off with VIP service and fabulous fine dining. Get ready to go all-out for your next special occasion with these ultra-luxe holidays.
1. Push the boat out in Botswana
Botswana is Africa’s most exclusive and expensive safari destination – you’re paying for the luxury of space and silence. The incredible Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is a 12-room water-focused retreat set on a private island in the heart of the Okavango Delta. You’ll stay in a tented suite with a private plunge pool and get to experience the top-notch service that Belmond is famous for. We’ve also included this lodge in our Unsurpassed Botswana with Belmond itinerary, which is the finest luxury fly-in safari adventure.
2. Stay at a palace with royalty in India
The word ‘hotel’ doesn’t do Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace justice. It’s so unbelievably grand that the main lounge could house a cathedral, there’s a museum and, to top it off, Jodhpur’s royal family live here. If one palace just doesn’t cut it, everywhere you stay on our Grand Palaces of India itinerary is a unique and historic palace hotel.
3. Honeymoon with A-listers in Saint Lucia
Jade Mountain is one of the world’s swankiest and most romantic eco-retreats. This is where celebs come to switch off. Rooms are off the chart, with four-poster beds, infinity pools overlooking the Pitons and no fourth wall so you can feel the warm breeze. This hand-built masterpiece gets bonus points from us for its efforts in sustainability. Don’t fancy a road transfer from the airport? Then arrive by helicopter – the views over the Pitons are incredible.
4. Take the ultimate train ride to Italy
There’s something special about travelling by train – even more so when it’s the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Enjoy the authentic period carriages, world-class service and sumptuous food on board before discovering one of Italy’s most captivating cities: beautiful Venice. Here, soak up the old-world glamour at Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice, which is just a five-minute boat ride from St Mark’s Square and has an Olympic-size pool.
5. Splash out on a pool residence in the Maldives
We love the curved overwater infinity pools at super-swish Milaidhoo Island Maldives, where huge plush daybeds and deep-soaking tubs for ocean-gazing come as standard. For ultimate bragging rights, bag the palatial two-bedroom Ocean Residence, which raises the bar in water villas. It’s set at the very end of the overwater jetty and comes complete with gym loft room and its own chef and butler.
6. Drink in the views at a clifftop retreat in Spain
Jaw-dropping views greet you at every turn at this exquisite resort, which is dramatically perched on the edge of a cliff. Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa is spread across various levels and each one showcases far-reaching views over the open sea, picture-perfect Port Soller and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sierra de Tramuntana Mountains.
7. Find wild luxury in Kenya
The 12 tents at Mara Bushtops are more like five-star hotel rooms under canvas. All have round-the-clock butler service and a huge deck where you can spot zebra and giraffe from your private hot tub. The camp even has an award-winning spa. This is a dream honeymoon choice, but it’s also an incredible family experience (for the world’s luckiest children)!
8. Escape to a valley-view hideaway in Bali
There are only 40 suites and villas at this stunning hilltop hideaway near artsy Ubud. Viceroy Bali has featured in magazine shoots and TV adverts around the world, and a stay here offers complete tranquillity. Take a dip in the infinity pool that appears to float mid-air and gaze at the knock-out valley views.
9. Get VIP treatment(s) in Cyprus
The secret to Anassa’s success is its out-of-the-way setting, traditional Cypriot style and emphasis on wellbeing – the award-winning spa is the perfect place for me-time. You’ll be hard pushed to find a better spot for a low-key yet luxurious honeymoon or spa break that’s just a few hours from home.
10. Indulge at an iconic island paradise in Mauritius
Shangri-La Le Touessrok Mauritius is known for its stand-out Shangri-La quality and service. One private island paradise isn’t enough here. Alongside beautiful Ile Aux Cerfs – with its Bernhard Langer-designed 18-hole championship golf course – there’s tiny Ilot Mangenie, which is exclusively for resort guests to swim, snorkel and sunbathe.
Fly with Qatar
Some of the holidays mentioned above can be enhanced with a business class upgrade with Qatar Airways. In the QSuites, all seats convert into fully-flat beds. The ingenious quad layout means that if you’re a family of four, you can create a suite all to yourself, while couples can bag a double bed.