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Warm climes become increasingly appealing as the thermostat drops and layering is no longer an optional sartorial choice. Still, the allure of a snow-capped scene in the deep mid winter remains somehow entirely removed from the grimness of a damp and grey-hued November day in London. With postcard-worthy towns, ski slopes and boutique hotels, these winter destinations are sure to charm.
Once home to a drove of Icelandic sheep, this turf-topped former farmhouse conceals cosy suites with views of the Troll Peninsula. Farm-to-table fare is included in your room price in addition to two complimentary activities a day, making for an economical but no less luxe stay. Fuel up for a day of adventuring on a lavish breakfast of Icelandic pancakes and huevos rancheros, before spending the afternoon trekking or whale watching. Go for an evening float in the geothermal open-air pool and if you’re lucky, you may be treated to the eerie green and purple of the Northern Lights.
Swish Swiss chalet; say that six times fast. Nestled in picturesque Gstaad, skiing is the order of the day here. Popular among the fashion set, survey the snow-capped surrounds and dress accordingly – think snow boots, a Fair Isle jumper and a Koibird ski jacket. Back at base, rooms come with views of the surrounding Alps. A speciality hot-chocolate menu rests fireside to warm your cockles (and ruddy appendages after a day on the slopes). Enjoy après-ski soaks under a canopy of stars in your outdoor hot tub and follow with a raclette and fondue evening in charming log-cabin restaurant, Le Petit Chalet. Keep an eye out for the mobile whisky tray too.
Traditional chalet style with a modern overhaul, Alpaga’s luxurious offerings make a great case for a winter getaway. Book in to one of five three-storey chalets (which sleep up to 12) if you’re travelling with a group and when in need of some alone time, make tracks for the Spa La Colline – a chic pampering den outfitted with a hammam, gym and a pool. When you’ve turned positively prune-like, retreat to the Michelin-star bearing La Table de l’Alpaga and work your way through their bistronomic menu. Dishes including homemade lobster ravioli with black truffles compete with the restaurant scene in town.
Deep in the Charente countryside, this honey-stone chateau is a storybook landscape of waterways and woodlands. Boasting elegant turrets, Limousin cows and interconnected lakes, Domaine des Etangs’ idyllic setting is utterly transfixing. If you tire of the views and natural beauty, there’s plenty to entice inside too. Once the holiday home of Didier Primat, one of France’s richest men, his daughter Garance has transformed the house in which she spent her childhood into a lavish retreat. “A lieu de vie” (a place for living), choose your favourite corner of the castle, or withdraw to the chateau’s library and contemporary-art space where you’ll find works by the likes of Yves Klein and Sheila Hicks. A very modern fairy-tale.
Stylish lodge. Austrian Alps. Endless views. Leave your car keys at reception, you won’t be leaving Boutique Hotel Wachtelhof for the remainder of your stay. As mountain retreats go, this one located between Kitzbühl and Salzburg is high up on our list. Powder-covered slopes call out to snowboarders and ski-safari goers while the spa offers some welcome respite and reward. Choose from one of three different saunas – Finnish, herbal or infrared – and zen out until supper time.
While there’s more to Sierra Nevada than snow, the lure of the slopes at this boutique lodge are undeniable. 45 pistes and six off-piste ski runs surround El Lodge and Spa, while Parador 1 chairlift is just 50m from the front door. Make use of the ski-in ski-out access before enjoying an après-ski snack on the sun deck. Later, warm up in the hotel’s kitsch surrounds, kitted out with vintage ski posters, antler chandeliers and animal prints by designer Andrew Martin. For change of scene (and pace) swap the slopes for the sun and head to Granada; a 30-minute drive will transport you to the majestic Alhambra and it’s only a matter of time before a hole-in-the-wall flamenco bar beckons.
Perfect for a snowy sojourn, Hotel Miramonti is the alpine hideaway you dream up on a bleak January day. Overlooking the spa town of Merano, you’ll be perfectly placed to discover the relaxing thermal baths, spyable through your floor-to-ceiling windows. With the Dolomites on your doorstep, days at this South Tyrolean retreat can be spent hiking across peaks, riding a Haflinger horse or swimming in mountain lakes. For those hoping to venture a little further, hire the hotel’s classic Alfa Romeo and zip off into the countryside.
A sweep of sandstone and redwood at the foot of the Teton range, Amangani is an effortlessly dramatic Rocky Mountain hideaway. In winter, it’s the ideal base for skiing the snow-packed slopes of Jackson Hole. Operating a ski lodge 20 minutes away in Teton Village, guests can borrow kit, take lessons and test their skills on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s 1,000 hectares of ski and snowboard terrain. Grab the free shuttle service back to base and relax in surrounds synonymous with Aman. Expect all the usual trimmings – ochre palette, luxe-cool vibes and clean lines galore.
In a valley in northern Georgia, Rooms Hotel Kazbegi’s surroundings are so picturesque you’d almost think they’d been photoshopped, largely thanks to the mighty Caucasus Mountains on the doorstep. Reinventing the alpine lodge, Rooms Hotels Kazbegi – designed by young Tbilisi-based duo Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia – is all dark wood, industrial furniture and oversized glass windows. Simultaneously channelling urban chic with the serenity of a secluded (and super-luxe) Swiss spa, the overall effect is nonchalantly cool. In the bar, a fireplace and tailored cigar menu beckon. For warm-blooded, adventurous types, a range of outdoor activities from quad-bike tours to heliskiing are available.
Contemporary Danish design meets Scottish farmhouse here. Killiehuntly’s style mixes Bamse chairs with curly sheepskin rugs, while traditional sash windows are offset by white linen drapes. The 17th-century abode consists of four rooms, a cottage, a bothy and a cosy hayloft. Design- and nature-lovers will relish in the solitude of this place in the upper reaches of a wild and barren landscape. A great escape solo or with a group – the kitchen table is long enough for a dinner party for 10, while small corners provide snug solitude.
Reminiscent of a chateau, Adare Manor is at its best come winter. Arriving into The Great Hall Reception with its vaulted ceiling, carved wood-panelled walls and roaring fires framed by black-marble fireplaces is evidence enough of this. Following check-in, enjoy winter scenes from your bedroom window or embark on a woodland walk, meandering along the banks of the River Maigue. Take afternoon tea from 12.30pm in the Gallery, the second-longest room in Ireland – after Trinity College Long Room – and be sure to order Adare’s own blend (the 1832) to accompany your jam-laden currant scones. Make an early dinner reservation at The Oak Room and bide your time until supper in the spa, the well-stocked library or subterranean whiskey bar.
This Georgian family home, plotted on a 400-acre estate just an hour’s drive from London (urbanites we hear your delight) is one of those very rare, utterly faultless places. Seasonal dining is the order of the day at Heckfield Place; winter promises moreish fare. Kitchens are led by culinary director Skye Gyngell (of Spring and Petersham Nurseries acclaim), with each of the hotel’s dining spaces offering distinctive atmospheres. Take breakfast at Marle, where freshly brewed coffee and bottomless bread baskets accompanied by the morning papers are prerequisite. Come evening, enjoy a set dinner menu at Hearth, toast to a long weekend under the disco ball in the residents’ bar before crawling back to your bedroom, designed by Ben Thompson. There’s endless corners to explore, so make sure to carve out some time to get cosy with a book (and a generous slice of cake, freshly baked each day) at this heavenly winter hideaway.
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