It’s rare to find a single reliable source of great places to stay in the UK – with options to suit all pockets, from a stylish budget weekend to a celebratory splurge. i-escape has the pick of cheap and chic, trendy boutique and downright luxurious boltholes in cities, countryside and on the coast.
The complete Caribbean experience on one island. As well as beaches, including one of the best in the Caribbean (Grande Anse), Grenada boasts a towering, rainforested interior and a broad mix of hotels, including the genteel, elegant Calabash where Gary Rhodes’ restaurant will dispel any notions about Caribbean food not being in the premier league.
This low-lying, warm-weather Atlantic island is a well-groomed and bloomed world of pastel houses, poster-pretty beaches, umpteen golf courses and, with red pillar boxes and 4 o’clock teas, an unmistakable stamp of Britishness. Safe, dependable, jacket-and-tie respectable Bermuda makes a perfect spring or autumn getaway.
It’s one of the most thrilling travel experiences on Earth: hike high into the forests of Rwanda and Uganda for an intimate encounter with mountain gorillas. Combine the trip into the Volcanoes National Park with a visit to Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to chimps and Colobus Monkeys, then kick back on Tanzania’s beaches.
It’s arguably the most gorgeous island in the Mediterranean, with perfect beaches and an interior dotted with medieval hilltowns, forests and the famous scented maquis. Yet compared to islands such as Mallorca, Corfu and Ibiza, it is curiously overlooked by British visitors. Corsica, in our book, is the Med to perfection, with a thick layer of French polish.
Nowhere in Africa can match Kenya for spectacular scenery and the sheer volume and diversity of its wildlife. The Masai Mara should be on everyone’s list of must-sees, not only during the annual summer migration of millions of wildebeest, but throughout the year to view lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and hundreds of species of birds.
Jordan is a safe, friendly and cultured country blessed with a fabulous array of natural and manmade treasures including the Dead Sea, the vast deserts of Wadi Rum – made famous by Lawrence of Arabia – and the ancient rock-carved city of Petra. Take a private journey, group tour or organised trek.
Verbier is one of Europe’s most glamorous ski resorts, and the place to stay is Sir Richard Branson’s Lodge – a stunning catered chalet with indoor pool, snooker room, gym, Jacuzzis and children’s bunk room. Rent it in winter with friends, or enjoy the beauty of the Alps in summer when you don’t need to hire the whole property.
As well as those familiar Greek island assets of blue seas, delicious swimming, jaunts by boat and long, lazy lunches in waterfront tavernas, Paxos is an island of silvery-leafed olive groves, a legacy of the 14th century Venetian occupation. With no airport – and not even a single traffic light – it’s a perfect place to escape the crowds.
It’s amazing to think that only 30 years ago Cambodia was torn apart by civil war and genocide. Today it’s one of Asia’s most exciting destinations, from the jungle-clad temple complex of Angkor to the vibrant capital, Phnom Penh. Throw in sensational food, great hotels and world-class beaches for an unmissable travel experience.
Renting a boat is one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy the British countryside. Potter along at 5mph amidst the reeds and marshes of the Norfolk Broads, or explore a network of canals by narrow boat. Wherever you go – for a weekend break or a summer holiday – you are never far from a waterside pub.
Draw up a list of all the wonderful reasons for going to Italy – Blue Flag beaches, medieval hill towns, historic palaces, nights at the opera and galleries full of Renaissance masterpieces – and you’ll find them in abundance in Le Marche, the barely-known back garden of Italy, sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic.
Norway is much more of a year-round destination than you might realise. Besides the iconic, deeply-incised coastal scenery, there’s an abundance of natural beauty from forests to mountains, a rich seam of Viking history, interesting towns and fishing communities, lots of outdoor activities, and, depending on the season, the midnight sun or spectacular Northern Lights.
The beauty of Sri Lanka lies in the easy proximity of cultural treasures and world-class beaches. Take a tour of magnificent temples and national parks, stay in boutique hotels then relax on the beach. You’ll find a rich seam of experiences with friendly people, excellent food – and nonstop flights from the UK.
Summer in Sweden, with its long hours of daylight, is a magical time. The Swedes themselves blossom like meadow flowers, taking time off to enjoy gorgeous beaches, sail away to islands, forage for berries and escape to log cabins in the woods or besides tranquil lakes. Be warned, this fairy tale atmosphere is very infectious. You’ll love it.
Away from the big brash resorts, Turkey’s Lycian Coast is a mesmerising mix of turquoise seas, pine-clad hills and cosy harbours lined with cafes. And although it remains good value, the region has over the past few years acquired some outstanding small stylish hotels and luxury villas.
Affordable family holidays need not mean having to sleep under canvas in a field bare of everything but grass. Many continental sites and ‘parcs’ not only provide a choice of mobile homes, lodges and apartments but have a broad range of on-site activities to keep all ages fully occupied and entertained throughout their stay.
From the pyramids at Giza to the Valley of the Kings, from the fascinating whirl of Cairo to the warm waters of the Red Sea, Egypt is one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations, and superb value. Don’t expect to see it all in one visit. It’s usually better to tick off a few cultural treasures then spend a few days lazing on a beach.
It’s known as the three-star island with the five-star hotels, but that’s not saying enough for the white sandy beaches or the forested highlands in the southwest. And maybe it’s not saying enough for the hotels either, many of which are six-star retreats staffed by some of the nicest people on the planet.
Cuba is the ideal combination of city and beach, culture and indolence. Spend a few days strolling the streets of Old Havana, visiting cigar factories, drinking mojitos and dancing in salsa bars. Explore the colonial city of Trinidad then kick back on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches.
Even if you can only manage a two week holiday, Australia is still well worth considering. You can plan a trip that blends beaches with the outback, rainforests with Aboriginal culture, and vineyards with cosmopolitan cities without having to spend half your time travelling.
If you love the big outdoors, Chile is the ultimate destination. Climb volcanoes in the Atacama Desert, go hiking in the Lake District, discover Easter Island and experience the majestic fjords and glaciers of Patagonia. With a great choice of stylish hotels, world-class food and wine, Chile is red hot right now.
Borneo boasts sandy beaches, luscious scenery and luxury hotels, but what distinguishes this huge island from its Asian neighbours is the abundant wildlife. Most famous are the orangutans, easily inspected in Sabah’s Sepilok sanctuary, along with Probiscus monkeys, turtles and exotic birds. For adventure, climb Mount Kinabalu or stay in a village longhouse.
Tobago is the Caribbean of your imagination. Pristine beaches, children playing cricket, a friendly bar serving cold beer and barbecued shrimp, fishing boats bobbing in the sea. Untroubled by mass tourism, this picturesque island has some excellent hotels and direct flights from the UK.