The SLH INVITED Members’ travel wishlist for 2022
After another year of up and down travel, many of us have still missed out on the feeling of true holiday freedom. Which means the excitement for and expectations on 2022 are bigger than ever before – whether it’s experiencing brand new bucket list destinations, or returning to old favourites after what has felt like a lifetime away. From much-loved European escapes to tropical island retreats, here is the SLH INVITED Members’ list of the most popular places to visit this year.
City break heavyweights, from Venice and Milan, to Rome and Florence. The vineyards, the lakes, the mountains, the islands, the Mediterranean. Every inch of Italy is postcard-worthy, all inspired by millennia of romance, intrigue and cultured creativity. Wander through Sicilian olive groves, explore the rolling hills of Tuscany on horseback, sit beneath lemon trees and pastel-coloured parasols on the Amalfi Coast with an Aperol Spritz in hand, and discover Roman ruins in the ancient capital. Not to mention the food, and don’t get us started on the wine…get a taste of Southern Italy with our Amalfi Coast itinerary here or browse our 70+ Italian hotels here so you can put your feet up in Puglia at La Peschiera (pictured above).
Milaidhoo Maldives in UNESCO protected Baa Atoll.
It’s unsurprising that the impossibly blue waters and pristine white beaches of the Maldives spoke to our Vitamin D deprived community. These Indian Ocean islands have been social distancing long before the arrival of COVID-19, where privacy comes in the form of over-water villas and exclusive stretches of palm-lined sand. And with four Maldivian resorts to choose from, our private island collection is made for post-COVID castaways.
As the host country of the postponed 2020 Olympics, Japan saw its fair share of spotlight last year – prompting many of us to put it on our bucket lists. With four distinct seasons, in full cherry blossom bloom during the spring and beneath a generous winter sprinkling of snow, this diverse island looks equally beautiful at any time of the year. An adventure of bustling cities, thermal springs, tranquil temples, powder skiing, origami, and culinary delights (chopsticks compulsory) awaits – start planning your Japanese itinerary here.
An exclusive, hilltop One Bedroom Villa at Panoptis Escape on the serene southern coast of Mykonos.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with Greece and its welcoming locals, who are steeped in the art of hospitality. An ancient land with many modern charms, its whitewashed walls, cerulean blue cupolas framed by fuchsia flowers, olive-scented groves, and architectural treasures from Classical antiquity, both the mainland and its countless islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas have long captivated travellers. The windmills of Mykonos, the colourful clifftop villages of Santorini, the towering columns of Athens’ Acropolis – or the lesser explored lunar-landscapes of Milos…need we say more? Island hop your way around Greece with our Cycladic itinerary here.
From idyllic jungles with waterfalls, rock pools and frangipane-scented valleys, to island hopping on long-tail boats and lively night markets laden with exotic goods, Thailand is a true taste of Asia and all its charms. Drawing wellness gurus, yoga and scuba enthusiasts, and honeymooners, its laid-back beach resorts give way to vibrant cities brimming with delicious street food and historic temples. The Gulf of Thailand beckons the barefoot crowd, where snorkelling amongst shoals of multi-coloured fish, sipping fresh coconut water in a swinging hammock, and snacking on banana pancakes beneath the stars are just a handful of ways to experience island life. Follow the foodie trail with our culinary guide to Thailand here.
As one of Europe’s largest countries, France offers an endless array of experiences. You’ll find vibrant city breaks and quaint country retreats, rustic vineyards and exclusive beach resorts, cultural treasures and culinary artworks. Like a bottle of the finest Bordeaux, it is a destination with depth, complexity and no shortage of style. Linger over delicate macaroons in the artisan bakeries of Ile de Saint Louis in Paris, cycle through fields of fragrant lavender in Provence, soak up the sun from a striped lounger on the Côte d’Azur, and swish down some of the most stylish ski resorts in the Alps – the experiences are endless, and equally elegant. Journey along the French Riviera with our coastal road trip itinerary here.
Each room at Quinta Da Comporta – Wellness Boutique Resort has a luxurious beach hut feel, in harmony with its rustic, surf-shack surroundings.
Like the drink that bears its name, Portugal is best savoured slowly. In the north you’ll find remote country retreats, the vineyard-dotted slopes of the Douro Valley and the UNESCO world-heritage site of Oporto. As you head south, there are historic cities such as Coimbra and Lisbon to discover, as well as lesser-known gems hidden in the countryside. Finally, you reach the sun-strewn Algarve with its African influences, world-class golf and spas. Take your pick from colour-popping city breaks, toes-in-the-sand trips, and vast and verdant countryside dappled with vineyards and rustic farmhouses.
An exuberant country full of colour, Mexico is a treat for all the senses. You could scale Mayan pyramids or kick back on bohemian beaches, immerse yourself in vibrant cities or find solitude in exclusive country retreats – most of all, relax and revel in the laid back pace of life. This huge country is home to some of the world’s most beautiful coastline, most renowned historic sights, and most sophisticated fine dining. And, wherever you go, you’ll find a friendly welcome – not to mention a shot of tequila or two. Swap urban jungle for coastal rainforest in our Mexican itinerary here.
Slip into a soundtrack of crashing waves and languid house beats from your cabana at Gecko Hotel and Beach Club, soak up Ibizan Old Town views from the rooftop of La Torre del Canónigo, or sit down to toes-in-the-sand dining at Chambao, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay’s relaxed chiringuito beach restaurant.
There’s more to Spain than just sun, azure seas, and ice-cold sangria – browse Barcelona‘s colourful architectural masterpieces, or bustling flea markets in Madrid, hop between tapas bars in Seville before putting your feet up and sipping vino tinto beneath a shady orange tree. Slip into Balearic Island bliss on Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca, and their wildly beautiful little sister, Formentera where whitewashed fishing villages meet bleached blonde sands. Continue dreaming of Spain with our itinerary here.
Widely recognised as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, not to mention the birthplace of rum, Barbados sways to a relaxed rhythm of cocktail sipping and hammock swinging. Join the locals for a beachfront BBQ of freshly-caught fish, hunt for trinkets in colour-popping boutiques in Bridgetown, and swim with rainbow-coloured fish and sea turtles in the pristine waters surrounding St. James. Or simply soak up the sunshine from one of the island’s glorious beaches, which enjoy near perfect weather all year round.
Traditional massages on the beach, treks through craggy mountains, visits to ancient temples – Bali is a big-hearted island. The locals go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome, with everything from mouth-watering cuisine to unadulterated spa resort luxury on offer. As the home of yoga, soul soothing centres are in abundance if you’re really looking to stretch yourself. However you spend your time, the surf, lush vegetation and captivating architecture act as the perfect background to a never-to-be-forgotten stay. For more beach dwelling and island hopping inspiration, find our Balinese itinerary here.
12. New Zealand
Way off the beaten track, in a dinky cove tucked away in the Marlborough Sounds, you’ll find Bay of Many Coves – where dolphins are often spotted dipping and diving around the resort.
With its panoramic scenery and dramatic landscapes, it’s no wonder that New Zealand has become the dream destination of many a film director. From the southerly vineyards and world-renowned ski slopes surrounding Queenstown, to the Maori greeting houses of Christchurch, the gateway to both the South Island and Antarctica, this remote corner of the world guarantees the greatest of outdoor adventures.
A surfers paradise set within a National Park, Smiths Beach Resort provides the ultimate Australian beachside experience.
The lifestyle in Australia is well and truly laid-back, and the welcome is as warm as the weather. Boasting natural wonders aplenty, with everything from rainforests and mountains to coral reefs, the planet’s oldest landscape has aged like a fine wine – of which there’s more than enough to sample on a rural vineyard tasting tour or a trendy city wine bar. From the well-known hotspots of Bondi Beach and Byron Bay, to the quieter countryside surrounding Melbourne and subtropical Brisbane, make the most of wave surfing and wildlife spotting in this vast and varied landscape. Read up on Australia’s water, wine and wildlife with our cross-country itinerary here.
The waterfront love nests at Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel are secluded spots to sunbathe or stargaze the night away in the picturesque setting of Anse la Raie Bay.
Set to a soundtrack of gently lapping waves and swaying palms, Mauritius is the ultimate Indian Ocean island hideaway. With year-round sunshine and balmy temperatures, most of your time will be spent horizontal on white sandy beaches or swinging hammocks, fresh coconut juice in hand. Join turtles and tropical fish while snorkelling on one of the world’s longest unbroken coral reefs, or take a trip inland to visit the Pamplemousses Botanic Garden, the oldest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
The USA is as varied as it is vast, from an iconic New York city break or an exclusive seaside retreat in the Hamptons on the East Coast, to the world-class wineries and beaches of California on the West Coast, and everything in between. Southern country charm awaits in Charleston and the sunshine states, while the dramatic scenery of Colorado and Arizona draws explorers of the great outdoors. Start planning your own American adventure here.
16. South Africa
South Africa is big on everything, and all about embracing the wild side – the Kalahari desert and Kruger National Park, whale-watching and great white shark diving, canyons, capes and coastal routes. Adventure-seekers can climb Table Mountain or go gorge hiking, while those for a taste for the finer things in life explore the Cape Winelands vineyards. For breath-taking landscapes off the typical tourist trail, laid-back cape towns such as Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay capture the very ‘best of’ South Africa. If you’re on the hunt for luxury with a wild side, look no further than our handpicked hotel guide to the wildlife-filled, wine-fuelled Western Cape here.
A dramatic landscape of black volcanic beaches, ethereal blue lagoons, lunar-like glaciers, spellbinding waterfalls, bubbling springs and lava fields, Iceland is an other-worldly escape for back-to-nature seeking travellers. While the natural beauty of this Nordic island can be experienced all year round, it feels that bit more magical during the winter – when the fjords are frozen, the rustic cabins dusted with snow, and the Northern Lights come out to play. Perfectly positioned for the Golden Circle and glacier expeditions, a world of off-grid adventures await at Hotel Rangá, an eco-conscious lodge in Southern Iceland. An Icelandic horse whisperer shares secrets from the saddle with us here.
Look beyond Switzerland‘s age-old clichés of chocolate, cheese, and cuckoo clocks, and discover the beauty of the Matterhorn and the glamorous, luxury ski resorts of Gstaad, Verbier, and St. Moritz, train rides through deep alpine valleys, and fine dining in cities as impressive as the surrounding landscape. Stroll along avenues bordered by graceful townhouses in Zürich, home to works by the world’s most revered artists, or wander through historic cobbled streets and peaceful parks along the shore of Lake Geneva. Hit the slopes with our ski guide to the Swiss Alps here.
Exotic concoctions complete the tropical vibes of swaying palm trees and views across the ocean to neighbouring Eden Island at L’Escale Resort Marina & Spa’s trendy pool bar.
Bath-warm waters, powder-soft sand, and wild forests brimming with tropical flora and Coco de Mer trees – famous for growing the world’s largest coconut. The Seychelles are what many picture as the perfect desert island paradise. Begin your blissed-out break in Mahé, where rugged jungle meets miles of golden coastline. Then, strike out to the smaller islets to spot flitting birds and stately Giant Tortoises.
20. Costa Rica
With miles of pristine coastline of charcoal sands and luscious rainforest, you’re never far from world-class diving, surfing and yoga in Costa Rica – plus a strong set of eco-credentials and a Blue Zone community under its belt, this destination is taking sustainability seriously. Home to rainbow-coloured toucans and jewel bright butterflies, the Arenal Volcano National Park is a wildlife watcher’s dream, while the bohemian beach town of Santa Teresa is speckled with surf shops, smoothie shacks, and funky beach bars if you’re looking to get a taste of the pura vida lifestyle.
Tranquil temples, ornate bridges standing over serene lakes, a peppering of pavilions and pagodas here, a smattering of sky-scrapers and high-end shopping there. China is vast and varied, mysterious and mystical, modern and yet oh so traditional. Browse bustling markets, get lost down narrow hutong alleys, sip tea straight from plantation to cup – whichever sweeping landscape or colourful cityscape you choose to explore, you’ll find an intriguing mish-mash of culture which will make you want to keep coming back for more. Lap up some lakeside serenity in Marco Polo’s ‘Heaven on Earth’ with our city guide to Hangzhou here.
From heather-dotted coastlines, hilltop castles and stone-clad villages to craggy peaks and mystical lochs, Scotland is home to some of the most ruggedly beautiful scenery in the world. Head to the Highlands to experience wilderness with the spectacular backdrop of Ben Nevis, the UK‘s highest peak, pick up some Scottish souvenirs from Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile or colourful Grassmarket shops leading up to the castle, and go for bracing beach walks along the Gullane coast, just a caber’s toss from the country’s capital. For more inspiration on Scotland, start planning your itinerary here.
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