A tranquil moment of reflection on past and future travels at Villa Petriolo, Tuscany.
The SLH INVITED Members’ travel wishlist for 2023
From far-flung corners in tropical waters, to sun-drenched stretches and snow-blanketed spots, our 23 best places to travel in 2023 combine familiar favourites with lesser-trodden paths – all worth visiting with fresh eyes in the year ahead. There is something here for every type of traveller, whether you’re hoping to hit the powder-perfect slopes and sushi counters of Japan, delve into the desert sandscape of Morocco, or take a walk on the wild side in South Africa.
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…it’s unsurprising that Italy has crowned our list two years running.
Best boutique hotels in Italy |
With four distinct seasons, in full cherry blossom bloom during the spring and beneath a generous winter sprinkling of snow, Japan 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 travellers looking to step outside of their comfort zone – you’re bound to have a bit of a culture shock, but that’s what makes this diverse island so special.
Best boutique hotels in Japan |
It’s hardly surprising that the impossibly blue waters and pristine white beaches of the Maldives spoke to our sun-seeking community. An escape to these Indian Ocean islands is as exclusive as it gets, where privacy comes in the form of over-water villas and exclusive stretches of palm-lined sand. And with five Maldivian resorts to choose from, our private island collection is made for the modern-day castaway.
Best boutique hotels in the Maldives |
Explore the manta ray-filled lagoon surrounding Huvafen Fushi Maldives by traditional dhoni boat.
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?
Best boutique hotels in Greece |
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.
Best boutique hotels in France |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Thailand |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Portugal |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Spain |
9. New Zealand
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.
Best boutique hotels in New Zealand |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Bali |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Australia |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Mexico |
From souqs to ski slopes, Morocco is nothing but eclectic. Dive into bustling medinas brimming with spice-scented stalls, sip mint tea in a colourful café watching the world go by, or experience the Berber way of life with a private camel trek in the Atlas Mountains. Then, as night falls, unwind in a hammam at your luxury boutique hotel beneath glowing lanterns and a dark desert sky filled with twinkling stars.
Best boutique hotels in Morocco |
14. South Africa
South Africa is big on everything, and is all about encouraging visitors to embrace the wild side – from the Kalahari desert and Kruger National Park, whale-watching and great white shark diving, to 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.
Best boutique hotels in South Africa |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Mauritius |
16. 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.
Best boutique hotels in Costa Rica |
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.
Best boutique hotels in Switzerland |
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.
Best boutique hotels in the USA |
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.
L’Escale Resort Marina & Spa |
Shaking off its stopover status, Singapore is a buzzing break in its own right – with a diverse food scene, futuristic shopping, and botanical outdoor spaces – all with a tropical island feel. The ‘Garden City’ is a sci-fi tangle of skyscrapers meets an urban jungle of nature reserves, verdant parks, and green trails, committed to becoming the world’s most sustainable city destination by 2030. Take in the cultural highlights and culinary delights of Singapore’s Chinatown, a kaleidoscopic blend of street food stalls, towering temples, and dragon dancers, before strolling past the pastel-coloured Peranakan shophouses of Katong where a hip hub of cafés, craft boutiques, and art galleries awaits.
Best boutique hotels in Singapore |
Whether you’re in the north or south, beside the sea or in the desert, Egypt is a country of contrasts where ancient collides with modern. Stumble across sand-shifting landscapes which look more like the surface of the moon than the earth, dotted with timeless temples, tombs, and breath-taking pyramids. Race across the dunes and lunar-like beaches on horseback, get lost in the chaotic streets of Cairo, or simply stretch out in a palm-fringed oasis with a herbal hibiscus tea in hand.
La Maison Bleue |
An old-meets-new tapestry woven together with walled citadels, wild countryside with tumbling waterfalls, and coastline awash with secluded coves and tiny islets, Croatia seems to have it all. Dubrovnik’s Baroque heart beats with architectural gems, while a Dalmatian buzz surrounds Split where a hopping harbour lies in the shadow of ancient palace walls. Discover one of Croatia’s best-kept secrets on the cobbled streets of Šibenik, or head to the golden sands of Lošinj for a desert island hideaway.
Best boutique hotels in Croatia |
Norway has the kind of soul-stirring scenery visitors instantly lose their hearts to. Once the stomping ground of Vikings, this is a land rumbling with legends and rich with culture. Travel here can be by railway or raft – or even snowmobile. Get away from it all and you could catch the utterly captivating northern lights. Stay in a city and you’ll see some of Scandinavia’s finest architecture. In between, postcard-worthy towns, ski slopes, boutique hotels and the unforgettable fjords promise a trip to treasure.