While it’s not the best time to travel, we think it’s the perfect time to plan that dream vacation you’ve been waiting for—or even take some time to escape for a few minutes imagining yourself in a truly incredible locale with unbeatable views. Join us as we indulge in some armchair traveling to visit some of this planet’s most remarkable destinations with recommendations on the most captivating places to stay to make the absolute most of a trip of a lifetime.
1. Sydney, Australia
There’s no shortage of sights to explore and unique things to do in the capital of New South Wales: climb the Harbour Bridge, take a ferry to the one-of-a-kind zoo, veg-out on a beach, take a wine-tasting or culinary tour, indulge in some retail therapy, and take a stroll through the beautifully exotic southern-hemisphere botanical gardens—plus so much more.
Stay: The Sydney Park Hyatt
Enjoy views of the iconic Sydney Opera House right across the water from your modern accommodations. Arguably Sydney’s finest hotel—frequented by celebrities, notable people, and savvy travelers who enjoy award-winning cuisine and a sophisticated-but-casual ambiance—the Park Hyatt is ideally situated, tucked in Darling Habour near the landmark bridge but just steps away from downtown with easy access to all the major must-sees.
2. Saariselkä, Finland
There may be no other natural phenomenon that captures the imagination like the Aurora Borealis. While there are a number of places to take in its splendor, Finland tops our list as the place to do it for the dreamy winter (and summer!) scapes, love for locally foraged menu ingredients, and charming hospitality.
Stay: Levin Iglut Golden Crown
Snuggle up in a cozy glass igloo with all the modern conveniences (including a private hot tub) while looking up to take in the ethereal dancing Aurora Borealis as it colorfully shimmers across the Scandanavian night sky. During the day, equally impressive (well, almost) views of the valley below set the backdrop for however you want to spend your day—sipping a glass of wine with a great book, taking a crisp and refreshing nature hike, dining on hyper-fresh and local Finnish cuisine at the on-property Aurora Sky Restaurant. This dreamy escape is full of magic at every turn.
3. Agra, India
India is a veritable feast for the senses, and Agra, one of its most popular destinations, is no exception. Home to plenty of national treasures (like the Agra Fort, Moti Masjid, and Shish Mahal), the crown jewel is, of course, the Taj Mahal. No matter how you describe it, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, unforgettably incredible (all more than apt, by the way), this literal labor of love deservedly earns its place on the bucket list of countless travelers the world over.
Stay: The Oberoi Amarvilas
Indulge in the royal treatment at this grandiose property that's fit for a maharaja (or maharani). Opulent but tasteful guestrooms and grounds boast uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal, which never get old. Speaking of indulging, do not miss a blissful experience at the gorgeous spa or must-taste-to-believe cuisine at any of the available on-site dining options. Especially for the first-timer, we recommend splurging for a hotel with all the comforts to provide a relaxing refuge from the bustle of big Indian cities. Hiring a private driver (or inquiring at your hotel in advance about transportation options they provide) is a smart and surprisingly economical way to ensure sightseeing, visiting the amazing bazaars, and everything else you want to do goes smoothly, efficiently, and worry-free.
4. Phuket, Thailand
With some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, incredible cuisine, plenty of sights to see, and the bustling market and nightlife at Patong Beach, Phuket has it all when it comes to an ultimate island escape. This popular destination in the Land of Smiles is not to be overlooked and tempts countless visitors into never wanting to say goodbye to its beguiling charms.
Stay: Keemala Luxury Villas
Nestled within the hills of a tropical rainforest with panoramic views of the azure Andaman Sea, the Keemala Luxury Villas offer its guests a transcendent getaway for relaxation and rejuvenation. Every villa offers a private pool and dreamy accommodations, while on-site amenities include an indulgent spa, delicious dining options, nature walks that wind throughout the woodlands, and complimentary hotel transportation for sightseeing.
5. Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched high in the Andes mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also distinguished as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Construction began on this must-see-to-believe imperial citadel in the mid-15th century, and, while Machu Picchu remained an icon amongst the Inca, it was was only brought to the rest of the world's attention centuries later in 1911. Once home to hundreds, the ruins today remain as an awe-inspiring testament to the almost unbelievable achievements of an ancient culture.
Stay: Inkaterra Hacienda Urumbamba
Just a train ride away from Machu Picchu (inquire in advance about transportation options), Inkaterra offers standalone luxury casitas set within the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Surrounded by the verdant Andes mountains, Inkaterra's idyllic surroundings make it a perfect home base for exploring the region (including the beautiful nearby town of Cusco) and experiencing eco-friendly activities like horseback riding, river rafting, hiking, farm tours, and farm-to-table dining. Set amongst 100 acres in a lush valley, Inkaterra also boasts being recognized as one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World™. We recommend planning your trip March-May when the fertile Sacred Valley is putting on its best nature show with blooming flowers that perfume the cloud forest.
6. Sabie Park, South Africa
For wildlife lovers and adventure enthusiasts, the Lion Sands Game Reserve is an ideal place to tick experiencing both off your bucket list. Located deep within the African bush, this well-stewarded game reserve is bisected by the Sabie River and is home to a wide variety of outstanding animals.
Stay: The River Lodge
Plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows and commodious decks (with a pool) put wildlife watching at the forefront in this eco-friendly safari resort. Ideal for romantic getaways, adventurers, and families, The River Lodge offers South-African hospitality, outstanding dining, luxurious accommodations, wildlife-viewing excursions, and concierge services ready to make all of your dreams a reality.
7. Grand Tour, Europe
Dreaming of a European vacation? The relative close proximity of many Western European destinations makes adding multiple cities and countries to your itinerary a smart way to maximize your time to see it all.
Stay: Belmond Luxury Travel Trains
Experience the old-world glamour of traveling by rail with all of the contemporary comforts. Belmond offers a variety of luxurious trains (like the Venice-Simplon Orient Express and British Pullman) with multi-city, multi-country trips. Build your perfect itinerary and experience your personalized tour of Europe aboard one of these well-appointed rail cars.
8. Cappadocia, Turkey
Travel to the ancient region of Cappadocia in Turkey to experience its amazing history, rich culture, and otherworldly landscape (known well for its 'fairy chimneys'). Cappadocian people have inhabited this special place since time immemorial and have a long history of creating underground cities and homes within the soft volcanic-rock deposits that are rich in this area. The best time to visit? The end of April through June, September, and October is when you'll find the perfect weather, colorful markets bustling, and hot air balloons filling the air.
Stay: Museum Hotel
It would be almost unforgivable to visit a place known for its cave-dwelling people and not experience it for yourself. We love the Museum Hotel, perched just below the region's highest point (Otahisar Castle), which offers unmatched views from rooms and a property built or repurposed from cave dwellings that are up to 1,000 years old. With an onsite spa and Turkish cuisine offered at Lil'a restaurant, this historic hotel is truly a unique place to call home for a few days.
9. Fujikawaguchiko, Japan
Known for its exceptional woodlands and lakes, the stunning Fujikawaguchiko area in Japan also features some of the best views of Mt. Fuji to be found. An ever-changing palette of seasonal colors and vegetation mean there's no bad time to visit this gorgeous natural area just a couple of hours from Tokyo's concrete jungle.
Stay: Hoshinoya Fuji
Built to maximize the uninterrupted views of Mt. Fuji, the Hoyshinoya Fuji is minimalist in design but maximalist in comfort and relaxation. Described as Japanese "glamping", terraced cabins peek through red pines, fiery Japanese maples, and cherry trees, which frame the fantastic views of Japan's iconic mountain. A nature-lover's delight, cabins offer white, monochromatic interiors and a private balcony with wood-burning stove to stay cozy while admiring the vistas. On-site dining and room service add to the creature comforts while glamping in this exceptional natural reserve.
10. Low Orbit, Earth
Talk about the best room with a view. It's hard to imagine a more impressive sight than waking up to a view of our planet from low-Earth orbit aboard a space hotel.
Stay: Orion Span
Ready to experience the final frontier firsthand? A Texas-based company is currently building Aurora Station, which will launch the first space hotel Orion Span. Guests will enjoy a 230-mile flight into orbit for a 12-night stay aboard what's promising to be the first out-of-this-world accommodation for private citizens. With plans to be up and running by 2022, Orion Span has officially opened its waitlist to make a reservation for a cool deposit of just $80,000 (refundable). Interested? Just don't forget to leave enough time to take the 3-month astronaut certification course before boarding your spaceship.