Here we go again. Another January, another variant sweeping the globe. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the covid chaos of the past couple of years, it’s that it’ll take a hell of a lot more than a mutant virus to best us.
As long as there are beaches to flop on, sparkling oceans to float in and hot new hotels spam all over the ‘gram, we’ll be there. Here’s the best of 2022 — start planning.
Take a hike
It doesn’t take an epidemiologist to work out that we’re desperate to roam free — and more and more hiking holidays have hit the market. Promising fresh mountain air, wide open spaces and unbridled escapism - they’re just the ticket. According to booking.com, it’s all about Poland’s Tatra National Park — head to the forests and creeks of StrÄ Å¼yska Valley or the crystalline waters of Morskie Oko lake, also known as the Eye of the Sea. Find budget and luxury hotel options in the nearby town of Zakopane. Elsewhere, the new Transcaucasian Trail spanning Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is the next big thing in walking holidays. World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com) offers various 7-day hikes taking in crumbling ancient monasteries, pretty wildflower meadows, snow-capped mountains and rocky gorges. With minimal phone signal, your OOO will be firmly on.
The European mini-break
You’ve admirably grinned and bore it through trip after trip to Margate. But no more. You need a beach break with a legit excellent beach: hola, Valencia. Serena Guen, founder of Suitcase magazine, says: “We particularly love Valencia for solo travellers because of the chilled out locals and easy access to all attractions, beaches and landmarks, like the Science Museum, Valencia Cathedral and City Hall.” The city has been named World Design Capital for 2022 so expect a year-long programme of creative events, too. In Italy, Rome is having a moment with a slew of cool new hotel openings - The Hoxton, Soho House Rome, W Rome, Rome EDITION, Rosewood Rome and Six Senses Rome - making it the perfect time to visit the Eternal City.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that it’s impossible not to have a good time in the States. This year, according to Booking.com, Atlanta, Georgia is the place to be. Or should we say Hotlanta — avoid the summer months in this scorching city. With its exceptional foodie scene — make a beeline to any of local hero chef Ford Fry’s restaurants — and fascinating cultural sites, including the King Historic District walking tour (unexpectedatlanta.com) which expertly brings the Civil Rights movement to life. Stay at the buzzy Clermont Hotel, which sits proudly above one of the oldest strip clubs and dive bars in the city, The Clermont Lounge. Alternatively, there’s never a bad time for some California dreaming. Suitcase boss Guen says it’s all about LA’s up-and-coming Highland Park neighbourhood. “It has incredible restaurants, natural wine bars and our favourite specialty food store in the world—Cookbook Market.”
Call of the wild
Short of selling all your worldly possessions and moving to an undiscovered island, nothing comes as close to life-affirming escapism as a safari. Barclay Stenner (barclaystenner.com), run by friends James Stenner and John Barclay, counts Taylor Swift among its fans. A private, mobile, ultra-luxury safari in Botswana which plots its route according to where the action is. But a moving camp does not mean forgoing creature comforts. Custom-designed Meru tents with flushing loos, showers, Egyptian Cotton sheets and four poster beds will be waiting for you at the end of each magical day. New for 2022 is Homestead (homesteadlodge.com) in South Africa. The twelve-suite (six of which delightfully come with their own private pools) eco-lodge in the heart of the relatively unknown Nambiti game reserve is big on sustainability with most of its power generated by solar energy. With a spa offering African head massages and state-of-the-art oxygen facials, it doesn’t get much better.
Close to home
Hop on the ferry (oodles more sustainable) over to the Emerald Isle. Ireland native and founder of luxury travel consultancy LUTE John O’Ceallaigh, says 2022 is the year to head to his homeland. “For the ultimate in escapism, the Wild Atlantic Way coastal driving route is a spectacularly rugged and remote roadway that threads the west of the country.” For something more cosseting, he says, head to fancy new hotel Cashel Palace (opening in March). Part of the Relais & Chateaux group, the restored Palladian manor is in the heart of lush Tipperary - expect fine dining, a world class spa and plenty of decadence. Black Tomato (blacktomato.com) is celebrating the major new opening by launching a Tipperary heritage tour, including a private after-hours visit to the spectacular Rock of Cashel. In February, the official Game of Thrones Studio Tour opens at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. From early costume sketches to original scripts and the spectacular sets, head over the border for full immersion into the heart of Westeros (from £39.50; gameofthronesstudiotour.com).
The epic trip
In 2022, travel will be ‘post-experiential’, says Mr & Mrs Smith’s creative director Louis A. W. Sheridan. “Our members are after truly immersive trips, experiences, and entry-points to an entirely new lifestyle. These are above and beyond the listed experiences and day-trips that we’re familiar with, and instead are start-to-finish deep dives into another world.” Where to begin? Head to Zapata Ranch in the USA. “It’s a no-holds-barred Colorado cowboy affair where days are spent in the saddle and nights are spent sharing tales over a campfire,” says Sheridan (mrandmrssmith.com). Black Tomato, too, is witnessing this trend for transformational travel and is going big on its once-in-a-lifetime trips for 2022. Think: close encounters with gorillas in Rwanda, a private charter through Antarctica and slow sailing on a traditional Dahabiya down the Nile (blacktomato.com).
‘Travel won’t just be about the end destination, but how you get there,’ says Conde Nast Traveller’s digital editor Sarah Allard. “Not only does train travel allow for a new and unexpected view of the world — with stops at unseen and undiscovered spots — but it’s better for the planet, too.” Allard suggests The Rocky Mountaineer’s new two-day route from Denver to Moab in Utah which takes in canyons, vast deserts and the state’s famous ancient hoodoos (rockymountaineer.com). Closer to home, the waiting list for a seat on one of the Orient Express’ new pinch-me La Dolce Vita trips around Italy (orient-express.com) is sure to fill up soon and there is always our very own classic Caledonian Sleeper (sleeper.scot). Hop on the overnighter to Edinburgh and stay in the new much-anticipated Gleneagles Townhouse (gleneagles.com) when it opens in March.
In search of adventure
“I expect holidaymakers will yearn for adventure and new horizons in the coming year and one of my personal resolutions is to visit countries that I haven’t previously experienced. Uzbekistan is top of the list,” says LUTE founder O’Ceallaigh. “A new international airport terminal opened at Samarkand in December 2021, making the ancient city’s UNESCO sites immediately accessible, while the country’s high-speed train network is being extended this year to provide seamless connections to Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva.” New luxury hotel openings, like the Hyatt Regency (the country’s first 5-star property), will up the comfort factor, while the opening of the mammoth State Museum of Arts, redesigned by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, will draw architecture and culture buffs. Later in the year, new €100m Amirsoy resort in the Chatkal mountains is being touted as the next big skiing destination.
Sri Lanka’s economy has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic (revenue from tourism dropped by $3 billion in the first eight months of 2021). But the borders are now open and it’s already one of Flash Pack’s most in demand trips. “Sri Lanka is set to be one of the hottest destinations in 2022 according to our recent surge in bookings,” says co-founder Lee Thompson. “The incredible landscapes, rich and authentic culture and tropical beaches have proven to be irresistible for those who want to indulge their wanderlust next year.” Stay at one of Resplendent Ceylon’s ever-popular boutique luxury resorts which has launched two dreamy immersive journeys for 2022. Choose surfing, whale watching and game drives with an all-action adventure tour, or whet your whistle with tea tastings, cooking classes and dune dining under the stars as part of the foodie trip (resplendentceylon.com). If in doubt, the super-stylish and relaxed Teardrop Hotels found across the country can’t be beaten (teardrop-hotels.com).