With the British hospitality sector throwing open its doors today, and other nations similarly dusting off their hotels and restaurants in eager anticipation of guests, travel is the word on everyone’s lips. Most of us have spent three months patiently pacing around our backyards and making the most of local parks and nature spots, dangling the promise of a “holiday” in front of our noses, like a carrot, to lead us through lockdown.
But right now, the word “holiday” means wildly different things to different people. Some would-be travellers are primed to pounce on a cut-price safari this summer, while others have embraced the slower pace of lockdown life and simply crave a family reunion at a nearby campsite.
Emerging from lockdown was always going to be the most painful part of the process, as we navigate a baffling array of restrictions and guidelines, and find ourselves bickering (as we did pre-lockdown) with neighbours, colleagues and loved-ones about what is and isn’t acceptable. All this confusion means that planning a holiday has never seemed like harder work.
But whatever summer holiday camp you are in, we have found the trip of your (post-lockdown) dreams...
You are half-packed already, passport in hand, ready to leap on the next legal flight anywhere but here. You know you will have to brave insurance issues and quarantine rules, but you are willing to navigate this particular assault course to get your summer holiday abroad. The staycation brigade are welcome to Wales; you’re determined to get as far away from home as possible.
Most likely to say: “Here, I brought you back some hot sauce from BERMUDA. Did I mention I’ve just been to BERMUDA? Check the expiry date – see? Brand new.”
Don’t forget to pack: A selfie-stick to keep other tourists at least 2m away, because social distancing is important and your photos of this trip are even more important.
This idyllic North Atlantic cluster of islands, a self-governing British territory, is officially reopening to tourists at the start of July, and an air bridge is in the pipeline, permitting British holidaymakers to visit without incurring a two-week self-isolation period on their return. The subtropical climate is hot but pleasant in July and August, and for those craving a truly exotic long-haul holiday, the pink-sand beaches, golf courses, sailing and superlative cuisine really deliver. Of the many five-star resorts on offer, the Rosewood offers elegant, spacious villas, plenty of al fresco eating options, and reopened pools with capacity and distancing restrictions.
So you want to head for the hills? Visiting a classic ski destination in the warmer off-season months has always been a favourite trick of the travel-obsessed, offering spectacular mountain scenery, fresh air, mouthwatering cuisine and glamorous hotels – minus the crowds and the ski-season price tag. This year sees even better deals on offer at mountain resort towns such as Gstaad, and the mountains lend themselves to plenty of socially-distanced activities including hiking and electric-biking. In Gstaad, Le Grand Bellevue strikes the right balance between old-world glamour and contemporary sophistication, sitting in private parkland. You can walk into town – or be driven there in Roger Moore’s Bentley.
If you’ve been dreaming of a sophisticated Mediterranean beach resort all summer, the swish Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer has already started welcoming guests back this month as its hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos reopen. One particularly nice post-pandemic touch at Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel is the floating breakfasts by the lagoon. Guests are invited to eat outdoors overlooking the Mediterranean, from a floating individual buffet tray, brimming with bread and pastries, a cheese and charcuterie board, juices, Veuve Clicquot champagne, fruit, a hot dish à la carte, a flower arrangement or bouquet, a towel and newspapers. Health and safety has never looked this classy.
You are eager to travel this summer, but anxious – and you are certainly not thinking further afield than our European neighbours. You know very well that this might mean a simpler, slower, more old-fashioned trip, but you are embracing the idea of a retro summer holiday. You’ll be looking into ferry and road routes and perfectly happy to make the journey part of the holiday.
Most likely to say: “What’s the difference between a ‘ferry’ and a ‘cruise’, anyway?”
Don’t forget to pack: Matching “We love Belgium/France/Portugal” masks so locals know that you are smiling underneath.
If you’re willing to look beyond the beach, Spain, Italy and France offer rich pickings by way of rustic hotels, working farms and ranches, with countless activities, unforgettable food and plenty of seclusion. Finca La Donaira, in Andalucia, is a stylishly decorated nine-room biodynamic farm less than two hours from Sevilla and Malaga airports.
Stays at La Donaira (ladonaira.com) cost from £590 per night.
If you’re planning a family reunion, drifting through the waterways of Burgundy on your own barge will take some beating. Outfits such as European Waterways (europeanwaterways.com) and Le Boat (leboat.co.uk) offer cruises in nine European countries, with a variety of vessels and price points, while Abercrombie & Kent’s fleet of six vessels stretches from the historic and charming to the modern and luxurious.
A six-night tailor-made Burgundy barge holiday with Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk) costs from £3,240 per person.
Kayaking and wild camping, Sweden
A holiday doesn’t get more socially-distanced than setting off into the Stockholm archipelago with a kayak and free rein to camp on whatever island takes your fancy. Sweden’s freedom of movement laws permit camping on any island, so days are spent paddling through its landscapes, stopping where you please, cooking on a Trangia stove and watching the sun sink into the sea.
A five-day self-guided sea kayaking trip on the Swedish archipelago with Do The North (dothenorth.com) costs from £650 per person, including transfers and all equipment, but excluding groceries and flights to Sweden.
You want nothing to do with airports, quarantine restrictions and hastily-reopened resorts. If you’re honest, you have rather enjoyed the slower pace of life of lockdown and your renewed appreciation for nature has left you lusting for more of the great outdoors in Britain this summer. After months cooped up close to home, a six-hour drive to a remote corner of Wales sounds perfectly jolly.
Most likely to say: “We’ve decided to spend all the money we’ve saved on flights on lavish picnics instead.”
Don’t forget to pack: Scottish cashmere socks and Hunter wellies. You are 100 per cent invested in the Great British country lifestyle.
Camping and Llamas, Yorkshire
The dinky new Lawnsgate campsite – with glamping options including a yurt, a gipsy caravan and a cabin – is within easy walking distance of the village of Lealholm on the North Yorkshire Moors. The site’s owners Aidan and Ella are Lealholm locals, and Aidan farms Lawnsgate with his father on the neighbouring property, Wild Slack, which has been in the family for four generations. Llama trekking adds something unique to the list of activities on offer, and there are plenty of picturesque villages to explore if you travel along the River Esk.
Pitches at Lawnsgate Campsite (lawnsgatecamping.com) cost from £16 for two people, per tent.
Tepee nights, Northern Ireland
The award-winning Tepee Valley campsite in Tandragee, County Armagh, offers an array of accommodation including a heated log cabin, a gipsy caravan, a tin house, a geodome and a shepherd’s hut. The historic city of Armagh is close by, and other major attractions – such as the Giant’s Causeway – are all within driving distance. However, it is the range of outdoor activities that makes this such a good option for groups of friends or families.
Stays in a tepee at Tepee Valley Campsite (tepeevalleycampsite.co.uk) cost from £75 per night.
Northern discovery, John O’Groats
If you’re a nature lover and a sofa lover, Together Travel specialises in stylish, contemporary and sensitively constructed self-catering accommodation in areas of natural beauty across England, Scotland and Wales, notching up interior design awards as it goes. If you’re up for a drive (and what a drive – the North Coast 500 from Inverness is spectacular) and crave wind-blasted white sand beaches, rugged cliffs and ancient woodland, the John O’Groats hamlet is something special. Interiors throughout the eco-lodges and apartments are Scandi-influenced and minimalist, with copper pendant lights, Scottish larch timber and Ercol-style sofas topped with tartan rugs. None of it would look out of place in a chic new boutique hotel in Copenhagen.
Stays at Together Travel John O’Groats (togethertravel.co.uk) cost from £756 per person.
For true travel lovers this is a marathon, not a sprint – and for now you are perfectly happy perusing the Telegraph Travel pages and saving your pennies for a well-deserved trip-of-a-lifetime further down the line. Taking a holiday from holidays has made you think hard about the sort of travel that matters to you, and you want this next trip to be truly life-changing.
Most likely to say: “This isn’t just any holiday we’re planning. This is a post-pandemic holiday.”
Don’t forget to pack: The Smythson journal you have already bought in full expectation that your account of this odyssey will be passed through your family for generations. You will do some Instagramming too, of course.
Galapagos Islands cruise, Ecuador
For a truly epic nature adventure, look to the Galapagos Islands, one of the most biodiverse regions on earth. It is home not only to its famed flora, fauna and fragile ecosystems, but also to fascinating indigenous communities which pass on their languages, culture and traditions from one generation to the next.
Ecuador’s most established local tour operator, Metropolitan Touring, owns three Galapagos boats as well as three spectacular eco-lodges – Mashpi Lodge, Casa Gangotena and Finch Bay Eco Hotel. Chairman Roque Sevilla has emerged as a national hero after donating £160,000 to create a virtual health centre for the Galapagos Islands during the pandemic, manned by medics who are normally aboard the company’s boats. Sevilla also established a countrywide emergency fund that raised £10 million to distribute essential food and medical supplies to vulnerable and resource-stretched indigenous people. For nature-loving travellers who want to know their tourist pound is being spent in the right places, responsible travel doesn’t come more feelgood than this.
A Galapagos Cruise with Metropolitan Touring (metropolitan-touring.com) costs from £3,200 for a five-day trip.
Tea Trails, Sri Lanka
Since the pandemic began, Sri Lanka has put in place strict measures to protect the local population and restore faith to would-be travellers. Progressive hoteliers such as Malik Fernando of Resplendent Ceylon have responded to the demand for longer trips, more space and seclusion, and more time outdoors. Currently staff at all three Resplendent resorts are off work on fully-paid leave, but they will reopen with a series of new walking and cycling trails through tea plantations, forests and mountain ridges, guided by a local naturalist and offering complete seclusion from other guests. One trail passes through the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, home to endemic birdlife and flora, while another offers a deep-dive into leopard conservation and reforestation initiatives. Cycling trails take in dramatic waterfalls, grasslands and reservoirs, with a chance to learn about Sri Lanka’s unique tea heritage.
A stay at one of the five plantation cottages operated by Resplendent Ceylon (resplendentceylon.com) costs from £450 per night.
Sky safari, Namibia and Zambia
Even among safari aficionados, Namibia is known for mindblowingly diverse landscapes, a thrilling roster of experiences and fascinating culture. Experiential travel pioneer Black Tomato is the company to trust with an epic adventure, and this blow-the-budget 12-night African extravaganza flies travellers around the most remote corners of Northern Namibia, including the vast wilderness of the Skeleton Coast, with a chance to do some elephant-spotting at Hoanib Valley Camp before crossing the border to take in Victoria Falls.
A 12-night Namibia/Zambia safari with Black Tomato (blacktomato.com) costs from £15,000 per person.
Local luxury lover
After weeks of domesticity, stuck with your own home cooking, home decor and homely habits, it’s a decadent helping of luxury and glamour that you’re craving. So no, a weekend in a Scottish yurt won’t do the trick. You are after UK holidays that offer the pizzazz of a Parisian city hotel or a Puglian resort.
Most likely to say: “Is 11am too early for an Aperol Spritz? Never mind what they do in Milan; this is the Cotswolds.”
Don’t forget to pack: Uncomfortable but stylish footwear that has been gathering dust since March.
Just 20 miles from London, this country house hotel stands out because of its well-being programme – overseen by Rene van Eyssen, previously regional spa director for Aman. During lockdown she has curated a series of new Wild Wellness experiences for Beaverbrook’s reopening, drawing upon Buddhist, shamanic and Western well-being traditions. If you’re curious about Wim Hof Method dynamic breathwork, vibrational sound therapy and meditation, you are in the hands of meticulously selected healers here.
Beaverbrook (beaverbrook.co.uk) offers rooms from £385 per night.
Hambleton Hall, Rutland
This beautiful Victorian hunting lodge overlooking Rutland Water has garnered a loyal following of guests who value a country house hotel with none of the stifling formality or fustiness. The property has been thoughtfully decorated by the owner, Stefa Hart, with quirky wallpaper, vibrant textiles and curious antiques, making this a stylish retreat in a historical residence. With 18 individually decorated rooms, Hambleton Hall is a small but perfectly formed country house hotel, with superlative cuisine and a true sense of history.
Hambleton Hall (hambletonhall.com) offers rooms from £245.
Llanerch Vineyard, Wales
This award-winning restaurant, hotel and vineyard is the perfect treat for wine lovers, with a vineyard tour and wine tastings on offer at an 18th-century farmhouse in the Vale of Glamorgan. The novelty of staying at a vineyard a mere 20 minutes from Cardiff is alone worth the trip, and accommodation varies from the simple group-friendly apartments to the lavish Cariad Suite. Welsh wine is well worth educating oneself about – and by educating oneself, yes, we mean drinking it.
Rooms at Llanerch Vineyard (llanerch.co.uk) cost from £85 per night.