After a 2021 break that’s good for the soul? We hear you!
Two writers reflect on their time in Bali and Austria and give us the lowdown on a perfect solo adventure and a trip that'll fit the family.
Perfect for: flying solo
Writer Stacey Halls enjoyed serious pampering at Bliss Sanctuary, Ubud.
The Pad: One of three women-only retreats on this Indonesian island of lush jungle, monkey forests, temples and colourful markets, Bliss Sanctuary is just 10 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ubud town.
Behind high walls and temple-style doors is the five-bed villa, which blends traditional with ultra-modern – think glass walls, outdoor baths, canopied beds and incense burning in every room.
With a huge living space decked out in mid-century modern furniture, an open-plan kitchen where chefs prepare your food and a too-blue-to-be-true pool complete with floating loungers, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to nirvana.
The R&R: Arriving frazzled after an 18-hour flight, it took me all of 15 minutes to relax.
The jungle soundtrack helps – you can hear crickets, monkeys and even geckos while brushing your teeth in the luxe open-air bathroom.
The staff can’t do enough to help either, bringing dragon-fruit smoothies to your sunlounger and whipping up mango pancakes and healthy rice bowls.
All food is included and evenings are a feast of dishes such as tofu rendang, grilled snapper and fried banana with chocolate.
But the best bit? Spa treatments are unlimited!
A head and back massage, reflexology and a pedicure? Not a problem, even two days in a row.
I have never felt so relaxed in my life. Oh, and yoga classes are part of the package, so pack your sports bra.
Explore: Bliss has drivers on hand to take guests wherever they want to go, plus they’re full of local tips.
An hour away is the breathtaking Tukad Cepung waterfall, which you can take in from its ice-cold pools. Visit at sunrise and you might have it to yourself.
The monkey forest is also worth a visit – but go first thing when they are fed and at their friendliest! Entry costs £4.50 (Monkeyforestubud.com).
Avoid Tegallalang rice terrace which, though beautiful, is a sea of selfie sticks. Instead walk Campuhan Ridge for valley views.
And if it’s a spiritual awakening you’re after, go for a blessing at Tirta Empul holy water temple. FYI: you’ll need to rent a sarong to bathe in the holy springs and it’s freezing! Entry costs £26.
Don’t Miss: For a mind-cleansing treat, head to Pyramids of Chi for a sound healing session, £15, featuring gongs, drums and didgeridoos (Pyramidsofchi.com).
Book It: A week at a Bliss Sanctuary retreat costs from £1,980, all-inclusive (Blisssanctuaryforwomen.com). Return flights from the UK to Denspaar, Bali, cost from £579 per person.
Perfect for: families
Celebrity Writer Molly Reynolds and mum Nina took time out at Hotel Stern in Tyrol.
The Pad: Just half an hour from the Italian border, this traditional Austrian family hotel with serious eco credentials is nestled in the Mieminger Plateau, a mountain range that sits 1,000m high and links the two countries.
The alpine-style rooms, from doubles to XXL family-sized (with kitchens and living rooms) are made from local wood and come with Alpenlarch toiletries and bottles of fresh mountain water.
All have panoramic views, but there’s also a cosy roof terrace from which to watch the sunset.
Breakfast is fresh pastries and porridge, while homely dinners include treats such as venison and beef broth.
Each week, the hotel hosts an outdoor BBQ, too, with cooked-to-order steaks and sausages, and local musicians performing.
The R&R: First up, try forest bathing – lying in long grass in the nearby woodland and soaking up nature’s positive energy – then get your yoga on in the larch meadows (both activities are led by hotel co-owner Elfi from April until October).
You can pick your own vegetables and herbs from the patch for your sustainable dinners – and help plant them, too.
Or swap retail therapy for animal therapy by feeding the on-site goats and horses, then chill out in the small but sweet spa, with its sauna and relaxing swing beds overlooking snow-capped mountains through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Shiatsu massages, in the meadows or indoors, are also bookable, from £33 for 30 minutes.
Come evening, sip a refreshing Hugo cocktail (a local sparkling wine and elderflower mix).
Explore: Lap up the beautiful scenery by hopping on an e-bike (half-day rental costs from £20) or joining an afternoon hiking tour, three times a week.
If you can hack the early start, the 4am guided sunrise hike up the mountains offers genuinely breathtaking views of the Stubai Alps, as well as breakfast and a glass of bubbly at the top, from £21.
If you fancy hiking without a guide, order a packed lunch with cheese and bread to take with you.
And for the kids, there’s a nearby nature playground with a huge zipline.
Don’t Miss: Hire an electric car to drive 40 minutes to the colourful, 14th-century city of Innsbruck. Car hire, booked through the hotel, costs from £55 per day.
While you’re exploring, make sure you stop by the Markethalle, where the locals sell delicious fresh produce, including fabulous cheese, from Monday to Saturday.
Book It: Stays at Hotel Stern cost from £64 per adult per night, half-board, and from £21 per child over two, per night (Hotelstern.at). Return flights from the UK to Innsbruck cost from £74 per person. Plan your trip at Visittirol.co.uk.
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