I love travelling and will do what I can to make sure I get to do so as often as possible. A lot of the time, this involves spending as little as possible on a trip, enjoying a holiday without needing money for thrills. I don’t feel like I miss out on anything by sparing myself the cost of some of the most expensive attractions.
However, once in awhile I love taking a luxury retreat. A holiday in a beautiful villa or house can be the perfect way to relax. There’s no way to relax in a hostel or a busy hotel, after all.
Not all destinations are great choices for a luxury retreat. In some, you’ll simply be paying way too much. In others, there is too much to do to consider relaxing by a pool. But the following destinations strike just the right balance.
Lake Como, Italy
If you’re going to stay at Lake Como in Italy, you need to look for lake front villas. Lake Como has been the playground of the rich and famous for thousands of years – since Roman times! It is not the sort of place you want to visit on a shoestring budget.
Lake Como is truly stunning. The lake itself is just one of many incredible attractions, making for stunning sunsets and sunrises. Then there are the towns that make up the region. Varenna is the largest and is quite something, but Bellagio is the most famous for a reason. Its cobbled streets and markets are picturesque and quaint, and the town in itself is an attraction. While away your time going to different restaurants, checking out markets, and getting acquainted with the culture.
If you’re itching for something to do, take a cruise, during which you can party, relax, or simply look at the scenery passing by.
Simonstown, South Africa
Simonstown (or Simon’s Town) is a small town near Cape Town in South Africa. It has been a naval base and harbour for over two centuries, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all industry. On the contrary, Simonstown is the perfect place to relax in luxury and take in some of the Western Cape’s most beautiful scenes.
A trip to Boulders Beach is ideal for seeing the hoards of penguins that live in the region. Seaforth Beach is just down the road, and the perfect place to swim in crystal clear, relatively warm water. It is also home to many penguins and, as long as you don’t try and get too close, you can comfortably share the beach with them.
Simonstown is such an idyllic and gorgeous town that artist retreats are regularly held there. Whether or not you need artistic inspiration, you can find tranquility and luxury during your stay.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you’ve never been there, you might imagine Rio de Janeiro as being a bustling place where you’ll never get a moment’s rest. People go there looking for parties, specifically living it up during Carnival each February.
However, if you stay at the Copacabana, you can get luxury and relaxation, with just the right amount of salsa dancing. The Copacabana was immortalised in the song by Barry Manilow, but long before then its beach was recognised as one of the best in the world. You can lie there all day as attractive waiters serve you caipirinhas at a reasonable price.
You can walk just down the street to get a taste of Rio’s markets, with wares being sold on the side of the road every night. They even let you pay by card if you have an aversion to cash, which I’ve never seen in any other such market.
If you do want to party, there are tons of clubs in the city where you can dance all night. Make sure to visit a club where salsa dancing takes place, so you can get a taste of Brazil’s national pastime.
El Nido, Philippines
A lot of people don’t think about the Philippines when considering holiday destinations. It’s understandable – while you will find Filipinos around the world, most people know little about the country. However, with thousands of islands to choose from, the Philippines can be the perfect place for a luxury retreat.
El Nido, on the island of Palawan, is my favourite. It is not yet overrun by tourists, but is home to some of most stunning beaches in the world. The town itself is small and charming, with tourism driving industry. Just down the road from the town are resorts that cater to the luxury traveller.
El Nido is perfect because you can get the best of island living (which is slow and carefree) while enjoying a town that is actually quite vibrant. You can get on a boat and go island hopping, stopping at the lagoons made famous by Instagram. The sea is full of exotic fishes and if you don’t love snorkelling, you soon will.
You can spend the end of the day at Las Cabanas beach where you will see a sunset featuring colours you didn’t know existed. And last but not least, it is one of the cheapest destinations you’ll find. Everything, from accommodation to transport to food and drink, comes at prices that you won’t quite believe, considering you’re getting the best of it all.
By all means, spend as little as possible and travel as much as you can. But once in a while, when you want a luxury retreat, the above destinations are waiting!