Author: Darshi Chohan
A country often frequented by smelly backpackers, in which cows wander aimlessly through market stalls helping themselves to fresh produce and blissfully ignoring the endless noise of tooting rickshaw horns may not seem the obvious choice for a luxury holiday destination. Yet mythical India is a country with many faces and boutique hotels combined with relaxing spas are equally likely to feature in this multi-faceted destination.
The most defining experience in India is catching sunrise at the beautiful Taj Mahal. Be prepared to wake up early in order to visit this world wonder as crowds can gather quickly and sunrise is a very popular time. Pack yourself a traditional breakfast of chilled lassi, fresh fruit and fiery roti and enjoy it whilst overlooking the reflecting pool and listening to the call of the muezzin, as you wait for dawn to rise.
Ideally you should combine this destination with a tour around Delhi and Jaipur, which are the other two corners of India’s Golden Triangle. The town of Agra is sadly devoid of any boutique hotels and therefore arranging a tailor-made holiday around this beautiful region is well worth the extra effort.
From perfectly manicured rice terraces to pounding surf, Bali is a destination that means something different to everyone. It is as popular with the upper classes seeking luxury ayurvedic spa holidays, as it is with backpackers looking for somewhere to get away from it all.
Spiritual tourism is very en vogue at the moment and Bali is the best place to experience this in luxurious surroundings. A defining experience is combining your luxury spa break with morning meditation lessons and arising from your slumber whilst it is still dark outside to practise chanting mantras and reciting the Ramayana with your spiritual guru. After all, the Balinese believe that your inward emotions play a large influence on your outward health, so it seems logical that meditation and spa breaks should go hand in hand.
The town of Ubud is a popular destination for spiritual retreats and sandy beaches. There are plenty of luxury hotels in this creative town, but staying at a smaller boutique hotel gives you a more personable feel for the island. The smaller Uma Hotel comes highly recommended. With only 29 suites, the boutique hotel doubles up as a holistic resort and here daily meditation lessons are combined with yoga classes and a private health spa.
For those that associate luxury holidays with getting away from everything, Oman is the perfect destination.
The country is one of the oldest civilisations in the Arabian Peninsula, and the perfect place to combine culture with relaxation on a luxury break. Relatively untouched by tourism, Oman has over 1,700 miles of rich, sandy beaches for you to explore, as well as the historically rich cities of Muscat and Nizwa.
A defining experience on your luxury break is visiting the Al Hoota caves, which are one of nature’s grandest masterpieces. Past visitors have described walking inside them as ‘like a living dream,’ as rows of stalactites jostle with stalagmites and a natural walkway throws light around the cave like a fairy grotto. The caves get even more surreal when you realise that to first get to them, you must take an electric toy train. This looks somewhat out of place standing alongside the camels in the carpark.
(see “Six Senses Hideaway“)