INSPIRATION • December 2018

Where we went, and where we’re going next

As we look back on another year of road trips, city breaks and long-haul escapes, The Club’s editorial team reveal their very best trips of 2018, and what’s at the top of next year’s holiday hit list

Matt Richardson

Le Barn, France

Who: Matt Richardson, The Club picture editor
Dreamiest trip of 2018: Despite a few long-haul holidays this year, my favourite trip was much closer to home. Set in the French countryside an hour south of the capital, Le Barn is the ultimate Parisian escape. Vibes are Soho Farmhouse members' club chic, with 71 bedrooms across three beautifully converted barns. When we weren’t playing board games over a glass of wine, fussing over resident dog Clarke who roams the site freely, or having an ayurvedic massage in the spa, the surrounding Forest of Rambouillet was the perfect setting for an early-morning jog to prepare for a day of feasting. Le Serre, the hotel’s charming bistro, is a glass-encased space kitted out with rustic wooden furnishings and potted plants. We were spoilt for choice with French favourites such as Bavette steak and crowd-pleasing patisserie for dessert, all starring ingredients plucked from the on-site vegetable garden. 
Where's next: Eager to explore the sensory souqs, I think 2019 will be the year that I finally visit Marrakech.

Hannah Ralph

The Berkshires, USA

Who: Hannah Ralph, The Club content editor
Dreamiest trip of 2018: When booking my autumn-inspired road trip to the USA’s East Coast, I had my heart firmly set on sprawling highways, flanked by ketchup-red trees like a New England postcard. This came true somewhere along Route 8, driving in an Avis hire car to the Berkshires: an Arcadian assortment of all-American towns in rural Massachusetts. I stayed with fellow fall-fanatics at 33 Main (pictured above), a whitewashed boutique B&B in small, artsy Lenox. Home to a stately Federal-style frontage and eight pastel-perfect (uniquely decorated) bedrooms, this designer guesthouse served up sugar-sweet service, a five-star breakfast (candied bacon, pastries, the works), and an array of luxury finishes from owner Annie Selke’s country-chic homeware brand. For dinner, five minutes away we found the state's only Forbes five-star restaurant, where you can tuck into a truffle-laden, three-course menu ($95pp) surrounded by a 360° panorama of breathtaking mountain views.
Where's next: I’ve never been to Greece, so I’d love to take a trip to Kos, or any one of Greece’s sun-drenched islands.

Marisa Cannon

Gstaad Palace, Switzerland

Who: Marisa Cannon, The Club content editor
Dreamiest trip of 2018: After a summer of indulgence, a restorative alpine break felt like a smart option, complete with plenty of exercise, fresh air and oodles of cheese. Gstaad Palace (pictured above) – a titan of Swiss hospitality having hosted the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Kofi Annan and Elton John – caters to summer travellers with a spread of first-rate outdoor activities, from e-mountain biking to mountaineering and lake swimming, plus a palatial spa that does a great job of restoring order to lactic acid-ridden limbs. Head to local bakery Early Beck for a hearty breakfast of Gruyère on toasted rye before cycling through flourishing meadows and pine-decked peaks to Lauenen Lake, a serene and secluded spot about half an hour from Gstaad.
Where's next: I’m due for some winter sun, but can’t stand the jet lag, so it'll be a beach break to Durban - just two hours ahead of the UK - for me.

Ross Clarke

Lisbon, Portugal

Who: Ross Clarke, The Club contributing editor
Dreamiest trip of 2018: Lisbon has been theon-trend city break for the past two years, and after playing host to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, it was high-time that I checked out what the hype was about. Spoiler: I wasn’t disappointed. The city of the seven hills, while weary on the legs, is a delight for the tastebuds, from Michelin-starred showstoppers courtesy of chef Jose Avillez’s Belcanto (pictured above), to the super-chic coffee house Comoba, traditional pasteis de nata from Belem to uber-cool speakeasy, Red Frog and the wine lover’s paradise By the Wine. Check into Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon where you can take in sky-high sights from the rooftop running track on your morning jog.
Where's next: Next year I'm hoping to head to the historic city of Charleston on one of the new summer flights - the Southern food scene is supposed to be spectacular. 

Charlotte Swift

Osaka, Japan

Who: Charlotte Swift, The Club group editor
Dreamiest trip of 2018: Japan has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, but I have always said I would visit what I consider to be some of the more intrepid destinations first – hello Ethiopia and Mongolia. Having now been to both (and you should add these gems to your list if you haven’t already been), it was finally time to go. And what a trip we had. Of course, everyone should and does go to Tokyo, jam-packed as it is with only-in-Japan sights, but you shouldn’t overlook Osaka. The country’s second city, here you’ll discover such surreal treasures – outstanding street art, quirky cafés, superb dining institutions – that you’ll soon be wondering if you can postpone your return flight home.
Where to next: I’ll admit I’ve already been more times than I can count on two hands, but a week at the Paradis Beachcomber in Mauritius always delivers in the relaxation stakes.

To explore more dream holiday ideas for 2019, click here

This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips