i-escape Names Its Winter Sun Hotlist


Winter is set to be more of a shock for Brits this year after a heatwave summer, so in readiness for the chill, the boutique accommodation experts at i-escape have unveilled their winter sun hotlist. Included are some of the newest places on the site, all perfect bone-warming hideaways and excellent value for money.

From a converted convent hotel in Sydney’s hipster Surry Hills to remote East Coast beachside glamping in Sri Lanka and affordable luxury in Rajasthan’s Thar Desert and South Africa’s Garden Route, this collection of accommodation options suit all tastes and budgets. Prices start from £41 per night for a double room.

Sri Lanka

Head to the un-touristy east of the island and stay at Karpaha Sands which only opened in April this year at Kalkudah Beach where the Crusoe-lifestyle lives on. Bang slap on 12km golden-sand the clutch of luxury tents sit on the shoreline fringed by coconut plantations, and cashew groves, and at the time of writing, Karpaha is the only hotel there. Blending organically into the natural surroundings, this tented resort is low-key but extremely stylish, with contemporary furnishings and open-air showers; glamping at its very best. There are body boards and bikes to borrow and the local sunset seafood dinners are holiday heaven. Hotel rooms start from £118 per night, based on two people sharing a tented suite on a B&B basis.

Five miles from Galle in a peaceful inland setting is Wirdana Spa & Villas, a hotel with two rooms and six spacious villas in a separate walled garden to the pool and restaurant. Set amongst a cinnamon plantation with minimalist interiors ending a day here with a singing bowl mediation or massage at the spa is the perfect calming antidote to a busy morning exploring Galle Fort. Hotel rooms at Wirdana Spa & Villas starts from £142 per night on a B&B Basis.

Just an hour round the coast towards Tangalle and with spectacular sea views sits the stylish fully staffed The Saffron House, with four bedrooms, three acres of gardens and huge infinity pool. It’s perfect for a group to immerse themselves in laid back luxury where days can be spent lounging by the pool, dining on the aromatic crab curry cooked by the in-house chef and strolling down to the local beach for a spot of body boarding. Self-catering at Saffron House starts from £354 per night, based on up to eight people sharing a four-bedroom house, accommodation only basis.

Essaouira, Morocco – Salut Maroc

The winter months on the Atlantic coast of Morocco offer magical light and plenty of warm sunshine. Add to that a new exquisite heritage riad in Essaouira’s medina with a sea-view rooftop dining terrace, astonishingly beautiful rooms and a hammam and the only winter blues will be the sky and the dazzling tiles. Each of the 11 rooms has super bright tiling, artwork, textiles and weaving and a signature copper bath. Onsite winter treats include a well-stocked library, a complimentary Hamman, tasty breakfasts with some of the best coffee in Morocco and sunset seafood suppers. Step outside for a neighbouring cookery school, shopping for spices and leather wear in the souks or strolls along the sea walls above the crashing waves. Rooms at Salut Maroc start from £88 per night, based on two sharing a room on a B&B basis.

Sydney, Australia – Little Albion Hotel

Step into one of Sydney’s buzziest neighbourhoods and retreat into its newest hotel, Little Albion a 1920s converted convent. The interiors are a hedonistic palette of crushed velvets, printed fabrics, geometric wallpapers and terrazzo and marble surfaces in pinks, greens and blues. It literally just opened and unusually in this thriving city, offers great value rooms. Outside its cool interiors is seductive Surry Hills with its biodynamic wine bars, vegan and coffee hang outs, vintage boutiques and destination organic food stores. Turns out you can immerse yourself in all things ‘hipster’ but still be able to walk to the Opera House and all the harbour attractions, or jump on a bus to Bondi or Coogee for some beach-side glamour. Rooms at Little Albion start from £116 per night, based on two people sharing on a room only basis.

South Africa

Oceans Wilderness is half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the Garden Route and overlooks Wilderness Beach, all 14kms of it. Opening last March, it has nine bedrooms with floor to ceiling glass windows to make the most of the magnificent views. As well as being incredibly good value, time it right and book into one of the dinners (offered a couple of nights a week) to be wowed by home-style dishes and look out for whales and dolphins from the terrace over breakfast. Rooms start from £41 per night on a B&B basis.

For some Cape Winelands fantasy living, Stellenbosch Luxury Private Villa is a five-bedroom dream-pad with an Alice in Wonderland feel to the gardens. It’s perfect for families with a pool, zip wire, pizza oven and trampoline and lively Stellenbosch is a short drive away. So are the wineries which may call for an Uber for a self-guided tour. For any over indulgences there’s a sauna, hot tub and a breakfast buffet set up daily, guaranteed to get the grown-ups back on their feet in no time! Prices start from £798 per night, based on 13 people sharing a five-bedroom house on a B&B basis. Minimum three-night stay.

Rajasthan, India – Suryagarh

Suryagarh is a fort hotel located in the heart of the Thar Desert in western Rajasthan. Rooms here are palatial and from the Indian Kushti wrestling ring in the gym to the’ sand ritual’ in the spa and the authentic Rajasthani food served up across the three restaurants the desert takes over. Activities include gentle laps of the indoor pool, Ayurvedic treatments, riding camels or mountain bikes into the dunes or, for an unforgettable evening experience, opt for the Thar dinner and dine beneath the desert stars in a royal caravan-style setting. With the pound still relatively strong against the rupee it is great value as well. Rooms start from £90 per night on a B&B basis.

For more information or to book any of the properties featured, please visit: www.i-escape.com

Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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