i-escape blog / Liz SimpsonA huge thanks to all of you who voted in our 2016 Extra Mile Awards during November. We had literally thousands of entries, and will reveal the amazing hotels that scooped the accolades – and which of you won the £500 voucher! – in the next few days. Watch this space.

So now to December. Our editorial focuses this month are Malaysia and the Spanish cities. Home to the world’s oldest rainforest, tallest mountain peak and largest flowers, much of Malaysia remains cloaked in virgin jungle; a refuge for endangered orangutans and tigers. Culture wise, it’s a beguiling blend of old and new. Its cities are a panorama of modern skyscrapers, yet at ground level you’ll find quirky old shophouses and traders and medicine men still bartering their wares on street corners. Offshore, idyllic tropical islands are Robinson-Crusoe in their unspoilt beauty and lack of development – our latest discovery will have you booking a flight quicker than you can say coconut colada.

Our favourite Spanish cities are perfect for a winter/spring minibreak – so get booking! There’s buzzy, beautiful Barcelona, with its Gothic architecture and trendy bars. Or vibrant Madrid, home to designer shopping and the labyrinthine Los Austrias. San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred restaurants are always in season, or escape the crowds in white-washed Vejer de la Frontera and lovely Girona.

Here’s what else we’ve been talking about recently…

  • The world’s 10 most inspiring cities have been revealed… And our hometown made the top 4!
  • Five dishes you should try on your travels – but have never heard of.
  • Keen on adventure travel? See Ray Mears in conversation this December. Or, if you can’t make it, listen in to his fascinating appearance on Desert Island Discs – never has the show had a more apt guest to discuss shipwreck survival.
  • Check out Tony Stromberg’s captivating horse photographs from around the world.
  • London at Christmas is magical, and at Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany, it’s extra special this year. They’ve created a unique Gingerbread Cabin, bookable for yuletide gatherings over afternoon tea, cocktails and canapes. What better excuse for a London minibreak?
  • This couple built their own off-grid floating island in Vancouver. Amazing.

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