Winter + mountains is an obviously pairing, but if you’re not a fan of snowsports, come in spring, summer and early autumn instead. You’ll escape the coastal crowds, pay far less for a hotel, and discover why outdoor enthusiasts adore the altitude all year round. Hiking, biking, swimming in freshwater lakes, it’s all on tap, and you’re surrounded by wild beauty and spectacular views all day. These hinterland hideaways offer guided walks or you can explore independently with ease, then return to great food and stylish rooms.
Mountain Beiras, Portugal
If you’re looking for incredible scenery and a taste of the real Portugal, the Beiras region should be at the top of your travel wishlist. This glacial area is breathtakingly beautiful and relatively untouched by tourism. The owners of chic Casa das Penhas Douradas are passionate about the region and offer guided hikes into the heart of the Serra. If you’d prefer to be go it alone, they can drive you to the start of a trail, meet you at the end and bring you a gourmet picnic lunch at a beauty spot halfway.
Sierra Nevada, Spain
On the southern flank of the Sierra Nevada is the tiny village of Mairena. Here you’ll find ‘old’ Spain and charming guesthouse Casa Rural Las Chimeneas; owners Emma and David have struck just the right balance between authenticity and stylish comfort. Walking is the main activity here, with trails leading straight out from the house, plus maps to borrow, and picnics on request. And after you’ve hiked all day, you’ll fully appreciate the restaurant’s excellent Alpujarran cooking; vegetarians are in for a treat.
Swiss Alps, Switzerland
In Gstaad, one of Switzerland’s smartest luxury mountain resorts, HUUS Hotel is a breath of fresh air. Its Swedish designer has imbued the place with bags of laid-back Scandi charm; interiors are impeccably designed with statement furniture and industrial-cool vibes. However, our favourite thing about HUUS Hotel is the huge range of activities included in the rates – snowsports in winter and rafting, climbing, canyoning, mountain biking and more in the warmer months. After a day of outdoor adventure, return for pampering in the spa, a soak in the indoor pool, sophisticated food in the restaurant, or burgers and cocktails in the bar, all accompanied by sweeping mountain views.
High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Although outside Europe, Morocco is an easy 4-hour flight from the UK; European travellers get to experience exotic escapism while barely leaving their time zone. Within an hour of landing at Marrakech you can reach the high Atlas Mountains. This region is paradise for walkers, especially in spring when temperatures are pleasant and wild flowers bloom. Few hotels can rival the setting of beautiful Kasbah Bab Ourika. Explore the northern flank of the Atlas on foot, horseback or mountain bike: the Kasbah has its own trusted guides and trails lead straight out from the hotel, through local Berber villages.
It was the beauty of the plains of Puna that first attracted Fabrizio to Northwest Argentina. He left his homeland of Italy and started a small company taking guests across the salt lakes and into the sculptural desert of the Andes beyond. He then persuaded his interior designer partner Valentina to join him and they created Finca Valentina, a chic, relaxed and beautifully designed guesthouse just southwest of Salta. Fabrizio knows the area intimately and still takes guests on fabulous trips to the Puna and beyond, through his own tour company. These are run by expert guides and explore places where no other agency ventures.
For exploring the quiet riverside villages, craggy green mountains and lush jungle of Laos’ tranquil north we love Muang La Lodge. Perched beside a glistening river, it’s one of the country’s loveliest retreats. Don’t miss mountain biking and 4×4 excursions through the undulating natural scenery with fantastic local guides. Treks to remote hill-tribe villages with Muang La’s local guides are a fascinating way to learn about each village’s customs and lifestyle.