Scotland is home to some of the world’s best golf courses – the sport was invented here, after all. The courses at Turnberry, Gleneagles and St Andrews all have world-class hotels nearby, so you can combine the best of Scottish hospitality with a round or two on the fairways. But if you’re not into golf, then don’t worry. Most luxury hotels in Scotland offer a range of activities. There are several world-renowned countryside spa hotels in Scotland, some in former grand country houses. Wrap yourself up in a fluffy towel, have a massage, and enjoy the views across the hills and glens. There’s also likely to be an excellent range of whiskies behind the bar.
Austria has one of Europe’s grandest capitals; luxury accommodation in Vienna either harks back to the days of imperial splendour, or is chic and trendy. Combine your stay with a visit to the opera or to Viennese ball. If you prefer the countryside, then stay in the Austrian Alps, and ski in the winter or stay in a luxury spa in the summer.
Croatia was Agatha Christie’s honeymoon destination and Lord Byron also holidayed here – it’s been popular with those in the know for a long time. Although tourism was interrupted during the war, Croatia is once again a destination of choice for well-heeled Europeans. Have a look at timeless elegance of Dubrovnik and the clear waters of the Adriatic and you’ll understand why! As well as five star hotels, you can also book yachting holidays or arrange a beautiful villa on a peaceful island. While you don’t have to see Croatia in luxury, it’d be a shame for your accommodation not to match the standard set by the sea, the beautiful walled towns and the excellent seafood.
Norway, with its spectacular fjords, is best seen on board a luxury cruiser. Sail up the coast towards the Artic Circle, visiting pretty villages on the way – with any luck, you’ll get to see the Northern Lights and a range of wildlife. Other luxury cruises combine stops in Norway with Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States and St Petersberg.
The best European hotels provide an excellent level of service without being stuffy – you’re on holiday, after all! Although some have various policies about what you can and can’t wear, they’re to provide an ambience rather than intimidate. Staff will be only too happy to help if you’re not sure.
Cruises can be a very good way of seeing a number of destinations in one holiday – popular destinations include the Balearics and the Greek Islands. You can also book cruises that include places that otherwise might be difficult to access, like the Crimea, the Outer Hebrides, and destinations along the Danube and Volga.
Self-catering in luxury is another option. Whether it’s booking out a castle, a colonial-style mansion in the Canaries, a Spanish villa or a luxury French gite, you can arrange for the fridge to be stocked before you arrive, to maximise the time you spend by the pool.