Coolcationing: The best cold destinations to visit now

12 Mar 2024 | |By Annie Lewis

Where to go to embrace the chill

You’d think Brits would have had enough of the cold by now, but apparently not. According to a poll by luxury holiday rental company Perfect Stays, coolcationing – where travellers swap hot holidays for colder conditions – is on the rise. Google searches for ‘winter staycations’ have soared 250 per cent in the past month, while more than two in five bookings made in the past month are for winter getaways. So if you’re thinking of embracing the chill this spring, here are our favourite cold destinations to visit and the luxury hotels to book while you’re there. 


Famous for its slopes, alps and rolling hills that are renowned for playing the backdrop to 1965 film The Sound of Music, Austria has plenty to entice the winter traveller. Skiers should head to Kitzbühel or St Anton – the latter being famous for its après – while those looking for a less-adventurous break have many quaint towns and villages to explore. Hallstatt, for example, is situated between Salzburg and the capital of Vienna, and looks like it’s straight out of the Disney film Frozen. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its scenic lake views and charming, historic Old Town. Make sure not to skimp on the Viennese Apfelstrudel while you’re there. 

Where to stay: Hotel Das Central, Sölden

Located in the picturesque village of Sölden, Hotel Das Central is a beacon of Alpine luxury. The five-star property features 121 rooms and suites, each thoughtfully designed to provide comfort and style, as well as fine dining-restaurants, cosy lounges and a well-equipped fitness centre. The three-storey spa is a real highlight, offering a serene escape from the rugged outdoors with its heated indoor pool, 10 saunas and steam baths, whirlpools and relaxation lounges, and conservatory with breathtaking mountain views. Don’t miss the five-course tasting menu – except for one night of the week, when there’s a gala dinner and six courses – that quashes any ambitions you had for leaving the hotel come evening…

From £175 per night, visit


Eco-conscious experiences that connect travellers to one of the happiest (Norway currently ranks third in the world), healthiest (Oslo’s cars will be fully electric by 2025) and most beautiful countries on earth are available in spades here. One of the most artistic capitals in the world, Oslo is home to the beautiful Royal Palace, picturesque Opera House – the home of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet – and the Munch Museum, dedicated to Norway’s most renowned artist responsible for the internationally-acclaimed artwork, Scream. To see this moving portrait and more of his work, visit Norway’s National Museum, which exhibits the country’s largest collection of art, architecture and design with an entire room dedicated to Munch. Other must-sees in Norway include Kistefos Sculpture Park – a world-renowned culture attraction displaying large-scale works by international artists – and incredible viewpoints within easy reach via car, boasting vistas across the inland fjords and distant snowy peaks, as well as a stop at the Utøya Massacre Memorial. 

Where to stay: Sommero House, Oslo

Housed in an original 1930s Art Deco building in the historic neighbourhood of Frogner, which was formerly the HQ of electric company Oslo Lysverker, Sommerro House is easily Oslo’s coolest five-star hotel. The 231-room property is a haven for art enthusiasts, with original works by celebrated Norwegian artist Per Krohg adorning the walls throughout and interiors courtesy of Adam Greco and Alice Lund, co-founders of New York and London-based GrecoDeco, renowned for reviving various Soho Houses and London’s The Ned. Choose from four restaurants – Japanese-Scandinavian Tak Oslo is a real highlight – and three bars to while away the hours, or bask in Norwegian sun and fresh air atop the city’s first rooftop pool. 

For an all-out celebration, we’d recommend booking Villa Inkognito, an 11-suite retreat housed in a former private residence adjacent to the hotel. Hosted by its very own Lady of the House, discover several opulent living rooms, an open kitchen, an intimate bar named Spectre (with a dedicated barman and Tattinger always on ice), and a quaint conservatory – all featuring magnificent antiques, original artwork and classic Scandinavian furnishings.

From £200 per night, visit


Looking for a whimsical winter wonderland without the three-hour flight? Allow us to point you in the direction of the Scottish Highlands. Spot Nessie in Loch Ness, hike through Cairngorms National Park and visit the home of the Highland Games, Braemar, before the snow descends – making the perfect excuse to cosy up by a pub’s open fireplace or bed down for the night in one of the district’s five-star hotels

Where to stay: Gleneagles, Perthshire

Offering a true taste of the Scottish Highlands, Gleneagles is a magnificent countryside estate boasting breathtaking scenery, tip-top interiors and Scotland’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant, Andrew Fairlie. Inside the huge country house, discover light-filled rooms and suites kitted out with elegant armoires and mid-century four-poster beds. Get a feel for the area with the hotel’s variety of country pursuits, spanning horse riding, fishing, shooting, off-road driving, cycling and golf. You will never get bored at this five-star bolthole. 

From £375 per night, visit


Famous for being one of the happiest countries in the world, it’s clear that Finland’s sub-zero winter temperatures doesn’t affect the bountiful winter lifestyle it offers. It’s the home of fantastic snow adventures and ski escapes, such as Ylläs – the biggest resort in the country that boasts more than 500km of trails – while Lapland is an obvious choice if you have little ones in tow. Lucky travellers will be able to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights between September to March, while dense forests and picture-perfect lakes make for great hiking trips. Just remember to wrap up warm… 

Where to stay: The Hotel Maria, Helsinki

Having opened in December 2023, The Hotel Maria promises to be an urban sanctuary in the Helsinki's historic Kruununhaka district. Featuring 117 rooms, including 38 lavish suites, two restaurants, state-of-the-art spa, and a destination boutique showcasing jewellery from Faberge and esteemed Finnish designers, the five-star property serves as an ideal starting point to discover the best of the Nordics or as a home base to explore the cultural and natural wonders of Finland’s capital city. As the first hotel in the Nordics to offer a Wellness Concierge, The Hotel Maria offers highly personalised programmes including bespoke jet lag treatments and nutrition programmes, a weekly run club, in-suite spa treatments, private saunas and steam rooms, taking the mind-body experience to the next level. 

From £390 per night, visit


While winter is often when many countries go into hibernation, it’s when Iceland comes alive. This volcanic island – situated on the active geologic border between North America and Europe in the north Atlantic sea – is home to a dramatic landscape, marked by rolling, rustic hills and mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and geysers, all a result of the constant tectonic activity below the surface. Must-see attractions include waterfalls such as Gullfoss and Skógafoss; glaciers called Vatnajökull and Langjökull; mountains and volcanoes at Vestrahorn and Hekla as well as the country’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir National Park, which sits in a rift caused by the separation of two tectonic plates. Adrenaline junkies can also enjoy glacier hiking, horseback riding, whale watching and caving come the winter. 

Where to stay: The Reykjavik Edition

Bringing the first five-star experience to one of the world’s most sustainable capitals, The Reykjavik Edition is located in the historical, scenic heart of downtown, close to Old Harbor port and just steps away from the Laugavegur Street and shopping district. While luxury is at its core – think stylishly neutral rooms fitted with modern decor and posh detailing by American hotelier Ian Schrager – it also makes for an ideal family hotel. Start the morning with breakfast at Tides Cafe before a visit to the geothermal pools Laugardalslaug or whale watching from Reykjavik Old Harbour, which is only an 11-minute walk from the hotel. Or partake in a range of other excursions nearby such as glacier trips or horseback riding. We’re sure you’ll feel right at home… 

From £481 per night, visit

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