Ice breaker: where to beat the winter blues

Anna Prendergast

4 November 2019

Break the winter spell at these fledgling hotels, hotly-anticipated reopenings, big-name bedrooms and cool new crashpads

4 November 2019 | Anna Prendergast


Eden Rock’s grand reopening on November 20th will mark the beginning of a new chapter for St Barths, which has been gently rebuilding itself since Hurricane Irma in 2017. Martin Brudnizki’s maximalist interiors will come to the Caribbean for the first time, and three new suites are named after members of the Eden Rock family: Jane, the owner, Pippa and Vogue – as in Middleton and Williams, who recently married Jane’s sons James and Spencer Matthews.

Eden Rock, St Barths

Two big names have also arrived in the Maldives. The first Baglioni property to open outside of Europe brings knockout Italian glamour to the Dhaalu atoll in the form of Riva sunset cruises, bolentino and iced Ferrari Trento served at two minutes past 7pm every evening (a Baglioni tradition, celebrating the Champagne house’s birth year, 1902). The Standard, meanwhile, is welcoming a cool new crowd of solo travellers and groups of friends to Huruvalhi Island, shifting the archipelago’s long-held romantic reputation. Meanwhile, the Bahamas is also in a transition period following Hurricane Dorian last year. Caerula Mar on South Andros, whose owner raised over £150 million to support the island’s restoration, is set to open this November.

Caerula Mar, Bahamas

Baglioni, Maldives
Straw Cloche Hat, POA,
André Aciman’s sequel to Call Me By Your Name is the beach read we’ve all been waiting for since Luca Guadagnino brought Elio and Oliver to life in 2017’s Oscar-winning screenplay;;


Zermatt, Switzerland

Navigate peaks – and peak season – without the crowds at heli-lodge Niehku Mountain Villa, where the slopes of Swedish Lapland are yours for the carving. Sweden’s tallest peak, Kebnekaise, is just 15 minutes away by air, and there are more than 60 other summits to choose from. The lodge itself is a log-burning, blonde-wood, Scandi skier’s dream (which is what niehku means in Sami), but the purity of the powder and next-level access is what guests really go for.

If you’d rather travel by sea than sky, Black Tomato has designed a ski-and-sail trip through Norway’s Fjordland, travelling on a traditional schooner along the Steigen coastline, through the Lofoten Islands and finally arriving at Manshausen sea cabin. Ski peaks that are only accessible by boat along the way, and find yourself beneath the Northern Lights in the Lofotens. If old-school, good-time glamour is what you’re after, Hotel Schweizerhof in Zermatt was carefully restored to its former glory by Michel Reybier (of La Réserve success) in 2018 and has once again become the uber-smart jet-set’s alpine hangout. Cable cars will spirit you away to Chez Vrony for the best view of the Matterhorn.

Polar explorer Børge Ousland commissioned architect firm Snorre Stinessen to design the cantilevered sea cabins on Manshausen island in Norway
Chef Ragnar Martinsson fuels adventurers and adrenalin-seekers at Niehku, with the help of an engine pit-turned-wine-cellar beneath the restaurant.
Hublot Zermatt, POA,
SPF50 Balm, £16 for 20ml, Tropic,;;


Rwanda has emerged as Africa’s hottest destination this year, having spent 25 years in a state of healing after suffering the mass genocide of 1994. Now, it’s a leading example in conservation and peace, with premium tour operator One&Only opening two new digs from which to experience the country’s wildlife. Nyungwe House is set among a tea plantation and opened in October 2018, and Gorilla’s Nest, where guests will be able to witness native mountain gorillas, will open this month.

Locals by Nyungwe House

Further south, hotelier Arnaud Zannier opened Sonop this summer among the dunes and boulders of Namibia’s desert. The tented lodge is designed to mimic the colonial safari experiences of the 1920s, albeit with considerably more comfort. Stargazing and nature-spotting (kudus, leopards and oryxes wander the landscape) by horseback are highlights. At the newly-imagined Puku Ridge in Zambia, eight thatched suites overlook South Luangwa National Park where lions hunt, zebras feed and leopards loiter. It’s run by Africa’s first carbon-neutral safari business, and conservation is key. Go on a game drive by day and take a telescope to the rooftop starbeds by night.

Sonop, Namibia 

Silk scarf, £340, Hermès,
Twenty per cent from the sale of Grant MacDonald’s wildlife-inspired cufflinks goes towards Tusk, a charity that supports conservation initiatives throughout Africa such as the anti-poaching Mali Elephant Project. £220,;;


Palazzo Experimental, Venice

Venice is a city of melancholy and majesty, but Il Palazzo Experimental has brought a fresh optimism to its waterlogged ways. Expect Experimental Group’s usual standard of cocktail-making alchemy alongside Venetian cicchetti, and canalside vistas of Giudecca. Meanwhile, Nobu’s empire expands in Barcelona, with a scaled-up restaurant and 259 rooms arriving, fittingly, in the energetic neighbourhood of Eixample (Catalan for ‘expansion’). The eponymous restaurant on the top floor has skyline views and Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature dishes, such as yellowtail sashimi with garlic purée. Singapore’s Raffles has reopened after a £130 million renovation; New York’s literati are moving into the Moxy downtown, and Marrakech welcomes its first Oberoi property. JK Place Rive Gauche has opened its iron gate to an elegant crowd in Paris, where there are influences from David Hicks’ design and Blakes Hotel in London. Speaking of which, the capital is on track to open a record number of hotels next year – and 2019 has been strong, too. Eyes right for the four most fun places to sleepover in the city.

Nobu Barcelona
Boston loafers, £390, Crockett & Jones,
Replica Lazy Sunday Morning Eau de Toilette, £76,;;;;;