Forgo the classic travel destinations with packed beaches, all-inclusive resorts and stagnant activists. It’s time to welcome an upgraded travel guide full of this year’s hottest getaways that promise exclusive accommodations, a secluded getaway, fine dining and adventurous, culturally rich experiences.
These hotspots may require a few (first-class) connecting flights to get to, but the travel time is worth it when you arrive at these five-star boutique hotels. Just as cultural as they are chic, ChicagoMOD has rounded up three go-to destinations that may just become your favorite places on earth.
Where to go: With the countless historical sites scattered around the cultural hub of Kyoto, planning your list of attractions can be almost impossible, but here’s one you won’t want to miss. Make your way to Arashiyama, a beautiful quaint neighborhood on the western side of Kyoto. Surrounded by beautiful cherry blossom trees and robust mountains, you’ll find yourself engulfed in nature. The most well-known landmark of Arashiyama is the Togetsukyo Bridge, which has spanned the Katsura River since 1934. Shops, temples, gardens and restaurants can be found on either side of the bridge, making this attraction an all-day affair. Visitors recommend renting bikes to explore the city’s surroundings.
Where to stay: You’ll get a little reminder of home as you stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto. Get that same at-home luxury from across the world with their expansive suites and fine dining services. Located on the banks of the Kamogawa River, you’ll get breathtaking views of the Higashiyamo Sanju-Roppo mountains. Some suites even have outdoor gardens modeled after traditional Japanese moon viewing decks. You’ll be sure to get a sense of Japanese warmth and elegance throughout your stay.
Where to eat: If you’re looking for an excellent steakhouse, look no further than Hafuu. Known for their beef cutlets and perfectly marinated steak, their entrees are to die for. Take a seat and watch the chef prepare your meal right before your eyes. Enjoy a delicious beef cutlet sandwich for either lunch or dinner, and you’ll be wanting to come back every night.
Why to visit: No visit to Japan is complete without visiting the cultural center of Kyoto. With over 400 shrines and countless temples, palaces and gardens, you’ll never run out of things to do. Upon entering the city you’ll find the people there are striving to keep the culture alive and genuinely want to share it with you. Revel in the beauty of the city and perhaps learn more about the culture you’ve immersed yourself in.
Where to go: With hiking trails, art galleries and of course wine, Stellebbosch, located in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, is the place to be. Its vineyards, which are surrounded by enormous mountains, make your wine tasting experience that much more memorable. With over 100 wine cellars and daily tasting tours, you won’t be leaving unsatisfied. They even claim to have Pinotage, the only new grape variety created outside of Europe. Experience the astounding nature of South Africa with a hike through the city and the cellars.
Where to stay: Find the most accommodating and luxurious stay of a lifetime at Schoone Oordt Country House, located in the beautiful town of Swellendam. Choose from one of their 10 luxury rooms among the lush gardens or find a more private getaway in the family cottage or a romantic escape in their honeymoon suite. This restored Victorian manor will have everything you could ever need. From complimentary slippers to heated towel racks, the attention is in the details.
Where to eat: Make sure to stop at the internationally acclaimed La Colombe during your stay in South Africa. Take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards while enjoying a fusion of Asian and French cuisine. These signature dishes use only the freshest ingredients and the purest intentions. Chef Scot Kirton seeks inspiration from his environment to create the most unique and delicious dishes. His passion for food is unmistakable.
Where to go: This east coast city has more to offer than its more mainstream counterparts, with its exquisite white-sand beaches, coves for exploring and other pristine attractions. Tulum is full of cenotes, natural pools you can swim in with caves. By far the most popular spot is the Grand Cenote, great for visitors and families. For the classic Tulum experience, you can’t miss the family-friendly Tulum beach, where the famous Mayan ruins are situated. Located at the northern side of Tulum beach, the ruins are perfect for visiting in the morning before soaking up the sun at one of Tulum’s most famous beaches. For art aficionados, pay a visit to the Tulum Art Club, which opened in early 2016, to check out international and local art.
Where to stay: For a chic stay, opt for Casa Malca, boasting a secluded 600-foot stretch of beach and contemporary furnishings designed by New York-based art dealer, Lio Malca. Guests will love the contemporary art installed throughout the hotel, in addition to guest rooms that open to the sparkling ocean. For the eco-friendly bunch, Sanara Tulum hosts vinyasa yoga sessions, fresh smoothies and organic bath products for a health-conscious stay. For those seeking a more high-profile getaway, Hotel Esencia is frequented by the Hollywood and fashion folk alike. The modern stay includes two restaurants, two pools and a spa, among other impressive amenities.
Where to eat: When it comes to eating in Tulum, there is no better destination than Hartwood. Both a foodie magnet and one of the most famous restaurants in Tulum, this outdoor space features tasty cocktails in an outdoor, candlelit setting. Seafood is exquisite here, as is their slow-cooked pork with a Mexican twist, so be sure to bring a hearty appetite. Another must-try restaurant is the beachside La Popular, one of two restaurants at the Nomade hotel. Grilled seafood is the specialty here, which you can enjoy inside cushy cabanas and at low coffee tables on carpet. The non-conformist dining experience only adds to the delightful vibe.