Travel after COVID-19: Armchair travel inspiration for when lockdown lifts



With the Olympics now postponed, 2021 is the year to visit the Land Of The Rising Sun. Japan’s high-speed bullet trains make it easy to zip between cities Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima.


In picking the Polish capital as the place for its newest opening, one of the world’s coolest hotel brands, Nobu, has marked the city as the hottest new mini-break destination, and Warsaw is also welcoming a wave of new restaurants, bars and art galleries.

For more wallet-friendly accommodation, try Motel One.


Striking scenery, quaint port towns and cheaper prices than in neighbouring Croatia, Montenegro is Europe’s undiscovered gem.

Iberostar plans to open three new properties there this year, while luxury hotel brand One&Only has chosen Kotor’s Boka Bay as the location for its first European resort, due to open in October.


Scarlet Lady

He has conquered air, rail and even space travel, so surely it was only a matter of time before Richard Branson took to the open waters.

Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, is expected to set sail on its maiden voyage for the Caribbean in summer and we bet it’s like no cruise you’ll have ever been on.

Aiming at a younger traveller than the stereotypical cruising customer, there’s no buffet, no formalwear night and no extra-charge speciality restaurants.

Instead, you’ll find experimental eateries, “rock-star suites” by interior designer Tom Dixon and a tattoo studio.

Celebrity Apex

For a slower-paced experience, Celebrity Cruises’ new ship, Celebrity Apex, promises to deliver “the very latest culinary, spa and wellness trends”.

This includes a laid-back bar serving more than 50 craft beers, locally inspired spa menus and new entertainment offerings like cabaret shows.

The Apex’s first Caribbean sailing casts off on November 7.

Viva Tiara

Take to Europe’s waterways as river cruise specialist VIVA Cruises relaunches its flagship vessel, Viva Tiara, this year.

The cabins, restaurant and wellness area have all had a revamp and the Tiara gives 153 guests a chance to explore rivers such as the Danube, Rhine and Seine in comfort.


The Spa at Carden

The beginning of this year saw a £10 million destination spa open in the heart of Cheshire.

The Spa At Carden is a sprawling space in Carden Park hotel’s sensory gardens, dotted with hydrotherapy pools, warming cabins and plenty of spots for lounging.

Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa

Fancy spending a night in the treetops? Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa has opened the Northeast’s first luxury treehouses.

With luxurious decor, freestanding baths and bubbling hot tubs, they’re the perfect place to continue the relaxation after your session in the hotel’s spa.

Victoria Falls Safari Spa

For a wellness experience further afield, September sees the opening of Zimbabwe’s first destination spa, the Victoria Falls Safari Spa on the Africa Albida Tourism estate.

And while you’re probably not going to go all the way to Zimbabwe just to sit in a hot tub, it’s ideal for tacking on the end of a safari holiday.

In keeping with the incredible surrounding nature, the spa will feature outdoor showers, indigenous oils and ancient healing practices – just the thing after a long and dusty game drive.


The Pig at Harlyn Bay

The Pig hotels continue its expansion by taking the unique brand of relaxed, food-focused hospitality to the north Cornwall coast.

The Pig at Harlyn Bay, near Padstow, sees a 16th-century mansion transformed into a welcoming getaway with a cracking kitchen garden just a stone’s throw from the beach.

The hotel is hoping to open in the summer – book now and look out for a new Pig coming to the South Downs in 2021.

Black Rock Tavern

Out in the capital and fancy a nightcap? Whisky specialist bar Black Rock Tavern, in London’s Shoreditch, has recently expanded to include four minimalist Japanese-style bedrooms.

With a bar that’s home to more than 250 whiskies and with blending experiences available to book, you might be thankful for the short stumble to bed.

The Falcon

Starting life in 1594 as a coaching inn, The Falcon at Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, has been restored and redesigned into a luxurious countryside retreat.

The 22 bedrooms stick to a soft, neutral colour scheme, while the restaurant sources much of its produce from within the 11,000-acre estate.


Galapagos Islands

For nature lovers, the Galapagos Islands, with their species of animals, birds and plants that are found nowhere else in the world, are surely the ultimate travel goal.

Start your trip of a lifetime at Mashpi Lodge, an eco-hotel in the middle of mainland Ecuador’s Mashpi cloud forest, before taking a short flight over to the archipelago’s rugged Santa Cruz Island.

Use Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel as your base to explore the island’s rugged landscape and unique wildlife – this resort employs sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices for minimal impact on this very special corner of the world.


White sand, clear waters and plenty of peace and quiet – for the ultimate paradise island experience, the Maldives is hard to beat.

And if this doesn’t already sound relaxing enough, a new wellness-focused resort is opening on the island in September.

Kagi Maldives Spa Island will offer a complete wellness experience with an open-air yoga pavilion, alternative therapies and nutrition lessons available to help guests “release, restore and regain”.


If you often find yourself Googling “what is the weather like in [insert destination] in [insert time of year]?” DK Eyewitness’s Where To Go When, £18.99, is for you. It suggests destinations by month, explaining in detail and with stunning photography, why this would be a great time to visit.

Keeping close to home, Around The Coast In 80 Days: Your Guide To Britain’s Best Coastal Towns, Beaches, Cliffs & Headlands by Peter Naldrett, £16.99, calls at 80 locations around the UK, starting at what is arguably the country’s most famous seaside resort, Blackpool.

With covers as striking as artwork, Assouline books, £70 each, are full of beautiful imagery of iconic spots. Pick your favourite book or stack up a selection for a splash of colour at home.

See Express Bookshop here.

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