This winter, we will be heading into the Greek mountains in the central Peloponnese, where a new design hotel is redefining the area for the modern traveler. Only two and a half hour's drive from Athens, Manna is nestled among a forest of firs on Mount Mainalo in Arcadia, an area steeped in myth as the stomping ground of the god Pan and his nymphs. The century-old building, which used to be a sanatorium for soldiers, had been left to ruin since the 1930s until new owner Stratis Batayas achieved his childhood dream of turning it into a hotel. A love letter to the region, where his family’s roots stretch back generations, Manna has been designed by K Studio to be in harmony with the tranquility of its natural surroundings. Book into Room 405 and discover the area through its hiking trails, rivers, unspoiled villages, and rustic tavernas — Taverna Joseph in Magouliana is Batayas’ favorite.
In December, Vienna is utterly magical. Glühwein and hot punch scent the air, and its handsome streets are strung with thousands of festive lights. Stay at the grand Hotel Sacher, a fin-de-siècle property that sits on Kärntner Strasse opposite the Opera and Albertina Museum, and was once the meeting place for Vienna’s high society.
For something a little more alternative, book into the Altstadt Vienna in the city’s fashionable “Boboville” district. An old aristocratic house, its interiors are filled with more than 400 artworks from Picassos to Warhols. Explore the city on foot and soak up its advent atmosphere, stopping in at historic churches by day and Christmas markets, such as the one Schloss Schönbrunn — by night. While in town, you have to eat tafelspitz (a kind of boiled beef) at Plachutta — and don’t miss the Klimt Collection at Belvedere.
Lech is a forever classic and one of our favorite mountain destinations for winter. With the season starting in early December, and the launch of our new book The Alps at the Schmelzhof on the 6th, it’s the ideal time to visit. Stay at the Sonnenhof, the new chalet project from Katia and Gerold Schneider which is also behind the Almhof Schneider hotel;
Or Der Berghof, which sits quietly just above Lech and has its own lift to whizz guests up to the hotel from the village. When you’re not making the most of the Arlberg’s top-notch pistes — or snowshoeing or cross-country skiing — stop in at the elegant Murmeli for lunch and pop to Zug for a special dinner at Rote Wand Chef’s Table.
Read our Lech Insider Guide here.
St Moritz, Switzerland
A fairytale region of the Swiss Alps, the Engadine has a magnificent landscape that stretches across an expansive plateau, and is studded with lakes that become frozen playgrounds come winter. Glitzy St Moritz is its beating heart and the birthplace of winter tourism and Alpine sport — and is home to the castle-like Suvretta House. The only hotel in the area with ski-in-ski-out perks, this grande dame mountain hotel is known for its white-glove service and its Grand Restaurant where a classic French menu is served. On-piste pleasure is found in four vast areas —Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza, and Lagalb—while the daring will want to join in the infamous Cresta Run, an ice luge run, or enjoy a spot of snow polo. As we gear up for Christmas, there are fewer more magical places to be.
Read our St Moritz Insider Guide here.
Bavarian Alps, Germany
This month, the Bavarian Alps are teetering into their winter sports season, with everything from ski touring and ice skating on offer. Our first port of call will be Der Schmiedhof, which sits in the idyllic hamlet of Geitau, framed by the Wendelstein on one side and the Aiplspitz on the other. Lovingly converted from an old farmhouse, its beautifully designed apartment-style suites are presided over by owner Brigitte, who is on hand to share her local recommendations, such as those in the nearby market town of Bayrischzell.
Next, we’ll make our way to near Chiemsee and The Frasdorfer Hütte, which dates back to 1937 and is the home of Stubn. An Alpine restaurant with rooms, it’s the brainchild of restaurateur Ludwig Cramer-Klett and can only be reached on foot. In winter, it’s all about cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, before settling into the cozy dining room for multi-course dinners that roll with the hills and the seasons. Nearby, you can also experience one of the area’s most beautiful Christmas markets, which sits on an island in the Chiemsee.
The buzzy capital of South Tyrol, Bolzano, is becoming something of a hotbed for creatives, entrepreneurs, and those in search of the good life. Standing in the foothills of the Dolomites, it feels like a mountainous version of Florence. Vibrant piazzas, historic castles, and an aperitivo culture mingle with design-conscious hotels and stylish shops. Stay at the city’s best address, Parkhotel Mondschein, which marries Art Nouveau balconies and ancient stone stairs with contemporary interiors. This month, it hosts a Winterkiosk, in collaboration with Monocle, where you can shop, taste local wines, and discover local DJs.
Read our Bolzano Insider Guide here.
Only an hour from west London, Heckfield Place is the country hotel we have our sights set on this month. Elegant and sumptuous with beautiful bedrooms, its new spa The Bothy hides in a walled garden, while Skye Gyngell’s restaurant draws on the bounty of its surrounding land. During December, it will host various festive happenings from artisan markets to wreath making classes and tablescaping workshops. If you don’t have time to leave London, make the most of the capital’s most Christmassy hotels, including Claridge’s and its always iconic tree.