And so, another travel-filled year draws to a close. But, if you’re not ready to resign your suitcases to a dusty cupboard just yet (we know we aren’t), consider spending New Year’s Eve in one of our carefully chosen destinations. Head to New York for wild parties, Sri Lanka for a spiritual start to 2017, or Fiji if you’re just a bit competitive – here, you can watch the sun rise before anyone else. Our locations have been specifically chosen for their quirky traditions, luxurious hotels and party-a-bility (you’ll find no shrivelled sausage rolls or morose choruses of “Auld Lang Syne” here).
New York City
The Times Square celebrations are understandably legendary: the eye- (and ear-drum) popping fireworks display and Ball Drop have been televised on Dick Clark’s famous TV programme since 1972. The celebrations attract hundreds of revellers every year, so if you want in on the action, book a room at Chambers: just a 10-minute walk away, the hotel’s Terrace and Duplex Suites both have private balconies with firework views.
For Scots, Hogmanay is a bigger calendar date than Christmas, so it’s understandable Edinburgh takes its celebrations seriously. There’s live music, a street party and even special events for bairns (sweetly called Sprogmanay). The torchlit parade along the Royal Mile starts on the 30th, so there’s plenty of time to get into the swing of things: book a room at G&V Royal Mile for true Scottish splendour, or 21212 Restaurant with Rooms for its Michelin-starred restaurant.
Colombia is a New Year’s destination tailor-made for holiday-hungry Smiths; it’s traditional here to carry suitcases on 31 December, in hopes for a travel-filled year. Start 2017 as you mean to go on by venturing to Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, where the temperature rarely dips below the mid-twenties: book the Del Virrey suite and let the sun-kissed terraces and outdoor jacuzzi banish any vestiges of winter blues.
Sexy Smiths should head straight to Italy, where it’s tradition to wear red underwear on 31 December to bring luck for the New Year. Show off your best briefs at the Continentale in Florence, where the Penthouse Suite has a private terrace and an enormous bath tub big enough for swimming. If your first love is gourmet food rather than your other half (it happens…), Poggio Piglia in Tuscany makes its own olive oil and wine on site.
Can’t wait to start the party? Hop on a plane to Fiji to see the New Year hours before anyone else. Stay in the fully-staffed, luxury villas at Taveuni Palms, minutes from the beach. Alternatively, Dolphin Island hotel has just four rooms, so it’s only for the most discerning revellers. Just try not to make those poor people still stuck in 2016 too jealous with your social media snaps of the candlelit, flower-strewn floating pontoon…
New Year’s traditions in Portugal are understated; locals toast each other with champagne and have 12 raisins – one for each month of the following year – for luck. While this may seem modest, the small-but-sweet Memmo Alfama in Lisbon is anything but: modern decor, bold street art and a terraced pool bar will make for a cool, minimal start to 2017. Hit the local bars and street parties, then watch the sun come up over the red-tiled roofs from the Mansard Junior Suite.
If you can’t get away for 31 December, you needn’t miss the festivities – Chinese New Year takes place at the end of January 2017, so hop on a plane to Hong Kong to make up for lost time. It may be the year of the rooster, but you’re unlikely to be up at cock’s crow if you stay at The Upper House: the beds are so feather-soft, you won’t want to get up.
New Year for Sri Lankans is all about renewal: locals clean their houses, light fires and take herbal baths to refresh themselves and their homes before 1 January. If you’re in serious need of an overhaul yourself, book a retreat at Cape Weligama and indulge in sumptuous spa treatments, bound to leave you feeling rejuvenated. Eco-warriors will find sustainable luxury in plentiful supply at Tri, where Ayurvedic principles will help you relax and reboot.
The celebrations at Marina Bay are Singapore’s most spectacular: there are the obligatory fireworks, yes, but there’s also live music, a craft workshop and a waterfront bazaar where the shops are open until 3am. Stay at Fullerton Bay Hotel, where a digital art showcase that looks forward to a vibrant New Year is projected onto the historic façade. Grab the Bay View Room, which has a private Jacuzzi and incredible views of the waterfront and skyline.
New Year’s Eve may be a time for friends and family, but Chileans take it to an extreme: here, it’s customary to bed down in graveyards, in order to spend the night with loved ones. If this sounds a little uncomfortable to you, book into a luxury cabin at Awasi Patagonia – with hot tubs, marshmallow-soft beds and wood-burning stoves, you’ll definitely have a better night’s sleep.
Featured image is Cartagena; photo via Getty/Enzo Figueres