Winter-sun holiday? Ski break? Frankly, we just want to lock ourselves into a toasty lodge where we can hunker down and stay out the season with food on-hand, board games and books (or a good box set), before re-emerging bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed come spring. Cocoon yourself in a duvet and read on for the best dens to lie dormant in…
PLACE TO READ, NORTH ICELAND
Ice queen, Akureyri is the gateway to heli-skiing the powder-coated, shark-jawline ranges of Iceland‘s Troll Peninsula, whale-spying in Húsavík or belting out a brisk ‘Val-de ri, val-de rah ha ha ha ha ha’ as you tromp the perimeter of Lake Mývatn.
Hermitty procrastination is literally this hotel’s name; plus, the owners of this 19th-century Scandi-styled homestead have stocked the bookshelves with (multilingual, but mostly English) classic and contemporary page-turners. Grab one and settle on the sofa with the footstool or the cushy niche near the log-burner. There, isn’t that comfy? Other prime, slothful spots: the sauna and the open-air hot tub.
ARCTIC TREEHOUSE HOTEL, FINLAND
Finland’s slice of the Arctic Circle is a rosy-cheeked North Face advert of a place, where dashing through the snow is a national pastime. Go tobogganing, husky- or reindeer-sledding, snowmobiling or snowshoeing; when you’re not tilting at a drift, take a sub-zero swim in Lake Sierijärvi, blindfolded taste-test in the forest or run hot and cold in the outdoor spa, chasing an infrared-sauna sesh with an ice-swim.
If that sounds a bit Snowpiercer-y to you, you can lie in the Lap(land) of luxury in a Finnish-wood Treehouse Suite. The window wall’s view of snow-dusted pines lets you feel outdoorsy while you’re layered up with duvets and more pelts than a Viking with the sniffles. Larger Glasshouse cabins have a fireplace and sauna, too. There are two reasons to brave the cold: to dine on blackcurrant-marinated herring, smoked reindeer and bilberry-with-spruce desserts or board a Northern Lights flight to see auroras up-close.
THE KUMAON, HIMALAYAS
Bob Dylan, Timothy Leary and other free-thinkers have braced the considerable journey into the Himalayas’ former hippie hotspot, the Nanda Devi range for some head-clearing and mind-bending experiences of all sorts (Crank’s Ridge, just north of Almora was named for the nudists and experimentalists who settled there). Luxe lodge the Kumaon rests in a less fast-and-loose mountain fold, where slopes are strewn with oak, cedar and rhododendron trees and temples to deities Uma and Shiva are dotted about, joined up by trails. Bears, muntjacs and macaques roam here, and the big spot is a leopard at sunset. So, outdoorsiness is encouraged.
It would be rude to the Kumaon’s architects, Pradeep Kodikara and Jineshi Samaraweera (the former a disciple of Sri Lankan legend, Geoffrey Bawa), not to spend a serious amount of time admiring the tropical-modernist eyrie they’ve built, cantilevered over a cliff for maximum on-the-spot sightseeing. The 10 suites are warmed by bhukari (fireplaces) and they’re crafted using pinewood, bamboo and stone. Plus, they’re positioned for top-of-the-world aspects.
TOURISTS, THE BERKSHIRES
You’re unlikely to be battered by selfie sticks and showered with shoddy landmark figurines at Tourists. The name of this rustic stay, in the Berkshires’ extensive backyard should be taken with a pinch of hipster irony. It was swiped from signs along Massachusetts’ Mohawk Trail – one of many in the surrounding area, where fresh-air pursuits include a hike up Mount Greylock, pilgrimage to the Cascade waterfall or a brisk march along the Appalachian Trail. Artsy town North Adams offers galleries, breweries and other country-cool attractions, too. Onsite, gigs are held on the hotel grounds (co-owner and Wilco bassist John Stirratt sometimes takes to the stage) and the Chime Chapel is a playable art installation.
You can get your music fix listening to the hotel’s short-wave FM station, overseen by Stirratt, on your room’s radio. The austere-luxe dens are styled like a Brooklyn loft’s country cousin with cushioned window nooks, blonde-wood panelling, splash-of-local-colour artworks and cosy-underfoot rugs. When you’re not curled up with The Call of the Wild, James Beard-winning chef Cortney Burns’ dishes are served on the terrace and there’s a distinct possibility someone will whip out a ukulele to strum by the fire in the lounge.