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How to have the perfect staycation at home, according to hoteliers

While we wait for the world of international travel to open up once again, many of us are seeking the joy, adventure and rejuvenation of a vacation at – or close to – home. Here, hoteliers from dream-worthy destinations tell KATIE BERRINGTON their secrets for bringing the wonder of travel to wherever you are


Make time to do some of your favorite things

“Start your day with yoga or meditation to ground yourself. Spoil yourself with a nice hot bath and add beautifully scented bath salts,” says Jeanette Mix of Stockholm’s Et Hemm. “Light a candle and play your favorite music. Moisturize afterwards with a rich body cream. Make time for an extra-long walk in nature. Leave your phone at home and pay attention to your surroundings. Pass the local bakery on the way back. Treat yourself to something really tasty. Smell and enjoy it!”

Above and main image: the considered interiors of Et Hemm in Stockholm are all about relaxed comfort – the kind you can create in your own space

Focus on the fundamentals of relaxation

“Many of the restful and restorative effects of a trip away can be put in place at home. Stopping work at a certain time, creating a comfortable space to relax in and enjoying the company of those with me. Space, time and simplicity,” says Sam Godsal, co-owner of Cobblers Cove, Barbados.

“Simplicity is the luxury I crave. And simplicity is one of the elements that makes a vacation feel so special. There’s less stuff around you, so I would start by creating a space that is free of clutter. In the bathroom, I would get a set of super-soft, deep-pile towels, a fresh bathrobe and a candle to have by the bathtub – and I would line up the products I love. For me, this always includes a large glass jar of rosemary-scented sea salts for the bath – for the feeling of wellbeing they give. But, most of all, I would make sure I allow myself plenty of time to spend soaking in that bathtub. And I’d prepare a pile of books I want to read – as if I were packing for a vacation. We shouldn’t look to vacations to be the be-all and the cure-all. We can give ourselves a little bit of that holiday feeling each and every day at home.”

The owner of Craveiral Farmhouse (above), in Portugal, recommends reconnecting with your surroundings and opening your eyes to the possibilities on your doorstep

Explore your surroundings with new eyes

“To have the most amazing staycation, we need to start by unplugging the TV – and stop watching the news. Then, start walking around the area we live in using the same spirit and eyes as when you are abroad,” advises Pedro Franca Pinto, owner of Craveiral Farmhouse in Alentejo, Portugal. “During such a quiet period, you can take advantage of the opportunity to really enjoy wherever it is you live. Go to the local market and buy really good organic products, get to know the local owners, supporting and learning from them – and enjoy the community as if you were there for the first time.”

At the vacation sanctuary that is Istoria (above), spaces are specifically designed to aid a carefree, relaxed state of mind

Find an escape from the everyday

“Staycations for me are a getaway from the current reality. They provide the opportunity to fully unwind and mindfully embrace a carefree, Cycladic state of mind – which is what we aspire to give our guests in our properties,” says Kalia Eliopoulos of Greek-island sanctuaries Istoria and Parīlio. “What I mostly look for in a staycation is to achieve the same mindset as when I travel; to cut off from reality, explore new places and experience a sense of profound relaxation. I try to wholly immerse myself in my surroundings and forge moments with loved ones to cherish – even if, for now, this is only for a few hours.”

Access your sense of adventure

For Dina De Luca Chartouni, co-owner and creative director at The Lowell, New York, it is all about finding ways to explore and switch off. “While traveling during the pandemic has been curtailed, I try to find other ways that give me a sense of adventure. I have learned to create ‘new worlds’ through virtual worlds. I have shopped at the souks in Nairobi, courtesy of Indagare’s virtual trips. I have joined yoga classes in India. And I have biked the back villages in Bavaria and taken scenic rides through New Zealand, and Iceland, courtesy of Peloton,” she says. “Throughout all these months, I continue to surround myself with small touches that I find essential to keeping joy and luxury aloft. These include surrounding myself with fresh bouquets of fragrant flowers, exploring new oils and lotions for long baths and refilling the wine cellar with new acquisitions from my favorite winery, Castiglion del Bosco.”

At Jnane Tamsna in Marrakech, a table is specially laid to fill the space with a sense of occasion. Candles, flowers and a considered menu can all help you recreate this special feeling at home

Enjoy a vacation-worthy soirée at home

Meryanne Loum-Martin, owner of Jnane Tamsna, recommends recreating the experience of a favorite vacation dinner. She takes inspiration from nights at her boutique hotel in Marrakech: “On the table, covered with a suzani or an Indian fabric, I would set lots of glass candles and have bowls of water with floating rose petals. Because we use organic orchard produce at Jnane Tamsna, I would do a citrus chutney made with lemon jam, spices, garlic and fresh ginger. Then, for dessert, I’d prepare oranges and cinnamon, which I would cook very slightly to caramelize the oranges. With the addition of a full-bodied red wine, lots of candles and some comfortable pillows, I would enjoy a Moroccan One Thousand and One Nights-themed evening, while we are unable to live the real thing.”

Look for ways to keep connecting

“This past year has been brutal in so many ways, but if there is a positive point we have all felt, it is the power of connection. Connection through social media and the internet is what has kept us all on track with the outside world, our family and friends – albeit from afar and on a different time zone,” shares Mariella Avino, owner of Palazzo Avino. “For me, one way of doing this has been through food – traveling virtually and experimenting with different cuisines and recipes. On Instagram, I connected with lots of chefs and tried their quarantine recipes. It was the highlight of my lockdown days.”

Instil some hotel allure into your home

“This spirit of enjoying the everyday and being present in the moment can be shared wherever you are, and I can recommend a few small ideas to help bring the magic of the Maldives to your home,” says Esin Güral Argat, owner of Joali. “Firstly, add in lots of indoor greenery. Colorful art can add the wow factor to your space, too. And, in the evenings, I’d recommend enjoying some me time with a calming yoga or meditation session. Afterwards, enjoy a long and luxurious bath – the type you would usually only reward yourself with on vacation.”


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