EL COYOL, Nicaragua
Here is your own private tropical island, complete with a yoga platform, dance decks, a swimming pool and staff – and only a ten-minute boat ride from the vibrant city of Granada, where the party never stops. El Coyol is like Jurassic Park in miniature, with its tangle of jungle that is home to monkeys, parrots and butterflies. Lush gardens with mango trees and an enticing hanging bed wrap around the modernist main villa and pool pavilion, each sleeping up to four people. Take canoes out to explore these romantic and forgotten islands or venture into the bubbling volcanic hinterland for cloud-forest hikes to see the lava flow.
Set your new year’s good intentions at one of Asia’s loveliest retreats, Kamalaya, situated near a monk’s cave that once served as a place of meditation and a spiritual sanctuary. It’s beautiful and luxurious enough for partners not interested in following a detox or renewal program, yet rigorous and serious enough for those who are. The resort on paradisiacal Koh Samui is set on a clifftop, and just getting to and from the many complimentary yoga and qigong sessions in the day will keep you fit.
HAPPY HOUSE, NEPAL
This extraordinary house, which the legendary climber Sir Edmund Hillary dubbed his ‘happy place’, sleeps groups of up to 20 people in a remote beyul (or sacred valley) in northern Nepal. Off the tourist trail on the old salt route to Tibet and surrounded by rhododendron forests carpeted in moss, it is a perfect sanctuary from which to hike, bike and visit the historic monasteries that are the cradle of Tibetan Buddhism in the Himalayas. Staying here, you imbibe this sense of calm as easily as you breathe in the lungfuls of clean, pure air. But, the sybaritic pleasures at the Happy House are also memorable. There is a great wine cellar, a roster of delicious organic dishes by chef Mingmar, an extensive library and a vast cashmere-strewn living room painted floor-to-ceiling as a Buddhist mandala, commissioned by the notorious Everest climber Count Guido Monzino in the ’70s.
THE MUDHOUSE, Sri Lanka
See in the new year in this most grounding and life-affirming retreat. A 60-acre hideaway in the remote forested heartland of Sri Lanka, The Mudhouse is the passion project of English former DJ-cum-teacher Tom Armstrong and his Sri Lankan friend Ranjit Kumar. With 34 private huts and lodges dotted around the wetlands estate, it is brilliant for large gatherings of friends and family, or you can book the original tree house, a unique rustic love nest just for two. Be prepared to go back to nature – there’s no electricity or hot water, and everything from the mud houses themselves to the furniture and menu are local, farmed or handmade on the estate. At night, the place shimmers, lit only by oil lamps, with open fires outside each hut. There are dawn safaris, boat expeditions, wild swimming in the surrounding lakes, hikes to holy shrines in the hills and a New Year’s Eve party at what must be the loveliest water pavilion in the country. Book with experiencetravelgroup.com
THE NED, London
Soho House knows how to party, and the most glamorous place to welcome 2020 is in its biggest and boldest hotel, The Ned, in the City of London – think African malachite Art Deco pillars, polished walnut walls and ’20s crystal chandeliers. Come New Year’s Eve, the Grand Banking Hall transforms into a Studio 54-inspired disco, complete with glitter balls and live sets, plus limitless feasting across the ground floor. The next morning, you can recuperate with a detox brunch or head for the spa and steaming rooftop pool. Up there, from the heady heights of this Sir Edwin Lutyens-designed former bank, the view across the London skyline is straight out of Mary Poppins. The antics of the night before will seem like a distant midwinter dream.
BAHAMA HOUSE, Harbour Island
An 1800 former plantation home in Harbour Island, a picture-postcard enclave 15 minutes’ flight from Nassau, Bahama House is all old-world charm; sunlight filtered through louvered shutters throws shadows on the grass-cloth wallpaper, an overhead fan whips up the leaves of a book left beside a rattan sofa and hummingbirds dart between the foliage overhanging the outdoor pool. The house can be rented by the room or in its entirety – with 11 bedrooms, there is no shortage of space, so it’s great for multigenerational gatherings. Teenagers will love the live music spots and bars of nearby Dunmore Town and ocean-based activities such as bonefishing, surfing and exclusive use of a 35-foot Scorpion RIB with its own captain. Or just relax on the private beach. Book with elevenexperience.com