With the international travel hopefully resuming soon, here are some easy and classic destinations, all driving distance from popular cities, for locals and travelers alike itching to get out of bustling cities for a quick road trip:
Lake Maggiore — Three Hours from Zurich and Milan
Located on the border of Italy and Switzerland, Lake Maggiore is an amazing under-the-radar gem for travelers interested in an Italian-inspired getaway. Just three hours from the bigger cities of Zurich and Milan, Lake Maggiore's shores are dotted with picturesque resorts, elegant villas and small towns with exquisite restaurants, traditional Italian grottos, and luxurious boutiques.
Hidden at the top of the lake, on the northern Swiss shores of Ascona, sits Hotel Eden Roc. The Mediterranean-inspired resort has a prime waterfront spot with a private yachting marina,and is walking distance from Ascona’s main piazza. The property also features four exceptional restaurants, including Michelin-starred La Brezza, a 21,528 square-foot Spa and Wellness Center and a veritable Garden of Eden, making it a perfect destination for a quiet city break.
Bath — Two Hours from London
A two hour drive or 90 minute train ride from London, The Georgian historic city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site with museums, ancient sites and beautiful architecture for guests to explore. Travelers seeking an enriching experience can walk the streets of Bath and visit the city’s treasured spots, such as the Ancient Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey and the Holburne Museum of Art. Bath provides the buzz of a modern city, but also the opportunity to go on the six-mile Bath Skyline circular walk, which takes travelers through forests and over rolling hills with spectacular views.
The only city in the UK that has natural thermal springs, Bath is home to The Gainsborough Bath Spa, a five-star luxury spa hotel located in the center of town. The Gainsborough is the only hotel that has tapped into the natural thermal waters of Bath, providing guests with incredible spa treatments and thermal pools to bathe in the healing waters.
De Hoop Nature Reserve — Three Hours from Cape Town
Lekkerwater Beach Lodge is an exclusive Natural Selection lodge perched on the coast of De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa. Lekkerwater, meaning “the place of good water,” is accessible via 3 hour drive (or well under an hour via helicopter) from Cape Town, half of which is a gravel and involves a series of gates within the nature reserve. The lodge is located where the mountains meet the sea in De Hoop Nature Reserve, an area renowned for its historic roots, pristine beauty, seclusion, and its diverse plant life and wildlife. The nature reserve was also the site of the former South African President FW de Klerk’s private retreat, a destination he would use to escape the hustle and bustle of Cape Town to enjoy the tranquility of the reserve. One of the highlights of Lekkerwater is the spectacular land-based whale watching opportunities, guests have the chance to spot southern right whales, less common Bryde’s whales and even migrating humpbacks from the beach or the comfort of their room. Guests can also explore the reserve on a marine walk to nearby tidal pools and caves, an excursion to the Potberg Mountains to see the Cape Vulture colony, and a guided fynbos walk to discover the landscape’s over 1,500 species of plants and flowers. Lekkerwater Beach Lodge features seven guest rooms situated along the pristine white sand beachfront with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook the Indian Ocean and marine life ahead. The main area of the lode offers the same picturesque views with a wraparound deck, an interactive open kitchen, a comfy lounge area, pool, and large dining table for family-style communal dining.
While in Cape Town the ultimate hotel to stay with is Ellerman House, a quintessential urban retreat for discerning luxury travelers wanting to experience the very best of South Africa. Located in Bantry Bay, the hotel offers spectacular Atlantic Ocean views against the dramatic backdrop of Lion's Head. Clifton's beaches are within walking distance, while the best local attractions are a 10-minute drive away. Featuring one of South Africa’s most impressive private art collections, an award-winning wine list, and gourmet modern cuisine, Ellerman House is an entire destination in itself epitomizing the best Cape Town has to offer.
Shambala Private Game Reserve — Two and a half Hours from Johannesburg
Just a two and half hour drive (or 45 minute helicopter ride) up north of Johannesburg is Zulu Camp at Shambala Private Game Reserve. Situated on nearly 25 acres in the Limpopo Province, Zulu Camp at Shambala Private Game Reserve is set under the watchful guardianship of the picturesque, malaria-free Waterberg mountains, and the magnificent African bushveld is home to a variety of remarkable flora and fauna also includes The Big Five. Zulu Camp was built in traditional Zulu style with streams from the nearby river running through the camp. The camp offers the extraordinary experience of staying in traditional honeycomb-shaped chalets in the heart of the bushveld. Each chalet also includes a personal butler service to assist guests during their stay at all times. The reserve also included Shambala Spa, an intimate wellness retreat that provides individualized treatments including facials, manicures and pedicures. At Shambala Private Game Reserve, guests can enjoy bush picnics, game drives, star gazing, guided bush walks, interactions with the Big Five, game research and monitoring, and sundowner cruises on the Douw Steyn Dam.
Saint-Tropez — Two Hours from Marseille
Since the 1960’s Saint-Tropez has long been a getaway destination for French locals and international guests a like. Once a humble fishing village, Saint-Tropez is now widely known as one of the most high profile coastal retreats in the world. Just under a 2 hour drive form Mariselle, the legendary charm Saint-Tropez allures travelers with its glamorous playground of rolling countryside sandy beaches, gourmet food, pulsing nightlife, large yachts, open air markets, and upscale boutiques. For travelers interested in the region's culture, the village offers a number of colorful museums, historic churches, cobblestone medieval streets, and contemporary art galleries. Hôtel Lou Pinet is a luxury hideaway in the French Rivera’s legendary town of Saint-Tropez. Embodying the bohemian charm of Saint-Tropez, it has been strategically located between Place des Lices and peninsula’s most sought-after beaches — an exclusive address dating back to the 1960s before fever took hold of the little village. Far from the crowds, but still near everything, Hôtel Lou Pinet strikes a perfect balance for the ultimate Saint-Tropez vacation and was designed for those looking for an equilibrium between the thrill of partying and peaceful refuge. Especially created by French architect, interior decorator and designer Charles Zana, the space echoes the vintage Saint-Tropez spirit of the 60’s and 70’s. The hotel features 26 guestrooms and 8 suites - each bathed in natural light with private gardens, spa in partnership with Tata Harper, two bars, it's very own BeefBar restaurant butcher shop, and the largest pool in Saint-Tropez tucked away in a secret garden. Guests can enjoy the carefully curated lush and secret Mediterranean garden, which includes a lavender field and herb garden along with large outdoor art installations. The garden serves as a majestic backdrop to the hotel’s grand emerald green swimming pool, spacious terrace and the hotel’s three houses, a true hidden gem in Saint-Tropez.
Martha’s Vineyard — Two and a half Hours from Boston
For those looking for an escape from the bustling streets of Boston, Martha’s Vineyard is a welcome getaway. Accessible through only boat or air, the island of Martha’s Vineyard has plenty of outdoor activities for travelers to enjoy. Aquinnah Cliffs, Gay Head Light, Larsen’s Fish Market and the island’s many beaches make for a relaxing seaside stay. Those who prefer their own space can have complete privacy in their own luxury property- which is basically the size of a small inn. This Martha’s Vineyard Compound (available for rental through luxury travel club THIRDHOME) offers guests views of Buzzards Bay and has a main house which boasts five bedrooms and three baths. The master bedroom has a balcony where guests can sip their morning coffee while taking in views of the Elizabeth Islands and southern coast of Massachusetts. When the sunsets, visitors can also snuggle up next to the home’s large stone fireplace. The property also has a guest house with two bedrooms and two baths as well as a media screen for cozy movie nights in.
Any of these city break experiences can be organized with start-up premium travel company, Niarra Travel, a next generation tour operator that operates according to its two guiding principles of transparency and purpose to ensure that each trip has a positive impact on the ground.