Best of CH 2021: Travel

Inspiring destinations both near and far in a year when we reconsidered what travel means

Over the last two years our relationship with travel has been upended. Though it may still provide inspiration and we might continue to dream of destinations at earth’s end, concerns over health and the safety of those around us have influenced what we’re capable of doing and when. The trips we highlight below were taken with utmost caution and although those expeditions are now over, we continue to bask in the beauty that we experienced within. From tiny, high-design cabins in New York’s Catskills region to a luxuriant casa outside of Oaxaca and an inclusive surf school in Tofino, these adventures—both near and far—are dreams turned into reality.

Courtesy of Elewana

Word of Mouth: Safari Hotel Hop, Kenya

Few nations boast Kenya’s astounding biodiversity, but the birthplace of the luxury safari isn’t only about animals. Home to some of the most spectacular hotels on the continent, Kenya tempts safari first-timers and loyalists with its ever-growing selection of private lodges, tented camps and plush resorts; some set in remote wildlife corridors and others on the urban fringes of Nairobi’s own national park… Read more.

Courtesy of Marco Poderi

Experiencing Massimo Bottura’s Glorious Casa Maria Luigia

Anyone who loves food and cars will know the city of Modena in northern Italy. Located in the picturesque Emilia Romagna region, Modena is just over 11 miles from Motor Valley, where Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and many other historic companies produce their vehicles. Emilia Romagna is also known as Food Valley; parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto di parma and balsamic vinegar have been made there for centuries, and for the last 25 years it has been the home of Massimo Bottura‘s beloved three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria FrancescanaRead more.

by Julie Wolfson

Word of Mouth: Chinatown, Los Angeles

To celebrate LA’s Chinatown, it’s crucial to understand and appreciate its dynamic past. In the 1870s, the original Chinatown began in downtown LA between El Pueblo Plaza and Old Arcadia St and expanded east. In 1931, a California Supreme Court decision upheld the construction of the new Union Station on the site of Old Chinatown, leading to the formation of the Los Angeles Chinatown Project Association and plans to develop the new Chinatown on Broadway—where it remains today. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, construction of several landmark buildings and plans for shops, restaurants and apartments created the framework for what became Chinatown Los Angeles. The new Chinatown was planned, owned and operated by Chinese Americans to acknowledge culture and progress, and Chinatown Central Plaza was built to be the heart of the community. Today, many of the founding families still own the buildings that make up the vibrant, ever-evolving neighborhood… Read more.

Courtesy of Casa Silencio

Mystery + Luxury at Casa Silencio in Xaagá, Mexico

Casa Silencio sits at the base of a mountain within Silent Valley just outside the small town of Xaagá, Oaxaca. The stunning, solar-powered hacienda—from the founders of Mezcal El Silencio, Vicente Cisneros and Fausto Zapata—is full of juxtapositions. Comprising just six suites, a large indoor/outdoor dining room, bar area, library and boutique-meets-lobby, it feels simultaneously opulent and rustic. Inspired by Oaxaca’s natural landscape, legendary architect Alejandro D’Acosta (known for his daring designs and use of eco-friendly materials) built the striking casa using local materials including reclaimed wood, steel, stone and compressed soil—”tapial” in Spanish. More than a hotel though, the 16-acre estate also houses El Silencio’s distillery, whose tahona and non-traditional roasting pit are functioning daily—the smoky scent of agave cooking only adding to its mysterious charm… Read more.

Courtesy of Getaway

Escape to Getaway’s Tiny Cabins Around the US

To best understand the Getaway experience requires walking through the booking process to stay at one of their quaint cabins, which range from 140 to 200 square feet of interior space. The hospitality venture, with destinations oriented around disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature, has outposts within close reach of 16 major metropolitan areas across the US—including NYC, Nashville, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Dallas, LA and many more. After selecting the area from which you’d like to escape (in our instance, NYC), you’re prompted with location options and cabin styles. We selected the western Catskills region and only after booking a spot, were we told the exact address… Read more.

Courtesy of Pia Riverola and Shila

An Elegant Oasis in Athens, Shila Hotel

Athens is home to ancient treasures as well as contemporary gems, and Shila—a boutique hotel located in the Kolonaki neighborhood—echos that combination with aplomb. At the base of Mount Lycabettus (which offers a stunning view of the city and, of course, the Acropolis), the hotel is discreetly nestled in a quiet, car-free lane. Seamlessly blending 1920s bohemian elements with bold, contemporary design touches and modern amenities, the six-suite hotel feels at once cozy and expansive, familiar and otherworldly, refined and opulent… Read more.

Courtesy of Black Tomato

Black Tomato’s Family Travel Adventures Inspired by Children’s Stories

Many of us have dreamed of stepping into a book and living among the world painted in its pages. This sentiment informs a new program, “Take Me on a Story,” from the luxury, experiential travel organization Black Tomato. With the choice of five immersive itineraries designed for the whole family, the program looks to children’s classics to plot adventures around the planet. Destinations range from Morocco and Iceland to Alaska and the Caribbean, and the activities aim to inspire and educate beyond the ordinary. Be it dog-mushing on a glacier or a Mad Hatter tea party in a flowering garden, these experiences bring literature to life… Read more.

Courtesy of Paragon 700

Inside Puglia’s Eccentric Design Den, Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel + Spa

Within the picturesque confines of Ostuni—Puglia’s historic white city—the new 11-room boutique hotel Paragon 700 invites guests into an enchanting, eccentric restoration of an 18th century palazzo. Proprietors Ulrike Bauschke and Pascale Lauber transformed the abandoned bones of the palace into a contemporary design destination, complete with top-tier amenities, impeccable hospitality, delectable food and drink outlets and a peaceful pool that works in tandem with the southern Italian sunshine. Further, all of these splendors have been imagined and maintained by Bauschke and Lauber—the owners and an LGBTQ+ couple… Read more.

Courtesy of Surf Sister

Surf Sister’s Welcoming, Inclusive School in Tofino, Canada

In November, the average temperature of the water in Tofino is 50 degrees, and it rains a lot—more than any other month. But for these reasons, November is actually one of the best times to visit the island and the surf capital of Canada. “One of the brilliant things about here is that when it’s sunny, it’s epic and there’s so much stuff to do,” says Krissy Montegomery, owner of Tofino-based Surf Sister—a surf school that offers daily group and private lessons, multi-day camps and surf-centric trips abroad. “But when it rains here, it’s actually when our surf is usually the best, because our dominant wind then becomes an offshore wind making our waves better.” Read more.

Courtesy of The Wayfinder

Word of Mouth: Newport, Rhode Island

Best known for its lavish history during the Gilded Age and a flourishing sailing culture, Newport is the southernmost town on Aquidneck Island. Located beside Narragansett Bay, it’s a 40-minute drive from Rhode Island’s capital, Providence. While embarking on the Cliff Walk, visiting the mansions and boating are all Newport classics, there are plenty of lesser-known, nuanced treasures to be found in this seaside town… Read more.

Hero image courtesy of Casa Silencio