What? Is she mad, touting adventures on a short work week (for those of you still working), or a mere four days before Christmas and cheekily calling it Christmas Getaways? Hard times often require bigger imaginations, loftier goals, out-of-this-world aspirations. Everything begins with the slightest of thoughts, the faintest of wishes. A few adult fantasies to carry you into the new year and, perhaps, land you right into the middle of something you hardly thought possible. Just in time for next Christmas. You can dream, can’t you?
While this may not appeal to the seekers of sun and warmth, the idea of watching the legendary Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) while curled up in bed as a twosome basking in the glow is certainly an enticement worth considering. The Hotel Kakslauttanen is the home of the Igloo Village, famed for its unique Glass and Snow Igloos. This winter wonderland also boasts the World’s Largest Snow Restaurant completely furnished in elaborately carved ice sculptures illuminated in celestial light. The Northern Lights are visible from late August to late April and are reputed to be as breathtaking as described.
Kakslauttanen Hotel & Igloo Village
For those of you who gush over Madame Bovary (“Moi? ” she exclaimed in feigned surprise) and dream of rambling through magnificent French chateaus in the countryside, the Mirais House is most decidedly your rose petaled cup of tea. The 16th-century five-story townhouse resides on the oldest street in the Marais and is a museum of character, brandishing a 15th-century vaulted cellar and stone floor. If this sounds wonderfully “Harry Potter” to you, consider that its neighboring house was built by the very chemist who inspired J.K. Rowling’s precocious wizard.
This is a bed and breakfast meant for holiday romps overflowing with wine. Where do I sign? Owner Yann-Gabriel Hentschke is a gifted storyteller, using as his tools gorgeous silks, antiques, wrought iron banisters, stone fireplaces and 16th-century terra cotta tiles while crowning the five bedrooms with clunky wooden canopys and mahogany-paneled bathrooms. Rent a room, or rent the entire building, as the famed and fabulous are wont to do.
Rue De Turenne
Who of us, particularly those of us, with a penchant for the far flung lust-driven affair has not entertained the possibility of an old-world romance? Just once. Imagine strolling arm and arm through the vineyards of the Valpolicella region just outside Romeo and Juliet’s hometown of Verona, with plans to spend the coming days and nights in a hypnotic Venetian-style villa infused with a whacky blend of contemporaneous uber-stylish-arty-luxe rooms?
Welcome to the fabled Byblos Art Hotel, just 7 kilometers away from the noble, operatic and romantic city of Verona. It is no wonder that the Italians seem to have perfected the nuances of love, no? Everything is considered. Dining in the Restaurant Atelier with local and international dishes that make every meal a culinary sensation, or spending unusually prolonged moments of lost time in a refined atmosphere of cocktails, aperitifs and delicately prepared h’orderves in a place as unpretentious as its name: Peter’s Bar. Or sampling one of the 1400 selections of wine housed in what is fittingly described as a fourteenth century wine cellar furnished with classical pieces coordinated with works of contemporary art. Romeo and Juliet never had it so good.
Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista
Via Cedrare, 78,
Corrubbio Di San Pietro In Cariano
I have no way of knowing who reads these pages, but I would suspect that a few of you share my yearning for the unconventional, which is why a sojourn to Adrere Amellal is so suitably in order. Located at the foot of the White Mountain in Egypt’s Siwa Oasis, this is not a spot for the meek, the spoiled or the entitled. For example, do you expect your hotel to be made out of bricks and mortar? Does living without 24-hour room service bring you out in a rash? Is air conditioning essential, or even, is electricity itself essential? If you answer yes to any of the above, you may wish to click your browser’s “back” button, as the Adrere Amellal will feel like a step into another world.
Because it is. A step into another world, which is exactly what you’re looking for. Right? Adrere Amellal is a serious eco-lodge built using all local design, manpower and materials. Moreover, everything that is eaten, (carnivores beware as the menu is primarily vegetarian) is grown in the gardens. The 34 rooms and suites are simply furnished, but quality is of a high standard, so the thought of a palm-frond door shouldn’t put you off. Despite the lack of electricity, hot water is available thanks to a gas heating system, and lighting at night is from lanterns and candles. Included in the price of a stay at the Adrere Amellal are a variety of excursions including a trip to Cleopatra’s Bath and visits to the picturesque village of Siwa.
Just to reiterate; there is no reception, air-conditioning or electricity. What there is is a pool, and less tangibly a feeling of total seclusion and peace. If you crave insight into what it feels like to be a Berber living in the Sahara, or if you ever dreamed of escaping the world as it is, and who hasn’t, Adrere Amellal is there. Truly there. Not a mirage, but a certifiable once-in-a-lifetime destination. Change you can believe in as the saying goes.
18 Mansour Mohamed Street
You may be wondering what’s left for those of us blighted with debt, responsibility, near impoverishment and not one plan for anything special this Christmas. Fear not. I’ll get to you tomorrow.