With the advent of technology and easy rental bookings over the phones, there has been a continuous hike in the number of travellers who make last-minute bookings in recent years – and with the uncertainties that come with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on international travel, the ability to make last minute reservations or changes to bookings is now more important than ever.
Gone are the days when it was imperative to book that luxury hotel or lavish pent-house apartment well in advance, and these days, you can simply pop online, browse your favourite accommodation sites and make your choice. With a confirmation email arriving in just seconds, its now even possible to book for the following day or for the same week, and although some accommodation options continue to fill up quickly around specific occasions and school holidays, you can usually find something that meets your requirements with little stress.
Thanks to AirBnB management companies, you’re not just limited to hotels, either – and can find yourself a beautiful flat or apartment at a day or two’s notice through Air BnB if you prefer a little more privacy than would be afforded to you at a hotel. Where before, busy property owners simply wouldn’t have been able to handle last-minute requests, they can now let others do it for them. The result? More accommodation choices than ever, no matter how late you choose to book.
So if, after a year of cancelled holidays and mini-breaks, you just can’t wait for a luxury getaway in 2021, then it’s not too late to book for January 2021. And, as travel restrictions continue to change, you may be reluctant to do so just yet, preferring to wait until a few days before your planned departure.
Whilst that might seem like a daunting plan for a long-haul trip, the good news is that there are plenty of sunshine destinations a little closer to home that you could be jetting off to in just a few weeks. So, if a last-minute luxury getaway sounds appealing, then these are the places to consider.
With a whopping 300 days of sunshine a year, Malta is a great destination to visit in any season, but in winter, with the streets and beaches quieter, it takes on a relaxed and laid-back vibe. This under-stated Mediterranean gem is steeped in history and is a haven for foodies, boasting a plethora of quality high-end restaurants and eateries and a multitude of first-class, five-star hotels.
Surrounded by some of the world’s best diving sites and home to the captivating capital of Valletta, there’s as much here for culture lovers as there is for nature and ocean enthusiasts. A bucket list must and the perfect place for a winter break.
January average temperature high: 16 degrees
Where to eat: Panorama at the British Hotel, Valletta, or Barracuda, on the Sliema Coast.
Where to stay: The Grand Hotel Excelsior Valletta or the Corinthia Palace Hotel are both elegant, five-star offerings that offer a range of high-end facilities. Or, for a more authentic Maltese stay, check out AirBnB for some of the top properties in Valletta.
While Madeira has long been thought of as the destination of choice for an older age group, in recent years it has reinvented itself as the perfect place for an adrenaline-fuelled getaway – so if lazing by the pool or hanging out on the beach are too boring for you, then it might just be for you.
A breath-takingly beautiful destination that, much like Malta, has been heavily under-rated over the years, this miniature outdoor Eden has everything going for it, and is likely to become a popular winter destination for all ages thanks to its new lease of life. With its black-sand beaches and rocky terrain, it’s the place to be for mountain-biking, abseiling, urban toboganning and other adventurous pursuits.
January average temperature high: 12 degrees
Where to eat: Il Gallo d’Oro is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Madeira. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Where to stay: The five-star Cliff Bay Porto Bay or the Savoy Palace, both in Funchal.
The Greek Islands
The Greek islands might usually be considered a summer destination, but a trip to the beautiful Aegean in the winter months takes on a whole new appeal. The water off many islands – including, Milos, Paros and Santorini – is still warm enough to swim in in January, and visiting off-season means you’ll get to explore the islands’ breath-taking panoramic vistas without having to battle the crowds.
Rhodes is another great choice for the winter, and is known for its beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures lasting throughout the coldest season.
January average temperature high: Paros – 15 degrees. Milos – 13 degrees
Where to eat: Check out Lauda and Lycabettus restaurants on Santorini for high-end Michelin-star dining and an evening to remember.
Where to stay: For luxury accommodation, base yourself on Santorini – the other islands are easily reachable by ferry. We rate the Suites of the Gods Cave Spa Hotel in Megalokhori or the Aqua Luxury Suites in Imerovigli.