2013 Luxury Travel Review

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, December 31, 2013

As the New Year beckons, travellers can look back in satisfaction at a year that saw swathes of exceptional hotels open month after month ; innovative trends – from choice-free holidays to hyper-local food to digital-detox breaks – change the way we travel; and the creation of unusual new attractions that have propelled previously unknown destinations into public consciousness.

The Telegraph’s Luxury Travel section has been documenting these stories throughout the year and a number of features have caught our readers’ imagination. Amid all the new developments, however, the popularity of classic travel experiences has endured and one of our most-read features this year was our guide to the world’s 10 best honeymoon destinations .

Newsworthy events repeatedly emerged from Dubai. Its repertoire of unusual attractions was bolstered this year by the opening of the Dubai Miracle Garden, a sprawling expanse of flowers in the middle of the desert. Plans for the development of an “underwater hotel” in the city, called Water Discus, also proved popular; more recently, it was announced that the emirate would host the 2020 World Expo, so expect more unusual developments.

The Luxury Travel section has also profiled numerous unusual suites and hotel rooms and the one that caught imaginations the most was The Tree House in Tongabezi Lodge, Zambia. The room is contained on a platform embedded into the trunks of an old ebony tree. Perhaps the most distinctive suite to open in Europe this year was the Kiss Room in Paris; housed in the converted storeroom of La Perle café and bar, the small space is clad in 1,000 mirrors . Frequent flyers, meanwhile, were intrigued by Jetway, the pop-up hotel concept designed to be erected beside a just-landed private jet .

Of the many personalities who shared their favourite travel experiences with us, Roger Federer’s “Travelling Life” was the most viewed. The tennis champion’s unexpectedly early departure from Wimbledon did, at least, provide him with extra time to pursue his love of exploration. Zaha Hadid and Collette Dinnigan also shared their memories with us.

As ever, coverage of the world’s most enticing dining and drinking destinations whetted the appetite for international travel, with The Telegraph’s travel experts’ guide to the world’s best restaurants being especially well-received. Among the many lauded chefs who shared details about their favourite restaurants were Heinz Beck and Joel Robuchon .

Perhaps most conducive to daydreaming and trip-planning, however, were the many galleries that graced the Luxury Travel section this year. Most popular was our aviation-themed guide to life in fabulous first class, which was complemented by our gallery showing the rarely seen interiors of independently owned private jets . Other favourites included our round-up showing the audaciously designed hotels of the future, incredible infinity pools, the world’s most romantic restaurants and the world’s best ski chalets .