Despite the cost of living crisis, holiday spending surged in 2023 – with research suggesting that people would rather cut back on other luxuries than reduce the number of holidays they take. In fact, UK residents spent £2.2 billion more on travel in late 2023 than they had the year before.
However, if you’re thinking about treating yourself to a luxury holiday, it can be difficult to decide where to go next – especially as there are so many sensational destinations to choose from. What luxury looks like can vary too; it might mean a dreamy beach holiday for one person, and an action-packed adventure to another.
So, with diversity in mind, here are 10 of the most luxurious holiday destinations around the globe.
1. The Seychelles
The crystalline blue waters of the Indian Ocean are home to some of the world’s most blissful beach destinations, and the Seychelles is a contender for the most luxurious. Located 800 nautical miles off the coast of East Africa, part of the appeal of this 115-island archipelago is its remoteness.
Sugar-white beaches are caressed by warm turquoise waters teeming with marine life. Inland, you’ll find lush hills, dense vegetation, swaying palms, and picturesque hiking trails weaving through ancient green forests. And, as for luxurious places to stay, simply choose between the wealth of fabulous resorts, swish villas, and stylish hotels – and there’s no shortage of delicious restaurants here, either.
If you’re looking to kick back and relax in style, Thailand offers plenty of laid-back luxury. Islands – like Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi – are excellent for an indulgent beach break. You can relax on dazzling-white beaches, shop at floating markets, sample mouthwatering street food, visit ornate temples, and spot spectacular marine life on snorkelling and scuba trips.
But there’s a lot of opulence to be found on the mainland too. Bangkok isn’t short of five-star hotels, and this exhilarating city is an absolute joy to explore. Or, if you prefer a quieter pace, then head to the north, where you can stay in resorts set among peaceful paddy fields and secluded forests.
Few places in the world are as associated with luxury and glamour as Dubai. It’s a city that seems tailor-made for plush holidays. Palatial hotels drip with riches, glitzy resorts sit with impressive ribbons of sand at their feet, and slick skyscrapers soar into the dazzling blue sky.
If you’re looking for more than lavish hotels, sumptuous dining, and five-star shopping, you can lose yourself in the labyrinth-like streets of the old city. Or, alternatively, head into the desert to zoom over rolling dunes, enjoy a spot of stargazing, or go on a desert safari.
Many islands in the sun-drenched Caribbean have long been the go-to destination for luxury beach breaks, but it’s perhaps Barbados that takes first place for laidback luxe. Considered to be ‘the jewel of the Caribbean’, this vibrant island is packed with beautiful golden beaches, brilliant turquoise bays, and magnificent hotels. Relaxing on the sand with a rum cocktail is the stuff dreams are made of.
But beaches aren’t all that’s on offer. The interior of the island is dotted with pristine gardens that’re perfect for strolling, and Barbados has what many consider to be the best dining scene in the Caribbean. Plus, if you’re looking to experience some culture and history on your holiday, the UNESCO World Heritage–listed capital of Bridgetown offers a wealth of attractions – and fine hotels.
If you’re looking for a luxury escape with a difference, then Bali is a wise choice. This intoxicating Indonesian island is much more than a mere tropical paradise; it’s also a hub of spirituality, where you can reconnect with nature as well as yourself, and a crisscross of cultures.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach break or a mystical retreat, you’ll find it here. Trendy beach towns like Seminyak are home to some of the island’s fanciest hotels and most picturesque beaches. But, if you head further up into the hills, you’ll find places like Ubud, where you can explore the renowned yoga and meditation scene.
Cast adrift in the North Atlantic Ocean, 650 miles off the US coast, this seductive and mysterious cluster of islands is the perfect destination for a luxurious but laid-back holiday. There are loads of swanky accommodation options to choose from – from lavish beachfront resorts to the pretty, pastel-coloured houses of the capital, Hamilton.
As well as its pink sand beaches and azure waters, Bermuda is famous for its history of shipwrecks and mysterious nautical disappearances, making it ideal for scuba divers who like to explore sunken relics. And because of its African, Portuguese, West Indian, and American influences, there’s also plenty of culture and heritage to immerse yourself in.
If Bermuda, Bali, or the Seychelles don’t do it for you, then Mauritius almost certainly will. More than a thousand miles off the coast of East Africa, this remarkable island manages to boast just as much glamour and luxury as it does adventure and wilderness. Bordered by 330 km of pristine white sand beaches – as well as one of the world’s largest unbroken barrier reefs – it’s a seaside lover’s paradise.
There are plenty of swanky coastal resorts to enjoy here, and Mauritian culture is a compelling mix of Creole and European influence – so make sure to enjoy the utterly delicious cuisine. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, you can head to the interior of the island to explore volcanoes, rugged mountains, unspoilt forests, and spot fascinating wildlife – like pink pigeons and flying foxes.
8. Costa Rica
With ancient rainforests, smoking volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, and gnarled mangrove trees, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Its wild landscape is also home to some of the most fascinating and unique wildlife, from rainbow-billed toucans to slow-moving sloths. But, thankfully, exploring this wilderness doesn’t mean scrimping on luxury.
Check into a spectacular rainforest lodge and spot monkeys, macaws, and hummingbirds from the comfort of your balcony. Some resorts are so remote you need to paddle in on a white-water raft! Or, if you’re in the mood for something even more active, why not get your blood pumping by taking a hike through the jungle or zip-lining through the trees?
9. Lake Como
It’s not difficult to understand why Lake Como has attracted elites from all over the world for millennia. Located in the foothills of the Alps, it’s sensationally beautiful. Fishing boats bob on shimmering blue waters, cypress trees rustle behind colourful houses, ancient churches cling to cliff tops, palatial mansions line the shore – and, beyond, green hills and rugged mountains beckon.
The lakeshore is dotted with ritzy hotels where you can rub shoulders with A-listers – but if you’re looking for something more private, there are plenty of villas or more modest holiday homes too. Lake Como is also known for its lavish gardens, so you can enjoy gentle strolls around exotic lawns before sipping a cocktail in one of the many stylish bars.
10. The Maldives
Famous for its sparkling waters, flour-white beaches, and kaleidoscopic coral, the Maldives has become synonymous with luxury escapism. This vast archipelago in the Indian Ocean is made up of thousands of islands where you can enjoy decadent dinners and stunning sunsets from the country’s famous high-end stilted resorts.
The perfectly translucent waters make it a popular destination for scuba diving – whale sharks and hammerheads are some of the popular species to spot – as well as deep-sea fishing and surfing. So even if laying under the dappled light of a palm tree (cocktail in hand) isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of natural beauty to admire and interesting activities to get stuck into.
Whether you’re planning a luxurious holiday sometime soon or are just dreaming for now, we hope this article has inspired you – and shown you just how versatile luxury breaks can be.
From the sultry jungles of Costa Rica to the immaculate beaches of the Caribbean and the opulent glitz of Dubai, there’s a destination for everyone, whether you’re looking for rest, romance, adventure…or all three!
The world is full of magnificent holiday destinations, and even if you don’t have the budget for them right now, there’s no harm in adding them to your travel bucket list.
If you’d love to go away but don’t have the finances for a luxury break, you don’t have to miss out on the travel experience. To find out more about travelling on a budget, you might want to read our articles; 8 of the cheapest countries to visit in 2024 and How to travel on a shoestring budget. Or browse the latest luxury travel deals using the button below.
Have you visited any of these places before? Or do you have your own suggestions for the best luxury holiday destinations? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below!