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Rabat, Morocco. Source: www.planetware.com

20 heavenly hideaways you’ve probably never heard of – Part 2

Taupo, New Zealand

Huka Falls, Taupo. Source: www.greatlaketaupo.com

Huka Falls, Taupo. Source: www.greatlaketaupo.com

Taupo has enough adventures on offer to satisfy anyone, from its great lake (great is almost an understatement as it’s roughly the size of Singapore), to the magnificent Huka Falls.

The Craters of the Moon Walk provides visitors with insight into the lake’s fiery birth in the geysers, complete with steaming craters and bubbling mud pools, while some of Lake Taupo’s beaches allow for swimmers to bask in warm geothermal temperatures.

New Zealand has no shortage of luxury lodges and the Huka Lodge is one of the finest. Its surrounding landscape is awash with snow-capped volcanic peaks, lush wilderness and crystal waters. Whether it’s fishing, food or simply the great outdoors you’re after, this North Island retreat has it all. Tucked alongside the Waikato River and close to the collossal falls, it even makes for a great base camp in winter months, with some of the island’s premier slopes just a short hop away.

If you’re on a budget, the similarly named Haka Lodge has clean and well-kept dorm rooms from just NZ$26 a night. Self-described as “backpacker luxury”, the lodge boasts unlimited Wi-Fi, a heated spa pool and stunning views of Lake Taupo.

Rabat, Morocco

Kasbah walls, Rabat. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Adam Jones PHD

Kasbah walls, Rabat. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Adam Jones PHD

If your geography’s on point then you already know Rabat is Morocco’s capital, but the seaside city has long been overshadowed by the Hollywood appeal of Casablanca and the picturesque panoramas of Marrakech. Rabat is altogether more tranquil. It became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2012 and slowly but surely the tourists are starting to drift in.

Complete with Roman ruins, palm-lined boulevards and quaint colonial architecture, Rabat has a rich history that’s evident in the town’s many detailed monuments. The scenic Kasbah of the Udayas, with its narrow alleys, art galleries and magnificent ocean views, is perfect for a peaceful stroll. And if city life gets dull there are a few quiet beaches further north to choose from.

Villa Mandarine is nestled in the heart of a vast orange grove. Over 700 orange trees and hundreds of varieties of flowers engulf the charming property. Every room has access to lush gardens and terraces and its five citrus-themed suites feel more like private villas than hotel rooms.

Campeche, Mexico

Campeche streets. Source: www.southernportal.com

Campeche streets. Source: www.southernportal.com

Escape the resort crowds by heading to Campeche, the walled capital of the Mexican state of the same name. Another coastal colonial haven filled with Baroque architecture and postcard-perfect vistas, tour the neighborhoods of San Román, Guadalupe, and San Francisco for colourful buildings and well-preserved forts.

Cobblestone alleys, pastel-coloured facades and row upon row of intact colonial buildings mean Campeche is as breathtakingly beautiful as other tourist hotpots on the Yucatan peninsula, but surprisingly free of the crowds.

Hacienda Uayamon has exclusive villas and suites popular with honeymooners due to its tranquil location outside central Campeche. Spend the day perched over its picturesque outdoor pool in a hammock or walking around the nearby Mayan ruins.

Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway. Source: www.visitnorway.com

Bergen, Norway. Source: www.visitnorway.com

This seaside city was founded in 1070 by King Olav the Peaceful – and its namesake is fitting. From almost anywhere within its walls you can taste the salt-air in the wind and glimpse the shimmering water. Centred around its harbour square, Bergen is alive with eighteenth-century elegance. Its medieval waterfront parade – the Bryggen – is a Unesco-listed collection of original wooden buildings, that serve as a reminder of the city’s roots in the maritime trade.

Scale the beautiful Mount Floyen for the best views of the city. It has its own funicular that runs till late. At the summit is a dainty restaurant surrounded by winding trails through lakes and vegetation. The Bergen International Festival starts in late May each year and features world-renowned conductors and musicians.

Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 is less than ten minutes walk from The Fløibanen Funicular train and close to almost everything in this walking-friendly destination. It has a breathtaking skylight suite and perhaps best of all: free waffles every afternoon.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena streets. Source: ovationdmc.com

Cartagena streets. Source: ovationdmc.com

Encased in centuries-old stone walls and wonderfully preserved, Cartagena de Indias is an oasis on the Caribbean coast. A labyrinthine maze of cobbled streets, bougainvillea-covered balconies and soaring steeples, its old town is also a Unesco World Heritage site.

Heading south the Bocagrande peninsula is Cartagena’s answer to Miami Beach. Luxury condominiums, high-end restaurants and fashionable cafes line the shores, and serve as a delightful juxtaposition to the city’s traditional working-class outskirts.

Whether it’s luxury or budget accommodation you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Hotel Casa San Agustin is a charming boutique hotel with art and architecture that evoke the city’s rich history as a 17th century Spanish stronghold. Hotel Agua offers only six rooms in a beautifully decorated villa environment. There’s no end of hostels to choose from – such as the Tree House Hostel – and they all cost around a tenner a night.


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