Travel is on everyone’s wish list for 2018. Alluring David Attenborough documentaries and stunning Instagram snaps are fuelling a global wanderlust that shows no signs of abating this year.

A thirst for authentic experiences tempered by concern for the planet is opening up far-flung destinations and long haul air fares are affordable to more. This year, over a quarter of British travellers plan to visit a country they’ve never been to before.

But despite uncertainty over Brexit, the EU remains their top travel destination and Spain their favourite country. Biometrics is the buzzword in 2018. Facial recognition systems to speed up boarding, bag drop-off and customs will see us putting in more face time at the airport, while hotels roll out voice-controlled heating, lighting and entertainment: ‘Alexa, refill the mini bar’!

And that’s not all. Belinda Beckett looks at this year’s hottest travel trends and where to indulge in them at some of 2018’s new out-of-this-world hotels.

Winter Wanderlust

Summer may be the traditional time for holidays but winter is hot on its heels. A recent study found that one in eight travellers would consider an overseas trip during the winter and over half would not be seeking a change in weather. They are going for off-season prices and to avoid the crowds.

It’s good news for destinations like Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona and Venice which contributed a new word to the dictionary last year: overtourism. Summer 2017 saw local residents spraying ‘Tourists Go Home’ graffiti around their visitor-swamped cities in protest at the invasion. These destinations are now looking at damage limitation programmes to promote off-season attractions in alternative sites.

Wintery destinations are also trending like never before and it’s not all about snowboarding: Game of Thrones is driving travellers to Iceland in droves; China’s Harbin Ice Festival has become the largest winter event in the world, attracting over a million visitors last year; and new hotels are going up faster than igloos around the Arctic Circle to capitalise on demand for the Northern Lights.

New for 2018!

Arctic Bath Hotel, Swedish Lapland. See the aurora borealis from an open air arctic spa

In winter the hotel is frozen into a solid sheet of ice. After the summer thaw it floats on water and guests reach it via a long wooden walkway from the mainland. Welcome to the Arctic Bath hotel, so-called because you get to bathe in the lobby in temperatures of four degrees centigrade!

A large circular bath fills the atrium which is open to the skies, handy for seeing the Northern Lights if you’re not tempted to make a dash for the hot bath and saunas…

Words Belinda Beckett

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