Book It: Four wonderful hotels for a winter sun holiday


Dying to flop on a far-flung beach before the Christmas chaos descends? Look no further.

The St Regis Mauritius Resort, Le Morne, Mauritius

Best for… TLC for the soul

This sumptuous former plantation house, set on a gorgeous beachfront, will have you feeling carefree quicker than you can say ‘namaste’. Wake early for a spot of yoga or tai chi, then hit the beach for kitesurfing on a turquoise lagoon; or head off hiking to Le Morne peninsula, the dramatic backdrop to the resort. Your dedicated butler can book other experiences too, like a sunset yacht cruise. In-room massages are also available. At dinner, don’t miss local delicacies of palm-heart salad and roasted marlin, washed down with champagne – and next morning, sample the hotel’s trademark Bloody Mary. As they say, it’s all about balance.

Stella loves: The handy on-call buttons on your sunlounger – swift service, whether you want to order a cooling aloe-vera juice or get your sunglasses cleaned.

Out and about: Visit the nearby village of Chamarel, where you’ll find magical layers of coloured sand dunes and giant tortoises. Further afield, take a trip to the waterfalls of the Black River Gorges.

Rooms from £721 a night;

Read the full expert review: The St Regis Mauritius Resort

The St Regis Mauritius Resort, Le Morne, Mauritius

The St Regis Mauritius occupies a former sugar baron’s plantation house on Le Morne’s exclusive ‘five star strip’

The best hotels in Mauritius

The Owl and the Pussycat, Galle, Sri Lanka

Best for… Instagrammable interiors

This hotel’s uber-fashionable library room, with its bookcases and chic sofa setup – ideal for curling up after dinner – is one of the most Instagrammable we’ve seen. There are also 17 spacious and beautifully decorated bedrooms with views of the Indian Ocean. Stepping out into the tranquil hotel garden is the ultimate antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city beyond. Sip a fresh juice while watching the fishermen on the rocks and the monkeys in the trees, and you’ll soon be dialled into the easy-going vibe. If you’re feeling energetic, bike tours of local villages can be organised, as well as visits to a nearby tea plantation.

Stella loves: The complimentary morning yoga classes.

Out and about: Take a 15-minute tuk-tuk ride to Galle Fort – it was originally built by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, and today has plenty of cool boutiques and restaurants. Poonie’s Kitchen is excellent for a healthy lunch (it’s almost as Instagram-worthy as the hotel). Lucky Fort Restaurant offers an authentic Sri Lankan dining experience. In between, nip to Tallentire House to buy beautiful cushions and fabrics. ( 

Rooms from £82 a night, b&b;

Read the full expert review: The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat, Galle, Sri Lanka

The Owl and the Pussycat adds a splash of glamour to Sri Lanka’s south coast

The best boutique hotels in Sri Lanka

ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa, Goa, India

Best for… spa time

The 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel takes you past paddy fields, palm trees, lush vegetation and brightly coloured houses. Pulling up to reception, the views are no less stunning – it’s set in 45 acres of lush landscaped gardens with palm trees, many plants (bird of paradise, aloe vera), plus a multi-level swimming pool. The resort is enormous, so a golf buggy is on hand to zip you around. After a day flopping on Arossim Beach nearby, head for dinner at one of the five hotel restaurants – if you’re at Tempero, try the delicious prawn curry. And find time for a spa trip, or three. The deep-tissue massage will remedy any knots or twinges after the long flight. 

Stella loves: The spa treatment rooms, sweetly named after the fragrance that will be the main component of your massage oil: citrus, rose, lemongrass, ginger, frangipani, sandalwood.

Out and about: The resort is so big, there’s plenty to do on-site – not least the complimentary yoga and meditation classes on the beach. In fact, the whole stretch of coast is famed for its white sand, secluded sunbathing spots and lively beach shacks selling freshly caught fish. Our favourite was Mario’s – the perfect spot to tuck into fresh red snapper with the sand between your toes as you watch the sunset.

Rooms from £143 a night, b&b;

ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa, Goa, India

There’s plenty to do in and around ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa, but make sure you don’t miss one of the sumptuous spa treatments

The best hotels in Goa

Es Saadi Marrakech Resort, Marrakech, Morocco

Best for… celeb spotting

Tucked away from the chaos of Marrakech, this opulent garden resort is the perfect combination of traditional and modern: an original ’60s hotel, L’Hotel, alongside a striking Le Palace hotel, complete with luxury villas often favoured by film stars during the December film festival. In fact, some scenes from the BBC adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager were shot here. Our highlight of the hotel was the spa: try traditional hammam treatments, followed by a Dior facial. And there are activities aplenty to occupy you between trips to the souks – including a casino, nightclub, tennis courts and children’s play area.

Stella loves: The breakfast buffet here is tough to beat – it’s served alongside one of the swimming pools (there are three).

Out and about: The YSL Museum and Jardin Majorelle Gardens are worth visiting for the green fingered and fashion addicts alike; and don’t miss the souks in the Jemaa el-Fna, a 20-minute stroll from the hotel. 

Rooms from £270 a night, b&b;

Read the full expert review: Es Saadi Marrakech Resort

Es Saadi Marrakech Resort, Marrakech, Morocco

You’re bound to spot a famous face or two by the pool at Es Saadi Marrakech Resort

Edited by Laura Powell. Reviews by Hannah Hopkins, Bethan Holt, Elinore Court and Rosie Boydell

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