This year, Eid al-Fitr is expected to fall from June 14-16. While the dates haven't been *quite* confirmed yet, there is nothing stopping you from planning a little holiday over a long weekend.
From the bustling streets of Taipei to the majestic hills of the Himalayas, Ahlan! has rounded up the perfect Eid al-Fitr holiday desinations...
When most of us think of Cyprus, we’ve either heard of, or experienced, the wild parties of Ayia Napa on the southeast coast (for the record, we’ve only heard the stories). Fortunately, if you prefer a more cultural experience – otherwise known as the real Cyprus – there is a whole island of treasures awaiting you in the Mediterranean.
WHERE TO STAY: COLUMBIA BEACH RESORT
Thanks to its distinctively Cypriot architecture, the award-winning, all-suite Columbia Beach Resort possesses an idyllic charm like no other in the region. From the moment we arrived, the restored roof tiles, graceful arches, and shutters on the windows reminded us of a traditional Cypriot village.
Located in the secluded Bay of Pissouri on the south coast, this fabulous five-star hotel features elegant suites luxuriously appointed with fabrics and furnishings that reflect the colours of the landscape and the dramatic cliffs that frame the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s here you’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking views from the balcony of your suite, depending on the type of accommodation you select. Whichever view you decide on, the resort’s spacious suites also offer a sleeping and living area.
Foodies are also in for a treat. A variety of bars and restaurants, each with a different feel and ambiance, embellish the resort across both east and west wings.
2. Bern, Switzerland
Let’s face it, Switzerland is known for Zurich, banks, clocks and chocolate. If you were asked during a pub quiz to name Switzerland’s capital, we bet your first answer would be Zurich, right? If you wrote that down with a flourish of confidence you’d be monumentally wrong because, while it doesn’t technically have a capital, the accepted ‘federal centre’ of this small country is Bern.
WHERE TO STAY: Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa
We stayed at the very comfortable Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa in the centre of Bern. The city hotel is right by the main train station entrance, making it an easy commute no matter how many cases you’ve packed. The hotel is a delightful mix of old and new with contemporary art sitting nicely alongside portraits of ye olde Bern families. The building has been around for 158 years and recently underwent renovation to combine traditional decor with modern art. The huge onyx front desk is just one of the statement pieces. The lobby area flows into a sit-down bar, which was thriving day and night. Every week a local DJ plays tunes from 5pm to 9pm and there is a special beverage menu and delish party food to indulge in.
The suites are compact yet spacious and feature the latest gadgets and technology. There are so many buttons we have to admit it took us a while to figure out how to dim the lights from ‘stadium bright’ to ‘low key’. The telly has surround sound, including speakers in the bathroom, so you don’t have to miss a minute of the BBC’s Breakfast News. If you’ve got a thing for hotel beauty products, you’ll love the offering here. Bulgari beauty treats are scattered around the bathroom and there’s even a fancy mini fragrance to try out.
3. Nairobi, Kenya
The first thoughts that spring to mind when we think Kenya is ‘wildlife safari’ and ‘Maasai Mara’. But there is much more to Kenya than just safaris and Lion King vibes. Away from the vast savannah grasslands, Kenya’s amazing landscapes, especially in the Rift Valley and Central Kenya, are riddled with adventure trails.
It’s here you can challenge yourself to the top of Mount Kenya, paraglide on the Kerio Valley, bike through the escapades of Mount Longonot or better yet, climb the rocks of Hell’s Gate. There are many ways to see Kenya on safari, but how about from 14,000 feet above the ground, falling earthwards at 120 miles per hour? Now that’s certainly a more unique way to see a country. And the country’s capital, Nairobi, is the perfect base to access all these amazing wonders.
WHERE TO STAY: Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi
Kenya’s capital city has risen in a single century from a brackish uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital of the Africa, but the modern world has quickly caught up with the city. A frontier town no more, Nairobi has become one of Africa’s largest, and most interesting cities. So it’s no surprise the city has seen a number of high-end hotels pop up in recent years – perhaps the most glamorous being the Villa Rosa Kempinski Nairobi.
Offering the perfect fusion of European luxury and Kenyan hospitality, Villa Rosa Kempinski is perfectly positioned between the city and countryside. The hotel is one of the city’s most recognisable venues and features an array of top dining destinations, a spa, heated outdoor swimming pool, shops, fitness area and various other facilities. If it’s luxury you’re looking for in Nairobi, Villa Rosa Kempinski is sure to make you feel like royalty.
4. Dhulikhel, Nepal
City life has its pros and cons, let’s be honest. Yes, the constant buzz can be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting – mentally and physically. After a bustling start to the year, why not find some tranquillity to recharge you for the rest of 2018? And what better place to do so than Nepal and its majestic Himalayan mountain range? Nope, we can’t think of a better spot either.
WHERE TO STAY: The Dwarika’s Resort Dhulikhel
Fortunately, the region has a variety of top hotels, but few are as magical as The Dwarika’s Resort Dhulikhel. The resort is a holistic lifestyle retreat, drawing on ancient Himalayan knowledge and philosophy of care for nature and for one’s self. Set in magnificent natural surroundings, it offers a place in which to contemplate, to learn and to explore the connectedness between mind, body and earth.
The Dwarika’s Resort believes in the need for maintaining harmony between body, mind, spirit and earth in order to enjoy a peaceful, healthy and balanced life. Drawing on ancient scriptures, medicine and traditional Himalayan knowledge, the resort is founded on a philosophy of respecting nature and the self. In fact, the entire resort has been built using natural materials such as stone, wood, earth and traditional building method of lime with brick dust. The resort also incorporates other environmental systems, including water re-harvesting, grey water treatment, solar lighting and recycling of food and other waste. The resort’s aim is that, no matter what you are seeking, after a stay at the retreat, you will depart with a greater sense of peace. And boy, they get it right.
5. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is one of the liveliest cities in Asia, with 24-hour access to culture and entertainment. It’s a fusion of traditional Chinese culture shaken up with Japanese and Korean influences, creating a cocktail of adventure. Daytime thrill-seekers can find themselves hiking steep steps up to a mountain temple one day and motorbiking through narrow alleyways the next, while night owls can have a go at karaoke or mingle with the decidedly international crowds at swanky rooftop pool parties. For those into living life in the fast lane, we uncover a city of wild possibilities.
WHERE TO STAY: W TAIPEI
Located in the buzzing central business district of Xinyi, the W Taipei is the place to be and be seen in the Taiwanese capital. We stayed in the Fantastic Suite, which is the perfect balance of tranquillity-meets-energy. All rooms are inspired by nature, with furnishings of warm-coloured stones and burnished wood, accented with subtle lighting similar to that of Chinese lantern boxes. The best feature in our suite is the open-plan bathroom, offering a tub with stunning views for a comfortable soak – it faces the iconic Taipei 101 building (the tallest building in the world until the Burj Khalifa knocked it off the top spot in 2010). Breakfast in The Kitchen Table on the 10th floor is the best way to power up for hectic days ahead – there is a massive range of options, including our favourite, the fresh juice station.
6. New York, USA
A trip to New York City is the experience of a lifetime. With famous attractions like Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building and Yankee Stadium – to name just a few – NYC packs more to see and do into one compact area than any other place on earth. Each of the City’s five boroughs contains its own roster of must-see destinations, great restaurants, cultural hot spots and unforgettable activities.
WHERE TO STAY: InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel
For a luxe but affordable stay, book InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel. Built in 1926, the classic yet contemporary hotel has completed an extensive renovation and has refreshed its welcoming atmosphere and residential warmth. There are 702 guestrooms and suites that are reminiscent of a Park Avenue home, giving you a real feel for cosy New York living (You might even be tempted to spend a night in). The Barclay is just o the elegant Park Avenue. We love its central location, as it’s right in the heart of midtown Manhattan’s East Side. From your base, you can walk to all the city’s top attractions, such as Broadway, Times Square, Central Park and Grand Central station. Festive bonus: this holiday season guests can enjoy complimentary warm drinks and live choral music in the lobby.
7. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, located in northwest Cambodia, is one of the country’s major tourist hubs, but on a much smaller scale than its nearby South-East Asian neighbours. Featuring the world famous Angkor Wat, the city (it’s actually more of a small town, if you ask us) attracts tourists who want to explore the ancient ruins. In other words, you are less likely to find groups of stag dos and hen parties causing havoc. Don’t get us wrong – Siem Reap has a buzzing night life scene, but that’s not why people go there.
Thanks to the Angkorian ruins, Siem Reap turned into a boomtown in less than half a decade. Luxury hotels have sprung up throughout the region, and more affordable budget hotels have also mushroomed. The Siem Reap of today is a far cry from the Siem Reap of 20 years ago. Fortunately it has kept its authenticity and charm intact, but it’s much easier to access.
WHERE TO STAY: Le Méridien Angkor
Located only 14 kilometres from Siem Reap International Airport and minutes away from Angkor Wat, Le Méridien Angkor is both beautiful and convenient. In fact, the hotel is the closest international five-star hotel to Angkor Wat. To get to downtown Siem Reap, the hotel staff will happily call for a tuk-tuk, which will cost you a mere Dhs10, one way.
Designed with the contemporary traveller in mind, Le Méridien Angkor is comfortably modern with touches of local Khmer motif. Whether you opt for a superior room, deluxe room, deluxe family room or grand suite, all are spacious and overlook the hotel’s luscious green gardens.
The 213 guestrooms and suites are also equipped with an electronic safe, tea- and coffee-making facilities, mini bar, a hairdryer and everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Need to top-up your tan? Fortunately Siem Reap offers year-round tropical climate, and Le Méridien Angkor’s stunning pool is the perfect spot to unwind and catch some sun.