The luxury of travel

Read about luxury travel but from a deeply experiential perspective, and our hand-picked plan of events for the rest of 2014

The finest hotel I’ve ever bunked in—in the general “polished marble, obscure brand of toiletries, bathtub that overlooks the bedroom, 17 types of bread for breakfast" sense of the term—is the Hotel Palafitte by Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. I will never, till the day I die, forget those early morning views over the lake from my pavilion on stilts.

But was it the most luxurious travel experience of my life?

Not really.

Luxury is, at the best of times, a difficult concept to pin down. Especially if you want to define it in more expansive terms than just price or exclusivity. Luxury travel is harder still. I think this is down to the remarkably accessible nature of modern travel. There is hardly any major destination in the world that is completely beyond the average person’s budget. There are no modes of transport, broadly speaking, that are priced out of reach. And thanks to the Internet, competition, transparent price discovery and real-time comparison have helped to make multi-star hotel accommodation accessible like never before.

In that case, what is indulgent travel? What makes a journey luxurious?

I think, having pondered over this for the better part of three weeks, that it comes down to the gap between the experience you desire and the experience that you derive. Minimizing this gap is fiendishly difficult. You can live in the best hotel, in your dream destination, during the finest time of the year. But one bad meal, one missed train or one lost bag and the trip is diminished. Making all these elements come together perfectly, without a single piece falling out of place, is really what luxury travel is all about.

In this issue of Mint Indulge, you will read about luxury travel but from a deeply experiential perspective. Mike Cantray and Joel Harrison both talk of some of their favourite experiences travelling in Scotland. Golfers and cyclists will enjoy our comprehensive, hand-picked plan of events for the rest of this year.

We hope that these stories will inspire you travel well in the coming months. We hope you will get ideas of not just about where to go, but how to go and what to experience.

So my most luxurious trip so far? Two weeks in the south of France, hopping from tiny B&B to tiny B&B, eating crusty bread and cheese out of plastic bags, and falling asleep by the banks of the Rhône with an open book over my face. Not even a pavilion on the lake comes close.

Sidin Vadukut

(Issue editor)