Holidays. Never a good time. Always have to liaise. Have to make sure that your other half is on the same page. And if you’re single. Ha. Forget it. You clearly don’t deserve a holiday. Except… what if it was just about you and the whole wide world? Here is The Midult’s Guide to Flying Solo…
IF YOU’RE FEELING BRAVE
1. Soul and Surf
Soul and Surf is a cool little outfit that runs surf/yoga holidays in India and Sri Lanka, with an emphasis on sexy accommodation, good treatments and a chilled crowd. They’re going big on Sri Lanka this year, with two villas on a lush riverbank just outside hip Galle, with bright, simple rooms, some with private balconies, polished cement bathrooms and views of tropical loveliness. No single supplement, and it’s easy to get chatting with daily surf lessons and improver sessions, plus yoga and guided meditations, and cheery group meals. From £750 for seven nights, including full board accommodation, surf lessons and sessions, yoga and equipment hire.
2. Saddle Skedaddle
Yes, you’ll probably have to wear Lycra, but two wheels are a fabulous way of exploring a country, and you can chat while you peddle. New this year from Saddle Skedaddle is a 13-day Laos adventure – lush forests, rice-paddies, buddhas, standing stones, that sort of thing. From £1,920 including half-board accommodation in local guesthouses (nothing fancy), bike hire and full tour service.
For excellent bragging rights, there’s the coast-to-coast Pacific to Caribbean walk across Costa Rica with Exodus. You don’t walk the whole way – we’re not insane – but there are five good hikes plus a few shorter yomps with vehicle support, and you get to take in the country’s jungly loveliness, smouldering volcanoes, crazy wildlife and wave-lashed beaches. Groups are small – usually around 10 or 12 – and accommodation is in basic hotels and eco-lodges, so definitely one for adventurous types. 12 nights from £3,119, including flights, accommodation, some meals, walks and activities.
IF YOU’RE FEELING HUNGRY
Stirred is a cooking course, yes, but it’s also a remarkable holiday in a grand 15th-century Veneto palazzo, home to Contessa Brandolini d’Adda. Rooms are BIG, with herringbone floors, funky furniture, the odd priceless fresco and swish bathrooms. There’s a house party vibe, with daily lessons including, new for this year, some with Jake Simpson, head chef of Bocca di Lupo, followed by lunchtime feasts in the courtyard, plus trips to Venice’s fish market and local prosecco tastings. Courses run May-October. From £2,695 (plus single supplement of £250) for six nights, including classes, accommodation, food, wine, trips, tours and tastings.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ANGRY
5. Schloss Elmau
Schloss Elmau is a remote castle hotel, hidden away in the snowy German Alps (yes, Germany has Alps), with cosseting rooms with warm wooden floors, cosy red fabrics and wallow-in beds, plus shed-loads of activities that will take your mind off ANYTHING. There are evening concerts, poetry readings (which sound annoying but aren’t), mountain walks, a proper bookshop and full-on library, plus three – yes, THREE – stonking spas to rest your overworked brain in. And then there are those mountain views which will make your rage just… drift away. Rooms from €408, half-board.
6. Harbour Moon
There is something extraordinarily soothing about watching boats pootling around in a harbour, as the sea slap-slap-slaps against stone and a gentle breeze ruffles the water. Rent the little one-bed Harbour Moon cottage in Mousehole, Cornwall, and you’ve got a front row seat to just that. Hide away and calm down – in your big comfy bed, where the walls are satisfyingly rough stone and there are all sorts of hearty sea-worn bits of wood and old shipping ropes about the place. There are brilliant restaurants just outside, or you can furiously cook up a storm in your own kitchen. Whatever floats your boat. From £315 for three nights.
IF YOU’RE FEELING BENDY
7. Absolutely Sanctuary
Absolute Sanctuary in Koh Samui has simple little rooms, no sea views, limited food and regular colonics… So far so meh, but bear with us. This little gem of a place is just the spot to get you into tip-top flat-stomached shape. Unlimited yoga, two daily massages, healthy food, pilates and fitness classes, plus a lovely pool, lots of sunshine, and sensible, friendly regulars. You’ll come back glowing and smug as anything. Healing Holidays offers seven nights from £2,059, including flights, private transfers, accommodation, full board, and full Yoga Programme.
8. The Beach House Goa
The Beach House Goa, a laid-back hippie hideaway, is another sure-fire hit. Super relaxed, with two daily yoga sessions, two massages and plenty of free time for beach strolls and paperback reads. Nice, chilled guests too, so good if you want some chat with your evening chai. From $1,647 for five nights, including accommodation, ayurvedic meals, all yoga and treatments.
9. Everybody Ballet
Isabel McMeekan, a former First Soloist with The Royal Ballet, wants to bring ballet to everyone, and where better to re-discover your best pointy toes than at the beautiful white-washed, 16th century La Trasierra, north of Seville. Owned by the charming Scott family, the setting is one of orange groves and mountain views, where classes take in demanding but fun stretching and barre work, and the country-chic rooms are perfect for post-dance snoozes. Five nights from £1,600, including two daily 90-minute classes, accommodation, food and wine, screenings of ballets and guided walks.
IF YOU’RE FEELING JILLY COOPER-Y
10. Polo Valley
Always fancied getting off with a polo player but don’t, um, know any? Fly into Polo Valley at Sotogrande in southern Spain, a lovely family estate where you sleep in a proper finca, waking to the sound (and smell) of the polo ponies, and spend each day being taught the skills of the sport by strapping Argentinians. You don’t even need to be able to ride – they promise you’ll be playing the sport by the end of day one. Seven nights from €2,385, including full board accommodation, airport transfers, lessons and matches, plus wine-tasting evenings.
IF YOU’RE FEELING BRAINY
11. Eilean Shona
Vanessa Branson’s private Scottish island, Eilean Shona, is launching various new retreats this September, and we especially like the sound of the painting and hiking one. The car-free island is a proper escape – no TV, no noise, just acres of wild countryside, heart-breaking sea views, crackling fireplaces, colourful country-house interiors and huge baths to loll in. And the retreat includes talks on painting techniques and walks to ravishing viewpoints to put paint to paper, plus cosy picnics and sociable suppers. Five nights from £750, including accommodation, all meals, teaching and transfers from the mainland (closest airport Glasgow).
12. Urban Writer’s Retreat
Been working on a novel/children’s book/poem since before you were ovulating, but still not finished? Want some peace and quiet and time to write JUST FOR FEW DAYS, PLEASE GOD, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? Head to Urban Writer’s Retreat in a not-very-urban Devon farmhouse. The idea is simple enough. You sleep in neat, simple rooms (some with a shared bathroom, so check beforehand), Charlie, the owner, sorts all your meals, and your days are free to write – either with others in a shared work space, or alone – and that’s it. No workshops, no lectures, so grown-ups only please. Three-night retreat from £270, including accommodation, food, wine and cake.
13. Villa Centinale
Hole up in Lord Lambton’s 17th century villa in Tuscany, Villa Centinale, a terrifically grand setting to get you writing. This hands-on writing course, led by novelist Raffaella Barker, runs from May 12-17th, with workshops, discussions, one-on-one chats and plenty of time for writing and strolling around the astonishing gardens. Rooms are sumptuous (we’re talking four-poster beds, silk wall hangings, antiques galore), and the food is Tuscan at its finest. Five nights from €1,500, including full-board accommodation and writing course.
IF YOU’RE FEELING WILD
14. Tucan Travel
An overland tour in Africa might SOUND like something that only teens would do, but it’s actually hugely popular with Midult solo travellers, and a brilliantly cheap way of covering a huge amount of (very adventurous) ground. Tucan Travel offers a range of tours, including their best-selling East Africa Circuit, starting and ending in Nairobi, and taking in Kenya’s Masai Mara (read: incredible wildlife), hiking through steamy Ugandan rainforests and the chance of seeing gorillas in Rwanda. This is a rough-and-ready adventure, so you’ll be sleeping in local hotels and tented camps, and cooking out under the stars. You’ll be expected to get your hands dirty, but then changing a tyre in the middle of the sub-Saharan savanna can be ever so bonding. From £1,580 for 13 nights (plus local payment of $800), including all accommodation, most meals, overland truck transport, one internal flight, and all guiding and permits.
IF YOU’RE FEELING DIRTY (NO, NOT LIKE THAT)
15. Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof
Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is the place to come for a cleanse, people, via the ancient art of ayurveda. Rooms are bright, sunny, with stone bathrooms and calming mountain views, but you come here for the treatments – Himalayan salt scrubs, herbal powder massages, flowing oil treatments, and lots of yoga, if that’s your thing, which it should be if you’re staying here. Healing Holidays offers 4 nights from £1,369, including flights, private transfers, full board, and the Ayurdetox Short Cleanse Programme.
16. Gut Makeover
The Gut Makeover is held in a beautiful Menorcan villa, which is a good start, and run by Jeannette Hyde, an ex-travel-editor-turned-health-guru. The five-night retreats are all about changing your filthy habits, so you get wholesome plant-rich, gluten-free meals, a 12-hour overnight fast (easy) pilates sessions, yoga, no alcohol or caffeine (obvs), and group sessions on how to continue your new-found eating style once you’re home. Rooms are gorgeous – like something from a White Company photo shoot – with views over olive groves to the sea. Two retreats this year, in April and October. €3,000 including accommodation, food and drink, two spa treatments, daily Pilates instruction, classes and consultations with Jeannette.
IF YOU’RE FEELING FRAZZLED
Kamalaya in Koh Samui is a peach of a place – exactly the jungly, beachy retreat you need to reset your brain. The Relax and Renew programme lets you take a step back from life and, well, relax and renew. Nothing too strenuous, just lots of time to indulge in their lovely therapies – things like Asian foot massage, lotus scrubs, Thai massage, infrared bathing, and beautiful rooms with pools to wallow in and stare at the big, waxy leaves waving overhead. Healing Holidays offers seven nights from £2,959 (no single supplement), including flights, private transfers, accommodation, full board, resort activities and the Relax and Renew Programme.
IF YOU’RE FEELING SEAWORTHY (AND FLUSH)
18. Tiger Blue
Tiger Blue is the ultimate Indonesian phinisi – that’s a traditional fishing boat to you and me – a swanked up wooden cruiser that looks like something Captain Jack Sparrow should be strutting around on. You can rent the whole thing (bit lonely, and off the chart expensive) or take a cabin – gorgeous, wood-clad, super-stylish, with little en suite bathrooms. Itineraries usually take in the astonishing islands of Raja Ampat (picture the island from The Beach, remove the hippies and multiply it all by 5,000), or Komodo (the same, but add dragons). We’re talking jungle-covered peaks, deserted white-sand beaches and stupidly turquoise water. Days are spent snorkeling, scuba diving, lounging around on the broad wooden decks, with beach BBQs, sunset cocktails and star-gazing to round things off. It’s the adventure of a frickin’ lifetime. Price from $6,800 for seven nights on the Komodo route for a cabin including all meals, all watersports activities, diving and fishing, and airport transfers.
IF YOU’RE FEELING SEAWORTHY (AND BROKE)
19. On The Go Tours
On The Go Tours arranges all kinds of (affordable) adventures around the globe, from Indian circuits to African safaris. The Croatian sailing one is super-chilled – you basically get to spend the day sunbathing on deck and swan-diving/belly-flopping into the big blue, with shared meals and the chance to escape the others on frequent shore excursions. Choose a ‘Comfort’ boat for roomier cabins and en suite bathrooms. From £878 for seven nights, including accommodation, half board, drinks and excursions.
IF YOU’RE FEELING FRIENDLY
20. Friendship Travel
Friendship Travel organises sociable weeks for singles, which is much more fun than it sounds. Good for beach holidays, where you can lounge on the sand in peace during the day, but have a group to join for dinner (often the time when you can’t be arsed with glances from smug couples). New, this summer, is a week in Skiathos, staying at the Skiathos Palace Hotel, on a pine-clad hillside above a sweep of beach (simple, functional rooms – choose one with a balcony for killer sea views), from £895 including flights, B&B accommodation and various meals and activities.
21. Just You
Just You is another singles-only tour operator (don’t yawn: the reason to book with them is that you won’t be paying a singles supplement, which is good news). Lots of adventure trips, but we like the NYC jaunt, because doing a city alone can be tough – £1,549 for three nights, including flights, B&B accommodation and various easy extras like sociable suppers and group walks through Central Park.
IF YOU’RE FEELING SNOW-Y
22. Solos Holidays Madonna di Campiglio
Solos Holidays does what it says. A good choice for those keen on skiing (but not on sharing a chalet with total randoms) is the March trip to Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomites, staying in the traditional Hotel Caminetto (wood-clad rooms, sauna, twee dining room). The best bit is you can hang out with the others on your trip – at the drinks evening and with the ski guide – or whizz off by yourself. Departing 19 & 26 March 2017, from £1,199, including flights, transfers, seven nights’ B&B, three dinners, welcome drink and services of Tour Leader.
23. Powder Byrne’s “Cruise the Mountain” week
Another (luxed-up) ski option is Powder Byrne’s brand new “Cruise the Mountain” week, aimed at solos and couples. You stay in the glorious Tschuggen Grand hotel in Arosa, a grand dame of a place with one of the best mountain spas anywhere. And they arrange EVERYTHING – swanky ski hire, ski passes, all meals, transfers, flights, daily ski guiding, pre-dinner cocktails and spa treatments. Oof. Seven nights from £3,810, including all meals, all travel, and all skiing-related stuff and some spa-ing.
IF YOU’RE FEELING FLABBY
24. Body:Rest retreat, ME Ibiza
Get your arse kicked (not literally) in the soothing setting of the ME Ibiza, a five-star lovely set bang on the beach. The women-only Body:Rest retreat, run by 38 Degrees North and led by trainer Claire Wylie, mixes up HIIT training with core and bum workouts, plus nutritional advice, yoga and spa treatments. Bedrooms are groovy – wafty white and taupe, with sea views and balconies – and there’s a sexy rooftop pool to cool off around, all red-faced and sweaty. From £1,355, including accommodation, all training sessions and consultations, breakfast and lunch.
N.B. Prices do not include flights or transport unless stated.