Hotel Indigo Helsinki-Boulevard
No Scandinavian sojourn is complete without a trip to the Nordic nation of Finland, the land of the midnight sun. Come summer (until August), this scenic country straddling the Arctic Circle is awash in sunlight when the sun never seems to set and there’s miles to explore before you sleep.
The quaint capital of Helsinki, a mere 80km from neighbouring Sweden, is called the Daughter of the Baltic. Studded with colourful art nouveau structures is old Helsinki, where the Finnish cultural movement Karelianism comes to life in classic structures like the Uspenski Cathedral, National Romantic Railway Station and National Theatre. A little further down is Kallio, as new and vibrant as neighbourhoods like Katajanokka are old. This is where most young Finns reside alongside trendy restaurants, the century-old market square of Hakaniemi (that sells everything from food, jewellery, clothing and vintage stamps), cafés and unique second-hand shops.
There are hardly a few hours of darkness but Hotel Indigo’s glorious mural-decked rooms in the design district of Bulevardi is great to call it a night. Sup on Finnish delicacies like deep-fried vendace at the in-house restaurant Bröd Punavuori for an authentic Scandi meal. Sweat it out in a wooden sauna later for a traditional Finnish finish to your holiday.
Room rates start from Dh611. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +358 200 48 105.
Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah
Rake in the luxury at RAK when you weekend in the Waldorf Astoria’s spacious rooms with Flight Centre’s two-day package including daily breakfast. There’s no time like summer to explore the emirate’s melange of landscapes: velvety dunes turn red against blazing sunsets, and blue, cloudless summer skies offer sprawling vistas atop Jebel Jais – the UAE’s highest peak. Afterwards, cool off with a stroll along the Waldorf’s lush green of the 18-hole golf course or soak up solace and sun on the sandy white private beaches. From Dh1,999 per person. Until July 30. Visit www.flightcentre.ae.
Hotel Eden Roc, Ascona, Switzerland
Perched by the shores of Lake Maggiore, the pretty Alpine town of Ascona has shored up on art since the Bronze Age finding, peaking in the 1900s with the establishment of Monte Verità (Hill of Truth) – a lush, orchard-strewn hilltop that was a haven for artists and radical creatives such as Carl Jung and German painter Hans Richter. The luxe Eden Roc channels that artistic tradition in 15 rooms featuring German artist Tristan’s works. The Art special package gets you three nights in them with admissions to the Museo Epper, the Ghisla Art Collection and free dining, spa access and Wi-Fi. Dh3,313 per person. Call +41 91 785 71 71 or visit edenroc.ch/en.
Forget Tour de France. Get the wheels rolling on a Tour de Scandinavia and an active lifestyle by cycling from Denmark to Sweden. Alpine Adventure’s e-bike tours from August 4 to 11 will see you bike across some of the most cycle-friendly routes in picturesque locales. Pedal past Copenhagen’s glorious gardens and colourful town houses, watch seals gambolling in the charming Swedish bay village of Arild, and the university city of Halmstad Varberg’s sandy beaches, before you disembark at Stockholm. The eight-day group tour inclusive of e-bike rentals, accommodation with breakfast, guide, activities and airfare, visa and insurance costs about Dh8,750. Call 050 764 1835.
Travel book of the week
A History of Scandinavia by Thomas Kingston Derry
What makes smiles ubiquitous in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway, some of the happiest nations in the world? This book charts these five countries’ sociopolitical and economic history, culture and geography to understand why they are a joy to live in and visit. Dh70 at www.amazon.com.
Style on the go
THROW THE TOWEL Wipe off on the wild side with this animal print cotton towel from Maslin & Co. Its handy leather carrying straps make this a sound travel investment that lets you have a rawr-some vacation. Dh750 at Stylebop.com
SANDAL GOOD A decade has made Ecco’s offroad Yucatan sandals 10 times funkier and comfy. This colourful anniversary model for women features rubber outsoles that can grip any terrain. It’s extremely lightweight too, so no more feet fatigued by cycling or walks in the park. Dh549 at Ecco
CLUTCH, BREAKS Turn your vacation wardrobe vivid with these tiny retro-style clutch bags from the Carpisa Laide range. The faux-leather body easily stores a phone, money, tube of sunscreen and passport locked with a metal latch; and the detachable chain allows you to hit the road, or a summer party! Dh129