To recapture this otherworldly feeling, why not plunge boldly into the coming colder months—that liminal space between beauty and bleakness, foreboding and bittersweet, yet lovely in its own way? The following nine hotels are an invitation to attentive stillness and absolute presence, reminding us to cherish the beauty of life not despite its perishability but precisely because of it.
Located in the Serra da Estrela Mountain range with panoramic views over the Zêzere Glacier Valley, Casa de São Lourenço presents you the beauty of the landscape. Take your time exploring winding paths, boulders, cliffs, viewpoints, rivers, lagoons, river beaches, herds, and shepherds while you fill your lungs with pure mountain air. No wonder owner Isabel Costa left Lisbon to move to this incredible area: “Sometimes journeys go underappreciated—perhaps being overshadowed by the thought of the destination—but every time I drive into or out of the mountains, I’m touched by how special the experience is.”
The Tsingpu Tulou Retreat is set in the UNESCO-listed area of Fujian Province in south-eastern China and comprises five classical tulou structures—centuries-old earthen buildings unique to this mountainous area of the country. With a history dating 600 years, Fujian has drawn visitors with its earthen dwellings, its vast green landscapes that turn beautiful autumnal shades this time of year, and its world-famous cuisine.
Escape to the Japanese countryside where exquisite farm-to-table cuisine and a hot spring spa provide a uniquely local experience. Satoyama Jujo is located in the thick of snow country in the beautiful Minami-Uonuma region, flanked by 2,000-meter-high mountains in the shadow of the majestic Mount Makihata. In winter, this region transforms into a wonderland of white. It’s astonishing to think that this vastly different world is just an hour and a half away from bustling Tokyo.
Helsinki is definitely at its most colorful in autumn, when the trees explode in brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds. With plenty of foliage dotted around the city, you don’t need to venture far to enjoy nature in all its resplendent glory. Afterwards, Hotel St. George’s Wintergarden offers delicious zero-waste cocktails under a six-meter-long brass bird sculpture by Finnish artist Pekka Jylhä.
Several kilometers of picturesque cross-country skiing trails and frozen lakes, ideal for ice sailing, have long pulled locals to Masuria. At Hotel Galery69, perched at the edge of a pretty lake, Małgosia & Wojtek Żółtowsky have handcrafted not only a unique hotel, but a hub for creatives around the country.
The old saying “if you like the weather in Scotland, wait half an hour and it will change” couldn’t be more accurate. Perhaps this is why the Scots have over 400 words for snow such as feefle describing that magical swirling, twirling, dancing kind of snow and flindrikin meaning a wee bit of fall. Experience Edinburgh, the heart of the country, through Market Street Hotel where the historic Old Town meets New Town.
Situated on 45 secluded acres in the bucolic hamlet of Amenia, New York, Troutbeck is a reactivated country estate and boutique accommodation in the Hudson River Valley. Neatly manicured garden paths sprawl throughout the estate, making for wonderful afternoon rambles; there is even a historic stone bridge over a bubbling brook. You’ll find much do to in this part of the Hudson Valley by way of hiking, fishing, skiing, and horseback riding. Comforts at Troutbeck include a delicious farm-to-table restaurant, an impressive wine list, lots of yoga and wellness programming for guests, and a charming communal pantry stocked with locally sourced snacks.
With over 3,000 hectares of protected natural reserve and wonderful monasteries that make it a spiritual focal point of Italy, Umbria is a fitting choice for an eco-resort. Eremito’s rooms are called “celluzze” in the spirit of those ancient monk quarters, while the austere aesthetic aims to provide guests with an “old luxury” experience, meaning plenty of quiet and space to reflect and rejuvenate. Original Marcello Murzilli says, “The first time I laid eyes on this valley I felt that I was in a special place: the colors, the flickering lights of the river, the woods of the nature reserve…and there, on top of a hill, a natural belvedere, stood a ruin.”
Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir, Ion Adventure Hotel
Based in a location where fire meets ice, Ion offers eco-conscious luxury and an unrivalled opportunity to explore the best of Iceland. Near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir National Park, the hotel sits on the multicolored slopes of Mt. Hengill, an active volcano, over a mossy green lava field, with a dramatic view of Lake Thingvallavatn and the mountains surrounding the lake. Ion’s Northern Lights bar, a glass cage protruding from the end of the building, is designed for aurora borealis viewing. “A profound sense of connection to and responsibility toward the natural environment is a big part of what it means to be Icelandic, says the woman behind Ion, Sigurlaug Sverrisdóttir. "We know that we cannot control the weather, cannot control volcanoes, earthquakes,” she says. “We’ve learned how to live with and respect nature.”