Beach and spa vacations are typically associated with relaxation while urban getaways tend to be all go, go, go, but that doesn’t always have to be the case, according to Michael Bonsor, the hotel manager of Rosewood London. “You can absolutely head to a city for a relaxing vacation,” he said.
Here, Bonsor shares his tips on how to have a laid-back trip in a busy city setting:
Set the Mood Beforehand: Use the journey to your destination as an opportunity to get into vacation mode: If you’re flying, use a pair of noise-canceling headphones and order a glass of Champagne or another drink you enjoy when you get on board. And watch movies or listen to music on your iPad or on the airline’s in-flight entertainment system. If you’re driving, plan to hit the road when it isn’t rush hour, so you don’t spend hours sitting in traffic; have a playlist on hand with your favorite songs; and carry indulgent snacks such as a bar of good chocolate. The idea, Bonsor said, is to start unwinding before your vacation starts.
Pick a Manageable City: Large cities like New York City, Paris and Tokyo usually don’t lend themselves to relaxation because visitors are often overwhelmed by the number of attractions and can tire themselves out trying to take them all in. Smaller cities such as Vancouver, British Columbia; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and Washington, while still appealing, are more manageable. “You might want to hit a site or two, but there’s not that feeling of sensory overload that comes with larger urban settings,” Bonsor said.
Hotel Location Matters: Maximize your getaway by staying in a neighborhood you want to explore – you will probably be able to get around by walking or biking and won’t waste time commuting to other parts of town. If you like shopping, choose a property in the city’s main shopping district. If art is of interest, go for a hotel near art museums or galleries.
Book a Spa Treatment Upon Arrival: There is nothing like a massage or a spa treatment to help you de-stress and set the tone for a relaxing getaway. In advance of your trip, make an appointment for the day you arrive at your hotel’s spa or one nearby. And if there are particular techniques that the destination is known for, ask for these so you get a greater sense of place.
Plan for Relaxation: Give yourself plenty of unscheduled time to decompress by napping or reading by the hotel pool, people-watching at cafes, lingering at wine bars and wandering through the streets soaking up the surroundings. Of course, you should hit tourist sites, but plan to visit them early in the day when they tend to be less crowded.