Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Love of a Cold Climate

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Love of a Cold Climate

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Marshall

Indulging at Christmas markets Vienna, Austria Drinking gallons of mulled wine is permissible in the run-up to Christmas, but if you want to experiment with concoctions beyond red wine and cinnamon spend a weekend visiting some of Vienna's excellent Christmas markets.

Welcoming huts have been erected in the city's cultural epicentre, the Museumsquartier, serving drinks ranging from mango punch, to white mulled wine and even an alcoholfree Kinder punch for children.

Stay at the quirky and vibrant 25hours hotel in the trendy Neubaugasse district, where rooms are decorated with murals of circus performers and a swing provides amusement in a communal lounge. A constant stream of hip visitors to the hotel's 1500 restaurant gives the space an upbeat feel, while at night revellers queue to hear DJs play in the rooftop bar.

Details: Cheapflights (cheapflights.co. uk) offers return flights to Vienna starting from just [pounds sterling]90. Double rooms from [euro]100, excluding breakfast. See 25hours-hotels.com/wien for details.

Ski in style Gstaad, Switzerland For the holidaymaker looking for discretion, nothing quite beats dining in a vault once used to stash Swiss wealth during the Second World War.

And that's exactly what guests can do at the splendid Gstaad Palace, nestled in the Alps, just a short drive from the country's capital city, Bern.

Perched on the side of a hill above the village of Gstaad, the grand hotel belonging to the Scherz family celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The building is steeped in tradition, although one of the more recent additions to the hotel is the large spa complex, with a steam bath and flotation pool. Guests are encouraged to relax in robes in a warmly lit room, while looking out across the heated outdoor plunge pool to the slopes, where skiers and snowboarders can enjoy 250km of pristine pistes.

And if you want to squeeze in some last minute Christmas shopping, visit the designer stores clustered in the centre of Gstaad.

Details: Swiss Air (swiss.com/uk) fly to Geneva from [pounds sterling]89 return. Double rooms start at [pounds sterling]508 per night, see palace.ch for more details.

Chasing Northern Lights Lake Myvatn, Iceland When it comes to fairy tales, there are few sugar-coated stories in Iceland. According to Norse folklore, if a child misbehaves before Christmas, they risk being thrown into an evil troll's cooking pot and served up for dinner.

Fortunately, the only trolls to be found in the northern Lake Myvatn region are craggy volcanic rock formations said to be the mythical creatures frozen in time. They provide the perfect setting to view the Northern Lights, which apparently appear here more frequently than any other part of Iceland. Stay at the hotel Reynihlid, overlooking the lake, and you may even view them from the warmth of your own room. …

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