Esti’s top five destinations for a winter break
Travel is a great passion of Topfloor founder and creative director Esti Barnes – experiencing different sights, sounds, cuisines and cultures is a wonderful way to spark creativity. Here are some of her favourite destinations for a winter getaway.
NEW YORK CITY
‘I love New York at its festive best. There’s such a buzz of activity and feeling of goodwill at this time of year – the decorations, the supersized Christmas trees, the street lights and the shop window displays are spectacular. New York can’t be beaten for shopping, museums, exhibitions and of course the theatre. The hottest tickets in town at the moment are for hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”, which is based on the remarkable story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.’
‘For the ultimate winter wonderland, it’s hard to top the grand, regal city of St Petersburg. Don’t let the cold get the better of you – dress for the weather and warm yourself up with a shot or two of vodka! The snow-covered parks and frozen rivers and canals are a sight to behold, especially on a sunny day. There’s also a wealth of culture to enjoy. The vast art collection at the State Hermitage Museum includes masterpieces by Da Vinci, Picasso and Rembrandt. The heavily guarded Gold and Diamond Rooms in the Treasure Galleries are also absolutely breathtaking. For world-famous ballet and opera, head to the Mariinsky Theatre.’
‘For some very welcome winter sun, I highly recommend Oman. It’s an exotic beach-holiday destination but it also boasts fabulous scenery and a rich and interesting history – there are hundreds of forts, towers and castles and several UNESCO World Heritage sites. There’s only a four-hour time difference, too, so it’s a great jetlag-free option. I loved the beachfront location and quiet luxury of the beautiful Chedi Muscat Hotel. The pools, spa, food and service were all exceptional.’
‘Vienna is special for me because it is my mother’s birth place. It has so much cultural history but is also at the forefront of cutting-edge art and design. There’s no better place to get into the festive spirit. Wander around the charming Christmas markets (follow the aroma of glühwein and roasted chestnuts!), or come in from the cold and enjoy a hot chocolate and a slice of Sachertorte, the legendary Viennese chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. Try the original recipe at Café Sacher, directly opposite the Opera House.
‘Vienna is synonymous with music, so music lovers will be spoilt for choice. Seeing an opera at the famous Vienna State Opera is a must – just make sure you book well in advance. There are also concerts and galas being held in beautiful historic venues across the city.’
‘For me, the holiday season is about eating good food and partying with friends and family, so my list of favourite winter destinations wouldn’t be complete without my hometown, Istanbul. It’s a beautiful city to visit at any time of year, but in winter there are fewer tourists and less hustle and bustle, so I take the opportunity to visit the latest exhibitions at my favourite galleries. Among them are Istanbul Modern; Arter; Santral Istanbul; Sanatorium; Galeri Nev; and many others.’ I hope you’ve enjoyed Esti’s whistle-stop tour of her favourite winter-holiday hotspots. We wish you all a happy holiday!