Time to get out of the city? Want to leave all your cares behind and immerse yourself in nature and culture? Always a good idea! COMPANION has put together some tips for excursions in the surrounds of our 25hours Hotels’ cities to give you ideas for moments of mindfulness in the cold season.
The French Underwater Worlds
Fancy a trip to the zoo, but not the wet, cold, or windy weather? A visit to Aquarium Tropical in the picturesque Palais de la Porte Dorée, just a short trip from the centre of Paris, is a delightful way to escape the potential boredom induced by nasty weather — plus you get the opportunity to marvel at the creatures inhabiting its fascinating underwater worlds. Luminescent coral, shoals of darting fish, lolloping turtles and alligators from all over the world beckon guests into mysterious worlds. Only figuratively speaking, of course. Our favourite fish? ‘La Demoiselle des mers du sud.’ Its glowing blue and yellow markings are enchanting.
Don’t let its medieval name fool you: not far from Vienna, Burgenland satisfies even the most progressive of palates. If you know where to go, that is. Visit the Greisslerei delicatessen that adjoins the Taubenkobel restaurant — and the restaurant itself as well, of course. Run by the Eselböck family and their friends, the delightful eatery combines reinvented culinary experiences with seemingly forgotten flavours from the region. All of their offerings are made from the region’s fruits of nature. Perched right next door, Greisslerei’s Piedmontese delicacies provide stiff competition for the restaurant: the on-site shop sells delicious specialities and magnificent wines.
Meditation is an integral part of life in the Far East — and now also deep in the forests of Bavaria. Not far from Munich, the Meditation House — a kind of wooden pavilion in a forest glade — is connected to the Kranzbach hotel, just outside Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Commissioning Kengo Kuma, Tokyo’s star architect, to lead the project certainly paid off: his artistic structures are always in balance with the surrounding nature. Built under the auspices of Studio Lois from Innsbruck, the Meditation House attracts guests looking to replenish their spirits, architecture enthusiasts, and yoga groups who book the hut for special sessions.
Tobogganing, skating, skiing… The area surrounding Zurich turns into a paradise for winter sports fans as soon as the first snow has fallen. More of a runner? No problem: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment, says the crew behind the Swiss brand On Running. Its website showcases the most beautiful running routes in and around Zurich. From a three-kilometre jog around Lake Zurich to a 10K through Zurich Forest right next door — even in winter, gliding through the Alpine landscape is sports with benefits.
Red Wine Tourism in Rheingau
The Rheingau wine region near Frankfurt am Main is actually famous for its Riesling grapes. But the clocks tick differently in Assmannshausen, a hillside district of Rüdesheim: the red wine village and self- proclaimed ‘Ace on the Rhine’ is an outpost of pinot noir. Countless wine growers are strung next to one another along Lorcher Strasse, so red wine enthusiasts can sample their way from cellar door to cellar door. Wine tourism aside, the medieval town, with its magnificent panoramic views, has plenty more to offer, like the chair lift that, from March onwards, whisks guests high above the vines.
What does a woolly pig actually look like? How about a racka? Put away your smartphone! Instead of googling funny animal pictures, a far better idea is to round up the kids for a visit to the Gertrudenhof adventure farmyard. Here, nature presents itself up close: besides enjoying the petting zoo, guests can pick up plenty of tips about (healthy) diets by trying their hand at sowing, harvesting, processing, and, of course, eating the crops. There are plenty of stalls selling tasty treats too, just like a regular farmers’ market. So while the little ones are busy stroking the rabbits or running around the barn, parents can tuck into a tarte flambée or hot waffles in peace.
Sylt is just a stone’s throw away from Hamburg and well worth a visit at any time of year. Not just for its brisk sea breezes and tasty fish sandwiches — neither are in short supply in the Hanseatic city — but rather because the island is a winter paradise for nature enthusiasts and wellness freaks. Both groups will find what they crave at Samoa, a beachfront sauna near Rantum. Tucked away in the heart of the dunes, the Finnish-style hut and steam room are perfect for guests wanting to warm up in winter. The panoramic window offers guests a calming view of the North Sea’s waves while they sit back to sweat their troubles away. Once that’s been achieved, brave souls can make the most of the opportunity and take a (very) refreshing dip in the water!
The Rhineland is known for its art. For a pleasurable day out, there are plenty of museums and galleries within easy reach of Düsseldorf. A visit to the Centre for International Light Art, located just 80 kilometres away in Unna, is a great choice for winter. After all, light is a necessary remedy for the soul in the darker months of the year. Besides hosting temporary exhibitions, the centre shows illuminating works by celebrated artists like Christian Boltanski, Ólafur Elíasson, and Rebecca Horn, as well as pieces by James Turrell, the undisputed master of light art. Turrell is known for making rooms glow, not only in white, but also in the mesmerising tones of the rainbow.
White beaches, crystal-clear waters, exotic plants: those who’ve missed out on booking a trip to the Caribbean this year can get that holiday feeling in the heart of Brandenburg, a short train ride away from Berlin and perfect for a day out of town. Set up in a former aircraft hangar, the Tropical Islands theme park entices visitors with the world’s largest indoor rainforest — situated in what is also the world’s biggest cantilevered dome. The expansive wellness and sauna area is equally record breaking and a wonderful place to lounge around doing nothing, without the massive carbon footprint of a long-haul flight. With a pleasant temperature of 28°C, the swimming areas feature a waterfall, grotto, and a huge slide. Prefer untouched nature? The nearby Spreewald Forest is a wonderful place in which to take a stroll!