Culture is at the heart of any destination — there’s no better way to understand a country than through its food, music, history and art. So, where to begin? Depending on which hat you’re donning; as a historian, geologist, artist, anthropologist, spiritualist...we've come up with a few of our favourite cultural escapes to help you get started.
Lord's Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris is a family owned and operated overland tour company with rarely granted permission to enter traditional Aboriginal homelands. With over 20 years' experience as a guide, charismatic owner Sab Lord adds cultural insight to the towering red escarpments, pristine waterfalls and black soil plains of Arnhemland National Park. In the evenings, tales of his family history in Kakadu and his respect for the region come alive around the campfire — dished out alongside roast beef and fine wines, incongruous with the untamed surroundings. Lords are the only tour company which has permission to see Australia’s most outstanding ancient rock art (some more than 7,000 years old) at Injalak near Gunbalanya as well as drive people right to the door of Bamurru Plains Luxury Lodge.
The whirlwind of forts, palaces, temples and desert dwellings that makes Rajasthan so vibrant, is an unmissable cultural highlight in India. Staying in one of Indian’s many exquisite palace hotels is a must, and there are few as decadent as Taj Rambagh Palace. Home to the Queen’s favourite handmaiden and still welcoming royals and polo players from all over the world entering Rambagh is like stepping back in time. When it comes to a more boutique Indian experience, Samode Haveli’s heavy doors are all that divides a world of calm, traditional hospitality from the chaotic streets of Jaipur. This meticulously restored 18th-century palace gives guests the chance to experience living history in style. Udaipur, the city of lakes, is the most peaceful city in the Golden Triangle (if that can be said) and retains architectural splendour against the natural beauty of the Aravalli hills. The Devi Garh blends 18th-century heritage with minimalist design — we like to put guests in the Aravalli Suite, with its sprawling views and intricate motifs.
It’s hard to believe that the cultural whirlwind of Morocco is just three and a half hours away from London. Whether embracing Marrakech’s bustling medina, getting lost in Fes’ muddled souks or soaking up the blue hues of Essaouira’s bright and breezy port, there is nothing tame about culture in Morocco. From the elaborate architecture of its mosques to the enticing labyrinth of the old town, Fes is best experienced from a riad – charming, historical boutiques, often hidden within the medina walls. Combining luxury with tradition, Relais & Chateaux’s Riad Fes draws on Spanish and Moorish design, telling the story of Morocco’s many influences. For sheer opulence, the Royal Mansour in Marrkech is a beautifully restored royal palace where no luxury has been spared. On the opposite end of the spectrum the Atlas Mountains offer a taste of Berber hospitality — trekking trails, remote villages and peaceful Kasbah’s are worlds away from the hectic cities. Kasbah du Toubkal welcomes hikers seeking a cosy mountain refuge and genuine Berber hospitality in the most spectacular setting.
The tiny teardrop island of Sri Lanka is home to an array of cultural and historical attractions. Just north of the central province is the ancient city of Anuradhapura, a mind-blowing sprawl of archaeological wonders, where enormous brick stupas meet ancient pools and crumbling temples. Nearby, the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya where King Kasyapa built his palace rises from an expanse of flat jungle. The pretty hilltop city of Kandy hosts the Esala Perahera each year, a festival dating back to the 15th Century and the rule of the Kandyan Kingdom. Parading dancers, elephants and fire-breathers line the streets for what is not only one of the most celebrated events in Sri Lanka but also one of the largest cultural festivals in Asia. The Kandy House provides a much-needed respite from the festival mayhem — this ancestral manor house has been painstakingly restored into a luxury hotel. On the southern coast is Galle, home to the 17th-century Dutch fort that Unesco recently put on the map. Here the The Fort Bazaar is one of our favourites — its 18 rooms are light and chic while managing to maintain historical heritage in the heart of the fort.
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From Reykjavik to Port Louis, Colombo to Cape Town, our curated travels take in everything from vibrant cities and bustling market towns where cultures collide and creativity thrives, to humble villages and ancient settlements rich in cultural heritage. More importantly we know the guides that lead guests to them in an authentic and responsible way.