10 Best: Indulge yourself

A personal shopper in India, a train for two in Scotland, a private island in the Maldives: Rhiannon Batten tells us what's new in the world of high-end holidays this season
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The Independent Travel

1. Glide down the Nile in style

If you've always fancied a classic Nile cruise but have been put off by having to join the crowds, here's a good option. Abercrombie & Kent's Sun Boat IV will be relaunched in chic, contemporary style at the end of September.

Red carpet factor: with steamer chairs and sundowners, the boat harks back to a time of old-fashioned glamour but with a modern twist - and it leaves the rabble well behind.

The damage: Sun Boat IV encompasses part of Abercrombie & Kent's Signature Egypt itinerary; four nights at the Four Seasons hotel in Cairo and four nights cruising the Nile from Aswan to Luxor from £1,749 per person, including flights, full board on the boat and b&b in Cairo (0845-0700 612; abercrombiekent.co.uk).

2. Well hello fish face

Consuming caviar is one of the celebrated pleasures of visiting Russia, but slapping it on your face is something of an unfamiliar practice. You can do both at Rocco Forte's lavishly revamped St Petersburg hotel, the Astoria, and its sister property, the Angleterre. Both deftly combine classic and contemporary style with smart bedrooms, upmarket restaurants and swanky bars.

Red carpet factor: book in for a Caviar Delight Day.

This starts with a rejuvenating caviar facial in the Astoria's Clarins spa before a night spent tasting different caviars - with plenty of vodka - in the Angleterre's new Caviar Bar.

The damage: Caviar Delight Days cost €260 (£185). Double rooms (without breakfast) start at €265 at the Angleterre (00 7 812 494 5666) and €320 at the Astoria (00 7 812 494 5007; roccoforte hotels.com).

3. Take a Swedish lobster safari

Celebrate the Swedish lobster season, which starts on 25 September, with a lobster safari at Handelsman Flink, a small, family-run hotel 90 minutes north of Gothenburg. Guests join an expert lobster-catcher for an afternoon to help hunt for what the locals dub "black gold" before cooking their catch as part of a rich, three-course dinner back at the hotel.

Red carpet factor: it isn't all hard graft. There's plenty of time to warm up in the sauna or, if you want to get closer to your catch, the firewood-heated saltwater hot tub set out on a jetty right over the water.

The damage: Emagine Travel offers lobster safaris at Handelsman Flink from £529 per person, including flights, car hire, one lunch, the lobster safari, two dinners and two nights' b&b (0870-902 5399; emagine-travel.co.uk). For other lobster safaris visit west-sweden.com.

4. Chuffing marvellous

If you really want to impress, charter The Royal Scotsman for an intimate Highland fling. Regarded as one of the world's most luxurious trains, it can be hired by you and a partner for a personal jaunt between Edinburgh and Aviemore. Travelling either via the famous Forth Rail Bridge or the greens of Gleneagles, the journey takes in the Inver tunnel, picturesque Pitlochry, Monarch of the Glen country around Dalwhinnie and Druimuachdar Summit - at 1,484ft the highest point on the UK rail system. After two nights in Aviemore, with plenty of time for visiting castles, distilleries and other sights, you then return to Edinburgh in similar style.

Red carpet factor: enjoying the ride is unlikely to be a problem, with sybaritic cabins, gourmet food, a fine wine list and an army of staff on hand.

The damage: prices for two people cost from £60,000, including train charter, excursions, food and drink and two nights on board (01293 783347; trainchartering.com).

5. Hit the shops in Jaipur

The Indian city of Jaipur is famous for jewellery, textiles, carpets, pottery, paintings, furniture, crafts and ayurvedic products. The trouble for the shoppers, however, is where to start your haggling. But book a Jaipur holiday with Cazenove and Loyd and that's no longer a problem because you get to spend a day with your own personal shopper, Gitanji Rajpal. Red carpet factor: the insider knowledge extends beyond shopping. Want to watch elephant polo or get into the city's exclusive private members' clubs? Gitanji can organise that too.

The damage: one-week holidays in Jaipur start from £1,500 per person, including return flights, private transfers, one day's personal shopping and six nights' luxury accommodation (020-7384 2332; cazloyd.com).

6. On top of the Big Apple

The jury's still out on Ian Schrager's "Bohemian" remodelling of the Gramercy Park Hotel. But if you're in the market for luxury, there's no doubt that its one-bedroom penthouse suite fits the bill. Drag yourself away from skyscraping views of the park and you'll find traditional lime-plastered walls, a mahogany wood ceiling, a fireplace by the building's original architect, Stanford White, antique furniture and a series of photographs chosen by artist Julian Schnabel, Schrager's chief collaborator on the project. If you're into art, check out the lobby, with its exhibition of big-name 20th-century works. The penthouse suite encompasses a living room, dining room, library, wood-panelled kitchen, multimedia centre, and a custom-designed bathroom.

Red carpet factor: each guest gets their own personal assistant.

The damage: prices for the penthouse suite on application (00 1 212 920 3300; gramercyparkhotel.com).

7. Anchors away in the Maldives

Launched in June, the Rania Experience is essentially a way of enjoying a private yacht without the bother of buying your own. A luxury 86ft motor boat, Rania sleeps up to nine guests in four en-suite rooms and also features indoor and outdoor lounge and dining areas, a barbecue, Jacuzzi and full entertainment system, so there's no chance of ending up with cabin fever as it plies the Indian Ocean. Guests also have exclusive use of a private island with a spa, villa and pool.

Red carpet factor: the sheer privacy. With more than 1,000 islands and lagoons to explore, escaping the crowds is real doddle.

The damage: prices start from $28,500 (£16,760) for two for three nights, including exclusive use of the yacht and island, accommodation, food, most drinks, unlimited spa treatments, diving and water sports and staff (00 960 779 1781; raniaexperience.com).

8. Nights in white satin and linen

Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Mexico's Los Cabos now has a new way to bring out your inner diva. If a dedicated butler, luxury pets programme and personalised spa treatments aren't pampering enough to soothe your expanding ego, how about its recently launched linen menu? Book an ocean-view or ocean-front suite and, when you arrive, your butler will present you with samples of four different types of sheet for you to try - Las Ventanas Classic (100 per cent Egyptian cotton), Fresh Italian linen, "Smooth As Silk", and "Luxurious & Lusty Sateen". Just don't expect anyone back home to keep a straight face if you opt for the last one.

Red carpet factor: if you want to try all the different sheets, your butler will ensure a different set is put on the bed each day.

The damage: ocean-view suites start at $625 per night (00 52 624 144 2800; lasventanas.com).

9. Escape to St Tropez

If you like the range of services you get in a hotel but also want the privacy of a villa, you can now have both with Villazzo's VillaHotels.

One of the most glamorous is VillaHotel Village, a new property in St Tropez designed to fit in with its ancient surroundings. Close to the market, shops, port, bars and restaurants, it is also a great escape, with a private garden and pool, a well-equipped farmhouse kitchen, a huge lounge and seven very chic bedrooms.

Red carpet factor: all manner of services and staff can be provided on request, including your own personal barman. Too shopped-out to mix your own martini?

Just call, and a true

professional will whizz over, cocktail shaker in hand.

The damage: VillaHotel Village costs from €2,840 (£2,028) per night, on a four-bedroom basis. Personal bar staff cost €40-50 (£28-35) per hour (00 33 49 454 8735; villazzo.com).

10. All white in Switzerland

The remote but award-winning Whitepod deluxe camp, about an hour-and-a-half's drive from Geneva, is getting even better. This winter sees the opening of a new reception chalet (complete with open chimney, library, wireless internet access and spa), a new, private ski run, three snowshoeing trails and a private alpine refuge, where guests can stop for lunch or ski in for a fondue dinner before being sped back to the camp on a dog-sled. The accommodation has also gone even more upmarket, with two new "Pavilion" pods, featuring en suite bathroom facilities and mezzanine bedrooms.

Red carpet factor: if you value the environment as much as your luxuries you can often have a hard time balancing the two. At Whitepod, though, you can be happily guilt-free as the whole resort is committed to a zero-impact experience.

The damage: Pavilion pods start at 629CHF (£268) per pod, per night. There's a two-night minimum stay (00 41 79 744 6219; whitepod.com).

All prices based on two people sharing a room, unless otherwise stated

The best bespoke soak: On tap in New Zealand

The new Sofitel Queenstown, set in New Zealand's Southern Alps, is an active place, offering skiing in winter and hiking in summer. You can also get your thrills from world-class local wines, or ask the in-house 'bathologist' for something from the bath menu (baths designed by Norman Foster). The 82 rooms all have views and espresso machines. There are also two penthouse suites overlooking Lake Wakatipu. From £134(00 64 3 450 0045; sofitelqueenstown.com).

The best palatial getaway: Butlers in Buenos Aires

Park Hyatt's newly restored Palacio Duhau opened in Buenos Aires' fashionable Recoleta district in July. Facilities include a spa, a 25m pool, formal restaurant and wine bar, oak-panelled bar and 204 rooms and suites. On the top floor is the five-bedroom Duhau Suite. Decorated with silks, crystal and marble, it has a butler, a balcony - and bullet-proof windows. Prices for the suite start at $4,500 (£2,647) per night (00 54 11 5171 1234; buenosaires.park.hyatt.com).

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