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Secret Escapes’ top 5 destinations for 2014

 

 

Devon and Cornwall

These encompass idyllic Britain at its best: chocolate box villages, the sensational open countryside of Dartmoor and Exmoor, cream teas, wide stretches of dune-fringed coastline and heck, even the great Cornish pasty itself. With eco apartments, boutique beach huts, lost weekends in luxe hotels and Victorian seafront grandeur, there's a place for everyone to lay their head. If you think this part of the country is all about surfing in Newquay, look further and you'll find hidden coves, incredible sunsets, art galleries, famous fine dining and stunning nature reserves.

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Greece and its islands

These are regarded worldwide for their azure sea, delicious food, dramatic landscapes and iconic whitewashed houses, but that's where the similarities end. From the romance of Santorini, glamour of Mykonos, history of Athens and unspoiled coves of Lefkada; Greece and the diverse scattering of islands offers a slice of accessible paradise to suit hedonists and escapists alike.

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Thailand

With 16 million holidaymakers flying into country each year, Thailand is one of the most visited destinations in Asia, but you can still seek out your own patch of secluded paradise if you know where to look. You don't have to rough it either, some of the world's most luxurious hotels can be found here. Thailand is an incredibly diverse destination and you can lose yourself in the hectic neon-lit streets of Bangkok, paddle through a floating market, take in breathtaking views over tea plantations and jungle, relax on powder-soft beaches, swim in crystal clear sea, trek mountains and marvel at ornate Buddhist temples and ancient ruins.

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The Lake District

The Lake District is England's largest National Park, home to its highest mountain, deepest lake and the kind of dramatic scenery that causes fantasies about walking boots. If the thought of a waxed jacket makes you shudder, there are plenty of plush hotels, spas, fine restaurants and quaint guest houses to shut yourself away in; but the activity holiday is where this destination really comes into its own. From hiking to biking to canoeing, the Lakes are the perfect setting for all manner of outdoorsy things. Whether in the warm glow of the summer sun, or the crisp depths of winter, this is one destination that's never out of season.

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The Cotswolds

All thatched cottages, meadows, rolling hills and market towns that (probably) hold summer fetes, the Cotswolds - designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - is as English as queuing politely and afternoon tea. It's a favourite destination for city-fleeing Londoners, romantic mini breakers and appreciators of all that we treasure about England. Lying mainly in the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds is an area bursting with ivy-clad country house hotels and stylish boutique hideaways - the kind with freestanding copper baths and statement light fittings. An inspiration for many a writer, composer and filmmaker; the Cotswolds is a honey-hued hotspot for wildlife, culture, history and enigmatically named villages.

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