The Gift Guide

The Luxury Gift Guide of Excellent Experiences

luxury gift guide excellent experiences

Looking to give a luxury experience rather than a luxury product to someone for a birthday, holiday gift, or other special occasion? You may be wondering how to gift a luxury experience, and what your options are. To give you some ideas and inspiration, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum has curated an ultimate luxury gift guide to some of the best experiences money can buy.

are luxury experiences better gifts than luxury goods?

Lots of people would say that while we spend a lot of time looking at luxury goods as potential gifts, actually the best luxury gift is an incredible experience. We can’t really disagree. Some of the best presents we’ve ever been given have been much-needed trips to a luxury spa. Or to a wonderful destination. Or to an excellent Broadway show that we thought was sold out.

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A unique, awe-inspiring experience is often more fulfilling to receive than an item of clothing or a new piece of tech. And when you think about it, the gift of a incredible experience is actually two presents in one. Your recipient has the gift of both the immediate experience itself, and the amazing memories that come with it.  Not to mention the photos!

luxury gift guide to excellent experiences

Next time you are celebrating a birthday, holiday, or any other special occasion, pick up a pair of plane tickets. And consider giving someone the gift of one of these incredible experiences.

1. Spend the night in the largest luxury suite in Paris

The Mandarin Oriental’s new $35,300 a night Parisian Apartment is the largest hotel suite in Paris. The sophisticated 4-room pied à terre comes with a massive garden terrace and a private meal prepared by a two-Michelin-starred celebrity chef.

The living room of the Parisian Apartment at the Mandarin Oriental Paris. Courtesy Photo.

2. Tickets to Sleep No More in New York

Tickets to theater productions make excellent presents. Who wouldn’t be delighted to open an envelope on their birthday, and find tickets to Hamilton or Hadestown?

This time around, consider purchasing tickets to the New York show Sleep No More. Although it opened in 2011, this immersive production of Macbeth is still exciting and worthwhile. Because the show is different every time! The audience interacts with actors and set pieces, and can actually change the course of the story. Tickets start at $109, and you can enhance your visit by adding a table at the hotel’s exquisite restaurant before or after the show.

luxury gift guide best experiences

Sleep No More. Photo Credit: GQ Magazine.

3. Paragliding in Coronet Park, New Zealand

Maybe you aren’t a big fan of heights, and the thought of flying through the air attached only to a sail is downright terrifying. We sympathize, dear reader. However, paragliding is a perfectly safe, magical, one-of-a-kind way to gain – literally – a new perspective on the world.

There are beautiful places all over the world to indulge in this amazing sport. Personally, we recommend the gift of a paragliding adventure in Coronet Park, New Zealand. For $399 NZD, your gift recipient can try both paragliding and hang gliding. Best of all, they will get to enjoy an absolutely unforgettable day in one of the most stunning places in the world.

best luxury gift experiences

Paragliding in Coronet Park. Photo Credit: Travel Bugs, New Zealand.

4. Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef

With the largest amalgamation of coral in the world, there is no sight quite like the Great Barrier Reef. Especially as scientists fear for its future, now is the time to purchase two tickets to Australia. And take someone special aboard an amazing Great Barrier Reef Cruise. With this package for $304, you’ll learn to snorkel and scuba dive, and have the chance to see some of Australia’s other amazing wildlife while you’re in the area.

The Great Barrier Reef

5. Behind-the-scenes Touring at Universal Studios

Maybe you have a person in your life who identifies as a cinephile. The kind of person for whom there’s no magic like movie magic. You should consider grabbing them a spot on the studio tram tour at Universal. They will be able to ride through the sets of all their favorite movies, learn new information about well-known productions, and maybe even catch a film being made – who knows!  The VIP tour is $349, and also gives them access to a day of Universal’s wonderful rides.

Universal Studio Tour. Courtesy Photo.

6. Seeing the Northern Lights From Inside a Glass Igloo

Take someone to the Arctic Circle this year, and let them feast their eyes upon the universe in all its cosmic glory. We recommend grabbing a front row seat at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland. From August to April the accommodations have roofs that open to the sky. Nothing beats staying in a luxurious, fully outfitted glass igloo (487,00 €), right? Your gift recipient can watch the spectacular sky show all day and night. They can light a fire in the fireplace and fall asleep staring up at the sky. And you can help restore their faith that there are so many beautiful things to see in this world.

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland. Courtesy Photo.

7. Taking a master class from Alain Ducasse

Food is the literal and metaphorical lifeblood of so many of our most important experiences. Not only is it how we nourish our bodies, but it is also an avenue for connection, community and celebration. Giving someone the gift of a cooking class is a way to help them enrich their life going forward. And where better than at the cooking school of Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse in Paris? There are dozens of classes to choose from. For €170.00 you can help someone learn how to make brunch, prepare foie gras, and create regional delicacies. An incredible experience that will surely prove useful for the rest of their lives.

Cooking Class

8. Stage a slumber party in the Gladstone’s Library

Built in 1894 by Prime Minister William Gladstone, today the Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales is a residential library. Do you know what this means? Next time you are in need of a luxury gift for a bibliophile, you can give them a stay in the library’s bed and breakfast.

Certified by Trip Advisor, the Monad Suite is £131.00 a night. It comes with everything they’ll need to have a glorious vacation in this unique accommodation. And since every book is an incredible experience in and of itself – and the library has over 150,000 of them – you would be getting someone a thousand nights they’ll never forget.

Gladstones Library in Wales. Photo Credit: The Telegraph.

9. View the Arctic from a Hot Air Balloon

If you want to really wow someone, let them live large at the top of the world. Give them the gift of a ride at the North Pole inside of a hot air balloon. Quark Expeditions offers a variety of outstanding voyages. Believe it or not, the hot air balloon ride is merely the cherry on top of an all-together unbeatable trip. Part of giving the gift of an experience is helping someone to push beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone, and this will allow them to do just that.  

best luxury gift experiences

Quark Expeditions trip to the North Pole. Photo Credit: Cruiseinsider.

10. Play with Virtual Reality

If anyone understands that the gift of experience is worth a thousand other gifts, it’s the makers of virtual reality. After all, what is virtual reality if not another way of having experiences? And these are experiences that allow us to broaden our empathy, expand our horizons, and deepen our understanding of the world around us. Consider getting someone a pass for 7 exhibits at VR Park in Dubai. For 110 AED, they can check out the future, the desert, ultimate sports and so much more – all from the safety of an amazing arcade-like space.

VR Park in Dubai, UAE. Courtesy Photo.

11. Take a VIP Tour of History

Give someone the gift of a personalized look inside the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. For $332, they can take a private, VIP tour and have a chance to take in their surroundings without the usual overwhelm of the crowds. The tour guides are experts in art history, and will be able to share some of their wonderful knowledge during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Photo Courtesy The Vatican.

12. Have the Louvre all to yourself

Rachel Kaplan’s Events and Company can arrange two special ways to experience the museum without the hassle and crowds, including an after-hours visit on Wednesday and Friday nights, followed by dinner at one of the Louvre restaurants (From $510). For those who really want to learn about a specific aspect of the Louvre’s extensive collection, Kaplan can arrange breakfast in the museum with a curator at 7:30 in the morning.

Or you could kick it mogul-style and book a 90-minute private tour followed by a champagne supper on a boat on the Seine through Family Twist, a Paris-based travel company. 

best luxury gift experiences

Louvre. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

13. Create London Street Art with a Pro

Whenever we want a really special experience in London, we turn to NoteWorthy. They’re an agency that can provide everything from a two-hour guided tour of a museum to once-in-a-lifetime bespoke experiences. One that caught our eye sounds like really big fun: you can spend a morning learning the art of graffiti painting in East London’s backstreets. The experience involves a walking tour of Shoreditch, and then a chance to try creating street art firsthand. Who knows? Your gift recipient could become the next Banksy!

best luxury gift experiences

London street art

luxury gift guide to excellent experiences

That’s our gift guide with ideas and inspiration for how to give an excellent experience to someone you love. What’s at the top of your list? “Cause you can always invite yourself along . . . 

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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