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Having planned lots of family vacations, we have discovered one universal truth: the best luxury vacation includes time in both town and country. Here are 7 combinations of glittering city and bucolic countryside that together make for a perfect luxury experience.

the best luxury vacation includes both town and country

What could be better than a well-planned combination town-and-country trip? You and your traveling companions can find both serenity and stimulation with such an itinerary.

In the glittering cities of the world, you’ll find world-class music and dance, theater, and art gallery and museum exhibitions. 5-star cuisine, world-class shopping and fantastic people-watching. By contrast, the countryside holds charming small hotels, the opportunity for long walks, bike rides, hikes, and outdoor sports. Fresh local produce, gardens and pathways, and fresh air for miles. Why choose one when you can experience both?

the best combination town and country luxury vacations

If you’re in on this idea, here’s our list of 7 destinations for the perfect rustic-chic luxury vacation.

1. New York City plus the North Fork of Long Island

We’ve shared our inside tips for the best luxury visit to New York. What would make it even more magical? Spending time outside the 5 boroughs. You could head for the charming North Fork of Long Island. Or the Hudson Valley. Or the increasingly-hip Catskills (maybe at a glamping spot). Any of these would be a wonderful complement to a few days in New York City.

Best luxury vacations combination town and country: Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, Manhattan

2. London plus the Irish countryside.

When you visit London (and we recommend that you stay at our favorite hotel, The Beaumont in Mayfair), you can find yourself swept up in a whirlwind of activity. There’s contemporary art and street art to see. The Tate Modern, the V&A Museum, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries high above Westminster Abbey. Shopping in Mayfair, afternoon tea, shows in the West End. You know what we mean. 

Regents Park in London in the autumn

So after a few days of non-stop city life, why not head north for a slower-paced stay? One wonderful spot is is the award-winning Adare Manor, in the heart of Adare Village in County Limerick. The 19th-century neo-Gothic castle is steeped in history and surrounded by medieval ruins, walled gardens and winding woodland paths. It’s also home to a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and trout fishing on the River Maigue. In the Manor house you’ll find the vast Great Hall, the lavish Drawing Room and the splendid Minstrels’ Gallery.

luxury vacation town country

The best luxury vacations that are a combination town and country: The Library at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland Photo Courtesy The Robb Report

3. San Francisco plus Big Sur.

You’ll find culture galore in San Francisco, and spectacular ocean and mountain views and hikes in Big Sur. And perfect weather in both.

We recommend making the Four Seasons on Market Street your home base in San Francisco. From there, you can easily walk to the SF MoMA – and also to the center of the luxury shopping district, which includes Louis Vuitton, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, and the Apple flagship store. You can also make stops at the Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the CCA Wattis Institute.

The “Painted Ladies” houses and the skyline in San Francisco

Then head to Big Sur and settle in for rustic luxury and romance. Thankfully, the Pacific Coast Highway has reopened after being off-limits for 14 months last year due to a landslide. So it’s even easier to get there.

The 5-star Post Ranch Inn is legendary — the rustic-chic property with only 39 rooms and 2 private houses is where Jack and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon. There are tree houses available for overnight stays (guests must be 18 or older). Nearby excursions could include a trip to the Point Sur lighthouse, the charming town of Carmel, or the Monterey Bay Aquarium (arguably the best in the nation and one of our favorites). Other options include stunning hikes along the coast, a condor tour or birding adventure, and hang-gliding. If you go in October, Andrew Molera State Park’s eucalyptus trees will be filled with monarch butterflies on their annual migration south.

luxury vacation town country

The best luxury vacations that are combination town and country: Bixby Creek Bridge along Highway 1, Big Sur, California

4. Venice plus Tuscany.

The Venice Biennale runs through the end of the November. In addition, you can take in an opera performance, and visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum. We love adventures like the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour, which takes visitors through the palace’s secret passageways, prisons, torture chamber, and interrogation room. There are wonderful luxury hotels all over Venice – the last time we visited, we stayed at the Bauer Il Palazzo, a boutique hotel on the Grand Canal, just a few steps from Piazza San Marco (breakfast is served on a roof terrace with spectacular views).

The Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy

When you’re ready to retire to the countryside, you have an enormous number of options: Piedmont, Molise, Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia Romagna, and Le Marche, among other regions. One lovely place to stay is Il Falconiere, a 22-room Relais & Chateaux in a valley in Cortona (just be sure to request a specific room, as each one is quite different from the next).

luxury vacation town country

The best luxury vacations that are both town and country: Il Falconiere in Cortona, Tuscany

5. Abu Dhabi plus Zanzibar.

Why not head to the UAE for your next luxury vacation? The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on Saadiyat Island, designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, is truly spectacular. And the works on display are cosmopolitan in origin – the Louvre and other French museums have contributed about half of the current collection of 600 works. One marvelous architectural feature of the museum is the “rain of light,” created by a dome that appears to hover over land and sea and permits sunshine and starlight to filter through. Need more speed than that? The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort would be a fine place to stay.

Under the dome at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

When you’re ready to retreat from the excitement, head to Zanzibar for a few days chilling on the beach. The 5-star Park Hyatt Zanzibar would work nicely. 

The Park Hyatt Zanzibar

6. Tokyo plus Kyoto.

Japan is high on many a traveler’s “must-do” list. In Tokyo, for a dose of culture, you’ll want to visit the 5-story Yayoi Kusama museum in the Shinjuku neighborhood, and the National Art Center, which has the largest exhibition space of any museum in Japan. The Mori Art Museum’s modern art collection (as well as its views) are really special, and the intimate Nezu Museum and its collection of pre-modern Asian and Japanese art should also be on your list. Shopping in Ginza is also a fine way to while away some time. We’d recommend staying at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo or the Aman Tokyo.

Mount Fuji and Chureito Pagoda at sunset

When you’re ready for something more pastoral, take the bullet train to Kyoto. The lovely city’s iconic gardens are a must-see, as are its temples. The Ritz Carlton Kyoto is intimate and luxurious, and has four excellent restaurants from which to choose. Or stay at a ryokan for a truly authentic experience.

The Kiyomizu Dera Temple in Kyoto Japan

7. Paris plus the Loire Valley

Finally, it goes without saying that it’s always a good time to go to Paris. There are wonderful art museums everywhere, including the Louvre; the Centre Georges Pompidou; the Musee D’Orsay; the Rodin Museum; the Musée Jacquemart-André ; and the Yves Saint Laurent museum. If time permits, hop over to Versailles to see the palace and its stunning gardens.

autumn luxury vacation Paris

Luxumbourg Gardens in Paris.

Many of our friends swear that the Loire Valley is their absolute favorite part of France. Foodies and oenophiles will be particularly pleased to be there. Located on a tufa cliff overlooking the Loire, recently listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site, the Hotel Les Hautes Roches  (“The High Rocks”) would be a fanciful place to stay. At this Relais and Chateaux property, every room is different. Twelve of the 14 rooms are actually in caves built into a rocky cliff overlooking the river, and are only accessible by outdoor stairs carved into the stone.

luxury vacations in both town and country

That’s it! Some ideas to stimulate your thinking as you plan your next getaway. What’s at the top of your list?

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Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.