The Dolomites, Italy
Rifugio Lagazuoi is like a sentinel 2,750m above the spires and green valleys of northern Italy, offering not only panoramic views from its sprawling terrace but also the highest sauna in the Dolomites. Expect hearty local cuisine – such as polenta with roe deer – and a warm welcome from members of the Pompanin family, who have run this walk-in retreat since its construction in 1965. History buffs take note: the refuge is a quick walk away from a vast network of trenches and tunnels dug out by Italian forces during the first world war and restored in the late 1990s as an open-air museum.
Rifugio Lagazuoi is on the summit of Mount Lagazuoi halfway between the resorts of Cortina d’Ampezzo and Alta Badia. It claims the highest point along the 120km Alta Via 1 walking route, which runs through the Dolomites from the emerald green Lake Braies to the historic city of Belluno. Bus transfers to the region are available from the airport in Venice 180km to the south.
• Rooms from €42pp, bunks from €30pp, rifugiolagazuoi.com. Open Dec-March, June-Oct; minimum 2 hours trekking time
Northern Patagonia, Chile
There’s a cowboy trail through the granite domes of Cochamó valley that looks much the same today as it did when a pair of American bankrobbers drove their cattle over the Andes. More than a century has passed since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid passed this way but there’s still just one patch of developed land in sight. On it, you’ll find the backcountry Refugio Cochamó B&B, a rock climber’s retreat famous for its oven-baked pizzas and home-brewed beers.
Refugio Cochamó is in the two-hut hamlet of La Junta, a 10km trek from the trailhead in Cochamó. Expect to forge small rivers and cross larger ones via rope and pulley as the trail skirts a muddy rainforest and spills out into a grassy pampa. Arrive in Cochamó on a scenic two-hour public bus ride from the Chilean resort town of Puerto Varas.
• Rooms from £38, bunks from £14, cochamo.com. Open Nov-April; 4-6 hours trekking time
Near the Appalachian Trail, US
The aptly named Hike Inn is a two-hour walk from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, America’s legendary long-distance footpath. This family-friendly outpost in Chattahoochee-Oconee national forest aims to foster an appreciation of the outdoors with a diverse array of educational programs such as wildflower walks and conservation talks. The inn harvests rainwater for its garden, composts organic waste for fertiliser and utilises a solar-thermal water heating system so guests can have hot showers. Mobile phones and other tech gadgets are forbidden.
It’s an easy 8km hike in to Hike Inn from the parking lot at Amicalola Falls in northern Georgia following a trail through a forest of hickory, pine and oak trees. Amicalola Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall in the US south-east, is only accessible by car and is about 90 minutes north of Atlanta.
• Doubles from $170 D,B&B, hike-inn.com. Open year-round; 2-3 hour trekking time
Yellow Mountains, China
Jade Screen Hotel
This hotel is like the ultimate reward for a marathon session of step aerobics. That’s because its entrance is at the top of an ancient stone staircase with an astounding 60,000 steps. This no-frills hotel on the side of Yuping Peak (1,600m above the tourist town of Huangshan) has a spectacular view over China’s misty, Unesco-listed Yellow Mountains. Its location also offers easy access to surrounding peaks that are thick in lore, riddled with hot springs and latticed in altitude-alleviating telphers (cable cars).
The Jade Screen Hotel is at the top of the staircase to the Jade Screen Scenic Area, which begins near the resort town of Huangshan. Huangshan Airport receives domestic flights from most major Chinese cities, while its train station has daily trains arriving from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Nanjing.
• Rooms from £50; +86 559 558 2288. Open year-round; 2-3 hours trekking time
Azzaden valley, Morocco
Azzaden Trekking Lodge
Homestays were the only accommodation option for overnight visitors trekking through Morocco’s Toubkal national park until Azzaden Trekking Lodge opened in 2006, offering four refined rooms with spectacular views of the Azzaden valley and Toubkal massif. The lodge was designed in the traditional Berber style and has a panoramic rooftop terrace and private hammam (steam room) to relax muscles after a long trip. Stays also include meals featuring traditional Moroccan dishes such as couscous and tagine.
The trekking lodge is in the small Berber village of Id Issa in the High Atlas mountains. It’s a steep 10km walk up from the village of Imlil where its sister property, Kasbah du Toubkal, will help arrange the journey. Reach Imlil on a 90-minute ride in a grand taxi (shared car) from the bustling imperial city of Marrakech.
• Doubles from £150 D, B&B, kasbahdutoubkal.com. Open year-round; 4-6 hours trekking time
The Himalayas, Nepal
Hotel Everest View
As the world’s highest-placed hotel (according to the record-keepers at Guinness), it’s perhaps little surprise that Hotel Everest View has an awe-inspiring panorama of all-star peaks. This 12-room Himalayan retreat is at a strategic spot inSagarmatha national park nearly 4,000m above sea level. The heavenly views leave many visitors in a happy stupor but the hotel is also a great base from which to get out and explore the Everest region. Nearby attractions include the Sherpa village of Khumjung and its prismatic Tengboche Monastery.
A trip to Hotel Everest View can be as painless or adventurous as you want it to be. On the easier end you’ll fly from the capital Kathmandu to the tiny airstrip in Syangboche (near the trekking hub of Namche Bazaar) and walk 45 minutes to the hotel. For a harder journey, fly into the village of Lukla and embark on a three-day trek to the hotel via Phakding and Namche Bazaar.
• Rooms from £66, hoteleverestview.com. Open year-round; minimum 45min trekking time
The Highlands, Scotland
Glen Affric Youth Hostel
This hostel is probably the closest you’ll get to an alpine hut in Scotland. A former bothy at the doorstep of 15 munros, it’s a haven for solitude-seekers, with no phone signal and ample opportunities to escape in forest, loch and glen scenery. The eco-friendly outpost harnesses wind and solar energy for electricity, while a wood-burning stove provides heating and hot water for showers. There’s also a live-in host who welcomes arriving guests with tea and helps curate a singular stay in the Highlands.
It’s a long and winding 13km from the nearest road to reach the Glen Affric Youth Hostel. But with an elevation change of just 250m, the journey is suitable for most active travellers. Access to the trailhead at Glen Affric car park is available by bus from Inverness three times a week in the summer months (July-Sept).
• Rooms from £56, bunks from £23, syha.org.uk. Open April-Sept.; 3-4 hour trekking time
Banff national park, Canada
As far as fairytale landscapes go, it can’t get much dreamier than Canada’s Banff national park. High up in its enchanting forests, above the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, you’ll find a veritable castle in the sky in Skoki Lodge. This rustic-chic alpine retreat is at its best in the summer months when alpine wildflowers paint nearby meadows plum purple and fire red. Yet, Skoki is equally enjoyable in the colder months when access is only available by ski or snowshoe.
A moderate 11km path through a verdant alpine terrain separates Skoki Lodge from the village of Lake Louise. Check in at the Experience Lake Louise shop for a transfer to the trailhead near Temple Lodge. Access to Lake Louise is possible from the airport in Calgary (185km away) aboard the two shuttle bus services that ply this route year-round.
• Rooms from £123, skoki.com. Open Dec-April, June-Oct; 3-5 hours trekking time
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
With postcard-perfect views over the emerald green Marlborough Sounds, this B&B in the north-east of New Zealand’s South Island is a great escape for sun-and-sand-loving trekkers. It’s only accessible by foot (or mountain bike) and has a beachfront location with kayaks ready and waiting for adventures to nearby coves. The property’s hammocks are an antidote for sore feet and a great option for lazing away an afternoon with a glass of local sauvignon blanc in hand.
Mahana Lodge is on the 70km Queen Charlotte Track, an inn-to-inn “tramping” route that skirts the coast of Queen Charlotte Sound from the historic town of Ship Cove to the resort village of Anakiwa. Access to Ship Cove is by a one-hour water taxi journey from the city of Picton. From there it’s a 27km trek to Mahana, which can be done in one day for the very fit or split in two for the average walker (with a stop on day one at an inn or campground at the head of Endeavour Inlet).
• Rooms from £100, mahanalodge.co.nz. Open Oct-April; 8 hours trekking time
The Grand Canyon, US
There is only one lodging facility at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and it’s so popular that it can often be booked up more than a year in advance (note: new reservations become available 13 months out). The Phantom Ranch is a Historic Hotel of America with a nearly 100-year history welcoming visitors into the bowels of the wild west’s most iconic landmark. Built of rough-hewn wood and native stone, the ranch’s rustic cabins blend into the natural surroundings along the north side of the Colorado river near its confluence with Bright Angel and Phantom creeks.
There are two approaches to Phantom Ranch. The 12km South Kaibab Trail is shorter but lacks sun-shelters and drinking water. The 16.5km Bright Angel Trail, meanwhile, is longer but safer with more facilities. You can get to Grand Canyon national park by bus from nearby cities such as Flagstaff, Phoenix or Las Vegas and use the park’s free shuttle bus system to reach either trailhead, as needed.
• Cabins from $142, dorms from $49, grandcanyonlodges.com. Open year-round; minimum 4-6 hours trekking time.