Defy gravity on a short break with altitude, whether you take to the skies or keep your feet firmly planted
1. LIVE THE HIGH LIFE IN DUBAI
Rising like a wayward icicle from the desert plains of Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building by some margin. Clocking in at 828 metres, it offers dizzying views over the futuristic city from the observation deck. Just below it, the 122nd-floor At.mosphere is the world’s highest restaurant above ground level. Just over a mile away, visitors can also nab their own room with a view by holing up in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, the world’s tallest, which offers suites decked out with plush furnishings and spa-like marble bathrooms. Back at ground level, enjoy a different perspective on the city: wander the narrow lanes of the Al Fahidi historic district, packed with craft shops and courtyard cafes.
Arrive: BA, Emirates, Qantas, Royal Brunei and Virgin Atlantic all fly direct to Dubai from London, Manchester, Glasgow and Newcastle.
2. FLOAT OVER THE LOIRE
The splendour-loving aristos who once occupied the Loire Valley’s grand châteaux would surely have approved of France Montgolfières’ high-flying suggestion: taking to the skies for a hot-air balloon ride. The veteran operator runs trips from locations around the region, perhaps most gloriously the Château de Chenonceau, a postcard-perfect confection of a castle spanning the river Cher near historic Tours. Here, in the golden early morning or late afternoon light, you’ll rise as high as 1,000 metres over a Unesco-listed landscape of forests, vineyards and majestic châteaux. Be sure to explore Chenonceau itself, a true treasure-chest, as part of a decadent weekend of winery visits and dining out in lively Tours and Orléans.
Arrive: Ryanair flies direct to Tours from London Stansted. Trains reach the château from Tours in 30 minutes.
Stay: The ivy-draped, 18th-century La Roseraie has spacious, individually designed rooms full of antiques.
3. ALPINE VIEWS IN AUSTRIA
Forget your typical hotel transfer – at Adler Lounge in the Austrian Alps, the only way up is by cable car. The lodge and restaurant is perched 2,621 metres high, just outside Hohe Tauern National Park: an Alpine wonderland of glaciers, turquoise lakes and snow-dusted peaks, including Austria’s highest, the 3,798-metre Grossglockner.
It would be tempting to spend the whole weekend curled up in one of the hotel’s large, bright rooms, drinking in the view of the peaks that ripple out like a frozen sea beyond its floor-to-ceiling windows. Venturing outside, though, brings all the thrills of the Alps: in winter, skiing (and glühwein) galore, snowshoeing across silent plains, and ranger-led trips to watch ibex and chamois. In summer, guests can hike on slopes resplendent with wildflowers and brave the 30-mile Grossglockner High Alpine Road, with its 36 giddy switchbacks.
Arrive: Innsbruck and Salzburg both have a variety of direct flights from the UK and are a 23/4-hour drive from the cable car at Kals am Grossglockner.