In Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, rainy days are rare at this time of year, and temperatures always tropical. After a 12-hour flight from the U K and a shorter speedboat trip up the Saigon River, the villas at An Lam are a wonderful waterside retreat in a leafy suburb. Each area is decked out in richly coloured wood and has plenty of space to let breezes through. Many of the villas h ave their own pools. Three degrees closer to the equator, on the Thai island of Phuket, The Slate is a resort just off Nai Yang Beach. Its design is a cocktail of rainforest bungalow, industrial-vibe walls and darkly exotic ornament, and activities include a Thai cooking class after a market visit.
West across the Andaman Sea from Phuket, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are India’s most far-flung territory. On Havelock Island, a ferry trip from the capital Port Blairjalakara is a new hotel in the overgrown grounds of an old banana and betel-nut plantation. Its six rooms and suites plus private villa are a modestly luxurious base in an out-of-the-way island group, where rains let up in winter. Also counting dry days be fore the spring monsoon, Sri Lanka winningly combines tropical ambience and heritage architecture. Fort Bazaar is a case in point – a former spice and gem merchant’s house in the Dutch colonial-era Caile Fort. Soothingly styled rooms surround a galleried inner courtyard.
A tad closer to home, COMO Metropolitan is a 74-room Art Deco hotel in Miami Beach, where 20°C is normal for a winter day. If that’s warm enough for a dip, head to the rooftop spa pool or the larger one behind the beachside boardwalk. On the Caribbean island of Tobago, Castara Retreats has rooms with names like Cinger Lily and Fiddle Tree, and hill-perched views of an idyllic bay. Its bar menu highlight is a passion fruit mojito. In Sydney, January is high summer. The Old Clare Hotel is a 1939 Functionalist-style building with boardroom timber panelling here, an artfully distressed wall there, and a rooftop pool to do laps in. And also basking at this time in the southern hemisphere, La Grenadine brings bright Provencal charm to the backstreets of Cape Town thanks to its French owners.