I don’t know about you but I’m getting sick of the bitter wind that’s barreling its way down the streets of my adopted city with all the lip-chafing might of a hard-skinned rhino.

It’s definitely time to escape, even if it’s just a psychological one rather than a physical one. After all, temperature’s just a state of mind, right? Right?

Well anyway, daydreaming about more exotic climes while spending your lunch break sighing out of a rain-splattered office window just became a lot easier with this handpicked selection of beautiful travel websites from around the world.

You never know, you may find some inspiration for your own web design, or at the very least find a fantastic destination for your next adventure. If you do, feel free to send me a postcard. Address it to ‘that bitter jerk in the corner’.

And for more on web design from the blog, check out our 17 crucial web design trends for 2015.

Another Escape

Another Escape is an outdoor lifestyle publication that features content you just want to fall through your computer screen into.

As you scroll down through the massive images of each volume, you can click on individual stories to read more in-depth features about everything from bamboo bicycle manufacturing to the Bavarian National Park.

Hotel Esencia 

Hotel Esencia is a luxury hotel on the Riviera Maya, a resort district in Mexico, and its list of plaudits range from ‘Best Resort Hotel in the Americas’ to ‘Best Luxury Hotel in the World’.

For me though, its real beauty lies in the understated charm of its website. (That’s easy for me to say, being as I can’t really afford to stay there).

The charm comes from the simple animations featured throughout that look as if they’ve been created by Raymond Briggs.

Wonderfully Wild

Without even thinking I had booked myself into a cottage in Snowdon within 30 seconds of loading up this site, it’s just that persuasive and easy to use. 

It’s also a pleasure to view on any screen size.

Travel Alberta

With humongous crystal-clear imagery you'll feel like you’re there already. Maybe I am?

There’s also a particularly simple but effective trip-planner tool that lets you customise your holiday using the same massive images and bold CTAs.

Westin Finds

How’s this for a homepage with one sole focus...

Just a search field, placed dead-centre in a page surrounded by beautiful photography. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Onefinestay

We talked about Onefinestay in an article last year praising its evocative copywriting... 

But it’s not just its way with words that keeps me coming back to spy on its latest locations. It also has a keen eye for beautiful detail.

Mistrip

Mistrip is a Portuguese holiday site that will send you and your friends on a surprise trip to an unknown destination.

Econsultancy isn’t liable for any harm, damage or loss of you or your friends if you sign-up for the service.  

Lifestyle Hotels

The destination pages on this Swiss hotel advisor site have a strong emphasis on large, beautifully shot images. Something a lot of hotel aggregator sites fail on.

Authentic Asia

A lovely site providing bespoke packages for an array of Asian adventures, which works effectively on all screen sizes. 

Villa Feltrinelli

Visiting the Italian villa’s website is a serene and genuinely relaxing experience.  

Each full screen image has just a subtle touch of movement in the frame. If you visit the above homepage, you can see the water gently moving.

Elsewhere, there’s a light breeze moving the curtains in one of the bedrooms. 

Cheval Blanc

The key thing that makes these destination websites work so successfully is in creating a web experience that feels like you’re actually there.

Cheval Blanc, located in the Maldives, does exactly that. Taking you on a journey of your day through softly dissolving imagery and ambient music. And relax.

Visit Suffolk 

And just in case this is all just a little too exotic, you can always visit Suffolk.


For more on the blog about the travel industry, check out these 10 essential features for travel websites.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 4 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (6)

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Alexandra Severn, Digital Marketing Consultant at Freelance

Great article with some exceptionally beautiful websites that inspire the strongest wanderlust. One I feel should be included in the list is Carrier www.carrier.co.uk due to its use of imagery, evocative copy and mobile-responsive design.

about 3 years ago

Craig Brewster

Craig Brewster, Founder at your mum

I'd also suggest you look at Celebrity Cruises http://www.celebritycruises.ie . All that lovely photography makes me want to run off to sea!

about 3 years ago

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Tuguldur Baatar, Digital Web Manager at Beds & Bars

Unfortunately many of the listed websites has terrible UX and even worse booking journey. It seems the function was an afterthought and everything centered around design trends.

The only functional website on the list is One Fine Stay. I would urge people to check out Design Hotels website as a study on great design + function + booking journey.

about 3 years ago

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Louisa McGowan, UX web designer / owner at Into the Grove

One thing that's consistent across all of these websites is beautiful imagery. A picture speaks a thousand words. It can persuade even the most indecisive of website user into a buying customer, but it does also need to be teamed up with great usability.

about 3 years ago

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Susan Hunink, marketeer at Frozenlemons

Agreed Louisa powerful use of images. On the downside this full screen experience can cost conversions. One site I would like to add to this list is www.paperflies.com. Their way of promoting destination always lures me into booking a trip.

about 3 years ago

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Louisa McGowan, UX web designer / owner at Into the Grove

@Susan I'd be interested to hear in what instances you think a full screen experience can cost conversions?
In those instances where conversions are effected it's usually down to poor visual organisation / badly placed CTAs etc rather than being the background image specifically to blame... (unless of course it's a completely irrelevant / off-putting image).

about 3 years ago

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