Some of the Best of the Best for 2016

Walking across the frozen Lake St. Moritz ©MRNY

Walking across the frozen Lake St. Moritz ©MRNY

During a year that commenced with an early morning Alpine snowshoe expedition to the peak of Muottas Muragl in Engadin St. Moritz, Switzerland and ended with a (pre-election) Jazz Era, Gatsby-themed  weekend at Glenmere in the Lower Hudson Valley, we wandered the planet from the West Coast of Sweden to San Francisco and Martha’s Vineyard, with stops in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, Montreux and Punta Cana, as well as Stockholm, Gothenburg, Condado in Puerto Rico, and Santa Rosa in Sonoma, all of which provided numerous opportunities for celebrating the many joys of travel.

Here’s a round-up of some of our favorite travel memories from 2016, which was prompted by our editor at OutTraveler, where this feature was originally published.

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The isle of Skeppsholmen beneath a summer rainbow ©MRNY

Best City You Visited: Stockholm, Sweden

Why you chose it: Because it feels like my home away from home. No matter how many times I return to Stockholm, I am awed by the archipelago’s natural beauty and the social progressivism of the city, which has championed LGBT equality, not only in Sweden but around the world—and all of this complemented by a citizenry with innate style and savoir vivre.

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Attention to service and detail is a hallmark of Kulm Hotel ©MRNY

Best Hotel: Kulm Hotel

Location: St. Moritz, Switzerland

Why you chose it: Because the history of this glamorous alpine resort is inextricably bound to the five-star superior Kulm, St. Moritz’s original luxury hotel, which dates to 1856—and because the hotel’s recent multi-million-dollar room renovation was overseen by French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon who created sumptuous suites notable for Swiss pine interiors, a hallmark of the Engadin. 

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The fabled mignardises trolley at Restaurant Bareiss ©MRNY

Best Meal: Restaurant Bareiss, the 3* Michelin restaurant at Hotel Bareiss

Name of Restaurant and City: Restaurant Bareiss, the 3* Michelin restaurant at Hotel Bareiss in the bucolic town of Baiersbronn in the Black Forest of Germany

Why you chose it: Because this extraordinary eight-table restaurant is an exemplar of haute cuisine and the virtues of Germany’s “dual-training system,” with a kitchen helmed by Chef Claus-Peter Lumpp, who received his third Michelin star in 2007, and ably supported by Thomas Brandt, Gault Millau’s Maître of the Year and sommelier Jürgen Fendt, the three of whom are a formidable triumvirate of talent and taste—and because I’m still dreaming of that langoustine with imperial caviar and that trolley of post-prandial mignardises.

Artisanal liqueurs with suggestive names such as “Hansel in the Cellar” and “The Longer the Better” can be enjoyed in the historic tasting room of Wynand Fockink. ©MRNY

Artisanal liqueurs with suggestive names such as “Hansel in the Cellar” and “The Longer the Better” can be enjoyed in the historic tasting room of Wynand Fockink. ©MRNY

Best Bar (gay, mixed or otherwise): Wynand Fockink

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Why you chose it: Because this ribald gin mill (with its suggestive name) was founded in 1679 as a liqueur distillery and specializes in artisanal liqueurs such as “Hansel in the Cellar” and “The Longer the Better,” which can be enjoyed in the historic tasting room or the authentic 17th-century tavern that spills out into the arcade just off the Dam.

The view from atop Muottas Muragl ©MRNY

The view from atop Muottas Muragl ©MRNY

Best Experience: Snow-shoeing atop the 8,058-foot summit of Muottas Muragl on the southern slopes of the Swiss Alps

Location: Pontresina, Switzerland

Why you chose it: Because the views above the clouds are spectacular, particularly if you are fortunate enough to witness the unique cloud formation known as the “Maloja Snake” (depicted in the Kristen Stewart film “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2015), which wends through the mountain pass)—and most of all because being atop a mountain surrounded by nothing but snow is my idea of heaven.

M/S Maritime Museum Denmark with Kronborg Castle in the distance ©Visit Copenhagen

M/S Maritime Museum Denmark with Kronborg Castle in the distance ©Visit Copenhagen

Best Surprise:  M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark

Location: Just north of Copenhagen, in nearby Helsingor, home to Hamlet’s castle (also known as Kronborg)

Why you chose it: Built in a former dry dock, this extraordinary subterranean structure designed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) opened in 2013 and has been the recipient of numerous awards for its innovative design that mirrors maritime life. Furthermore, exhibitions such as “Sex & the Sea,” co-created by film director Peter Greenaway, investigate the sexuality of sailors. Need I say more?

Mark Thompson

About Mark Thompson

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and New York Travel Writers Association (NYTWA), Mark Thompson is an editor, journalist, and photographer whose work appears in various periodicals, including Travel Weekly, Metrosource, Huffington Post, Global Traveler, Out There, and OutTraveler. The author of the novels Wolfchild (2000) and My Hawaiian Penthouse (2007), Mark completed a Ph.D. in American Studies. He has been a fellow and a resident at various artists' colonies, including the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center.

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