It’s 2017, and time for our list of ‘exceptional places’ to consider when making your travel plans for the year. As always, we’ve challenged our authors to champion their recommendations, and the result is something different from the ‘what’s hot’ ticklists of bars and beaches that so frequently fill the pages of the newspapers and magazines. It’s a typically diverse group of places, ranging from Dominica to the Outer Hebrides, so there should be something here for everyone, and each suggestion is supported by a call to action from an expert who knows the place well. I hope they offer some inspiration. Happy New Year – and happy planning for the year ahead! Adrian Phillips, Managing Director


Lake Komani Albania by Przemyslaw Wasilewski, ShutterstockLake Komani – proof that Albania is a paradise for nature lovers © Przemyslaw Wasilewski, Shutterstock
Albania has long lived in the shadows of her flashier Adriatic neighbours. But, lured by the wild beauty of the Albanian Alps, the imposing castles of Gjirokastra and Butrint, and the crystal sea of the Riviera, visitors have slowly begun to realise that this is one of the most entrancing corners of the Balkans. And the best bit? Unlike in Croatia or Montenegro, you won’t be fighting for space amongst the crowds – in fact, you may well have the Roman amphitheatre or hiking trail all to yourself. Gillian Gloyer