A 50th birthday looming on the horizon is one of those landmark points in life that really does deserve to be celebrated.

The trick, of course, is to choose the right kind of celebration. For some, that’s a big family get-together in a country house, for others it’s a romantic week away on a sun-kissed beach. However you want to celebrate – by planning a lifetime trip, rediscovering your youth on a party weekender, or simply disappearing off for a quiet night with your loved one – here are the best ways to put the oh! into the big 5-0, as chosen by travel expert, Annabelle Thorpe of 101 Holidays.

1. The Gang’s All Here
If you want to be surrounded by friends and family to celebrate your 50th, there’s no better way to do it than hiring a holiday cottage and spending real quality time together. If it’s a summer birthday, there’s nowhere better than Cornwall – have a foodie weekend in Padstow, a surfing break in Newquay or ‘glamp’ it up in a luxury safari tent.


Alternatively, discover the long sandy beaches and picturesque villages in East Anglia, ideal for long walks, kite-flying and sandcastle building. Renting a house with a history of its own gives an added spin to the weekend; choose a stunning baronial castle in Scotland for a ceilidh to remember. For sheer luxury and style in easy striking distance of London and elsewhere in the UK, Luxury Cotswold Rentals hits the mark.


Further afield, Spain is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. The gorgeous region of Catalonia offers dramatic countryside, gorgeous beaches and traditional restaurants offering tapas feasts. For a winter birthday, a ski chalet offers all the benefits of a holiday cottage with added snow, roaring fires and staff to prepare meals and bring the celebratory bubbles. Up the ante at The Lodge in Verbier, Sir Richard Branson’s stunner of a chalet. Oh, and there’s skiing too.


2. The Romantic Escape
Sometimes the best birthdays are those celebrated quietly (but luxuriously) with just the one you love – perhaps with a Michelin star thrown in. The UK has some gorgeous, family-run hotels that will really make a birthday special; book a Spa Lodge at the Gilpin Hotel in the Lake District.


Alternatively you could indulge in some Downton-style glamour at Lucknam Park, a 17th century Palladian villa near Bath, with its own riding stables, cookery school and state-of-the-art spa.


For the ultimate hotel on wheels, the Venice Simplon Orient Express offers an unforgettable journey, with the chance of a few days in Venice at the end.

If affordable luxury in the UK is more what you’re after, take a look at i-escape which has in-depth reviews of gorgeous gastropubs, luxury self-catering boltholes and boutique hotels, with many under £100 a night.

3. The Party Weekend
Who says all-night partying is the exclusive preserve of the under-thirties? A hedonistic couple of days can be a great way to enter your sixth decade – head to the Big Apple to experience New York’s cocktail scene, and the late night charms of the West Village and Soho. Closer to home, Palma is a great choice for a foodie weekend – the city is dotted with wonderful bodegas and tapas bars, and the beach is just a stone’s throw away. Few cities can rival Berlin for nightlife; pick from old-style dance halls, jazz bars, superclubs and pop-up art events, while Prague is the perfect choice for a winter birthday, with cosy subterranean bars and restaurants.


Party weekends don’t have to be city-based; a wine tour is a great way to keep the drinks flowing and discover somewhere new – Spain’s Rioja region is a popular choice.

4. The ‘Life Begins at 50’ Break
For some, a landmark birthday is the spur to trying something new, or doing something really extraordinary. Rediscover your inner backpacker with an Overland tour by truck; take a sabbatical and journey across Africa or follow the ancient Silk Road. Or discover the wilder side of Africa on a Kenyan safari, with the chance to see lions roaming across the plains and stay in classic safari camps.


Adventure-seekers will love Chile, where you can climb volcanoes, sail on glacial lakes and cross deserts.

If that sounds a little daunting, a whale watching break in the unspoilt Azores is an unforgettable experience or tickle your tastebuds on a culinary tour of Mexico.

5. The ‘Non Birthday’ Birthday
If actually all you want is to disappear off and pretend your 50th isn’t happening, there are some wonderful ways to go off-radar. The tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla boasts beautiful white-sand beaches and gorgeous hotels and villas, while a holiday in the Seychelles - sand-fringed flecks of land scattered through the Indian Ocean – offers the last word in luxury, and escape.


You don’t have to fly halfway round the world, however; the Faroe Islands are a little-explored archipelago between Norway and Iceland, offering amazing scenery, or how about toasting your future (or drowning your sorrows) on a whisky tour of Islay in the Hebrides?

June 2018