Travel the World Virtually With Immersive Sonic Escapes

Hear the sounds of a souk in Marrakech and find inspiration for your future travel
Hear the sounds of a souk in Marrakech and find inspiration for your future travel | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor19 October 2020

A series of new audio experiences have been released with the aim of taking holidaymakers on journeys around the world. As we face an uncertain period of travel restrictions, can these Sonic Escapes really recreate the sensation of visiting different countries?

Travel experiences are often described as an assault on the senses – in the best possible way, of course. Now that our travel is restricted, we can still look at beautiful pictures of our dream destination – and even taste some of its food, with associated smells – from the comfort of our own home, but what about the sound of these places?

Chinese firm Huawei has launched a series of travel recordings, with the aim of showcasing new technology which can help to fully immerse you in three iconic locations. The Sonic Escapes have been created to take your mind far away, even though you might actually be at home. The collection is delivered in 360° binaural soundscapes, which work best with headphones or earbuds.

Listen to the sounds of the Yucatán jungle, before heading there to swim in one of the region’s many cenotes (swimming holes) | © Sergi Reboredo / Alamy Stock Photo

“Now, more than ever we need a break, a break without cancelled flights and a break without quarantines and social distancing. A true escape from the world around us. Sonic Escapes allows listeners to travel through rich, immersive sounds, soaking up the culture of three exotic locations, whilst also experiencing Intelligent Dynamic Noise Cancellation technology.” said Anson Zhang, CEO of Huawei Technologies. The company has launched the series to coincide with their latest FreeBuds Pro release, although everyone can access the audio experiences on the official site.

Here’s our guide to the three destinations featured in the Sonic Escapes series, as well as our top suggestions for places to stay in each city. Once you’ve been taken to the frantic streets of Jamaica’s capital and the bustling souks of Marrakech virtually, we’re sure you’ll want to visit them in person (when it’s safe to do so). You might even fancy the relaxing on the stunning beaches of Mexico when it’s all over.

Marrakech, Morocco

The souks (traditional markets) of Morocco are famous around the world. They are full of the energy and intensity you expect from a trip to one of the most popular tourist destinations in North Africa. The ancient city is built around Arabic and Andalusian influences, giving it a distinctive look when compared to other large cities in the country. The bustling nature of the centre is one that requires you to keep your wits about you, but once you gain some confidence, it’s time to hit the night markets. The Islamic call to prayer can often be heard in Marrakech and has become part of the daily routine for visitors and locals alike.

Places to stay

El Fenn

Boasting 31 individually styled rooms, El Fenn is the luxury choice when considering a stay in Marrakech. There’s an enticing mix of authentic Moroccan food and drink to sample as well as remarkable views of the city.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Restaurant
Full-service spa
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service

Palais Riad Lamrani

A “palais-riad” is a traditional private palace with an interior garden. Many homes in Morocco try to emulate this design, but few do it as well as this boutique hotel. The Palais Lamrani does a wonderful job of capturing the Arabic and Andalusian influences we mentioned earlier.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Restaurant
Concierge services
Fitness facilities
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Bar/lounge

Riad Dar Zaman

Dar Zaman is an intimate location that lives up to its name. There are only four rooms available, so you’ll get a private experience that showcases the best the city has to offer. Make sure you check out the experiences and activities on offer at the hotel to fully embrace the Moroccan way of life.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Restaurant
Express check-out
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Kingston, Jamaica

The heady combination of utter relaxation and frenetic action are well expressed in Kingston’s soundscape. The Jamaican capital is famous for its port, which has seen the likes of Christopher Columbus and James Bond make land in the past. The latter might just be a fictional character, but 007 author Ian Fleming wrote many of his most popular books here while staying at his Goldeneye manor. Montego Bay is the lively hub of the city, where you can sample some of the best food and drink on the island. It’s also where you’ll be able to hear the unmistakable sound of reggae in the air everywhere you go.

Places to stay

Spanish Court

Conveniently located in the centre of Kingston, this modern hotel is perfect for anyone looking for a stress-free stay in Jamaica. As many people travel to the city on business, there are a number of meeting rooms and useful additions that make this ideal for working holidays.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Restaurant
In-room accessibility
Full-service spa
Wheelchair accessible (may have limitations)
Express check-out
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Limo or Town Car service available
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Terrace
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Rafjam B and B

This is our wildcard pick for Jamaica, but one we think you’ll enjoy exploring. Set in the Blue Mountains, this authentic, family-run business is ideal for anyone looking to experience the side of the country often overlooked by tour guides. The kitchen also serves up homemade delicacies to order, so you can get a real taste of Jamaica from your own room.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Restaurant
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Terrace
Bar/lounge

Terra Nova

If you’re after more of the Old World glamour popularised in films and books set in Jamaica, then book a stay at Terra Nova. Unashamedly proud of its heritage, the hotel is a glorious part of Kingston with spectacular views of the city.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
In-room accessibility
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Terrace
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Yucatán, Mexico

On the southeastern tip of Mexico, jutting firmly into the Caribbean, you’ll find the state of Yucatán. The state is the safest place to visit in the country, and as such has surged in popularity with visitors in recent years. Many people will head straight to the capital Mérida, which makes for an excellent base combining the comfort and convenience of a major city with easy access to the coast, which is only a few miles away. If you’re looking for adventure, this is the place to go, as some of the best beaches are surrounded by dense jungles making them secluded strips of paradise.

Places to stay

Chablé Yucatán

Committed to sustainability – which isn’t a new concept to people who live in the area – Chablé Yucatán is a welcoming retreat that has a number of wellness and relaxation activities on offer. You’re within easy reach of all the famous landmarks (ideal for excursions), but you might not leave the hotel, opting to take up the full itinerary of in-house treatments instead.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Full-service spa
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Terrace

Punta Caliza, Isla Holbox

Punta Caliza is rated one of the most romantic hotels in Mexico for good reason. The coastal retreat is a great getaway for those looking to work while away from home, so it’s a perfect spot to check out while the reality of a commute to the office is still on hold.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Outdoor pool
Restaurant
In-room accessibility
Concierge services
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Papaya Playa Project

This project aims to combine local culture with sustainability, making both as accessible as possible. Beach life is a big part of any stay here, but doesn’t come at the expense of luxury or comfort. The Papaya Playa Project is in Tulum, a fair distance from the capital of the Yucatán state, but its utter uniqueness earned itself a place on our list.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Breakfast available (surcharge)
Restaurant
Beach towels
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Bar/lounge
These recommendations were updated on October 19, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.