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50 Romantic Escapes

Hugh Stewart

Photo: Hugh Stewart

SRI LANKA The River House
Set above the mighty Madhu River, half a mile inland from the Indian Ocean, every suite of the River House is a private compound—each has an oversize courtyard, and some have private pools and outdoor showers. All are precisely decorated with Southeast Asian and Indian antiques sourced by owner and local design guru Nayantara Fonseka.
T+L TIP River House boatmen lead long, lazy tours of the Madhu, where some 100 species of birds as well as yard-long lizards share tiny islands with Buddhist monasteries and cinnamon plantations. Balapitiya; 94-11/472-4363; www.taruvillas.com; doubles from $313.

CHINA Banyan Tree Ringha
More than 10,000 feet above sea level, in the ancient heartland of Tibet's Bon religion, 32 traditional farmhouses have been revamped into decadently rustic suites. Guest quarters are decorated with vivid thangkas and woolen carpets in the rich rust and maroon hues that are a local trademark, and each has an open hearth for cold winter nights as its centerpiece. Private balconies offer breathtaking views of the Ringha River and distant snowcapped peaks.
T+L TIP After a day's trek in the wilderness, rejuvenate with a hot-stone treatment at the spa. Jian Tang Town; 65-6/ 849-5800; www.banyantree.com; doubles from $280.

FIJI Navutu Stars
You arrive by seaplane at this barefoot resort on remote Yaqeta Island, swooping down over shimmering jade-green waters and a palmy white beach. In addition to a beautiful shoreline, great diving, and glamorous thatched bures— some with stunning soaking tubs carved into the smooth white-concrete floor—this South Pacific paradise has an adventurous chef who serves up Asian dishes with Mediterranean flair.
T+L TIP Have a picnic on a nearby deserted island with a box lunch of grilled lobster and chilled white wine. 888/345-4669 or 679-6/640-553; www.navutustarsfiji.com; doubles from $346, including breakfast and massage.

In the Countryside

At Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Daguin's Hegia inn, ancient wooden beams and timbers have been lovingly restored without losing their rough-hewn appearance. The interior, however, has been completely transformed into a minimalist lair. Guests take their aperitifs into the open kitchen to watch Daguin create elaborate dinners based on whatever was fresh at the local markets that day.
T+L TIP Meander a few minutes through the foothills of the Pyrenees to Ursuya, a small mountain that has an ancient path built by the Romans. Hasparren; 33-5/59-29-67-86; www.hegia.com; doubles from $825, meals included.

About an hour's drive south of Tangier, a rugged country road through rolling hills leads to this magical compound. Within its pastel mud walls and open-air pavilions, six rustic suites mix Moroccan, Indian, and Middle Eastern fabrics and furnishings, collected over the years by French owner Jean-Yves Ardiller. The activities are few; most guests are content to sit back and take in the bucolic beauty.
T+L TIP Spend a day on nearby M'ghrirt beach, one of the least-known and most magnificent in Morocco. Asilah; 212-61/243-809; doubles from $130, choice of lunch or dinner included.

CAMBODIA Hôtel de la Paix
Traditional Khmer and Art Deco designs come together at this oasis four miles from Angkor, with 107 guest rooms set around a firelit inner courtyard. Rooms come with terrazzo soaking tubs, handcrafted furniture, wall mountings by local artisans—and iPods loaded with Cambodian music and tales.
T+L TIP Book one of the duplex suites, which have rooftop terraces. Siem Reap; 855-63/966-000; www.hoteldelapaixangkor.com; doubles from $360.


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