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Romantic City Getaways

What do Paris, Venice, San Francisco, Rome, Florence, Vienna, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, New York, and Sydney have in common?They're made for love. Watch palazzi drift by from a gondola, try a tango in a steamy Argentinean dance hall, or view a bustling harbor from a seaplane—any way you go about it, a sexy city getaway gets the pulse racing.


ROMANTIC APPEAL The French don't just talk about l'amour, they live it. There's the art, the architecture, the restaurants; meander along the Seine and you'll fall in love with this city.
WHERE TO STAY At the nearly 400-year-old Pavillon de la Reine (28 Place des Vosges, Third Arr.; 33-1/40-29-19-19; www.pavillon-de-la-reine.com; doubles from $410), the oldest rooms have beamed ceilings; several overlook a Japanese garden. A former boulangerie, L'Hôtel du Petit Moulin (29-31 Rue de Poitou, Third Arr.; 33-1/42-74-10-10; www.hoteldupetitmoulin.com; doubles from $180) has been reborn as a hotel, with interiors by Christian Lacroix. The all-white suite No. 403 has a sleek seventies vibe.
TABLE FOR TWO Cuddle by the fire at Le Coupe Chou (9-11 Rue de Lanneau, Fifth Arr.; 33-1/46-33-68-69; dinner for two $79), run by the same owners for 45 years. The 164-foot Don Juan II (Port Henri IV, Fourth Arr.; 33-1/44-54-14-80; www.yachtsdeparis.fr; dinner for two $583, including wine) plies the Seine and elevates the dinner cruise to haute cuisine, courtesy of chef Jean-Pierre Vigato of L'Apicius.
SEXIEST SHOP An Alice in Wonderland aura imbues Baccarat (11 Place des États-Unis, 16th Arr.; 33-1/40-22-11-22), a combo boutique, museum, and restaurant.
STEAL A KISS Watch the sunset from the iron Pont des Arts; as the last rays gleam through the glass roof of the Grand Palais and bathe the Île de la Cité in a golden light, you can't help feeling that Paris belongs just to you.


ROMANTIC APPEAL A backdrop for assignations since long before Casanova's time, Venice has fairy-tale palazzi, gondola-filled canals, and who-cares-if-you-lose-your-way winding streets.
WHERE TO STAY Splurge on the new Dogaressa Suite, with floor-to-ceiling views of St. Mark's Square, at the Cipriani (10 Giudecca; 39-041/520-7744; www.hotelcipriani.com; doubles from $756). In an alleyway near the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, DD724 (724 Dorsoduro; 39-041/277-0262; www.dd724.it; doubles from $267) has seven intimate rooms with modern Asian touches.
TABLE FOR TWO Mingle with the locals over aperitifs at Muro Vino e Cucina (222 San Polo; 39-041/523-7495; dinner for two $122), then head upstairs for fish with lemongrass and ginger. For a meal with a view of the lagoon, take the free speedboat to Cà dei Frati (1 Isola San Clemente, San Marco; 39-041/244-5001; dinner for two $244) at the San Clemente Palace hotel. Leave the jeans behind; a jacket and tie are required.
SEXIEST SHOP Buy a bottle of Alcova—the so-called perfume of desire—from La Speziarìa de Venezia (3525 Dorsoduro; 39-041/522-2576).
STEAL A KISS Hire a gondola to drop you at the recently restored Teatro La Fenice (39-041/786-580; www.teatrolafenice.it), an opulent and operatically dramatic theater, where you can listen to Verdi and Puccini in their home country.

San Francisco

ROMANTIC APPEAL Even as the City by the Bay welcomes an ultramodern era, its vintage hallmarks—the camera obscura at Cliff House, the WPA murals in Coit Tower—continue to impress.
WHERE TO STAY If the dimly lit Clift (495 Geary St.; 800/ 606-6090; www.morganshotelgroup.com; doubles from $225) is about glamour, the Hotel Vitale (8 Mission St.; 888/890-8688; www.hotelvitale.com; doubles from $269) is about relaxation: there are complimentary yoga classes and soaking tubs.
TABLE FOR TWO The menu at Quince (1701 Octavia St.; 415/775-8500; dinner for two $100) gives the provenance of every chop and bean. On the other side of the spectrum is hot chef Dennis Leary's minuscule Canteen (817 Sutter St.; 415/928-8870; dinner for two $85), in a 20-seat former luncheonette.
SEXIEST SHOP Pick up some baubles at Jeanine Payer (762 Market St.; 415/788-2417), a jeweler who engraves sweet sayings on her pieces.
STEAL A KISS Climb a series of steep stairs to the Filbert Steps high on Telegraph Hill. Gardens line the way as the breathtaking views of the city spread out before you.


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