Romantic Dream Trips

Romantic Dream Trips

Whether a glamorous riad in Marrakesh or a beach town in Brazil, these 10 destinations celebrate the romantic getaway.

Marrakesh, Morocco: Exploring the Desert City

Forty years ago, visitors to Marrakesh consisted mostly of hippies in search of cheap crash pads and good hash. Then travelers such as Jackie Onassis and Talitha Getty replaced the hippies, and eventually the medina’s ramshackle riads were turned into chic hotels. But the most tantalizing elements of the city remain the same: the snake charmers on the Djemaa el-Fna; the orange-tree-edged Avenue Mohammed V; the sweet-smelling rose gardens; and those views of the Atlas Mountains. —Richard Alleman

Aix-en-Provence, France: Dining in the Heart of the French Countryside

You can shop morning, noon, and night in Provence—for croissants and tomatoes, milk and cheese, pork and lamb, honey and wine. You develop a routine, a kind of easygoing daily schedule loosely correlated to hunger and appetite. The main event is the farmers’ market in downtown Aix, held in the Place Richelme under the shade of a canopy of tall plane trees. The best way to experience this gustatory bounty: rent a house, and eat all your meals outside. —Luke Barr

The Nile, Egypt: Floating Down the Iconic River

The Sudan steamship, whose engine is more than 100 years old, is where Agatha Christie wrote parts of Death on the Nile, and it’s one of a host of boats that cruise the legendary river. There’s no better way to admire the scenery between Aswan and Luxor. Over the course of a trip, you’ll see the Nile River Valley’s major sights: the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu; the Red Chapel of Queen Hatshepsut at Karnak. In Luxor, the Hotel Al Moudira and its oasis of fragrant gardens await. Yet as extraordinary as the attractions on land may be, it’s the time on the water one remembers the most—daydreaming, doing much of nothing, observing the rhythms of river life, where turbanned men ride rickety bicycles, and children guide cattle along the banks. —Gini Alhadeff

Prague, Czech Republic: Europe’s Bohemian Revival

After watching their city become a global destination, a handful of creative residents have begun mining Prague’s own traditions—of food, art, design, architecture—and subtly but tangibly changing the look and feel of the place. One of the earliest was Janek Jaros, who champions Czech Cubism at his gallery Modernista. Jaros also collaborated with the Rocco Forte Collection on the Augustine hotel by helping source products for its interiors. A Prague dining experience that draws from the past: La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, which adds a contemporary twist to the haute cuisine of well-to-do Bohemia. For the ultimate tribute to tradition, head to the Museum of Czech Cubism’s Grand Café Orient; after decades of neglect, it has been restored to its angled splendor, a near-perfect time capsule of a place that existed here, and only here, almost a century ago. —Maria Shollenbarger

Maldives: A Pristine Aquatic Playground

In the Maldives, 300 miles away from any major land mass, private-island resorts are strewn across the Indian Ocean, each one more luxurious than the next. The Anantara Veli Maldives defines simplicity, with thatched-roof overwater bungalows standing on stilts at the end of a long wooden walkway. The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa has a small spa set on its own island, a two-minute sail away by dhoni. At One&Only Reethi Rah, yachts whisk guests straight to the property from the airport. Or you can arrive by floatplane and glimpse the atolls from overhead: they rise up out of the ocean, all indigo and aquamarine. —Chris Kucway

Trancoso, Brazil: A Beach Town Where Time Stands Still

It’s one of the strangest and most beautiful places in Bahia, a sort of Brazilian Brigadoon. A Pataxo Indian village turned Portuguese Jesuit enclave turned hippie dropout haven, Trancoso is hardly on the global radar—at least not quite yet. On the town square, paper lanterns hang from the branches of mango, tamarind, and cashew trees; each evening, the lanterns are set alight. The echoes of bossa nova fill the air. Couples and families stroll across the square, wearing Havaianas or walking barefoot in the grass. There’s not much to do or see, but that’s exactly why visitors like it. This is a place to slow down and enjoy at its own pace—one beach, one evening stroll, and one passion-fruit caipirinha at a time. —Peter Jon Lindberg

Bali, Indonesia: An Exotic Island That Will Soothe the Soul

Many travelers come to Bali to connect with its vibrant culture, especially now that Eat Pray Love has turned a whole new generation on to its mystic charms. What they are likely to encounter: crowded resort enclaves—and traffic. How to find the real Bali? Venture to unexploited corners of the island, to resorts like Alila Villas Uluwatu, where you can learn to play the gamelan or visit hidden temples. The Hotel Tugu Bali, on a tranquil beach in off-the-beaten-path Canggu, feels more like a museum than a hotel; every vertical surface sports a canvas or print or tapestry. It’s a vivid fantasia as rich as Bali’s tropical landscape. —Peter Jon Lindberg

Namibia, Africa: Epic Landscapes—and Equally Inspiring Hideaways

It was Hollywood star couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie—the Richard Burton and Liz Taylor of our time—who helped put Namibia on most people’s radars. Four years ago, the duo retreated to this southern African country to await the birth of their third child. The international media followed, only to discover a destination that has been quietly coming into its own for a while. Along with spectacular scenery—thousand-foot sand dunes; a coastline strewn with ancient shipwrecks—it has some of the biggest game parks in Africa, as well as high-design lodges that rival the landscape. —Richard Alleman

New York City: Retreats in the Urban Jungle

From uptown’s bustling avenues to the quiet cobblestoned streets of downtown, New York City is a study in contrasts. The greatest challenge is deciding where to stay. With its antique-filled rooms, the 1834 Inn at Irving Place feels like your own pied-à-terre. The Tony Chi–designed Andaz Fifth Avenue has a more modern flair. Then there are the choices for eating and drinking. Grab a seat at the Plaza Hotel’s restored Oak Bar, where the Central Park views are as stirring as ever. The nearby Peninsula New York’s rooftop bar, Salon de Ning, channels 1930’s Shanghai with silk-pillow-laden daybeds. In the leafy West Village, Café Cluny is tranquil enough to hear your companion but convivial enough to feel like a dinner party at an elegant farmhouse. Smith & Mills is a tiny TriBeCa boîte hidden behind unmarked doors in a former carriage house. Bright lights, big city? From this vantage point, New York feels like the smallest town on earth. —Peter Jon Lindberg

New Zealand: Escape to the Outer Limits

New Zealand is big and varied. Sandy beaches in the subtropical north, glaciers and alpine skiing in the south. Green, velvety hills roll beneath rainbows, and long stretches of road in the interior pass through farmland, ominous-looking craggy ranges, and vineyards. The country is a holy land for extreme-sports-seekers—as well as those in search of extreme pampering at grand pleasure palaces such as Otahuna Lodge, a refurbished Queen Anne mansion on the South Island. Even if you’re not staying at one of the “super lodges,” driving through either of the two islands is its own reward; you can’t help shrugging and staring and whistling, glad you ended up here, wherever “here” is. —Adam Sachs

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