What’s more romantic than staying at a former 19th-century monastery with vibrant sofas, bleached wood floors, and a bamboo garden that doubles as an echo chamber? How about setting this hotel, the Centurion Plaza, among the canals of romantic Venice.
Fortunately, the days of the heart-shaped hot tub are over. Today, the features that define the world’s most romantic hotels are much more understated. Of course, no matter what the aesthetic of the hotel might be, a classic romantic location—Venice, Napa, Bali, or New York—will always add to the magic.
And while everyone has their own definition of romance, some trends have emerged. One of them: cold is cool. Hotel Kakslauttanen & Igloo Village—hidden away in Finland’s Lapland wilderness—has created a personalized approach to the ice-hotel concept. Year-round, you’ll find 20 domed “igloos” made out of thermal glass—perfect for stargazing from your underground room. But if you go between December and April, you can stay in a real igloo, built from actual snow and outfitted with fluffy down sleeping bags. Plus, you’ll have a first-row seat for the multihued laser show that is the northern lights (Eskimo-kissing optional).
Closer to home, you’ll find the perfect setting for a seaside stroll. At Big Sur’s Glen Oaks, a brisk hike to secret Pfeiffer Beach will deposit you in soft purple (yes, purple) sand. Back at the hotel, the natural theme continues—cottages sit between the river and the redwood trees, each outfitted with cast-iron stoves and showers built for two.
And what’s sexier than James Bond? Jamaica’s GoldenEye—the cliff-top retreat once owned by Bond creator Ian Fleming—brings a celebrity twist to the romantic experience. Couples love to book Fleming’s original three-bedroom villa, which still features the writer’s Jamaican red bulletwood desk. It’s the perfect place to write a love letter to your mate, or maybe the next great spy novel.
We all know there are as many ways to define romance as there are humans, but this list of the world’s most romantic hotels has something for (almost) everyone.