The 50 Best Romantic Getaways
There are simply some places, some kinds of adventures, that make us want to fall in love.
Almost everyone agrees, for example, that there’s a certain romance to being near the ocean. And there are plenty of places to make those magical sunset beach strolls happen — like the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, where resorts have thatch-roofed bungalows set on stilts over crystal-blue lagoons, and where the powdery sand stretches for miles. Even for couples who worry about sunburn or who hate the feel of sand between their toes, smelling the salt air and watching seabirds dive from the deck of a tiny ferryboat — like on the ride across Puget Sound to Whidbey Island, just off the coast of Washington state — can be pretty dreamy.
It’s also hard not to feel starry-eyed among the rolling hills and fragrant vines of wine country. California’s Napa Valley, for instance, is a honeymoon favorite for some very real reasons — intimate boutique hotels, superb French restaurants, and world-class Cabernets among them. Oenophiles who prefer to get a little more off the beaten track can find just as much charm in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, where wineries that turn out robust Merlot, Carmenère, and Malbec abut blossom-covered haciendas.
Even big cities, where we take our vacations surrounded by thousands of other people, can offer some surprisingly romantic retreats. Sharing a Cognac in a historic, wood-paneled New York City bar while gazing over Central Park, for instance, or strolling through the snowy streets of St. Petersburg, past the imperial Russian Winter Palace, has inspired amorous thoughts in plenty of couples (and just as many movie directors).
So, take your pick: metropolis or sleepy mountain village? Sun or snow? Desert sand or beach sand? Onward for romantic getaway ideas.
New York City
Urban Retreat 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 fireplace suites, Lafayette House feels like your own pied-à-terre. Uptown, NYLO New York City pays homage to the jazz age with exclusive commissioned artworks and classic wingback chairs. Visit the restored Plaza Hotel, where you can browse for art books at Assouline or try on handmade avant-garde jewelry at Misahara, in the expanded shopping area. At the Champagne Bar, enjoy views of the Pulitzer Fountain while sipping bubbly brut cocktails. Three blocks south, check out the skyline from the Peninsula New York’s rooftop bar, Salon de Ning. The vibe: 1930’s Shanghai, with plush couches and mandarin-orange–flavored cocktails. For dinner, Café Cluny is a portal to a Parisian cafe, where waiters deliver plates of French-inspired heritage poulet with sweet onion jus and frisee salads with lardons and fourme d'Ambert. End the evening at Smith & Mills, a tiny TriBeCa boîte in a former carriage house. The cozy banquettes can accommodate only a dozen-odd patrons. Bright lights, big city? From this vantage point, New York City feels like a small town.
Whidbey Island, Washington
On the Waterfront Though it’s only a 20-minute ferry ride from from Seattle suburb Mukilteo, Whidbey Island feels like the Pacific Northwest’s last frontier — a lost-in-time place of towering redwoods and sparkling coves overlooking Puget Sound. Take refuge at the 28-room Inn at Langley, in Langley, a pint-size town on the island. Each suite has a Jacuzzi with views of the evergreen-lined Saratoga Passage waterway (and the gray whales that swim through in spring). In the historic center, Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books sells vintage maps and Audubon lithographs; the Clyde Theatre, a 1937 movie house, screens the classics and contemporary films. Drive 30 miles north to Ebey’s Landing to walk the coastal bluffs, or make your way to Coupeville, known for its Penn Cove mussels, which no-frills Toby’s Tavern serves right.
Wine Country A pitch-perfect mix of wineries, restaurants, and decidedly sybaritic hotels makes this the ultimate wine-lover’s escape. But the best part: there’s always something new to discover in the valley. Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega Napa Valley remains a popular date-night destination in the town of Yountville. The menu is Italian, with dishes such as Sonoma duck confit with wild mustard greens. Just a half-hour drive north, in Angwin, Cade Winery produces vintages in a solar-powered steel-and-wood space. The classics are still a draw, including Angèle, a wood-beamed bistro on the Napa River, and Round Pond Estate, known for its robust Cabernets. Check in to the light-filled Auberge du Soleil, where the rooms-large stone fireplaces; private hot tubs-are made for couples. Or consider the intimate Poetry Inn, set on a pastoral hillside, where guests are greeted with a wine and cheese pairing.
50 Best Romantic Getaways
Secret Village Lost at a head-clearing elevation of 3,000 feet in the Livradois-Forez, France’s largest national park, 100 miles southwest of Lyons, Chassignolles invites long, extravagantly lazy days spent communing with cows, admiring the accidental land art created by a farmer with some hay bales, and stopping to smell the rockroses that fringe the lanes. There is only one place to stay: Auberge de Chassignolles. The eight rooms are basic, but the views are ravishing, whether of the village’s 12th-century church or the surrounding wildflower meadows. The chef, Peter Taylor, sources from local farms, markets, and the surrounding forests. His menu board pairs Salers beef and yellow lentils, veal tartare and river trout with biodynamic wines. If Chassignolles isn’t heaven on earth, it will have to do.
50 Best Romantic Getaways
Mountainside Hideaway Snowcapped mountains surround this mining village turned ski resort, where the scent of pine fills the air. Its streets are lined with 19th-century gingerbread houses and family-run shops such as the Between the Covers Bookstore, a cozy bookshop with a café; and at Coffee Cowboy locals fuel up on fair-trade espresso before taking on the slopes. For an intimate dinner, reserve a table at La Marmotte, a 126-year-old former icehouse. Book one of the hotels in nearby Mountain Village; the easiest way to get there is by gondola, especially atmospheric at dusk, when the valley lights up from the glow of streetlights. At Lumière, all residences and penthouses come with a fireplace and oversize soaking tub. Penthouses come with a private hot tub on a deck overlooking the mountains. Or consider the Madeline Hotel and Residences, a former Capella property. Even after slinging cocktails at one of Black Iron Kitchen and Bar's outdoor fire tables, slopeside Ski Ambassadors will help you master the trails the next morning.
On the Waterfront If only every city planner had the foresight of Savannah’s 18th-century founder, James Oglethorpe. His legacy—21 garden-filled public squares ringed by antebellum town houses—is a model of Southern grace. At the Ballastone Inn, an Italianate mansion three blocks from the waterfront, rooms have canopied poster beds and mahogany armoires. Or base yourself at the newly opened Andaz Savannah, on landmark Ellis Square. Browse for jewelry and handbags by up-and-coming artists at ShopSCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design’s boutique, and don’t miss the Jepson Center for the Arts, a contemporary-art space by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. There are dozens of laid-back restaurants in town, but one of the best remains Desposito’s, where tablecloths are made from newspapers and the steamed oysters and Low Country basket—shrimp, potatoes, corn—are ideal for two.
Urban Retreat The ancient Alhambra. The narrow Moorish streets. Both are within walking distance of Palacio de los Patos, a 19th-century property redesigned with sparkling white modern interiors. Book a room in the old palacio, where contemporary touches (mirrored tables and mod-patterned rugs) are mixed with original detailing (elaborate wood moldings and mosaics). Don’t miss a meal at the hotel’s ambitious Senzone restaurant. Granada is full of shrill souvenir shops. For home furnishings, as well as jewelry, tiles, and other crafts, cut to the chase at El Zoco Nazarí.
Vico Equense, Italy
Secret Village A crenellated castle, pink-washed clifftop church, and pebbled beach make Vico Equense perhaps the most dramatic—though surprisingly undiscovered—village on the Sorrento Coast. On the main coastal road, Annamaria Cuomo and Salvatore De Gennaro serve cured meats and cheeses at their epicurean market La Tradizione. At Torre del Saracino, chef Gennaro Esposito creates innovative dishes, such as risotto with porcini and mullet and ricotta preserved in wicker baskets, in a seventh-century tower. Stay just outside the village at the Hotel Capo La Gala, a stone-studded cliffside lodge. The hotel has a nautical theme: porthole windows and hurricane lamps in the lobby, blue-and-white guest rooms accented with miniature model boats. Book one of the nine Classic rooms, and take your breakfast (cappuccino and croissants) on the roomy balcony overlooking the Bay of Naples.
On the Waterfront For the quintessential far-flung escape, there’s nothing like this South Pacific idyll, where barrier reefs meet cobalt lagoons, and volcanic peaks rise above the tropical rain forest and powder-soft beaches. On an isolated islet, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has 121 thatched-roof bungalows set on piers over the shallows, many with individual plunge pools and views of the lagoon and Mount Otemanu. The resort is all about bliss: a half-day sail to hidden snorkeling sites; a trip to a pearl farm; an afternoon lounging on the deck of a catamaran. For a more affordable stay, try the luxury bungalows at Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort, wooden and woven pandanu accomodations perched on white-sand beaches and perched on pilings over the lagoon. Nearby, you’ll find the five-table restaurant Villa Mahana, where Corsican-born chef Damian Rinaldi Dovio reinvents native ingredients (Tahitian vanilla oil, curry, coconut milk) with classic Mediterranean techniques.
50 Best Romantic Getaways
Urban Retreat Open-air restaurants, crowded bazaars, and a swoon-inducing location on the Bosporus—this is a city made for wandering. You’ll find Istanbul at its most alluring in the quaint neighborhoods on the European side of the strait. For lunch, try the sea-bass sandwiches with olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, aruguala, and an eggplant spread at Mangerie, a rooftop spot in the Bebek district. In the waterside Arnavutköy area, the Rumeli Hisari fortress has panoramic views of the strait, making for a picturesque detour. After dark, there’s Anjelique, a sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque. Take your pick of the new hotels: the 10 Karaköy, in 1875 Neoclassical building now modern and stocked with Malin & Goetz toiletries; the St. Regis, a new-build decorated with contemporary Turkish scultpures and paintings; or the Raffles Istanbul, with a 33,000-square-foot spa equipped with three hammams and two pools.
Wine Country Tasmania’s burgeoning wine and artisanal food industries have made the heart-shaped island a chic eating destination. For a wine-focused exploration of the southern wine regions, make Hobart your home base. The Islington Hotel, an 11-room Regency-era building filled with art and antiques, has as its centerpiece a glass-enclosed conservatory, where guests can dine while contemplating mist-shrouded Mount Wellington. Don't dally too long, though, there’s a lot to see: fifteen minutes away in the town of Cambridge, make a stop at Frogmore Creek Vineyard, Tasmania’s most prominent organic vineyard and delicious evidence that wine, artisanal food, and ecotourism are more than trendy sensualism here, but a way of life. Don’t miss a visit to the Moorilla, twenty minutes upriver from Hobart. Established in 1958 and known for its Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, and Chardonnays, the winery does not idly rest on its laurels. The estate, which recently built four additional ultra-modern “pavilions” for overnight guests, is fast becoming the most exciting culture center on the island—it houses a world-class art collection and regularly hosts musical performances such as jazz inside the Museum of Old and New Art. Tasmanian devils, indeed.
—Amy Farley and Stephen Metcalf
On the Waterfront This is a land of impossible beauty: wide beaches, elaborate Hindu temples, and terraced rice paddies unfolding in a checkerboard against the mountains. The resorts here are tailor-made for escaping into the landscape; among them is the Anantara Seminyak, which attracts couples looking for a scene. At its rooftop restaurant, MoonLite Kitchen and Bar, you can enjoy live music while watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean. If you're staying at the St. Regis Bali Resort, where polished villas open onto private pools, a blue-tinged lagoon, and Nusa Dua’s white-sand beach. Make sure you head to the southernmost point of the island’s Bukit Peninsula for the views from one of Bali’s most sacred temples, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, which commands a cliff above the surf.
Desert Escape These days, locals refer to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula as La Frontera, the frontier, because it remains largely undeveloped, except for the peninsula’s tip at Los Cabos, where the desert blooms with luxe resorts. But you can still find a quiet spot to relax with a chilly Pacifico beer and a succulent shrimp taco. Stay at the Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, which comes with poolside cabanas, a ceviche bar, and rooms with stone floors. You may even catch a view of humpback whales migrating right offshore. Meanwhile, Thompson Hotels' first resort, the Cape, has breathtaking views of El Arco rock formation.
On the Waterfront This lush South Indian state—the birthplace of ayurveda—is an intricate web of calm backwaters. Here you’ll find the Kumarakom Lake Resort, set on 25 acres alongside Lake Vembanad. A world unto itself, the resort features 49 villas that were created with materials sourced from century-old ancestral homes and are full of traditional details: wooden gables, carved doors, massive brass locks. Sample the spicy curries (okra-and-tomato bindi masala) and exotic ice creams (pepper; nutmeg) at the restaurant Ettukettu. A five-minute ride away is the 14-acre Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, filled with storks, herons, egrets, and parrots. You can also rent one of the property’s thatched-roof houseboats for a tour of the area’s palm-lined fields and Hindu temples. By day, float past villages and fishing canoes. Come night, you can be alone on the shimmering lake.
Secret Village Acadian fishing villages stud the province’s French shore, and the craggy coastline roads have nonstop panoramas. Behind almost every cove are candle-lit restaurants in salt-worn wooden houses. From the art galleries in Peggy’s Cove to the tidal changes in Digby, this rugged shore offers meandering drives, inviting B&B’s, and a sound track of crashing waves. Don’t miss a sunrise sail on Halifax Harbour. (If you’re on a budget, the $2 harbor ferry ride offers a shorter, but still stunning, view from the water.)
On the Waterfront Just 14 square miles, this tiny island of the Dodecanese archipelago is only accessible via boat. The rewards, however, are well worth the trip. From the port of Skala, head to Chora, a walled hilltop village that’s a maze of interlinked courtyards, chapels, and whitewashed mansions—one of which serves as the town’s only hotel. At the 17th-century Archontariki you’ll find six modern-rustic suites with stone archways, teak furniture, and private rooftop terraces overlooking the Aegean Sea. Patmos has countless hidden coves and deserted beaches along its jigsaw coastline. Don’t miss a stroll on secluded Diakofti Beach—then try the fried zucchini balls at the shorefront food stand. At dusk, make your way to Benetos, on the edge of Sapsila Bay, for fresh fish dishes such as grouper fillet with caramelized onions, and herb-crusted seared tuna with wasabi and seaweed.
Urban Retreat Rent a vintage tail-fin Caddy and cruise north on Collins Avenue to refuel at 14th Street’s La Sandwicherie, a tiny joint squeezed between a gas station and a tattoo parlor. Locals favor the pâté on baguette with a smoothie for beach excursions. Around the corner is the Confidante Hotel, for a respite from the city's hyperactivity—the hotel hugs the calm waters of Biscayne Bay and is a comfortable distance from the sparkly lights of South Beach. Get a jump on the next trendy neighborhood with an architectural walking tour of MiMo or just do a self-guided drive to see the atomic age icons along Biscayne Boulevard. All this groovy style inspiring you to go retro? Set the alarm early to shop for great vintage looks at the Lincoln Road Mall Sunday flea market.
—Tom Austin and Victoria Pesce Elliott50 Best Romantic Getaways
On the Waterfront Some 200 years ago, the writer Henry Nelson Coleridge called Grenada a “poet’s Arcadia.” And for decades to come, the tiny Caribbean island, with its powerful waterfalls that flow into the sea and fragrant nutmeg trees, remained an insiders’ secret. The opening of the Bali-inspired Laluna Resort and the more recent Mount Cinnamon Beach Resort, on a white-sand beach, heralded a new level of sophistication. But Grenada’s authenticity and natural appeal remain. One-sixth of the land is protected wilderness, including Grand Étang, a crater lake set atop an extinct volcano. Farmers still sell fresh fruit and spices at the market, and in the French-colonial capital, St. George’s, the winding roads are lined with boutiques like Tikal, which carries local crafts. On Friday nights, listen to steel drums at the fish fry that takes over the small village of Gouyave. End your day at the beachside Aquarium for West Indian barbecue served beneath the stars.
San Camp, Botswana
Desert Escape The middle of nowhere, recast as one of the sexiest places on earth? Only in Africa—the stark Makgadikgadi Pans in northeastern Botswana, to be precise. The Uncharted Africa Safari Company’s legendary San Camp, which opened in 1994 and is a favorite of safari enthusiasts such as photographer Peter Beard, has been completely updated. The tented main lodge is now far more roomy and luxurious, without sacrificing a shred of the original San’s sensual charms: extra-long chaise longues in buttery leather; swing beds big enough for two. On the perimeter, six very private white-canvas tents are appointed with tall four-poster beds and handwoven textiles. If you want to see more of Botswana, Uncharted Africa arranges multiday safaris through the Okavango Delta, where zebra and cheetah roam along dried floodplains, and the Western Kalahari lands of the Bushmen.
On the Waterfront North of San Francisco, past Muir Woods, the Marin roads wind through Ewok forest that opens into deer-, sheep-, and cow-studded farmland and then magically folds back into dense forest, until eventually you come to the Pacific spread out under the cliff—as if someone has tried to cram all of America into one place. Check into Manka’s Inverness Lodge, which specializes in awesome food in the the dining room, and coziness (fireplaces, flannel curtains, shelves of old books, and an arkful of taxidermied animals) in the guest rooms. The next morning, explore Point Reyes Station, an Old West–meets-crunchy yuppie town lined with cutesy storefronts. When the lodge’s extensive breakfast finally wears off, load up on picnic supplies at the Cowgirl Creamery, inside Tomales Bay Foods, and have a picnic table at Dillon Beach, a 150-year-old summer resort and surfing cove.
Urban Retreat Check into the Royal Hawaiian, the pink palazzo-style icon on Waikiki Beach which reopened in 2015 after a $100 million-plus overhaul, with a brand-new pool and a reimagined Mailani Tower. Here, guests enjoy a dedicated concierge team, nightly cocktail hours at the lounge, and private lanais. Save one evening for dinner at the Halekulani Hotel (Michael Kors' favorite) and its grand restaurant, La Mer. Specialties include squid ink-filled ravioli and slow-cooked abalone with chorizo essence, bested only by the dazzling beach views. For lunch, grab a pho French dip at the Pig & the Lady. Don’t miss a stop at Manu Antiques, a vast treasure trove of vintage aloha shirts and silver Hawaiian jewelry. Alo-ha!
Colchagua Valley, Chile
Wine Country A 2 1/2-hour drive north from Santiago leads to the heart of Chilean wine culture, Colchagua Valley. More than 30 wineries are scattered among the region’s colonial towns and haciendas, including Emiliana Orgánico. The most stunning of all is Clos Apalta, a new winery in the micro-valley of Apalta. With its rounded wood exterior and spiraling staircase, the structure resembles a deconstructed wine barrel. Clos Apalta shares a woody hillside with the Clos Apalta Residence, just four 1,000-square-foot casitas with exposed beams and Cambodian silk curtains. For dinner, head to the nearby Asador del Valle, a rustic restaurant where three chef brothers roast Patagonia lamb whole on the spit.50 Best Romantic Getaways
Bar Harbor, Maine
On the Waterfront Down east Maine is dotted with private islands—Oar, Clapboard, Chanterelle—where couples can play Yankee castaways. One of our favorites is the four-acre Spectacle Island, a short boat ride from Bar Harbor. The best time to go is June to September. Book Spectacle Island Estate, a three-bedroom cottage on this spruce-covered spot in Frenchman Bay, well ahead of time. The master suite has spectacular sea views, a four-poster bed, and a whirlpool. The wood-burning fireplace in the living room is cozy on foggy nights, while the wraparound porch makes for good afternoon bird-watching, when gulls and osprey swoop along the shoreline. Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island offers rugged hiking trails (or walk along the beach and watch the lobster boats). The island rental also includes a seaworthy 27-foot powerboat manned by a licensed captain. Catch the boat back to Bar Harbor and have a seafood cioppino with fresh-caught fish or jumbo baked lobsters at La Bella Vita, in the Harborside Hotel.
Las Brisas, Mexico
Secret Village Although it’s just 25 minutes from Ensenada, Las Brisas del Valle, set amid sandy boulders and Cabernet vines, beckons like an unexpected Tuscan estate. Chef V. Omar Garcia serves estate-made olive oil and local añejo cheese. Guests spend their days lounging on screened four-poster beds around the pool. Ask for the Lulu room, which has views of the Sierra Blanca and lavender-carpeted olive groves. Don’t miss taking a horseback ride among the desolate vineyards and countryside.
On the Waterfront Georgia O’Keeffe was inspired to paint landscapes out on the remote Hana side of the island, known for its rugged beaches, horseback riding, and simple charms. The famous Blue Pool, an oceanside waterfall, is accessible only to those willing to ford a river and clamber over volcanic boulders. Stay at the Travaasa Hana, a flashback to old Hawaii, with cottages inspired by plantation houses. Toss the guidebook and explore the twists, turns, and stunning vistas of Maui’s 34-mile Hana Highway. On Honokalani Road, just off the Hana Highway, is Waianapanapa, a black-sand cove set between cliffs. Watch daredevils paddle their boards beyond the weathered rock arches and lava tubes jutting from the shore. At the Hasegawa General Store, load up on bargain surf shorts and folding beach chairs.
Desert Escape Two hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs has long attracted Hollywood power couples, from Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner in the 50’s to Brad and Angelina. The newest draw for A-listers? The L'Horizon, with private patios, outdoor bathtubs, and quick access to the Purple Palm restaurant, for a poolside meal of Mediterranean-inspired dishes. There’s more to do in Palm Springs than lounge by the pool: in a single afternoon you can hike through canyons and, after an eight-minute tram ride up Mount San Jacinto, toss snowballs in a fairy-tale alpine forest. Head downtown to browse the Midcentury Modern furniture shops along North Palm Canyon Drive. One of the best is Trina Turk Residential, stocked with vintage pieces and pillows upholstered in Turk’s signature graphic prints.
On the Waterfront Off the west coast of Canada, this windswept isle has pristine beaches surrounded by old-growth rain forests, and a buzzing food scene in its chief city, Victoria. For a true end-of-the-road experience, head to Tofino: all forest, beach, and mountains. Cantilevered over the surf, Wickaninnish Inn is the place to hole up and watch romantic storms. If you’re tempted outside, Shell Beach, a hidden alcove on Chesterman Beach, is an ideal place to watch the sun set.
Mountainside Hideaway The town of Woodstock is a slice of classic Americana: a tableau of steepled churches, white picket fences, and covered bridges, all in the shadow of Vermont’s expansive Green Mountains. At the Woodstock Inn & Resort, the 142 rooms have red wool throws on the maple four-poster beds, perfect to curl up in while sipping the hot chocolate delivered at turndown. F.H. Gillingham & Sons Country Store stocks maple cured hams and syrups—just what you need for an afternoon trek in the woods. Down the road in a former woolen mill, Shackleton Thomas sells handmade wooden bowls and ceramics. Before heading to the slopes of Suicide Six—Vermont’s oldest ski area—warm up with beef hash with poached eggs and housemade spicy ketchup on Sunday mornings at the Worthy Kitchen.
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
On the Waterfront With ecotourism oh-so-Disney now, you have to go pretty far to have the rainforest to yourself. Getting to the untouched Osa Peninsula is half the adventure—it includes a short plane ride from San José and a bumpy drive with rivers to ford. But, oh, the rewards: you might spot a wildcat or Baird’s tapir. Check into a bungalow, luxury tent, or Hacienda room at Luna Lodge perched on a mountain facing Corcovado National Park. Prepare to share a trail with sloths, tapirs, kinkajous, anteaters, spider monkeys, and the occasional jaguar. Not natural enough? The eight stylish bungalows all have private tropical gardens. For an extra thrill, book a plane ride with Alfa Romeo Air Charters into Sirena, the heart of Corcovado.
Urban Retreat This former seat of imperial Russia has a surreal beauty, especially in the colder months when its fairy-tale architecture—the mint-green Winter Palace, the multi-striped onion domes of the Church on Spilled Blood—stands in sharp relief to the crystalline snow. The landmarks are worth a visit: the new 2,000-seat Mariinsky II theatre, which reflects the original in its glass-walled lobby, opened in 2013. But save time to discover some local favorites. Order hot squid salad at Vincent, just two minutes from the Mariinsky, or spicy stew and cheese-stufed bread at nearby Hochu Harcho. The less-discovered Vasilievsky Island, west of the city center, is home to the low-lit Restoran, known for its house-infused vodkas and pelmeni, Siberian dumplings filled with ground elk meat. Spend the night in one of the painstakingly restored rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, a grand yellow mansion guarded by marble lions.
On the Waterfront With miles of rugged Caribbean coastline and 365 beaches, you’re assured of more than a few private patches of sand on Antigua. But couples might want to stay put at just one—if they’re at the Hermitage Bay resort. Etched into a lush hillside overlooking the bay are 27 cottage suites, plunge pools, and open-air verandas with billowing white curtains that frame the views. From the highest point in Antigua—where the remains of General Shirley’s 17th-century fort still stand—the sun sets beautifully over English Harbour and Galleon Beach.
Desert Escape In a break from typical Southwestern architecture, the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa takes its design inspiration from 11th-century Andalusia. The Moorish fantasy plays out in the pool area, with its 500-year-old Tunisian wrought-iron gates, and in the guest rooms, where Syrian chests and jewel-toned curtains make for a seductive contrast with the red-rock landscape. In 2014, the property added 32 new rooms and suites, as well as gardens and an outdoor venue. But it's the great outdoors you're here for: the high desert sky is Warner Bros. cartoon-blue, the air has a juniper-scented snap, and at sunset, every red rock seems to be lit from within. Get up early and hike to the Indian ruins at the end of Boynton Canyon. The trail is 2 1/2 miles each way and climbs 600 feet to a spine-tingling perch on a red rock overlook, so treat yourself to a reward at the spa when you return to the hotel.
On the Waterfront Check in at Rockhouse the ultrahip hangout named for its cluster of thatched-roof bungalows built atop rock cliffs that jut just above an aquamarine cove. Most of the so-called rock houses are outfitted with private patios or sundecks; a few have private ladders leading right down into the sea. Be sure to cut yourself loose from the comforts of your waterfront nest to explore the island. Kayak along the coast to Rick’s Café for a rum punch, a dip in the pool, and a view of the daily cliff-diving show.
—Sarah Gold and Xander Kaplan
Secret Village The ashram meets the Amanresort at Shreyas, a farmland yoga retreat 22 miles outside Bangalore. Its four cottages and eight tented chalets—with all the typical luxuries (but no television)—are scented with scattered jasmine, frangipani, and rose petals. Couples spend most of the day indoors, recharging with rigorous twice-daily Hatha yoga classes and vegetarian dishes prepared with produce from the gardens. Visit the stilted thatched hut on the edge of the gardens, built for meditation; it resembles the lookout platforms used by colonial tiger-hunters.
Cabarete, Dominican Republic
On the Waterfront Just 10 minutes from the small bustling beach town of Cabarete, the 10 bungalows of Natura Cabañas, with roofs made of palm fronds and stone-and-bamboo interiors, blend into the jungle-like environs. The earthy spa menu includes mud wraps and salt scrubs; the two restaurants prepare organic dishes, from ceviche to fish stir-fry. Activity-seekers can turn to the helpful staff, who will arrange scuba diving in Sosúa Bay and horseback riding through nearby villages. Hang ten at Cabarete Surf Camp, which specializes in kite surfing.
Urban Retreat Though its grand boulevards and Belle Époque–style palaces give Buenos Aires a genteel air, underneath lies an unmistakably bohemian heart. Nowhere is this more apparent than in up-and-coming San Telmo, famous for its Sunday antiques market. Along the narrow cobblestoned streets, faded mansions have been transformed into hotels, such as the Bonito Buenos Aires and the classic Palacio Duhau—Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, a stylish property in a Neoclassical mansion. Restaurants run the gamut from the innovative La Vinería de Gualterio Bolívar, where chef Alejandro Digilio plays with foams and candied lacquering in his pint-size space, to old-school parrillas (grills) like Desnivel. This is prime tango territory, and if you can’t make a show at the sultry Bar Sur, catch a mini-performance in the windows of one of San Telmo’s many dance schools. End the night at the atmospheric El Federal, a watering hole open since 1864.
50 Best Romantic Getaways
Ireland’s West Coast
On the Waterfront The emerald landscapes and deserted beaches of Ireland’s wild west have long attracted painters, poets, and romantics. Explore the majestic coastline of the Ring of Kerry; the Lakes of Killarney; and the flat, untamed moorlands of Connemara, then step into one of the many pubs for a pint of Guinness. Stay at Moy House, situated on a 15-acre expanse of open rippling pasture and mature woodland above Lahinch Bay. Built in the 18th century by a minor nobleman, Moy House may not be the loveliest house in County Clare from an architectural point of view, though you may find it impressive in a fort-like, defensive, Wuthering Heights sort of way. Its position on the coast and just 45 minutes from Shannon Airport makes it a perfect base for touring the region.
Wine Country Chef Francis Mallemann runs the destination-in-its-own-right restaurant, Siete Fuegos, at Vines Resort & Spa. The property is set on 1,500 acres of private vineyards outside Mendoza, offering plates such as grilled Argentinean steaks and hearty empanadas. Order a bottle of Malbec, Cabernet Francs, or Syrah (which you can blend yourself with on-site expert winemakers)—and enjoy every sip with views of the Andean peaks and the sound of chirping crickets. Sleep it off in one of the hotel's 22 villas, set with rough-hewn stown fireplaces, outdoor soaking tubs, and private patios. Adventurous guests should take to the mountains for horseback riding and hiking, and for skiing in the winter.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Desert Escape Though stark from a distance, the world’s driest desert is an expansive, exotic landscape studded with oases, majestic dunes, and thermal pools. This is an ideal destination for those who enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Bonus: romantic sunsets and starry nights. Tierra Atacama, steps from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, is bordered by ancient native algarroba and chanar trees. Inside, the 34 rooms are swathed in natural beiges and browns, and at the 4,850-square-foot spa, couples can book decadent treatments using local volcanic mud, salts, and herbs. Tierra Atacama will arrange for a sunrise excursion to El Tatio geyser, or a rock-climbing lesson in the village of Socaire. Dine at Café Adobe, a local favorite with a crackling bonfire centerpiece, or Restaurante Ckunna, located in what was once San Pedro de Atacama’s first schoolhouse. Don’t miss the handicrafts market—Mercado de Artesanías—at the corner of Ckilapana and Socaire, in San Pedro de Atacama, where you can buy downy-soft alpaca and llama wraps made by artisans in nearby Cámar and Toconao.
Hoi An, Vietnam
On the Waterfront This well-preserved 15th-century port town made its fortune from trade, but today it’s all about the beaches, from the infamous China Beach to the willow-lined Cua Dai. After some sun worship, couples can wander through the town’s picturesque streets, taking in the buildings of varying architectural styles, cafés, galleries, and silk shops. Check into the Nam Hai—a high-design hotel fronted by a three-quarter-mile stretch of private beach. Executive chef Richard Wilson's eclectic dishes run the gamut from Vietnamese-style banana leaf-steamed seabass to Canadian scallops with yellow lime—helping to make this one of the most exciting properties around.
Balapitiya, Sri Lanka
Secret Village Set above the mighty Madhu River, half a mile inland from the Indian Ocean, every suite of the River House is a private compound—some have private gardens, while others boast personal outdoor jacuzzis or plunge pools. All are precisely decorated with Southeast Asian and Indian antiques sourced by owner and local design guru Nayantara Fonseka. 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.
Krabi Island, Thailand
On the Waterfront Many beaches in Southern Thailand are overrun with Western travelers, but the quiet stretch of powdery sand known as Rai Lay, on Krabi Island—only accessible by boat—is an exception. Its towering limestone cliffs and tropical foliage, and the crystal-blue waters of the Andaman Sea, make this low-key hideaway a romantic alternative to places like Phuket. Where to stay? Bordered by beaches on three sides, the 26-acre Rayavadee is made up of 103 airy two-level bungalows—some set in the jungle and others overlooking Phranang Beach. At sunset, sip a coconut cocktail at the Grotto restaurant, tucked into a limestone cliff. And don’t skip the fresh food grilled by locals right on the beach: corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and chunks of pineapple.
Urban Retreat Chairs, vases, wallpaper—the Finns do it all with style. Take Finlandia Hall, the massive white Alvar Aalto edifice, or Hvitträsk, Eliel Saarinen’s house, which has become something of a shrine. The Church in the Rock is a miraculous place—not for religious reasons, but for its breathtaking interpretation of what a church can be: it looks like a flying saucer, landed in the middle of Temppeliaukio Square. Stay in the still-buzzy Klaus K Hotel, a restored 19th-century landmark decorated with mythical themes from Kalevala, a famed Finnish epic.
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia
Desert Escape The Namib Desert is as dramatic as the landscape of the heart: flame-colored rolling dunes and expansive blue skies are punctuated only by a mysterious gemsbok or a lonely acacia tree. In the middle is a 450,000-acre nature reserve and Wolwedans, a tented camp on stilts. Accommodations are in tent-chalets with canvas blinds, overlooking grand terraces that pour out onto miles of empty sand. Begin your day watching the sunrise from your bed, take a safari drive or a hot-air balloon ride, and end with a four-course dinner. Splurge on a night in the Private Camp, pitched in a secluded valley two miles away, where your suite is the only man-made creation on the landscape.
On the Waterfront You arrive by seaplane at Navutu Stars, a 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. Have a picnic on a nearby deserted island with a box lunch of grilled lobster and chilled white wine.
Mountainside Hideaway The name of this alpine village in the Trois Vallées might well be French for “jet set.” Even so, it’s as romantic as it is glitzy: the wooden chalets, picturesque churches, and mountain views are as much a draw as the designer boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and nightclubs. With five enclaves, each named for its elevation, at 1,000, 1,300, 1,550, 1,650, and 1,850 meters, Courchevel gets pricier and more sophisticated the higher up you go. Check into the year-old Oetker Collection hotel, L'Apogée Courchevel, with its velvet, leather, and black marble interiors. Best of all? The hotel offers ski in/ski out access to 375 miles of piste.
On the Waterfront With its strong breezes, this Moroccan beach town—known as Wind City, Africa—is one of the world’s top windsurfing and kite-boarding spots. But there’s more to it than water sports: the local calendar is studded with world-class music and arts events, and galleries show internationally known artists. Wander the restored ramparts of the medina and past charming (though often crumbling) palaces and mansions of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The place to stay is Dar Loulema, perfect for living out your craziest Moroccan fantasy—and then some.
Venice to Paris with Belmond
Urban Retreat It worked wonders for 007 and his sexy KGB double agent. Then again, why wouldn’t it? There’s the cinematic journey, passing through glittering ports of call. And the vintage carriages of the gleaming Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train, whose compartments are fitted with mahogany panels inlaid in pearl and Art Deco marquetry. But it’s the black tie–only dining car, complete with four-course, 2 1/2-hour dinners, that truly transports passengers to a bygone era. Experience the luxurious side of train travel with the Belmond's route from Venice to Budapest to Paris. And don’t miss a soak in Budapest’s thermal-spring Gellért Baths.
Yunnan Province, China
Secret Village 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 at Banyan Tree Ringha. 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. After a day’s trek in the wilderness, rejuvenate with a hot-stone treatment at the spa. A creative set has fled the urban grind of Beijing and Shanghai and is transforming the traditional mud-brick houses of the surrounding villages into galleries, inns, and cafés. For a bit of a culture shock in misty Shangri-la, you can sip a martini at the bohemian bar Raven in Shangrila Old Town.