America's Most Romantic Hotels
Imagine you and your better half cuddling fireside as the sun dips behind the distant mountains. The only sounds are from the wild; the only sights are canyons and the stark desert. No, you’re not in the Sahara. You’re at Utah’s ultra-romantic Amangiri resort.
With Valentine’s Day looming and no end to winter in sight, who doesn’t dream of stealing away on vacation? But you don’t need to travel to the ends of the earth (or beloved spots like Paris or the Caribbean) to find that spark-kindling setting. From seaside New England to Washington State’s wine country, we’ve uncovered dreamy properties certain to get you in the mood—whatever your idea of romance and your price range.
You can take your love to literal new heights at Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn, a cliff-top hotel whose treehouses and cottages perch a thousand feet above the Pacific. The policy of no clocks or televisions encourages couples to reconnect, while perks like a gratis convertible inspire drives along scenic Highway 1 with impromptu picnics on any of the breathtaking beaches.
Of course, romance doesn’t require endless water views; cozying up in a country bed-and-breakfast has its own appeal. Hillside Victorian cottages with a white picket fence and fairy-tale-like setting draw couples year round to Landrum, SC, where they check into the affordable Red Horse Inn. Blame its high occupancy rate on the waterfalls, rocking chairs, and in-room candlelit dinners.
Related: 50 Best Romantic Getaways 2010
Great country inns know just how to take care of their guests, and indeed many of our favorite romantic hotels are a quick jaunt but worlds away from major cities. It’s about a two-hour drive from Phoenix to an enchanting resort of adobe suites with kiva fireplaces set among the red-rock canyons of Sedona, while 2 1/2 hours gets you from Atlanta to a Blue Ridge Mountains retreat.
And sometimes, romance is just a subway ride away. Lovebirds who want to fall in love with their hometown all over again—or flock to a hotel with urban sophistication—can look no further than actor Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel in New York City.
Read on to find the perfect romantic hotel for you two and make that daydreamed getaway a reality.
Willows Lodge, Woodinville, WA
Bordering the Sammamish River, this rustic-meets-luxe lodge occupies five lush acres in Western Washington’s wine country. The 84 rooms are subtly done in salvaged timber and antique slate with Frette linens and giant Jacuzzis for two. Couples can bliss-out with massages, leisurely walks through the impeccably manicured gardens, or bike rides along the beautiful Burke-Gilman Trail. At the end of the day, the nearby Herbfarm restaurant beckons with nine courses and wines to match.
Price Tag: From approximately $120 per night, includes daily breakfast.
Enchantment Resort, Sedona, AZ
The red rocks of Arizona’s Boynton Canyon tower over Enchantment’s adobe suites outfitted with kiva fireplaces, Native American accents, log-beamed ceilings, and oversize soaking tubs. Several pools, six tennis courts, pitch-and-putt golf, and complimentary guided hikes along the surrounding scenic trails round out the resort’s activities. But you don’t have to venture far to enjoy some of the area’s most awe-inspiring views—seen from the vantage point of the spa’s pool.
Price Tag: From approximately $295 per night.
Hamilton Turner Inn, Savannah, GA
Amid magnolias and moss-draped oaks, this elegant 19th-century bed-and-breakfast oozes with old-time southern charm (it even got a mention in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). Soaring ceilings, four-poster canopy beds, cozy fireplaces, and double whirlpool spas compliment the park views. Couples can start the day with a gourmet breakfast, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage through downtown, and savor complimentary home-baked cookies fireside before bed.
Price Tag: From approximately $189 per night, includes daily breakfast.
Chanticleer Guest House, Sturgeon Bay, WI
This secluded 19th-century farmhouse and adjoining barn have been converted into a bed-and-breakfast that benefits from a naturally alluring setting: 70 private acres of pastures where sheep roam. Cozy suites have an appropriately rustic look thanks to wood beams, floral patterns, roaring fireplaces, and individual features like a vaulted ceiling or private terrace. Homemade breakfast is delivered each morning, fueling guests for days filled with exploring the many wooded walking trails or strolling downtown Sturgeon Bay.
Price Tag: From approximately $120 per night, includes daily breakfast; chanticleerguesthouse.com.
The Carneros Inn, Napa, CA
Acres of vineyards, apple orchards, and farmland make way for this idyllic wine country escape. Blending modernist-meets-farmhouse décor, 86 tin-roofed cottages are equipped with iconic Eames and Le Corbusier loungers, heated slate floors, wood-burning fireplaces, and decks amid one of the area’s most pastoral landscapes. There are garden and grapevine paths to explore, complimentary bikes for romantic wine-tasting sojourns, and amazing views from the hilltop adults-only pool. As night falls, enjoy fireside cocktails under a blanket of stars at the resort’s award-winning Farm restaurant.
Price Tag: From approximately $426 per night.
The Wauwinet, Nantucket, MA
This remote escape lures couples to Nantucket’s northeastern coast with the promise of privacy and low-key opulence. The main 28-room building puts a tasteful spin on chintz, with Pratesi linens, lace-curtained windows, and antiques, while four freestanding cottages have private sundecks and fireplaces. The chaises scattered throughout the blooming gardens and along the private beach provide ample opportunities to steal away for some alone time. Those who can tear themselves away from the resort opt for sailing, coastal bike rides, or browsing in Nantucket Town.
Price Tag: From approximately $325 per night, includes daily breakfast.
Encantado Resort, Santa Fe
Just north of Santa Fe, the Sangre de Cristo Mountain foothills are the gorgeous setting for this 57-acre eco-friendly resort, which puts a modern spin on Southwest style. There are 65 villa-style casitas done in soothing earth tones with adobe fireplaces, heated floors, and locals’ abstract artwork. The tranquil grounds feature an art gallery, hiking trails, rock gardens, and an award-winning spa, where couples can unwind in a cloistered outdoor soaking tub and eucalyptus steam rooms.
Price Tag: From approximately $276 per night.
Old Edwards Inn and Spa, Highlands, NC
Outdoorsy types fall for this historic stone-and-brick resort that delivers English manor charm amid the fresh air of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a welcoming champagne toast, you can choose your own adventure: whitewater rafting, hiking, gem mining, biking, or secluded lakeside picnicking. Flanked by a world-class golf course, the resort sets the romantic mood with storybook cottages, waterfall-side dining, a cave-enclosed whirlpool, and an outdoor heated mineral pool.
Price Tag: From approximately $159 per night; oldedwardsinn.com.
Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, Amelia Island, FL
This 25-room B&B is truly a place for couples to relax, whether taking in the beachfront view from a rocking chair on the wide porch or soaking in the oversize guest-room tubs. You’ll find guests strolling hand-in-hand along the shore or getting their adrenaline pumping with kayaking, sailing, and horseback riding. Wind things down again by savoring complimentary wines at sunset.
Price Tag: From approximately $255 per night, includes daily breakfast; elizabethpointelodge.com.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
Two hours from San Francisco and a thousand feet above the crashing waves awaits Post Ranch Inn, a series of foliage-shrouded Tree Houses and ultra-private cottages. These 41 freestanding slate, glass, and wood accommodations feature commanding vistas of the Pacific and the Santa Lucia Mountains with floor-to-ceiling windows, private decks, wood-burning fireplaces, and luxurious indoor spa tubs. What they don’t have are TVs or clocks—a nudge to tune into your partner instead. Pick up a picnic from the resort’s Sierra Mar restaurant and cruise the coast in one of the inn’s gratis convertibles, then make your way back for a dip in the cliff-top infinity pool.
Price Tag: From approximately $625 per night, includes daily breakfast.
Paia Inn, Maui
A refreshing change of pace from the island’s sprawling resorts, this boutique hotel is just steps from a secluded stretch of white-sand beach on Maui’s north shore. Guest rooms and cottages are simple but elegant, with white-and-yellow walls, bamboo floors, and vibrantly colored local paintings. Stand-up paddle, windsurf, kite board, ogle the big-wave surfers, or simply bask in the sun. In the evening, couples can hit the artsy town’s eclectic eateries, boutiques, and galleries.
Price Tag: From approximately $189 per night, includes daily breakfast, oceanfront yoga.
The Red Horse Inn, Landrum, SC
Sprawling pastures, majestic mountain vistas, and a white picket fence set the fairy-tale-like scene for this South Carolina bed-and-breakfast. Six charming Victorian cottages dot the hillside with cozy fireplaces, whirlpool tubs (some with outdoor hot tubs), cathedral ceilings, and large windows that frame the views. In-room kitchens are stocked with homemade breakfast delights so couples can sleep in and take the day at their own pace. Visit the waterfalls, wineries, and state parks, and then enjoy rocking chair sunsets and in-room candlelit dinners.
Price Tag: From approximately $135 per night, includes daily breakfast; theredhorseinn.com.
The Greenwich Hotel, NYC
Hand-loomed Tibetan rugs, reclaimed oak floors, sumptuous leather furnishings, and Moroccan tiles adorn Robert De Niro’s 88-room urban oasis in the cobblestoned neighborhood of Tribeca. Take in the Hudson River views from a high-corner room or splurge on a duplex “artist atelier” suite, with 30-foot ceilings, chef’s kitchen, and stone fireplace. Couples can roll out of bed and into Locanda Verde (one of the city’s best brunch spots) and then go sightseeing or even set out for the quiet reaches of the North Fork’s vineyards in a vintage Aston Martin. Return to the hotel’s showstopping spa for a glass of sake and poolside lounging underneath 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse beams.
Price Tag: From approximately $516 per night.
Ocean House, Watch Hill, RI
This Victorian-style oceanfront hotel on a bluff overlooks a private, white-sand beach with glorious views of Montauk, Block Island, and the Atlantic. The wraparound patio is ideal for curling up together with a glass of wine, while croquet lawns and putting greens add to the eclectic, old-world charm. A $146 million renovation—itself a labor of love—resulted in 49 light-filled guest rooms and 22 private villas that have modern bathrooms with oversize soaking tubs. Equally satisfying is a meal at the farm-to-table restaurant Seasons, complete with a veranda.
Price Tag: From approximately $285 per night.
Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT
Staking a claim to 600 remote acres of Utah’s vast desert landscape, this exclusive resort guarantees coveted alone time—at a price—and has attracted privacy-seeking celebs such as Brangelina. Thirty-four cement low-slung suites blend seamlessly with the dramatic sandstone formations. Twin rain showers, soaking tubs with uninterrupted views, and private outdoor desert lounges with fireplaces complete the ultra-modernist look. Laze poolside and gaze upon the dramatic 150-foot-high rock breaching the waters, or see the dramatic sights from helicopter or hot-air balloon rides.
Price Tag: From approximately $1,000 per night, includes complimentary airport transfers.
Pitcher Inn, Warren, VT
Each of the 11 rooms and suites at the Pitcher Inn represents some essential aspect of Vermont life, and one room is a tribute to Chester Arthur, a native son who acquired his moniker because of his taste for luxury. The original inn burned to the ground in 1993, and the replacement was designed to suggest an old white clapboard farmhouse, with myriad bits of whimsy. (The Mallard Room has a wake-up call that mimics the cacophony of ducks at sunrise.) Disaster struck again last summer when Hurricane Irene hit. The basement level, since restored, looked like it was filled with chocolate pudding, and a quarter-million dollars’ worth of wine was lost. General manager Ari Sadri, fanatically well-informed, can direct you to a bottle from Austria’s Schloss Gobelsburg winery that has been in continuous production since the 12th century. Or perhaps a bottle of Sapsucker hard cider from the Warren Store across the street, which brings to mind the kind of country market where Diane Keaton’s character in Baby Boom sold homemade applesauce. Sweets for the inn’s afternoon tea are baked there and served in the library. The inn belongs to the Vermont Fresh Network, a partnership of farmers and chefs promoting locally grown food, and your breakfast omelette, with eggs provided by free-range hens, will be the shocking color of marigolds. Five minutes away, there’s skiing at Sugarbush (once so popular with the jet set that it was dubbed Mascara Mountain), or try Mad River Rocket Sleds at the inn, made of recycled plastic (trimmings from garbage-can lids). You kneel with your legs strapped down and use your knees to steer. Doesn’t that sound like the ideal excuse for a massage?
Price Tag: From $325, including breakfast and afternoon tea.
—Aimee Lee Ball
Forty 1° North, Newport, RI
Who ordered the room party? Instead of a mini-bar, there’s a six-foot-long wet bar, with enough liquor bottles to slake a serious thirst. It would be easy to choose from among the monochromatic books (curiously all bound in blue), take to the big bed with its view of a spare winter waterfront, and forget why people come to Newport in warmer weather. It’s almost counterintuitive in a city whose many boats burn exorbitant amounts of fossil fuels, but the contemporary Forty 1° North is impressively environmentally conscious. Newspapers are delivered via each room’s iPad, and the hallway’s big mirrors serve as eco-friendly message boards to announce activities such as yoga and cooking classes. Bathrooms are equipped with low-flow showerheads, chemical-free toiletries, and towels made from a superfine cotton that dries quickly, which encourages reuse rather than replacement. Okay, so the compact fluorescent bulbs require squinting to find your contact lenses, but it’s a small price to pay so that the polar ice caps don’t melt. The inn is only about a year old (with a staff that seems not much older). Other new kids on this block are Thames Street Kitchen and Tallulah on Thames, two restaurants with young tattooed chefs and farm-to-fork menus, but the locals line up for sweet-bread French toast at the Corner Café (made not from calf’s innards but from the Portuguese version of challah). The Newport Winter Festival takes over the town from February 17 to 26, with ice sculpting, beach polo, and a chili cook-off. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is open year-round (the Williams sisters have nothing on Gertrude “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran, whose lace-trimmed knickers at Wimbledon prompted a debate in Parliament). If the weather is mild, you could even bundle up for the glorious Cliff Walk along the water, channeling The French Lieutenant’s Woman. During the Colonial era, Newport was the world’s rum capital, with more than 20 distilleries, and Coastal Extreme Brewing Company still makes Thomas Tew rum, named for a famous 17th-century pirate. If that doesn’t warm you up, head for the Caribbean.
Price Tag: From $395.
—Aimee Lee Ball
Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
Those Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Vanderbilts really knew how to live. Around the turn of the last century, the American aristocracy began to stake out the Adirondacks as their personal paradise—the primeval forest and billion-year-old rock formations made the perfect setting for their splendid vacation homes, known as the Great Camps. Lake Placid Lodge, built three years ago in the Arts and Crafts tradition, is a Great Camp for the new century, supplying a similar experience for those of us not of the ruling classes. The whole place is like a fantastic treehouse. Beds have fanciful wood carvings, and the dining tables and chairs are assembled from logs and branches—no nails. Every room and cabin gets a lake view and a fireplace laid by local masons stone-by-stone.
When winter comes to these parts, it stays—you can throw boiling water in the air, and it will freeze before it hits the ground—so it’s tempting to huddle indoors, perusing one of the largest collections of Hudson River School paintings outside of a museum. There are billiards and backgammon (and the property’s only TV) in Maggie’s Pub, a casual restaurant named for the resident golden retriever. Dine on the enclosed terrace, warmed by heating lamps and lap blankets. If you do skate on the frozen lake, you’re rewarded at the nightly bonfire with hot chocolate or more serious liquids. Or take a spin on the skating oval in the village—Lake Placid has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, and this is where Eric Heiden won a record five gold medals in the 1980 games. Almost any sport done on snow or ice is available, from a dogsled through the woods pulled by huskies to a bobsled around the Olympic track through the Labyrinth, the Heart, and the Zigzag turns. Back at the lodge, a soaking tub awaits, along with a brown bag of cookies on the turned-down bed. Rockefellers, eat your hearts out.
Price Tag: From $500, including breakfast and activities.
—Aimee Lee Ball
Falls Village Inn, Falls Village, CT
Rumor has it that the Falls Village Inn was once a brothel. Two years ago, when Susan Sweetapple and Colin Chambers bought the dilapidated 1834 property in Litchfield County, garish flocked wallpaper lined a warren of unused upstairs rooms. Happily, the fledgling innkeepers found a godmother: the celebrated interior designer Bunny Williams lives down the road and offered her decorating services gratis. Williams is known for providing a place to put your feet up and your drink down. For the inn’s two rooms and two suites, she selected patterned quilts and coverlets, botanical prints, and crisp linen upholstery. New bathrooms with graphic black-and-white tiles were carved out of closets. (But hold out for the Green Room if you want an actual tub. Doesn’t anybody take a bath anymore?) The dining room showcases the canvases of local artists, and casual table coverings are ripped from a fat roll of brown butcher paper. It takes a village to feed the crowds here: hamburgers are made from the grass-fed beef of nearby Whippoorwill Farm; carrot cake is supplied by a busboy’s mother; and on Fridays, weather permitting, a retired helicopter pilot from Sharon, CT, brings in 30 squirming specimens from Rosie the Lobster Lady. The Appalachian Trail is right outside the door, ready for snowshoeing, and the cascading falls that give the town its name are a short hike away. But Falls Village has an almost defiantly laid-back personality, conducive to indulgent sloth and going off the grid—cell-phone reception is virtually nonexistent. Main Street commerce consists of a country store, which holds Saturday open-mike nights for native talent, and Toymakers Café, which used to sell hardware but now pushes sweet-potato waffles. (The breakfast menu is divided into “indulgences,” “classics,” and “fast.”)
Price Tag: Doubles from $199; thefallsvillageinn.com.
—Aimee Lee Ball
Lodge at Glendorn, Bradford, PA
The sound of gunfire cracking the air at a Relais & Châteaux property might suggest a prosperous feuding couple settling a palimony suit the old-fashioned way. At Glendorn, a (mostly tranquil) enclave of more than 1,200 acres outside Bradford, PA, it just means that guests are shooting skeet. Bradford was a boomtown in the state’s oil rush of the late 1800s, and Clayton Glenville Dorn made a fortune extracting oil from long-abandoned fields (using a controversial method similar to fracking). Glendorn was the “oasis in the woods” created for his family in 1929. The Dorns were genteel jocks who loved trap and skeet, canoeing and fishing, biking and hiking. One family scion dubbed the estate the largest adult kindergarten in the world. It still is, but now you can play, too. Rooms in the Big House and a dozen cabins have original details such as built-in tie racks and the recipe for a martini painted on a kitchenette cabinet. Road signs in this area warn not of deer crossing but of bears. They’re hibernating for the winter, and you may choose to do so, too, by one of Glendorn’s 50 fireplaces; the staff will leave the makings for s’mores. But if you’re up for Dorn-ish sports, activities director Shane Appleby will provide heated goggles and lead a caravan of snowmobiles through the woods, or cut a hole in the ice on Skipper Lake and help you catch a bass, which can be cooked for your breakfast. Dinner features the kind of “fancy” cooking that the Dorns must have thought elegant, sometimes successful (velvety lobster bisque), sometimes overwrought. If your visit includes a Tuesday, you can venture into town for the weekly square dance. The locals bring covered dishes, and your $3 admission supports the Bradford Landmark Society.
Price Tag: From $430; glendorn.com.
—Aimee Lee Ball