World’s Most Romantic Hotels
A good hotel, much like a good relationship, has that perfect alchemy of comfort and excitement, intrigue and indulgence. The trick is in finding your match.
Fancy a heart-pounding hike followed by a hot mud bath? California’s Calistoga Ranch may be your hotel soul mate. If frozen margaritas in a beachfront hammock are more your thing, we’d like to set you up with the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico. Virginia’s Inn at Little Washington, meanwhile, sets the mood nightly with its award-winning tasting menus and wine pairings.
Related: America's Most Romantic Cities
These are a few of the top-ranking hotels for romance, as chosen by Travel + Leisure readers in our annual World’s Best Awards survey. No. 1 on the list: Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn, where rooms appear to float above the forest floor and alfresco hot pools seem to flow into the wild Pacific. Other hotels that seduced readers provide over-the-top pampering. At Tuscany’s Castello di Casole, for instance, couples get massages in a former wine cellar and cozy up for classic films beneath the stars at an on-site amphitheater.
Italy, not surprisingly, has a strong showing, as do Hawaii, California, and Mexico, with their irresistibly simple pleasures of sun, sand, and frozen drinks. Yet T+L readers also fell for hotels in some less-expected destinations like Tennessee—where the rambling Blackberry Farm delivers candlelit barn dinners and breakfast in bed—and Budapest, where you can channel Art Nouveau glamour at a gorgeously restored property on the Danube.
Related: The 50 Best Romantic Getaways
And there’s no need to commit to just one enchanting hotel, so go ahead and indulge your wanderlust this winter with your favorite travel companion. These hotels are heating things up.
No. 1 Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
On a cliff 1,200 feet above the Pacific, the Post Ranch Inn defines au naturel. Some rooms have undulating rooflines covered in wildflowers while others float nine feet above the forest floor like postmodern tree houses. All embrace the elements with organic materials—wood, slate—and expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel ticks all of the romance boxes: nighttime stargazing, infinity hot pools overlooking the waves, couples massages, and a Wine Spectator–lauded, candlelit restaurant. But there’s also charm in what the hotel lacks, namely, TVs, alarm clocks, pets, and kids. So there’s nothing to distract you from the person cozied up next to you by the fire.
No. 2 Castello di Casole – A Timbers Resort, Casole d’Elsa, Italy
Castello di Casole’s 4,200-acre estate of vineyards, cypress trees, and olive groves is postcard Tuscany, and its modern incarnation feels as self-contained as it did back when it was built as a village in the 10th century. Your every need can be met within a slow saunter from the wood-beamed rooms in the former stone farmhouses. Take in sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and medieval villages from the heated infinity pool. Get a massage beneath the barrel-vaulted ceilings of the spa, housed in the estate’s former wine cellar. Learn to cook pizzas in an original wood-fired oven with ingredients plucked from the estate’s gardens. Then watch a film beneath the stars at the hotel’s amphitheater.
No. 3 One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort, San José del Cabo, Mexico
When this Mexican glamour spot opened in the 1950s, A-listers like Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne could access its sandy shores only via yacht or private plane. The resort retains that hideaway feel, with its whitewashed buildings tucked amid swaying palms and fragrant gardens and fronting a sugary sand beach. Butlers arrange romantic experiences, filling rooms with candles, creating beach bonfires beneath the stars with food care of the on-site Jean-Georges restaurant, and chartering yachts for sunset sails. All rooms front the ocean, but we suggest upgrading to a casita for private (skinny-dip-friendly) pools.
No. 4 Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island, HI
A soft breeze blows in from your private lanai, tousling the gauzy fabric draped from your bamboo canopy bed. You wake up with difficult decisions to make: a soak in the deep granite tub or an alfresco shower in your private lava rock garden? A dip with tropical fish in the sand-bottomed swimming hole or in the oceanfront infinity pool amid gardenia and swaying palms? Haute locavore fare at ‘ULU Ocean Grill, which works with 160 island farmers, or feet-in-the-sand mai tais and mahimahi tacos at the Beach Tree bar? With any luck, you’re at the Four Seasons Hualalai long enough to check off that list and more. Though big on amenities—including seven pools, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a cultural center, and a spa—the property feels intimate thanks to the 243 guest rooms secreted away in bungalows and staff eager to plan surprises for your partner.
No. 5 Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA
The tired romantic trope of the bed and breakfast could not be further from the reality of this James Beard Award–winning culinary landmark in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The beds were selected by London stage designer Joyce Evans, who sets the country house scene in 24 decadent rooms spread among a historic farmhouse, a grand Victorian, and a series of cottages. And the breakfast? It might include an oatmeal soufflé, accompanied by flights of fresh-squeezed juices and baskets of pastries. But the draw for foodie couples will be dinner, preferably at a special table beside the baronial fireplace in the middle of the kitchen. From there, watch chef Patrick O’Connell prepare indulgent dishes like truffle-stuffed pheasant breast atop champagne-braised savoy cabbage or seared tuna capped in foie gras with a Burgundy butter sauce (paired with a bottle or two from the 14,000-strong wine cellar).
No. 6 Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur, CA
You slip out of your clothes and into the steamy waters of a cedar-walled Japanese bath, the stars overhead and the wild surf below. This clothing-optional hot pool sets the tone of this iconic ’70s resort, founded by writer Lawrence A. Spector with profits from the film Easy Rider. Occupying 243 acres of forests and meadows, the weathered wood buildings invite you to yield to the elements, from natural textures—leather, river rock, and redwood—to alfresco locavore tasting menus to miles of hiking trails. The rustic exterior belies the luxurious amenities inside: terraces and decks (many with hot tubs and hammocks), deep-soak tubs, and, in most rooms, fireplaces.
No. 7 Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico
At this Four Seasons, you’ll have an arduous 10 steps to travel from your pillow-laden king bed to the hammock of your oceanfront casita each morning. If you can manage another 10, you’ll be rewarded with a thatched palapa in the sand on this sleepy 1,500-acre peninsula 45 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. Charter a sunset sail on the resort’s 55-foot yacht, or book a pool cabana with a 42-inch plasma, a private bar, books, and music. And if you’re exhausted from all that relaxing, head to the spa for Mexican cocoa grain body scrubs followed by champagne and dessert on a private terrace.
No. 8 (tie) Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford, CA
As its name would suggest, this wine-country retreat knows the magic of good lighting, whether it’s the Napa sun on your skin as you recline poolside in a gauze-draped chaise or the soft glow of the fire in the Michelin-starred restaurant that put this spot on the map. It’s a Provençal-inspired property spread over acres of gardens and olive groves and one that lavishes couples with thoughtful details. Start a bottle of the good stuff over dinner? The remainder will be delivered to your room with glasses. French doors open onto patios where your morning coffee is served. And staff set the scene for romance in the bathrooms with candles, bath oils, and skylit tubs. Splurge on a couples spa treatment in a suite with its own hot tub, fireplace, and garden, after which you can wander from hot to cold soaking pools, sauna to steam room.
No. 8 (tie) Villa d’Este, Cernobbio, Italy
Perhaps the only thing more irresistible than George Clooney is his adopted home of Lake Como, Italy. It’s ringed with a procession of ornate villas, with the majestic Alps as backdrop. Built in 1568, this grande dame has romanced couples from Clark Gable and Carole Lombard to Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra (with Brangelina thrown in for good measure). It could be the heady scent of camellias, jasmine, and magnolias as you stroll past terraced water gardens, 500-year-old plane trees, and topiary. Or the moonlight glowing on the water as you sip Prosecco on your terrace. Or a slow dance as a jazz band plays lakeside each night beneath the stars. The old dame has taught couples a thing or two about romance in her near half-century on these shores.
No. 10 Rosewood Mayakobá, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A thatched-roof boat glides through lagoons and mangrove forests, dropping guests off at a minimalist aerie hovering above the water. Thirty minutes—but a world away—from Cancún, the Rosewood’s self-contained suites all have private plunge pools, gardens, and either terraces or rooftop sundecks. The magic of this water world continues with a spa perched on its own island and an infinity pool dropping into the azure waters of the sea. Before dinner, have your choice of your suite’s deep-soak tub or an indoor or outdoor shower (or both—you’re on vacation, right?). After sampling the modern Italian fare at the hotel’s Casa del Lago, you can return by boat to your room and sample the complimentary in-room tequila by the moonlight.
No. 11 Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino, Italy
When Bogart and Bacall sailed into Portofino, they were greeted by the sight of olive trees and canary palms, wisteria and lavender tumbling down an emerald hillside to the indigo waters of the Mediterranean. And presiding over it all: the Hotel Splendido, a former 16th-century monastery that was converted into one of the most dashing hotels on the Italian Riviera. Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor here, no surprise given the inescapable romance of this Belle Époque beauty, all checkerboard marble floors and wild, dramatic gardens. The centerpiece is the hotel’s heated saltwater pool, which clings dramatically to the hillside overlooking the yacht-filled harbor below. Linger over alfresco dinner at La Terrazza and then revel in the throwback glamour of the hotel’s piano bar.
No. 12 St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta Mita, Mexico
Relationships call for compromise, but the amenity-stocked St. Regis Punta Mita requires few. Set 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta on one of Mexico’s great surf beaches, the St. Regis has the lock on barefoot luxury—hammocks strung between palm trees on a pristine curve of sand—while also offering the sense of occasion of a European vacation, from nightly champagne sabering to impeccable butler service (a morning wake-up with silver service coffee and madeleines, your suitcase packed to go home with clothes wrapped in delicate tissue paper). Rooms split the difference as well, with relaxed indoor-outdoor layouts alongside swank materials (marble, onyx, and antique mirrored trays). Also on offer: three infinity pools, two 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, and a spa.
No. 13 (tie) Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
If the way to your heart is through your stomach, then you’ll find a soul mate in Blackberry Farm, a culinary playground rambling over 9,200 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Greet the morning with farm-fresh eggs, cornmeal pudding, and buttermilk biscuits smeared in preserves made by the resident “jam lady” with berries grown on site. You can join her and a nursery-rhyme-worthy cast of characters—the butcher, the baker, the beekeeper, the forger, the gardener, the cheese maker—as they expertly ply their crafts. Or just enjoy the fruits of their labor over a picnic lunch after horseback riding. Come dinner, everyone grabs a rocking chair on the front lawn for bourbon sundowners, before heading into the elegant Amish barn for dinners of bacon-wrapped quail with sweet potato butter or Carolina shrimp with pickled pepper emulsion. Then it’s back to your limestone cottage for a nightcap by the fire.
No. 13 (tie) Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, Bluffton, SC
A stay at Palmetto Bluff is about slowing down, way down—so slow that they don’t allow cars on the grounds. Instead, the main modes of transport are cruiser bikes, golf carts, canoes, and horses. Spread across 20,000 acres of South Carolina marshland, this Lowcountry legend defines southern gentility with its cottages with vaulted ceilings, antique pine floors, and gracious verandas. Rent the antique Hinckley picnic boat to cruise up the May River for an oyster roast at Moreland Landing, which has a five-story, thatched-roof tree house. Or let someone else do the driving: hitch a sunset wine sail past the Bluffton Oyster Company and centuries-old oak trees draped in Spanish moss on The Grace, a 60-foot antique motor yacht named after society hostess Grace Vanderbilt.
No. 15 Cavallo Point – The Lodge at the Golden Gate, Sausalito, CA
You’re curled up side-by-side on Adirondack chairs, sipping a Napa Cabernet as the fog rolls across the bay, curling around the Golden Gate Bridge. The city may be just within sight, but it couldn’t feel further away at these eco-luxe lodgings in a former army fort. Rooms are split between the Colonial Revival buildings (pressed tin ceilings and wraparound porches with rocking chairs) and more contemporary digs with sustainable bamboo floors, gas fireplaces, and those bridge-and-bay views. A chalkboard details the day’s offerings—from alfresco yoga to nature walks—but it may be more appealing to stick around the heated pool in the meditation garden. Joseph Humphrey serves up Michelin-starred cuisine in the hotel’s Murray Circle restaurant.
No. 16 Four Seasons Hotel, Gresham Palace, Budapest
A stay at this Art Nouveau landmark lends a cinematic grandeur to a romantic getaway. You’re whisked through towering peacock gates, past marble walls beneath an ornate glass cupola, and up to your Deco-inspired room. Throw open the French doors to survey the Royal Palace and the Danube from your step-out balcony, or recover from your travels with a lengthy soak in the green and gold marble bathroom. Guests and locals alike dress to impress at this palace, showing up for dinner at the restaurant, which was inspired by traditional Budapest coffeehouses. But there are also new-world amenities, namely a sprawling spa and indoor infinity pool.
No. 17 Wentworth Mansion, Charleston, SC
It’s hard to deny the romance of Charleston: the horse-drawn carriages trotting beneath wisps of Spanish moss; the billowing sails of vintage schooners in the harbor; the gas-lamp glow against colorful mansions. And this restored red-brick belle only ups the ante, with king-size sleigh beds and gas fireplaces, buttery leather armchairs, and brass chandeliers. The Wentworth is a study in southern hospitality, from breakfasts of shrimp and organic Carolina grits or farm-fresh eggs and house-made rabbit sausage, to afternoon wine receptions, evening port and sherry, and chocolates at turndown.
No. 18 The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India
Lavishly costumed dancers swirl beneath the stars as dinner is served in your private walled garden. A few steps across the Burmese teak floor of your billowing silk tent, and you can retire to a candlelit claw-foot tub. This is romance as only India can do it. Painted elephants, camels, and peacocks welcome you to the Oberoi’s 32 lushly landscaped acres. In case we haven’t been clear, everything at this resort (inspired by the palaces of Rajasthan) is over the top. The swimming pool is fed by water from the trunks of marble elephants, and ornately carved onion-domed pavilions shade guests from the sun. Couples inspired to renew their vows can ride a horse-drawn carriage covered in flowers to the hotel’s 280-year-old Shiva Temple.
No. 19 Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, HI
An open-air lobby leads the eye past a gurgling fountain to the palm-fringed pool to the crystalline waters of the Pacific. It’s easy to check in and bliss out thanks to the Four Seasons’s impeccable service, from leis on arrival to cold towels and fresh pineapple by the pool and the 2,100-foot-long beach. Rattan and koa wood furniture outfits the rooms, along with a museum-worthy collection of art. Be sure to book a lomi aumoa treatment, a four-handed Hawaiian massage, offered in an open-air hut beside the ocean.
No. 20 (tie) Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, CA
The 46 private guest lodges at Calistoga Ranch feature outdoor living rooms with fireplaces and alfresco showers as well as floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hotel’s woodsy grounds. Calistoga has long been known for its mineral springs and mud baths, and this is the best place to experience them, with soaking pools and outdoor mud baths overlooking a gurgling creek and mossy oak trees. At the guests-only Lakehouse restaurant on site, you can book a table for two under the stars or inside by the fire. Seasonal tasting menus incorporate organic local produce into dishes like Sonoma duck breast with toasted farro and caramelized figs (an alleged aphrodisiac) or yellowfin tuna with blackberries and pickled ramps.
No. 20 (tie) Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The candlelit tables of the award-winning Cocina del Mar hover on a stone precipice above the crashing surf. Staff ferry indulgent plates from the restaurant’s tasting menu: short-rib cannelloni and Baja lobster tail followed by parrot fish in lime butter or lamb loin beside a sweet potato macaroon. Each Thursday, fireworks light up the balmy night as a strolling quintet croons. Esperanza’s poolside amenities are equally fabulous, from hand and foot massages to fresh fruit skewers and spritzers. Villa-like rooms sprawl from 925 square feet and up and have thoughtful extras like hammocks, personal concierges, and deep-soak tubs. Many also have terraces with infinity-edge hot tubs. It’s easy to see why celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Leonardo DiCaprio flock to this cliff-side Cabo retreat.
No. 22 Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand
You recline on silk pillows beneath a floating antique rice barn, lanterns lighting the procession of fiery curries and fragrant noodle dishes. After dinner, you send a good-luck candle floating on a sculpted banana leaf across the shimmering lake. A stay at this resort in northern Thailand is filled with just these kinds of transporting experiences—elephants plodding through emerald rice paddies, yoga beside lily ponds and waterfalls, hot-air balloon rides high above the jungle. The resort is designed to resemble a Thai village, with accommodations ranging from tropical pavilions awash in silks and teak to multistory residences with resort-size pools and hand-painted Siamese art.
No. 23 (tie) Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy
You’ll appreciate why this 18th-century palazzo is dubbed “the Siren” when you’re sipping champagne and slurping oysters amid fragrant frangipani at a cliff-side bar overlooking the sea. You can admire the hotel’s ruby-red exterior from the water by renting the hotel’s vintage Riva speedboat or lazing by the pool. Rooms are outfitted with antiques sourced from around the globe, feather beds with Frette linens, and marble bathrooms (nearly all with whirlpool tubs). At night, the Michelin-starred La Sponda glows by the light of 400 candles as a guitar and mandolin serenade the well-heeled crowd.
No. 23 (tie) The Peninsula Chicago
From white-gloved bellhops who greet you by name to a gilded lobby flooded with light from stained-glass windows, The Peninsula elevates your average city break. Summer diversions include a private architecture cruise on a vintage yacht; in winter, a 2,100-square-foot skating rink floats four stories above Michigan Avenue with a chalet serving hot mulled wine, soft pretzels, and apple fritters. The hotel pays homage to its Asian roots with dim sum brunches at the wildly popular Shanghai Terrace. But the real star of the show is the two-story ESPA spa, whose 20-foot pool overlooks the skyline.
No. 25 Couples Tower Isle, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
It’s one of Jamaica’s oldest resorts—and the one that invented the concept of the all-inclusive—but don’t expect some fuddy-duddy island getaway. Au naturel sunbathing is de rigueur on the hotel’s private islet (accessible only by boat). And it’s easy to bliss out when you don’t need to think about cash. The all-inclusive package here includes everything from top-shelf booze to catamaran cruises, golf greens fees to horseback riding (honeymoon options up the ante with a couples massage and a welcome bottle of sparkling wine), and you’re spoiled for choice with six restaurants, four pools, and multiple hot tubs.