25 Romantic Trips
Secluded Scottish Castle
By Shane Mitchell
Any faraway land gets my blood pumping, but if I desire the pleasure of my husband’s company, the choice narrows to the bonny realm of haggis and heather. Nothing in life gives Bronson, who claims Scottish roots, a bigger thrill than checking off another castellated ruin on his annotated map of Scotland. If it sits in splendid isolation, I’ll happily tag along and pack my bodice in hopes of a little ripping. After 12 years of marriage, it smells faintly of eau de mothballs.
So, off we jaunted to the 17-room Glenapp Castle, a 1½-hour drive southwest of Glasgow. Prickly yellow gorse dotted the moorland glens, and we caught tantalizing views of tumbled, lichen-speckled citadels, like Cardoness, Dunure, and Orchardton, that haven’t been occupied since the 16th century. As we drove along narrow lanes, blustery Ayrshire County called to mind the fictional Scottish village in I Know Where I’m Going!, our favorite 1940’s romantic comedy. (Wendy Hiller plays a weather-stranded gold digger. Luckily, she falls madly for the local laird, even though he seems to lack baronial digs.)
Just outside Ballantrae, we pulled up to iron gates, then climbed a tree-lined drive to a 19th-century pink-sandstone manor. Glenapp once belonged to the Earls of Inchcape—their motto is engraved above the oak entrance hall. It’s now owned by the Cowan family, who eschew hokey trappings. No wee ghosties, no bagpipes, no false bonhomie here. From a crest above the rocky shore, the manor commands a tremendous vista of the Irish Sea, punctuated by a distant island, called Ailsa Craig.
Glenapp certainly has all the features a castle nerd like my husband craves, including a spiral staircase, built (expressly) for late-night tomcatting by an aristocratic former occupant, hidden in a corner turret. After a brisk march in mud-caked rubber Wellingtons along the paths of the estate’s walled gardens, we nestled in the tartan-swathed library for steaming cups of Earl Grey and raisin-studded scones. Bronson thumbed through back issues of Scottish Field while I gravitated to Lady Antonia Fraser’s quirky anthology of Gaelic love poems. I was amused to discover that not all of these have happy endings.
The only external distractions were squawking crows among the pines and crunching gravel when a car pulled out of the driveway. At dinner, we minded our manners over linen starched stiff as a Calvinist sermon. The attentive staff delivered a terrine of wild game, Arran langoustines, and fillets of local beef. For a nightcap, Bronson tried the delicate peatless single malt from tiny Bladnoch Distillery, just over the shire border, in Galloway. Then, in the marigold yellow Earl of Orkney bedroom, with silk curtains drawn and a fire in the filigreed grate, we collapsed on a plump damask couch. Bronson pulled out his map, and together we plotted the next day’s hunt for more ancient remnants. It seems Mary, Queen of Scots once lingered during a royal progress at shattered Glenluce Abbey, just 15 miles away. So in the morning, I knew where I was going, too.
Thailand Beach Escape
By Sonia Faleiro
My boyfriend and I visit Thailand often from our home in India. We shop in Bangkok, snorkel in Ko Chang—but Ko Samui?Nothing kills the mood faster than ticketed Full Moon parties and a Technicolor strip with neon that assaults the eyes. Rapacious development over the years had kept this fabled island paradise off our list.
Then something surprising happened: on a recent trip to Thailand, we discovered a secret Samui.
As you move away from the east coast and its hub, flashy cosmopolitan Chaweng, the island becomes a rural idyll, moving to a slower rhythm. Cobbled roads are overrun with wildflowers; pink-cheeked houses come with slanting roofs. And in corner pubs, locals and farangs—foreigners—commune over Singha beers and pad thai. More intimate still are the north coast’s nearly deserted golden beaches. We hung out on Bo Phut, where our hotel, the Sila Evason Hideaway, was located—one of a crop of new resorts we’d heard about that were springing up in the area.
We knew from prior visits that Samui’s selling point over neighboring Thai islands is its fusion cuisine. After some exploration, we found the freshest fish at Sushi 2 and a place to sip Bellinis overlooking Chaweng Beach at the Banana Fan Sea Resort. There are also dozens of custom clothing stores that, curiously, have names like Armani and Versace. At Uomo Collections we commissioned four suits from a tailor who promised to finish them in 24 hours. The last set was delivered to us at the airport by a motorbike that overtook and sped past our taxi en route. (Unfortunately, as we discovered later, haste does make waste.)
Our favorite meal turned out to be at our resort. At Dining on the Rocks, an origami of bamboo and polished-teak screens, supports, and interconnected walkways, we indulged in coupes of champagne, plates of sashimi, sliced kingfish, and jasmine tea-flavored chocolate pots. The dinner was out of a time-worn recipe for love, complete with view (fishermen’s boats lighting up the private bay below) and candles (tall, white, scented). But we weren’t above being a little trite, and stayed until the candles burned themselves out, then watched as the staff untied their aprons and left for the night.
Weekend in Paris
By Peter Jon Lindberg
The idea was undoubtedly hackneyed. It was our anniversary. It was a long autumn weekend. And it was Paris. How clichéd we were, how cloyingly obvious! Cue the accordion, dissolve to black and white—we were stepping into a Zales ad.
And yet: Was there really a problem here?It was Paris. If cheesy ads and bad Meg Ryan movies can spoil your affection for a place, maybe you should just stay home. The rest of us will always have...y’know.
We’d visited countless times before; my wife, Nilou, had even lived in the 15th Arrondissement as a child. We knew the city the way we knew each other, which is to say that although it had become intensely familiar, we’d never tired of its company. (Except four years ago, during that transit strike.)
The trick with any short trip is to promise each other you’ll be back. Riding in from de Gaulle that crisp morning, we resolved that we were not there for Paris. No: Paris was there for us. We would take of the city what we needed, but feel no obligations. We would heed our whims, instincts, and appetites. We would not be overly ambitious.
Also, a week earlier, I’d sprained my ankle.
The fact is, the Paris-ness of Paris can be distilled into a single arrondissement, even a single street. One needn’t traipse across town searching for quintessential spots in a city cluttered with them: this bakery window, these church doors, that park bench. In the end, we spent most of our visit within 10 blocks of our bedroom. It helped that our hotel, the Esprit St.-Germain, was on Rue St.-Sulpice—yards from Le Comptoir du Relais (our favorite bistro), across the street from Vanessa Bruno (one of Nilou’s favorite shops), and around the corner from Gérard Mulot (our third-favorite patisserie).
Our mornings became a comforting pattern, bookended by Mulot’s macaroons and Comptoir’s café crème. We were not alone in having a routine. Somehow we’d stroll past the cathedral just as the octogenarian priest with Depardieu’s nose emerged from the sacristy, and we’d arrive at our bench on Place St.-Sulpice just as the YSL-clad couple was leaving. Their smiles of acknowledgment made us feel at home. As did the hotel: our room had a king-size bed (so rare in Paris, even now), and there was an intimate lobby, where a dozen guests gathered each evening for free wine and cocktails. We felt we were at our own chic pied-à-terre, and treated it as such.
The night of our anniversary, instead of fighting the Saturday crowds at Gaya Rive Gauche or Mon Vieil Ami, we stopped by the street market on Rue de Buci and brought dinner back to our room: a wedge of Reblochon, a tangy sourdough baguette, and the most delicious poulet rôti either of us had ever tasted. The food was so good we had to laugh; it was almost absurd—no, patently unfair. We’ll always have Paris?Paris will always have us, in the palm of its manicured hand.
Turkish Coast by Yacht
By Godfrey Deeny
Many people don’t think of sailing as romantic, at least not as it’s practiced. There’s too much heart-pumping winching, and disturbing tacks on 45-degree-angled boats. Or being yelled at by the skipper when the inevitable high seas crisis arises. But for me, a cruise on a yacht is the most quixotic way of exploring the world.
Every year or two for the past decade, I have set off with friends, girlfriends, and finally my bride on sailing trips around the ancient world. Last August, my wife and I cast off from the marina in Göcek, Turkey, planning to trace the shores of Asia Minor, which are littered with monumental Lycian sarcophagi, rock-cut Carian tombs, Roman temples, and Byzantine ruins.
Unfurling the jib of our Jeanneau 43-foot yacht, we edged out of the exclusive fishing port, passing a former Bosphorus steam ferry converted into a luxury vessel. By nightfall, we’d reached our first destination: Kapi Creek, the sweetest of small bays in the Gulf of Fethiye. The village’s sole restaurant had its own rock pool, where waiters scooped out our istakoz, or lobster. Grilled and washed down with the bottle of Puligny Montrachet that I had had shipped over from my home in Paris, it made for a fabulous repast beside a starlit sea silhouetted with towering cliffs.
Thus began our "schedule." Morning cruises to turquoise coves for swimming and snorkeling; rambles through woods of pine and olive trees, in search of tombs and temples; light lunches of salad, cacik (yogurt and cucumbers), and soft sheep’s-milk cheese. Wind permitting, afternoons were a broad reach to a sheltered port that offered a pre-dinner swim and shower, and a restaurant where dinners en plein air consisted of the day’s catch.
Most ports where we moored were not reachable by road. These included Gemiler Adasi, where a Carian fort guards a bay dotted with charming Doric tombs. After dropping anchor, we climbed through olive groves to watch a gület (wooden yacht), revamped to resemble a Spanish galleon you’d see in a Polanski pirate movie, sail into port. Everywhere we docked, we were greeted with a hearty merhaba (hello).
With every day, we felt farther away from civilization. At Cold Water Bay, a tiny cove with just a half-dozen yachts, we dined on sublimely fresh barbunya, or red mullet. Here, there was no road, only a tiny mountain path, and the owner brought in supplies on two impeccably groomed donkeys. "I walk one donkey, and my wife rides the other to the nearest town, a half-hour over the hill," he said, motioning to a vertiginous slope that seemed to drop into the bay.
On our final day, we reached an island overhung by a crumbling fortified Byzantine city. Shockingly, not one of our five guidebooks mentioned its existence. Better documented was Kaunos, an atmospheric ninth century B.C. Carian city with an amphitheater that cried out for a performance of Oedipus Rex. We climbed into the acropolis, about which Herodotus once wrote. There’s something uniquely satisfying about standing together at a 2,500-year-old hilltop temple, while your craft lies prettily below at anchor in an azure bay. Even the wily Odysseus never managed that with Penelope.
Coastal California Drive
By Joel Stein
Very few romantic things have happened in cars since 1959. However, as I’ve learned from being lost, late, and mistaken about the distance to the next rest stop, many unromantic things have. So it probably wasn’t wise to take a 6½-hour drive from Los Angeles to Point Reyes—where my wife, Cassandra, and I would then spend the weekend driving around the northern California coast. Our odds of romance would have been better had we stayed at home and talked about how similar we are to our parents.
But our blast up the state was surprisingly pleasant, and when we hit Point Reyes, we immediately discovered the first key to its allure: no cell service. No BlackBerrying, no texting, no calls. There is nothing quite as sexy, I quickly discovered, as a woman with no choice but to listen to me.
Just 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. Though the Point Reyes National Seashore is only 71,000 acres, we drove by herd after herd of tule elk, which—knowing well the fragility of a romantic weekend—I successfully pretended not to be scared of.
We checked into Manka’s Inverness Lodge, which specializes in coziness, with fireplaces, flannel curtains, shelves of old books, and an arkful of taxidermied animals. I pretended to not be afraid of them.
Though the eight-course Saturday-night dinner sounded awesome—heavy on game, with organic produce and abstruse wordplay on the menu ("the bean of coastal dairy cream over local figs on a mission")—we learned long ago that huge meals are the enemy of sex, so we went to the room before dinner. But when we returned after eating, there were two plastic sticks of local honey on the bed and a note that read "Honey: You know what to do." You cannot imagine the pressure of having a pimp for a pillow mint.
The next day, after the best breakfast I’ve ever had (an omelette with homemade wild boar ham, French toast with cream and blackberry syrup), we headed to Point Reyes Station, an Old West-meets-crunchy yuppie town lined with cutesy storefronts. Like every community in this area, it is minuscule and yet has a bakery. I don’t truly understand the area’s economy, but bakeries seem to be the slot machines of Point Reyes.
We loaded up on picnic supplies at the Cowgirl Creamery, inside Tomales Bay Foods, and took them to a picnic table at Dillon Beach, a 150-year-old summer resort and surfing cove. After lunch, we walked along the ocean, across rocks that were covered with sea anemones, mussels, and starfish. These I actually wasn’t afraid of.
On the drive from dinner at the Olema Inn & Restaurant—where we ate the famous Hog Island oysters and had a bottle of winemaker Sean Thackrey’s stunningly original Pleiades blend from nearby Bolinas—the full moon was peeking through the trees, bouncing off Tomales Bay bright as the sun. And Cassandra put her head against my shoulder and said how happy she was. And for a moment, I thought I knew what 1959 felt like.
Additional writing and reporting by
Christine Ajudua, Richard Alleman, Stirling Kelso, Shane Mitchell, Bridget Moriarity, Celeste Moure, Suzanne Mozes, Nelson Mui, Kevin Raub, Bree Sposato, Gisela Williams, Elizabeth Woodson.
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro to Santos
It’s not a meander through vineyards, but the 310-mile drive from Rio to Santos has seductive vistas around every bend, lush rain forest, and cerulean waters. Stay overnight at a pousada in Parati’s colonial center. Then, continue on to the Água Branca waterfall to sunbathe and sip caipirinhas. Check In The 18th-century Pousada Arte Urquijo overlooks mountains. 79 Rua Dona Geralda, Parati; 55-24/3371-1362; www.urquijo.com.br; doubles from $125. Don’t Miss A French-Brazilian meal at Merlin o Mago (8 Rua do Comércio, Parati; 55-24/3371-2157).
Venice to Paris on the Orient Express
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, 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, 2½;-hour dinners, that truly transports passengers to a bygone era. What could be more luxurious than spending time? Check In Orient-Express www.orient-express.com; five days and four nights (Paris-Budapest-Venice) trips $2,765 per person, double. Don’t Miss A soak in Budapest’s thermal-spring Gellért Baths (4-6 Kelenhegyi út; 36-1/466-6166).
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. Check In The Victorian-style 100 Acres & an Ox Country Inn is set on extensive wooded grounds. 4172 Cornwall Rd., Union Square; 888/363-6694; doubles from $130. Don’t Miss A sunrise sail on Halifax Harbour.
Sail down the Nile in a two-masted wooden sailboat, or dahabiyya—once a popular trip among the colonial elite. The vessels have been rebuilt and decorated with tapestries, wood-paneled staterooms, and antiques sourced from the souks of Cairo—period refinement at its best. The boutique cruise welcomes only 12 guests on board. Check In Bales Worldwide 44-845/634-5112; www.balesworldwide.com; 12-day trips from Luxor to Aswan, $4,050 per person, double. Don’t Miss Browsing the pungent spices in the Aswan souk.
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. The tent walls roll up, allowing couples to admire the sunset. Check In Wolwedans 264-61/230-616; www.wolwedans.com; doubles from $261. Don’t Miss Splurging on a night in the new Private Camp, pitched in a secluded valley.
Yukon Territory, Canada
Pristine glacial lakes, game-filled valleys, and an expanse of tundra all await guests at a resort nestled in the Yukon’s Ruby Range and accessible only by floatplane. Whether it’s heli-hiking or a canoe ride that completes that edge-of-the-world feeling, you’re blissfully isolated—in this province, caribou outnumber people five to one. Check In Tincup Wilderness Lodge 604/762-0382; www.tincup-lodge.com; doubles from $141. Don’t Miss The northern lights, visible across the horizon during the fall.
Luang Prabang, Laos
This UNESCO World Heritage site—straddling the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers—is a mix of Buddhist temples and colonial architecture. Hire a "jumbo," or motorbike taxi, and putter past saffron-robed monks bearing alms bowls to Wat Xieng Thong. Or, journey into the mountains to explore the waterfall at Tat Kuang Si. Check In The sleek La Résidence Phou Vao has 32 rooms and a spa in a 7.5-acre garden. 800/237-1236; www.orient-express.com; doubles from $220. Don’t Miss Bargaining for woven silks and silver jewelry in the evening market stalls.
Las Brisas, Mexico
Although it’s just 25 minutes from Ensenada, Las Brisas del Valle inn, 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. Check In Las Brisas del Valle Guadalupe Valley, Ensenada; 818/207-7130; www.lasbrisasdelvalle.com; doubles from $175, dinner for two $90. Don’t Miss Horseback riding among the desolate vineyards and countryside.
Hoi An, Vietnam
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 In The new Nam Hai hotel is fronted by a three-quarter-mile stretch of private beach. 84-510/940-000; www.thenamhai.com; doubles from $300. Don’t Miss A sunset stroll on the banks of the Thu Bon River.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
While most of the 74 Whitsunday Islands are rugged emeralds of forest studding the waters off the reef, you won’t be roughing it for your desert-isle fantasy. Hayman Island features a chic beachfront resort and a national park with miles of foot trails and reefs teeming with tropical fish and coral. Check In Hayman 61-2/9268-1888; www.hayman.com.au; doubles from $488. Don’t Miss The Proserpine rock-wallabies that have nestled into the bushland.
With miles of rugged Caribbean coastline and 365 beaches, you’re assured of more than a few private patches of sand. But couples might want to stay put at just one—if they’re at the recently opened Hermitage Bay resort. Etched into a lush hillside overlooking the bay are 25 cottage suites, a private beach, plunge pools, and open-air verandas with billowing white curtains that frame the views. Check In Hermitage Bay 268/562-5500; www.hermitagebay.com; doubles from $565. Don’t Miss An island ecotour. Explore offshore deserted islands, hidden caves, and Antigua’s inland wildlife (www.antigua-barbuda.org).
With perfect water, spicy Creole cuisine, and the liberating feeling of being in the middle of nowhere (the vast Indian Ocean), is there a better place than Mauritius to be marooned for a week or two?Consider: Baudelaire wrote a poem about his stay, and Mark Twain wrote that "heaven was copied after Mauritius." Check In The splurge-worthy Shanti Ananda Maurice offers beachside villas with private courtyards and pools. 91-11/2689-8888; www.shantiananda.com; doubles from $998. Don’t Miss The giant Victoria water lilies and 80 different types of palm at the island’s 92-acre Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Pamplemousses; 011-230/243-3531.
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). Check In 34-958/535-790; www.hospes.es; doubles from $320. Don’t Miss The hotel’s ambitious Senzone restaurant.
Go a step beyond crossing Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry. Climb aboard a junk (www.saffron-cruises.com) for a more intimate trip. The 53-foot Wing Sing has a boxy stern, three masts, and classic red sails; it bobs along gracefully, weaving between ferries and tankers. The vintage teak vessels can also drop anchor at an outlying beach, or circle twinkling Hong Kong Island while the crew serves a full Chinese banquet. Check In The Peninsula Hong Kong has rooms with stunning harbor views. 866/382-8388; www.peninsula.com; doubles from $400. Don’t Miss The rare Chinese teas served in the hotel’s spa.
On the revitalized strip, flamboyant Midcentury Modern confections designed by Morris Lapidus are in vogue again with a fresh generation of vacationers. Rent a vintage tail-fin Caddy and cruise north on Collins Avenue to Sunny Isles Beach for pastrami and cheesecake at Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House, a classic 1950’s deli once favored by Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Check In The Eden Roc hotel is pure Lapidus, with a circular lobby and oceanfront pools. 800/327-8337; www.edenrocresort.com; doubles from $495. Don’t Miss Vintage looks at the Lincoln Road Mall Sunday flea market.
Ignore the trendy scene and go for the classics: sunsets over Place Jemaa el-Fna, where acrobats and snake charmers perform; horse-drawn calèche rides that pass orange tree-edged boulevards; and the ancient city wall. Then retire to a riad, for rooms with polished plaster fireplaces and lantern-lit dinners.
Check In Riad Farnatchi has eight guest rooms, a hammam, and a small pool. www.riadfarnatchi.com; 212-24/384-910; doubles from $404. Don’t Miss La Plage Rouge, Marrakesh’s answer to a chic beach club.
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
With ecotourism oh-so-Disney now, you have to go pretty far to have the rain forest 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 In Luna Lodge, perched on a mountain facing Corcovado National Park, has eight bungalows and an open-air yoga platform. 888/409-8448; www.lunalodge.com; doubles from $310, including meals. Don’t Miss A plane ride into Sirena, the heart of Corcovado. 011-506/735-5353; www.alfaromeoair.com.
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 In The new 34-room Hôtel Cheval Blanc is known as the Dior Hotel for its owner, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, its on-site Givenchy Spa, and its Vuitton boutique. 33-4/79-00-50-50; www.chevalblanc.com; doubles from $785. Don’t Miss The toboggan run from 1,850 down to 1,550.
Eestancia La Paz, Argentina
Surrounded by gardens and lakes, this elegant 1830’s colonial-style mansion is decorated with period furniture and vintage photographs of historical figures. Count on condors flying above, allées of plane trees, endless rolling hills, and burbling streams—all ideal for exploring on horseback. Check In 54-35/2549-2073; www.estancialapaz.com; doubles from $170, including meals. Don’t Miss Getting a polo lesson from a pro.
Suyan Camp, Tanzania
Set in private concessions bordering the Serengeti National Park, the new safari camp has five tents with king-size beds and en suite bathrooms. After a walking safari, cultural exchange with the Masai, and a night drive, settle in on a private veranda with a nightcap. Check In www.asilialodges.com; doubles from $900, including meals. Don’t Miss A bush dinner à deux under the stars.
Point Reyes, California
WHERE TO STAY
Manka’s Inverness Lodge Request room No. 7. 415/669-1034; www.mankas.com; doubles from $265.
WHERE TO EAT
Cowgirl Creamery 80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station; 415/663-9335; www.cowgirlcreamery.com; lunch for two $22.
Hog Island Oyster Co. 20215 Hwy. 1, Marshall; 415/663-9218; www.hogislandoysters.com; a dozen oysters from $10.
Olema Inn & Restaurant 10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Olema; 415/663-9559; www.theolemainn.com; dinner for two $100.
Tomales Bakery 27000 Hwy. 1, Tomales; 707/878-2429; pastries for two $7.
WHERE TO STAY
Glenapp Castle Ballantrae; 44-1465/831-212; www.glenappcastle.com; doubles from $740, including breakfast and dinner.
WHAT TO DO
To plan an itinerary of castle and abbey ruins in Galloway, check out www.historic-scotland.gov.uk for an extensive listing of heritage sites.
Bladnoch Distillery www.bladnoch.co.uk; open seasonally for tasting tours.
Ko Samui, Thailand
WHERE TO STAY
Sila Evason Hideaway & Spa 66-77/245-678; www.sixsenses.com; doubles from $520.
WHERE TO EAT
Banana Fan Sea Resort 201 Moo 2, Chaweng Beach Rd.; 66-77/413-483; www.bananafansea.com; dinner for two $40.
Sushi 2 Chaweng Beach Rd., Chaweng S.; 66-77/422-100; dinner for two $25.
WHERE TO SHOP
Uomo Collections 133/26 Moo 3, Had Lamai; 66-77/232-329; men’s suits from $150.
WHERE TO STAY
Esprit St.-Germain 22 Rue St.-Sulpice, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/53-10-55-55; www.espritsaintgermain.com; doubles from $406.
WHERE TO EAT
Le Comptoir du Relais Try the lamb knuckle. It will—ahem—knock you out. 7 Carrefour de l’Odéon, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-29-12-05; dinner for two $110.
Gérard Mulot 76 Rue de Seine, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-26-85-77; www.gerard-mulot.com; pastries for two $11.
WHERE TO SHOP
Vanessa Bruno 25 St.-Sulpice, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-54-41-04.
Cosmos Yachting 210/764-6125; www.cosmos-yachting.com; boats from $1,200 per week.
WHERE TO STAY
Empress Zoe This property has 22 individually designed rooms and suites with terraces and marble hammam baths. Spend a night here in Istanbul before flying directly to Fethiye. 10 Adliye Sokak, Sultanahmet; 90-212/518-2504; www.emzoe.com; doubles from $126.
WHERE TO EAT
Most towns along the coast have just one restaurant, serving seafood by the docks; prices vary depending on the catch.
Merlin o Mago
Pousada Arte Urquijo
Dining on the Rocks
Banana Fan Sea Resort
At this Left Bank shop, renowned pastry chef and chocolatier Gérard Mulot sells what many consider the city's best macarons (cookie-like sandwiches stuffed with buttercream or jam filling). Opened in 1989 and now one of three locations, this flagship has an all-white storefront and large window displays filled with sweet treats. The macarons are available in expected flavors like pistachio, as well as more unusual seasonal flavors such as blackcurrant in winter, and strawberry poppy during summer. In addition, the shop sells freshly baked breads, peach pies, apricot tarts, truffles, ice cream, and a variety of salads and sandwiches.
Le Comptoir du Relais
Le Comptoir du Relais has quickly become known as a modern French bistro with no-reservations lunches and hard-to-get reservations dinners. Chef-owner Yves Camdeborde (who also runs the Hotel Relais Saint-Germain upstairs with his wife Claudine) took this space on the Left Bank’s charming Carrefour de l’Odeon to foodie heights with his contemporary reinventions of classic French comfort foods. A black-and-white awning with café tables and chairs points marks the outside, while the busy and crowded interior is chic with bright yellow walls and massive mirrors. Foie gras, terrines, charcuteries, and fromages fill the menu, along with refined French bistro fare.
Sila Evason Hideaway & Spa
Esprit St.-Germain is a 28-room boutique hotel located in the sixth arrondisement between Boulevard St.-Germain and the Luxembourg Gardens, boasting striking views of the Romanesque-meets-Gothic St.-Sulpice church. The simple navy blue wooden façade outside signifies this hotel’s minimalism. Inside, two modern living room-like lobbies serve breakfast each morning. Both spaces also provide a self-serve (and complimentary) bar service with everything from champagne and wine to premium spirits. Rooms, some of which feature timbered ceilings, have luxury linens, complimentary mini bars, and bathrooms with tubs. A small fitness room has a steam room and sauna.
Olema Inn & Restaurant
Only a two-minute drive from the Point Reyes Visitor Center, the Olema Inn & Restaurant has a countryside feel that befits its history as an 1876 inn where area farmers and ranchers got together. Old kitchen implements and century-old pine floorboards from a Virginia tobacco warehouse add to the heritage aspect of the (sometimes loud) dining room. Dishes on the local and seasonal menu may be a country pâte with pickled vegetables and date compote, or veal stew with trumpet mushrooms and pearl onions. Lunch is slightly more casual, with burgers, omelets, and sandwiches. Outside, flower gardens surround the patio, and the inn’s fruit orchards are nearby.
Hog Island Oyster Co
The most famous of the Marshall oyster purveyors sells unshucked oysters—but unfortunately they charge $5 per person merely to sit at a picnic table.
Manka's Inverness Lodge
The collection of meticulously decorated cabins scattered along a wooded hillside are so peaceful they have an almost narcotic effect.
Equally close to Sultanahmet’s major tourist sites as the Four Seasons, this boutique hotel is both quirkily charming and easy on the wallet. Centered on a Turkish bath dating from 1483, the property’s wood-and-brick townhouses contain 19 guest rooms, all decorated with hand-painted Byzantine-motif frescoes, Anatolian handicrafts, terracotta tiles, and Turkish kilims (some also have canopy beds and hammam-style bathrooms). Sunsets are wonderful on the roof terrace bedecked with wisteria vines; you can take breakfast either in a cozy dining nook or in the enclosed garden, a peaceful oasis of fountains, vines, and fruit trees. The one negligible downside to this property is that it smells like history—the Byzantine-era cistern gives many of the rooms a musty air.
Room to Book: Privacy-seekers should ask for the only unit with its own entrance.