Guide to the world’s most romantic hotels and getaways

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Whether planning something last minute for Valentine’s Day or wanting to impress the blazes out of your significant other, Vanessa Munnings, aka The Sun Lounger, has asked some travel-savvy pals for their recommendations re the most romantic getaways in the world. 

With their recommendations ranging from close to home to long haul, and from modestly priced to eye-wateringly expensive, here’s what they said:

Name: Damaris Evans, luxury lingerie designer

Recommendation: Log cabin near Trondheim, Norway*

When I was asked to think about a wonderfully romantic getaway, my first thoughts were a five star hotel with all the obvious luxuries, however, when I actually thought about where I would like to be, it’s much simpler than that. 

One place that stands out for me was a trip I went on for my luxury lingerie brand DAMARIS. We were there to shoot our winter collection and chose this as our venue, as well as our accommodation, while the crew stayed elsewhere.

We wanted a secluded, simple and rustic log cabin and this is what we found – probably the smallest in the whole of Norway. Set on the edge of a forest, surrounded in an idyllic winter wonderland, the windows of the cabin have red and white gingham curtains which frame the view of a mystical, ice-covered lake. 

We arrived at the Hansel and Greta-style cabin, which must have been close to 100 years old, under instruction to bring our own bedding and towels and got to work making our bed. We were left a small stash of wood to heat our new home for the weekend.  

The sitting room had a wall of books in all languages and several bonkers board games, with no TV in sight. Our light came from candles and the running water was from the stream outside, that we collected to bring into the cabin to brush our teeth. 

It is a magical place to spend time with someone that you simply enjoy life with. The focus was on us together in beautiful surroundings. Oh, and we got to see the northern lights, which were magical in themselves.

Name: Sarah Hedley Hymers, editorial director of Connecting Travel, the Middle East’s leading travel trade publication

Recommendation: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai 

When I first pulled up at Al Maha, I was possessed by the spirit of Meryl Streep’s Dutch baroness in the romantic epic Out of Africa. There are key differences between the film and the resort, of course. 

Al Maha is less than an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Dubai in one of the Middle East’s best-kept conservation reserves, so the sweeping landscape is a bit sandier than the film location, with a sea of undulating dunes extending to the horizon. 

In place of Africa’s lions, here the king of the wild is the majestic white Arabian Oryx, crowned with metre-long black horns. Also, instead of co-star Robert Redford’s brooding game hunter, the resort has young and enthusiastic field guides, but the outfits are pretty similar and the setting is just as stirring. 

Adding to the romance, the resort’s luxury tent-top villas echo the region’s nomadic Bedouin past. The vintage-style interiors recall the early 20th century in which the film is set, but they’re blessed with the addition of private infinity pools that spill into sunset views, best enjoyed with a soundtrack of chinking champagne glasses. 

Less reserved than the oryx, curious little gazelles that look like they’ve wandered in from a Disney animation will typically enter the scene, nibbling the leaves of the surrounding trees. If all this setting doesn’t ramp up your dopamine levels, nothing will. 

Rooms start from £1,000 per night

Name: Donna Taylor, fashion editor and celebrity stylist 

Recommendation: Sextantio, Matera, Basilicata, Italy

Located in the insanely beautiful Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site where *that* James Bond film was filmed, the Sextantio offers guests a sublimely romantic experience with a touch of magic. 

The unique accommodation consists of ancient caves (starting from a classic cave room all the way up to an executive cave room) and all of the rooms are the perfect mix of both ancient and contemporary, as they’re all furnished with modern, luxurious facilities giving the stay an authentic, yet modern vibe.

The hotel staff are welcoming, knowledgeable and extremely helpful, and the breakfast is to.die.for. You could essentially never leave the room for your entire stay if you so desired!

If all this weren’t enough, the stunning panoramic views of the Murgia National Park, which the hotel overlooks, are breathtaking. The whole experience is one of romance, magic and wonder…a bucket list hotel stay for sure.

Rooms start from: €378 for two nights midweek in February.

Name: Andy Cooper, editor of Coast magazine

Recommendation: The Idle Rocks, St Mawes, Cornwall, United Kingdom

There can’t be many more romantic Cornish views than looking out across the Fal estuary from the charming village of St Mawes. Ergo the Idle Rocks Hotel, perched on the edge of the harbour wall, must be one of the most romantic hotels around.

But the stunning view alone is not what makes this a very special hotel, albeit one could easily while away breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a late sundowner simply sitting on the terrace watching the world go by.

No, what completes the charm offensive is that everything at the hotel – interiors, service, food – is absolutely spot on. It totally matches the surroundings and makes for the most relaxing and memorable of stays every time.

This tucked away spot at the tip of the Roseland Peninsula gets everything right. The team seems to have an instinctive ‘feel’ for service, which means you are spoiled from the first minute of arrival to that all-too-soon moment when you are packing your bags and planning a return visit.

Book yourself a suite with a view, gaze in wonder at the tableau of activity and charm unfurling itself before your very eyes on the waters from your window, and look forward to making memories that will last a lifetime.

Rooms start from around £270 per night.

Name: Devinder Bains, editor, columnist, personal trainer and nutrition coach

Recommendation: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi  

I know it’s a bit of a cliche to choose Paris or The Maldives as your most romantic getaway but honestly, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is a breathtaking resort…even compared with other hotels on the most perfect island paradise on the planet. 

The only thing more romantic and secluded than the resort is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushiprivate island just next door (five-minutes by speedboat) which you can hire out for an approximate $75,000 a night price-tag, to really feel like you and your other half are the only people around. 

If you’re sticking to the ’normal’ paradise resort, as we did, then you can still enjoy a level of majestic peace and solitude in one of the impressive overwater villas. The huge space has a part glass floor which lets you admire the fish and ray that swim under your bedroom and living area. There are also luxe indoor and outdoor showers, but the pièce de résistance is the decked terrace where the infinity pool overlooks an active reef for snorkelling. 

I counted at least 20 different places to sit out there and chill with your loved one including two swinging beds, four loungers, two comfy sofa seats, two dinner tables and chairs, and two net hammocks that hang directly over the turquoise sea. 

When it comes to dining in the villa, there’s good old room service, a floating breakfast in the pool and a BBQ lunch of the fish we caught on our sunset fishing trip. If you can face tearing yourself away from the villa, then there are 11 restaurants to choose from. The standout favourite for ‘wow’ factor is the treehouse dining at Terra, the only hand-crafted bamboo dining pods in the Maldives.

Go for the lobster, as it’s Valentines!

Villa stays on the main island start at about £2,745 a night.

Name: Adebola Adeshina, chef patron at 3 AA rosette The Chubby Castor

Recommendation: Marine, North Berwick, Scotland

There are several romantic hotels I could recommend, but Marine North Berwick has the edge for me, primarily because of its away-from-it-all location. The beach here is unspoilt, with the hotel rising from the East Lothian landscape, offering guests a quietly elegant escape.

Wake up to views of Bass Rock (where an abundance of puffins nest) and all you’ll hear are the seagulls.

Yes, it’s nirvana for golfers, but it’s more than a golf resort. Rooms are eclectically designed with softly-coloured, bold-patterned wallpaper, velvet headboards and whimsical furniture which provide a clash of colour.

I have a deep-rooted love for Scotland, not least for its rich, natural larder, which includes soft berries, plentiful seafood and game, as well as the finest smoked salmon, which I serve in my own restaurant.

If you can make it out of your hotel room, the breakfast menu is more than traditionally Scottish, with dishes such as avocado and chimichurri on toast on the menu too. Better still, have breakfast delivered to your room. Stay in bed and admire the view across the velvety links.

The golfers can battle the elements, but you don’t have to, after all.

Double rooms from £189 a night, with breakfast included.

Name: Hannah Miller, PR and wedding planner 

Recommendation: Petit Palace Luxury Suites, Santorini, Greece

Petit Palace, perched on the caldera’s edge at Agia Irini, is a romantic stay that captivates from the start. The 23 luxurious suites, carved into the rock in Cycladic style, offer private pools and stunning volcano views 150 metres above the sea.

The hotel staff’s warmth and friendliness set the tone for a perfect stay. The breakfast is a delightful experience, particularly when enjoyed with a view of the Aegean Sea against the enchanting backdrop of the pristine white buildings. Moreover, restaurant Elia serves delectable Mediterranean cuisine in a romantic poolside setting.

A definite highlight of the stay is witnessing the sunset from the comfort of your private heated jacuzzi on the balcony – an experience that is not only incredible but also incredibly romantic.

Conveniently situated just 2 km from Fira, Petit Palace provides easy access to numerous restaurants, bars and shops in the vibrant town.

Prices start from around £160 per room, per night.

Name: Craig Townley, owner of sustainable activewear brand Universal Performance

Recommendation: Tamarind by Elegant Hotels, Barbados

I love to travel – it’s good for the mind and soul. I’m a believer that, if you have the opportunity to see as much of this precious earth as possible, don’t return to the same place twice. Trying to recreate the same magical feeling the second time is risky, so go and create some magic somewhere else. 

So why is it that I find myself not practising this, having visited the beautiful island of Barbados four times – twice with my then girlfriend, now wife, as a couple, with no cares in the world, and twice as a family with our children.

So, what makes it so special? The hotel staff are friendly, allowing you your space, and on the beach, there’s a local guy who offers a romantic boat trip to swim with the turtles and rays. This is Roddy. Now, I first met him 20 years ago, when he took my then girlfriend and I on a boat trip, where we drank rum, ate snacks and sunbathed on his small, colourfully-painted wooden boat on a perfect, turquoise ocean. Roddy pointed out the huge beautiful holiday homes of the rich and famous, such as Branson, Bieber and Cliff Richard! 

Twenty years on, we took our children on the same boat trip and Roddy remembered us!

It’s that kind of personal touch that makes the hotel, and the island, truly special. Note, there’s also a shop that sells diamonds in the hotel. I’m not sure you call that romantic, but it’s clearly there for a reason!! 

Make Barbados a destination with your loved one in your lifetime – you won’t regret it. Perhaps your only regret is that you didn’t visit sooner. 

Rooms start at £611 per night for two people (all inclusive).

Name: Keith Maynard, actor and presenter 

Recommendation: Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

In my mind’s eye, romantic hotels would typically have to be small, undiscovered hideaways located in some of the world’s classic romantic cities, like Venice, Paris or Barcelona. And while I’ve stayed in some fantastic hotels in those cities, I want to go slightly off the beaten track of love and talk about the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. 

Based in Stanley Dock on the edge of the city centre, this luxury hotel overlooks the River Mersey and is just a small part of what was once the largest and most complete system of historic docks in the world. The hotel itself sits in the shell of the Old Rum Warehouse and has been so beautifully and carefully restored that it now elevates its Victorian roots to a new level of sophisticated glam. 

As the name suggests, the entire hotel is an homage to HMS Titanic, which of course visited Liverpool on its ill-fated maiden voyage and everywhere you look there are old photos of the ship in construction, official memorabilia and White Star line prints. These blend perfectly with the exposed brickwork, high ceilings and moody lighting. 

So why romantic? For me, the Titanic Hotel brings all the romance and elegance of a classic ocean liner to the modern day. Today, where the trend is to fit as much into as small a space as possible to create ‘value’ for investors, this hotel bravely awards its visitors such a wealth of space that it makes you feel like you’re in first class, as opposed to the steerage of many modern hotels. 

It’s a little bit of ‘love on the docks’, if you will.

Rooms start from £99 per night.

Name:   Anh Pham, founder of Paeonia 

Recommendation:    Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

There’s something about a bath with a view that screams both romance and luxury – and you’ll find both at this hedonistic retreat.

Think sun-kissed, glowing skin after a day on the beach, sharing a pre-dinner bottle of champagne with your loved one while immersed in bubbles, staring out across the South China Sea, as the sun goes down. Does it get any more romantic than that?

I like to return to my native Vietnam at least once a year and believe that nobody does hospitality better than this part of the world – although I accept that I could be biased! Service at this luxury resort is seemingly effortless, with the most discreet attention to detail. You will want for nothing.

Just across from Nha Trang, the resort has beachfront and overwater villas, as well as villas nestled into the island’s rock formations, overlooked by towering mountains, making you feel totally secluded. 

The spa is breathtaking. Forget about the real world while you take the ‘Couples Connect’ three-hour ritual and enjoy steam and sauna, an orange body exfoliation, full body and head massages, plus a coconut milk bath,x together.

They are right when they say the resort is a sanctuary for all the senses. It is a slice of paradise. You may have to pinch yourself to check you’re not dreaming.

Rooms from around £850 per night for a private suite.

And finally, proof that you don’t have to jump on a plane to feel truly loved up and pampered, here’s a UK recommendation from The Sun Lounger’s Vanessa Munnings:

Recommendation: The Finch’s Arms, Hambleton, Oakham, Rutland, United Kingdom

Despite being 10 minutes off the A1, there’s something about the location of this very tasteful AA five star boutique gem, tucked away in a very exclusive location, which makes you feel isolated from the rest of the world.

Maybe it’s the fact that the hotel is on a strip of land which rises up out of the manmade lake or maybe because all you can hear from your balcony overlooking Rutland Water is the chink of glasses in the well-heeled restaurant below, while you watch the ospreys ‘sky dance’.

There are open fires throughout downstairs, creating the perfect spots to cosy up with a cocktail and your beloved before dinner.

Top tip: book room three for uninterrupted views across the water, an intimate balcony on which to serenade your loved one and a bathtub big enough for two (in a bathroom with a glass partition wall to the bedroom).

Rooms start from around £170 per night.

*No prices currently available.

The post Guide to the world’s most romantic hotels and getaways appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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