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Romantic Escapes

Romantic Escapes

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Whether you’re looking to explore a new city together (ahem, Paris), scale mountains side-by-side, retreat to a secluded beach, or some combination of the three, these spots kind of do all the work. And while a honeymoon is a perfect excuse to check a far-flung destination off the bucket list, there are a bevy of romantic getaways stateside for more low-key affairs (or if you’ve burned up all those vacation days on the wedding itself). Needless to say, each of these spots are equally good options for re-igniting an old flame, or stoking one that’s been burning for many years.

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

25 Avenue Montaigne, 8th | +33.153.676.665

After procuring three adjacent buildings on Avenue Montaigne, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée underwent a significant expansion: Marie-José Pommereau, who undertook the hotel’s Royal Suite renovation in 2012 (i.e., Paris’s most expensive stay, at €20,000 per night), oversaw a majority of the update. The red awnings and matching flower boxes have become as synonymous with Paris as the Eiffel Tower or the Seine. The rooms are elaborate and fitting with the rest of the hotel's classic, elegant flourishes. What you really need to know about: the restaurants. In stark contrast to the classic surroundings is Alain Ducasse's spot, which looks like it belongs in a science fiction movie. The courtyard café, Le Cour Jardin, is a feast for all of the senses. And if you choose to keep it casual in La Galerie and are in the mood to make a meal of a massive salad, order the McCarthy.

George V

George V

31 Avenue George V, 8th | +33.149.527.000

Built in 1928, this opulent, eight-story hotel—just steps from the Champs Elysée—is pretty much the gold-standard for city-based, luxury hotels. It’s never a bargain, but if your budget can support the splurge, there’s really no better place to stay. Besides the lavishly-appointed rooms, the service is superb, the restaurant boasts a Michelin-star, and the location is hard to beat.

Villa D’Este

Villa D’Este

Via Regina, 40, 22012 Cernobbio CO, Italy | +39.031.3481

Perched at the edge of Italy's fabled Lake Como, Villa D’Este is sort of the king amongst kings when it comes to old-school Italian luxury. The building is classic Italian stucco (it was built as a summer home for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio in 1568), and the experience is as luxe as you would expect—between Venetian glass chandeliers, a pool that floats out onto the lake, and a state-of-the-art Turkish bath. As many rooms have gorgeous views of the lake, you don’t need to do much more than open the drapes for an epic backdrop, but the 25 acres of appropriately lavish Renaissance-style gardens that surround the hotel don’t hurt either.

Le Sirenuse

Le Sirenuse

Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, Positano, Italy | +39.089.875066

When it comes to romance, you can’t do much better than pastel-hued Positano, and Le Sirenuse—one of its most historic (since opening in 1951, it famously hosted John Steinbeck and many other notables) and glamorous hotels—takes full advantage of the storybook setting. Each of the beautifully appointed guestrooms boasts killer views of either the sea or the lush courtyards and is designed to keep the hustle and bustle of the pool and on-site restaurants (get to know the Mediterranean-flavored menu at Michelin-star La Sponda) and bars at bay. Once you’re done wandering the picturesque streets and soaking up the sun on the pebbled beaches, book a day trip to nearby Naples, Capri, Pompei, and Sorrento, or, explore by sea via the Saint’Antonio—the hotel’s vintage wooden fishing boat.

The Four Seasons Budapest

The Four Seasons Budapest

Széchenyi István tér 5-6, 1051, Budapest, Hungary | +36.1.268.6000

Housed in a striking Art Nouveau palace a stone's throw from the Chain Bridge, this meticulously renovated hotel is hands down the grandest home base from which to explore what is considered by many to be the Heart of Europe. Lavish throwbacks to the palace’s rich heritage are scattered throughout: stained-glass windows, intricate ironwork, and a fairytale marble staircase—in addition to updates like an infinity pool and world-class spa, where many treatments call for products made using the city’s famous thermal waters. On the flip side, the guestrooms, though fittingly sprawling, are done in soothing neutrals with occasional pops of jewel tones. Living up to the Four Seasons’ aim-to-please reputation, the concierge team here is more than ready to pull out all the stops in honor of a wow-moment. Case in point: the option to rent out the Hungarian State Opera House in its entirety for a private onstage dinner accompanied by a live orchestra.

Casas Na Areia

Casas Na Areia

Sítio da Carrasqueira, 7580-613 Comporta, Portugal | +351.934.418.316

Portuguese architects and brothers Manuel Aires Mateus designed this stunning beachfront property, which was selected to represent Portugal in the Venice Bienal of Architecture in 2010 (the year the hotel opened). The buildings are decidedly modern—think white linens, sleek bathrooms, and pared-down décor—but the aesthetic draws on the local textures with thatched roofs and sandy floors. The service here, while attentive, is as minimalist as the aesthetic, which only adds to the remarkable seclusion of the entire operation. When you finish ogling the beautiful architecture, wander to the beach to watch dolphins and other wildlife, or organize a beachfront adventure on horseback. Photos: Nelson Garrido.

La Reserve

La Reserve

42 Avenue Gabriel, 8th | +33.1.58.36.60.60

No Romantic Escapes list would be complete without a Parisian getaway, and our pick for romance in the city of lights is the La Reserve. Located on Avenue Gabriel in the 8th arrondissement, it’s ideally located near the golden triangle, steps from the Louvre, within striking distance of the Eiffel tower, and near a laundry list of excellent white-tablecloth, candle-lit restaurants. The hotel’s interiors were done by French interior designer Jacques Garcia, who was also behind New York’s Nomad and the casino at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Garcia’s designs fit every fantasy one could have about Paris, featuring luxe wallpaper, marble bathrooms, enormous white beds, and quaint balconies perfect for a morning coffee and croissants (ask for a room with a view of the Eiffel tower). For longer stays, La Reserve is home to several apartments—the décor in the sister spaces feels more Scandinavian than Parisian, at least compared with the hotel itself, but the rooms are equally comfortable if slightly less romantic.

Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita

Albergo Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita

Via Civita, 28, 75100 Matera, Italy | +39.0835.332744

The 18 rooms of this astonishingly unique hotel in Southern Italy (the town, Matera, is located right along the arch of the boot) are situated in ancient caves so old that they’ve actually been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Philanthropist and anthropologist turned hotelier Daniele Kihlgren came upon them in the late 1990s and converted a small section into gorgeous, sparely decorated rooms. Modern tubs, simple white linens, and achingly romantic candles, which local staffers nestle into the nooks and crannies of the Neolithic walls, complement the cavernous, cobblestone-floored spaces. During the day, explore the other historic caves in town; the stunning monastery is decorated with hand-painted murals. Since the region is famously devoid of tourists, you’re all but guaranteed to have them to yourselves.

Ballyfin

Ballyfin

Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland | +353.0.57.87.55866

A mere hour from Dublin, this lavish, lovingly-restored, Regency mansion has a pretty insane land-to-guest ratio. While there are only twenty bedrooms (beautifully appointed with four-poster beds, antique furniture, and open fireplaces), they sit on a lush, 600-acre estate replete with rolling fields, lakes, and plenty of Irish wildlife. This will matter to you if you ever opt to leave the house, which is inarguably epic—it boasts an incredible art collection, a well-stocked library, and billiards room, along with one of Ireland’s best organic farm-to-table restaurants with much of the food grown on the estate itself (guests are encouraged to collect their own breakfast eggs). Booze enthusiasts can avail of wine and rare Irish whiskey tastings (also known as “uisce beatha” or the water of life in Gaelic) hosted by the in-house sommelier in the cozy Cellar Bar. Should you want to stretch your legs, there are acres of immaculate gardens, rolling fields, lake fishing, clay pigeon shooting, tennis, archery, falconry, and easy access to golf, not to mention an indoor pool and spa (try the healing Irish seaweed bath, a centuries-old traditional skin remedy). The nearby Slieve Bloom mountains are covered in trails and slopes ideal for hiking, biking, or just soaking up the region's natural beauty.

Villa TreVille

Villa TreVille

Via Arienzo, 30 - 84017, Positano, Italy | +39.089.812.2411

Off the beaten path and dripping in old-world romance, TreVille looks like it's carved into the side of a cliff hovering above the picture-perfect waters of Positano. The resort's 15 suites are scattered over four villas and are named after famous operas, ballet dancers, actors, and writers as homages to its previous owner, Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. While the property was thoroughly modernized by the Friedland family to include plunge pools, a tricked-out gym, and Sonos sound systems, for the most part, legendary designer Renzo Mongiardino's handiwork—colorful mosaics, hidden gardens—was left untouched. La Pergola, the on-site restaurant, happens to be excellent, so you don't ever have to leave (not that you'd want to).

Amanzoe

Amanzoe

Agios Panteleimonas, Kranidi, Argolida, Greece | +30.275.4772.888

Floating high above picturesque Porto Heli, Aman Resort’s Peloponnese outpost, Amanzoe, is a love letter to traditional Greek architecture. Private swimming pools, stone courtyards, and sprawling two-person showers come standard with each of the 38 suites. But couples may want to consider splurging on a free-standing villa, where privacy and opulence reign supreme. As frequent Aman Resort visitors will tell you, the Aman Spa is something of a sacred experience. Hydrotherapies, harmonizing body scrubs, and Zone Therapy facials are performed within the confines of eight treatment pavilions. The private beach club in a few minutes away and can be accessed by car or mountain bike.

Grace Santorini

Grace Santorini

Thera 847 00, Greece | +30.2286.021.300

Glistening waters, domed ceilings, whitewashed terraces from which to take in awe-inducing sunsets... everything one would expect from a lavish Santorini getaway is right here. For optimal seclusion, book the airy honeymoon suite where your very own plunge pool offers sweeping views of the Aegean sea and the tiled showers are built for two. Mediterranean fusion cuisine can be savored in the intimate setting of the Grace Santorini restaurant (watch Chef Spyros Agious prepare local seafood and tantalizing fresh fare in the open kitchen) or al fresco by the pool. Prep for a day of sightseeing (or doing nothing at all) with a champagne breakfast.

Castello di Reschio

Castello di Reschio

Fattoria di Reschio, 06060, Lisciano Niccone, Perugia, Italy | +39.075.844.362

With unobstructed views of Umbria’s rolling hillside and access to chefs, drivers, stables, and tennis courts, Castello di Reschio is the epitome of secluded luxury. Count Antonio Bolza and his architecturally inclined family spent decades restoring this 2,700 acre estate to its former glory (the main castle and about 50 farmhouses date all the way back to 1202). Though the entire property is not yet complete, the rentable cottages, palazzos, and for-sale villas are meticulously furnished with modern pieces and artful details designed by Italy’s top artisans. As far as amenities go, no detail was spared: The infinity pool overlooks ancient mulberry tree groves and fragrant lavender fields, while each home’s bath quarters are stocked with fresh linens and Ortigia Sicilia apothecary items. The Reschio vineyard is famous for producing tantalizing rosés which, along with expertly-prepared, locally sourced meals, you can sample at the property’s private restaurant, Osteria.

Aman Venice

Aman Venice

Palazzo Papadopoli, Calle Tiepolo 1364, Sestiere San Polo, Venice, Italy | +39.041.270.7333

Sited on the Grand Canal, the Palazzo Papadopoli-turned-Aman-resort is hands-down insane: Built in the 16th century, it’s surrounded on both sides by gardens, and topped with Murano glass chandeliers, and ceilings painted by 18th century master painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. With only twenty-four lavishly appointed suites, one restaurant, and a small but excellent Eastern-style spa, Aman Venice is incredibly intimate and romantic. The rooftop bar is one of the prettiest to view a sunset in the city, with it's red-silk walls, ornately carved moldings, and views over the canal. All in, it’s clearly a total once-in-a-lifetime hotel.

Hotel Urso

Hotel Urso

Calle de Mejía Lequerica, 8, Centro | +34.914.44.44.58

If you book a room at Hotel Urso, consider carving a day out of your sightseeing itinerary to spend exploring everything this five-star property has to offer. Start with breakfast in bed—or, if you splurge on the terrace room, on a private balcony—then head down to the Natura Bissé spa for the kind of groundbreaking treatments (magnet-assisted massages, diamond-dust facials) one wouldn’t normally find at a hotel spa. For dinner, The Table is a revolving pop-up experience that invites chefs from various world-class restaurants around Spain to take over both the kitchen and dining room, meaning that the menu, vibe, and décor change monthly (reserve your spot as early as possible). Meanwhile, The Conservatory is ideal for a more traditional meal and its downstairs Urso Bar the perfect spot for a nightcap. Take note: the hotel doesn’t allow kids.

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino | +39.577.807.078

Situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Val D’Orcia, this centuries-old estate south of Siena is truly incredible: Beyond the fact that you walk amidst remnants of walls from the 1100s, it’s surrounded by Brunello di Montalcino vineyards, there’s a world-class golf course, on-site truffle hunting, and the food is unbelievable. There’s a fancy restaurant, but there’s also a casual pizzeria—and kitchens in the villas where you can feast on bread and incomparably sweet tomatoes. While it's plenty romantic, they have a lot of activities (including cooking classes) for kids.

Kinsterna Hotel & Spa

Kinsterna Hotel & Spa

Agios Stefanos, 23070 Monemvasia, Peloponnese | +30.27320.66300

Step back in time and settle into a restored Byzantine mansion on an eighteen-acre estate perched overlooking the castle rock of Monemvasia in East Peloponnese, Greece. Log some serious hours in the Ottoman-style Hammam and try treatments that incorporate local olive oil, honey, and ingredients derived from grapes or fill your schedule with activities like hiking, biking, and wine tasting—depending on the time of year, you can even join the grape or olive harvest efforts. Or, there's also the very appealing idea of just doing nothing at all.

Castello di Vicarello

Castello di Vicarello

Località Vicarello, 1, Poggi del Sasso | +39.0564.990447

Though it offers incredible views of the Tuscan countryside and an excellent spa, the 12th-century castle-turned-hotel is really about food. The owner, Aurora Baccheschi Berti, is a world-class chef who specializes in Northern Italian cuisine (check out her cookbook here). In addition to whipping up a daily breakfast spread she holds cooking classes (fresh pasta making, for example) using organic ingredients grown right on property. There’s also a working vineyard and an olive grove where you can witness the harvests firsthand.

The Ritz Paris

The Ritz Paris

15 Place Vendôme, 1st | +33.1.43.16.30.30

After four years of renovations—the first closure in the hotel’s storied history—the Ritz Paris finally reopened. To everyone’s great relief, the renovation kept the old hotel’s charming, traditional style firmly intact (if a bit spruced up), down to the grand window treatments, gilded frames, and copious chandeliers. As ever, the rooms are exceptionally luxurious: Each is outfitted with a marble bathroom, generous windows, and famously soft sheets, with many boasting antique furnishings. The hotel is also home to three restaurants, two of which now have retractable glass ceilings on their patios: L’Espadon, for a traditional, white-tablecloth French dining experience, including breakfast and lunch; Bar Vendôme, a moody brasserie with red velvet booths; and the Ritz Bar, a more casual spot with shared plates and an Art Deco design palette. The hotel is home to a stunning fitness center—also available to private club members—where guests can swim laps in a gorgeous tiled pool or sign up for a day of pampering in the Chanel spa. Amid the bells and whistles, though, we’re probably most excited about the reopening of Bar Hemingway, the old author’s historic haunt that’s now famous for some of the world’s best cocktails. Blessedly, bartender Colin Field is back at the helm.

La Réserve Ramatuelle

La Réserve Ramatuelle

83350 Chemin de la Quessine, Ramatuelle | +33.494.449.444

Just six miles from the oft-touristy St.-Tropez, La Réserve Ramatuelle offers a dose of something more serene. Set on 25 acres of cypress trees and parasol pines, this secluded retreat was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose most notable commissions include LVMH’s Paris headquarters and galleries in the Louvre. Relying on a quiet palette of terracotta tiles, white walls, and linen-upholstered furnishings by Poltrona Frau, much of the property’s design is meant to bring the outdoors in. South-facing rooms have views of the Mediterranean coastline and Bay of Pampelonne in the distance. There are nineteen suites and nine rooms—all with their own terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows; for those looking for something a bit more grand, they’ve recently added two new villas to their assortment, each of which comes with a chef, butler, housekeeper, and heated swimming pool. The 10,000 square-foot spa is a real draw, with eleven treatment rooms (the spa menu uses La Mer for all its services), full gym, and a multi-day wellness program through Nescens. Chef Eric Canino cooks up a menu of health-conscious dishes inspired by the fruits and vegetables he grows on-site in his garden.

La Bandita

La Bandita

Via del Giglio, 12, Pienza Sl | +39.333.404.6704

For a dose of the Val d’Orcia’s magic, look no further than La Bandita, a tiny little hotel tucked into a hillside in Tuscany. The bedrooms take into consideration every detail: terra-cotta four-poster beds, crisp Italian linens, and, in some rooms, a lime-green writing desk. It’s at once relaxing and sophisticated, not to mention close to Rome and Florence, which are both a two-hour drive away. The wine-tasting capitals and Old World architecture of Montalcino and Montepulciano are also in close proximity, making the hotel a convenient starting off point for longer trips in the region. Service here—perhaps a result of the property’s owner, John Voigtmann, a former NYC record exec and hotel aficionado—is top-notch, and the staff is incredibly helpful, but quietly so, meaning they’re great at anticipating guests’ every need. The infinity pool is just as special as it looks in the photos, too, thanks to the killer view.

Storfjord Hotel

Storfjord Hotel

Øvre Glomset, N-6260 Skodje | +47.70.27.49.22

If you're of the mindset that gorgeous landscapes are the best starting point for romance, then it's hard to beat Norway's Fiordland. 62°Nord plans personalized trips throughout the area, and this sweetly intimate, family-owned hotel (there are only 23 rooms) makes an excellent jumping-off point for adventures in the nearby, UNESCO-protected Gerangerfjord. In the summer, there's plenty of trekking, hiking, fishing, and kayaking (there's even a golf course) to take advantage of, and while winters can get chilly, you're in close proximity to great skiing and an excellent vantage point for seeing the Northern lights. The cozy rooms have a modern farmhouse vibe, with plenty of nods to their Norwegian heritage, like simple Scandinavian furniture design; hardwood floors, walls, and ceilings; and subtle floral accents. Food-wise, it's hard to find reason to dine anywhere but the excellent little restaurant on site, which serves locally made cheese and exclusive beers. Also of interest: the green roof.

Soho Farmhouse

Soho Farmhouse

1 Tracey Farm Cottages, Great Tew, Oxfordshire | 44 1608 691000

Here in the countryside outside London is yet another example of how Nick Jones and his team can literally do no wrong. Tucked in the rolling fields of Oxfordshire, Soho Farmhouse is a compound that includes a, well…farmhouse, several luxury cabins, stables, and a velvet-laden screening room. The décor mirrors the other branches–so members will feel instantly at home–with plenty of country-chic details thrown in (note: green hunter Wellies at guests’ disposal). There’s a ton to do here, from swimming in the heated outdoor pools or lake (the latter is stocked with row-boats for day use), to indulging in the spa. For total privacy, book one of the cottages, equipped with bicycles, rainforest showers, and wood burning stoves, all of which make it pretty hard to leave.

Adare Manor

Adare Manor

Adare, Co. Limerick | +353.616.05200

Having recently undergone extensive renovation, this 1840's Neo-Gothic hideaway—just thirty minutes from Shannon airport—sits on 842 acres of manicured gardens, lush rolling fields, and medieval ruins; it's reason alone to travel to Ireland's verdant southwest (although the dozens of nearby historical sites, lively pubs, and quaint villages don't hurt, either). Each individually designed room is palatial in size, decked out with authentic mahogany Georgian-era furniture, sumptuous fabrics, 19th-century artwork, and a roaring open fireplace to ward off the inevitable Irish chill. The generously sized marble bathrooms are finished in vintage wallpaper and include deep stand-alone tubs, many of which overlook the grounds. As far as dining goes, there are two solid options on the property, but the Oak Room is hard to beat. The elegantly appointed Drawing Room is the perfect spot for morning coffee or a pre-dinner aperitif by the fire, while the subterranean David Collins-designed, vault-ceilinged Tack Room is the spot for wine and whiskey connoisseurs (Guinness lovers, too) to retreat for a few drinks. Activity-wise, choose from golfing, fishing, archery, and horseback riding, alongside dozens of country hikes and cycle trails. The La Mer spa is a tranquil space to indulge and unwind after a long day, accompanied by the comforting scent of autumnal fig that pervades the entire property.

Gleneagles

Gleneagles

Gleneagles, Auchterarder | +44.176.466.2231

Built in 1920, Gleneagles feels like the world's most sprawling manor house. The surrounding countryside, meanwhile, is 850 acres of pure rural bliss. There are pristine rivers teeming with trout, bridle paths, and long, meandering trails through untouched meadows for walking and biking (plus four golf courses that regularly host championship tournaments). But maybe the best thing to do (indoors or out) is to claim a cozy corner of the hotel’s Century Bar, a grand dining room with velvet banquettes and club chairs. It’s here you’ll find guests leafing through newspapers with a Scotch whisky in hand. Have at least one meal at Andrew Fairlie—the only restaurant in Scotland with two Michelin stars—known for its smoked lobster, an aromatic dish that incorporates a five-hour infusion over whisky barrel chips. Your other option is the Strathearn, a cavernous, chandelier-studded venue for old-school dinners (beef Wellington sliced tableside, flambéed crepes). Grab a nightcap afterward (or a predinner cocktail) at the elegant, David Collins–designed American Bar. It has glamour in spades: Walls are clad in lavender cashmere, and the menu is given mostly to champagne and caviar. Need we say more.