What’s the most romantic place in the world? Like luxury, romance is in the eye of the beholder. And luxury romance even more so. For some it’s a secluded beach, for others a cozy chalet in the mountains. It might be a treehouse for two high in the jungle. Or a café in Paris.
However you define it, a romantic get-away is a highly-prized gift: in a 2016 survey of 13,000 women in the UK, 27 percent said that they’d like a holiday as their Valentine’s Day present (that was the top request, followed by a car – only 3% wanted lingerie). If you decide to take this hint and plan a special holiday for your boo, we’re here to help. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we asked our far-flung correspondents about where they’d go if money were no object and if Valentine’s Day was actually on a weekend and not on – ugh – a Tuesday this year.
Here’s the Dandelion Chandelier list of 10 perfect luxurious places to go with your beloved – if not for Valentine’s Day, then whenever you can make your great escape together.
Venice. Within minutes of your arrival by plane or train, you can be zipping across the lagoon in La Serenissma in a water taxi, which will deposit you at the front entrance of your hotel (we recommend the Danieli, the Gritti Palace, or the Cipriani). Visit the Doge’s Palace and the islands of Murano (for glass) and Burano (for lace). Have lunch at Locanda Cipriani Restaurant on Torcello Island. Spend time wandering through the city’s labyrinth of medieval alleyways and canals (getting lost and discovering hidden gems is part of what makes the city so romantic). Enjoy a performance at La Fenice, Venice’s famous opera house; take a moonlight stroll through Piazza San Marco. A gondola ride is good fun, after which you can have a candlelit dinner at Il Ridotto. Venezia awaits!
Shanghai. We think taking in the nighttime view from an outdoor terrace high over the Bund is one of the most romantic settings on earth. The 5-star Fairmont Peace Hotel is the perfect place to experience it. The hotel is an Art-Deco grande dame located near shopping mecca Nanjing Road. Its Jazz Bar is a great nightspot, but for Valentine’s Day you might prefer an intimate four-course dinner on the Cathay Room’s private terrace. Or visit Fu 1088, located in a 1930s Spanish-style mansion in the Jing’An district. You could start your day with morning Tai Chi as you watch the sun rise over the river. Then stroll through Yuyuan Gardens in the center of the Old City, and stop at the teahouse there – a lovely and romantic spot where you can watch the tea flowers “bloom” in glass teapots. You can visit a tea market for rare white tea leaves; or stop by the fantastical Gothic Moller Villa, which looks like a castle from a fairy tale. For a view from the other side of the river, take a ferry to the Pudong Bund and have a drink at the Grand Hyatt hotel in the famous Jin Mao Tower; its Cloud 9 bar offers a breath-taking panorama that you and your sweetheart will never forget.
Hawaii. There are an overwhelming number of options for romantic spots in Hawaii. The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is our favorite. The location is spectacular, the service is impeccable, and there are so many dining choices that you never have to leave the property if you don’t want to. One lovely romantic option is that the hotel can arrange for a chef to prepare a 5-course meal at a private table on the beach, set with crystal, silver, china and tropical flowers. By day, book a private car and driver and explore the Road to Hana (don’t drive it yourself! It’s a challenging road and you both want to be able to relax and enjoy the view); the journey is filled with beautiful hideaways and secret beaches. The next day, you can charter a fully-staffed yacht and whale-watch and snorkel in privacy, or take a surfing lesson. Visit the lavender farm, or go horseback riding. Just be sure to try a different flavor of shave ice every day.
Marakkesh. Morocco’s fourth-largest city is located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Known as the “Jewel of the South,” it offers a wide array of marvels, from the narrow mazelike passages and souks of the old medina – featuring Berber rugs, among many other items – to the modern boulevards of the Gueliz district. There are museums, galleries, and gardens to explore, in addition to Jemaa-al-Fana, one of the best-known squares in Africa. The city is home to several beautiful historic mosques, including the medieval Koutoubia, the Ben Yousaf and the Mouassine. Other tourist attractions are the Saadain Tombs and the Tomb of the Seven Saints; the El badi Palace and the Royal Palace. After you explore the city, you can take a desert tour in either Erg Chigaga or Erg Chebbi: sleep in a private tent, and indulge in camel rides, sand boarding, trekking, quad biking, desert walks and star gazing (the sunsets over the dunes are stunning). As a home base, you cannot do better than the 5-star Royal Mansour, with its lace-embedded plaster, carved ceilings, floors and walls. The property features an intricate series of underground tunnels leading to each of the property’s 53 riads, ensuring maximum privacy for you and your paramour.
San Sebastian, Spain. With more Michelin stars per capita than any other city, San Sebastián on the north coast of Spain is a mecca for foodies and a fine place for romance. The 5-star Hotel Maria Cristina is perfectly located, with a view of the river and a charming garden right next door. For Valentine’s Day, you’ll be greeted at check-in with a bottle of Cava and a bowl of fresh strawberries. The hotel’s exclusive “Pintxo Passport” is a tasting tour of 6 different pintxos bars, concluding with a refined cocktail at bar DRY San Sebastián. Work off your indulgences with a walk along the Playa de la Concha or through the old town. And then visit Bar Txepetxa, known for award-winning anchovies; Bar Bergara, where the pintxos are like mini works of art; or Zuberoa, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in a 14th-century farmhouse in nearby Iturriotz.
A castle in Scotland. Queen Victoria said she ‘never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’ than Inverlochy Castle in Fort William, Highlands, Scotland. Situated in a valley surrounded by highland peaks, the historic hotel is one of the best in Scotland. The drive through Glencoe and up the Great Glen is beautiful. The hotel’s Rolls Royce is at your disposal should you want to leave, but why would you? The classic country house style – silk and brocade, sparkling crystal, polished wood, French Empire-style ceiling frescos – will allow you to channel your inner Lady Mary Crawley. The castle has only 17 rooms, including three suites – all traditionally furnished. Dinner begins with a drink by the fire in the Great Hall, followed by a five-course menu; the sommelier is highly skilled and will match wines to each course. A full afternoon tea and 24-hour room service are also available.
The Swiss Alps. One of the most iconic ski resorts in the Alps, Zermatt is a perfect destination for a romantic escape in the snow. The ski area offers over 200 miles of pistes on three varied terrains. Snowboarders and freestylers will love the Snowpark Zermatt, in which Olympic hopefuls train. If that’s not enough, you can cross over to the Italian ski region of Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche, or try paragliding or off-piste heli-skiing. Our Swiss Bureau Chief highly recommends the Hotel CERVO. The property has six chalets, each with 5-6 rooms. The accommodations are lovely, and have spectacular views of the Matterhorn (breakfast on the terrace is a special treat). It’s ideally located for easy access to the ski lifts and also close to town. The après ski party is lively and fun, and the hotel’s burger with truffle fries alone are worth the trip.
New York. The glitter of Manhattan never gets old, and there’s no bad time to visit. In February, depending on your mood, we suggest establishing a luxurious home base in midtown at the St. Regis or in SoHo at the Crosby Street Hotel. From either, you’ll be within walking distance of a number of great galleries, shops, museums and restaurants. If you want to see the city from above, in midtown you can go to the Top of the Rock – downtown you can head for the Observatory at the World Trade Center. Get lost roaming through one of the city’s great museums: the MOMA, the Met, or the Whitney. Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Central Park or Bryant Park. In the evening, have an indulgent old-school French dinner at the flower-strewn, impossibly beautiful La Grenouille in midtown; or head to Harlem for great jazz at the swanky Minton’s, or to Brooklyn for a romantic meal at the lovely River Café. Take in a performance at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall, or on Broadway. Have a nightcap at the Standard Hotel on the High Line. The city will be awake as long as you are, so make it your own.
Bali. Uber-luxurious Aman Resorts has three properties in Bali. For romance, the consensus vote seems to be for Amankila, located in an exclusive and secluded part of Bali – Manggis, on the island’s eastern side. The resort’s three tiered pools have become a famous icon of Balinese luxury – the view from hotel’s lobby towards the pools and the sea is stunning. The resort features only 34 suites, so it offers maximum quiet and privacy (insider tip: Suite Number 1 is the largest and most luxurious). You can go on a snorkeling trip on the resort’s boat, go surfing on a private beach, or while away some time at the spa. You might even see a Hollywood celebrity or two, but keep that entre nous.
Paris. We’ve saved the best for last – Paris is always a good idea, and never better than when you can be there with your darling. Our two favorite luxury hotels are the Four Seasons George V and Le Bristol. They’re both impeccably decorated and extremely well-run, and wonderfully romantic. Bundle up and take a stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens, the Place de Vosges, the cobbled streets of the Marais, or the Tuileries; take a guided tour of the Louvre, the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin or the splendid Jacquemart-Andre house museum. Have lunch at the chic Café Marly, and later on stop at a patisserie for something sweet, or have a steaming cup of chocolat chaud. For dinner, whether or not you’re staying at the hotel, have a wonderful meal at Epicure, the 3-Michelin-starred restaurant at Le Bristol. Or follow our tried-and-true formula of fine dining plus fine art and have a cocktail and dinner at Le Georges, the restaurant at the Centre Georges Pompidou. Afterward, a moonlight stroll across the Pont des Arts or the Pont Neuf is a timeless way to fête a great love.
Wherever you go, if you’re with the right person, we suspect you’ll have a glorious adventure.