Saturday, February 12, 2011

World's Most Romantic Hotels

Whatever your vision for a romantic getaway, one of the world’s most romantic hotels will fit the bill.

The days of the heart-shaped hot tub are over. Today, the features that define the world’s most romantic hotels are much more understated. We all know there are as many ways to say romance as there are humans, but this list of the world’s most romantic hotels has something for (almost) everyone.

Turtle Beach Bungalows

Christophe Harbour, St. Kitts

Four hand-hewn wooden pavilions stretch along the sand dunes on quiet St. Kitts. Although it’s part of Christophe Harbour—ultimately destined to become a 2,500-acre development with a 300-acre marina and an 18-hole, Tom Fazio–designed golf course—for now, this feels like a true hideaway, complete with private plunge pools and direct-from-your-patio access to the ocean.

Top Table: Beach House, the hotel’s restaurant, is the best on the island, specializing in seafood from the Basseterre market (we recommend the wahoo tartare).

Shangri-La Hotel


An eclectic gem, the newest Shangri-La was originally built for Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grandnephew, who took up residence at the hôtel particulier from 1896 until his death in 1924. Since then, it’s been carved up into luxury apartments (American decorator Elsie de Wolfe lived large here in the 1930’s); turned into a government building; then painstakingly restored in a manner worthy of its gilded, hand-painted, mosaic- and mahogany-trimmed heyday. Interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon drew upon the Directoire and Empire periods—with a dash of Asian fusion—to appoint each of the 81 rooms and suites, reimagining them as Parisian pieds-à-terre. Half the rooms have Eiffel Tower views, and nearly that many (although none at entry-level rates) feature private terraces or balconies. The renovation’s biggest surprise: after being covered up for 55 years, a glass dome from 1929 now crowns La Bauhinia, one of the hotel’s three restaurants.

Ranch at Rock Creek

Philipsburg, Montana

It’s a 100-mile drive from Missoula International Airport to this 6,600-acre spread, but the posh high-mountain pampering is worth it. Ponds are full of trout, cabins come with well-stocked wine fridges and claw-foot tubs, and spa treatments are tailor-made for two.

Cabin to Book: Built from fallen wood found on site, the secluded Trapper Tent has its own hot tub, gas fireplace, and etched-glass windows overlooking Rock Creek.


Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Out on South Africa’s Kalahari plains, the fiery sunsets alone are enough to make visitors giddy. After a day tracking cheetahs and black rhinos on game drives in the largest private nature reserve in South Africa, there’s no better place for you to rejuvenate and reacquaint yourself with your mate.

Dine Alfresco: Dine on five-star Pan-African cuisine under the Kalahari’s bright nighttime sky before retiring to your spacious thatched-roof legae.

El Cigarral de las Mercedes

Toledo, Spain

American expat Jayne Gunderson and her husband, Fernando Lleida Arcas, who comes from a distinguished line of Spanish hoteliers, turned a 12-acre olive and citrus farm into a venue for weddings, then opened 21 rooms for overnight guests. Interiors combine mementos from the couple’s travels—French antique desks, Kenyan objets d’art—with furnishings handcrafted by Toledan artisans.

Rendezvous Spot: The 200-year-old oak tree, overlooking Toledo and the historic estates along the banks of the Tagus River.


Oracabessa, Jamaica

Jet-set bohemians and creative types have flocked to GoldenEye since the mid 20th century, when it was the cliff-top retreat of Ian Fleming, who wrote 14 of his James Bond novels here. Fresh from a two-year overhaul courtesy of its current owner, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, the property has morphed from private villa rental to full-fledged 22-room hotel. But thanks to Blackwell’s irrepressible, highly personal touch, the mood remains the same: a tropical playground for well-traveled expats from some latter-day Noël Coward play. Amid gardens of banyan and mango trees, the new waterfront cottages have ultramodern amenities (kitchen appliances by Renzo Piano) and design flourishes from Blackwell’s stylish friends (including Barbara Hulanicki of Biba and Pink Sands fame). Fleming’s original three-bedroom villa is available for booking and still features the writer’s own desk, carved out of Jamaican red bulletwood and surrounded by louvered windows looking out to the sea.


Favignana, Italy

A simple cottage built from golden tuff stone was recently converted into this waterfront enclave on Sicily’s rugged, picturesque Favignana Island, a summer destination for Italians in the know. The intimate hotel—just five guest rooms, a breakfast room, and a central living area awash in soothing seaside colors—is furnished in chic Euro fashion (bold Ingo Maurer light fixtures and canopied beds with Bellora linens). Contemplate the turquoise Mediterranean from a teak table at the adjoining beach club, then take to the waters on one of the hotel’s two boats.

Best Spot to Soak All Day: Room No. 4’s freestanding bathtub, perfectly positioned in front of the window to catch the ocean breeze.

Palais Amani

Fez, Morocco

Ensconced in the heart of the medina, this riad underwent a 3 1/2-year restoration that enhanced its existing features—mosaic-adorned walls and floors in Fez’s signature shade of vibrant blue—with copper work, embroidery, and calligraphy from some of the most skilled artisans in town.

Prime Lookout: Misriah 2, accessed by a mosaicked staircase, is the only room with a rooftop terrace and expansive views of the medina.

La Mirage Garden Hotel

Cotacachi, Ecuador

The 12-acre hacienda, set amid the rolling hills and volcanoes of Ecuador’s northern highlands, leaves no romantic stone unturned, from the extensive gardens (commanded by an army of peacocks) to the in-house spa.

Place to Lounge: Each of the tiled rooms has a fireplace, where your butler can light a fire while you finish dessert.


Hong Kong

Staying here feels like cruising on an ocean liner. The glamorous hotel juts out over Victoria Harbour; turn off the lights in your room (two-thirds of them have views of the water), and the city provides sensual backlighting. Or take a swim in the granite pool—it’s as if you’re floating off into the sea.

Tip-Top Service: Butlers are on hand 24 hours a day to satisfy every whim, whether it’s chauffeuring you around town in a Mercedes or scattering a thousand rose petals over your suite.


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