Invitations. Guest lists. Tuxedo styles. Menus. Music. Themes. Vows. The ring. Whether to invite your old girlfriend and annoying Aunt Martha (that’s a no on the girlfriend, by the way). Wedding planning is overwhelming. But your honeymoon, well, that’s your reward — the grand finale. The trip marks the first day of the rest of your lives — and you want to do it right. We’re here to help.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of worldwide vacations to fit every budget, every dream, and every inclination. From a wine lover’s hideaway in Argentina to a hot springs-brimming road trip through Colorado; from a gorilla-trekking adventure in Rwanda to cavorting ethically with elephants in Thailand, a private island in Cambodia, a Lord of the Rings homage in New Zealand, a yoga refuge in Bali and a cliff-side villa in Dominica. Gaze at the Taj Mahal in India or look an iguana in the eye in the Galápagos. Truffle hunts in Tuscany? Skiing in Switzerland? Walking with a shaman in Machu Picchu? Sure! Sleep in a lighthouse in Ireland, a palace in Paris, a tent in Yellowstone, an ice hotel in Sweden, or a villa in Greece.
Whatever you’re thinking, you’ll find it here. Go ahead. Just one more decision — then you’re done.
In This Article
Best Honeymoons in Europe
Best Splurge on a Parisian Dream HotelLe Bristol Paris 112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France
(Photo Courtesy of Oetker Collection’s Le Bristol Paris)
Moulin Rouge, Midnight in Paris, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Bourne Identity, and scores of other movies (and books) you love take place in Paris. A quintessential destination for lovers, this always glamorous city exudes sexiness. Whether gazing at the Mona Lisa, clamoring to the top of the Eiffel Tower, shopping at Chanel, slurping escargot, sipping Champagne at an outdoor cafe, or sailing miniature sailboats in Luxembourg Park, the City of Light leaves you gobsmacked at every turn.
Do it like royalty at Oetker Collection’s Le Bristol Paris, one of the city’s most opulent palace hotels. Perfectly located near many sights, awash with gild and sumptuous adornment, home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, flaunting windows and terraces with monument views, and the lair of a fluffy white cat who lords over the lobby, Le Bristol Paris sets the bar high. Prices start at $1,065 a night.
Best for Regal ReposeHotel Château du Grand-Lucé 9 Place de la République, 72150 Le Grand-Lucé, France
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé)
The Loire Valley, just an hour by train from Paris, was once the playground of French royalty. Best known for its splendid and abundant chateaux, it also reigns as a wine making region, an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and a place to relax into bucolic calm.
Check into the 17-room Hotel Château du Grand-Lucé to live as regally as the aristocrats of yore. When you’re assigned with your own personal valet, you can explore the abutting medieval village (hardly more than two bakeries, two bars, and a farmer’s market), wander the 80 acres of cultivated gardens and mazes (plus untrammeled woods) or sun by the circular pool, once a Neo-classical fountain. Restored to evoke its former grandeur (it was built by a compatriot of Louis XV, a wealthy baron who spared no expense), but popping with contemporary touches, the château makes it easy to stay “home.” Do force yourself to rent a car and survey the Loire terroir. That’s what kings and queens would do. Prices start at $527 a night.
Best Stay in a CastleCOMO Castello Del Nero Str. Spicciano, 7, 50028 Barberino Tavarnelle FI, Italy
(Photo courtesy of COMO Castello Del Nero)
Olive groves, Italian pines, wineries, emerald hills — Tuscany looks like scenes from that painting you saw in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. Meander the back country roads under the guidance of COMO Castello Del Nero’s Ultimate Tuscan Road Trip package, which lets couples combine their stay at the historic 12-century castle estate with a romp through the countryside. Or let the concierge organize wine tastings at family-owned vineyards, and arrange honey and olive oil adventures along the way. On 740-acres in Chianti, this dreamy hotel also offers truffle hunts and cooking classes. Make it a destination in itself for a romantic hide-out or add it to a bigger jaunt through Italy, which might include Florence, Venice, or Rome. Prices start at $1,546 a night.
Best for Fairytale Europe on a BudgetAlcron Hotel Prague Štěpánská 623/40, Nové Město, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia
(Photo courtesy of Alcron Hotel Prague)
One of Europe’s most budget friendly cities, Prague — with its ornate architecture, castles, cobbled streets and old world elegance — suggests pages from a fairy tale. Explore in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven vintage convertible or on the Vltava River from the deck of a jazz-tune-spewing vessel. Visit stunning museums, rowdy beer halls, refined restaurants (try Bellevue or Petrinske Terasy) and historical monuments. Linger beside the statues that adorn the Charles Bridge, or munch street food in Old Town Square — it’s all an adventure with the kind of storybook undertones your partner has likely been imagining for a decade.
Choose the Castle View room at stylish Alcron Hotel Prague, which offers some of the city’s best rooms for less. An Art Deco gem that has attracted artists, musicians and celebrities for decades, the hotel features BeBop (a world renowned bar), complimentary in-room mini bars, and a free orientation tour of Prague for first-time visitors. Sign up for Alacron’s bespoke Art, Architecture, or Panoramic Prague tour for a small fee. Prices start at $107 a night.
Best Road Trips: Ireland’s Blue BookBallytoughey, Clare Island, Ballytoohy More, Clew Bay, Co. Mayo, Ireland
(Photo of Ballyfin Demense courtesy of Ireland’s Blue Book)
Castles, farms, urban townhouses, restored abbeys, a barge, a cider-making manor house — even a lighthouse. These are the kind of places you’ll see on a driving trip through Ireland under the guidance of Ireland’s Blue Book, a collection of independently owned hotels, many of them with fascinating histories, and all with a sense of place. The group also includes a number of Ireland’s finest restaurants in its roster. Offering a slew of ever-changing deals and thematic promotions, Ireland’s Blue Book also has a concierge team ready to organize detailed driving itineraries, complete with suggestions for cultural stops, pubs, and eateries along the way. As you go from castle to country house, you’ll feel as if family members have organized your adventure — they’ll call ahead with your preferences. Expect to be coddled upon arrival, too, with perhaps the fire lit in your room, a snack prepared picnic style by the lake, or Champagne on ice.
Best for 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' FansLa Fregate Hotel Les Côtils, Guernsey GY1 1UT, Guernsey
(Photo courtesy of La Fregate Hotel)
She might have made you watch the film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You have to admit — you enjoyed it. Now you can make the romance of the movie (and book) all your own with a honeymoon on this captivating island in the English Channel. Closer to France than England and brandishing elements of both cultures, this utterly unique, self-governed, cliff-fringed, sugary sand beach-filled destination was the domain of pirates, occupying Germans (abundant bunkers remain), and literary folk and artists such as Victor Hugo and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Today, it offers artsy villages, an ancient castle, cow-filled meadows, twisty one-lane roads, cliff-clinging paths, cream teas at every turn, boat excursions to nearby islands, distilleries, and golf — among other pleasures.
Check into La Fregate Hotel, an atmospheric, townhouse-style accommodation with views of St. Peter Port and the English Channel. Sip Drappier Champagne, the house brand, from your terrace and watch the vessels dock. Prices start at $200 a night.
Best for Europe Lovers Seeking Less-Obvious CitiesSavoy Palace Av. do Infante 25, 9004-542 Funchal, Portugal
(Photo courtesy of Savoy Palace)
Done Paris and Rome? Turn to Madeira. A tantalizing destination for travelers who have checked off Europe’s more obvious destinations, Madeira will take you to the next realm on your bucket list. Reflecting its unique location near Morocco, as well as its maritime history’s cache of cultural potpourri, gorgeous Madeira stands out as one of the few places in the world with a rare cloud forest, not to mention six diverse eco-systems. A hiker’s paradise, it also sports craggy bluffs and beaches, plus crystalline waters, perfect for whale and dolphin tours. Don’t miss the wooden toboggan rides down the island’s steep hills. Expect seafood specialities like garlicky local limpets supped in al fresco cafes, the island’s eponymous fortified wine, and a strong local hooch called Poncha, among other delights.
Check into the self-governing isle’s best new hotel, Savoy Palace, an affiliate of Leading Hotels of the World and a wondrous extravaganza of luxury anchored by an immense pool and stylish spa. Prices start at $200 a night.
Best Ski MeccaThe Alpina Gstaad Alpinastrasse 23, 3780 Saanen, Switzerland
(Photo courtesy of The Alpina Gstaad)
Between chocolate, fondue, watches, cheese, mountains, and trains that run on time, tiny Switzerland has lots of draws. With four official languages, lakes, chalet-filled villages, some of the best hotels in the world, and a giant instrument called an Alphorn, the tiny country even crowns its cows in flowers for autumn parades. For active honeymooners, it promises some of the world’s best skiing in winter. Make your s-turns in the fancy Swiss mountain town of Gstaad, located about mid-way between Zurich and Geneva. A jet-setter’s favorite, it attracts social butterflies in designer duds, while also maintaining a refreshingly unaffected, understated Swiss-ness.
Stay at The Alpina Gstaad, a creative spin on the classic Swiss chalet. With abundant Swiss features, set atop a hill, it’s also home to one of Europe’s best swimming pools. Under the hotel’s direction, schuss down some of the Gstaad area’s nearly 200 miles of slopes, skiing village to village, or have the concierge organize heli-skiing or some time on a Glacier 3000 cable car with panoramic views. For a playful evening activity, reserve the Alpina’s private cinema, where popcorn and gummy bears are provided. Prices start at $878 a night.
Best for Sunset Lovers and Villa BuffsAndronis Exclusive Santorini and White Key Villas Oia 847 02, Greece
(Photo courtesy of White Key Villas)
Hilly Santorini, part of a famous caldera and cobalt lagoon, may be the world’s most famous destination for sunsets. One of the island-filled nation’s favorite honeymoon destinations, Santorini ups the ante with its far-reaching vistas, moan-worthy white homes and scrumptious local flavors from honey to thyme.
Stay at the Andronis Concept Wellness Resort, an exquisite hotel surrounded by its own vineyard. Alternatively, while in Greece, settle into glories of island life like a charmed local with a villa stay. White Key Villas, Greece’s most peerless villa company, proffers a hand-picked collection of more than 200 options spread across a plethora of islands. With full concierge support, including chef and staff, plus VIP tours — helicopter trips, archeological dig adventures, backroom wine tastings, and cooking classes — most villas lie on their own beach. Prices at Andronis Exclusive start at $785 a night, while prices at White Key Villas are $10,000 for one week.
Best Roman HolidayHotel Hassler Roma Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Hassler Roma)
Probably no other hotel in Rome evokes the Eternal City’s spirit as much as Hotel Hassler Roma. Crowning the Spanish Steps, it looks over the city’s rooftops from the top of one of seven storied hills. Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn both honeymooned here, so impress your vintage-film-loving bride with a suite in this refined urban sanctum.
Splurge on The Hassler Penthouse, a 4,305-square-foot, 8th-floor suite with heart thumping views of Rome’s most iconic sites — from the Spanish Steps to Piazza di Spagna to the vibrant Via Condotti, Rome’s most elite shopping street. You’ll make use of two Travertine marble panoramic terraces, its grand piano, and two bedrooms — perhaps one to store all those shopping bags. Feed yourself at the Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, Imàgo, the Salone Eva and Palm Court restaurant and the Hassler Bar. Perfect for honeymooners, the Hassler offers a Romantic Escape package, which includes a romantic dinner for two and a couples massage. Prices start at $685 a night.
Best for Volcanoes, Waterfalls, and LagoonsThe Retreat at the Blue Lagoon Nordurljosavegur 11, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
(Photo courtesy of The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon)
Bring her the romance and drama of a season finale from Game of Thrones, much of which was filmed in Iceland. A terrain abundant with lava fields, legends, waterfalls, geysers, and volcanoes, Iceland’s the sort of place where if you don’t see the Northern Lights, you’ll probably catch sight of a rainbow. Scores of active, outdoor attractions beckon, but for most tourists, a day visit to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal hot spring complex near the airport, stands out as a highlight of their stay.
You can one-up the throngs when you check into The Retreat, privately situated on the lagoon’s banks. Not only will you gain access to the public lagoon, but your suite amenities include a plethora of hidden corridors in the mineral-rich waters reserved exclusively for you and other guests. For the coup de gras, book the eye-popping Lagoon Suite, which vaunts its own lagoon. Think: bed-to-water bathing — what could be more romantic? Design aficionados will love The Retreat’s sleek Scandinavian style; yogis will be gobsmacked by the way the floor-to-ceiling-windows in the yoga room bring the landscape inside; and gourmets won’t stop talking about field-to-fork Moss, a Michelin-rated restaurant. Prices start at $1,313 and include breakfast, yoga, and water access.
Best Monastery StayAbadía Retuerta LeDomaine N-122 km 332.5, 47340, 47340 Retuerta, Valladolid, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine)
At this restored, 12th-century abbey in the middle of Spain’s Duero wine country, you can drink wine made from the same vineyards that thirsty monks once harvested. Near the Gothic-infused city of Valladolid, this exceptional and unusual hotel beckons as an oenophile’s retreat, a culinary destination, a wellness center, and a countryside hideaway.
With a Michelin-starred restaurant in the monk’s one-time dining room, a chapel that can be reserved for romantic private dinners, a subterranean spa with wine-inspired treatments, and loads of offered activities from horseback rides and falconry to wine tasting and biking, there’s a lot to keep you busy. Close enough to various must-see cities like Segovia, Abadia, and Retuerta, LeDomaine makes a perfect base for a Spanish honeymoon. The best part: every room offers expansive vineyard views and a bottle of house-made wine. Prices start at $535 a night.
Best Multi-City Trip with Exotic Inn on a BudgetSweden Marknadsvägen 63, 981 91 Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
(Photo courtesy of Ice Hotel)
Sleep in a fancy igloo, snooze in a treehouse, nap in a floating hotel, dream while underwater, catch 40 winks on board a grounded jumbo jet, and doze deep down in the center of the earth. You can do it all in Sweden, one of Europe’s northernmost countries. Home to mid-century modern design, larch-wood saunas, herring buffets, Scandinavian Noir literature, the Northern Lights, and long, light-filled summer days, Sweden is akin to that cool kid that everybody wants to befriend. After a stint in Stockholm or Malmo, two of its bigger cities, do this wacky hotel circuit to delve deeper into the culture.
Swedes love to escape to the forest, so Harads Tree House Hotel, an eco-conscious tree house experience showcasing that love of waking up in the woods. In Kiruna, bundle up year round in a bona fide Ice Hotel — complete with sauna, of course. In the west coast’s less traveled archipelago, Salt & Still in Tjorn reigns as Sweden’s first floating hotel. Similarly, Utter Inn in Vasteras hovers atop Lake Malaren boasting an underwater room, just the right size for two people. A stay here also includes use of a rowboat to explore the surrounding water. Get a bit of shut eye in the world’s deepest hotel, located 510 feet below ground. Your stay at Room Silver Mine in Sala comes with a tour of the mine. Finally, cuddle in a luxuriously retrofitted jumbo jet cockpit at Arlanda Airport’s Jumbo Stay and watch the planes land all around you for a quirky lullaby. Hotel starting prices average $100 a night.
Best Honeymoons in Latin America
Best Cliff-Dwelling HoneymoonLa Casa Que Canta Camino Escénico a, Playa La Ropa S/N, Playa la Ropa, 40880 Zihuatanejo, Gro., Mexico
(Photo courtesy of La Casa Que Canta)
With suites named after sexy Mexican love songs, La Casa Que Canta (the House that Sings) sets the metaphorical mood music for matchless honeymoon hijinks. A contrast with party-hearty Ixtapa down the road, La Casa Que Canta, affiliated with Small Luxury Hotels of The World, offers solitude and seclusion — that’s the only background music you need for romantic liaisons.
Composed of 25 artfully decorated bungalows wedged into a cliff-face, the property unfurls like a dreamscape down a cliff. Serpentine pathways, nooks, ledges, a restaurant, a spa, hidden pools, and a cave-like fitness room with windows hover over La Ropa Beach. You’ll spend lazy mornings on your tiled terraces debating how much guacamole is too much before deciding that you can never get enough. Midnight feasts? Count on it. Prices start at $300 a night.
Best Journey to Earth’s ExtremesThe Singular Patagonia Km 5, 5 Norte S/N, Natales, Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, Chile
(Photo courtesy of The Singular Patagonia)
The “Land of Fire and Ice,” that’s what they call Patagonia. Now that you’re married, fuel those relationship flames with a trip to the very southern tip of South America, an untamed terrain of glacial fjords, craggy mountains, and rugged coastline. Join gauchos (cowboys) on a horseback ride amid the Andes, gobble up grilled meats from a traditional asador (roaster), sail across a gleaming fjord and join the chores at a working sheep ranch. Feeling your inner abominable snowman? Grab your own glacial ice to plonk into your happy hour cocktail.
Tuck into The Singular Patagonia, a stylish re-do of a 19th-century cold storage plant. The luxe, eco-hotel feels industriously chic, sleekly melding into the terrain. Prices start at $445 and include breakfast.
Best for Malbec LoversEntre Cielos Guardia Vieja 1998, Vistalba, M5509 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
(Photo courtesy of Entre Cielos)
Did somebody say Malbec? Stay in a vineyard at Entre Cielos, a Small Luxury Collection of the World-affiliated hotel set on twenty vine-filled acres in the Mendoza countryside. With the Limited Edition Vineyard Loft, an uber-modern room complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and a private jacuzzi, you’ll be one with the grapes. During the day, survey the countryside — visit wine estates, bike country lanes, or float above it all in a hot-air balloon. In the late afternoon, recoup with a vinotherapy treatment, a wine bath in the spa. Your grand finale is a gastronomic dinner at a private table among the vines, the stars as evocative as candlelight. Prices start at $235 a night.
Best Way to See the Yucatan Without the CrowdsSan Ignacio Resort Hotel 18 Buena Vista Street, San Ignacio, Belize
(Photo courtesy of San Ignacio Resort Hotel)
Envision the Yucatan without everybody and his brother. Belize, where the American dollar is worth double its usual value, sits on the world’s second largest living coral reef. As if that weren’t enough, it vaunts Mayan temples, hiking trails, private islands, caves for exploring, manatees that beg to be swim partners, and forests prime for zip-lining. Accessible via affordable, short flights from a myriad of airports in the U.S. and Canada, this English-speaking nation brims with things to do.
Hole up at San Ignacio Resort Hotel, situated on a 17-acre private estate. Indulge her with the Honeymoon Suite, which immerses you in rainforest bliss. Prices start at $350 a night.
Best for Seeing Iguanas, Penguins and TortoisesPikaia Lodge Sector El Camote a 100 m del Cerro Mesa, Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador 200105, Ecuador
(Photo courtesy of Pikaia Lodge)
You won’t be able to take your eyes off the boobies — the rare Blue Footed bird, and one of the species you’ve come to Galápagos to see. Don’t be surprised to find yourself mimicking their mating dance. While most visitors to the UNESCO-listed Galápagos cruise through the various islands, many long to sleep on terra firma.
At Pikaia Lodge, a member of Relais & Châteaux, those landlubber dreams come true. Poised on the brink of an extinct volcano on a less-visited portion of Santa Cruz Island, the eco-lodge offers classic excursions including outings to gawk at the giant tortoises. Choose the spacious Pool Suite for its plunge pool and sign up for the Shamanic Massage, executed with a muscle unraveling “rainstick.” Prices start at $1,180.
Best Bucket-List StaySumaq Machu Picchu Hotel Lote 3, Machu Picchu, Avenida Hermanos Ayar Mz 1, Aguas Calientes 08681, Peru
(Photo courtesy of Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel)
You’ve dreamed about Machu Picchu for as long as you can remember. If your honeymoon isn’t the time to fulfill a fantasy, then when is? Don’t put off the opportunity to stand together suffused in dawn’s first light as the sun’s rays pop off the ancient citadel’s worn walls and incomprehensibly mysterious crannies. In fact, get here soonest as upcoming local development may begin to limit access to some parts of the jaw dropping UNESCO site.
At the luxurious Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, one of the closest hotels to the centuries-old ruins, honeymooners can follow a local shaman through Machu Picchu, participate in an Andean wedding ceremony (to restate vows), be spoiled with a romantic dinner on the terrace, and melt into a much craved, couples’ massage. Splurge on the Imperial Suite, which has butler service, a personal jacuzzi, and heart-stopping views of the mountains from panoramic windows. Prices start at $1,500 per night.
Best for Art LoversHotel Matilda Aldama 53, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Matilda)
You’ve done the beach scene in Mexico. So, a post-nuptial repeat trip won’t measure up. But, you can’t stop thinking about how much the two of you love the language, the culture, the people, and the food. Mexico gets under your skin. For those searching to root deeper, consider the alluring village of San Miguel de Allende. Resplendent with colonial charm, brimming with old-school sights and sounds (don’t miss the market), this inland-sited art colony also wields contemporary pizzaz. Take her there see the magically painted ornate doors, to take cooking classes, to buy art, to wander the cobblestoned-streets, and to gaze up at the abundant examples of Baroque architecture.
Make Hotel Matilda your inn of choice, Intimate, design-centric, modern, with an inviting courtyard and pool, it occupies a prime spot in the heart of San Miguel. When not canoodling in your room, see the rooftops from a hot-air balloon, taste wine at nearby estates, and shop at galleries. Prices start at $330 a night.
Best Eco-Honeymoon with Whale SharksSer Casasandra Calle Igualdad, 77310 Holbox, Q.R., Mexico
(Photo courtesy of Ser Casasandra)
Who needs shoes? Pack light, because Holbox Island defines barefoot luxury. An untrammeled destination reachable via a two-hour drive and short ferry ride from Cancun, the isle lies within an ecological preserve known as Yum Balam — that is, Lord Jaguar in Mayan languages. With a goal of protecting wildlife in its tropical forests, wetlands, shorelines and ocean, the preserve boasts rare cats (ocelots, pumas, and jaguars), whale sharks (you can take an expedition to swim with them depending on the time of year), a variety of birds, tapirs, sea turtles, and pink flamingos.
Snazzy Ser Casasandra sets the mood as an extraordinary eco-stay. Built as the home of owner-artist Sandra Perez, the 18-suite sanctum of sensorial delight helps keep lovers off grid. Without televisions or clocks, digital detox and love murmurings become the order of the day. When you’re not breast-stroking beside a whale shark, snuggle within thatched daybeds, snooze on hammocks, and soak in the hotel’s own herbal bath products. Prices start at $569 a night.
Best Honeymoons in the U.S. and Canada
Most Classic Aloha Honeymoon ... on a BudgetSurfjack Hotel & Swim Club 412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
(Photo courtesy of Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club)
Flower leis, Aloha shirts, hula dancers, surfers, and a promontory called Diamond Head that’s as recognizable as the Eiffel Tower — that’s Waikiki in a nutshell. Once a sleepy strip of perfect beach (that’s how Elvis found it), today it teems with high-rise hotels, big-name luxury shops, and restaurants. But none of that bustle can degrade its beauty. Stand on the beach and you understand what makes it iconic.
Enjoy a classic honeymoon on Waikiki Beach the vintage way at Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, a retreat that aims to bring back the spirit of the strip’s famous heyday. With mid-century flourishes, this clever hotel evokes the spirit of Hawaiian Aloha affability. Its au courant touches, such as avocado toast, rotating DJs, Shakti yoga and an Instagrammable pool whose bottom says “Wish You Were Here,” just makes being here all the more fun. Want to “Trash the Dress?” The hotel specializes in photo shoots for those willing to take a plunge in the pool wearing their wedding finest. Prices start at $183 a night.
Best Colorado Hot Springs Road TripVarious Resorts 165 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, USA
(Photo courtesy of The Springs Resort & Spa)
Ready to get hot? Pack your swimsuit and pray that the scent of sulphur has aphrodisiacal qualities. For those with Jack Kerouac’s On The Road spirit, a car that can manage hair-pin turns, and a love of balneotherapy, this honeymoon is for you. What’s balneotherapy you ask? It’s the science of soaking in hot springs for wellness and well being. Apes, animals, and humans all do it instinctively.
You can join the compulsion by following the 720-mile Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, a dedicated driving route that showcases 19 of Colorado’s most noteworthy soaking pools from Glenwood Springs to Steamboat Springs. Expect to drench yourself in curative amounts of lithium, potassium, and even arsenic, for your health. Know that you’ll be restored and rejuvenated, not to mention relaxed. Along the way, bathers can sleep in yurts, tents, cabins, and fancy hotels depending on the location.
Our favorite lovebird nest? The Springs Resort & Spa in Pagosa Springs. Located in a savvy little resort town amid the San Juan Mountains boasting the deepest geothermal aquifer in the world, the convivial Springs Resort & Spa channels the water into 23 terraced swimming holes. Guests get soaking privileges 24/7, so get ready to soak up the moonlight, too. Prices start at $239 a night.
Best Desert EscapeThe Oasis at Death Valley CA-190, Death Valley, CA 92328, USA
(Photo courtesy of The Oasis at Death Valley)
Despite its harrowing nomenclature, starkly stunning Death Valley isn’t dangerous. Rather, it’s otherworldly. Follow the likes of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard who spent their honeymoon at the original inn, reveling in the Planet Mars elements of its landscape. A 3.4 million-acre national park, located within driving distance from Las Vegas, Death Valley has far-reaching vistas, bright night-time stars, salt flats, ghost towns, colorful rocks, and trails galore.
Like a mirage, The Oasis at Death Valley — a resort that comprises two refurbished historic hotels and a campground — welcomes visitors looking for a place where time stands still. Check into a private, stand alone casita at the Old West-evoking Inn at Death Valley, which has spectacular restaurants and a spring-fed pool. Horseback riding, guided hikes, golf, sunrise hikes, and spa treatments by the pool are just some of the activities available. Prices start at $350 a night.
Best Adventurous HoneymoonNew Mexico 1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004, USA
(Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa)
They don’t call it the Land of Enchantment for nothing. New Mexico’s dramatic landscape and captivating history has inspired artists and writers aplenty and you’ll follow suit as you peruse the state by car. Begin in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, founded as a Spanish Colony in 1706. Its charming Old Town is the ideal spot to sample some traditional fare: blue corn pancakes, posole, green chile stew, breakfast burritos and pinon coffee, for starters.
Set your base a few miles out of town at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, part of the Santa Ana pueblo, which overlooks the Sandia Mountains. The resort manifests local culture in its spa, activities (from crafts to lectures) and restaurants, while classic resort amenities such as golf, pools, bikes, and nature trails abound. If you haven’t tried hot-air ballooning, Albuquerque, known as “the hot-air balloon capital of the world,” is the place. Prices from $149 a night.
Next up, take the short drive to all-adobe Santa Fe, christened the “City Different.” With magical corners, charming cathedrals, abundant galleries and the famed Georgia O’Keefe Museum (among other museums and cultural centers), the town bowls over art buffs and gastronomes. During the summer, Santa Fe’s famous opera festival draws scores of music fans. For a cultural feast, book The Inn and Spa at Loretto an intimate historic hotel that pays homage to Southwestern style. Ensconced downtown, it’s close to some of Santa Fe’s top sites, including Loretto Chapel and the plaza. Relax in the cozy spa in a copper bath tub filled with rose petals, part of a treatment called Heels Over Head. Prices from $199 a night.
Farther north, discover Taos, a famed artist colony and ski resort suitable for any season. Hole up at El Monte Sagrado Taos Spa and Resort , set among the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a short walk from downtown. After long days river rafting or skiing, canoodle in one of the spa’s private, candle-lit couples’ rooms. For a romantic dinner for two, reserve the atmospheric Wine Room. Prices from $169 a night.
Best for Glamping (on a Budget)Under Canvas 1015 Laurel Lick Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37862, USA
(Photo of UC Grand Canyon courtesy of Under Canvas)
Love is a natural high. In that mode, honor your union in the presence of Mother Nature with a camping moon. Afraid she won’t think it’s fancy enough? Think again. With Under Canvas’ glamping enclaves located in a variety of key wilderness playgrounds — from Yellowstone to the Smoky Mountains — you’ll enjoy an elevated camping experience known as glamping. Think: safari-style tents, plush mattresses, soft linens, and wood burning stoves. Fall asleep to the moonlight, dream to nature’s snuffles and howls, awaken to pop-art sunrises and psychedelic skies. You can ride horses in Yellowstone, llama trek through Glacier, fly fish in the Great Smoky Mountains, trudge through Zion, raft the Grand Canyon — and that’s just the beginning. Take your pick of locations including Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks in Montana; Moab and Zion National Parks in Utah; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee; and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Prices start at $149 a night.
Best East Coast Ocean-Lover’s Trip on a BudgetCliff House 591 Shore Rd, Cape Neddick, ME 03902, USA
(Photo courtesy of Cliff House)
Beaches, breweries, lobsters, nature, quaint villages — Maine life means enjoying your honeymoon like a true “Downeaster.” In an area that USA Today has touted as one of the United States’ top coastal vacation areas, Cliff House lords atop Bald Head Cliff on Cape Neddick near the hamlet of Ogunquit. This refurbished, 70-acre resort dates back more than a century and sports ocean views from nearly every room as well as two swimming pools, a 9,000-square-foot spa, exclusive use of an adjacent golf club, and seasonal activities from sea kayaking to lobstering to biking. Though historically the preferred summer retreat for the nation’s most elite families (the Cabots of Boston, for example), the elegant Cliff House won’t cost you the sum of your first born’s future college tuition. Nevertheless, first class service, five-star amenities, and stylish surroundings reign. Prices start at $299 a night.
Best Old West Meets Old MexicoHotel Emma 136 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215, USA
(Photo courtesy of Mokara Hotel & Spa)
With its foundation of 18th-century, Spanish missions and monuments — “Remember the Alamo!” — the undulating River Walk (a restaurant, bar and boutique-brimming entertainment district built along the San Antonio River’s banks), and vestiges of its frontier town past, the Alamo City already stood out as one of the world’s most unique destinations. Recently opened au courant eateries, hip saloons, jewel-box-like boutique hotels, and the cannily envisioned and developed Pearl District have propelled the Alamo City to new honeymoon-able heights. On your visit, wander the River Walk area, tackle the Mission Hike and Bike Trails, exult in McNay Art Museum, and mosey out of town to Texas Hill Country, home to antique shops, peach orchards, and wineries. In San Antonio, gorge on everything from Texas barbecue to Tex-Mex. Breakfast at legendary Mi Tierra is mandatory. Address tired feet and tight shoulders at Mokara Hotel & Spa, an oasis downtown.
Beer and design lovers both will fall for Hotel Emma, created within the walls of a refashioned, former brewery. Expect a margarita upon check in, clawfoot bathtubs, a rooftop pool, Supper — a farm-to-table restaurant — and Sternewith Bar, adorned with brewhouse artifacts. Alternatively, choose the glamorous St. Anthony Hotel, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, steps from the River Walk. Starting price for both hotels hover around $350 a night.
Best French-Accented Foodie Foray in CanadaManoir Hovey 575 Rue Hovey, North Hatley, QC J0B 2C0, Canada
(Photo courtesy of Manoir Hovey)
Like illustrations from a child’s storybook, the bucolic Eastern Township region of Quebec looks rendered from colored pencils, glitter, and a cartoonist’s dreamy eye. Just 20 minutes from Vermont’s border, this rural section of French-speaking Canada holds postcard-perfect cottages, mirror-like lakes, snow-capped mountains, fields of flowers and herbs, aromatic orchards, charming farms, vineyards, and undulating, meadow-lined country roads. Busiest in summer, it attracts water enthusiasts who sail, water-ski, and picnic in the sun. In winter, visitors ski, snowshoe, and ice fish. Throughout the year, gourmands can tour farms, visit cheesemakers, and tipple at local wineries.
Honeymoon lakeside at Manoir Hovey, a Relais & Châteaux marvel on the shore of Lake Massawippi. Classically built to mimic George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the hotel, edged by Maple trees, boasts various stand alone cottages. Choose the Montcalm Suite for its views or the Cartier Suite for its private dock and personal canoes. Ideal for epicureans, Manoir Hovey’s famous La Hatley Restaurant is a woods-to-plate extravaganza in which the chef taps the hotel’s own birch trees for syrup and forages the surrounding area for mushrooms and other edibles. Prices start at $386 a night.
Best for Train Lovers on a BudgetGrand Canyon Railway Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA
(Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon Railway)
If locomotive love is your thing, beguile her on the rails. You’ll begin in Williams, Arizona, a vintage-hip town defined by traces of its Route 66 past. Pocketing tickets for the Grand Canyon Railway, stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. From their vintage depot, you’ll board a nostalgic original train for a journey that chugs 65 miles to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, a 2.5-hour journey along a 1901-era track. Ascending the immense 5,000-foot-high Colorado Plateau, the train passes through pinon pine forests, red buttes, and scrub brush. Watch for ranches and animals as the train rolls along sweeping curves and whips through the wilderness. Cowboy serenaders (cheesy but fun) stroll through the train cars, while you sip cocktails and nibble complimentary snacks. Upon arrival at the canyon’s edge, mount a mule for a closer look, take a hike, or just gaze at one of the world’s top natural wonders from the windows of El Tovar, a heyday grand hotel poised on the canyon’s lips. Prices start at $79.99 a night for the hotel and $67 per person for the train.
Best for FoodiesThe Inn at Little Washington 309 Middle St, Washington, VA 22747, USA
(Photo courtesy of The Inn at Little Washington)
Culinary colleagues call Michelin-starred chef Patrick O’Connell the Pope of American Cuisine. Now’s your chance to convert. One taste of his gourmet ministrations, and you’ll both be in heaven. Join McConnell’s epicurean cult of worshipers, with a gastronomic honeymoon at his fantasia-like outpost, an eccentric and whimsical redo of a vintage gas station turned five star inn and restaurant.
A once in a lifetime gourmet adventure, The Inn at Little Washington lies 75 miles from Washington, D.C. in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Comprising sumptuously appointed guest rooms named for chefs O’Connell admires, the inn itself fills guests with joy and wonder. Case in point: the Monkey Bar is rife with simian faces. Escape into the 20-acre, adjacent meadow (O’Connell calls it “The Field of Dreams”) for sunset, walk through the Jack-in-the-Beanstalk-esque garden, which supplies much of the produce, and sit down to meals that you’ll never stop talking about. Between feasts, explore nearby villages, drive over to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and visit some wine estates. Prices start at $365 a night.
For Cowboy OenophilesAlisal Guest Ranch & Resort 1054 Alisal Rd, Solvang, CA 93463, USA
(Photo courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch)
Wine or horses? Who says you have to choose? In the down-to-earth Santa Ynez Valley, spitting distance from heyday glam beach town of Santa Barbara, winemakers craft some of the world’s best wine, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The region, renowned as the setting for the movie Sideways, encompasses a coterie of quirky and quaint hamlets and charming towns, including more than 70 wineries. It also sports rural ranches and farms, cattle, and equines.
At the luxurious Alisal Guest Ranch, a bucolic enclave composed of 73 cottages, rates include full dinner and breakfast for two daily, hiking trails, tennis, and bikes, among other perks. Prices start at $650 a night.
Best Affordable US CruiseZephyr Cove Resort / Lake Tahoe Cruises 760 US-50, Zephyr Cove, NV 89448, USA
(Photo courtesy of Zephyr Cove Resort)
Gin-clear Lake Tahoe straddles the border of California and Nevada. For a chill honeymoon away from urbanity (which promises to eradicate the remnants of wedding-day stress), consider no-frills simplicity at Zephyr Cove Resort, located along the shores of South Lake Tahoe. With 28 rustic but renovated cabins, many with water views, the refuge also includes the Zephyr Cove RV and Campground, where honeymooners can rent an Airstream signature camper for a glamping experience, complete with turn-down service. Water activities, hiking, and winter skiing at nearby Heavenly Ski Resort also tempt. Take a scenic sunset dinner cruise on the M.S. Dixie II Paddle Wheeler.
Rates for lodging only start at $108/night for Zephyr Cove Lodge or Zephyr Cove Cabins (these cabins are beautiful and set among the natural setting of South Lake Tahoe and a short walk from the beach, marina, lake cruises and dining).
Airstream rates are $354/night (2-night minimum) and they have three new Airstream signature campers offering a “glamping” element that includes daily turn down service.
Sunset dinner cruise costs $98/adult and this is a scenic 2.5-hour dinner cruise on the Emerald Bay aboard the M.S. Dixie II paddle wheeler. As the sun goes down, the dinner cruise includes dinner, live entertainment and dancing. (alcohol is not included)
Best Honeymoons in the Caribbean
Most Romantic Island VillaSecret Bay, Dominica Ross Blvd Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Dominica
(Photo courtesy of Secret Bay)
Secret Bay began as a wedding gift — a drawing from renowned Latin American architect Fruto Vivas to his daughter of a jaw-dropping cliffside home. You’ll feel that spirit of romance when you stand together in the spacious love nest, which seems suspended among the branches of the trees.
For honeymooners with a penchant for solitude, nature and organic opulence, the diminutive Relais & Chateaux hideaway of Secret Bay makes the grade. Just six villas occupy four rainforest-studded acres, each seeming as if it were the only house on the island. Free-standing tubs, personal plunge pools, pillow hammocks, ocean vistas, al fresco spaces and Guyanese-sourced wood render a luxury treehouse spirit to each suite. When not playing “treehouse,” enjoy hotel-organized sunset cruises, snorkeling excursions, lion fish hunts, yoga, and gastronomic dining. Prices start at $822 a night.
Best New All-InclusiveHammock Cove St. Phillip's North Willikies St. Philip, Antigua and Barbuda
(Photo courtesy of Hammock Cove)
For some people, the concept of all-inclusive hotels suggests greedy gluttony, crowded scuffling for anything complimentary, insatiable guzzlers and waste. That doesn’t seem very romantic. But shiny new Hammock Cove, nestled on Antigua’s northeast coast beside Devil’s Bridge National Park, will blow your mind.
A stylish enclave with 42 standalone villas, the all-inclusive luxury haven pulls gravitas from its Michelin-trained (Italian) chef, its infinity plunge pools in each suite, bespoke butler-style service, sugar-white beach, rum sommeliers, and relentless luxury. Breakfast, lunch, liquid lunch, snacks, apertivo — it’s all part of the coddling deal. With “guest ambassadors” to cater to your every whim, you’ll relinquish all that wedding stress and begin the new chapter from the Hammock Cove “elegant chill” perspective. Splash in the multi-tiered swimming pool, enjoy yoga and the bi-level spa, nosh on Wagyu beef burgers and Caribbean lobster, and listen to a few vinyl records on a real record player. Don’t miss a private dinner in the pink waterside pavilion. Prices start at $1,100 a night.
Best Remote BeachesZemi Beach House Shoal Bay East, Shoal Bay Village 2640, Anguilla
(Photo courtesy of Zemi Beach House)
With 33 perfect beaches, Anguilla makes choosing a favorite crescent of sand impossible. Laid-back but graceful, sophisticated but casual, bean-shaped Anguilla has stellar restaurants, unforgettable sunsets, convivial locals, and stunning, blue seas. Only accessible by private plane or sea shuttle from St. Maarten, with cruise ship business limited to small luxury liners, it projects a more tranquil and less developed vibe than neighboring islands. Take a glass-bottom boat to Sandy Island for the day, have lunch at Shoal Bay, listen to music at the famous Dune Bar — these are all must-do Anguilla moments. Book in at Zemi Beach House, a secluded waterfront spot on a pink-tinted crescent at Shoal Bay East. Its glamorous rooms, four pools, two restaurants, holistic spa and Rhum Room seal the deal. Prices start at $775 per night.
Best For Active Types Seeking Reclusive BeachesJumby Bay Island Jumby Bay Island, Antigua and Barbuda
(Photo courtesy of Jumby Bay Island)
Jumby Bay Island knows how to conjure magic. It begins the moment you’re greeted at the airport and led to a yacht, which transports you across turquoise waves to a dream-laden private island.
An Oetker property, this tony enclave derives its vibe from a local word, “jumbee,” meaning playful spirit. Ideal for just-married castaways, it is both intimate (just 40 rooms and suites, a handful of villas spread across 300 acres) and buzzing, abundant with things to do, like water sports, tennis, sunset cruises, tennis, kayak expeditions, snorkeling outings, cooking classes, and rum tastings — all part of the all-inclusive price. Settle into tasteful West Indian cottages adorned with colors inspired by the sea and sky. Soon, all the stresses of the wedding planning will be a distant memory. Prices start at $1,195 a night.
Best Caribbean Coddling a la RockefellerRosewood Little Dix Bay Lee Road, Valley, Spanish Town, British Virgin Islands
(Photo courtesy of Rosewood Little Dix Bay)
Laurance Rockefeller had a knack for eying the most beautiful locations on earth. Once found, he’d softly hew them into retreats that fused with and showcased nature — an eco-conscious attribute that wasn’t common in his time.
Opened by Rockefeller in 1964, Rosewood Little Dix Bay flourished for decades as a classic Caribbean hideout for sophisticates on the see-and-be-seen circuit. On Virgin Gorda, the British Virgin Islands’ third largest island, the hotel strived to embrace the overall island tendency toward unpretentious vacationing. Reopened and refurbished in January 2020, and rebuilt after Hurricane Irma to invoke the past with contemporary flair, the resort boasts bedazzling new rooms, four open-air dining outlets, and countless activities from tennis to spa. Note: the experience begins on the catamaran ride to Little Dix from Tortola airport, while you sip you first “Painkiller.” No pain, no gain. Prices start at $1,500 a night.
Best Honeymoons in Asia
Top Tier ThailandPhulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve 111 Moo 3 Nongthalay, Muang Muang Krabi, Tambon Nong Thale, Amphoe Mueang Krabi, Chang Wat Krabi 81180, Thailand
(Photo courtesy of Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve)
Perfection is a place called Phulay Bay. When Ritz-Carlton conceived a six-star class of hotels called “Reserve,” the idea was to create enclaves for opulence-seeking guests who like to immerse deeply in exotic cultures without forsaking the cosseting and care of a well-heeled hotel.
As the flagship of that brand, the gracious, gorgeous Phulay Bay should be on everybody’s “someday” list. As a honeymoon destination for those intrigued with Thai culture, it provides proper pampering, while also giving newlyweds an opportunity to experience Thailand and Krabi Island from a local perspective. The ornate architecture — crafted to refer to various Thai dynasties — opens into immense villas, elegant suites, various restaurants, a stunning spa, an enormous infinity pool, and a stunning beach along the Adaman Sea. The wow factor is palpable. Guided by your butler (or personal Thai culture expert), visit Hong Island National Park aboard a longtail boat, kayak through a mangrove forest, enjoy a romantic barbecue on a private beach, trek Naka Mountain at sunrise, visit nearby temples, or end the day with customized, candle-lit yoga. Prices start at $450 a night.
Best Tranquil Cambodian ParadiseSix Senses Krabey Island Koh Krabey Island, Ream Commune, 18000, Cambodia
(Photo courtesy of Six Senses Krabey Island)
You thought your wedding was the best day of your life. Then you and your bride watched the sunrise (with 5,000 other tourists) at Angkor Wat, and you both changed your mind. Angkor Wat was your new best day — until now.
Upon arrival by motorboat to this private island off the southern coast of Cambodia near Ream National Park, you’ll be led past contemporary Angkor-style structures and acres of vibrant jungle landscapes to your villa facing the sea. A sustainable retreat with an organic farm that supports the local community, Six Senses Krabey Island has a restaurant, spa, individual pools, and a variety of things to do, including paddling a kayak through uncanny iridescent plankton at night, cooking classes, an outdoor cinema, and stargazing. Prices start at $618 a night.
Most Romantic Indian Ocean OasisJumeirah Vittaveli Maldives South Male Atoll, Maldives 08160, Maldives
(Photo courtesy of Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives)
Slide into the azure Indian Ocean, literally — at Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives, two-story, freestanding, private ocean retreats brandish playful, 75-foot slides, an amenity certain to make you fall more in love with each other. Let’s be frank: it takes hours to get to the Maldives from nearly everywhere. But, that’s the point. Hidden away, on one of the nation’s nearly 2,000 islands, you’ll feel your hearts connect as if you were the last lovers on earth. A magical destination for divers, snorkelers, and those simply seeking luxurious pampering, the Maldives and Jumeirah Vittaveli, with its multitude of restaurants, chic spa, and many activities — like a SuperYacht that can be reserved for a private outing — lives up to its South Asian Travel Awards classification as the “Most Romantic Resort in Asia.” Prices start at $1,425 a night.
Best For Elephant LoversAnantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort 229 Moo 1, ตำบล เวียง อำเภอ เชียงแสน เชียงราย 57150, Thailand
(Photo courtesy of Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort)
Want to walk with an elephant? Feel its long eyelashes brush your cheek? Feed it a pineapple for breakfast? You can do that in far north Thailand in the evocative region known as the Golden Triangle. On forested terrain beside a rushing river, with views of Laos, Myanmar, and China, this soulful hotel holds an elephant reserve, a place to ensure the care of rescued pachyderms.
A stunning retreat, rendered in classic northern-Thai style, this intimate hideaway also has a pool, a spa, and several restaurants. Rates offer transformative activities, from cooking classes to temple tours, but most guests groove to elephant power and spend their days walking among the giants. A new feature is the “jungle bubble,” a see-through night in a tent amongst the revered creatures. Prices start at US$ 1,380 per room per night with all-inclusive benefits for up to two people. Rates also include one activity a day on the property, including cooking classes, spa treatments, or ethical elephant interactions.
Best for Asian-Style RelaxationNam Nghi Phu Quoc Commune, Hamlet 4, Phu Quoc District, tỉnh Kiên Giang 920000, Vietnam
(Photo courtesy of Nam Nghi Phu Quoc)
Crossing the street in Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, might be the hardest and most adrenaline pumping challenge of your life. The bustling city, a quilted array of old and new, French colonial and modern Vietnamese style-buildings, teems with motorcycles, which all seem to be going in different directions — and right toward you — at once.
After a few days of sightseeing in such a frenetic pace, head to the coast for some relaxation. Phu Quoc, a haven of 22 islets near a tropical jungle, occupies the Coral Peninsula. Book in at Nam Nghi Phu Quoc, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, and you’ll get not only a secluded island retreat but access to private beaches, tropical jungles, and a gorgeous coral reserve. Among the peninsula’s rare Mong Tay trees overlooking serene waters, the hotel invokes the Indochine spirit, a blend of Indian and Chinese elements, which influence the region. At the Nam Nghi Phu Quoc, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, this is reflected in the design; the exposed wood panels, woven furniture and floor to ceiling windows and in the cuisine—items like Panko Macadamia and Thyme Crusted Prawns, Salt Baked Island Sweet Potato with Tahini dressing and finished with honey, chili and Cilantro. Don’t miss the hotel’s An Mai Spa’s An Mai Escape package, which features a coconut body exfoliation, coconut milk bath and reviving facial. Prices start at $350 a night.
Best Honeymoons in Remote / Faraway Places
Best Room with a ViewThe Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra Taj East Gate Rd, Paktola, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
(Photo courtesy of The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra)
Talk about a room with a view. One step into this palatial hotel’s foyer and your jaw will drop as you moan audibly in delight. Don’t worry, everyone else is doing the same. The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, located just 650 feet from the Taj Mahal, shows the iconic monument at almost touching distance from nearly every room and window, from your terrace, from inside bathrooms, within Indian-style teak beds, and from the expansive inner pool and courtyard. Built as a “love letter” to his wife by Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal embodies ardor and commitment. Siphon that passion together as you observe the Taj change colors at sunrise and sunset from panoramic windows.
Amarvilas’ Mughal design, Indian adornments — hand-knitted rugs, gild aplenty, bright ceramics, silk — a gargantuan pool, and two restaurants ensure you feel like members of a royalty yourselves. Amenities include on-demand drop off to the Taj Mahal for golf. Prices start at $315 a night.
Best Scenic Safari LodgeAngama Mara Mara Triangle Narok East, Kenya
(Photo courtesy of Angama Mara)
Imagine taking her to picnic in the exact spot where Meryl Streep and Robert Redford whispered sweet nothings in Sydney Pollack’s blockbuster film, Out of Africa. On a dramatic bluff, in sight of elephants and other glorious creatures, you can experience Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and environs in the most romantic — and literary, or otherwise — way. Awash with Out of Africa references, this elegant oasis on the Oloololo Escarpment has 30 design-centric tent suites, each with floor-to-ceiling windows on one side to frame the view, clawfoot tubs, and rocking chairs on the terrace.
Meaning “suspended in the air” in Swahili, Angama Mara — and its 40-foot-long swimming pool, fitness center, craft and photography studio, and restaurant — seems to hover amongst the clouds. Expect to see the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) and much more at this year round, all-inclusive retreat. Prices start at $850 per person, per night, and include game drives, meals, alcoholic beverages, and cigars among other perks.
Best Food and Wine Destination in South AfricaLa Residence Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa
(Photo courtesy of La Residence)
With a through-the-looking-glass decor that feels as heady as the wines you’re sipping, La Residence intoxicates with its modern baroque, dreamy beauty. A wine estate encircled by Shiraz and Cabernet vineyards, plum orchards, and olive groves, the hotel features glittering chandeliers, original artwork, immense mirrors, colorful upholstery, and antiques galore, all in a mansion-like estate with a beautiful mountain backdrop.
As a destination on its own, or a bookend to a safari at South Africa’s Krueger National Park, Franschhoek, known as South Africa’s Culinary Capital with a distinctly French heritage, and its surroundings abound with vineyards, exceptional restaurants — 60 of them! — artisan bakeries, and cheese houses. You can cruise the area by Harley Davidson motorcycle, bicycle, on horseback, or see it from the clouds in a hot-air balloon or helicopter. If there’s time, take a day trip to Cape Town about an hour away. Prices start at $432 per person per night, inclusive of breakfast, snacks, full minibar, and house wines.
Best Place to Meet GorillasVirunga Lodge Rwanda
(Photo courtesy of Virunga Lodge)
Meet the gentle giants. Trudge through lush Volcanoes National Park on a ranger-led hike in search of gorillas. On the same mountain where Dian Fossey set up camp to study the huge primates, you’ll have the opportunity to track them through the steep, forested inclines. When at last you come across them, you’ll be allowed time to sit quietly and observe — almost as if you were part of their family.
At day’s end, exhausted and muddy (but deliriously contented), you’ll return to the comfort of peerless Virunga Lodge, set atop its own peak. Composed of individual luxurious huts called bandas, the retreat offers daily massages, stellar cuisine, and local entertainment. Rooms have fireplaces, large bathrooms, and terraces, which showcase the eye-popping view. Prices start at $606 per person.
Best for Swimming with Manta Rays, Staying in an Overwater BungalowFour Seasons Resort Bora Bora Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
(Photo courtesy of The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora)
The waters of Bora Bora look like swirly, Van Gogh painted skies. Composed of impossibly numerous and distinct rivulets of blue, they shimmer and gleam almost gelatinously, as if you’d dive in to find them solid, not watery. Test them from the deck of your overwater bungalow, the one straddling the lagoon on posts. Dive right in and snorkel to watch an enchanted marine world unfold. Or peer through windows in your suite’s floor, where fish can be viewed without expending any energy at all. Bora Bora, the jewel box of French Polynesia, comprises a collection of motus (small islands), which encircle a soaring, mystical volcano, Otemanu. French influences and Tahitian affability add to the allure.
The Four Seasons Bora Bora is the splurge property to consider. Here, an “amphibious” waiter might deliver your cocktail to you in the pool, and breakfast will be delivered to you via canoe. The resort has it all — restaurants, volleyball courts, and a spa. Sign up for a lagoon tour, which takes you in search of manta rays. Prices start at $1,600 a night.
Note: While French Polynesia tends to be pricier than many destinations, other possibilities for honeymooners on a budget include guesthouse accommodations and less expensive islands, such as heart-shaped Moorea. Low-cost carrier French Bee offers affordable flights from San Francisco to Tahiti, giving you another way to save funds. Bonus: They serve free Champagne.
Best for "Lord of the Rings" Fans and ExplorersHelena Bay Helena Bay 0184, New Zealand
(Photo courtesy of Helena Bay)
Ringer. Tolkienite. Whatever you want to call yourselves, y’all love Lord of the Rings. Visit Middle Earth together and let the fantasy unfold. The North Island, a stunning terrain of emerald hills, vineyards, mead
ows, farmland, and beaches, makes a perfect starting point for a pilgrimage of Lord of the Rings sites throughout the island-filled nation.
Or forget Frodo, and discover New Zealand’s other attributes. Begin your honeymoon burrowed into Helena Bay’s private cove on the North Island’s northeast corner. An intimate hotel on a postcard-perfect Pacific beach, the Relais & Châteaux property gets rave reviews for its restaurant, helmed by the team behind Michelin-starred Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 in Italy. Sustained by Italian fare, couples can mountain bike, kayak (wetsuits provided), and swim in the 80-degree-heated pool, play tennis, shoot clay pigeons, and even take the property’s luxury yacht to nearby Poor Knights Island for scuba diving. For fishing buffs, the hotel offers peerless heli-fishing. Want to pack light? No worries. Each villa at Helena Bay comes equipped with Wellington boots, backpacks, and binoculars for dolphin spotting from your balcony. Prices start at $1,910 a night.
Best Island Retreat with Golfing on a BudgetInterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa Maro Road Natadola Bay Natadola, Sanasana, Fiji
(Photo courtesy of InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa)
An archipelago with 330 islands, Fiji has nearly 2,000 species of fish, and you have a good chance of glimpsing some of them as you snorkel through its transparent waters. Learn two important words before you go: Bula and Kava. The first is a catch-all greeting much like Aloha, and the second is the national drink of Fiji, a calming herbal libation consumed as a social ritual.
Most couples choose just one island retreat and stay put for their honeymoon, however you can helicopter or boat from place to place, if desired. One to consider, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa sits along breathtaking Natadola Bay on a secluded part of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. This location allows an outer island experience with the convenience of mainland accessibility. A vast 35-acre resort, the retreat offers upscale dining, a pampering spa, three swimming pools, and an 18-hole championship golf course, with prices starting at $172 a night.
Most Transformational TripFour Seasons Resorts in Bali Jl. Raya Sayan, Sayan, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
(Photo courtesy of The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay)
Exotic and complex, Bali, in Indonesia, is full of mellowing moments, emerald rice paddies, healing waters, surf-able beaches, big hearts, fragrant flowers, yoga, and unexpected flavors. Defined by its Hindu and Buddhist past and its location on the ancient spice trade trail, Bali has Indian and Arab influences that add to its enchanting melange. Considered a renewing and reviving destination, it draws honeymooners who love both beaches and mountains, spiritual pursuits and indulgence.
Stay at beach-sited Four Seasons Resort Bali At Jimbaran Bay, created to suggest a centuries-old, local village, then explore famous the city of Ubud and its zen buzz in the country’s interiors. The Four Seasons Resort Bali At Sayan, a sanctum for serenity seekers, focuses on local spirituality, transformation, and peaceful pursuits, and lies just minutes from town. Prices start at $736 a night for The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and $578 a night for The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.
Best For Nature and Wildlife LoversSaffire Freycinet 2352 Coles Bay Rd, Coles Bay TAS 7215, Australia
(Photo courtesy of Saffire Freycinet)
Move over Iceland. Tasmania’s the new kid on the “unspoiled oasis” block. With pure air, soaring mountains, undeveloped beaches, sheep-studded farms, olive groves, and storybook animals like wallabies, bandicoots, wombats, and Tasmanian devils, Australia’s southern state dots the sea across the Strait of Bass. Once a penal colony, this food and wine lovers’ destination offers honeymooners unique adventures from whale watching to sheep shearing to tree-top walking. Sail on the River Derwent, cycle along the Tamar River, hot-air balloon above Launceston, or just hide away with a vineyard picnic.
Check into one of Australia’s top luxury lodges, Saffire Freycinet, situated on Tasmania’s east coast. Designed to blend into the wild environs around Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay, this romantic, sustainable retreat offers signature guest experiences such as shucking and gulping oysters from a nearby estuary or visits to meet a reclusive Tasmanian devil. Prices start at $1,500 a night, including meals, wine, whiskey and experiences like oyster tastings.