PALAZZO AVINO Amalfi Coast, Italy
With an unbeatable location at the high point of Ravello town, the candy floss pink Palazzo Avino has exhilarating views from its tiered gardens, featuring Juliet balconies over the Amalfi coast looking towards the distant islands where the mythological Sirens lured sailors with their song. With its elegant antique-filled, vaulted rooms, acclaimed restaurant and Lobster & Martini Bar – with the most extensive martini menu in Mezzogiorno – Palazzo Avino is possibly the most romantic hotel in town. It’s also the only hotel in the area that boasts its own beach club, where you can also hire a glamorous yacht and enjoy the Amalfi coast as it demands to be experienced: from a sundeck, weaving between the famous grottos of the stunning coastline.
GRAND RESORT LAGONISSI Athenian Riviera, Greece
The elemental beauty of Greece is enhanced by the purism and minimalism of the architecture of this vast 72-acre resort: all exposed stone, slate and wood, with whitewash and cornflower-blue doorways, criss-crossing a private, herb-scented peninsula overlooking the Saronic Gulf. This is architecture that sensationally frames the endless horizon and blazing sunsets, enhancing the sense of space, sky and sea, all fringed with an extraordinary private beach. Alternating pebble and sand, some bays are wild with waves, while others are calm and lagoon-like, perfect for young families. The spacious suites and bungalows at the Grand Resort Lagonissi feature sea views and private terraces or gardens, and some even have their own pools, private gyms and saunas. This hotel also has different restaurants to suit all moods and tastes. Kohylia, situated on a deck overlooking the marina, is perfect for a romantic meal, with its Japanese-Polynesian fusion menu, cocktail bar and music that plays on into the early hours.
After the glamour and bright lights of the coast at Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Bay GoldenEye estate – forever stamped in the popular imagination thanks to the image of Ursula Andress emerging from the waves in white bikini in Dr. No – Pantrepant is another world. Here, on a private 2,500-acre estate, you will swim in waterfalls, float in the natural swimming pool created around the ruins of a former sugar mill, gallop across unfenced countryside and eat the organic fruits and vegetables of the land served to you in the shade of a 100-year-old guango tree. The peaceful honeymoon cottage is a rose-festooned, story-book two-bedroom retreat with wraparound verandas and comes fully staffed.
LE SIRENUSE Positano, Italy
Italy is a perennial favorite honeymooning destination. Le Sirenuse first opened its doors in 1951 and has blossomed from small, chic summer retreat of a noble Neopolitan family to the elegant jewel it is today – and remains a relevant, innovative treasure, despite the coachloads of tourists that descend on the town. The hotel offers charming extras to its residents, including custom-made soaps and shampoos by Eau D’Italie, cloth-bound literary classics and bedside coloring books. Sophisticated, cosmopolitan owners Carla and Antonio Sersale add a surprising new element to the hotel each year to ensure it remains a talking point, and the contemporary art collection is always being expanded. Le Sirenuse now also offers a biannual week-long health & wellness retreat called Dolce Vitality, which advantage of its fabulous location on the base of a mountain of trails. Honeymoon suites come with a complimentary expedition to outlying islands in the vintage Riva yacht or a special celebratory dinner in the La Sponda restaurant illuminated by the flickering light of 400 candles.
KUMU BEACH Sri Lanka
The peaceful beachfront villa at Kumu Beach has only 10 rooms and is everything you could want from a romantic holiday. The beach is a perfect crescent of sand bookended by granite boulders and fringed with palm trees; the long swimming pool on the lawns looks out over the sunset and is lit up by lanterns at night. Huge four-posters lounge in airy rooms decorated with blue-and-white ginger jars and local fabrics, while shuttered French windows look out to the sea. Coconut-encrusted tiger prawns and seared tuna steaks are served poolside or on the intimate, elegant veranda. Once you have let the serenity of the place seep properly into your bones, there is much to explore. Galle is an hour’s drive away, plus there is the local sea-turtle farm next door, the famous Ariyapala Mask Museum and gem workshops in Ambalangoda, and the largest reclining buddha on the island at nearby Galagoda. Book with wixsquared.com
CASA TURQUESA Paraty, Brazil
Casa Turquesa is a charming privately owned pousada in the Brazilian coastal town of Paraty. Here there is a very fine line between inside and out, and you get a real sense that this is nature at its very best. In Paraty, large crabs scuttle in from the sea across the town’s cobbled sidewalks while hummingbirds dart in and out of kitchen doors. During the full moon, the seawater rises and washes through the streets outside like a river. Efficient pousada owners like Tete at Casa Turquesa issue their guests with flip-flops or galoshes to wade through the warm, temporary flood. The cobbles that line the streets came in from Portugal as ballast during the gold rush in the late 1800s, when Paraty had its moment of glory. Since then it has remained a sleeping beauty, hemmed in by the mountains that rim the Green Coast of Brazil. In essence, Paraty is a quiet haven and a favorite of artists and writers, saved from development by its designation as a national park, where you can sail, hike and swim along great empty crescents of sandy beach. Book with cazloyd.com
ELLERMAN HOUSE Cape Town, South Africa
With its sweeping lawns and curving balustrades jutting onto the Atlantic seaboard, elegant, turn-of-the-century mansion Ellerman House feels like a throwback to a more glamorous and gracious era. There are live bands and a chic cocktail trolley at sunset offered compliments of the house; your laundry will be cleaned, pressed and returned, wrapped in tissue paper, free of charge; and everywhere you turn, there is another jewel of a painting to gaze upon from the owner Paul Harris’ extraordinary collection of African art. What’s more, Cape Town is a thrilling honeymoon destination not simply for its agreeable weather, but for its unique combination of culture, music and dramatic landscapes. Ellerman House can arrange weekend safaris, private tours of the best neighboring vineyards, a visit to the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art or yacht jaunts along the coast, so you can take full advantage of everything the country has to offer.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL London, UK
This showstopper of a hotel, partially relaunched in December last year following a fire, is still unmatched for one-off memorable occasions. Doormen flourish caps, open doors and hail taxis, while another welcoming committee stands at the top of the marble staircase to usher you into the inner sanctum. There are no fewer than three big-name restaurants to choose from: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for a blowout feast; Bar Boulud for burgers; and The Rosebery for extensive afternoon tea and champagne menus. The restoration of the dining and public areas sees this 115-year-old hotel looking glossier than ever, with possibly the capital’s best spa now offering skincare treatments from exceptional Swiss clinic Nescens. The honeymoon suites reopened in summer 2019: with their balconies opening onto quintessential London views of Hyde Park and the passing horse guards on parade in a flash of crimson, en route to Buckingham Palace, what could be more romantic?
SER CASASANDRA Holbox Island, Mexico
If your idea of romantic relaxation is to kick off your shoes and pad around in a sarong all day, then Ser Casasandra is your boho beach paradise: think gauze-draped four posters (where staff leave you a Frederico García Lorca poem on your pillow at turn-down), veranda hammocks and sunset mojitos at the bar. With only 18 rooms, one luxury villa and 1.5km of beach to play with, it has an intimate vibe and an easy-breezy ethos; help yourself to bikes and the electric carts or glass kayaks to explore the tiny car-free island and marine biosphere.
IL PELLICANO Tuscany, Italy
Since 1965, this icon of elegance and luxury on the rugged promontory of the Argentario has hosted summer family vacations, honeymoons and romantic assignations. While it has been constantly updated – the youngest family member, Marie-Louise Sciò, is now at the helm – the atmosphere remains defiantly old-school; all Tuscan terracotta, chintz and heirloom walnut antiques. Days are spent playing tennis or lounging beside the large pool or on the private bathing platform above the Tyrrhenian Sea, where you can enjoy lingering lunches – in the heat of the summer, a fine water spray cools diners as they eat.
LIME WOOD LAKE CABIN New Forest, UK
This wooden cube, cantilevered over a lake, is the perfect love shack in the New Forest. It’s a rustic-luxe addition to the sprawling Lime Wood mansion, with sliding glass walls on all sides to allow sunlight and views to flood in. Clad in reclaimed timber inside and out, the style is cozy rusticity. The silvered claw-foot alfresco bathtub, wood-burning stove on the terrace, a little bridge to a perfect picnic spot on a small island in the lake, the old-fashioned pushbikes left at the front door… Romantic possibilities abound.
NOBU RYOKAN MALIBU California, USA
This 16-bedroom Japanese-inspired beach house is the perfect relaxation retreat in Malibu. Designed like a Japanese ryokan, the minimalist interiors and the boom of the surf encourage instant decompression. Steps lead down from the property to Carbon Beach, where you can walk for miles in either direction; to Nobu restaurant itself next door, or to trek the many canyons that branch off the coast. Guests mostly tend to hole up for days in their sensational ocean-facing suites, ordering Nobu on room service and eating beside the hearth on chilly nights.
GRAND HOTEL TREMEZZO Lake Como, Italy
Enjoying a peerless vantage point over Lake Como, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is the honeymoon retreat of dreams with its most romantic suite, the ‘Maria’, enjoying top-floor views over the lake, complete with a Juliet balcony, a red porphyry bathtub and billowy four-poster. New this season, the fabulous baroque 16th century Villa Sola Cabiati in the hotel grounds offers not just an incredible wedding venue, but the possibility of a rarefied honeymoon escape with outdoor heated pool, full staff – including a boatman, boat and private dock (not to mention a restored riva) – plus the possibility of a vintage Alfa Romeo to explore the region’s high roads.
ALEXA Indonesian Archipelago
The all-white, pared-down aesthetic of this traditional phinisi with its crew of eight (including a masseur and wine master) and one huge guest suite (made for just two), makes it the ultimate love boat. Sailing the protected waters of the islands around Flores, which lies just beyond Bali, the crew of the Alexa will set up picnics on remote pink sand beaches, or make up your bed for you on the upper deck beneath the rigging and the shooting stars. When the sails are up, it’s like floating on a cloud.
MORGAN’S ROCK Nicaragua
If an immaculate, deserted beach constitutes your idea of blissful relaxation, then Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge on a remote sandy bay on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, at the edge of a vast 4,000-acre rainforest reserve, is a paradise. Nesting turtles come to lay their eggs in season, and there is horse riding along the sandy shoreline, kayaking and birdwatching in the adjoining riverine lagoon, or paddle boarding at low tide, all of which can be booked via Dominic Allan of Real Latin America. Massages are available in open-sided huts on the water’s edge, and all the villas and cottages have hanging daybeds strung onto their private decks to make the best of the ocean views.
DEPLAR FARM AND THE BLUE LAGOON Iceland
The haunting beauty of Iceland makes for an unforgettable experience. Deplar Farm is a hideaway on the remote Troll Peninsula, where you can experience every kind of outdoor adventure, luxuriate in the midnight sun and enjoy the extreme comfort of the lodge. The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon offers a sanctuary to unwind from wedding stress surrounded by private, health-giving geothermal pools, and yoga and hiking on tap. Travel specialist Blue Marble Private can tailor-make a journey that links these highlights of Iceland to its neighbor, Greenland, by private jet for the ultimate adventure honeymoon.
EROSANTORINI Santorini, Greece
It’s all about the view here, and Erosantorini hotel, built 1,000-ft above the wine-dark seas of the caldera on the highest part of the island, offers the most mind-expanding panorama of the surrounding Aegean. On this two-acre estate, there is enough space and privacy to escape the selfie-wielding crowds that surge through the narrow cobbled streets of Oia and Fira. With bespoke menus, a large infinity pool cascading over three levels with underwater music, an outdoor cinema, floating fireplaces and a private yacht, this is real luxury.