Chances are that newly-weds would feel the love even if they spent their honeymoon in a caravan in a parking lot, but most tend to set their sights a little higher. Here are our top ten tips for the most romantic luxury destinations for post-wedded bliss, and without even a car park in sight.
Sumba Island, Indonesia
A perfect honeymoon day, at Nihiwatu on the island of Sumba, might go something like this – book a beautiful private beach owned by the hotel, have breakfast prepared by your personal chef, enjoy a spa safari in a treehouse, lounge around, then have a sunset horse ride along the mile long main beach before a private dinner on the terrace of your villa.
The Peleponnese, Greece
OK, OK, the islands are pretty unbeatable – Santorini especially – but we’ve fallen for somewhere on mainland Greece – the Peloponnese.This region is steeped in history, but what honeymooners are really here for are the heavenly hotels. Top billing goes to the delectable new Amanzoe with its huge pavilions and beach club, but the Kinsterna and Kyrimai hotels are a good deal less budget-busting and pretty special too.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana
Safari doesn’t get any sexier than in the staggeringly beautiful delta where the Okavango River spills not into the sea or a lake but the Kalahari Desert. Away from the (admittedly lovely) lodges of the main Delta is the Selinda Spillway that more adventurous ‘mooners can currently canoe along, but the main event here is Selinda Camp itself where couples can spend a solitary night at the sleep out deck on an island five minutes boat ride from the camp.
New Zealand demands a minimum of two weeks exploration so what better time to visit than on honeymoon? Adventurous newly-weds can enjoy a self-drive luxury camper van experience between remote and elegant luxury lodges and some of the best adrenaline activities on offer anywhere. Our top honeymoon choice? Easy – the brand new one-bedroom Shepherd’s Lodge at Annandale near Christchurch, complete with ocean views, remote and romantic location and sheepskin rugs in front of a log fire.
Northern California, USA
San Francisco is the ultimate hip hangout at present, with the Zetta Hotel in the heart of the action. North of the city are the glorious vineyards of Napa and Sonoma valleys and boutique chic hotels such as Auberge du Soleil with rooms scattered around 33 acres of olive groves. To the south of Frisco, Big Sur is one of the most famous road trips in the world, hugging, as it does, the Pacific Coast with dramatic breakers crashing below. Whilst in this area stay at Post Ranch Inn for supreme sunsets over the ocean.
Pretty much all of it, Italy
It doesn’t get much more romantic than La Bella Italia. The case? Beautiful and dramatically differing landscapes; classical and medieval cities that manage to be both historic and liveable, and the icing on the torte – sublime places to stay such as the Hotel de Russie in Rome and JK Place Capri. The food’s not too bad either. Footnote: As with all places approaching perfection there’s a downside, and in Italy’s case it’s the preposterously good looking locals. They say love is blind, but on a honeymoon in Italy it might just be a little short-sighted.
Honeymooners are spoilt for choice in the magnificent Maldives, with luxury paradise island hotels opening almost daily and catering for a range of budgets from the good to the eye-watering. Our favourite remains the original barefoot luxury retreat – Soneva Fushi – where honeymooners can spend the night on a sandbank with candle lit dinner and the contents of their Soneva villa decamped to a luxurious tent.
Mexico is honeymoon heaven thanks to beach retreats on the Mayan Riviera such as Esencia, and culture (delicious UNESCO recognised street food, Mayan ruins et al) in spades to satisfy the most erudite of couples.
St Barths, Caribbean
Fancy a lune de miel rather than a boring old honeymoon? Look no further than the French-speaking Caribbean, and particularly the island of St Barths. The go-to luxury property of Ile de France just got given the Cheval Blanc treatment and has emerged – if possible – even more chic. The hotel’s ‘alchemists’ can even arrange private sunset boat cruises or picnics on a desert island.
North Island, Seychelles
A mere eleven rooms (in the loosest, vastest sense of the word) on a huge private island; oustanding food; activities galore and hundred year old giant tortoises pottering around makes for an alluring package. If it’s good enough for William and Kate, then it’s good enough for anyone.
Tom Barber is Co-Founder of Original Travel.