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5 favourite romantic retreats

Was Valentine’s Day a looming date you were slightly dreading? Another missed milestone comes and goes. Or perhaps it loomed with dread even in ye olde days of ‘normal’. How many overpriced meals in a fancy restaurant swarming with amorous couples do we really remember? No one can deny this pandemic has forced a shift in perspective on many aspects of the way we live our lives. Is the need to mark our undying love for someone on the same day every year one of them? Let’s make this month we look ahead for a more lasting and meaningful way to invest in love. Here are five tried and tested places that we know will create memories for a lifetime. Kahanda Kanda, Galle, Sri Lanka This 12-villa boutique hotel is tucked away in the rainforests that fringe Sri Lanka’s southern coastline. Each private villa greets you with a giant four poster bed, cosy sitting room and huge bathroom. Some come with a balcony overlooking sweeping views of the jungle tops, others a secluded garden terrace. Some private villas go the extra mile with a private plunge pool and sundeck. Kahanda Kanda defines secluded tranquillity. At night, the whole place glows with the gentle flicker of candles, outdoor lamps and a large infinity pool shimmering under starlight. A twenty-minute tuk-tuk ride gets you to Galle Fort, one of our favourite towns in Sri Lanka. Galle is home to cricket, a diverse history and some of the best independent shops and restaurants in the country. Ten minutes up the coast you are invited to spend as much time as you wish at sister property, KK Beach. The vibe at KK Beach is more ‘trendy beach bar’ with a stylish garden and pool overlooking an unbroken view of golden sands and the Indian Ocean. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India You might have seen this stately pleasure dome featured in the odd glossy magazine or two. This 18th Century palace was commissioned by Maharana Jagat Singh II of Udaipur and renovated by the Taj hotel group in the 1970s. The exquisite building rises out of the middle of Lake Pichola like a vision. Stepping into the hotel from the water feels like entering the palace of your childhood dreams. Walls are adorned with original hand-painted murals and the sound of water from courtyard fountains and the lapping of the lake is all around. In the morning and afternoon, the sunlight reflecting on the lake sparkles like magic on the walls and ceilings. The only way to reach Taj Lake Palace is by boat and only guests who have booked to stay here can enter. Any first-time visit to Rajasthan can be overwhelming, if you aren’t used to the frenetic hustle and bustle of a large Indian City. Taj Lake Palace is a remedy of calm. Amanjiwo, Java, Indonesia It is the awesome symmetry of every aspect of Amanjiwo that will strike you almost immediately. Vast marble atriums frame views of the surrounding mountains and rice paddies. In the distance, and in perfect alignment with the main entrance, the temple of Borobudur pierces the jungle horizon. If you’re lucky, and the weather gods are on your side, the highlight of any visit here will be a pre-dawn climb to the top of this temple to watch the red orb of the slowly ascending sun. The honey coloured marble theme continues in the spacious bedrooms. Every room has a garden terrace, some with a private infinity pool and peaceful views of the valley. Casa Cairucu, Paraty, Brazil If you’re looking for total privacy, Casa Cairucu is a wonderful option. This private home is perched on a hill that rises precipitously from the Atlantic Ocean. We love this Brazilian house because it is completely immersed in the culture and surroundings of the region. Casa Cairucu has a private pier for direct access to the calm, crystal waters of the sea where you can swim, kayak or stand-up paddle board. There are some beautiful beaches here that are only accessible from the water. The house comes with a boat for days when you want to out and explore further afield.  The region is surrounded by the verdant Atlantic Forest that makes this ‘green coast’ so special. We highly recommend a day with local food forager, Jorge, who will take you on hidden trails and share his wealth of botanical knowledge. When you fancy a bit of buzz, Casa Cairucu is a short boat ride from the Colonial town of Paraty with its eclectic mix of local restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries. Dar Zemora, Marrakech, Morocco Dar Zemora feels more like a home than a hotel.  With just six rooms designed with an unmistakably Moroccan flare, this country escape invites you to settle in as if you were at home. Set in the leafy surroundings of the Palmerie, a stay here gives you easy access to the colourful chaos of Marrakech and a calm and quiet haven to retreat to. The pretty gardens are filled with fruit trees and a big swimming pool. We love the open pavilion (see main image above), which faces the gardens though soft organza drapes. The room is filled with cushions on which to recline and read a book or enjoy a cocktail in the evening. Inside there are plenty of fireplaces and cosy sitting rooms making Dar Zemora a fantastic option at any time of year. Jenny Wilkinson is the Founder of The Insider Travel. The Insider Travel designs bespoke small group journeys and retreats in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and Latin America. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. I’ve heard incredibly great reports from some friends who stayed at the Taj. From the photos they showed me and from what they said about the place it seems to be a very special hotel. One day soon …

    1. I hope you can get there some say soon. It really is a special place and you won’t be disappointed.

  2. I fell in love with Galle recently whilst my husband was watching cricket on the television. Every now and then they cut away from the cricket to show film of Galle. I could stay at the Kahsnda Kanda whilst my husband watched the cricket!

  3. Morocco and especially Marrakech does boutiques so well. Like so many of the opulent riads, Dar Zemora looks very intimate, it gives some lesson in stylish interior design too. Personally, I much prefer these boutique places to the big branded blocks, they seem a bit characterless to me.

  4. Dar Zemora is lovely. It was originally built as a private family house so it has that intimate feeling of being at home.

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