1. Alila Ventana, Big Sur, California

For the outdoorsy

Nature-lovers can’t help but fall for Big Sur, a wild and storied stretch of California’s central coast. Its bewitching blend of towering redwood forest, muscular green mountains and crashing ocean views has drawn everyone from bohemian writers (Henry Miller) to Hollywood heavyweights (Steve McQueen), seeking isolation in its eucalyptus-scented heart. Is there anything more seductive than hiking hand-in-hand to remote, wooded waterfalls or discovering your own dramatic, deserted beach? At Alila Ventana, which sprawls across a Big Sur mountain meadow, suites have a rustic-luxe, cabin-esque vibe. When you’ve finished gazing over the Pacific from your balcony hammock (roomy enough for two), try a couple’s treatment in a forest-facing spa cabana, plunge into the open-air Japanese baths, or take a dip in the clothing-optional communal pool.

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  • For city romance  From the weeping willows and paper lanterns of the historic Gion district to serene manicured gardens...
    Hoshino Resorts2. Hoshinoya, KyotoFor city romanceFrom the weeping willows and paper lanterns of the historic Gion district to serene, manicured gardens and tinkling temple bells, Kyoto is a completely charming urban retreat. The antithesis of frenetic, futuristic Tokyo, it’s an immersion into the romance of a bygone Japan. And that romance really ramps up when you take a boat ride along the Oi River, where city streets are slowly transposed with misty, wooded hills. This is the only way to access Hoshinoya, a singularly elegant ryokan group. Though the newer Tokyo version recently won a place in our Hot List, it’s at the Kyoto outpost that you’ll find the distinctive grace and tranquillity of Japan distilled. Moss-covered paths curve around sculpted maples and cedars; guest pavilions are exactingly designed, with sliding paper screens opening onto peaceful forest views. Better yet, bathrooms have deep, cypress tubs, with seasonal herbs provided to infuse your soak.Book your stay
  • The glamping getaway  Balis signature barefoot luxury meets whimsical romance at this tented boutique spot set among...
    Stefano Scatà3. Sandat Glamping, BaliThe glamping getawayBali’s signature barefoot luxury meets whimsical romance at this tented boutique spot, set among bright-green rice fields close to Ubud. Cuddling up under canvas here is less lumpy groundsheets and roof leaks, more canopy beds and private decks. And with each tent encircled by jungly garden, couples can relax on rattan loungers by their own pool in utter privacy. Dreamy candlelit dinners are served here, too, under the stars and away from prying eyes. A daily-changing Indonesian menu makes the most of regional ingredients, paired with wines and Champagne. Mornings might begin with sun salutations at the on-site bamboo yoga pavilion and afternoons should most definitely involve the bar’s signature Italian Spritz.Book your stay
  • For adventurous couples  Forget for a moment that the Whitsundays largest inhabited island is positioned right beside...
    4. Qualia, Hamilton Island, AustraliaFor adventurous couplesForget for a moment that the Whitsundays’ largest inhabited island is positioned right beside Heart Reef (exactly as it sounds: a perfectly heart-shaped coral reef). Because Hamilton Island isn’t for your typical doe-eyed duo – more for those possessing an affinity with the Australian fixation for flinging yourself into adrenalin-pumping stuff. The immaculate waters of the Great Barrier Reef offer world-class dive sites to discover together, while the island’s off-road trails provide a white-knuckle rush deep into the bush. After a thrilling helicopter ride over this insanely Eden-esque landscape, daredevils can decompress at Qualia, a smart property on its own peninsula. It has 60 secluded one-bedroom, glass-walled pavilions, with private sundecks for gazing over the water – some with their own infinity-edged pool.Book your stay

WATCHExploring the most serene islands in Sicilyhttps://78d7a23ec8bbdf51b1f9065a6209991b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

  • For bohemian chic  Hippie types can let their free spirits fly in Tulum promised land of designer yoga spiritual jungle...
    5. Casa Malca, Tulum, MexicoFor bohemian chicHippie types can let their free spirits fly in Tulum, promised land of designer yoga, spiritual jungle journeys and ancient-temple-fringed sands. And there isn’t a more ‘Tulum’ place to stay than Casa Malca, a former hacienda of Pablo Escobar’s, and now a boutique hotel highly curated by socialite art dealer Lio Malca. Down a dirt path and away from the scrums of man-buns and juiced-up goddesses, here beach suites face a quiet stretch of powder-white sand; all windows point to the Caribbean. The hotel itself is like one giant immersive art exhibition; the entrance has a huge door carved out of tree trunks, framed by curtains stitched from vintage wedding gowns, between which dangle two swings made of antique furniture. As Lio says, it’s about ‘connecting with yourself and the wild’ as well as ‘luxury and art’.Book your stay
  • The offgrid escape  Want to run away together No one will find you at The Brando an allvilla superexclusive hideaway on...
    6. The Brando, French PolynesiaThe off-grid escapeWant to run away together? No one will find you at The Brando, an all-villa, super-exclusive hideaway on a private South Pacific island (30 miles north of Tahiti, but accessible only by six-seater plane). Marlon Brando bought Tetiaroa atoll in 1967 and, decades later, set about creating this sustainable, utopian spot, where nature alone provides both decoration and diversion. Smart, thatched dwellings tucked among coconut palms each have their own strip of sand, infinity pool and outdoor tub. The pristine lagoon and blindingly white beach are yours – all yours! – to explore. A hefty all-inclusive rate encompasses daily spa treatments, Champagne, food, excursions and more. (Be sure to make eyes at each other over French chef Guy Martin’s Michelin-grade feasts.) With only 35 villas on the entire island, intimacy comes guaranteed.Book your stay
  • The foodie retreat  For couples who love their food this exclusive cluster of villas set in a vineyard in Mendozas...
    7. Cavas Wine Lodge, ArgentinaThe foodie retreatFor couples who love their food, this exclusive cluster of villas, set in a vineyard in Mendoza’s winelands, is nothing short of nirvana. Adobe-style rooms tucked between vines could hardly be more romantic: whether lolling in your private plunge pool, getting steamy in the roll-top bath, or snuggling by the log fire on your own roof terrace, with sweeping, snow-dusted Andean views (of course). Clinking generous splashes of homegrown vintages, paired with the daily-changing, seasonal menu in the chandelier-strewn restaurant, you might think you’ve hit peak ostentatious. But you’d be wrong: leave that to the Moorish-Roman-style spa, where both of you will be scrubbed, wrapped and bathed in lotions and potions made from regional grapes.Book your stay
  • The winter retreat  For a truly magical winter experience head to the Fjällnäs Reserve in the far north of Sweden. The...
    8. Fjallnas Reserve, SwedenThe winter retreatFor a truly magical winter experience, head to the Fjällnäs Reserve in the far north of Sweden. The refurbished Fjällnäs hotel, built as a retreat for Swedish royalty in 1882, reopened in 2009 along with a number of new lakeside cabinsand mountain huts, each a temple to the best in Scandinavian design. For deerskin-wrapped Nordic cosiness at its finest, book a beautifully furnished, contemporary cabin with a wood-burning stove and settle in for a week of cross-country skiing, sleigh rides with huskies and night-time forays into the forest-filled wilderness to see the Northern Lights. Back at base, the Mii Gullo Spa offers stress-relieving, circulation-boosting treatments and the restaurant serves restorative local cuisine in a romantic, low-lit dining room. There’s even a non-denominational chapel should you feel the urge to tie the knot.Book your stay

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  • The spa retreat  Accessed only by boat the secluded carfree privateisland hideaway of Jumby Bay  two miles off the coast...
    9. Jumby Bay, AntiguaThe spa retreatAccessed only by boat, the secluded, car-free private-island hideaway of Jumby Bay (pictured above), two miles off the coast of Antigua, offers the quintessential Caribbean experience. Reopened in October 2017 after a major overhaul, Jumby Bay has re-emerged with totally revamped, contemporary-colonial-style rooms, two new restaurants and the Jumby Bay Spa. The spa, set close to the beach, is open to the elements, with five treatment rooms that open onto private terraces. The signature treatments use ingredients taken straight from the garden; one of the highlights is a treatment that involves lying in a soft, handmade hammock while a therapist focuses on pressure points in your head, back, hands and feet to release tension. You can then amble over to your thatched bohio (hut) on the beach, or to one of the many hammocks strung up between the palm trees. The resort is good for creative little extras: to help you enjoy the astonishing night sky, staff will pack a Champagne picnic dinner and send you off to star-gaze on Pasture Beach; there are also cookery classes for men, led by head chef Pablo Loza, so while their partners indulge in spa treatments (not to generalise), they can learn how to make everything from ceviche to Caribbean lobster bisque.Book your stay
  • La Mamounia Hotel Marrakech
    Alan Keohane10. La Mamounia, MarrakechFor classic glamourIf you have ever been to Marrakech in the height of summer, you will appreciate how much nicer it is to be there in spring, with the warm, bright days and chilly nights. The hotel scene has grown rampantly in recent years, but our favourite – and by far the most romantic – is still La Mamounia, which reopened in 2010 after a three-year restoration by Jacques Garcia and is one of our Gold List 2019hotels. Set in 20 acres of gardens just inside the walls of the Old City, the hotel has retained the feel of a palace but added a contemporary theatricality to its accommodation (which now includes three three-bedroom riads with their own pools), plus four restaurants, five bars and a Salon de Thé. There’s also a glorious new spa with a traditional hammam, indoor and outdoor pools, treatments by Valmont Cosmetics and a yoga pavilion. Faultless service is still the rule, whether staff are serving cocktails on your private terrace, organising a shopping trip in the medina or taking you into the Atlas Mountains for lunch.La Mamounia hotel reviewBook your stay
  • For island indulgence  A remote hillside retreat overlooking the bay of Petite Anse on the southwest coast of Mah the...
    11. Four Seasons Resort SeychellesFor island indulgenceA remote hillside retreat overlooking the bay of Petite Anse on the south-west coast of Mahé, the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles has 67 stilted villas and suites that feel like tree houses, peeping out from the jungle canopy of coconut, mango, jackfruit and cinnamon trees. All the obligatory features of the luxury ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience are in place – infinity-edged plunge pools, open-air showers, glass-walled bathrooms and expansive outdoor living areas – but taken to another level. The hilltop spa has eight treatment rooms, and its spa menu incorporates island herbs and spices including cinnamon, frangipani and lemongrass, as well as locally made herbal tonics and organic teas. A good choice for couples is the deeply relaxing and hydrating Coco de Mer ritual, involving body scrubs, wraps, a bathing ritual and a massage using whipped massage cream. An ocean-facing yoga room, connected to the spa by a timber walkway, is available for private sessions from dawn till dusk.Book your stay
  • For island chic  As insiders will tell you there's a lot more to Ibiza than meets the eye. Go off the beaten track even...
    12. Cas Gasi, IbizaFor island chicAs insiders will tell you, there’s a lot more to Ibiza than meets the eye. Go off the beaten track even a fraction and you will discover a world of sleepy hill villages, wild forests, rambling orchards and crumbling farm houses. Visit in spring and a further surprise awaits: almond trees in full bloom, covering great swathes of the interior, with entire valleys exploding into glorious white and pink blossom. All this is complemented by an appealing combination of warm days and chilly nights. Front-row seats for this extraordinary natural show are available at Cas Gasi, a 12-room property that spills down a hillside smothered in almond, fig and carob trees and which prides itself on being a hotel ‘for people who don’t like hotels’. Since opening in 1998, Cas Gasi has become popular with high-profile guests who love its secluded location and low-key luxury. Richard Gere and Kate Moss have both been guests, as have the King and Queen of Norway and Jade Jagger, who often stays in the winter to avoid having to open up her own house on the island. Run by a Spanish-German couple as a small, eco-friendly hotel, it has bedrooms in the main building and in converted barns and stables. Cas Gasi is adept at meeting guests’ individual needs: if you want romantic meals for two in a secluded location, no problem; should you feel like dining around the big farmhouse table with your hosts, that’s fine too. The hotel’s central location means that nothing is very far away; getting to the beautiful village of Santa Gertrudis takes five minutes in a car or 40 minutes on foot, and the excellent beach at Salinas is a 15-minute drive away. There is also a small spa offering superb treatments including the knockout ‘Ibiza Relax Massage’. The estate produces all its own organic vegetables, fruit, olive oil and free-range eggs, and the meat and fish comes from local farmers and fishermen.Our guide to Santa Gertrudis, IbizaBook your stay13. Chumbe Island Coral Park, ZanzibarThe green getawayIf you’re looking for low-impact luxury on holiday and love snorkelling, Chumbe Island Coral Park, a tropical paradise just off the coast of Zanzibar in Tanzania, is spectacular. One of just nine destinations singled out by The Long Runorganisation for their conservation efforts, Chumbe is a rare example of a still-pristine shallow-reef coral eco-system in an otherwise heavily over-fished and over-exploited area. Its coral gardens are some of the finest in the world, and the whole island and its waters have been designated a marine sanctuary and forest reserve. With seven palm-thatched bungalows designed for maximum comfort and minimum impact, the island never feels crowded; and it is a 30-second walk from your hammock to the water’s edge. Each bungalow, decorated with African art and colourful fabrics, is self-sufficient; to supply fresh water, rainfall is captured on the roof and passed through a filtration system. The water is hand-pumped by staff through a solar-powered heating system to produce hot water for showers and hand basins. There are also composting loos. Walkways and nature trails are not artificially lit at night so as not to disturb the breeding and feeding patterns of nocturnal animals. Instead, guests are provided with solar-powered torches. Every aspect of Chumbe Island has been carefully considered, from the Zanzibarian, Indian and African food served in the communal visitors’ centre to the outreach programme which has trained fishermen as park rangers to ensure local people are involved in protecting the reef.Book your stay

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  • For romance by rail  There is something irresistibly romantic about luxury train travel. Add India to the mix and you've...
    Getty Images14. The Maharajas’ Express, IndiaFor romance by railThere is something irresistibly romantic about luxury train travel. Add India to the mix and you’ve got an experience guaranteed to dazzle. In the heyday of the maharajas it was not unusual for royalty to travel with their furniture – four-poster beds, thrones, you name it. This is certainly the look the new Maharajas’ Express is going for. One of the only luxury trains offering itineraries that cross India’s state borders, it has launched ‘Royal India’, a seven-day epic journey from Delhi to Mumbai, taking in Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur (pictured above) and Vadodara along the way.Among the highlights is a decadent Champagne lunch on a hillock overlooking the Taj Mahal, a tiger-spotting jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park and elephant polo matches in Jaipur culminating in a Champagne dinner. Life on board is all about comfort. All the cabins and suites are wonderfully regal with huge windows, comfortable beds, LCD TV’s and DVD players; but if your feeling particularly flush, book the two-bedroom Presidential Suite, which occupies an entire carriage and has a living room big enough for several comfortable sofas and a dining table. (The junior suite is also surprisingly roomy and much more reasonably priced.) Other treats include an observation carriage with its own bar, games table and club armchairs, and two fine-dining restaurants.Book your stay
  • The Sinner Paris
    Nicolas Receveur15. The Sinner, Paris, FranceFor an opulent stayNaming your hotel ‘Sinner’ is a bold move, but this pleasure palace in the Marais more than justifies its title. Most luxury hotels have a frisson of naughtiness, but this is something else. Churchly interiors in the public spaces make way for more stripped-back (but still luxe) bedrooms with baths that are easily big enough for two. Or more. Couples getting cosy and Parisian party kids make up the crowd. If you feel like venturing out of the bedroom, you’re a short walk from the Pompidou Centre and the Picasso Museum, and the bars and restaurants of the Marais proper. And there’s a decadent spa for romantic treatments without so much as leaving the hotel. Book your stay
  • Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita Matera
    Sophie Knight16. Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, Puglia, ItalyFor intimate dwellingsSextantio Le Grotte Della Civita in Matera sits on a rugged hill above the La Gravina ravine and faces Murgia National Park. The breathtaking property is converted from an old church and dwellings – the cave rooms open with a giant metal key and are dimly lit by candles. High ceilings, a king-size bed with hand-woven linen sheets and a stone arch leads to an open-plan bathroom with a freestanding bath. Down in the arch of Italy’s foot, Matera is built into the rock of a ravine. This strange, prehistoric city is miles from anywhere, and so out-of-time that it has been used as a set for films such as James Bond, and in 1993, Unesco declared Matera a World Heritage Site. Book your stay
  • Hotel Astoria St Petersburg
    17. Hotel Astoria, St PetersburgFor the grandest of grand damesStaying in Hotel Astoria, right off the unbelievably imposing St Isaac’s Square in St Petersburg, feels like staying with royalty. And in some ways, it is – it was built as a house for guests of the tsar in the 19th century. Now it’s a hotel, overseen by hotelier Rocco Forte who helmed a meticulous renovation that made it one of the sparkliest stays in the city once more. And St Petersburg itself is full of romance – ‘history frozen in a gloriously gilt-edged frame,’ said contributor Jonathan Bastable when he wrote about the city in 2019.Book your stay

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  • Mandarin Oriental New York
    • 18. Mandarin Oriental, New YorkFor the couple that never sleepsIt’s one of the city’s classic stays – a five-star, glossy spot that’s long set the bar in New York’s hotel scene. We could tell you about the knockout suites where you wake up to Central Park vistas, or the Upper West Side location where you’ll find fine-dining tasting menus or old-school Italian restaurants. But really, the pool with a view of the city skyline does the talking for us. If you’re celebrating something really special, opt for a corner suite. Book your stay
  • For island hoppers  Santorini is the knockout Greek island  the island with the best views the best sunsets and the best...
    • Ana Lui19. Perivolas, Santorini, GreeceFor island hoppersSantorini is the knockout Greek island – the island with the best views, the best sunsets, and the best hotels. So far, so romantic. But Perivolas is different to most stays found here – set in a 300-year-old stables and clutch of fisherman’s shacks with a different view of the caldera from every window. It’s set a little way out of the main village, Oia – perfect for retreating with a very cold glass of wine and your loved one to the pool. Don’t miss a massage on your private terrace. Book your stay
  • For going offgrid  This hotel is still set in one of the most eyewateringly beautiful lagoons in the country a vision of...
    • 20. Gilli Lankanfushi, MaldivesFor going off-gridThis hotel is still set in one of the most eye-wateringly beautiful lagoons in the country, a vision of broad white beaches, shape-shifting sandbanks and waters that dance from peacock green to sapphire blue. All the villas here are stilted over the water, keeping the island wild and the beaches on full dazzling display. On the beach there’s sunset yoga, a few restaurants and a brilliant spa. Is this the Maldives most astonishingly romantic hotel? It might just be. 

Source: cntraveller.com