Turn Valentine’s Day Into a Romantic Weekend at One of These Lovely Hotels
(Bloomberg) -- If you haven’t yet lifted a finger for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, there’s still time. The holiday falls on a Friday this year, which means it’s perfect for booking a long weekend away.
To help you, here are the most romantic new hotels and resorts for a quick escape—places where weeks of stress can melt away in minutes, or destinations that are easy to explore in just a few days.
And please, hold the flowers and chocolates. For each of these 14 getaways, we’ve found sweet, easy-to-schedule excursions or amenities that are much more original. No matter where in the world you’re starting out from, at least one will be close by; their romantic appeal, on the other hand, is universal.
If You’re on the East Coast
Shou Sugi Ban House, Hamptons
A midwinter trip to the Hamptons may seem backward. But there’s no more romantic way to stroll a beach than in total quiet, wrapped in a blanket with your loved one. Afterward, retreat to the Japanese oasis that is Shou Sugi Ban House, where you can grab a cup of matcha from an onyx-colored bar and sit around an outdoor fireplace set in a Zen garden. There are wooden soaking tubs in the rooms and flax linen robes for lounging. What else could you need?
The romantic gesture: The hotel’s expansive spa has hot and cold hydrotherapy plunge pools, a solarium and roof deck, chromatherapy showers, and apt wintertime treatments, like the “Deep Within” hot stone massage, to soften chapped skin and relieve tight joints. (It’s paired with pre- and post-treatment soaks and tonics to extend the “me time” magic.)
Maison de la Luz, New Orleans
It’s not yet a year old, but this whimsical hideaway in the Big Easy’s Warehouse District feels like it’s been there forever. Its rooms have an historic, palatial feel reminiscent of Paris’s hôtels particuliers, and the bordello-like Bar Marilou has quickly become a local fixture.
The romantic gesture: Do dinner at one of the city’s so-hot-right-now restaurants like Gautreau’s or Coquette, both of which have sexy dining rooms and elegant menus that aren’t overly fussy. Then have the hotel staff draw up a bath and set a bottle of Champagne on ice in your room while you mix your own after-dinner drinks in the living room.
There aren’t many places to get overwater bungalows without flying to the Maldives or Tahiti. But one exception is just a quick hop from most East Coast hubs: the Royalton Antigua. Its thatched-roof pavilions set a new standard for oceanside luxury in the Caribbean when they opened last summer. The setup means you never need to leave your room: Butlers can deliver your meals, and your room includes snorkeling gear and direct access to the water, making it perfectly reasonable to indulge in total privacy.
The romantic gesture: As long as you book a day ahead, a personal bartender can set up shop on your terrace and stir you endless G&T’s as the sun dips into the horizon.
If You’re on the West Coast
Four Seasons Lanai at Koele, a Sensei Retreat
The new prince of Hawaiian pampering is this wellness-oriented offshoot of Larry Ellison’s island estate. Of course you can dive around tropical reefs and zip line across Kaiholena Gulch, but that’s not why you’re here. All-inclusive stays (minimum three nights) cover art and mindfulness workshops, Nobu-created meals with ingredients from the property’s farm, tons of fitness classes, and high-tech spa treatments such as massages that use thermal mapping to pinpoint your tight spots.
The romantic gesture: Most people associate Hawaii’s lush interior landscapes with beautiful hiking trails, but in Lanai, you can explore the state’s old ranching country and wooded valleys on horseback.
Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Los Cabos, Mexico
The butlers at this exceptional new resort are called Tosoanis, or dream keepers—and it’s a fitting description. They’ll pick up on your interests and leave you thoughtful, customized surprises in your room, whether a rose petal-strewn bath or fresh-baked Mexican pastries. That’s the level of service needed to pull your attention away from the Sea of Cortez views, which are hard to ignore when an entire corner’s worth of walls in your room opens onto a private deck and plunge pool hugging the water’s edge.
The romantic gesture: What’s written in the stars for your relationship? That’s a good question for the property’s naturalists, who can help you navigate the night sky with a powerful telescope that offers up-close views of Venus and Polaris. Shooting stars aren’t an uncommon sight, either.
If You’re in Europe
São Lourenço do Barrocal, Portugal
Two hours from Lisbon in the Alentejo countryside is this off-the-grid estate, once the nucleus of a small farming village. It’s been in the same family for 200 years but operational as a hotel for much less time. Holdovers from its agricultural heyday include 220 cows, 600,000 square meters of olive groves, and a 2.5-acre vegetable garden to supply the restaurant; more recent additions include barn cottages and a winery.
The romantic gesture: Head out on a hot air balloon ride. The skies in this region are famously clear and sunny, and the staff will pack you a picnic with one of the estate’s sparkling wines.
Niehku Mountain Villa, Sweden
Maybe you want to heli-ski and never see another soul. Maybe you want to hole up in the luxury equivalent of an igloo. Or maybe you want to spot polar bears north of the Arctic Circle. All those boxes can be checked at Niehku, the fabulous 14-room bolt-hole that straddles Norway and Sweden—even if you’re around for only a three-day stint (the property’s minimum stay).
The romantic gesture: Pray to the weather gods for a showing of midnight lights, go dog sledding in untouched terrain occupied primarily by reindeer, or hunker down in the wine cellar, where only top-notch bottles are allowed. There’s no wrong choice.
InterContinental Lyon Hotel Dieu, France
The building that houses this hotel—a maternity hospital until 2013—is supposedly where one-third of the Lyonnaise population was born. Now it’s heralding a five-star rebirth for a city that’s long been set in its humbler ways. The jaw-dropper is the first-floor bar, set under a 236-foot-high dome, with immaculately restored detailing that glows in the floodlight that pours in from its many monumental windows.
The romantic gesture: Lyon will never abandon its zest for traditional, butter-laden meals—the city is often considered the epicenter of classic French cuisine, and it’s worth leaning into the calorie splurge for a night or two. Burn it off the next morning with an urban hike up the many stairs that lead to Croix-Rousse, the bohemian-feeling neighborhood in the north. Along the way you can take in city views from above, wind your way through the old silk merchant storehouses known as traboules, pit stop at Sebastien Bouillet’s phenomenal namesake bakery for a praline croissant (the local specialty), and buy pretty bouquets of flowers (fresh or dried) at the city’s best farmers market.
Fife Arms, Scotland
Prince Charles and Camilla personally cut the ribbon at the reopening of this lavish inn in the Highlands a year ago, along with the property’s new stewards, Iwan and Manuela Wirth—owners of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery. The royal status is warranted not just because it’s at the center of Braemar, the town Queen Victoria chose for her vacation home (Balmoral Palace) and where the current monarch goes annually for the Scottish Highland Games, but for its contemporary cultural relevance, too. In its new life, the property is home to 16,000 artworks—bearing signatures as wide-ranging as Picasso to Bharti Kher to Queen Victoria herself.
The romantic gesture: You can go for a big wow moment here on a personal tour of Braemar Castle (perhaps make your partner feel like the king or queen they are), or get your hands dirty together on a foraging tour through the estate grounds.
If You’re in Asia
Few cities can mimic Kyoto’s blend of quiet contemplation and cutting-edge dining. And within Kyoto, few hotels capture both sides of that coin like the just-opened Aman. Its latticed-wood rooms resemble the carefully crafted boxes locals use for precious gifts; inside they have tatami sitting areas and Hinoki soaking tubs. And since each of them is scattered around an ancient-feeling forest, it’s perhaps no surprise that the property’s chefs can source most of their ingredients within a 10-minute walk from their kitchen.
The romantic gesture: The moss-covered grounds make Aman Kyoto’s gardens feel like a lush, movielike setting for a picnic. But if it’s too cold for that, book a personalized tour to Kamishichiken, the oldest of the “flower towns” that have long served the city’s geishas. Getting guided access to these districts is the best way to understand the training and culture behind Japan’s most romanticized profession, whether you visit an ancient ochaya (tea house) or watch an actual performance.
Lelewatu Sumba, Indonesia
A puddle hop away from Bali is this comparatively undiscovered and underdeveloped gem of an island, where it’s easy to feel like you’re simply at the end of the Earth. And if the Earth were to end here, under the white canopy beds of Lelewatu’s soaring thatched-roof pavilions, with the sounds of the Indian Ocean lapping just outside, that might be a totally fine way to go.
The romantic gesture: Drink coconut water out of a coconut. Sit on your patio and listen for chirping birds in the nearby jungle. Here, the move is simply to let time sit still.
Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa, New Zealand
With the fires still raging in Australia, it’s comforting to know that a slice of Eden is thriving just across the Tasman Sea. Take it in from Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa: The property is a cluster of villas within a pinot noir vineyard, all with access to the legendary biking trails of Kawarau Gorge and a “vinotherapy” spa.
The romantic gesture: The local pours are elegant and nuanced, so take that as your cue and book a private, candlelit dinner in the property’s wine caves.
If You’re in South America
An hour and a half from Medellín is Cannúa, the first resort ambitious enough to put Colombia’s full biodiversity on display—from the double-height windows in the rooms to the guided birdwatching hikes and the culinary focus on the country’s kaleidoscopic bounty.
The romantic gesture: The area around the resort lays claim to Colombia’s two most famous (legal) exports: coffee and flowers. Visit local farmers and sample their very best; this is the stuff that the best dates are made of.
If You’re in Africa or the Middle East
Marrakech already lays claim to some of the world’s most over-the-top resorts—nearly one from every luxury brand—and yet the city’s newcomer manages to stand apart. The Oberoi’s architecture, inspired by the 14th century Medersa Ben Youssef, is a showcase for Moroccan craft traditions, ranging from zellige tiles and ornamental plasterwork to magnificent courtyards with petal-strewn fountains. But it differs from the historic theological monument in its unwavering embrace of opulence; here, the central water feature isn’t a shallow reflecting pond but a veritable “grand canal,” which runs the entire length of the resort. And the sleeping chambers aren’t humble student quarters, they’re palatial apartments with their own gardens and pools.
The romantic gesture: If you’ve already shopped your way through the city’s epic souks, let the resort take you on a next-level exploration: an aerial survey of the Sahara via private helicopter, culminating in a butler-serviced lunch at a nomadic desert camp.
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