Hey lovebirds – Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and you had better get packing if you’re planning any sort of romantic retreat or special getaway with a significant other.
One thing that I’ve come to appreciate over the years is that when it comes to romantic trips, accommodation is perhaps the most important choice, perhaps trumping the destination itself in many cases.
Thus here are some of our personal suggestions for a few of the most romantic hotels in the world, all value luxury in style. Some are about the location, some are about the ambiance and charm, and others – well, they just have that something special you can’t quite put your finger on.
The Charles Inn, Niagara on the Lake
Niagara on the Lake is a romantic destination in itself – certainly a stark difference to the hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls, just half an hour south. Essentially just one small strip of shops and restaurants leading up to Niagara Lake, the town is small and quaint. It’s that peacefulness that makes it very romantic, not to mention that there are lots of vineyards just a few miles away. You’ll want to stay at The Charles Inn or its sister property, The Shaw Club – both owned by Niagara’s Finest Inns.
I love the Charles because of the wide porches, perfect for relaxing with a glass of Niagara wine. It also has a very popular on-site restaurant. Rooms are decorated in a very cool “old modern” Niagara style and Judith Jackson bath products are provided. Breakfast and Wifi are included and guests at the Charles are, of course, welcome to enjoy any of the spa services over at the Shaw Club.
Awaroa Lodge, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
The gorgeous Awaroa Lodge appeared to me like a mirage in the desert – perhaps because I’d been on a rather long 2-day hike in the Abel Tasman National Park, at the northwest tip of New Zealand’s south island. This is one of the most romantic hotels in the world to me because of it’s unique location – there aren’t any roads to the island. You have to take a plane or boat, or just walk like I did (perhaps not the most romantic part).
What I love about this place is the remoteness. No worries though – they have plenty of beer and wine stocked, and their superb on-site restaurant uses ingredients right out of the garden in the back. The beach here is incredible and since it’s so remote, you almost have it to yourself to enjoy picking up shells, going for a quick swim, or just enjoying a walk along the coastal trail.
Overleaf Lodge, Yachats, Oregon
I have to admit, I’m falling in love with the Oregon Coast. I just love its quirks and charms, and the fact that there are so many experiences to be enjoyed. Our travel concierge loves the Overleaf Lodge in Yachats. It’s right on top of the ocean, great views of the crashing waves, etc. The Restless Waters rooms have Jacuzzis with a view!
Namale Resort and Spa, Fiji
If it was good enough for the TV show, The Bachelor, it will be good enough for you. (Don’t worry – the TV crews have left.) Namale Resort and Spa continues to receive rave reviews – and why not?
Namale is located on the south coast of Vanua Levu Island. Funny enough, some of Fiji’s first hotels were here because of the local hot springs, but Savusavu is less tourist than some other areas. Rest assured, though, you’ll have no reason to leave this resort because it’s so relaxing. Their spa sanctuary is famous for its incredible views (and a waterfall massage pool!), not to mention the very comfortable room furnishings and so many nooks on the property to hang out and relax.
Namale also offers some packages that allow you to enjoy some Fijian culture as well, like a local Kava Ceremony or a tour of a local market.
Red Horse Inn, Landrum, South Carolina
I’m most certain that someday the city of Greenville, South Carolina is going to make those “top travel destination” lists. As of now, it’s still undiscovered.
Set your sights a little further north towards the North/South Carolina border, where you’ll find the dreamy mountaintop retreat, The Red Horse Inn. It’s simply a gorgeous facility, where the sunset views (see above) compete with the interiors, which feel much more like an apartment or condo rather than a hotel room. Each room is a bit different – including some rooms in the main house and then cottages off on their own small parcel of land – so it’s worth taking your time before choosing!
Landrum is the perfect place to base yourself for a few days of Carolina waterfall hunting – an outdoorsy and fun way to spend a vacation.
Hotel Harmony, Ghent
As far as romantic places go in Europe, no place beats Ghent, in my opinion.
Charming walks, yummy food and drink, and a terrific ambiance in one of my favorite countries. So why not stay in a place that has the charm it announces in its name, Hotel Harmony?
Ghent is a small city and this hotel is situated canal-side, in a great central location. This building dates back to 1859, but inside are modern furnishings, including clawfoot tubs and wifi (priorities!). Don’t miss the great photo opportunity from the hotel’s small rooftop terrace (tip: visit both daytime and night for great views).
Some of the most romantic hotels in the world now even have an “romance concierge” who can arrange rose petals on the bed, champagne and chocolates, or front row theater tickets. You’ll usually pay dearly for the privilege – our own is a better place to start.
Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Our travel concierge loves the Capella Pedregal resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Although slightly more expensive than other resorts in Cabo, even the basic rooms have ocean views, huge bathrooms and—most importantly—a private plunge pool. How cool is that? They are currently offering 4th night free packages, and if you book with our concierge you’ll get breakfast and a ceviche tasting, as well as a room category upgrade on availability – talk about good value.
Bed and Breakfast on the Park, Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn is totally the en vogue spot to be in New York, and as a traveler, this side of town is great because you pay a lot less than in Manhattan, are able to get some fresh air on the tree-lined streets, and I love the restaurants anywhere in Brooklyn or even Queens. Bed and Breakfasts, as well as trendy hotels are popping up all over, and there are some very romantic options.
Bed and Breakfast on the Park is certainly a great choice; it’s next to Prospect Park, as the name implies, and of course has easy access into Manhattan. The rooms are very spacious and have special touches – some have fireplaces or private outdoor space, for example. Breakfast is better than a New York bagel, and you’ll love the overall vibe in Brooklyn these days.
Hotel Konvice, Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
When it comes to dreamy and romantic cities, Cesky Krumlov takes the cake. It’s so well preserved and so authentic, for a minute you wonder if it’s not real – from the roundabout cobblestone streets to the historic cafes and memorable restaurants (some of which are underground and lit by fire!). And if you base yourself at the homey Hotel Konvice, you certainly can’t go wrong. It’s a small hotel, unassuming, but great value as the rooms are spacious by European standards, and those with castle views are simply jaw-dropping.
DesBarres Manor Inn, Guysborough, Nova Scotia
The folks at DesBarres Manor Inn make a big deal about hospitality from the moment you arrive. Every little detail is taken care of, whether you need sandwiches packed for a day hike or help finding a boat for a trip out on the harbour. As mentioned before, Guysborough is one of the best places to visit in Nova Scotia – but for romance don’t stray far from Guysborough, since the on-site cocktail lounge and restaurant serve up tasty, locally-inspired/sourced dishes. There’s the local pub a block away that makes its own beers – but trust me, you might have trouble getting out of these beds, they’re so comfortable.
Disclosure: Some of these hotels provided complimentary stays when I visited, and some didn’t. All of the opinions are my own. Photos are by author or courtesy of the property.