Weddings Week 2011: our 25 picks for fabulous honeymoon destinations
The best part about getting hitched—arguably—is the honeymoon. Here, 25 fabulous escapes for newlyweds
Marrakesh, Bali, Rio de Janeiro and more.
This palace in Morocco’s Red City was named for its gardens: King Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah offered them as a wedding gift to his son, Prince Moulay Mamoun. (Beats a fondue set.) The 1923 hotel (previous page) is a fantasia of spouting fountains, lemon groves, orange blossom–perfumed pathways and enamelled terra cotta pillars. It was recently renovated by superstar French designer Jacques Garcia and still bewitches with sumptuous interiors and a fairy tale, happily‑ever-after mystique. Winston Churchill declared La Mamounia “the most lovely spot in the whole world.” He may still be right.
From $749 to $9,986 per night. mamounia.com.
The lush inland town of Ubud is where Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert enjoyed the latter, amorous portion of her self-help adventure in three parts. It’s not hard to understand why. Ubud is an Eden-like expanse of emerald forests, misty rice paddies, artist ateliers and dozens of temples. While the town itself is becoming more touristy, the Uma property is discreet and serene—with waterfall-fed ponds, thatched ceilings, open-air courtyards and sweeping views of the Balinese jungle. In the luminous suites, voile-swathed four-poster beds and private terraces overlook the Tjampuhan Valley.
From $265 to $566 per night. uma.ubud.como.bz.
The Distrito Federal’s hippest hostelry—with rooms by interior designer India Mahdavi and a restaurant courtesy of Jonathon Morr (the creator of Bond Street in New York)—is a seductive marriage of the urbane and tropical. Outside: a 1920s French neo-classical building in Condesa, the city’s leafy, boho barrio (a neighbourhood that feels like Manhattan’s Nolita dressed with flowering jacarandas, cevicherias and Spanish baroque architecture). Inside: 40 turquoise-washed rooms, the finest with claw-foot tubs, private sundecks and throw-open bay windows facing the city’s Parque Espana.
From $199 to $505 per night. condesadf.com.
Reethi Rah Resort
Exotic-island paradise par excellence. A dreamscape of white-sand coves and Tiffany-blue bays in the Maldives’ North Malé Atoll. The resort’s 32 high-glamour thatched-roof “water villas”—more floating castle than beach hut—are set on stilts atop a crystalline lagoon to cinematic effect. To partake in the life aquatic, there’s dolphin watching, fishing aboard Maldivian dhonis, luxury atoll cruising on the resort’s 55-foot yacht and private island picnics on a sunny sandbank. Service is as warm and smooth as an Indian Ocean lagoon.
From $954 to $8,113 per villa per night. reethirah. oneandonlyresorts.com.
In 2002, design firm YH2 Architecture transformed the interior of an Old Montreal carpet factory into this polished 30‑loft boutique hotel. The exterior looks like it was airlifted in from the set of a Jean-Luc Godard film, but the interior is pure 21st-century minimalism and opulence, giving honeymooners the opportunity to live out their own French New Wave romance with a few more comforts than Godard’s vagabonds. The ultra-polished Studio 540 offers a king-size bed, a heated bathroom floor, a marble tub for two, a roomy terrace for gazing out over the Old Port, and a kitchenette for popping corks and prepping the day’s fromagerie finds.
From $175 to $749 per night. hotelgault.com.
The Michelberger, in Berlin’s old East, is the perfect spot for artsy urban lovebirds to roost. In the lively neighbourhood of Friedrichshain, just a stone’s throw from the river Spree, this former factory building turned one-of-a-kind design hotel is hard not to love. After exploring the invigorating contrasts of the hip and historical German capital by bike, sip red wine in the cozy lounge, drawing inspiration from the innovative decor. (The oversized lampshades are made of books, 14 vintage suitcases stacked against the wall form a sculpture, and a vending machine in the lobby dispenses hand-crocheted potholders.) Outer space seems to be the guiding concept (guests are referred to as intergalactic explorers). While the building looks nothing like a spaceship, the rooms are so well designed that they feel like your own private little universe. Accommodation ranges from a $91 bargain room to artfully communal, multi-level crash pads suited to an artists’ collective or rock stars and their groupies. For a honeymoon, we recommend the charming Chalet room, which has pink gingham wallpaper, a heart-shaped peep-hole cutout in the wall, a bathtub by the window, and a movie projector.
From $91 to $223 per night. michelbergerhotel.com.
Saint-Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick
Picture Prince Edward County, add oceanfront (and straight-from-the-trap seafood), then multiply that times three, and you’ve got this historic, impossibly quaint town near the Maine–New Brunswick border. In the Loyalist town centre, the tiny streets, old-fashioned hardware store and ornately detailed houses with gingerbread trim and rocking chairs on the front porches make for quiet and easy sightseeing after the chaos of a city wedding. The “downtown” pier is cute as can be, complete with weathered bait shacks, fishing dinghies rocking in the waves, and brightly coloured buoys crying out for a photo op. Stay at the Fairmont Algonquin, a massive seaside faux-Tudor mansion overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay and situated on one of Canada’s top golf courses. (If golf is not your idea of honeymoon fun, the spa at the Algonquin offers wedding detox in the form of seaweed wraps and exfoliating saltwater treatments.) History buffs with nerves of steel can book one of three Signature Suites in the turret of the main heritage building, which is said to be haunted by the spirit of a bride who was left at the altar at the Algonquin 100 years ago.
From $139 to $389 per night. fairmont.com/algonquin/.
Linthwaite House Hotel
England’s Lake District
A short hop from Beatrix Potter’s home, this timbered, ivy-draped hilltop inn overlooking Lake Windermere and Belle Isle in the U.K.’s Lake District is long on romance. Fourteen acres of hilly woodland, populated by lambs and bunnies for maximum storybook effect, invite hiking, horseback riding and poetry penning; log-fire lounges and a flower-trimmed terrace make a strong case for lazing, tea sipping and scone-and-cream nibbling. The hotel’s honeymoon suite comes with a double tub and a telescope for gazing at the stars.
From $307 to $865 per night. linthwaite.com.
Casa Tua (“your house” in Italian) feels more like your very own Mediterranean beach house than any hotel in Florida. Originally built as a private home in 1925, this plush and intimate Mediterranean Revival villa, washed in seashell creams, has only five suites, each lovingly and individually designed. (Number 3, with a canopy bed, was fashioned after the bedroom in Givenchy’s Cap Ferrat seaside home.) Find exceptional haute-rustic Italian cuisine on the lush candlelit terrace: a secret garden with white linen–topped tables, fragrant flowers and tons of pillows. Dining is a nightly seduction in four acts; the wine hails from boutique vintners, and different olive oils are paired with each dish.
From $408 to $1,071 per night. casatualifestyle.com.
This petite hotel hides on a leafy corner of Place Saint-Sulpice, in Saint Germain des Prés, and woos with all the intimacy and just-so elegance of a chic Left Bank pied-à-terre. Twenty-four boudoirs, in various 20th-century styles, offer that rarest of Parisian luxuries: quiet. Staff here are exceedingly friendly and helpful. Club rooms offer lovely views over Saint-Sulpice. Enjoy post-croissant promenades to nearby Jardin Luxembourg.
From $363 to $599 per night. hotelrecamier.com.
Set sail with this family-owned Italian cruise line and you’ll feel like you’ve boarded a yacht staffed with a fleet of personal butlers and reserves of champagne deeper than the oceans you’re plying. Silversea’s intimate vessels (from 132 to 540 passengers) have marble bathrooms, remarkably spacious ocean-view suites and unflappable, Jeeves-ian staff. Their routes cross the world’s waterways: instead of the Caribbean, consider, say, a seven-day cruise from Stockholm to St. Petersburg and back to Copenhagen.
From $4,398 per person. silversea.com.
This mid-19th-century gray-shingled shoreside inn—with access to miles of secluded beach—exudes the wind-tousled romance of a Winslow Homer canvas. Suites are all salt-air sumptuousness, adorned with Pratesi linens and fresh Nantucket wildflowers. Activities abound: sailing, lobstering, a stroll through the chef’s herb garden, caviar treatments in the Spa by the Sea, champagne sipping at sunset. Hotel staff are plentiful: two per guest to maximize pampering. The Coatue Suite, the most luxurious of the Wauwinet’s 32 rooms, provides postcard views of the bay.
From $230 to $1,429 per night. wauwinet.com.
Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema is Rio’s most affluent neighbourhood, and its namesake beach is arguably Rio’s most stunning. The white sand is dotted with sun-scorched tourists, footballers, surfers and Cariocas from every class of the city’s society—all levelled by the equalizing power of the thong/Speedo (foreigners hoping to buy full-coverage swimwear, be warned). In the middle of it all is the posh Hotel Fasano, which opened in 2007 to the kind of buzz that wooed holidaying celebs like Madonna. Philippe Starck designed the 91-room resort from lobby to rooftop terrace, and his signature updated mid-century aesthetic, here inflected with a little bossa nova charm, radiates from each piece of streamlined furniture. The rooms are airy and luxe, with massive tubs, hardwood floors and beds on a slight incline, facing the horizon, to optimize the ocean view. The rooftop infinity pool offers gasp-provoking views of the Two Brothers mountain, while the bar and restaurant on the main floor are the centre of social life for the city’s young and privileged.
From $700 to $3,493 per night. fasano.com.br.
The Giraffe Manor
Check in to Giraffe Manor, where resident Rothschild giraffes wander gracefully through the manor’s surrounding lawns like house pets, and you’ll feel like you’ve wandered into some Lewis Carroll wonderland. This magical, fig-bearded Scottish baronial manor perches at the foot of the Ngong Hills (not far from the famed estate in Out of Africa) and serves as both eminently civilized guest house and sanctuary for the endangered Rothschilds. Here, breakfast comes with giraffe visits (they’ll poke their heads through giant windows). Book a second-storey bedroom so that you can treat your tall visitors to giraffe kibble from your suite.
From $449 to $469 per person per night, meals included. giraffemanor.com.
This ultimate alpine lodge—mecca for the adventuresome—pampers with an almost-too-good-to-be-true view of New Zealand’s snow-toqued Southern Alps and pool-blue Lake Wakatipu. Rooms are both decadent and rustic, with antler chandeliers, arched windows, stone fireplaces and hot tubs. Fine cuisine (favouring local protein) helps guests refuel after all that heli-skiing, hiking, fly-fishing and horseback riding.
From $792 to $2,337 per night, most meals and sports included. blanketbay.com.
This former West Texas railroad stop feels like the remote spot where the party caboose fell off. Approaching from El Paso, on a flat stretch of highway punctuated only by pecan trees, you’ll encounter Prada Marfa, a surreal art installation that’s a replica Prada store and a commentary on materialism. The spare, modernist Thunderbird Hotel is in the town proper—situated among restaurants, music venues and art galleries, including Donald Judd’s repurposed military base—and provides everything leisure lovers need, from a heated pool to $10 bikes and record players. For romance, fill your flask at El Cheapo liquor store, wrap up in serapes, and wait for the ghostly Marfa Lights while imagining Javier Bardem, Daniel Day-Lewis, and even James Dean doing the same. The cinematic town has hosted them all. (See No Country for Old Men for shots of Marfa’s signature desolate landscape.)
From $132 to $204 per night. thunderbirdmarfa.com.
Lāna’i at Manele Bay, Hawaii
This tranquil, plush property perches to heavenly effect on a marine reserve on the tiny island of La−na’i. There are more spinner dolphins here than there are human denizens.With a population of only 3,000, La−na’i—mapped with red-lava cliffs, highland forests and mist-tipped mountains—is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian island. Visit in winter, whale season, according to locals, when the waters host hundreds of migrating humpbacks and their calves.
From $434 to $6,634 per night. fourseasons.com/manelebay/.
A deal closer for trysting tycoons. Had Wall Street’s Gordon and Kate Gekko honeymooned in Asia, they would have booked the Intercontinental’s two-storey, 7,000-square-foot Presidential Suite. With two 24-hour butlers, a 2,500-square-foot terrace and an infinity Jacuzzi overlooking Victoria Harbour, it’s the largest hotel suite in Hong Kong. Food—from Alain Ducasse’s Spoon and the Michelin-starred Yan Toh Heen—is also of the state-of-the-art variety. The price tag at this high-powered lair ($11,736) is as vertiginous as the views. For more accessible accommodations, book a harbour-view room to take in the ever-shifting skyline.
From $341 per night. hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com.
For newlyweds as smitten with post-modern design as each other, this modern building at the foot of the Buda Royal Palace will induce full-body tingles, even before the bedroom threshold is breached. The design award–winning hotel, named for the nearby chain bridge, sits on the banks of the Danube, which separates the residential and historic old town (Buda) from the trendy downtown (Pest), so architectural details are carefully orchestrated to reflect the intersection of the ancient with the more modern. The façade lights up with automated rainbow colours like an avant-garde art installation (it’s an aquatic history of the Danube); inside, the lobby’s sleek glass floor lays bare the ruins of a medieval water tower below. The rooms are just as fascinating, especially the top-floor Panorama Suites, which feature huge windows and rooftop gardens that let lovers look out onto either Buda or Pest.
From $90 to $493 per night. lanchid19hotel.hu.
This haute-rustic, yellow-clapboard 18-room retreat—owned by fifth-generation Sonoma grape growers—snuggles up to vineyards and redwood forests in Northern California’s Russian River Valley. Superlative soil-to-table cuisine in the Michelin-starred restaurant spotlights the seasonal and (very) local: your breakfast eggs come from the owners’ chickens, and the honey in your tea hails from their own hives. New milk-white “barn rooms” tucked in the property’s wooded groves are fresh and cozy, some with vaulted ceilings, four-poster beds, stone fireplaces and private decks.
From $301 to $709 per night. farmhouseinn.com.
The Oberoi Rajvilās
With all the exotic pomp of a Rajasthani kingdom, this resort sprawls across 32 acres of hotly coloured landscaped gardens in the northern Indian countryside. Luxury tents come with private courtyards, Burmese teak floors, embroidered canopies and colonial-style claw-foot tubs. Jaipur, with its pageant of palaces, forts and high-adrenalin arts-and-crafts bazaars, has much to sate shoppers and history buffs.
From $913 to $5,476 per night. oberoihotels.com/oberoi_rajvilas.
The Wickaninnish Inn
Perched on the rocky coast of B.C., the Wickaninnish is as far away from the hustle of Toronto as you can get without a passport. It’s one of only 480 resorts in the world to receive the vaunted Relais and Châteaux certification, which means honeymooners are in for serious indulgence, albeit in a rustic-coastal-cottage kind of way. Rooms and house-sized lofts are bedecked in warm cedar panelling, Haida art, fireplaces and soaker tubs overlooking rugged shoreline. When couples tire of hot stone massages and room service oysters, the inn can arrange for salmon fishing and kayaking trips among Clayoquot Sound’s secluded inlets and islands.
From $300 to $1,100 per night. wickinn.com.
For couples who ride the crest of cool at all times (or try to, at least), The Standard is the place to stay in New York. The massive steel-and-glass rectangle is hoisted on stilts, 57 feet above street level, and straddles the High Line, a swath of abandoned train tracks that was recently transformed into a park elevated above the Meat Packing District. Few hotel openings have generated as much chatter as this one, in part because the exhibitionist architecture—featuring floor-to-ceiling windows—has resulted in a reputation as “the naked hotel,” and in part because it’s an André Balazs project (he’s the boutique hotel baron responsible for such it spots as Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont). The interior is serene and modern, with subtle nods to the district’s ’80s excess (black shag carpets, for example). Three hip bars and a bistro keep the place hopping with 20-somethings, but the design smartly separates public entrances, so honeymooners can get in on the action and still retreat to their luxe little box in the sky. A tip for prudes: the glass-clad bathrooms are open to the sleeping area, which means daily hygiene is an all-eyes affair and room service should be ordered strategically.
From $301 to $1,939 a night. standardhotels.com/new-york-city.
This iconic European queen of the rails—with 1920s carriages, wood-burning stoves, Lalique glass panelling, intricate art deco marquetry and gloved cabin stewards in livery—chugs along with its own steamer-trunk, time-warp mystique. Signature itineraries include journeys from London to Venice, and Paris to Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul. Watch countryside roll by as champagne arrives at the summons of a silver bell. Dining is an evening-gown, silver-service affair in the restaurant car, proof of the rhyme “You can’t overdress on the Orient Express.”
From $1,378 for one night (Rome to Venice) to $9,669 for five nights (Paris to Istanbul); all meals included. orient-express.com.
Worlds away from the island’s tourist-trammeled Costa Smeralda, this bucolic inland retreat in Sardinia’s Supramonte is set amid vineyards, olive groves and myrtle-and-rosemary-scented countryside. Scenic, winding hikes along ancient shepherds’ paths will escort you past cliffsides, ravines and grottos to Nuragic villages and ruins. To greet you post-adventure: a spring water swimming pool, white-washed suites adorned with Sardinian fabrics and antiques, and exceptional nonna-style cuisine in the terrace restaurant.
From $195 to $612 per night. sugologone.it.