Honeymoons, proposals, and anniversaries are all great excuses to take a romantic trip with your significant other. But lets be honest: sometimes you don’t need any reason other than love to spend a weekend in a fairytale castle in Ireland or sip champagne on a rooftop in Prague.
Could there be a better way to forge a bond — or rekindle one — than discovering a new place together? Across the pond, couples can find a dizzying number of romantic hotels and resorts. There are places that encourage twosomes to detox and recharge, invite them to explore a new culture and find adventure, or to simply be pampered by the best service European hospitality can provide. Whether you want rose petals and chocolates or an utterly luxurious urban escape, you’re sure to find it on this list.
Steps from the famous Vienna State Opera and the Philharmonic is Hotel Imperial: a palace-turned-grand hotel that still holds all its original glory. You’ll feel like stars in a love story surrounded by enormous crystal chandeliers, marble floors, the Neo-Renaissance façade, and opulent interiors filled with 120 years of history. The Weiner Schnitzel at the Viennese coffeehouse style Cafe Imperial comes highly recommended, and Champagne brunch happens regularly. But guests should save room for the Imperial Torte for dessert (the hotel’s signature treat). Come nightfall, practice your waltz where the dance was invented. Balls, conveniently, are held throughout the year for high society revelers.
What was once a palace for sultans is now a five-star hotel. At Ciragan Palace Kempinski, stately residence overlooks the Bosporus on one side and wooded Yıldız Park on the other. Sprawling courtyards and a pool on the edge of the river are ideal for afternoon meandering hand-in-hand. All four of the hotel’s restaurants have balconies or terraces overlooking the river (the Laledan Resturant has excellent brunch, while guests should try the hotel’s signature Testi Lamb casserole at Tugra Restaurant for dinner). Of course, it wouldn’t be the most romantic place in Turkey without a world-class, white marble spa featuring traditional Turkish baths, massages, and steam rooms. Guests can even request a suite featuring a marble hammam-style bathroom.
A luxurious residence on a hilltop in Lisbon’s Lapa District, Olissippo Lapa Palace is the perfect urban oasis for partners seeking both city as well as sea. Its stained-glass windows and beautiful carpets have been painstakingly preserved since the 19th-century, and guests can stay in the traditional-style Palace Wing, or opt for a contemporary Garden Wing room. But the Tower Room is the highlight of the resort, boasting private twin balconies and the best views over Lisbon. Watch boats drift by beneath the stars from the Lapa Restaurant’s terrace, and take time to lounge by the pool in the summer (or the heated one indoors during cooler months).
Reside in Belle Epoque glamor in San Sebastian at Hotel Maria Cristina. Steeped in Basque history, the city is considered Spain’s own Monte Carlo, with beautiful beaches to enjoy, palaces to admire, and a high-energy nightlife scene. The vibe at this hotel is contemporary, despite the imperial setting and architecture (suites come equipped with rainforest showers and multiple TVs, as well as accents like crystal chandeliers and turquoise armchairs). Sip great cocktails on the blue velvet seats in the hotel bar before heading out to explore the best pintxos the city has to offer. Spain’s notoriously laid-back lifestyle is the perfect framework for relaxing one-on-one time. Take a siesta after your morning explorations, sip sangria and local wines with a late dinner (early, for Spaniards) and dancing together at one of the city’s vibrant wild discotecas.
Baden-Baden is a wellness-centric “spa town” on the border of the Black Forest in Southwestern Germany, and Brenner’s Park is the destination’s star player. Health-conscious couples will obsess over the fitness and nutrition features, like devoted doctors and spa professionals at the Villa Stephanie who can administer everything from aromatherapy to Thai massages. There are digital detox rooms so you can tune out distractions and focus on each other (really focus) for once. Select a room with a balcony view of River Oos or the duplex honeymoon suite for the ultimate affair. Brenner’s Park is just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town, but couples wanting to explore the countryside can rent one of the property’s classic cars to cruise in, including a 1965 convertible VW Beetle or a speedy Porsche 928.
Those looking for an unequivocally lavish experience will feel right at home in Monaco. The Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo is a star all its own, with a majestic lobby sparkling with chandeliers, and intricate colonnades and sculptures you might recognize from numerous James Bond films. Extravagance is de rigueur here, and couples can dine on Alain Ducasse’s cuisine and choose wines from the Grande Cave: the world’s largest collection of fine wines. Spend an afternoon under a cabana on the private beach or at Thermes Marins, one of the most beautiful spas in Europe. Rooms have absurdly pretty sea or city views with balconies.
Share afternoon tea with homemade pastries while admiring Lake Geneva at this historic five-star Hotel D’Angleterre, marked as one of the city’s heritage sites. Sip scotch and cozy up in the lively ambiance in the Leopard Room Bar & Lounge or head to the Windows Restaurant in the Victorian-style conservatory for stunning views of the lake and Mont Blanc. Guests can take advantage of the romantic turndown service when they stay overnight in February — it’s followed by a pink champagne breakfast in the morning (don’t mind if we do).
A self-proclaimed “country house,” the term doesn’t quite do Inverlochy Castle Hotel justice. The Gothic Revival architecture mirrors the 16th-century structure that gives the hotel its name. Queen Victoria spent a week there in 1873 to paint and sketch, and noted in her diary: “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.” Misty West Highland glens, lochs, and mountains surround Fort William and the castle ruins about 100 miles north of Glasgow, while stone walls wrap cozy bedrooms and claw-footed bathtubs in like something you might have seen on Outlander. Sip whiskey at the nearby Ben Nevis distillery, and admire in the fields speckled with sheep and steeped in history.
Find your special escape in the heart of Amsterdam at The Dylan, a small boutique hotel on Keizersgracht, one of the city’s main canals. Enter through the 17th-century courtyard into a fully renovated and updated interior (the perfect combination of Old World elegance and modern accents). Decor is fresh and bright, and the vibe is decidedly low-key, even with the Michelin-starred Restaurant Vinkeles on site. Rooms vary from lofts with exposed beam ceilings to cozy, Asian-inspired nooks, but the best spots have canal views. Borrow a hotel bike to explore the chic shopping district, or cruise on a private tour of the canals on the property’s private boat.
On the Pest side of the Danube, Hungary’s most romantic and trendy escape is the Aria Hotel Budapest. The rooms here offer either Baroque or modern design, and all are themed after classical music icons and music genres (the Mozart room, the Jazz Wing). It’s a fitting vibe for the hotel’s central location by the Opera House. Edgy onyx bathrooms feature bidets, mattresses are customizable for you and your partner’s firmness preference, and rooms offer garden or city views. There’s an infrared sauna and a Finnish sauna, and complimentary wine and cheese every afternoon in the lounge.
But the best seat in the house isn’t indoors: the year-round Skybar rooftop garden is ideal for sunbathing during the day and for drinks in the evening, with 360-degree views of the surrounding Budapest sights: the beautiful St. Stephens Basilica, the gilded Parliament Building, and the glittering Danube.
Overlooking the neighbors (William and Kate) at Kensington Palace and its Gardens, the Milestone Hotel offers couples charming British luxury. Guests here will live like royalty amongst antique furnishings and artworks in the mansion-turned-hotel. The establishment is known for its thoughtful details (fresh fruit in every room, turn-down service with books of poetry) and attentive staff (two to every guest). Spend evenings sipping a glass of wine in the airy Conservatory — the legendary wine cellar has more than 300 labels — while afternoons are for award-winning tea with Devonshire clotted cream, freshly baked scones, Champagne, and a formidable tea list. In the summer months, you can take your tea party to Hyde Park and enjoy a picnic for two with all the trimmings (yes, the Champagne can come, too).
Paris might be the archetype for romantic escapes, but a trip to the French Riviera is a truly dreamy experience. And at the region’s heart is Château de la Chèvre d’Or, in Eze, a small medieval village on the cliffs between Nice and Monaco. The village is a haven for craftspeople and vacationing artists, but the hotel residences spread throughout cobblestoned streets have been upgraded to luxury status. Even the bathrooms have full sea views, but the Panoramic Suite crowning the hotel is sublime. Guests with this room key enjoy a terrace Jacuzzi for two and private infinity pool. Sit at the Cafe du Jardin for lunch, or admire the ocean far below and wander the gardens between the 12th-century walls. Dine al fresco by candlelight at Le Eden or the two-Michelin-starred La Chèvre d’Or for Mediterranean cuisine, French wine and a view alone worth the trip. A weekend here is bound to bring you closer to France — and one another.
A trip to Oia is all about enjoying pure, unadulterated beauty. Though there are multiple Santorini hotels that cracked the top 10 most romantic spots in our poll, Katikies Hotel’s cubist cottages are the best for watching the world-famous sunsets. Whitewashed rooms can only be described as sanctuaries, with white bedding to match the cool interiors. Master suites come with private outdoor plunge pools and a sun deck for lounging and dining for two. Admire panoramas of the Caldera while you sip champagne by the infinity pool and eat dinner by candlelight on the veranda under the stars. It’s intimate, and yet decidedly open to the Aegean Sea and Greek skies — heaven just might be a place on earth here.
Wake up in one of Ireland’s most storied castles — fresh from a $75 million renovation — with views of the River Cong and Lough Corrib (one of Ireland’s largest lakes), just an hour north of Galway. On Ashford Castle’s 350-acre estate, all laid out by the Guinness family in the 19th century, travelers can soak in the Irish resplendence as guests like Oscar Wilde and Princess Grace of Monaco once did. Stroll together along the Terraced Walk to the Velvet Garden or bike through the Irish countryside. Literature buffs will love exploring the Oak Hall’s 800 antiquarian books, and outdoorsy couples will appreciate horse riding, archery, and even zip-lining activities. Afterward, retreat to the revamped spa (housed in a stunning conservatory with uninterrupted river views), or experience a private wine tasting in one of the castle’s secret tunnel enclaves. Bed down in the main castle or opt for the hideaway cottage, where guests can stay secluded beneath the starry night skies.
Italy’s most beautiful retreats and resorts seem concentrated in the Campania region, but the crown jewel is nestled on a cliffside in Amalfi. Built in 1904 and run by the same family for generations, Hotel Santa Caterina has an old Hollywood style (Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest) framed by a timeless natural setting. Here, walkways and terraces lined with lemon trees and flowered pergolas are accented by white stucco and metal-railed balconies overlooking the Bay of Salerno. It feels glamorous and quaint all at once. Amalfi’s surrounding coastal villages, as well as the hills of Ravello and beaches in Positano, draw couples from far and wide. Spoil one another with drinks under the stars at the outdoor bar, a signature Lemon Massage at the spa, and take the glass elevator down to the famous pool deck (Santa Caterina is one of the only Amalfi resorts with direct sea access).
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