Honeymooners' guide to the world
After the most important day of your life, comes the most important holiday -- the one that could set things up perfectly, or have you wondering what the hell you got yourself into.
Don't let the accommodation unfairly influence that time.
These resorts will suffuse your holiday with excessive pampering and indulgent pleasures, leaving you to focus on the important task of loving and cherishing.
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Best honeymoon resorts for beach lovers
Dusit Thani: Baa Atholl, Maldives
Mudhdhoo Island is all pristine white beaches and turquoise ocean, a thing of dreams rather than reality.
But it is real, and your dreaming can be done in a spacious over-water villa at Dusit Thani Resort when you're not sampling the catch of the day at Sea Grill restaurant, or gazing at stars at the overwater Sala Bar.
The real treasure is the diving at nearby Hanifaru Huraa. Between May and August plankton attracts swooping manta rays and majestic whale sharks.
Room from US$870 per villa per night; PO Box 2188 Mudhdhoo Island, Baa Atoll, Maldives; +960 660 8888; www.dusit.com
Bay of Fires Lodge: Tasmania, Australia
Bay of Fires Lodge proves there’s no need to forego your green credentials for a luxury beach honeymoon. It's made of natural, locally sourced wood, uses solar lighting and overlooks a windswept stretch of OMG white sand.
Minimalist bedrooms look out onto eye-popping walks. Along the Abbotsbury Peninsula you’ll see cresting whales and leaping dolphins, spy diving gannets at the Bay of Fires and in the surrounding forests you can spot echidnas, lizards, wallabies and wombats for your honeymoon album.
From AU$2,125 (US$2,180) per person, including return transfers to Launceston, one night at Forester Beach Camp and two nights at Bay of Fires Lodge, all meals and drinks and National Park pass; Mount William National Park, Bay Of Fires, 7250, Australia; + 61 (0)3 6392 2211; www.bayoffires.com.au
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Constance Ephelia: Seychelles
You shouldn't need convincing to visit the Seychelles, but if you're hesitating at all, listen to this: huge villas with butler service, petal-strewn baths and massages with fragrant oils at Constance Ephelia.
Then there's the beach -- pristine by day, powder-white sand, palm trees and sunsets that produce new colors and cloud patterns every evening.
Finally, a boat ride away, the granite island of La Digue offers even more. Visitors can explore the island by bike, taking in stretches of beach like Anse Source d’Argent, where gigantic boulders separate crescents of shell-pink sand.
US$439 per suite per night including breakfast, Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles; +248 (0) 439 5000; epheliaresort.constancehotels.com
Jumby Bay: St. John's, Antigua
A private island reached by a 15-minute catamaran ride from Antigua’s south shore, Jumby Bay is extra special.
It provides bikes outside your spacious villa so you can whiz around the 120-hectare island and has a gourmet restaurant in a former plantation house. There's also the chance to see endangered Hawksbill turtles nesting on isolated Pasture Bay Beach.
From US$995 per room based on two people sharing; includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, cocktails and house wine; PO Box 243, St. John’s, Antigua; +268 462 6000; www.rosewoodhotels.com
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Danai Beach Resort & Villas: Halkidiki, Greece
You could be forgiven for spending entire days inside the marble bathrooms here, especially when they're stocked with Bulgari goodies. But that would be silly.
The rooms at Danai Beach Resort & Villas are garnishes to the silky sands of the private beach. Cabanas and vast white daybeds give views of the bright blue Aegean Sea ahead, mountain slopes carpeted with conifers behind and gardens filled with 200-year-old olive and orange trees either side.
From €355 (US$436) per suite per night, 63088 Nikiti, Sithonia, Halkidiki, Greece; +30 23 7502 0400; www.danairesort.com
Best honeymoon resorts for the great outdoors
Explora Salto Chico: Patagonia, Chile
Rooms at the Explora Patagonia Salto Chico lodge enjoy epic views, with windows that open onto tumbling waterfalls and granite towers of the Torres del Paine National Park.
If that’s not enough to coax you out from between the sheets, the Casa de Banos del Ona, with its heated indoor pool, sauna and al fresco Jacuzzi should do the trick.
Further from your base, you can meet the resident gauchos on their ranches, trek to glaciers, lake and magma formations, ride horses to explore the park and, if you’re lucky, see condors or eagles from the peaks.
From US$2,780 per person, for four nights (minimum stay) and includes entrance fee to the Torres del Paine National Park and full board; Lago Pehoé, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile; +562 206 6060, www.explora.com
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Mchenja Bushcamp: Zambia
Edging through the undergrowth in an open-top four-wheel drive, guides at Mchenja Bushcamp lead you deep into the bush to spot lions on the hunt.
Dinner overlooks the Luangwa River, where hippos wallow at sunset, after which the starlit walk back through an ebony grove to your thatched, tented cottage, happens under the watchful eye of the guides looking for the big game that roam free in the South Luangwa National Park.
From US$595 per person per night including meals and game drives; PO Box 100, Mfuwe, Zambia; +260 21624 6025; www.normancarrsafaris.com
Kasbah Tamadot: Marrakech, Morocco
Hardened camping this is not: there may be just a curtain between you and the Atlas Mountains, but the king-size bed and heaps of cloud-like cushions in your luxury Berber tented suite at Kasbah Tamadot do plenty to help you forget it.
Private heated plunge pools, sunloungers and oversized bathtubs provide luxurious comfort in view of Mount Toubkal. There are also traditional mule treks, mountain hikes and bike trails.
From 4,600 Dirhams (US$508) per tent per night; BP 67, 42152 Asni, Marrakech, Morocco; +212 (0)524 36 8200; www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com
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Viñas de Cafayate-Wine Resort: Salta, Argentina
Sipping vintages in the cellars of Viñas de Cafayate-Wine Resort, a Spanish Colonial-style escape that sits amidst lush vineyards, is a sophisticated way to celebrate your new marriage.
An exploration of the surrounding San Isidro Hills or dramatic red earth Cafayate Canyon by foot, bike or horseback will build an appetite, which can be sated with a melt-in-the-mouth steak in the resort’s gourmet restaurant with wood beams and traditional tiled floor.
From US$140 per room per night; 25 de Mayo, Camino al Divisadero. Fca. Calchaquí S/N (A4427AED) Cafayate, Salta, Argentina; +54 38 6842 2272/28; www.cafayatewineresort.com
Castello Di Vicarello: Tuscany, Italy
You can’t fault the views from the Sassi suite at 12th-century castle Castello Di Vicarello, sweeping down the flower-covered hills to the water below.
The II Giardino Segreto split-level suite gives views of the hills from the bathtub, and also the chance to try one of owner Aurora Bacchesi Berti’s modern Italian recipes over your own wood-fired stove.
The sunflower field-filled countryside also offers great hikes through vineyards where you can taste the local tipples and indulge in some lingering alfresco lunches.
From £303 (US$470) per room per night; Località Vicarello 58044, Poggi del Sasso Cinigiano Province of Grosseto, Italy 0564 990718; +39 7051 3489; www.vicarello.it
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Best honeymoon resorts for city slickers
Hyatt 48 Lex: New York, United States
The Big Apple fizzes with things to see and do and, even if you’ve visited before, it takes on a whole new slant when you’re wrapped in romance.
At the newly opened Hyatt 48 Lex hotel, small touches amount to a lot, such as iPads to borrow and free pastries to nibble in the Lexicon Lounge. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean you can enjoy the city skyline 24/7, and the minibar is a revelation: we’re talking a butler’s pantry stocked with chocolate-covered marshmallows and good wines.
You’re in strolling distance of the Chrysler Building, Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, Central Park and Fifth Avenue.
From US$499 per room per night; 517 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017, United States; +1 212 848 12334; 48lex.hyatt.com
Mandarin Oriental: Paris, France
Just steps from the Louvre and designer shops of Rue-Saint-Honoré, rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Paris are true hideaways: the best being the Mandarin Terrace rooms which display the work of famed photographer Man Ray and overlook the hotel’s fragrant camellia garden.
Cocktails in Bar 8, with its wall lined with Lalique crystals and sleek marble top bar, can be followed by a meal in the all-white restaurant Sur Mesure.
From €765 (US$928) per room per night; 251 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001, Paris, France; +33 1 7098 7888; www.mandarinoriental.com
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One&Only: Cape Town, South Africa
With your iPod in the docking station and tune selected, guests here can lie back on the king-size bed to gaze at Table Mountain.
Set on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, this hotel is perfectly placed for a city adventure, from dining on seafood and watching the surfers in Camps Bay to taking the cable car to the top of the peak.
Don’t miss a candlelit meal in Nobu, the first African outpost of the famous Japanese eatery.
From 4,441 Rand (US$525) per room per night; PO Box 51289, Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa; +27 21 431 5888; capetown.oneandonlyresorts.com
Hotel Bel Air: Los Angeles, United States
Fancy following in the footsteps of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe? Do so by checking in to Hotel Bel-Air.
Both those stars stayed here and now reopened after a major facelift, the 1950s-inspired redesign includes elegant cream and wood rooms dotted with art deco-style pieces, and light and airy deluxe rooms with French doors opening on to the pretty gardens.
From US$565 per room per night; 701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, United States; +1310 4721211; www.hotelbelair.com
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Gran Hotel La Florida: Barcelona, Spain
This hilltop hotel overlooking the city is one that Gaudi made his own. Airy rooms make you feel the glamour of a bygone age -- the hotel was host to Hemingway -- and you can take breakfast on the terrace with views across the city or dinner as the lights twinkle below.
City highlights include Gaudi’s unfinished Sagrada Familia, Parc de la Ciutadella and Casa Batlló. But it’s not all architecture: there’s the colorful kaleidoscope of Barcelona market and the beach too.
From €195 (US$236) per room per night, including breakfast; Ctra. Vallvidrera al Tibidabo, 83-93 08035, Barcelona, Spain; +34 932593064; www.hotellaflorida.com
Best honeymoon resorts for quirky escapes
Hotel Chocolat: St. Lucia
A Caribbean boutique hotel in the heart of the Rabot cocoa estate, which, along with the usual honeymoon must-haves (infinity pool, four-poster beds and the like), has the added edge of being dedicated to our favorite treat, chocolate.
The Boucan Restaurant has a cocoa-inspired menu (rib eye steak with dark chocolate and port sauce) and cocoa beans are used in treatments at the hotel’s spa CocoaJuvenate (they’re full of antioxidants).
Club Boucan, a private guest-only area with pool and views of the Piton peaks,serves choc-based drinks. You can even sleep in the new Cocoa Pod Luxe, with sea view, king-size bed and open-air forest shower.
Big Nature package from US$70 per day including accommodation, breakfast, guided Piton ascent and access to Club Boucan; The Rabot Estate, PO Box 312, Soufriere, St. Lucia; +1 800 757 7132, www.thehotelchocolat.com
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Geo Ekopod: Cornwall, England
Oversized beanbags; freshly baked rolls, jam, marmalade and apple juice from a hamper that magically appears on the path outside your dome each morning; board games and cards -- there are myriad ways to relax in and around these eco-friendly domes, complete with bathroom, sundeck, loungers and open-air bathtub.
Bodmin Moor is good for blustery walks, or you can take a scenic stroll along the coastal path to Trebarwith Beach café or a full-on hike to Golitha Falls, where you’re rewarded with a fairytale-like mini-waterfall.
From £95 (US$147) per night; The Old Vicarage, St. Clether, Cornwall PL15 8QJ, England; +44 127 539 5447; www.ekopod.com
Jumbo Stay: Stockholm, Sweden
It's not a mile high, but a night in the double cockpit suite at Jumbo Stay, a hostel in a grounded, converted jet at Stockholm-Arlanda airport, will give you the chance to get frisky in a plane.
You’ll cuddle up with views of the runway and the original controls at your feet, though that’s not the only tech within reach -- Wi-Fi's included along with a flatscreen TV.
A futuristic café is open for dinner and drinks.
From 3,300 Krona (US$474) per night; PO Box 160, SE-190 46 Stockholm Arlanda, Sweden; +46 8 5936 0400; www.jumbostay.se
The Caves: Negrail, Jamaica
The candlelit dinners here take place within the stony walls of a cave in Negril, western Jamaica.
Days spent snorkeling, sunbathing and deep-sea fishing can be concluded back at thatched cottages set into the cliffside.
US$420 per room per night; PO Box 3113, Lighthouse, Negril, Jamaica; +1 (876) 957 0270; www.islandoutpost.com
Maharaja Express train: India
Opulent is the only word to describe the Maharaja Express, whose dashing waiters clad in tunics and turbans welcome you with glasses of melon juice and flower garlands.
During the New Delhi to Mumbai leg, there’s a chance to experience India outside the train, by visiting Jambughoda Palace or seeing elephant polo in the foothills of the Aravalli Range.
Suites have hand-painted ceilings and the bar houses squishy leather seats.
From US$6,360 for an eight-day Heritage of India tour in a deluxe cabin; C-811, Shushant Lok-1 Gurgaon 122009, New Delhi, India; +91 124 463 6800; maharajasexpressonline.com