Five-star city break or beach paradise? With a healthy budget and the world at your feet, just where do you choose for your perfect honeymoon? Jane Anderson, editor of 101 Honeymoons selects her top 10 luxury destinations and suggests some very special places to stay.
It may be a bit of romantic cliché, but tell me honestly that your heart won’t be set a-flutter by the prospect of a luxury trip to Paris? Toast yourselves with champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, once the world’s tallest structure and still a heart-stopping experience. If you have any artistic sensibility, Paris is a dream, with the Musée Rodin, Musée du Louvre and the Centre Pompidou all stuffed with art treasures. Shopaholics will prefer a trip to Galeries Lafayette, Rue St Honore or one of the many flea markets for a vintage gem. For lovers, simply wandering the Left Bank is a delight, stopping at cafes, private galleries and boutiques. Stay in one of the grand dames of Parisian chic such as Le Meurice, one of the oldest Palace hotels in the city.
The volcanic Greek island of Santorini is an other-worldly place, its colourful cliffs soaring hundreds of metres above an extinct caldera. It’s just the kind of island escape where romance flourishes. Its characteristic cube architecture, often topped with perfect domes, remains true to the Greek colours of blue and white. The best hotels play on this style, including Grace Santorini with its sexy pure white décor. Most rooms have a private terrace and plunge pool for two. One even has its own hammam. Enjoy champagne breakfasts and moonlit dinners overlooking the Aegean.
If you love Italy and you want exclusive, the chichi island of Capri is where it’s at. Fly into Naples and catch the hydrofoil or ferry from the Amalfi Coast, or – better still – charter a private boat. Honeymoons on this island are all about long lunches in Capri Town or Anacapri, swimming in secluded coves and mysterious grottos and being pampered silly in your five-star hotel. Top of the list are the Hotel Capri and the J.K Place Capri, both with wonderfully dramatic locations and serious old school glamour.
4. New York
From the tip of the Empire State Building to the depths of the subway, New York rocks. It’s no wonder this city has inspired so much music and film. Whether you stick to the mainstream attractions like Fifth Avenue, Central Park and the Guggenheim, or explore trendy neighbourhoods such as the Meatpacking District and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the Big Apple has a big heart. The choice of luxury hotels is astounding. Go old school at The Plaza, right on Central Park, where the likes of Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles stayed or check out one of the most recent openings such as the Viceroy New York. And if you want a two-centre honeymoon, it’s an easy hop to Bermuda or the Caribbean.
5. Turks & Caicos
The Caribbean is a hotbed of luxury hangouts from Barbados to St Lucia, but go a little off beat and you’ll find the Turks & Caicos, a pristine archipelago just south of the Bahamas. Grace Bay Beach is 12 miles of idyllic white sand and turquoise sea while a more authentic Caribbean can be found on the islands of North Caicos and Salt Cay. There is scuba diving and whale watching in abundance, while the Turks & Caicos are also home to two of the world’s most exclusive hotels, the private island resort of Parrot Cay and Amanyara, each with incredible private villas, superlative service and a world-class spa.
6. South Africa
A honeymoon in South Africa offers a multi-faceted experience. Fly into the vibrant city of Cape Town for Table Mountain and the beautiful beaches of Camps Bay framed by the mighty Twelve Apostles. Stay at Cape Grace on the waterfront or the historic Mount Nelson Hotel, before moving on to a tour of the wine routes, staying at beautiful lodges along the way. A honeymoon here wouldn’t be complete without a safari and there are plenty of high-end camps including Sir Richard Branson’s Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. South Africa also combines easily with an Indian Ocean beach destination such as Mauritius or the coast of Mozambique.
One of the top travel hotspots of the moment, Brazil is an incredible honeymoon destination, especially if you have a healthy budget. From hot tropical nights in Rio staying at designer hotels like the Fasano, with its rooftop infinity pool, to a trip to the Iguacu Falls on the border with Argentina and Paraguay, this is always going to be a wow experience. Venture into the Amazon rainforest, staying in a private jungle chalet on stilts before heading for some relaxation on the trendy Bahain coast.
The Maldives is the ultimate castaway honeymoon, with exclusive island resorts reached only by seaplane, over-water villas, underwater restaurants and some of the best spas in the world. Hotels such as the Soneva Fushi – on the Robinson Crusoe-like privately owned tropical island of Kunfunadhoo in Baa Atoll – are as far removed from real life as it gets. Even the lowest room category comes with a private plunge pool and sumptuous deck. Spend a night on board a designer yacht or a traditional Maldivian dhoni and don’t miss a treatment in the underwater spa. And of course, if you dive, you’ll be in heaven here.
Chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton as their honeymoon of choice, the Seychelles remains one of the most exclusive destinations on earth. With its unique rock formations and Bounty Bar beaches, it’s spread out over hundreds of coral and granite islands, only a few of which are inhabited. Choose a private island resort such as Fregate Island or North Island and expect villas to blow your mind. Don’t miss a visit to Praslin, home to the original Garden of Eden (so they say) and the charming island of La Digue where bicycle is the main means of transport.
10. New Zealand
For new wave honeymooners who want adventure with their romance, a trip to the other side of the world is well worth it to explore New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes in style. Heli-hike vast glaciers, horse-ride across the bush, swim in hot springs and cruise the Milford Sound. Choose a self-drive tour for the freedom of the road but make the most of New Zealand’s superlative lodges including Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses in Kaikoura on the South Island and Huka Lodge in Taupo on the North Island.