We partnered with Martha Stewart Weddings and asked our readers and followers to reveal their ultimate honeymoon destinations in nine regions around the globe. Now, with nearly 9,000 of you accounted for, we've found our winners. South America isn't always top of mind when it comes to deciding where to go for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation. But you'd be mistaken not to consider it. And for those of you who did or plan to, it's no surprise you picked Rio de Janeiro as the spot to go (the runner ups: Lima, Peru; Cartagena, Colombia; and Santiago, Chile). Whether you end up choosing the sultry Brazilian capital, or any of the other top nominees, set your marriage off on the right foot by checking out our list of the most swoon-worthy hotels.
This spectacular oceanfront hotel, in Rio's chic Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, is almost entirely surrounded by water. Each of its 436 rooms has a balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Atlantic (in front) or the Marapendi Lagoon (behind). The Yabu Puschelberg-designed interiors make use of indigenous Brazilian stones and fabrics, while oversized bathrooms feature deep baths and separate showers with amenities from Granado, Brazil’s oldest pharmacy. The final dose of carioca flair? The mosaics and vertical gardens throughout the property, which were inspired by the work of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
In Rio, Brazilians usher in the sunset with a round of applause. And you’ll be inspired to join in if you’re viewing it from the eighth floor bar of this hotel's rooftop pool above legendary Ipanema Beach. Designed by Philippe Starck, the glass walls and marbled infinity pool reflect the landscape, the emerald peaks of Tijuca Forest and Christ the Redeemer presiding in the distance. But the scenery around you is equally jaw-dropping with Brazilian models, international playboys and fashion types lolling in the shallows in oversized shades. The steamy bossa nova beats should help you play it cool while peeping Madonna and Giselle sipping caipirinhas at the teak bar. On the dining front, chef Paolo Lavezzini is at the helm of all-Italian eatery, Fasano al Mare, but for a taste of the real city scene, head up to the rooftop to join Rio’s bronzed and beautiful for daytime lazing beside the infinity pool or a strong caipirinha.
It doesn’t get much more iconic Rio than this: a contemporary, sexy hotel fronting one of the city’s most famous beaches, Copacabana, and within strolling distance of another, Ipanema. The 200-room Miramar offers butler service and pool and beach attendants on hand to cater to guests’ every vacation whim. The lobby restaurant, Sá, offers a primer in local Brazilian cuisine (Carioca, which is also the term for Rio’s inhabitants). Relax under an umbrella on the wide, sandy beach in front of the hotel, or retire to the rooftop to work out in the fitness center, sweat it out in the sauna or just laze with a caipirinha by the infinity pool.
Following a whopping $49 million face-lift, the Four Seasons BA is no longer just a haunt for visiting impresarios. Checking in is a dazzling experience, because the front desk is bedecked in gleaming azure semiprecious local stones, which are offset by equally impressive hand-blown glass chandeliers. Next to reception, hot young things pack out the Pony Line bar and its cigar bar, keen for a dash of the polo lifestyle accompanied by cool music and cooler drinks. Foodie couples will love the smart Elena restaurant, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the open-plan kitchen and the adjacent mansion.We recommend a Polo Massage for two at Cielos spa.
In trendy Puerto Madero, a waterfront barrio, the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires is built in statuesque red brick, walled in from its buzzing surroundings.The dramatic color palette of reds, blacks and whites defines the property’s style, and there's a vibe to match: Beautiful people are everywhere — by the intimate pool, doing business deals in the Library Lounge, eating in the cantina-style El Mercado restaurant. If the public spaces are a study in dark drama, the guestrooms are the opposite. Decorated in bright reds and pure whites, the rooms come with mirrored furniture, leather and metallic accents and sleek glass-walled bathrooms. The hotel's famed El Cabaret has authentic tango shows, while the Cellar holds 400 bottles of wine, and the Pool Bar serves fruity cocktails late into the night.
It’s easy to relive the glory days of Buenos Aires at this boutique property, which is housed in a restored historical building. With the Moreno’s old-fashioned cage elevator, vintage stained glass windows, intact tilework lining the lobby and hallways, and high, ornate ceilings, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a bygone, Art Deco–infused era. The hotel’s 39 guestrooms are spacious and an excellent deal for the price, decked out in streamlined black-and-white retro decor. Standout features include hardwood flooring, high ceilings and large bay windows (some rooms even have parallel windows on two sides), Egyptian cotton duvets, LCD TVs, laptop-sized safes and individually controlled heating and air conditioning. The hotel’s pièce de résistance is its wooden rooftop terrace, which has panoramic views of the city and features outdoor sofas hovering around a "Sky Jacuzzi."
On one of Lima’s most historic streets, Hotel B is for the hippest couple. Designed by French architect Claude Sahut in 1914, it underwent a top-to-toe renovation that restored much of the original woodwork and layout, and added a modern three-story annex with a glass staircase and a vertical garden in an interior courtyard. The explorer’s club–style furniture mixes with the vast collection of contemporary sculptures, photographs of Andy Warhol and Peruvian pop art (on loan from Galeria Lucia del Puente, next door) that fills much of the common space and the guest rooms. Each of the high-ceilinged rooms is unique in size and shape, though all have wood floors, beds with tufted headboards and their own small collection of original artwork. Bathrooms are more Old World, with off-white tiles and chrome-trimmed mirrors and faucets. Chef Oscar Velarde, of renowned Lima restaurant La Gloria, is at the helm of the property’s streetside eatery. Done up in dark woods, with a long bar and small bistro tables, it offers primarily Peruvian-Mediterranean small plates, such as charcoal-grilled octopus and crostini with avocado and anchovies. Pair them with pints of Peruvian craft beer or South American wine by the glass.
The Miraflores Park has the Belmond hallmark of understated elegance, in one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The hotel also sets the bar high when it comes to service. Upon check-in, expect to be greeted with a cool towel, fruit-infused water and the sweet scent of the lavish tropical flowers adorning the marble lobby. Come evening, be sure to watch the sun set over the green paths of the Malecón de la Reserva, and the crashing waves of the Pacific below. The 81 spacious guestrooms — the smallest is nearly 500 square feet — are arranged like suites, with elegant sitting areas that offer floor-to-ceiling views (mostly of the Pacific Ocean or the lush gardens). There’s a lived-in elegance to the decor, with carved hardwood furniture softened by sky-blue sofas and buttercup curtains. The enormous bathrooms have large marble soaking tubs, walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads and granite vanities stocked with luxe Molton Brown products. Aside from the sweeping views, one of the hotel’s most welcome perks is the food, from the lavish breakfast spreads served with a panoramic ocean vista at the rooftop Observatory restaurant to the top-shelf pisco sours in the avant garde Belo Bar.
A regal fixture in the San Isidro embassy district, the Country Club Lima Hotel claims distinction as Peru’s only hotel and national monument. With open wood-beam ceilings and 300 works of original art, guests step into a true South American palace. The Perroquet Restaurant serves up flavorful local dishes in a white-tablecloth dining room, and the glass-domed Los Vitrales café has more casual fare. The English Bar has a colonial, old-boys-club vibe with elegant mahogany and free-flowing pisco sours. After a tee time at the Lima Golf Club, you can retire to romantic rooms outfitted with Jacuzzi tubs.
There are plenty of romantic and stylish boutiques in Cartagena, but our top pick is Sofitel Legend Santa Clara – a colonial-style hotel housed in a former convent, where every detail is meticulously arranged. After a glass of cold Colombian tea at check in, you'll be escorted through a palm tree dotted courtyard, past a gorgeous pool, to your airy room done up with works by Colombian artists like Ana Mercedes Hoyos. JS Tip: Don't miss the hot rock massage and hammam at the hotel spa.
Sophisticated urban couples will relish a stay at the Casa del Coliseo, a tricked-out boutique hotel in Cartagena's old town. Its apartments and guestrooms feature pale linens and plush beds, and some have dramatic beam ceilings. There's WiFi and cable TV, naturally, but nothing beats whiling away an hour on a flower-adorned balcony, taking in the sights and sounds of the colorful historic city. Guests can begin their day with breakfast just off the lobby followed by some laps in the rooftop pool before heading out to explore the edible and visual pleasures that abound just steps from the hotel.
If you prefer more contemporary digs for your honeymoon, the Colombian hotel chain Movich is the perfect choice. The airy, light-filled guestrooms have streamlined furnishings and all the modern tech amenities you could want (free Wi-fi, iPod docks, LCD screens). What we love most? The rooftop pool, where you can watch the sun set, cocktail in hand, from a plush daybed or the Jacuzzi.
The game-changing Hotel Casa San Agustin upped the luxury ante when it first opened in 2010. Inside the 24-room stay, you'll find traditional lime-washed stucco with terra-cotta tiles, bougainvillea, swinging daybeds and hardwood Balinese carvings. Room to book for honeymooners: 102, with a private terrace and plunge pool.
Combining the best of neoclassical French architecture and contemporary design, this newcomer shows all the signs of becoming a Santiago institution. The lobby is outfitted like a gentleman’s club, with vintage furniture, stuffed bookshelves, beam ceilings and framed botanical prints. The 62 guestrooms are like mini-residences, with rich textures and warm tones, filled with retro-cool touches like brass lamps and chinoiserie-style lacquered desks. But the vibe is very of-the-moment once you get to that 21st-century hotel staple, the rooftop bar. Set on the ninth floor, this perch offers spectacular views of the adjacent Parque Forestal. The rooftop pool, meanwhile, is perfect for both cooling off and preening alongside the city’s stylish crowd. Another highlight is the subterranean spa, which offers holistic and new age treatments, including chromotherapy.
This whimsical red castle set on a plaza in Bellavista was built in 1923 by architect Federico Bieregel for a well-heeled Santiago family. By the late 1940s a rich Russian immigrant transformed it into a commune frequented by South American artists, musicians and philosophers. Reborn as Castillo Rojo in 2013, the five-story building and grounds have been restored to their original prominence by designers Hugo Grisanti and Kana Cussen. Original period details, including a marble fireplace, a wooden staircase and a custom-made dining room table, are preserved within the eclectic scheme, which marries gilded grandeur with imaginative bluster. No two floors or rooms are alike, nor is any nook neglected; climb the gothic stone staircase in the reception area to get to the moody lounge, which features purple and blue velvet chairs, original dark wood paneling, crystal chandeliers and big windows that let in plenty of sunlight. The top three floors hold 19 boho-chic guestrooms where original wood floors mix with reproduction dark wood furnishings and pieces winking at the artists who once called the castle home. Splurge on the fifth-floor suite for a sun-drenched sitting room and a hidden terrace set between the building’s red eaves.