2017 Honeymoon Awards: The Most Romantic Hotels in Europe
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. Europe, of course, is always a top contender, thanks to its centuries-old history, romantic cobblestoned streets and achingly beautiful views. We weren't too surprised to discover you granted Italy's Amalfi Coast the gold statue, followed by the Greek Islands, Paris, and rolling hills of Tuscany. Trust us, you won't go wrong with any of them, especially with our list of most romantic hotels.
Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi
Couples walking hand-in-hand through citrus groves and terraced gardens. A 1904 villa, dripping with bourgainvillea, whose rooms are filled with family heirlooms, local antiques, and balconies with sweeping views. Two glass elevators that drop 10 stories through bedrock to a private beach and saltwater swimming pool. No, this isn’t the setting of some Bond novel (though we’d forgive you for pretending so). This is Hotel Santa Caterina, where staff, dressed in polos or dinner jackets, know guests by name and where direct sea access gives it a leg up on most other Amalfi properties. Seat yourself at the thatched-roof open-air restaurant, Al Mare, which overlooks the pool, and let your imagination wander.
Le Sirenuse, Positano
Steinbeck was staying at Le Sirenuse, only two years after it first opened in 1953, when he wrote of Positano as, “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” After half a century, the 58-room family-run palazzo hasn’t lost its luster, and still attracts its fair share of movie stars and high flyers who come for the opulent guest rooms (think colorful handmade tile floors, curated antiques, and Tyrrhenian Sea balcony views) and gorgeous restaurant (candlelit come sunset), where air kissing and champagne sipping is still de rigueur. If you can find it in you to tear yourself away, the hotel’s vintage wooden boat is at the ready for guests wishing to sail up and down the coast.
Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello
This former 11th-century palazzo turned 43-room stunner, the hideout of choice for stars like Jackie Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart, occupies the highest point in Ravello—on a limestone bluff with unobstructed views of the sea. Every angle here is Insta-worthy, from the building’s colorful frescoed ceilings and Moorish arches to the rooftop infinity pool, whose waters appear to melt into the horizon. The guestrooms are just as eye-catching, with their mosaic-tiled floors, ancient stone walls, and private gardens. Hop onboard the hotel’s wooden boat (rides are free) to see the coast from a different vantage point, then return for seasonal Mediterranean specialties—seafood risotto with fresh tomatoes; tagliolini egg pasta with clams and black truffle—at the hotel’s Belvedere Restaurant.
This stunning, seven-level boutique is a honeymooner’s dream. The architecture is a seamless marriage of modernist and traditional (with touches of contemporary art, mod furniture, and white everywhere) while the perks are tailored to guests’ likes and dislikes, from the pillow menu to the room fragrances. If the iconic infinity pool (not to mention plunge pools in each one of the 20 rooms) doesn’t provide enough wow-factor, the five-course breakfast menu—which includes champagne—surely will.
Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Crete
Celebrities and jetsetters flock to the fishing village of Elounda near Mirabello Bay, on the northern coast of Crete, for its quiet beauty, private beaches, and legendary hotels—including the one and only Blue Palace. Like its home island, this is a big hotel, with 251 rooms and bungalows—many of which come with private plunge pools looking out towards Spinalonga island and the Crete Sea. Everything blends perfectly into the sunny landscape, from the cream-and-wood guest room palette to the low-lying terraces and tiny manicured gardens filled with olive trees. As expected for a hotel of this caliber, the Thalassotherapy Spa is fabulous, as are its five restaurants, from the tavern-style Blue Door built in a stone fisherman’s house on the water to the steakhouse, Flame, set under a vaulted ceiling.
Is Katikies the most romantic boutique in Santorini? We’ll let you be the judge: 34 cottages overlooking the submerged caldera in the heart of Oia are modernist and spare, with arched ceilings, antique pottery, and loft bedrooms with picture windows—and even the most standard rooms have private terraces. The people-watching on the open-air terrace at the hotel’s Ellinikon restaurant is next-level, but if you want to take it down a notch, try the low-key Katikies, whose balcony features just four candlelit tables with staggering views. JS Tip: The honeymoon suites have their own outdoor whirlpool tubs, but you can find just as much magic at any one of the three communal infinity pools.
Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris
Art aficionados will feel right at home at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, a modern palace hotel with a one-of-a-kind art collection and an on-site contemporary gallery. Reimagined by design provocateur Philippe Starck in 2008, the 149-room luxury hotel sports a whimsical, outré style best captured in details like poetry etched into floor panels, mirrored bathrooms, massive artworks propped up against the walls, and a cascade of chandeliers in the grand stairwell. An art concierge is on hand to answer your questions about the hotel’s collection (which includes work by the likes of Simone Chaput, Lucien Hervé and Joana Vasconcelos), or arrange guided tours of artist studios, galleries and museums.
Coco Chanel lived there for 34 years. Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway were regulars at its saloon. And Sophia Lauren once described it as “the most romantic hotel in the world.” If that doesn’t sell you on the Ritz Paris—the mythic, five-star hotel that reopened in 2016 after a four-year, $200 million renovation—we don’t know what will. The additions are expectedly exciting: there’s now a Versailles-style garden, a subterranean ballroom, the world’s first Chanel spa, and a tunnel built to allow the rich and famous to come and go unnoticed. Thankfully, much of the romance once possessed by the former Coco Chanel home—the red-carpet entrance, original furniture, the iconic Bar Hemingway—remains relatively untouched, ensuring its glamorous, spirited past lives on.
There’s no place that defines romance more than the City of Light. And the historic Shangri-La Hotel Paris, a majestic 1896 limestone mansion renowned for its swoon-worthy Pierre-Yves Rochon-designed spaces, seriously sets the mood. Natural light floods the opulent guestrooms—outfitted in rich textured fabrics, hand-gilded panelling, and neoclassical friezes— and offer commanding views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Take in the sweeping city views from your lush private outdoor terrace, then retreat to the decadent subterranean spa to indulge in a Carita massage in the candlelit treatment rooms.
The St. Regis Florence
Housed in a 15th-century architectural masterpiece by Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi, the St. Regis Florence is the ultimate palace hotel. You can’t go wrong with any of the property’s opulent rooms and suites, which are done up according to a Medici, Florentine, or Renaissance style (many of which feature wall frescoes and chandeliers). Guests especially love the hotel’s location on the banks of the Arno, not to mention St. Regis’s signature white-glove service.
Castello Di Casole
Surrounded by a vast 4,200-acre country estate that was once home to a 10th-century castle, a working farm with stables and more than 200 villagers, Castello di Casole is a magnificent country pad that combines lashings of Old World charm with some seriously luxe amenities. The main chunk of the hotel is housed in a series of stone farmhouses that spill out from a central courtyard (the former stable block). On-site you’ll find an infinity pool with views of cypress-studded hills, giant bathrooms with rolltop tubs; a posh cocktail bar and an alfresco restaurant serving Tuscan classics.
Tall cypresses and umbrella pine trees flank the driveway that leads to the magnificent L’Andana, a former summer residence once frequented by Grand Duke Leopold II, which was restored to its former glory in 2004 by the Moretti family and Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse. Interiors by Architectural Digest Italy editor Ettore Mochetti resonate with Italian charm, from the traditional Tuscan furniture to the elegant Florentine silk fabrics framing enormous windows, and vistas that stretch from the rolling, sun-drenched Maremma hills right down to the Tyrrhenian coastline. This country retreat has only 33 rooms, nine in the main villa and 24 in the adjoining fattoria (farmhouse), both of which are awash in soft yellows and oranges and seamlessly blend with the surrounding countryside. Inside, all the spaces have an understated Provençal sensibility and are dressed in ochre, gray and beige, with terra-cotta tiles and plush fabrics. The beds are comfortable and made with Frette linens, but it’s the expansive marble-clad bathrooms, complete with spectacularly large soaking tubs, that really steal the show.
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