Avoid the Crowds on a Romantic New Year’s Eve Getaway
Forget the fireworks and suffocating mobs in Times Square – this time around, we're jetting off in search of an intimate New Year's Eve locale. From a year-end sky lantern send-off in Chiang Mai, to a sparkling wine toast (and DJ'd after party) on a moving Napa Valley train, these are the 8 places we're eyeing.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
It’s hard not to wax poetic on Seville, what with its romantically ornate Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance-style architecture; sultry flamenco shows around every corner; and labyrinthine streets packed with dimly-lit tapas bars. Hotel Alfonso XIII puts you in the center of it all. In the Santa Cruz neighborhood, just minutes from the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Alcázar (royal palace), the hotel oozes Moorish influence with stained glass windows, soaring arches, intricate frescoes, and a colonnaded courtyard. Though it’s near impossible to find a non-amorous corner of Seville, Aire de Seville, the city’s Arabic thermal baths, have us starry-eyed. Go for an indulgent aromatherapy treatment and hot stone massage or just zone out floating in the lantern-lit salt bath.
Whenever you’re looking for a low key, dreamy escape the Antebellum south is ready and waiting. Head to the Historic District to check into the the Gastonian, an old-world B&B comprised of two Regency-Italianate style mansions. We're willing to bet that the Honeymoon Suite's tub – an oversized whirlpool draped in a ring of billowy curtains – will have you sold, if nothing else. But the charming inn also puts you just two blocks from scenic Forsyth Park (we know you’ve seen the fountain). When it’s time to go out on the town, chef Hugh Acheson’s The Florence is a worthy dinner contender. The restaurant’s seasonally-driven menu combines classic Italian fare with Southern ingredients, presenting dishes like braised pork shoulder with polenta, and pizza Napoletana with pancetta and brussels in a sleek industrial dining room.
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San Juan, Puerto Rico
Historic cobblestoned streets, oceanfront fortresses, and unassuming boutique stays land San Juan on our alternative NYE radar. Dine at Chef Roberto Treviño’s trendy Budatai where a traditional Puerto Rican approach to cooking is applied to a menu of Asian delicacies. The decor is as commanding as the cuisine – a Buddha-lined glass and brass staircase connects the restaurant's two floors, while silk-draped walls, soft sepia lighting, and luxe mother of pearl accents set the (see-and-be-seen) scene. Walk off your meal along the Paseo La Princesa, Old San Juan’s scenic, palm-shaded promenade, and bed down at the Olive Boutique Hotel. Piecing together a scheme of reclaimed wood, wrought iron accents, and plush sleigh beds, the comfy digs deftly fuse Mediterranean and Caribbean decor.
As if we haven’t made it perfectly clear before, we kind of have a thing for rooftop bars, and the sky-high lounge at Thompson Toronto currently has our heart. The Ivy at Verity is where you should be stumbling home to after a night of sweeping downtown views and seductive craft cocktails. Tucked away in the Queen Street East district, the Euro-inspired luxe boutique calls an 1850s chocolate factory home. Individually decorated rooms are nothing if not elegant with king beds draped in Italian linens, oversized deep soaking tubs, and toasty heated floors. Other post-nightfall pursuits include skating at the iconic Nathan Phillips Square ice rink (when in Canada…right?). The spot entices holiday-makers with a trio of lit arches and a towering Christmas tree, all plopped in a surreal urban setting.
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Napa Valley, California
We’re going to skip to the part everyone’s interested in here: wine time. As you can imagine, vino-centric New Year’s Eve options are a dime a dozen in this neck of the woods, but the Night in Paris-themed ball on the Napa Valley Wine Train has everything we’re looking for. That is to say, an hors d'oeuvre reception (caviar included), a four-course gourmet meal, a midnight sparkling wine toast, and a DJ’d after party – all on a freakin’ moving antique train! After the extravaganza, head home to Hotel Yountville. The heated cypress-lined pool is open for late-night dips, and palatial high-ceilinged rooms are kept toasty with private fireplaces.
Lake Placid, New York
In the Northeast, January temps can be pretty brutal, but an untouched, blindingly white landscape makes all the extra layers worth it. Holing up in a private cabin at the secluded Lake Placid Lodge affords unrivaled views of the North Woods from enormous picture windows; cosy, Adirondack-style handcrafted furniture; and living rooms centered around wood-burning stone fireplaces. At some point, just be sure to peel yourself away from the warmth – and throw on a heavy parka – for a lantern-lit sleigh ride that'll take you and your honey through the woods surrounding Lake Clear Lodge.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The streets surrounding Chiang Mai’s Thapae Gate come alive each NYE with aromatic food carts, meditating monks, and celebratory sparklers in anticipation of the city’s lantern release. After your token of good-luck takes flight, come down off the excitement at 137 Pillars House, an all-suite resort situated among lush tropical gardens. Accommodations feature Victorian bathtubs, indoor/outdoor showers, four poster beds, and private terraces. The next day, treat yourself to an epic meal accompanied by traditional music and dance at Le Grand Lanna - Thai – just one of the restaurants at the palatial Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai. The antique-filled spot spins its own take on Northern Lanna-style dishes with options like tiger prawn curry with peanuts and lychee, and wok-fried sour pork with egg and fresh garlic.
Chi-Town’s culinary scene has been on the up-and-up lately, spawning some killer new restaurants which have been collecting Michelin stars left and right. Food-focused couples should ring in the night at the speakeasy-esque RM Champagne Salon, where a candle-lit, four-course prixe-fixe meal comes courtesy of chef Madeline Koch (TDB on the exact menu – but they’re known for French Bistro classics). Rolling yourselves out of the West Loop, post-binge and bubbly, opt for a room at the landmark Langham, Chicago. The skyscraper’s floor-to-ceiling windows look out over Grant Park, the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and the Navy Pier, so you can still observe the festivities, just from a sleek pad stories above the hordes.
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