The Most Romantic Hotels in Europe We Can’t Stop Dreaming About
If you thought Europe’s landscapes were dreamy—Santorini, Paris, the Amalfi Coast—wait until you get a load of these hotels. From a five-star Alpine stunner to a castle in the Scottish Highlands, these 10 romantic getaways were made for two.
Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels | lindseytravels.com
Carlton Hotel St. Moritz
If you and your beau love the winds of winter, it’s time to book yourself a flight to Switzerland. St. Moritz, tucked away in the Upper Engadine Valley, is one of the country's most glamorous winter getaways—where the international jet set come to don their furs, ski mountain-backed slopes, and bed down in legendary five-star hotels. Of the five five-star stays in St. Moritz, The Carlton, on a hill facing the Alps, stands apart. Only open during the winter season, the property has perfected the art of the cold-weather escape: every room is a suite, with enormous windows and sumptuous furnishings hand-chosen by Swiss designer Carlo Rampazzi; the spa is vast, with multiple saunas and a steaming pool overlooking the frozen lake; shuttle service to the slopes is fast and frequent; the second-level lounge has not one but two fireplaces; and service is second-to-none, specializing in extras that go above and beyond. A candlelit dinner for two in the ballroom, a horse-drawn carriage ride through the woods (mulled wine, hot cocoa, and pastries included), and wine tastings in the cellar before multi-course meals at the Michelin-starred Da Vittorio are just three ways to indulge.
RELATED: 8 Bucket-List Destinations in Europe to Visit in Winter
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Coco Chanel holed up here for 34 years. Pablo Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented its saloon. 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 following a four-year, $200 million renovation—nothing will. We're especially jazzed about the new additions, including a Versailles-style garden, a subterranean ballroom, and the world’s first Chanel spa. Thankfully, much of the romance this legend once possessed—the red-carpet entrance, original furniture, the iconic Bar Hemingway—remains relatively untouched, ensuring its glamorous, spirited past lives on.
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Steinbeck was staying at Le Sirenuse, only two years after it first opened in 1953, when he wrote that Positano was “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Half a century later, 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 (we're talking colorful handmade tile floors, curated antiques, and Tyrrhenian Sea balcony views) and gorgeous candlelit restaurant, 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 to sail guests up and down the coast.
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There are few places you’ll see a better sunset than from than the three infinity pools and 34 cottages of Katikies, Santorini's most romantic boutique. The hotel’s cliff-side suites are modernist and spare, with arched ceilings, antique pottery, and loft beds facing picture windows—and even the most standard rooms have private terraces overlooking the submerged caldera. The people-watching at the open-air Ellinikon and Mikrasia restaurants are perfect pairings with your grilled calamari or slow-cooked lamb entrées and glasses of the island’s own assyrtiko wine.
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Inverlochy's exteriors are far more impressive (read: imposing) than its “country house” billing—Gothic Revival architecture, thick walls, stone battlements—but inside, it’s far cozier. The fortress has been transformed into a five-star retreat, with 17 bedrooms done up with floral fabrics, claw-foot bathtubs, and views of the surrounding mountains, lochs, and glens, where guests can participate in both traditional (clay-pigeon shooting) and nontraditional (whitewater rafting) pursuits. (No wonder “lovely” and “romantic” were two words Queen Victoria used to describe Inverlochy Castle after spending a week here in 1873.) Whiskey lover? The Ben Nevis distillery is just a four-minute drive down the road.
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Belmond Hotel Cipriani
As far as Venetian hotels go, it doesn't get much more historic than the Belmond Hotel Cipriani on the island of Giudecca, whose founder Giuseppe Cipriani invented the Bellini. In fact, we can't think of a better afternoon spent than with a bubbly peach-flavored cocktail in hand at the alfresco Cip’s Club or the Gabbiano Bar by the Olympic-size pool (it's central Venice's largest). Inside, the hotel oozes Italian romance, with classic rooms and suites, tranquil Casanova gardens, and the Michelin-starred Oro restaurant, which was renovated by revered designer Adam D. Tihany.
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When this former Spanish citadel overlooking the Bay of Palma was transformed into a sleek retreat in 2010, it became one of the island’s most popular and romantic sleeps. High-walled sandstone passages lead to 22 cozy suites, which all feature antique beds, Moroccan rugs, and terraces with daybeds where breakfast is delivered in hampers every morning. Along with a stunning infinity pool that looks out over the Mediterranean, a flight of stone steps leads to the sea below for chillier swims or snorkeling, while characteristic details (decommissioned cannons; rooms housed in former shooting pads) keep the past alive.
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Hotel Santa Caterina
Couples strolling hand-in-hand through citrus groves and terraced gardens. A 1904 villa, dripping with bougainvillea, 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. This is Hotel Santa Caterina, where staff know guests by name and direct sea access gives it a leg up on most other Amalfi properties. Find a seat at the open-air restaurant Al Mare, which overlooks the pool, and let your imagination wander.
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A castle has existed here since 1228, and if it's anything like when Grace Kelly and King George V slept here, life at Ashford Castle is as glamorous as ever. A $75 million refresh thrust the property back into the luxury spotlight, introducing a new pool, gym, and fairytale spa as well as 83 rehauled rooms and suites decked out with their own set of antiques, custom carpets, original art, and beds dressed in rich colors. The 350-acre estate is its own kind of spectacular, offering quintessential country pursuits (falconry, archery) along with a few surprises like zip-lining and tree climbing. Relive the day over elevated Irish cuisine under twinkling Waterford crystal chandeliers in the George V Dining Room.
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It's hard to believe, but the decade-long transformation of Heckfield Place, a countryside estate in Hampshire, England, was—truly—worth the wait. The 47-room, red-brick Georgian manor sits tucked away on 400 some-odd acres of rolling meadows, English oak and chestnut trees, and a lake seemingly plucked from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. Looks aside, the food, overseen by renowned Australian chef Skye Gyngell, is worth traveling for (and nabbed a win on our 2019 Best of the Best Hotel Awards). Both restaurants, Marle and Hearth, are fed by the estate's five-acre farm, orchard, greenhouse, and gardens. It all comes together in spectacularly seasonal and fresh menus that never miss a beat: buckwheat pancakes with plum jam for breakfast, cheese-curd dumplings with greens for lunch.
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