When it comes to honeymoon destinations we’ve done it all… whisked lovers off to beach breaks in the Maldives, villas on the Amalfi Coast and city breaks in Paris. But the best post-wedding flyaways are tailored to fit and veer off the beaten path. We’ve found one-of-a-kind hotels and honeymoon hotspots for couples thinking beyond the beach…
SAY ¡SALUD! TO SPAIN’S WINE REGION
Get acquainted with the term Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (or DOQ) at Terra Dominicata, a romantic, rustic estate sitting pretty by the Serra de Montsant range. Its DOQ is Catalan’s wine region, famed for rich reds, which got a PR coup when a group of friends revived its vines, earning praise from Paris’s pickiest sommeliers. Spend your stay taking a private tasting at Clos de l’Obac winery (run by Bill Gates’ mate) or picnicking at Trossos del Priorat, or simply sipping the hotel’s own vintages by the pool, doting on that DOQ view.
DESERT DRIVES AND MOUNTAIN HIGHS IN OMAN
Take three letters away from ‘romance’ and you get ‘Oman’. Coincidence? We think not. The evidence is compelling: mountaintop retreat Anantara al Jabal al Akhdar (featured in the BBC’s Amazing Hotels series) in the sultanate’s rugged interior offers abseiling and gorge trekking (in spring pink roses carpet the valleys). Pair a stay here with a night in the desert. Magic Camps will drive you out over the dunes, pitch you a private tented camp and bring a butler to serve you Middle Eastern mezze, then give you some alone time under the stars.
FARM FROLICS IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE
The cosmos is captured at fairytale stay Domaine des Etangs: space-y artworks, a solar-system hanging in the library and telescopes aimed at the sky enhance its out-of-this-world feel – its estate-to-plate cuisine bears a star of the Michelin kind, too. However, its most joyful experiences are more down to Earth: boating on the lake, cosying up in the gardens, roaming the forest with a naturalist guide or helping to bathe and brush the resident Limousin cows.
A BITE-SIZED INTRO TO SAN ANTONIO
Hidden in the Mexican highlands of Colima, Hacienda de San Antonio is a coral-pink casa with a plant-strung courtyard and a backdrop of volcanoes and coffee plantations. Its virtues include luxuriant gardens and a vast, view-blessed pool, but you get a bountiful Smith Extra too, including a bottle of mezcal and a bike tour of the area. Plus, you’ll be given a picnic to take on a whip around Epazote Lake and get a taste for the local produce on coffee and cheese tours.
FAUNA AND FYNBOS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Stay at Morukuru Beach Lodge between early-July and mid-October and your nearest neighbours will be the whales breaching at the meeting point between the Indian and Atlantic oceans, plus a few other wild things wandering the bush, such as antelope, zebra and even rare Cape vultures. There are just five suites here – all suitably romance-inspiring, with log burners and feature window seats, so you needn’t leave your room to watch the marine giants play. If you do roll out, guides will talk you through the kaleidoscopic fynbos flowers and point you to footprint-free beaches for private picnics on the sand.
BLIND TASTE TESTS IN AN ARCTIC FOREST
In the snowbound climes of Rovaniemi (Santa’s official HQ), the Arctic Treehouse Hotel has the cosiest of cabins, each overlooking a glittering alpine vista. It’s cold outside, but reason’s to leave your love nest are plenty: sledding, heli-skiing, tobogganing and more. For an experience as unique as a snowflake, be led blindfolded into the tundra for a taste test, watch auroras while floating in a lake or get up close on a night flight. While you’re in the forest, swing by the spa, too, for a sausage in the sauna (yes, really) and chase a steamy session with a snow dive.
SPY INDONESIA’S CORAL GARDENS FROM A YACHT
Only available for exclusive charters, Sequoia Yacht offers total seclusion in the Indonesian archipelago. Just you, your sweetheart and team of 10 staff will sail through the Coral Triangle, stopping for scuba diving in vivid under-the-sea-scapes, kayaking sessions, paddle-boarding and meals whipped up by your private chef, served on deck or even sand-side. Each island hop brings a new surprise: volcanoes to hike, hatchling turtles (from April to October) and fragrant markets.
SEEK OUT SECRETS IN LA
Chateau Marmont – California’s most discreet stay – is 90 years of age, marking nearly a century of star-spangled legends and A-list anarchy. If these walls could talk, they’d remain as tight-lipped as the friendly staff, but stories of ménages à trois, hallway motorbike races and various starlets and rock gods falling from windows and roof terraces (and surviving) abound. Part of the adventure is making anecdotes of your own and discovering the hush-hush perks of staying: the secret bar with no name and its secret menu, the Japanese restaurant that opened not with a bang but a whisper, and the Chateau’s rabble of rumoured ghosts.