When it’s grey and cold outside I can easily get distracted dreaming of long lazy days in warmer climes. The choices for a sunny getaway are endless, and – if the holiday in question is your honeymoon – it deserves extra daydreaming and planning. But,where should you go? And which are the best hotels to visit? The ones worthy of that all-important holiday.
I have an ongoing love affair with beautiful hotels. For me the stay is almost as important as the destination itself – sometimes more so – so it’s essential to seek out the perfect hideaway. Your honeymoon is the one time you can really go to town (and, one hopes, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday), so I personally feel it’s a chance to choose one of those hotels that leaves you speechless. I know I did. Think infinity pools, lush landscapes, exquisite food and decor to die for.
If you’re similarly hotel-mad, Mr & Mrs Smith are your chosen experts when it comes to the best places to stay. Their collection and knowledge are unrivalled. Plus they can even organise your flights and transfers too. So, if they say these are the top honeymoon trends and places to stay in 2018 then who are we to argue
Read on for amazing destinations and the hotels to match – and, if your other half is in charge of the planning, send this page their way…
This year responsible travel is all the rage. We’re not just talking the odd recycling programme, but hotels that give a little something back to both the community and environment. Places wholly committed to conserving, protecting and enjoying the surrounding nature, that are fiercely community minded, have an ethical approach, strive to minimise its footprint; hotels that do all this while enhancing the guest experience.
Nay Palad Hideaway, on Siargao Island in the Philippines, is everything a local hotel hero should be. Everything here is crafted by Filipino masters using local materials and time-honoured methods: the carved wooden headboards, the droplet-shaped hanging day-beds, the woven installation atop the bar pavilion… The hotel owner’s foundation supports local community projects, including the Compostela project, a sustainable, craft-focused village initiative on nearby Cebu Island.
Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa in Bahia, Brazil really does give back to the local community. Sponsorship of the town’s Capoeira school lets children learn the martial art without worrying about tuition fees; fish is bought directly from locals who fish using a traditional by-hand method (they can also use the hotel’s wood for repairs and beach bar for refreshment); and the stay runs a pioneering eco-education initiative for the community’s young people. The continuing Artist in Casa scheme ensures a steady supply of Trancoso-inspired works to decorate the soothing surrounds.
Boutique retreat Chamba Camp Thiksey brings a touch of luxury to the high Himalaya. You may have a personal butler, but you’ll also get a surge of adrenalin with included activities such as guided walks to mountaintop Buddhist monasteries and rafting down the Indus river. The retreat’s fleet of cream-coloured luxury tents each has a wooden deck from which to gaze at the surrounding mountain ranges (after you’ve spent the day conquering them). Meals are included too; when you’ve worked up an appetite, take a hike to the dining tent.
Tucked away on one of Indonesia’s most unexplored islands, Nihi Sumba Island hotel is a luxury resort with a conscience. Almost entirely unspoilt by urban development, Sumba’s spectacular landscape is the setting for truly romantic escapes. Surf the world-famous breaks; explore the bush on horseback; work on community projects; or simply while the days away by your dreamy private pool.
Set in South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, each of Lion Sands Game Reserve’s four lodges has a private pool and luxurious interiors. Choose your lodge to suit your safari style; go barefoot in the bush in River Lodge, soak in breathtaking views at Ivory, bring the outdoors in at Narina, or enjoy a few more contemporary comforts in Tinga. Get a closer look at the local wildlife through one of the telescopes on the deck and on game drives and safari walks that’ll get you close to some of the world’s most magnificent wildlife in a totally pristine habitat. Like what you see? Stay here while on our South African adventures…
Nothing gets you hankering for a holiday faster than hotel-pool eye candy: the anticipation of weightlessness, of cool water caressing warm skin, of sun and sky reflected across mirror-flat surface. These pools are not just turquoise oblongs with a few sunbeds: the Pool with a View is, well, just that.
Two reasons why we might pass on ascending Licancabur, the Atacama Desert’s iconic stratovolcano. Firstly, it was considered divine by the ancient Atacameño people, who believed climbing it brought misfortune. Secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, we’re rather drawn to the crescent-moon-shaped wicker sunloungers, set beside the reed-fringed pool at Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa in Chile, which offers front-row seats to a sunset that paints the volcano cone a fiery red.
The Other Side in Eleuthera, a beautiful Bahamian island, is a beachside ‘glampsite’ that had us cooing over its four-poster beds, palm trees and paddleboards… And that was before we spied the pool. Leaning out over turquoise waters at the tip of a wooden jetty, this lap-pool – with its white sunloungers – looks like a minimalist meeting place for residents of a future civilisation – one that’s eminently eco-conscious. Rather than pumping fresh water from inland, the pool is filled with water filtered straight from the ocean.
One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives lives up to its name: it sprawls across its own island, and has the Maldives’ first PADI National Geographic dive centre, sun spa and climbing wall. Did we mention the eight dining spots, the tennis courts and the 12 beaches? Keep reading.
‘No news, no shoes’: that’s the only rule at Soneva Jani in the Maldives, though you could add ‘no blues’ (of the emotional kind) to the formula, too. Actual blues abound, from sky to sea, in every conceivable hue and semi-hue of enticing aqua. Sibling to Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani does the family proud: its considerable lures include an overwater cinema, star-gazing observatory, meditative labyrinth (uh huh), va-va-voom villas and the signature Soneva crowd-pleasers, including a lush, hushed spa, brilliant staff and So Cool ice-cream, cheese and chocolate rooms. This is the Maldives at its most magical.
Boutique hotel Be Tulum in Riviera Maya, Mexico is fit for a stylish castaway. Tucked within a tropical forest by the Caribbean Sea, the hotel’s suites lie at the end of winding jungle paths illuminated by hanging lanterns. Inside, you’ll find cowhide rugs, leather butterfly chairs and stand-alone bath tubs. The nearby beach is scattered with day-beds and palm-thatched palapas that offer shade. At sunset, pull up a chair at one of the rustic wooden tables in the sand and dine on fresh-from-the-ocean fare.
These are places you’d make a detour for (even if you weren’t staying at the hotel); meals memorable enough to recall long after you leave. The Best Gourmet Getaway is about more than culinary stars: it’s an experience to savour. The food is part and parcel of your stay, possibly even the highlight of your trip.
At Zaborin in Japan you can settle in for some traditional kita-kaiseki dining: ambitious multi-course menus showcasing traditional skills and techniques, and dishes shaped by the seasons and the natural bounty of the hotel’s scenic setting: Hanazono Forest (admire the wild wood, the lake and Mount Yotei in the distance). Get a true taste of Japan from check-in onwards, when you’ll be presented with cups of matcha tea and delicate, snowflake-shaped sweets.
Lime Wood hotel in Hampshire is a set for a minimoon. A starry restaurant, a raw-food bar at the spa, a smokehouse, an accomplished cookery school – most hungry gadabouts are aware of Lime Wood’s culinary cred. What we love is their inability to rest on their morels, preferring instead to cherry their cake with crowd-pulling pop-ups. The likes of Rick Stein, Tom Kerridge, and the River Cottage mob have appeared this year alone, giving guests the chance to savour culinary greatness.
Relax. Close your eyes, and breathe. Imagine you’ve arrived at the Most Spoiling Spa in the world. You’re soothed by its comforting air, you’re about to have a life-enhancing, mood-improving, radiance-boosting afternoon of bliss.
Very few spas can boast their own cenote. Chablé Resort & Spa in Mérida, Mexico can, though. Not only that, but a Mayan temple’s worth of old-world-inspired indulgence – oh, and three temazcales (ancient Mexican sweat lodges), too. Unwind with chakra therapy, Mayan rebirth massage, reiki, sound cleansing and spiritual guidance from a local shaman.
Talk about un-wine-ding… This is the world-famous birthplace of vinothérapie, where spa brand Caudalie’s wine-based lotions and potions were first created. Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux, France has 19 treatment rooms – some with private barrel baths, no less – and an indoor pool, so there are plenty of places to do very little. But beneath the simple wooden exterior, science is at work to discover new ways to squeeze each and every mineral out of their grapes and vines.
These days honeymoons don’t just have to be for the two of you. How about a “buddy moon” where you can continue the wedding party for a few days longer? For those more social stays, you want a home-from-home feeling with hotel-worthy design, just-so styling, effortless arrivals, stunning surrounds and space to entertain.
No wonder sultry songstress (and erstwhile Smith Hotel Awards judge) Jessie Ware picked this modernist Mallorquín villa as the cover star of her new album: it’s an aesthetically pleasing residence, fashioned from Jaipur-pink clay, with walls rising imposingly from the surrounding olive groves. But despite its design credentials (its co-creator literally designed London’s Design Museum), Els Comellars in Mallorca is a family-friendly space with generous grounds, a sandpit for budding architects, and lounging spots shadedfrom the Balearic sun.
Yes, Clooney has a fabled Lake Como villa, but we’d wager even his ‘money’s no object’ abode is humbled by this neoclassical period-piece. Built by ennobled families in the 16th century, the grand gates at Villa Sola Cabiati now open to reveal its parterre gardens for those outside the inheritance line. Within this marble-balcony-bedecked Baroque folly is Muzio Canzio’s stuccoed ceilings, a piano nobile groaning with porcelains, and a museum housing Napoleon’s hats.
So are you planning a spoiling spa break? Or will you be beachy castaways? Tell us all. We promise not to get jealous.