12 of the most romantic luxury vacation spots in the world
ELLE editors from around the globe reveal their top picks for honeymoon getaways
Imagine yourself and your significant other relaxing in a hot spring-heated outdoor pool as the Northern Lights dance above you. Or lazing in your own private villa overlooking a turquoise blue lagoon and coral reef, the only activity for the day being a complete surrender to the award-winning spa on location. ‘Heaven on earth’ may seem like a tired old cliche, but if there’s any place worthy of the tag, this bucket list has it, and then some.
ELLE editors from around the world revealed their top picks fro a romantic getaway and we can’t wait to pack our bags. From ‘barefoot luxury’ to ‘zen havens’, the hardest part is settling on just one.
12 most romantic luxury getaways in the world:
An hour’s drive from Reykjavík and not far from a UNESCO World Heritage national park, Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel is otherworldly. Nestled at the base of a dormant volcano, surrounded by mountains and lava fields, the hotel prides itself on sustainability at every turn—from organic bedding and water-saving shower systems, to locally sourced food. Even the tables and chairs are made from recycled materials. And did we mention the view? “Superb,” according to Maiko Hamano, ELLE Marriage Japan’s Editor-in-Chief. Relax in their hot spring-heated outdoor pool or admire the Northern Lights dancing above you from the hotel’s aptly named Northern Lights Bar as you dine on award-winning cuisine. Whether pampering yourself at the in-house Lava Spa or discovering the land of fire and ice, you’ll forget you’re still on Earth. Ioniceland.is/the-hotel
Set on limestone cliffs on Bali’s southern coast, Anantara Uluwatu is “as close to Eden as you can get”, according to ELLE South Africa’s Editor-in-Chief Emilie Gambade. Choose between suites with stellar sea views, duplex penthouses with floor-to-ceiling windows, or villas decked out with their own private pools, all perched above the aptly named Impossible Beach. There are other beaches nearby too, to suit all your surfing, swimming and sunbathing needs. With stunning sunsets seen from the rooftop restaurant (with 360° views of the Indian Ocean), treatments at the spa or even an elephant safari, Anantara will not let you down. There’s a reason they call this the Island of the Gods, and by the end of your trip, you just might be able to see why.
This South Pacific island experience will leave you speechless. “The heaven on earth cliché becomes real here,” says Serli Gazer, ELLE Turkey’s Fashion News Editor. The striking Mount Otemanu overlooks a turquoise blue lagoon and coral reef, with overwater bungalows and beachfront villas, making for one of the most unforgettable views you’ll ever experience. But if you need extra convincing, the resort has an award-winning spa that only uses natural local ingredients, exquisite local dining (in your bungalow, on the beach) and a variety of activities to keep you moving, deeply relaxed or in harmony with nature. The Four Seasons Bora Bora is calling your name. Do you hear it?
Imagine yourself in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around you except for breathtaking mountain ranges, rolling hills, lush valleys and a few kangaroos, wallaroos and wombats. This is Australia—and nature and luxury joining forces, with 40 private villas dotting 7,000 acres. Think ‘ultra-chic safari goes down under’ and you’ve got it pinned. It’s all about “complete seclusion, perfect for newlyweds looking
to escape,” says Justine Cullen, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Australia. For an unforgettable moment, ride a bike to a gorgeous lookout point and feast on a private picnic lunch delivered to you in a wicker basket. Take in the view as you dine on fresh, local cuisine. And after a horseback ride, restore yourself in their sanctuary-like spa, capping off the day with a glass of wine as you relax in front of their double-sided fireplace. If you’re ready for more, try a nocturnal wildlife tour. Oneandonlyresorts.com/one-and-only-wolgan-valley-australia
On the island of Sylt, health and wellness are priorities, even when it comes to the land—half of it is covered either with conservation zones or nature reserves. And in the middle of one of these reserves on the island’s eastern tip sits the quaint yet luxurious Severin’s hotel, a “quiet little hideaway on Germany’s most popular island”, according to Franziska Frosch, ELLE Germany’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief. With a steam room, a Finnish spa and an incredible restaurant serving up delicious regional cuisine, it’s the perfect antidote to our busy lifestyles—and a great way to reconnect with yourself, all in a charmingly chic yet cosy atmosphere. Take your tea and cake to the hotel's terrace as you enjoy the view of the Wadden Sea, or grab a bite at one of the lovely beachside bistros or Michelin-starred restaurants in the area. Landhaus-severins.de
Imagine a chain of resorts in the Caribbean designed only for couples, with 16 locations scattered across six gorgeous islands. That’s Sandals for you. And ELLE Spose Italy’s Features Editor, Giovanni Battista Sparacio, has a preference for the Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island, just off Montego Bay. The décor will make you feel as if Britain and Bali met and fell in love, from the architecture to the smallest details in the villas, including glass floors to admire the fish swimming below. It’s ideal for decking out with your dearest, whether in your own private overwater villa (with a personal butler, should you require one) or in a romantic suite overlooking the beach (don’t miss the peacocks showing off their plumes). And if you feel like hopping from one Sandals resort to another during your stay, try their Stay At One, Play At All offer, which allows you to take advantage of the services offered at the other locations. They’ll even shuttle you back and forth between the resorts, so you won’t have to think about anything but where you want to go next. Sandals.com/main/royal/rj-home
Soneva resorts began with a husband-and-wife team and their idea to create back-to-nature luxury holidays two decades ago. Lovisa Lundstrom, Editor at Swedish ELLE, loves it. “A breathtaking beach, turquoise waves, beautiful nature and a friendly, cosy resort.” Each secluded private villa has its own beach garden and private butler; some are even equipped with private seawater pools. To keep yourself busy, try your island forehand with a tennis match on one of their courts, a bike ride around the island, yoga and tai chi classes, or watch a film at their open-air cinema. And the best part: the resort has a no-shoe policy, so spread out those tired toes and enjoy the sand underfoot. Soneva.com/soneva-fushi
Zen principles abound at this haven of peace and sophistication, perched above the historic freshwater Sun Moon Lake. But don’t let us convince you, here are a couple of fans: Japan’s Crown Prince Hirohito appointed The Lalu as his official residence in the 1920s. Chiang Kai-shek loved coming to this lakeside resort. And of course, Team ELLE Taiwan has a particular fondness for this retreat. From every angle of the hotel, you’ll be graced with spectacular yet calming views of the mountains and lakes, leaving you filled with serenity. Dip elegantly into the infinity pool where the water, the lake and the sky blend seamlessly together. It’s all about tradition and modernity, whether you’re sipping tea or slipping into the spa, you’ll be immersed in simplicity and thoughtfulness. In a word? Bliss. Thelalu.com.tw/en
If you’ve dreamed of vacationing in Japan in your own private traditional pavilion, relaxing in an elegantly calm atmosphere not far from gorgeous beaches, you’ve come to the right place. Take it from Maiko Hamano, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Marriage Japan, “It’s an incredible destination to experience luxury. The resort offers local Okinawan dishes influenced by French cuisine, and spa treatments infused with local ingredients, such as butterfly ginger, seaweed and hibiscus. Though it almost takes nine hours to get here from Tokyo (domestic flight, ferry, car—in that order), it is certainly worth it. Hoshinoyataketomijima.com/en
If you have a hard time choosing between sand dunes, freshwater lagoons or gorgeous beaches, you may have found your solution on the Riviera Maya. A veritable village offering everything you’d need to sustain a state of absolute happiness and pure relaxation, Banyan Tree Mayakoba is your one-stop destination. ELLE Mexico’s Editor-in-Chief Claudia Candano calls it “an amazing place to stay”. The exclusive gated community is home to canals (take a little boat from your private villa through the resort), Caribbean beaches (rent a bike for a five-minute ride to the coast on nature trails), and a private golf course (if you’re in the mood to tee up). At the spa, be sure to request The Rainforest treatment for a very unique hydrothermal therapeutic experience. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to your villa and jump into the pool while your private barbecue is prepared right in front of you. And if you have the energy, cap off the night with a tequila tasting to truly savour the flavours of the Riviera Maya. Banyantree.com/en/em-mexico-mayakoba
With its palette of greens, blues and whites, North Island resort is a haven of natural beauty à la Robinson Crusoe. But it wasn’t always so. Up until the 1970s, this little island had been used as a plantation, which destroyed a lot of the indigenous flora and fauna. But it was quickly restored, and even today, great care is taken for its conservation—the giant turtles cruising around the island can attest to that. And the hotel reflects this gentle loving care, with a luxurious yet rustic charm in every detail. Each of the 11 private villas were constructed with elements from the island and its rehabilitation process, and offer a true sense of exclusivity (the largest is 750sqm), with a real “home-away-from-home” feel, according to ELLE Germany’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Franziska Rosch. “It’s an exceptional destination, with unashamed luxury, bespoke service and a generous all-inclusive offering,” she adds. North-island.com
Brimming with history, each suite at Villa TreVille recounts a different story from the days of its former owner, famed opera and film director Franco Zeffirelli. Legends like Tennessee Williams, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor all slept here. It is the absolute epitome of romantic Amalfi Coast living, set on limestone cliffs overlooking Positano with incredible views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. “Villa TreVille has everything in spades—charm, beauty, history and romance,” shares Justine Cullen, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Australia. “It’s the perfect place for newlyweds to hole up for a week of indulgence.” We agree—it’s perfection, all the way from the hotel’s cuisine (fresh, local ingredients) to its impeccable service (long-time employees will make you feel right at home). With such a cultured history, you’ll be filled with inspiration and amore. Villatreville.com