Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Top 10 Romantic Destinations 2006

Serious romantics know that seeking the perfect destination for a rendezvous is a subjective pursuit. For some couples, it's all about deserted beaches on quiet isles, while for others it's about painting the town red. There are those who desire tranquil, wine-saturated retreats, and others who need adventure-filled encounters and pulse-pounding pleasures. For all types of romantics, we've crafted a list sure to tantalize your global erogenous zones. You won't find the obvious here—you can come up with Paris and Tahiti on your own. Instead, we give you wild animals, old-fashioned waltzes and spiritual settings to get you in the mood.

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UNITED STATES
Charleston

There is something about Charleston—the fragrance of wisteria heavy in the air, the leisurely pace, the genteel spirit—that beseeches you to slow down and relish the company of the one you're with. You might snuggle together during a horse and carriage ride through cobblestone streets, or linger over breakfast in bed at Charleston Place. If you've ever had the desire to live out your own Rhett and Scarlett fantasies, make your way to one of the area's historic plantation houses, like nearby Boone Hall Plantation, which was used as a backdrop in “Gone with the Wind.”

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Paso Robles

With their vineyard-dappled rolling hills and libido-releasing vintages, wine countries are natural choices for romance. But many of our favorite regions are overrun these days with would-be oenophiles. To escape the crowds, head for Paso Robles just inland on the central California coast. This still off-the-beaten-path area is filled with intimate wineries, quiet inns and friendly, laid-back residents. Our top pick for lodging: the alluring, Italian-style Villa Toscana.

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Sedona

The reflection of the sun traveling over the red rocks of Sedona is a seductive scene. Wake early for a sunrise view from a hot air balloon, or take in the sunset from your balcony at the aptly named Enchantment Resort. Sedona has endless quiet corners for sneaking away, and because it's considered a spiritual vortex, you'll also find plenty of opportunities for healing…think Marvin Gaye on this one.

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AFRICA
South Africa


If flirting with adventure is your idea of a sexy date, South Africa is sure to turn you on. But fanning the flames of romance Hemingway-style doesn't have to mean roughing it when the safari is over. At Singita in the Sabi Sands Reserve, visitors can experience two worlds at once: the exotic realm of the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo), as well as the pampering world of private plunge pools, massages and 35,000 bottles of fine South African wine. For a change of pace, and to discover the source of said wines, move on to the Winelands, laced with thirteen distinct wine routes and home to the French-influenced Le Quartier Français.

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AUSTRIA
Vienna

Vienna, where the dance of choice is still—after all these centuries—the waltz, wins our prize for the most sophisticated destination. It feels as if it was created for urbane lovers, with its cruises along the Danube, strains of Mozart in the air and outlying Vienna Woods, dappled with inviting wine taverns and serene garden cafés. The summer and winter palaces of the Habsburgs are the architectural embodiment of romance. And the dark-paneled coffee houses are ideal for lingering for hours, savoring those intimate conversations you don't have time for back home.

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CANADA
Montréal


Cultured French joie de vivre meets laid-back Canadian insouciance, eh, in Montréal. Rent a tandem bike and pedal along Lachine Canal, discover "your song" at the Montréal Jazz Festival or seek out peace of mind in Suite 1742 at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. You'll be following in the footsteps—or rather pajamas—of John and Yoko, who used this room to hold their second "bed-in" for peace and to record "Give Peace a Chance."

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CARIBBEAN
Necker Island

Necker Island is our pick—in the money-is-no-object category—for the ultimate wedding destination. Richard Branson's private island can be rented for groups of up to 26, and events are customized just for you. Enjoy an intimate ceremony serenaded by a string quartet, or a convivial bonfire barbecue reception. As for the honeymoon, sneak away to your own one-bedroom Balinese villa. Of course, you can always go the way of Robinson Crusoe and commandeer the whole island for just the two of you.

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CENTRAL AMERICA
Costa Rica

Verdant jungles adorned with erotic flowers and sensuous butterflies, air that turns dewy on your skin the moment you step outside… Welcome to Costa Rica, a land ripe for seduction. In this lush country you'll discover hot springs ideal for a tête à tête amoureux and accommodations that blend the provocative styles of Morocco, Bali and India with a quintessential Costa Rica tree house look. Among the country's famed spas, Tabacon Hot Springs is our favorite for a romantic tryst.

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INDONESIA
Bali

With its crowded beaches and notorious nightlife, the Indonesian isle of Bali isn't always a first choice for an intimate holiday. Travel inland, though, and you'll find one of the most enticing destinations in the world. Home to the island's royalty and artisans, Ubud is a sleepy place that feels lost in time. Cultural dances at the Royal Palace will awaken the romantic in the most jaded of souls, and rice paddies provide the setting for long, languorous afternoon walks. We recommend you stay at COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri, whose grounds are home to sacred springs.


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ITALY
Siena

As you stand in the main market square in the center of Siena, you will understand the true meaning of the word breathtaking. In this Italian treasure, you are surrounded completely by ancient buildings snug against one another. Cafés, shops and medieval architecture provide the old Tuscan feel you hope for in Florence, but that vanished with tourist throngs long ago. Your imagination will careen from the traditional Palio horse race held here every year to the nights ahead of you at Dievole Villa, a ravishing inn and winery on the outskirts of town.

Current Top 10 Romantic Destinations

(Updated: 10/24/12 JLD)


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