LuxeGetaways Magazine – Fall 2016 | There is just something special about getting away from the normal routine during the autumn months, and this is fortunately one of the most romantic times to visit Europe. Even with soaring temperatures on occasion and excessive tourists still lingering after the summer rush, Europe is always magical. During this time, the airports, train stations and ports also become much less hectic. Our top five getaways were selected to offer you a variety of options for European romance. Here are some of our favorite luxury hotels perfect for splurging. Add in a simple prix fixe meal at a local café or pick up a bottle of wine and snacks at the local market to balance your splurge; there are always ways to economize in Europe to make the most of your travel budget.
Portofino is Perfection
When we say “Italian Riviera,” what comes to mind? Perhaps, old stone buildings painted like a rainbow crouching on a cliff over a curving seaport; sleek yachts and speedboats lining a small harbor; jet setters wandering the sandstone piazza in and out of luxury boutiques; or hours of people watching while sipping coffee from a cafe al fresco? Portofino is all of these things. The ultimate reason for visiting Portofino is that everyone is looking to be seen, but not make a scene in this picture-perfect destination. Portofino does not have the high-voltage discos or raucous nightlife of other Riviera destinations (which is often a good thing), so it is an idyllic romantic getaway. Be warned that the secret is out about Portofino so it can get crowded with tourists – if you can avoid the weekend rush, it is even better. The few hotels are luxurious, pampering and discreet: making them perfect for your very own secluded pied-à-terre. At Belmond Hotel Splendido, wake up to incredible views of the Ligurian Sea from your private flower-covered terrace in this traditional luxury hotel. Built in the 1920’s, Belmond Hotel Splendido still possesses all of the romantic charm of the era, while also offering exceptional modern-day bespoke services. Bello!
A Golden Age Mansion in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is romantic any month of the year. It could be the tulips that remain blooming in the flower boxes on the windows in the old town during this time of the year, or the elegant little wooden boats with well-dressed locals sipping champagne while serenely floating down the canals for those afternoon cruises. The grand life here is centered around the signature canals, unique collections of art, cutting-edge museums, Nieuw Amsterdam cuisine, and endless amounts of water everywhere. Our favorite hotel for romance is the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Unique in that it encompasses six elegantly restored 17th and 18th century Patrician mansions along Herengracht (Gentleman’s Canal), which once belonged to wealthy merchants. Here, your own concierge greets you – quickly making it obvious that no request you make will go unfulfilled during your stay here. An outstanding Michelin two-star restaurant, Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam, is at your service for an extraordinary dinner for two. Did I also mention the Guerlain Spa’s Couples Treatments? Fabulous!
Burgundy is For Lovers – And The Wine is Not Bad Either
France’s Côte d’Or is a magical region for Pinot Noir and Chablis grapes. It is also an inspiring canvas on which to paint your own love story. Castles and vineyards dot the hilly terrain around La Ferme de la Lochère, an elegantly restored former horse barn to the nearby chateau, which is now a villa for two, or more. Proprietress Katherine Frelon, besides being a stylish interior decorator, is also a top-notch private chef. Arrange your stay, and she will accompany you to the local farmer’s market for provisions in order to prepare an unforgettable “Burgundian Feast” with you back at the villa. You can also feel like a local by learning to make gougère (baked savory choux pastry made with choux dough and a variety of cheeses) to enjoy with your chablis. Her wine expert, Brendan Moore, can even take you on a private tour of the local vineyards and wine caves to meet his friends – the grape farmers and vintners. If you are lucky, you might even receive an invite to share a bottle of premier cru. Here, you have the opportunity to eat, drink and cook like the locals. Divine!
Floating Away On the Island of Ios In A Purple Haze
Why Ios? Simple, because it has a private island feel, while you can still wander into town for a drink, or a delicious meal with the locals. Wildflowers cover the hillsides, turning them shades of purple during the spring and summer months. At dusk, the violet-shaded hills melt into the sea, as it also turns violet. The little lights of whitewashed houses appear, and the stars pop out in a cloudless sky as the moon rises. One of the best spots on Ios to enjoy sunset, Liostasi Hotel, is also the most romantic place to stay. This dream of an escape is set into the hillside with stupendous views to the harbor below. Each room and suite is airy, chic and invites relaxation thanks in part to the uncluttered design. Ask for the “Liostasi Suite” for a private pool outside and a huge bathtub for two ensuite – both with mesmerizing views of the sea. For those inspired by the simple beauty here, couples can even arrange to renew their vows in the private chapel. I do!
The Beauty of Barcelona
There is nothing calm about Barcelona. The architecture can be outrageous, the tapas bars get crowded, and the plethora of street performers on Las Ramblas can be a bit much. But these things are also what make it so charming. The city is exciting, and there is much to experience together while trying to keep up with the pace of life here. However, when it comes to your home base during the stay, you will likely want a quiet hotel that is far from the city center since it goes all night (and is noisy). Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona is a high-rise set across from green space and a large park, complete with exceptional views of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a newer area, but reaching the famous La Rambla Boulevard is just a few minutes by taxi. The Presidential Suite’s views to the sea are spectacular. Pair your stay with the “PuroBeach Luxury Day” package, and you will have a sunny romance paired with champagne, a couple’s massage and lunch for two. Salud!
If by now you have still not decided where to spend your romantic European getaway, think about what you like to do together, what kind of weather you like, and what you enjoy when you are home. And then take a leap of faith, and do the exact opposite. As John Steinbeck said, “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” Besides, there is nothing better than expanding your horizons while exploring unfamiliar destinations with someone you love! Bon Voyage!