If I were searching for a Maldives honeymoon, there would be two resorts at the top of my list: Niyama and Huvafen Fushi. The former is pushing the boundaries of cool in the Indian Ocean, whilst the latter is the pioneer of barefoot luxury. Bag yourselves an overwater ocean bungalow and let real life drift away.
From nautical hideaways on the water at Fowey in Cornwall to a dinky cottage in the Cotswolds or Yorkshire Dales, there’s something so civilised about a self-catering hideaway in the UK, not least the privacy and affordability. Stock up on your favourite treats, and throw another log on the fire.
Closer to Africa than Italy, Sardinia is a tried and tested honeymoon hotspot, especially in late spring and early autumn. Honeymoon boltholes range from the all-singing all-dancing Forte Village with its choice of eight hotels and some of the best sports and spa facilities in the Med to luxurious boutique hideaways such as L’Ea Bianca Resort.
Northern India and Rajasthan have all the ingredients for an uber-romantic honeymoon. Enjoy an insider’s view of Old and New Delhi, discover the jaw-dropping Pink City of Jaipur and marvel at the Taj Mahal, the world’s greatest monument to love – then unwind with some beach time in Kerala or Goa. If India doesn’t work its magic, nothing will.
A star of the novel and film, Eat Pray Love, the spiritual island of Bali is synonymous with rejuvenation and well-being, not to mention romance. Honeymoon at the adults-only Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali and you’ll begin married life with a Discovery Path to ‘balance’, ‘creativity’ or ‘vigour’. All very useful for your new lives together as Mr & Mrs.
There’s a new cool about Mallorca. Its capital Palma couldn’t get more hip if it tried. Add to that the idyllic beaches, stunning mountains, fabulous local cuisine and some of the best villas in the Med for the ultimate in privacy. We love the beautifully restored farmhouses with private pools in charming spots like Sencelles and Selva.
Artfully masquerading as ‘The Inn on the Beach’, this is one of the most sophisticated hotels in Devon and packed with the special touches I would expect from Peter de Savary and his wife Lana. Teetering over Babbacombe Bay, rooms are the best of British seaside chic, not least the new beach huts, and there’s a fabulous new spa with breathtaking sea views.
One of the original design hotels in a spectacular jungle setting, The Datai Langkawi has always stayed ahead of the in-crowd. Pool villas have private plunge pools with built-in Jacuzzi and day bed for intimate lounging. The Beach Club bar has dreamy Andaman Sea views or you can explore the surrounding rainforest by mountain bike.
Sleeping under the stars in Balinese Dream Beds on a luxury cruise ship more akin to a private yacht, visiting a new destination every day and toasting one another on your cabin balcony with a cocktail as your cruise ship pulls out of port. These are just some of the romantic highs on a luxury cruise honeymoon.
Robin Pope is one of the most respected names in African safaris. Their experts have put together an adventurous, indulgent and downright sexy lake and bush honeymoon in Zambia and Malawi, selecting the most romantic lodges, private game drives, bush walks and boat cruises, intimate breakfasts on board a dhow in Lake Malawi, candlelit dinners and snorkelling.
When I first visited the Florida Keys, I couldn’t believe how exotic they were, yet all wrapped up in that comforting blanket of American hospitality. The necklace of Keys is just one part of this surprisingly diverse State that comes up trumps for value-for-money honeymoons in the sun. And it’s top of the list if you have kids along for the celebrations too.
I think Mauritius is one of the most romantic places on earth. It has lush, mountainous interiors giving way to white beaches and coral-fringed lagoons. Add in a choice of impressive resorts and spas to suit all budgets, attractions and activities, plus a lively foodie scene melding Chinese, Indian, African and French influences, and you have a honeymoon to remember.
Namibia’s stark beauty will seduce you – vast dunes, endless deserts, the shipwreck-strewn Skeleton Coast and velvety night skies. Sleep under the stars or in dreamy lodges, while in the game parks you can track rhino, leopard and cheetah. The dry season and best game viewing months coincide with the UK’s popular summer wedding season, and there’s no jetlag either.
‘Over the top’ might be a phrase used to describe Dubai. If you’re looking for a glitzy honeymoon with top cuisine, shopping and nightlife plus plenty of sunshine despite being on the cusp of short-haul, this is the place to come. Combine city pampering in Dubai or Abu Dhabi with a magical spell in the Maldives or Seychelles for a class double act.
Pink Gin Beach on the Spice Island of Grenada! How could newlyweds resist this exotic combination? The luxurious Sandals LaSource sits bang on this stunning beach, one of the best in Grenada. Bag yourselves a room with a tranquility soaking tub or a Skypool Suite with butler service at this couples-only all-inclusive.
Sure it’s an offshore banking hub, but it has more flora and fauna than the Galapagos. In-the-know honeymooners board the 40-minute flight from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman for world class diving at Bloody Bay Wall and parties at The Hungry Iguana. Population: 150. Charm: off the scale. It doesn’t get much more laid back than this.
From the jaw-dropping Big Sur to the wide open spaces of Yosemite National Park, with theme parks, surfing, wine routes, glam cities and dramatic beaches in between, California is a place of incredible diversity. If you’re the kind of couple that wants to pack a million honeymoon experiences into a couple of weeks, The Golden State is for you.
Robinson Crusoe couples are in for a treat. With just 15 islands over two million square km of Pacific Ocean, The Cook Islands are exquisitely cast away. Head to Rarotonga for a lush island experience; take a scenic flight to the incredible Aitutaki, and write a postcard home from One Foot Island. Combine with New Zealand if you have time.
Madeira has cast off its fuddy-duddy image and offers everything from extreme sports to extreme natural beauty. Quintas are Madeiran manor houses converted into boutique hotels in a garden setting. Expect spa treatments, horse riding, golf, levada walks and whale watching. A great short-haul option with year-round sunshine.
Honeymooners will be bowled over by St Kitts’ natural beauty and creativity. Choose from a wide mix of hotels from plantation chic to an “all singing and dancing” resort. And when you’re not cocooned in your love-nest, take a rainforest hike, visit neighbouring Nevis and ‘lime’ the night away at a rustic beach bar.
Capri is a white isle in a sapphire sea, where movie stars come for legendary spa treatments (Gwyneth Paltrow favours the Leg School at Capri Palace), millionaires retire to their clifftop retreats and couples whisper sweet nothings in the Blue Grotto. My personal pick of the hotels is the Capri Palace Hotel, an Italian gem with indulgence written all over it.
Who would have thought that two big hitters in the honeymoon world, India and Maldives, would make such sense as a romantic two-centre experience? Imagine flying non-stop to Delhi for a private tour of the Golden Triangle or safari where you might spot a Bengal Tiger, before taking the four-hour flight to the Maldives, the ultimate barefoot paradise.
Sir Richard Branson famously bought Necker Island for a song and built it up to be one of the world’s most exclusive private islands. Hire the entire island with friends and family or book a room just for the two of you during a ‘Celebration Week’. Adrenaline junkies will find all the toys from kite surfing to racing around the island on mini catamarans.
Turkey is a honeymoon no-brainer. It’s a four-hour flight with a fabulous climate, stunning coast and a heritage to rival any destination. The stylish adult-only Mandarin Boutique Hotel has just eight rooms with king-sized beds and Jacuzzis for two. With delicious organic cuisine on the menu, it’s both gorgeous and affordable.