Meeru Island Resort is textbook Maldives: powder white sand and turquoise lagoon. Except here you get 4-star quality at 3-star prices. Bag the all-inclusive option and look out for complimentary room upgrades. Newlyweds should aim for the Jacuzzi Water Villas or the Honeymoon Suites, a short dhoni boat ride away.
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.
Peru is famed for its lost Inca cities – including magical Machu Picchu – but who knew it also had stunning Pacific surf beaches? Take a luxury private tour of this vast fascinating country, from snowy peaks to lush Amazonian rainforest, staying in smart lodges. Go trekking together or simply sit back and soak up those views. Truly a trip of a lifetime.
I’m in no doubt that Croatia should be on everyone’s honeymoon hot list. It’s one of those ‘under the radar’ destinations that’s got it all, and is fast becoming an affordable rival to St Tropez. Completely Croatia has the inside track whether you want to discover historic cities such as Dubrovnik, hide away on a tiny traffic-free island or explore the countryside by Ferrari.
The dream of saying ‘I do’ at the Sydney Opera House, amongst the glitz of Las Vegas or on the white sand of a private island in the Indian Ocean can all come true these days. Weddings abroad are a magical experience and overseas vows often work out much cheaper than getting married at home. Some are even free.
Laluna is one of my favourite honeymoon retreats. Even its singsongy name makes me feel happy. Created by an Italian couple from a fashion industry background, this place is infused with the romance of the Spice Island of Grenada, the glamour of Italy and the gentle soul of Bali. Laluna is like Kate Moss – effortlessly chic and a little bit edgy.
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.
The tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla is one of those eye-poppingly beautiful places that you can’t quite believe exists. Just a short hop from Antigua, it is encircled by platinum-white beaches with an exclusive yet laidback feel. It’s perfect for honeymooners who crave lazy days on the beach, barefoot gourmet dining in waterfront restaurants and cool, contemporary hotels.
It’s all aboard Star Clippers’ handsome vessels for a ship-shape honeymoon evoking the era of Captain Cook. Whether you want to laze on deck under fluttering white sails or help with the rigging, you’ll feel like you’re discovering new worlds as you stop at intimate ports of call which the big cruise liners simply can’t reach.
Known for its provocative coco de mer or love nut and as the original site of the Garden of Eden, you don’t get much more seductive than the Seychelles. Push the boat out and stay at one of the luxury hotels on the main island of Mahé or perhaps Praslin Island, then head out to one of the smaller coral islands for some serious barefoot luxury.
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.
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.
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.
Italy is a top spot for romance, but Puglia goes largely under the radar. Explore the Baroque splendour of Lecce, Alberobello’s fairytale streets and unspoilt Adriatic beaches. Honeymoon hearts will skip a beat on arrival at Sardatur’s collection of luxury hotels – the five-star Borgo Egnazia with its sexy pool villas, the charming Masseria Cervarola and historic Il Melograno for example.
You just know there’s an exceptional honeymoon resort out there with your (married) names on, but you just can’t seem to find it. Sarojin is it! Set on Thailand’s castaway Andaman Coast, it’s one of those resorts that’s pushed a little further in terms of design, service and romance with dinner next to a jungle waterfall or a private cruise on a sexy speedboat.
Who’d have thought that a guitar donated by rock legend Eric Clapton to London’s original Hard Rock Café would expand into an empire of ace resorts? Hard Rock’s all-inclusive hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic are incredible value for money for couples. If you regard your honeymoon as a chance to chill, pamper and party hard, this is for you.
A safari honeymoon is one of the most romantic ways to start married life. Being whisked out of your everyday life to a remote Kenyan camp with thrilling bush drives or even balloon safaris by day and dinner under the African stars by night. Bring out your inner Karen Blixen and add on a dreamy Indian Ocean beach retreat at the end for good measure.
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.
Essential Detail’s portfolio is like a cherry-picked box of romantic one-off hotels all owned and run by folk who know and love the Caribbean and who really care about your honeymoon. The London-based team will recommend the perfect hideaway for you both, be it a glamorous beachfront retreat in Jamaica or a barefoot private island hotel in the Grenadines.
Like all the best couples, some destinations compliment one another, often due to their contrasts. The Middle East and the Maldives is the perfect match for a two-centre honeymoon, especially now that flight connections are so slick. Soak up the Arabic culture of Oman or the emerging bling of Abu Dhabi, before heading to a private island in the Maldives for the ultimate beach chill out.
Borneo is one of the world’s most stunning oases of rare wildlife – home to orang-utans, clouded leopards, fish eagles and pygmy elephants. Whether you experience a night safari or help with tree planting, it’s a thrilling destination, not forgetting the boutique hideaways of Malaysia’s Tioman Island for some beachfront R ‘n’ R.
If there is one honeymoon destination where all-inclusive resorts make sense, it is the Maldives. On your own private island there is no option to dine around. But many all-inclusives are not only great value, they are also genuinely classy hotels with romantic overwater villas, luxury spas, watersports and a choice of restaurants.
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.
From buzzing Hanoi and Saigon to a lazy Mekong river cruise, Vietnam is an inspired choice for a honeymoon. There’s culture, nightlife, cookery classes in street food, gourmet dining, colonial hotels and jaw-dropping romantic gems like the Six Senses Hideaway. A Chinese junk cruise of Halong Bay is one of my do-before-you-die experiences.