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.
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.
One of the most under-rated Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic is bursting with rainforest, culture and beautiful beaches. The introduction of British Airways flights to Punta Cana in the east, with its impressive new array of sophisticated resorts, is a sign of the high quality you can expect. Check out these gold standard resorts at silver prices.
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.
Sometimes the ultimate honeymoon is closer and more affordable than you think. Heralding a new style of all-inclusive, Ikos Oceania and Ikos Olivia promise ‘infinite lifestyle’ honeymoons in gorgeous Halkidiki. With everything from bungalows with private pools to couples’ treatments at the dreamy Anne Semonin Spa, you can’t go wrong.
For a shorthaul honeymoon island to beguile you with its exotic mix of sea, volcano and mountains, plus the ever-present scent of lemon trees, Sicily and its dozen off-shore islands deliver a great destination for romance. And best of all, you get to choose from cutting edge resorts such as Verdura to old-school gems like The Ashbee.
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.
Mozambique is a honeymoon hotspot well worth getting married for! Africa’s Indian Ocean is at its most exotic here, with hideaway hotels, traditional sailing dhows, sand dune camping, exquisite seafood and all within reach of a full-on safari. In my mind, Mozambique satisfies that yearning for a new frontier with a generous helping of feet-in-the-sand chic.
All your safari dreams come true at Ulusaba, Sir Richard Branson’s private game reserve in South Africa. Honeymoon packages include champagne, massages and a private dinner. Spectacular weddings are held under an Amarula tree surrounded by flaming torches. Book the exclusive Cliff Lodge which includes a private spa room.
If you crave Indian Ocean island but want something more adventurous, Madagascar is the perfect choice. It’s the fourth largest island in the world and 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on earth. Combine golden beaches, teeming rainforest and traditional Malagasy villages with tranquil lodges and romantic beach resorts for one memorable honeymoon.
Couples that play together, stay together. If you share a love of cycling, Headwater has come up with inspiring routes, some off-road. Romantic itineraries include gastronomic routes in Piedmont and Chianti. And the best thing is, your bags are taken from hotel to hotel for you. They’ll even get the wine orders in.
Experience Trou aux Biches, a tropical village style resort which is undoubtedly one of the finest hotels in Mauritius. It’s the only one on the island with beach front suites with a private pool and it’s set on one of my favourite beaches. Couples can tie the knot in a chapel in the branches of a Banyan tree.
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.
In amongst the excitement of Tokyo and Kyoto, riding the Silver Bullet train and exploring the tropical islands of Okinawa, honeymooners owe it to themselves to experience Japan’s hot springs. Slip into a yukata robe and split-toe tabi socks for an array of traditional treatments, and let that wedding stress drift away.
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.
‘It’s who you know’ couldn’t be more apt than when honeymooning with Enchanting Travels – a company with the inside track on delivering the most original of romantic tours whether it’s a look at Mumbai’s booming modern art scene or exploring the Rajput glories of Udaipur. And with people on the ground, any last minute tweak to heighten the romance is as good as done.
Egypt is so very easy to get to, yet so very foreign, making it all the more alluring for couples who have never visited. Cairo is a crazy sprawl of a city with breathtaking delights, from the Sphinx to Mena House, a landmark hotel. Take a romantic cruise down the Nile on a super-stylish boat and soak up the sights and sites.
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.
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.
How could the birthplace of the Renaissance be anything other than magical? From your own private villa for two, explore the vineyards of Chianti Classico, dine on Tuscan delights like porcini mushrooms and truffle dishes and treat yourselves to jewellery from the shops along Florence’s Ponte Vecchio.
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.
Adventurous couples looking for a wow factor honeymoon will find their nirvana in the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand. Heli-hike vast glaciers, horse-ride across the bush, swim in hot springs and cruise the Milford Sound. Choose a self-drive tour for the freedom of the road, staying either in motels or boutique B&Bs en route.
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.
I’d like to let you in on a secret! There’s a hidden side to the Caribbean, a world away from the glossy travel brochures. Ironically it’s a side that many honeymooners hanker after – an authentic Caribbean found in the small hotels, b&bs and lodges that are often family-run and overflowing with local bonhomie. Essence of the Caribbean has the inside track.