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.
Honeymoon in Kerala, India’s sublime southern state, and a tingle will run up your spine every time you reminisce. Wildlife reserves, ancient temples and spice plantations will fascinate, there are beaches for down time and you can enjoy a voyage on your very own houseboat for two around the exotic backwaters. You’ll quickly understand what all the fuss is about.
All I can say about this incredible honeymoon is that you’d better be ready for a series of sensory overloads. The first time I went to Indonesia I was bowled over by its staggering beauty and vibrant culture. This honeymoon is perfect for couples who like to combine luxury with adventure. Well worth getting married for!
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.
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.
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.
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.
From walking on glaciers to basking in the midnight sun, a summer honeymoon in Iceland is magical. Or go in winter for the Northern Lights. Stop over in hip Reykjavik before heading to the Hotel Ranga, not only home to great food and natural spring hot tubs but also one of Iceland’s best spots for a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
What an incredible way to start married life. The buzz of Cape Town with its iconic Table Mountain and nearby winelands contrasts wonderfully with the adventure of spotting the Big Five on safari. And what better place to unwind than Mauritius, renowned for its pampering hospitality. An odyssey that’s bound to cement your vows.
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.
For a small island, Sri Lanka delivers a staggering range of experiences. Add to that some stylish hotels – including amazing creations by local architect Geoffrey Bawa, Amanwella in the 17th century Dutch town of Galle and Amangalla on the sandy shore of Tangalle. If you fancy tying the knot here, you can even do it on elephant back.
‘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.
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.
Bag yourselves a beautiful apartment for two on the Amalfi coast and you’ll never look back. La Trasita is set in a 14th century Saracen tower overlooking Positano from its circular roof terrace. Play Italian Mr & Mrs in your own private love nest and explore Sorrento, the island of Capri, the ruins of Pompeii and the mighty Vesuvius.
Anse Chastanet is a legendary hotel that’s beguiled honeymooners for years with its unique setting and green philosophy – before anyone had heard of ecotourism. Think Caribbean breezes rather than air-con; no TV, just the whisper of sweet nothings. Trade up to ‘big sister’, Jade Mountain, for private pools and no fourth wall.
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.
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.
Practically on the doorstep and boasting some seriously stylish hotels, southern Spain best suits an early or late summer honeymoon to catch the best climate and avoid the crowds. Seville is a spectacular starting point with its gold-encrusted Alcazar Palace. Add Cordoba and Granada, and you have three sumptuous honeymoon cities for the price of one.
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.
From An American in Paris to Amélie, the sultry French capital is where romance blossoms. Kirker gives you the inside track on avoiding tourist clichés and crowds with fast track entrances to less obvious museums and galleries, top reservations for dinner and carefully selected luxury hotels with flowers, petits fours and champagne waiting for you. C’est formidable!
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.
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.
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.
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.