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.
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.
Morocco is a 3-hour flight away, yet it offers a thoroughly exotic honeymoon. Let all your senses be stimulated in the souks of Marrakech and Fes, before retreating to a palatial riad. Romantics will fall in love with the Atlas mountains and coastal gems like Essaouira, not to mention camel trekking and hot air balloon rides for two.
There are plenty of family-friendly all-inclusives in swanky Barbados, but only one for couples-only. Sandals Barbados, opened in January 2015 on the iridescent white sands of Dover Beach in the lively south of the island, is the ultimate all-inclusive with everything from gourmet dining to scuba diving and yoga. You can even tie the knot for free.
Experience Trou aux Biches, a tropical village style resort which, not least after its £60m rebuild, is undoubtedly one of the finest hotels in Mauritius. It’s the only one 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.
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.
Koh Samui on the Gulf of Siam is an island of tropical jungle, dreamy beaches and turquoise coves. Famed for its Ang Thong National Marine Park, honeymooners will find peace and harmony here. Stay at a luxury hotel such as the Napasai or Four Seasons and enjoy intimate beachfront dinners, Thai massages for two and private infinity pools.
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.
I greeted the millennium sunrise in Costa Rica and have fond memories of lush rainforest canopies, awesome surf beaches, volcanic craters with vivid green lakes and rustic hideaways. These days the accommodation is more sophisticated with boutique hotels and stunning eco lodges. A multi-centre trip is the best way to experience Costa Rica – add on Nicaragua for more wow factor.
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.
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 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.
Central America combines true adventure with pockets of luxury to knock you off your feet. Feel the thread count at the Posada del Angel in Guatemala’s colonial Antigua; visit lakes and volcanoes; enjoy a jungle experience from Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha Lodge. From diving the Blue Hole to scaling Mayan ruins, this is a magical honeymoon.
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!
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.
There’s a new wave of cool in Cornwall from surfing to local cuisine that’s making it a top choice for UK honeymoons. Gwel an Mor is top of my list for its VIP Scandinavian-style wooden lodges with private hot tubs, spa, and ocean view restaurant. If you’re taking kids on honeymoon, this is a great choice, otherwise you might want to avoid peak school holiday times.
There’s a powerful romance about American road journeys from Jack Kerouac’s On The Road to legendary tales of driving California’s Big Sur. For honeymooners who crave the freedom of the road, a fly-drive is the perfect bonding adventure. Exsus ups the ante with a convertible Mustang, America’s best boutique hotels and insider tips on top restaurants and activities.
Mojitos and fat Cohiba cigars at the ready when you honeymoon in Cuba, the Caribbean’s most colourful and vibrant country. From the delights of Old Havana with its jazz clubs and historic hotels where the likes of Hemingway checked in, to the colonial town of Trinidad, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, Cuba boasts great beach retreats and eco lodges.
It may be one of the most far-flung archipelagos, but Fiji is a South Pacific honeymoon idyll like no other with genuinely castaway beaches, overwater bungalows set on turquoise lagoons and guitar playing fellas with flowers in their hair serenading your love. Combine it with a sophisticated urban stopover in Hong Kong or Los Angeles, and honeymoon heaven is sorted.
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.
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.
Don’t be fooled by the twee sugar cube dwellings that adorn Santorini. This is the most sought after of the Cyclades Islands. Behind the cobbled streets and blue domes lies a world of Greek chic. You’ll find short-haul island-hopping honeymoon heaven, too, on lesser-known islands such as Folegandros, Naxos or Andros – and Mykonos of course.
The snowy landscapes of the Arctic have an ethereal quality that lends itself to romance. Artisan Travel arranges wintery honeymoons in surreal and deeply romantic hideaways. Stay in a glass igloo and marvel at the Northern Lights above or chill out in a luxury tepee with private hot tub after a day’s husky sledding or ice fishing.
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.