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Top 10 romantic hotels worldwide

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Spa treatment bed in a tented pool villa at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi. (VFM Leonardo Inc.)

What better way to romance the one you love than with a memorable journey to a faraway land? To this end, we have traversed the globe to discover the most intimate inns and romantic relais guaranteed to appeal to couples. From sophisticated urban pieds-à-terre to chic secluded desert retreats, each of these unique escapes is sure to fan the flames of passion with its enticing setting, pampering amenities and enchanting experiences for two.

UNITED STATES

Auberge du Soleil
Napa Valley, California

Because a romantic getaway is made even more so by an intimate dinner with a good bottle of vino, there are few better places for an amorous escape than Napa Valley. While this wine region is filled with lodgings perfect for passion, there's something special about Auberge du Soleil, situated on a scenic hillside surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Guest rooms come with large stone fireplaces and spacious soaking tubs, as well as French doors that open onto private terraces with sweeping views of the valley below. The spa shares this idyllic vista and features a treatment suite for two. As for that romantic meal, the inn's legendary restaurant serves locally sourced cuisine and has one of the most extensive wine lists in the valley. For more information, visit www.aubergedusoleil.com

CARIBBEAN

Viceroy Anguilla
Anguilla, British West Indies

One of the most striking settings in the West Indies, the secluded beachfront along Meads and Barnes Bays is home to the lavish collection of guest rooms, suites, penthouses and villas that make up Viceroy Anguilla. Celebrated interior designer Kelly Wearstler is behind the contemporary interiors, whose white backdrops and silvered accents reflect the natural environment. Couples are sure to be enchanted by the oceanfront suites with four-poster beds and private pools. For the perfect "date night," begin with sunset cocktails at The Half Shell, a secret hideaway carved from the cliffs, followed by alfresco dinner at Cobà and dancing to calypso sounds at the chic Sunset Lounge. For more information, visit www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

FRANCE

Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris
Paris

Though The Royal Monceau has been serving up luxury since 1928, don't expect a stuffy, old-fashioned atmosphere here. After a full-on, mid-century design assault by Philippe Starck, this hotel is now fresh, modern and still — thankfully — oh so Parisian. The personal details are what make this property enticing, especially in the suites, where you might even find a packet of love letters among the amenities. As for how you and your beloved can spend your time when you're not hidden away in your room, you might attend a special screening at Le Cinéma des Lumières, savor a seductive treatment at the Spa My Blends by Clarins or toast your love over a meal at La Cuisine, which masterfully blends the opulence of a grand cathedral with the intimacy of a family dining room. For more information, visit www.raffles.com

CHINA

Hullett House
Hong Kong

We adore bustling, cutting edge Hong Kong for leading the hotel pack through the 21st century, but when it comes to romance, we're happy to trade sleek and trendy for intimate and unique. With just ten suites (the smallest measuring in at 800 square feet), Hullett House blends Chinese and British influences in a classic white colonial building dating back to 1881. Each room is individually decorated, from the Tsing Lung Suite, paying tribute to Imperial China, to the Pui O Suite, showcasing the jazz ethos of old Shanghai. There is one highlight, though, that all accommodations share: private terraced balconies with views of the gardens, harbor and/or Hong Kong skyline. The property has five — count 'em, five — drinking and dining venues, including Mariner's Rest, where guests can enjoy cocktails in the original jail cells of this building that once served as the city's Marine Police Headquarters. Prisoner of love, indeed! For more information, visit www.hulletthouse.com

IRELAND

The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, County Wicklow
Enniskerry, County Wicklow

The dramatic, Palladian-style The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, County Wicklow is a dream come true for those wishing to discover the romantic spirit of the Emerald Isle. Although located near Dublin, it enjoys a bucolic setting in the middle of Powerscourt Gardens in the scenic Wicklow countryside. Floor-to-ceiling views from the opulently furnished guest rooms and suites range over the gardens and Sugarloaf Mountain, enticing guests outdoors, where fresh air can be enjoyed with a round of golf on one of two championship courses, followed by a pint of Guinness at McGills pub and dinner at Gordon Ramsay's first-ever restaurant in Ireland. For more information, visit www.ritz-carlton.com

ITALY
Il Salviatino
Fiesole, Tuscany

In the hillside village of Fiesole overlooking Florence, Il Salviatino drifts like a Medieval dream above one of Italy's most romantic cities. Serving as a palace in the 1400s, the privately owned villa has been lovingly restored by local artisans, blending ancient frescoes and mosaics with a rich contemporary décor that is opulent without being over the top. Among the swooningly aristocratic guest rooms, the best choices for lovebirds include the two-level Marcello Suite at the top of the tower and the Ojetti Suite with a private balcony that gazes over the Duomo. Couples can dine on dishes sourced from local grandmothers, indulge in treatments at Devarana Spa or simply seek out a quiet corner of the gardens for a tryst à deux. That's amore! For more information, visit www.salviatino.com

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Banyan Tree Al Wadi  
Ras Al Khaimah

The luxurious oasis of Banyan Tree Al Wadi, located about thirteen miles from the city of Ras Al Khaimah, less than a two-hour drive from Dubai, awaits couples seeking a remote desert sanctuary. The resort's expert romance consultants can help you plan the most amorous escape. Cuddle close to your partner on a wildlife excursion through the Banyan Tree Al Wadi Nature Reserve where you'll come close to Arabian gazelles and camels. Of the many Bedouin-style villas, we like the Al Khaimah Tented Pool, which has a plush king-sized bed, an outdoor sun bed and a private swimming pool that's nestled close to the desert sands. The Banyan Tree Spa and state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facility offers the ultimate retreat for those looking to unwind. Try the Egyptian Beauty treatment with a honey and milk bath to soothe the muscles and senses. Gaze into the night sky and admire the sunset while sipping on a cocktail at Moon Bar, the property's roof terrace lounge that overlooks rolling dunes in the distance. For dinner, escape to Al Waha, one of the resort's eight dining establishments, where you'll find international fare and Arabic specialties to swoon over. For more information, visit www.banyantree.com 

NEW ZEALAND

Wharekauhau
North Island

For many, a farm holiday might not sound like the height of romance, but those who have been to Wharekauhau know that agriculture and ardor do mix. At this 5,500-acre working sheep station overlooking spectacular Palliser Bay on the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island, you can renew both your spirit and your commitment to your significant other. Privacy is assured in ten three-suite cottages scattered throughout the estate. With four-poster beds, gas fireplaces and double spa baths, each accommodation encourages staying in. But if you're feeling in the mood for some PDA time, spend a day out tasting local wines or an evening lingering over a four-course gourmet meal in the resort's dining room. For more information, visit www.wharekauhau.co.nz

THAILAND

Rayavadee
Krabi Island

Are you in the mood for dinner in an ancient limestone grotto overlooking the sea? Or perhaps a floral bath for two surrounded by lush jungle greenery? Welcome to Rayavadee, where seclusion and serenity top the list of amenities. Fashioned after an idyllic southern Thai village, this exquisite resort features 26 acres of two-story pavilions and sumptuous villas surrounded by sandy beaches. When you're not snorkeling in the crystal waters of Krabi Marine National Park or learning the fine art of fiery Thai cooking, you can snuggle up with your beloved on a once-in-a-lifetime elephant ride or sneak in some private outdoor time on a nature hike to the local waterfall. For more information, visit www.rayavadee.com

BRAZIL

Kenoa Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort
Barra de São Miguel

You won't have to lift a finger as long as you're a guest at this heavenly hideout where personal attendants cater to your every wish. The eco-chic Kenoa Resort, located on Brazil's northeast coast in Alagoas, offers a deluxe variety of private suites and villas, including the Apoena Suites, known for their traditional deep-seated Japanese ofuro tubs encased in fragrant cedar wood, making them perfect for a long, relaxing therapeutic soak. Sun worshippers can catch some rays outside the Jaobi Villas, where there’s a seamless transition from bedroom to ocean. Couples looking to indulge in a wellness sanctuary will rejoice in Kenoa Spa's Romantic Delight Package, which includes a dip in a Japanese ofuro bath, a moisturizing facial and a soothing spice massage. Your evenings will be well spent inside renowned Brazilian chef Cesar Santos' architecturally dramatic Kaamo Restaurant, which sits in the center of the property and boasts breathtaking ocean views and serves original Brazilian-style culinary creations. For more information, visit www.kenoaresort.com

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