Valentine’s Day: the eternal conundrum. The ultimate emotional Catch-22. To grand gesture or not to grand gesture? That is the question.
Of course, no one expects a grand gesture. But it’s the very nature of the ‘not-expecting it’ that means a grand gesture impresses. It’s basically science. Henceforth, I pose to you, dear reader, the suggestion that ‘grand gesture’ is virtually a synonym for ‘romantic break to far flung/exotic/remote destination’. Luckily, we know romance and romantic breaks pretty well here at Original Travel. In the 10 zippy years since our inception, we’ve travelled the planet to find the most heavenly luxury holiday spots, and as a result, have organised over 1,000 tailor-made honeymoons (17 of which were for members of our own team). These are just five of our favourite destinations for a romantic break:
SHORT HAUL ESCAPES
Close your eyes and picture a romantic destination. You’re picturing solitude, seclusion, privacy. You’re picturing an infinity pool of such sublimity it’s hard to articulate, because you’re reckoning it probably doesn’t exist. The good news? It does exist. It’s the Grace Santorini. This luxury hotel, situated on the Greek island most oft equated with amour, has so embodied the whole ‘heaven-on-earth’ vibe that it’s become interchangeable with the very idea of romance. As a result, it has become one of the most desirable locations for a romantic getaway in our (extensive) roster.
It’s Italy. Well guessed. ‘Italy!’ we hear you cry. ‘That’s a reasonably exhausted destination for a romantic getaway. A little clichéd. Make that a lot clichéd!’ True. All true. Venice and Rome are well-worn, classic destinations for a romantic city break (though our Europe expert Dave reassures that Venice is still ‘an impossibly romantic place’). But less expected, perhaps, is Puglia, one of the country’s most untouched regions, home to a collection of rustically luxurious masserias and whitewashed boutique hotels. The smartest in the region is easily Borgo Egnazia, a mainstay for discerning travellers that’s all billowing white curtains and Mediterranean breeziness. There’s a seductiveness to Puglia that comes from its relative anonymity: the food is without the touristy blandness of Rome’s, and cities like Lecce (known locally as the Florence of the South) harbour architectural gems that can be enjoyed without the accompanying masses that populate the country’s more mainstream cultural centres.
It was David Nicholl’s bestselling novel One Day that reminded the nation that Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most romantic spots. It’s certainly not warm, but the chilly Scottish weather lends a certain sense of huddled togetherness that serves as a uniting force. Oh, and there’s a steady supply of whiskey on tap, too, which helps. The sight of Edinburgh Castle looming above the ancient city in the early morning mist and drizzle invokes that brooding atmosphere that only Scotland really specialises in. The classic place to stay is, of course, The Balmoral, but we have a whole retinue of luxury hotels that we can enthusiastically recommend. And for those with more than just a weekend in mind, tacking on a trip to the Highlands might possibly be the best thing you could ever do. There aren’t many spots in the world as beautiful.
LONG HAUL LOVE
Sumba Island, Indonesia
One of our favourite destinations du jour is Indonesia, and we know a spot that’s a whole island’s worth of hideaway - literally. Nihiwatu – which has slowly been accruing its own impressive back catalogue of travel press coverage – is the only luxury residence on Sumba, an island peppered with Stone Age relics and some superb surf spots. The resort puts a raw, wild twist on the whole horseback-riding-on-the-beach cliché, with its swathes of verdant jungle and vivid ultramarine swell of the sea along its sandy shores.
The Namib Desert, Namibia
If it’s a remote, ends-of-the-earth kind of experience you’re after, then it doesn’t get much more final frontier than the desert dunes of Namibia. The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world, and to fly over the Sossusvlei (home to gigantic, graphic dunes of a brilliant golden hue that look as though they’re straight out of a Disney illustrator’s dream) is an experience that even a surrealist would find a little mind-boggling. We recommend spending a few nights at Wolwedans Private Camp, a hermit-like location with only two rooms that are literally in the middle of nowhere. The suite, suitable for a couple or small family, opens out onto panoramic views of umber mountain ranges and tawny desert-scapes. By night, the sight is even more thrilling, with clear skies and stars that dance their way down to the horizon. If you do find yourself in need of a little looking after, the Wolwedans camp staff will deliver gourmet meals or whisk you off on a luxury safari. But otherwise, you’re all yours.
At Original Travel, we believe life is in the detail. We need to understand what you like before we can truly say what you’ll love. No two travellers and no two itineraries are ever identical. Each, as our name suggests, is truly original. We specialise in honeymoons, family trips, expert-led journeys, cultural experiences, adventures, safaris, discreet luxury travel, private properties and diving.
For more information visit our website www.originaltravel.co.uk
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The go-to girl for luxury hotels, Lisa Corcoran knows how to travel in style. Join Lisa on her quest, with a little help from her friends, to seek out those special places which stand apart from the rest.