LONDON (Reuters Life!) - In need of a romantic break, but don’t know where to go? Boutique hotel connoisseurs Mr & Mrs Smith (www.mrandmrssmith.com) play Cupid with a hand-picked selection of 10 of the most seductive stays worldwide.
1: Seaside chic: La Réserve Ramatuelle, St Tropez, France
High on a hill above the waves of the Mediterranean and the megayachts of St Tropez, perches La Réserve Ramatuelle -- a recently opened hotel that’s already clawed its way to the top of spa aficionados’ to-do list. The 23 bedrooms are all about chic simplicity, with bright, white interiors and floor-to-ceiling windows ushering in the sunlight while letting the ocean views take center stage. There’s a jet-set coastal feel here, with a destination spa and detox-friendly cuisine, but this sophisticated seaside sanctuary is still perfect for private getaways and relaxed tête-à-têtes. Order champagne cocktails for two and sink into a beanbag by the heated outdoor pool. Just don’t forget your superstar-in-waiting sunglasses.
2: Luxury: Eagles Nest, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
If you like your romance served with one part James Bond to two parts Jacques Cousteau, then you’ll love Eagles Nest. The five secluded villas, hidden away on a verdant peninsula in northern New Zealand’s scenic Bay of Islands, blend breathtaking modern design with jaw-dropping ocean vistas. Intimate one-bedroom First Light is recommended for couples, but all feature minimal contemporary furniture, abstract art and glam gadgets, including flatscreen TVs and home cinema systems. Prepare your own meals in the kitchen or arrange for a private chef to whip you up a spread out on the spacious deck. Afterwards flop in the Jacuzzi, cocktail in hand. Beyond your luxe pad, acres of subtropical bush and beaches beckon, with 144 islands promising pristine swimming, sailing and whale-watching.
3: Spa seduction: Capella Singapore, Singapore
Putting a fresh spin on a stay in this buzzy southeast Asian city, 112-room Capella Singapore is a seductive getaway on tropical Sentosa Island. Although it’s easily reached by car over a causeway from the main island, you’ll feel far removed from the metropolis here, with lush lawns, roaming peacocks and artfully appointed sculptures surrounding a heritage hotel. It’s not all old world charm though, as Capella’s bold modern extension by Foster & Partners brings the interiors bang up to date. Constellation rooms come with an alfresco terrace tub, ideal for soaking up South China Sea views. Get in the mood for love with a lunar cycle-inspired treatment at award-winning Auriga spa, then sip rare teas together at the Knolls diner before feasting on Chinese fusion dishes at Cassia.
4: Decadent drama: Palazzo Barbarigo, Venice, Italy
If anywhere deserves an 11 out of 10 for romance, it’s misty, magical Venice and where better to hole up with your honey than converted 16th-century Palazzo Barbarigo, right on the Grand Canal? Blending modern boudoir glamour with Twenties deco chic, each of the 18 rooms offers a dreamy canal view. Voluptuous four-poster beds add to the drama, with sexy smoky ceiling mirrors drawing reflected light in from the water outside, so that despite the dark color palette, the whole space feels sensual. There’s a velvety lounge bar and small dining room serving light snacks, but venturing out for food is a pleasure in this vibrant neighborhood near the Rialto bridge.
5: Wild: Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia
If you’re planning a proposal, you could do worse than pop the question while supping on champagne and canapés surrounded by kangaroos. For animal encounters without foregoing creature comforts, head to luxe Kangaroo Island boutique hotel Southern Ocean Lodge. An exquisite designer haven just off the coast of South Australia, it’s considered to be the Aussie equivalent of the Galapagos Islands. Stretching along the beautiful coastline at Hanson Bay, its 21 contemporary suites, serene spa, bar and restaurant blend seamlessly into the environment, with vast wall-to-wall windows making the most of dramatic ocean panoramas. Spot kangaroos, echidnas, koalas and seals on an organized expedition, or you may well be treated to a show of dolphins or whales flirting in the waves from the steamy bath tub in your room.
6: Beach bliss: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Nha Trang, Vietnam
You’ll need to hop aboard a speedboat from Nha Trang, on the south-central coast of Vietnam, to reach this spa-spangled sanctuary on a serene crescent-shaped bay, but that just ups the romance ante. The just-remote-enough rustic-deluxe Six Senses Ninh Van Bay retreat offers 58 airy villas with a choice of jungle seclusion, hilltop views, beachside bliss or romantic water-edge settings among the rocks. Amble from your canopied bed to your own private pool or descend a ladder directly to the sea and you’ll feel like a cosseted castaway. The Six Senses spa is justly famous, so book in for a Vietnamese massage (treatment pavilions are dotted around the jungle with alfresco Jacuzzis). Dining is just as atmospheric, with the chance to clink glasses by the bay, the pool, the rocks or in the wine cave, or request an intimate villa barbecue for two.
7: Urban glam: St James’s Hotel & Club, London
If you prefer a bit of urban seduction, then it doesn’t come much swisher than this ultra-sophisticated London hotel in ritzy Mayfair, which combines a gentleman’s club feel with oodles of luxury. The red entrance carpet and rose and white Victorian facade of 60-room St James’s Hotel & Club hints at the grown-up glamour within. Newly revamped, the decor teams Murano glass chandeliers with impressive artworks and sensuous materials. Velvet, silk, leather and cashmere season the rooms while massive tubs, L‘Occitane toiletries, heated towels and a built-in LCD TV make for VIP bathroom pampering. Don’t miss the hotel’s cocktail hour for delicious concoctions in the bar, then sink into a lemon-yellow banquette for some haute-cuisine at in-house eatery Seven Park Place. Nearby, stroll pretty St James’s Park, wander past Buckingham Palace, then steal a kiss on top of the London Eye.
8: Rustic retreat: Uma Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
One of Bali’s most romantic retreats, hillside Uma Ubud in rustic, inland Ubud is clearly on a mission to rejuvenate you. Given the incredible valley scenery, soothing sounds of wildlife and beautiful thatched balés that fill the place, it can’t fail. With guided treks around the lush green paddy fields, free daily yoga classes and a main pool surrounded by monkey-inhabited tropical trees, it’s easy to commune with nature -- or each other -- here. Bag an Uma Pool Suite for country views, or opt for the Shambhala Suite for your own spa treatment area. The 29 fairytale rooms offer dreamy beds, sexy bathrooms, outdoor showers, open-air lounging pavilions, serene koi ponds and river vistas. Watch the dawn mists rising over Bali before heading to the spa for an Ayurvedic massage or to open-air Kemiri restaurant for seasonal Indonesian cuisine. Later wander the nearby Monkey Forest for more cheeky fun.
9. Rooms with a view: the Standard NY, New York.
For ridiculously romantic views over the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, treat yourself to a stay at the Standard NY. Created by hip hotelier Andre Balazs, this glassy, minimal high-rise lords it over New York’s funky western Meatpacking District. Of the 337 rooms, the lofty Standard Suites are the most glam, with three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass so you can soak up sunset vistas from your bath. Sleekly contemporary boudoirs offer either deep-set free-standing tubs open to the living area or exposed glass-walled showers, perfect for a hot date. Dine in-house, then hit the vertiginous 18th floor bar for cocktails for a natural high. Alternatively, you’re within moseying distance of fab French bistro Pastis. For quality time outdoors, stroll hand in hand along gorgeous elevated park the High Line, or borrow one of the hotel’s cool black-and-gold bikes for a riverside ride.
10: Old-fashioned elegance: Satri House, Luang Prabang, Laos
A glorious tribute to a bygone era, Satri House was once the childhood home of a Lao prince, and this grand yet intimate 1900s boutique hotel will make you feel like a king and queen for a night. The 25 elegant rooms come with floaty four-poster beds and seductive south-east Asian decor, from whirring fans to dreamy day-beds. Art and antiques, including gilded Buddhas and Chinese lacquered cabinets, add a touch of gallery chic to this oh-so aristocratic pad. With two pools, a small spa and a tempting restaurant -- ideal for sampling a symphony of Lao and Thai spices -- you’ll have to drag yourself away to explore laid-back Luang Prabang. Make sure you do: its rustic Mekong River setting, peaceful temples and saffron-clad monks make this one of the region’s most romantic getaways.
Editing by Paul Casciato