The World's Most Romantic Hotels: Southern Europe
Honeymoons, anniversaries, engagements, make-ups. So easy to find an excuse for loving. Especially if your romantic compass is pointing toward Southern Europe.
Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron
Where: Salzburg, Austria
What's to Love: Although the estate has hosted royalty, housed legendary artworks, and sponsored Mozart, it's really famous as the Von Trapp home from The Sound of Music. The setting includes a few of our favorite things, like a sculpture-filled neo-baroque park, luxuriously appointed hotel rooms with mountain and lake views, and even fancier imperial suites. Diehard film fans (we're with you) can take a four-hour tour of the surroundings.
What's to Love: Artsy villas on a gorgeous and privately owned island a few minutes by boat from Hvar, one of Croatia's biggest party towns.
Good to Know: The island's owners, the Meneghello family, are committed to nature preservation and fostering the arts. The surrounding land is filled with private inlets to explore by foot.
What's to Love: Incredible rooms you'll never want to leave with private terraces perfect for watching the famous Santorini sunset.
Good to Know: Book ahead; they only have eight rooms.
Whats to Love: Secluded location overlooking the Aegean Sea. Minimalistic décor: The rooms used to be housing for local fisherman. The Greek yogurt with honey and nuts is divine.
Good to Know: Book a private boat excursion around the caldera and stops to swim and explore the caves. There's no TV, so bring a novel and plan on really unplugging.
The Xara Palace
What's to Love: Seventeenth-century hilltop palazzo within the stone walls of a medieval city. Baroque architecture, exquisite furnishings, impeccable service.
Good to Know: It gets chilly, even in the summer, so bring a sweater. The property is family-run and you will feel like a guest in a noble's home — act accordingly.
Casas Na Areia
Where: Comporta, Portugal
What's to Love: In the middle of a wildlife sanctuary, four beautifully minimalist huts by the sea have heated sand floors and bicycles for beach cruising.
Good to Know: Beyond great wine and seafood, it's a birders' paradise — flamingos and storks are your neighbors for the weekend.
What's to Love: The Vinothérapie Spa, for starters. Because the hotel is situated so high up in the hills, there are truly breathtaking views of the city and river from the indoor pool.
Good to Know: It's a long and winding trek to the bottom of the hill, where Porto proper is. All the more reason to wander the narrow streets surrounding the hotel and spend your time tasting port.
Palacete Chafariz D'El Rei
Where: Alfama, Lisbon
What's to Love: The six-room hotel is warm and intimate and feels remote, even though it's in the middle of the oldest part of Lisbon. I had to walk down a hidden alley to find it, and my first steps inside (and the owner's homemade pancakes) were both highlights.
Hotel Alfonso XIII
What's to Love: Palatial digs with lovely ourdoor spaces in the heart of the city.
Good to Know: If you prefer quiet, ask for a room facing the courtyard (not the street).
Hotel Alhambra Palace
What's To Love: Feels like you're staying in the real Alhambra Palace.
Good to Know: Rooms overlooking the city have fantastic views. Ask to be on a higher floor for less noise.
Whats to Love: You approach through rolling Basque vineyards with a view of the sea. You arrive to beautifully decorated rooms. The local food — jamon and the freshest eggs you'll ever eat — from room service makes it cozy.
Good to Know: San Sebastián and Bilbao are within driving distance. The port town of Getaria is worth a trip for the turbot and sardines grilling on charcoals outside the restaurants.
Hotel La Residencia
What's to Love: Beautiful twin manor houses situated on the edge of Deià, Mallorca's artist colony. Houses El Olivo, an award-winning restaurant.
Good to Know: Bring comfortable shoes. The hotel offers a wide range of walking tours, which are a great way to explore Deià and see what inspire local artists.
Marques de Riscal
Where: Rioja, Spain
What's to Love: This high-art structure designed by Frank Gehry is a "romantic getaway" fave of Brad and Angelina, has a serious beauty-inducing Caudalie spa, and is situated on a vast and glorious vineyard.
Good to Know: For serious wine drinkers and those looking to experience a proper wine-tasting trip, Rioja is more exotic than Napa and less pretentious than Burgundy. And everyone here looks like the cast of Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
What's to Love: Grand old estate in the Spanish countryside converted into a 20-room hotel. Family run and usually packed with their fascinating friends.
Good to Know: It's especially exquisite in the spring when wildflowers color the hills.
Where: Verbier, Switzerland
What's to Love: This place is like being in your own little Tyrol &mdash sweeping views of the snow-capped peaks of the Vallais are seen from every well-appointed, very Swiss room. Meals can be taken in two of the boutique hotel's restaurants but opt for the cozy Le Grenier, where the warm glow and table-side raclette set the stage for love.
Good to Know: The subterranean spa — small but wonderful — is perfect for a massage post-piste.
Gamirasu Cave Hotel
What's to Love: This may be the most fantastical place on earth, and you're living in an epic, mythical cave. Have a scrumptious traditional Turkish breakfast and watch the sunrise over the valley.
Good to Know: Wake up at 4 a.m. to go on a hot air balloon ride.
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay
What's to Love: Overlooks the most beautiful water you will ever swim in.
Good to Know: Hotel transportation will bring you to Bodrum, so there's no need to rent a car.
Read More on Fathom: Scott Conant in Bodrum.
Where: Urgup, Turkey
What’s to Love: Prove your love is rock solid with a stay at a charming Cappadocia hotel where rooms are literally built into rock and date back to the 5th century. The village looks like a movie set and the fairytale region is best explored by horse, bicycle, and hot air balloon.
Read More on Fathom: Cappadocian Adventures From Earth to Sky
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
Contributors: Suzy Buckley, Scott Conant, Christina DiLaura, Julia Jaoudi, Devorah Klein Lev-Tov, Wendy Knight, Biba Milioto, Claire Milonas, Dina Rosembloom, Alyssa Shelasky, James Truman, Jee Won Park.