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Today we are talking Honeymoons, it’s that time of year when we are all looking forward to our summer holidays with travel operates finding it their busiest time of the year. Well the same is true for honeymoons, what better time to book your dream holiday than when the weather is cold, wet and grey outside! So today I have enlisted the help of Baiba from Mr & Mrs Smith to share with us her top 5 Honeymoon destinations! Baiba is the Senior honeymoon expert at Mr & Mrs Smith and she loves matching Smith members to their dream hotels, and has just clocked up her 100th Smith hotel visit. She specialises in Vietnam, Italy, USA, South Africa and South America.
I find Lisbon to be one of Europe’s most underrated honeymoon destinations: exploring is inexpensive, and the city’s historic, terracotta-hued buildings and decorative blue tiles make it a truly romantic setting. I recommend staying in stylish, central love nest Chiado 16, an intimate hilltop hideaway where couples can get cosy in their own apartment (with the friendly owner at your beck and call). In my experience, three nights is an ideal amount of time to get acquainted with this Mediterranean hotspot, before swapping your stylish city digs for beachside eco chic at Areias Do Seixo for another five nights. This architecturally intriguing boutique hotel is just a 35-minute drive from Lisbon, but it feels a world away. The hotel’s design is deliriously good looking – I love the hanging fireplaces and driftwood four-poster beds – and it’s environmentally conscious, with a gorgeous ayurvedic spa and home-made organic food.
We’ve seen the classic US road trip become a growing trend among honeymooners – with hip coastal hubs, stunning scenic drives and world-renowned wines to be found en route, it’s easy to see why. Endless foodie delights, rainbow-hued Victorian architecture, sun-kissed cultural sights and – of course – the breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge, make San Francisco a great starting point for a romance-fuelled adventure. I recommend a three-night stay at the Inn At The Presidio, a picturesque parkland-set hotel, for a taste of this trendsetting city.
Afterwards, swap Bay-side bliss for wine country and head to Sonoma County; it’s less touristy than its big sister Napa, but equally beautiful. Stay in rural retreat the Farmhouse Inn for three nights, sipping local vintages by the fire pit, before hitting the open road to follow the iconic Pacific Coast route.
Cali’s cliff-carved roads and sky-scraping bridges take you past camera-tempting ocean views; stay at the Big Sur-based Post Ranch Inn (which won the Hotel of the Year at the 2013 Smith Awards) where you can take in the landscape at your leisure – from a high-perched hot-tub, no less – for at least three nights of complete relaxation.
South Africa has always been one of our most popular destinations – in fact the original Mr & Mrs Smith, James and Tamara, spent their honeymoon there. Kick off your trip in vibrant beach-set city Cape Town, staying at mod minimalist boutique hotel Kensington Place. There are so many amazing day trips to try here – whether you want to explore galleries and museums on foot, or get a natural high by hiking up Table Mountain – you’ll need at least five nights to take in the magnificent views alone.
For three days of winery tours and laid-back lunches, make La Residence, in Franschhoek, the next stop on your itinerary (with a pit-stop in Stellenbosch for majestic mountain-topped scenery and vineyards as far as the eye can see).
Then, fly to the forest canopy for a three-night stay at Garden Route retreat Tsala Treetop Lodge. These stilted, grown-up treehouses are perfect for playing Tarzan and Jane, with jungle-luxe interiors and fine dining crafted from ingredients foraged close by.
Top off your African adventure by going wild in Kruger National Park, on a week-long safari. Spend the days with your binoculars poised for the big five and your nights in the glamorous confines of regally rustic lodge Royal Malewane.
I believe a honeymoon should be the dream holiday for both the bride and groom, which can be tricky if one is a culture-loving city slicker and the other an adrenaline junkie. This Far Eastern itinerary is the perfect compromise, combining an upmarket urban stay with tropical thrill seeking. First up, five nights in hip Hong Kong where lively markets spilling down the streets, a near-vertical tram ride to high-rise viewing point the Peak and adventurous dining will excite even the most restless traveller. The impeccable Upper House hotel is a favourite city stay of mine; designed by Andre Fu, it’s petite and perfectly formed.
Then, adjourn to Sabah’s glorious Gayana Eco Resort for something completely different. Here, you can snorkel and kayak in the turquoise waters, or scuba dive for up-close encounters with giant clams and neon coral, or simply flop down onto the sand with a good book; the perfect honeymoon break for those who believe opposites attract.
Costa Rica is definitely one of the hottest (and greenest) honeymoon destinations for 2014; there are peaks, forests and beaches to explore, so couples can befriend sloths and capuchins, zip-line past ancient trees or stretch out on pristine white sands. Despite its diverse terrain, the country’s compact enough that a two or three-week trip is all the time you need to make it feel like home; I’d recommend stopping off at several places to get a true taste of all Costa Rica has to offer. To start, spend five nights in back-to-nature boutique stay El Silencio Lodge & Spa, where your suite is suspended in the cloud canopy.
Then set your course for the Pacific coast for a week-long stay in one of Kurà hotel’s jungle-perched design dens (created by a husband-and-wife architect and biologist, the hotel’s both stylish and sustainable).
Finish on a high by spending your final week in one of Lapa Rios’ tip-top treehouses, which have mosquito-net-veiled beds and terraces with holiday-making views.
Get your hands on Mr & Mrs Smith’s brand new mini guide to the very best honeymoons on the planet – The Little White Book of Honeymoons – to get the inside scoop on how to plan your dream holiday, whether you’re after a Californian road trip, Greek island-hopping adventure, or luxe Caribbean hideaway. Just register your details to receive a free copy, which includes all the info on how to become a GoldSmith VIP honeymooner (which gives you access to upgrades at every hotel, and an around-the-clock concierge). Can’t wait until then? Talk to the Smith honeymoon experts right away by calling 0845 034 0700.
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