Romantic trips don’t necessarily have to mean a couples’ retreat with his-and-hers matching bathrobes; the best destinations are the ones with their own sense of magic, culture and history – and the chance to escape the real world. The best news is, you don’t have to go too far from home, with some of the world’s most romantic destinations on the UK’s doorstep; away from the obvious, here are our top five.
Imperial grandeur meets contemporary elegance in Vienna, a city perfect for strolling through by day, stopping off at the cosy coffee houses, and sampling the BeisIn (bistro pubs) and incredible music at night. Vienna is the place to go if you want luxury and a dose of intellectual culture; stay at Hotel Kärntnerhof, a charming hotel that blends Viennese Art Nouveau with Italian elegance.
San Sebastián, Spain
Spain may have Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, but San Sebastián is the best place to take your significant other. The city in Spain’s Basque Country is renowned for its food, with its restaurants boasting no less than 16 Michelin stars in total, making it the perfect destination for a real indulgent break. Don’t miss out on its unrivalled pintxo (tapas) culture either, where locals spill out of bars onto the cobbled streets – glass of wine in one hand, innovative small bite in the other. Stay at the Iriate Jauregia Hotel for contemporary minimalism meets 17th century elegance.
The Venice of northern Europe, Amsterdam is a city of canals, narrow cobbled streets and iconic 17th century architecture. During the winter months, Amsterdam is all about gezellig – that cosy feeling epitomised in the city’s underground, candlelit bars and restaurants and effortlessly stylish cafes. Stay at the Sir Albert Hotel in one of the city’s best districts – De Pijp – which has been awarded Netherlands Leading Boutique Hotel two years in a row.
Ljubliana is Europe’s unsung hero. Slovenia’s capital city was named European Green Capital in 2016, with an old town that’s completely free of traffic. It’s emerald green river runs through the heart of the city, lined by leafy banks and cafes, while the rest of the city a mixture of cobbled streets, graceful architecture, a laid-back attitude and surprisingly good local wine. Vander Urbani Resort sits on the banks of the river and features a rooftop terrace complete with swimming pool and yoga studio.
Cobbled streets, trademark hills showcasing unrivalled views, ancient ruins and lively nightlife, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most captivating cities. It’s also a foodie haven, with options ranging from local taverns to Michelin-starred restaurants, and everything in between. Stay at Memmo Príncipe Real, a boutique hotel that offers some of the best views in the city and has charm in abundance.
Words by Angharad Jones