Romance means different things to different couples, leading to a diverse range of honeymoon offerings, so it's important to choose the right destination. After all, that's the best way to keep the afterglow of a lovely wedding alive. This year there are a slew of newlywed-friendly getaways that are full of appeal, from an escape in wine country, to nights out in the big city, to the fail-safe secluded beach. Here are our picks for 2015's best honeymoon destinations, each with something extra to offer this year.
By Kathleen Squires
A serial traveler who often lets a country’s cuisine dictate her itineraries, New York City-based writer Kathleen Squires has visited all 7 continents and over 60 countries, with stints living in London, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires. Her work also appears in The Wall Street Journal, Details, Saveur, Cooking Light and National Geographic Traveler.
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin put the county of Berkshire on the map when they retired to a manor house post-wedding last year. We can see why: it’s a quick hour and a half west of London, and who wouldn’t want to feel like a titled cast member of Downton Abbey for a spell? The royal residence Windsor Castle, one of England’s most popular sights, sits in the county as does the elite academic institution Eton. Also nearby: Highclere Castle, Downton Abbey itself, where visitors can take guided tours during public opening days.
Where to Stay: Since the 17th century, Cliveden House has welcomed notables around the globe, from every British monarch since George I to Winston Churchill to John Lennon. Treat it like your very own personal estate, complete with a Michelin-starred dining room from chef Andre Garrett.
Perfect for Couples Who: Enjoy a civilized tea and love the royal treatment.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s England Travel Guide
The stunning natural beauty of Thailand’s largest island has long been a draw for honeymooners. There are endless soft, white sandy beaches, electric blue waters, and some of the best sunsets in the world over in Phuket. The island also holds a vibrant nightlife and plenty of great restaurants—from the high-end to simple street stalls—that showcase the enthralling, piquant cuisine of Thailand. Cultural pleasures—such as a visit to the many Buddhist temples and shrines—can break up days at the beach. Other requirements: a romantic boat ride over to the gorgeous Phi Phi islands, and of course, experiencing the art of Thai Massage. With around 60 five-star resorts to choose from, couples are never at a loss for luxury here.
Where to Stay: The Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa, which opened in 2014, is one of the island’s newest hotels. The resort features 30 rooms and suites and 47 pool villas sitting on a secluded stretch of beach. Maybe relive your vows in the cliffside wedding chapel? If not, it’s available for dinner-for-two.
Perfect for Couples Who: Have a flair for the far-flung and exotic, yet who also enjoy a good day at the beach.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Phuket Travel Guide
This quaint town on the southwest coast of Turkey, a haven for the yachting set, is full of white-washed Aegean charm. And speaking of yachts, a few nights sailing in a gulet—the handmade wooden boats you’ll find bobbing at the marina—is one of the most romantic things to do while here. Once back on land, the beaches are full of royalty, celebrities, and swimsuit models. It’s a great place to catch a little culture, too, with the ruins of Ephesus nearby, as well as the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, right in town.
Where to Stay: The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum recently opened its first European beachfront resort property in Bodrum. Its VIP Spa Suite comes complete with private hammam, or couples can indulge at the property’s own luxury spa.
Perfect for Couples Who: Enjoy jet-setting and the yachting life.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Turkey Travel Guide
A bit of city culture is always a great idea for a honeymoon, and this year Italy’s second most populous city is a can’t-miss. Between May 1 and October 31, Milan will be hosting the World Expo 2015, which will center on food and nutrition, complete with a USA Pavilion that will include a vertical farm, a food truck “nation,” and a James Beard American Restaurant. In terms of local culture, La Scala, the city’s famous opera house, will give special performances daily in celebration of the Expo. And as it is a world leader in fashion and design, there’s always something stylish happening in the city, both on the catwalks and off. Recent redevelopment across the city has introduced a slew of restaurants, shops, and cultural and social centers ready to accommodate the expected 20 million visitors this year.
Where to Stay: In April 2015, just in time for the Expo, the Mandarin Oriental Milan will open its doors. Its 73 rooms and 31 suites will feature the local flair for contemporary design. It also will include a restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Antonio Guida and a spa with couple suites, an indoor swimming pool, and wet and heat facilities. The location can’t be beat: it’s just a stone’s throw from La Scala and Milan’s most exclusive shopping promenades.
Perfect for Couples Who: Are fashion-forward, have a taste for global food and technology, and an appreciation for opera.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Milan Travel Guide
Having recently dropped its $160 reciprocity fee, honeymooners can save their pennies to enjoy some of the finer vintages around Chile’s wine country, from Carmenere to Chardonnay. There are plenty of options to choose from, as vineyards are clustered just outside of the capital city of Santiago, stretching down through the interior for about 250 miles. The Maipo Valley is home to some of Chile’s most famous winemakers, such as Viña Concha y Toro and Viña Santa Rita, and is an easy day trip from the city. The Colcagua wine region to the south is also well established, producing prize-winning Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. Further south, the up-and-coming Millahue wine region started wowing experts with 2009 and 2010 vintages from new “holistic” winemaker Vik. No matter which region you choose to explore, the landscapes throughout are full of natural beauty, upscale estancias, and activities such as horseback riding.
Where to Stay: The highly regarded winemaker Vik recently unveiled the exclusive 22-suite Vina Vik Hotel on the stunning 11,000-acre estate overlooking a sprawl of vines and edged by the majestic Andes. The breathtaking, panoramic views are romance enough, but this stay comes complete with a wine spa too.
Perfect for Couples Who: Are oenophiles and who can slip between a spa treatment and an outdoor adventure between tastings.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Chile Travel Guide
The Caribbean island of St. Bart’s provides plenty of eye-candy, whether its the 22 gorgeous white sand beaches, the azure blue water, the quaint architecture of its capital, Gustavia, or the fabulous celebrity who might be sunbathing alongside you. It’s a chic destination where lazy hours on the beach rule the daytime, and champagne, rose wine, and French cuisine rule the nightlife.
Where to Stay: Le Guanahani (formerly The Hotel Guanahani) just reopened after a $40 million renovation, with 10 one-of-a-kind signature suites to choose from.
Perfect for Couples Who: Love the nightlife, celebrity spotting, and recovering on a chic beach.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s St. Barthelemy Travel Guide
With its rainforests, lakes, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes, Nicaragua is the up-and-coming destination for eco-adventure lovers. Think of it as a Central American option that’s less-trodden than Costa Rica and even easier on the wallet than Belize. The coasts offer formidable surf waves, and the volcanoes are conquerable territory for hikers. And if you’re keen on wildlife, especially birds, the country is a veritable apiary, with nearly 700 different species making Nicaragua their home. Wellness travel is on the rise here, too.
Where To Stay: Nicaragua’s first luxury resort, the Mukul Beach Golf & Spa, recently introduced a “Soulmate Journey” package for 2015. It includes energy readings with a healer, tandem massages, intimate beach dinners, private plunge pools, and more.
Perfect For Couples Who: Enjoy wellness-driven and eco-friendly travel.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Nicaragua Travel Guide
Sin City has always been known as a great quickie wedding destination. But as a honeymoon spot, it seemed fitting only for a screwball comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicolas Cage. But now that the musical Honeymoon in Vegas just opened on Broadway, its positive reviews have caused some couples to rethink Las Vegas as a destination. And why not? There’s something for every desire, whether you want to take in a glitzy performance, dine on world-class cuisine, shop, bliss-out in a spa, or even roll the dice a few times. When the strip becomes a bit much, there’s plenty of natural beauty, most significantly the Grand Canyon, laying just on its outskirts.
Where to Stay: A few new options debuted in 2014, including Delano Las Vegas, The Cromwell, and SLS Las Vegas, not to mention various honeymoon packages offered at some of the established properties. The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, for example, features “adventures for two,” including a helicopter sightseeing trip to the Grand Canyon, while the Paris Las Vegas Hotel plays up romance with a package that includes a three-night stay in the Calais Suite, which includes every amenity under the neon lights.
Perfect for Couples Who: Enjoy spontaneity and constant stimulation.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Fodor’s Las Vegas Guide
Staying on a private island is a getaway dream for many lovers. If you’re looking to leave it all behind in a far off place, Banana Island is one of the most remote spots you can find. Only accessible by private boat or by helicopter, the island holds just one resort, the newly opened Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. The 141-room property includes over water villas, perfect for honeymooners. Everything is exclusive to guests: the private beach, lagoon pool, restaurants, marina, golf course, a VIP cinema, bowling alley, and spa.
Where to Stay: If you venture to Banana Island, you have no choice but the luxe Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara.
Perfect for Couples Who: Crave far-flung seclusion.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Middle East Travel Guide
As political and economic stability have become the rule in this African nation, and with the soon-to-open international terminal at the Victoria Falls Airport, the number of high-end tour operators and hotels have increased in Zimbabwe. This year, there are more options than ever to explore the wonders of its landscape, from the towering Victoria Falls to the National Parks plentiful with roving game.
Where to Stay: Located in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Singita Pamushana Lodge includes verdant gardens and stunning lake views. The one-bedroom suites include private plunge pools and front-row views to wild-roaming neighbors such as rhinos, cheetahs, lions, and over 500 species of birds.
Perfect for Couples Who: Are nature and animal lovers.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Zimbabwe Travel Guide