Honeymoons don’t always have to involve lazing on a beach (cocktail in hand) for a fortnight. The hotel-hunters at Mr & Mrs Smith have found five romantic retreats for adventurous newlyweds – each of them just a stone's throw away from some of the world’s most famous landmarks. A fancy getaway in a Parisian chateau, living it up like royalty in a restored Chinese palace, or perhaps a glamorous camping experience overlooking Ayers Rock? Here’s how..
Saint James Paris – Paris, France
Get your honeymoon off to a flying start at Saint James Paris, which was once an intellectual boot-camp for budding French boffins, and the site of the first ever hot-air balloon airfield. Saint James is Paris’ only chateau-hotel and is also home to a Michelin-rated restaurant styled with flamboyant cosiness: leopard-print carpet, red-velvet chairs and banquettes, and some important-looking oil artwork hanging from the walls.
Fret not if you've left your holiday read at home – there’s a library bar stocked with 12,000 books. Walls are wood-panelled, chairs and books are encased in nut-brown leather, and there’s a spiral staircase to access the tomes. Decked out with gilded mirrors and plush sofas, the spa has a distinctly boudoir feel; try a decadent Guerlain facial or steam away any post-wedding tension in the hammam. You’ll probably need to step outside at some point, since the hotel is a short stroll from the iconic Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
Smith extra: A cocktail in the library bar or on the terrace in the gardens.
Portrait Roma – Rome, Italy
Never mind if you've forgotten your favourite shoes when you come to stay at Portrait Roma. This elegant Italian townhouse belongs to the Ferragamo empire and sits above Ferragamo’s flagship store, just off Via Condotti (aka designer store central). Culture vultures will be pleased to know that Piazza del Colosseo and the Vatican City are just a 20-minute jaunt by car. The hotel is as stylish as its setting, thanks to shoe-related artwork, photos of Ferragamo’s star-studded heyday, and soft furnishings that create seamless colour contrasts (tan leather-covered desks, soft blue sofas, unexpected flashes of pink and green on the curtains). After each day’s adventures, perch on the edge of the roof terrace with a glass of champagne and look out over the Eternal City’s skyline as the sun sets. Ahh, bliss...
Smith extra: A bottle of wine for him; a large bottle of Lungarno bath product for her.
Aman Summer Palace – Beijing, China
The clue’s in the name: Aman Summer Palace has direct private access to Beijing’s Unesco-listed Summer Palace, a sprawling complex of peaceful gardens and striking imperial buildings on the leafy shores of Kunming Lake. Set in elegant pavilions that were originally imperial waiting rooms, the hotel offers a taste of Qing Dynasty living: traditional tiled roofs, peaceful courtyards, and a superlative spa that draws on ancient methods for restorative acupuncture, herbal poultices and cupping treatments. The library has a stash of rare tomes and hosts Chinese calligraphy demonstrations.
Smith extra: A private tour of the Summer Palace.
Longitude 131º – Red Centre, Australia
Smack-bang in the rugged wilderness of the Red Centre’s Simpson desert, Longitude 131º is the only place in the world where you can admire the postcard-vista of Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) without even stepping out of bed. Longitude 131º’s white-tented cabins provide a full-on glamping experience, thanks to its organic-linen-draped Bailie beds and bespoke furnishings. Each tent is named after a celebrated Australian explorer or wilderness pioneer, and the walls are adorned with relevant memorabilia (cuttings, letters, sketches, etc). Gaze upon Uluru via the floor-to-ceiling windows, or enjoy a refreshing desert dip in the ice-cube-cold swimming pool. This is your chance to have an outback honeymoon of a lifetime: dine under the stars, walk around Uluru, and go on wilderness treks around the National Park and the Red Centre.
Smith extra: A bottle of chilled champagne in your tent on arrival.
Amansara – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Amansara is your gateway to the monumental remnants of the Khmer Empire: twice-daily private tours of the Angkor temple complex by remorque (moped-powered trishaw) with an English-speaking guide are included in rates. Amansara is also a destination in its own right: formerly the guest residence of King Sihanouk, it is now home to 24 suites (including 12 palatial pool suites), a striking restaurant, and an incredible spa, whose treatment rooms spy on a reflection pond and Angkor-inspired bas-relief.
Don’t miss pre-prandial cocktails by candlelight under a canopy of ancient trees at the Roof Terrace; there’s also a bar area in the main restaurant with a walk-in wine cellar and a selection of fine cognacs and single malts. While you’re here, have a romantic dinner for two in a traditional wooden house overlooking the royal bathing pond of Srah Srang, indulge in a spiritual cleansing with a blessing at Wat Athvea or explore the jungle temple of Beng Mealea.
Smith extra: A traditional noodle breakfast at Khmer Village House.
Inkaterra La Casona – Cusco, Peru
Come to Cusco for Unesco-listed Machu Picchu (which you can reach via the Inca Trail); stay for Inkaterra La Casona. Like its location, this quiet, 16th-century manor house perched high in the Andes is rich in history: it was once training grounds for Incan soldiers, home to a conquistador and lodging for Simón Bolívar, Peru’s El Libertador.
The Incan immersion continues today, thanks to rooms bedecked with local art, colonial furniture, and traditional Peruvian rugs. The 11 suites have plenty of features designed to soothe tired souls (and feet) after conquering the region’s ruins: oversized bath tubs, heated floors and big beds. Additional lures include the tasty Peruvian cuisine served up in the dining room, and the spa therapy room, which offers bespoke treatments featuring local products.
Smith extra: A pair of hand-painted miniature ceramic bulls.