14 Romantic Hotels
These spectacular, affordable spotssome close to home, some in classic Europeare perfect for a secluded getaway.
CLOSE TO HOME
Just north of the town of Sonoma, in Glen Ellen, Beltane Ranch's 105 acres are filled with fruit trees, vegetable and flower gardens, a vineyard that sells grapes to nearby winemakers, and an olive orchard yielding oil that guests snap up for $15 a bottle. No wonder, then, that L.L. Bean and Victoria's Secret have shot their catalogs here: The location is downright idyllic. The yellow, gingerbread-trimmed lodge features five rooms and a two-story wraparound porch. The best rooms are on the second floor, where hammocks and porch swings overlook the vineyard and Sonoma Mountain beyond. (Ask for Room 1, which has a wood-burning stove and a separate sitting room.) Alexa Wood is Beltane Ranch's third-generation owner. Her great-aunt and great-uncle bought the property in 1936 to raise cattle, sheep, and turkeys. Breakfast, which may include sweet-potato latkes or buttermilk pancakes with homemade raspberry syrup, is made with ingredients from the gardens. Second helpings are basically mandatory. You can burn off extra calories on the property's tennis court (the front desk loans out rackets and balls) and by exploring the 20-plus wineries within a five-mile radius. 707/996-6501, beltaneranch.com, from $150, breakfast included.
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For more than 100 years, people have flocked to Calistoga for its natural hot springs and mineral-rich waters, which have been said to cure everything from arthritis to chronic fatigue syndrome. The stucco bungalows at Hideaway Cottages were built in the 1920s and '40s to cater to wellness seekers and still serve as a home base for such guests today. Scattered on two and a half acres planted with sycamores, elms, and the oldest cork oak tree in the Napa Valley, the 17 cottages are all configured differently—some have a sitting room in addition to a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen; others have a private patio—but all are located a few steps from a swimming pool and a hot tub filled with Calistoga's legendary water. The property is just two blocks from Calistoga's quaint main street, and a short stroll from the 56-year-old Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort (owned by the same family as the Hideaway Cottages). There, for $129, guests can get The Works: a soak in a mineral mud bath, a lavender mineral whirlpool bath, time in the steam room, a blanket wrap, and a 30-minute almond-oil massage. 707/942-4108, hideawaycottages.com, from $185, no guests under 18. Closed December and January.
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The Loft Hotel
Lisa and Pascal Nicolle opened their first South Beach hotel in 1992 when they bought an apartment complex at Collins Avenue and 14th Street and transformed it into the Villa Paradiso. In 2001, the Nicolles purchased a second apartment complex five blocks south and converted it into The Loft Hotel, a younger, hipper sibling. Located in the midst of the Collins Avenue action, the Loft's 20 apartments sit in a two-story line perpendicular to the street (the farthest—and quietest—rooms are the highest-numbered ones). Even the rooms near Collins seem serene on the inside, however, with tile or blond-wood floors and wrought-iron headboards. All have full kitchens and cute breakfast nooks with a round café table. Throughout, Lisa has placed bouquets of dried milky-white flowers that she and Pascal brought back from France. "Sometimes people call up and want to know which hotel is better," Lisa says. "How do you choose? It's like having two kids! I say the Villa is a little more Key West, while at the Loft I feel like I need to put on lipstick." 952 Collins Ave., 305/534-2244, thelofthotel.com, from $90.
Amansala's Casa Magna
In the mid-1970s, Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar built two 14,000-square-foot houses at the southern end of Tulum. The buildings were abandoned after Escobar died in 1993, and nature—in the form of hurricanes and vegetation—began to reclaim them. They caught the eye of Melissa Perlman, one of the owners of the Amansala resort up the beach. She opened Casa Magna in 1996, after transforming the concrete houses into 22 enormous, minimally furnished guest rooms. The structures retain a hint of bunker flavor, but that's offset by vibrant orange and pink fabrics and pillows in the chic lounging areas, beds draped with mosquito netting, and decorative mosaics that liven up the bathrooms. Many Casa Magna guests choose to participate in the Bikini Boot Camp program, a combination of exercise, yoga, and massage that became popular at the original Amansala property. The on-site restaurant emphasizes healthy choices such as grilled fish and fresh fruit. 011-52/1-998-185-7428, amansala.com, from $180.
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