14 Romantic Hotels
These spectacular, affordable spotssome close to home, some in classic Europeare perfect for a secluded getaway.
It's easy to see why Leonardo DiCaprio stayed here with his girlfriend—the hotel has only four rooms, which guarantees privacy. Each bungalow is filled with Balinese teak furniture, including intricately carved armoires and antique four-poster beds. At night, guests are encouraged to open all the windows—and one wall of doors that lead to a private veranda—to let in the warm breezes. In the morning, noise from howler monkeys in the trees may provide a comic wake-up call. The bathrooms are private and semi-alfresco: The toilet and sink are under the roof's eaves, but the shower is open to the sky. A seven-table restaurant looks out over the pool, past a well-trimmed lawn, and down to the beach where there's a bamboo massage hut ($65 for an hour). The American chef, James Kelly, draws from Asian influences and makes great use of local seafood. He also plays another role: owner Caroline Marot's fiancé. 011-506/640-0023, milarepahotel.com, from $185, breakfast included.
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Villa Beach Cottages
The hour and a half ride from St. Lucia's international airport to the Villa Beach Cottages in a standard taxi is $70, but you'll save $10 if you let one of the Villa Beach drivers do the honors. He or she will also chat you up and buy you a cold Piton—St. Lucia's local brew—along the way. The special treatment is one of the reasons why owner Colin Hunte's 20 suites welcome so many repeat guests, some having visited regularly for decades. The operation dates to 1958, when Hunte's grandfather bought two former U.S. naval barracks and had them moved to a 40-foot-wide beach on the island's northwestern tip. New buildings have gone up since Colin took over 18 years ago, but he's tried to keep the feel of the originals, incorporating cathedral ceilings, jalousie shutters, and gingerbread woodwork. Most rentals have a private patio with ocean views (on a clear day you can spot Martinique). When you get hungry, head next door to The Wharf, which makes an exemplary roti, the spicy Jamaican wrap filled with vegetables, chicken, or beef. For true relaxation, hit one of the hammocks slung at the water's edge and drift off to the sounds of the waves crashing. 758/450-2884, villabeachcottages.com, from $190.
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Seclusion isn't easy to come by in the party town of Negril, but that's exactly what Rockhouse delivers, primarily to hip couples and families looking to avoid a spring-break experience. Rockhouse's rounded thatched villas are strung atop a low cliff carved with stairs that lead to the warm waters of Pristine Cove. The 20 private units peeking out of the jungle, right at the cliff's edge, start at $325 in winter, but the long buildings set a bit farther back are easier to pull off. Five studios with sea views ($150) and nine standard rooms with garden views ($125) all have minibars, safes, A/C, mosquito netting around four-poster beds, and furniture constructed from local timber. Guests can chill out at the 60-foot infinity pool, take yoga classes, or stroll along the property's serpentine paths and stepping stones, which inevitably lead to quiet nooks, isolated beach chairs, and what most people say are the best sunset views in Jamaica. 876/957-4373, rockhousehotel.com, from $125.
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Andros Island, Bahamas
Most of Andros Island is uninhabitable marshland, choked by mangroves and shot through with so many lakes and channels that from the air it looks like a doily. The Seascape Inn, on Andros Island's Mangrove Cay, is within minutes of a 120-mile-long barrier reef (the third largest in the world), making it perfect for diving, fishing, or just dropping out for a week. Each of the property's five cabanas has a small deck facing the white-sand beach. Pass the hours bonefishing from the flats in front of your bungalow (catch and release), exploring the reef by kayak, or pedaling along Mangrove Cay's lone road (bikes and kayaks are free for guests). You'll typically find Brooklyn-born hosts Mickey and Joan McGowan at the inn's bar and restaurant; gracious and friendly, they're clearly thrilled with their choice to move to the Bahamas 12 years ago. Joan likes to garden and bake, whipping up muffins and biscuits at dawn and tempting desserts—sometimes pies made with coconuts from the yard—in the afternoon. 242/369-0342, seascapeinn.com, from $110, continental breakfast included.
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