On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The Cold War may be over, but there's still something about putting on a tight gray suit or mod dress and slinking through the chilly, glittering streets of Moscow that will always evoke sexy foreign intrigue. Whether you choose to play CIA, MI6, KGB, or even a double agent (you bastard!), the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, a five-star luxury palace on the banks of the Moskva River, is for you and your partner.Taken over by the state tourist agency during the Soviet era, it was remodeled in 1992 to reflect the "new era of prosperity and luxurious living." The Baltschug remains a luxurious spot that would be convenient for meeting your handler (or . . . tour guide) in Red Square before repairing to the "Kremlin Suite" to develop your microfilm. When the free world is once again safe, why not repair to the Bar Baltschug for a cigar and a vodka? The menu lists 60 different kinds of Russia's favorite booze, but we recommend a classic martini, twist of lemon, shaken not stirred (from $333).
Spanish Castle Magic
Castillo de Monda, near the rustic Spanish coastline and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, is old. We're not just talking "Julius Caesar once hung out there" old—we mean "Phoenicians strolled these grounds" old. It's changed hands many times over the years and was used as both a shelter and a fort while the Catholics and Moors struggled for power. Now restored and converted after four centuries of disrepair, this modern bed-and-breakfast makes an unpredictable place for an interlude. Even if you fail to set your lover's world on fire, you can lie there under the stone roof and console yourself with the reminder, "Okay, that was bad, but not torture, confession and forced-religious-conversion bad." Get up, splash some water on your face, and go stare at the dungeon (from $145).
Your Space or Mine?
Spendy romantics have been putting money toward theoretical trips into outer space for nearly a decade now, but the proposed 3 billion dollar/three-room hotel, Galactic Suite Space Resort, ups the ante. Designed by aerospace engineer Xavier Claramunt, the pod-shaped suites are projected to travel around the Earth every 80 minutes (going faster than 16,000 miles per hour). The cost? About $4 million for a "stay" of four days, so we're hoping that includes fresh towels and turndown service by an actual Wookiee. Assuming everything goes well, this short escape from the Earth's atmosphere will allow you and your lover to swoon over 15 romantic sunrises per day, and maybe even engage in some zero-gravity hijinks. The pods aren't even set to orbit until 2012, so you'll have at least three more years to save up for the ultimate un-cheap date.
If for no other reason, the altitude will make a night at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai one to remember. Occupying the 53rd through 87th floors of the city's Jin Mao Tower, the rooms are high enough that you might even think you're seeing a little slice of heaven (or maybe just a clean spot above the city's smog). For a cocktail in dramatic surroundings, reserve a table at the circular Cloud 9 lounge, which has 360-degree views. Here, you and your sweetheart can look down on the world and say, as the Chinese do with increasing regularity, "One day all of this will be ours." And years down the road, if the excitement starts to fade, you can console each other with the thought that you once did it 800 feet up. Then call a lawyer (from $202).
Dutch Treat: Bedding Down in Amsterdam
Room 702 of the Hilton Amsterdam is where newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono held the first in a series of "Bed-Ins for Peace" in 1969. Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., reporters clamored to be the first into the suite, assuming that the honeymooning Ono-Lennons, who had already appeared naked on the cover of their joint release Two Virgins, would be engaged in a naked, febrile, Vietnam-protesting, 12-hour-long clinch for the cameras. The reporters were disappointed to find the long-haired activists in crisp, white pajamas, smoking cigarettes, and musing aloud about Bagism, their self-invented philosophy. In the parlance of the time, what a drag. If you and your date would rather not commit to staying in bed all day, the city and its gorgeous canals, Rembrandts, and van Goghs are all just a quick stroll outside (from $218).
Midnight at the Oasis
It used to be that in order to achieve the kind of expat chic cultivated by literary icons like longtime Morocco residents Paul and Jane Bowles, couples had to put down that Pottery Barn catalog, get off the couch, and actually leave the country. These days, your own personal Tangiers can be had much closer to home. Korakia Pensione is a faux-Moroccan villa built in 1924 for the painter Gordon Coutts (a Scotsman who traveled through and painted the deserts of North Africa). Over the years, guests as fabled as Errol Flynn and Winston Churchill have relaxed in the shade of olive trees and date palms and allowed the calming fountains' trickling to soothe their skull-melting hangovers. True to the spirit of Old Morocco, the Korakia (Greek for "crow") offers an afternoon tea service but no in-room TV or phone access (they're both "distractions"). There is Wi-Fi "to keep you connected to the outside world," but short of that, you and your partner in soul-searching are on your own. Children under 13 are not allowed (from $159).
Okay, But Only Because You're the Last Man on Earth
Swatches, impenetrable bank accounts, instant cocoa—the Swiss have made many indispensable contributions to global culture. But the Null Stern (Zero Star) Hotel, fashioned from a nuclear bunker beneath the small town of Sevelen, about 70 miles southwest of Zürich, is unlikely to inspire copycats. Still, the notion of a hot night in a former atomic-blast-proof facility will certainly appeal to those into (extremely) safe sex. Brothers and artists Frank and Patrik Riklin have converted a seldom used fallout shelter and old concrete-walled factory into a high-concept lodging, with screens in lieu of a view (live footage from outside is projected onto the walls to create mock windows). While you and your partner survey the modest but certainly novel accommodations (a bargain at about $9 a night), you can imagine that civilization has been destroyed and it's up to you to repopulate the planet (come on, like you haven't used that line before). After opening for a trial period, during which it saw only a dozen guests, the Zero Star is scheduled to open more widely soon. Check the town's website for updates.
Have you ever had the desire to pose your partner on a funky divan or a glossy, antique desk and pretend that you're in the middle of a photo shoot? London's hyper-styled but relatively affordable Pavilion is a 30-room town house full of meticulously designed themed suites with names that include Enter the Dragon, Better Red than Dead, and Casablanca Nights. The rooms have hosted photo shoots with stars like Kate Beckinsale, Jarvis Cocker, Naomi Campbell, and Bryan Ferry—stylists love the outrageous surroundings (leopard print, red velvets, gold, vintage furniture) and everyone else likes the room rates. Many are well under $100, which means you won't have to overdraw your account just to keep the glamour alive (from $86).