Feel like you and your sweetheart have done everything there is to do? This Valentine's Day, think outside of the (chocolate) box and embark on one of these unique--and unusually romantic--getaways, from the stark orange desert of Oman to the snowy tundra of Greenland.
Perfect For: Luxury-minded lovers of hot weather
Where to Stay: Six Senses Zighy Bay. This extremely posh desert resort comes complete with spacious pool villas and butler service and is situated on one of the finest stretches of beach in northern Oman. The holistic spa is the perfect hideaway; indulge in Ayurvedic treatments and a traditional Moroccan hammam for a most relaxing stay.
What to Do: The resort staff can hook you up with a number of adventures in the Omani desert and seas, from paragliding to mountain biking to snorkeling. Discover Arabic cooking with a master-chef-led lesson and a tour of the on-site organic gardens. Or embark on a sunset cruise with your significant other, during which you'll see a gold-and-pink sunset over Haffa Bay.
Perfect For: Dog lovers who don't mind the cold
Where to Stay: Nellim Wilderness Hotel. This eco-friendly hotel tucked away in the wild Inari area is a great base camp for your northern adventures. Guests can book an Aurora Bubble for the best views of the vibrant northern lights, but the cabins with steamy private saunas are also good bets for romance seekers.
What to Do: Explore the local wilderness area with the hotel's expert guides. Visit a nearby reindeer farm alongside a reindeer herder (yes, such a thing exists!). Drive a dogsled led by snow-loving huskies to glittering Lake Inari. Or snowshoe through Finland's wild and frosty forests before stopping for an open-fire picnic lunch.
Perfect For: Stateside city slickers who are sick of New York
Where to Stay: Four Seasons Toronto. This sophisticated stay is a top pick on TripAdvisor for good reason, with luxury suites, a 30,000-square-foot spa, a Daniel Boulud-helmed restaurant, and, coolest of all, an in-house art curator who can give you tours of the Four Seasons' magnificent private collections.
What to Do: Toronto's food scene is, simply put, crazy good. Get a glimpse of the city lights from Canoe, situated high atop the TD Bank Tower, and dive into Chef John Horne's tasting menu of elegant cuisine that spotlights different regions of this vast country. Before dinner, check out AGO for an eye-opening slate of Canadian art plus rotating exhibitions featuring everyone from Da Vinci to Basquiat.
Perfect For: Twosomes who want city lights and tons of culture
Where to Stay: Corinthia Hotel Budapest. This grand hotel sits behind one of the most beautiful neoclassical facades in Central Europe. Rooms are large and luxurious, and a pampering Ayurvedic treatment at the massive art deco spa is the way to cap off a day of sightseeing.
What to Do: Budapest, called the "Paris of the East," is all bustle and charm. Soak in a thermal bath at Gellert (which is utterly romantic, with art nouveau style and Roman columns buttressing its pools). Explore the city's eclectic museums, wander the wide grassy parks, and savor the culinary scene of Hungarian comfort food and refined, shareable desserts.
Perfect For: Road-tripping oenophiles who like a good view
Where to Stay: The Inn at Little Washington. The 24 splurge-worthy rooms and suites are unbelievably decorated in an English manor-home aesthetic and come complete with fireplaces and soaking tubs. Chef Patrick O'Connell's restaurant of refined American fare is continually considered one of the best in the U.S.—perfect for a once-in-a-lifetime romantic meal.
What to Do: In the state's rural countryside, it becomes clear why the tourism slogan is "Virginia Is for Lovers." Wineries and distilleries dot the rolling land along the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pull over for a round of tastings, embark on a scenic journey along Skyline Drive, or descend into Luray Caverns.
Perfect For: Escapists who love Southeast Asia's beaches but hate crowds
Where to Stay: Casa Colombo. This hotel in Sri Lanka's capital is a funky and modern retreat, with 12 eclectic suites combining Moorish balconies, Italian tile, and Indian art. Super-accommodating staff, a stylish restaurant and bar, and a pool surrounded by neon lights make this a truly sensual stay.
What to Do: Mt. Lavinia Beach ranks among TripAdvisor's best for its golden sunsets and inexpensive nightlife. Discover Sri Lanka's long history and colorful culture at The National Museum, a surprising must-see. Or visit the beautiful Buddhist temples that dot the area, including Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, a serene shrine in the countryside.
Perfect For: Anglophiles interested in new landscapes and historic castles
Where to Stay: St. George's Hotel. This Victorian hotel is all elegant style and old-school cool (black-and-white-tiled bathrooms, crystal chandeliers, and pitch-perfect service). Plus, it's near the medieval castles of Conwy, Caernarfon, and Criccieth, all of which you can rent for your moody, romantic Welsh wedding.
What to Do: Llandudno, a seaside resort town, is a largely undiscovered destination with beautiful and ancient churches, long stretches of picturesque sand, and Great Orme, a towering limestone landmark. Take a cable car up its cliffsides for stunning views of the north Welsh coast and emerald-green hillsides dotted with sheep. Bring your cutest sweaters.
Perfect For: The couple who prefers the road less—almost never—traveled
Where to Stay: There are a few hotels scattered about the island, but the best way to experience this fascinating land is via a cruise. Hurtigruten's MS Fram, made specifically for sailing in polar climes, takes you up close to the colossal icebergs and stark national parks. Discovering Greenland from your deck-side Jacuzzi is an otherworldly experience.
What to Do: Embark on daytime hikes, boat trips, and glacier walks led by the ship's expert expedition crew. Check out the local museum in Qasigiannguit or interact with the locals in the Ukkusissat settlement. Shop for handicrafts, then settle down for a coffee and a regional sweet.
Perfect For: Nature lovers, birdwatchers, eco-travelers
Where to Stay: The Lodge at Pico Bonito, near La Ceiba. Away from Roatan's crowds, this eco-lodge surrounded by lush rainforest is a true sanctuary. Find nature in all its glory at the on-site butterfly farm and in the relaxing pool hidden by colorful gardens. At night, unwind on your cabin's private verandah, where you can listen to the birdsong.
What to Do: In this birders' paradise, guided nature tours introduce you to the vibrant flora and fauna of Honduras' rainforests, from rare and gem-colored birds to monkeys and jaguars. Hike winding trails, see spectacular waterfalls, ford two rushing rivers, or snorkel along the world's second-largest barrier reef beneath the vibrant blue Caribbean.
Perfect For: Hipsters, book lovers, the food-obsessed
Where to Stay: The comfortable Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland. One of Conde Nast Traveler's 2013 World's Best, this property is basically in the middle of everything and comes with tons of amenities: a bed menu, free French press coffee, twice-daily housekeeping service, and all the other little extras you could want on a romantic getaway.
What to Do: Eat and hit the outdoors. For the first, a slate of America's top ethnic restaurants awaits, from Pok Pok (Chef Andy Ricker's superlative northern Thai restaurant that's worth a flight alone) to Andina, a Peruvian tapas joint that uses Portland's pristine produce, meat, and seafood. After you dine, hit Portland's many public parks or find a corner at Powell's cozy flagship bookshop.
-- By Dara Continenza
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