Often, your choice of accommodations is what truly makes a getaway romantic. Boutique hotels, inns, and B&Bs typically add personal touches, fine linens, gourmet meals, and more amenities than standard hotels. Here are our recommendations for value-minded travelers looking for a special hotel on that next romantic escape.
Volcano Rainforest Retreat, Big Island, Hawaii
The Big Island’s Volcano Retreat is a few miles from Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The B&B features four private guest cottages with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, skylights, forest views, and hot tubs. Additionally, all guests receive a home-cooked breakfast each day. Activities include hiking, biking, or driving through the national park; visiting the nearby Volcano Winery; or having an intimate dinner in downtown Volcano. Rates start at $125 a night, double occupancy, for stays three nights or longer.
Hotel Burnham, Chicago
“The staff is just outstanding,” says Donna Raymer, 56, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has been staying at the Burnham for years. “They take care of every one of your needs. We’ve stayed for our anniversary before, and told the staff it was a special occasion. They had champagne and chocolate waiting in the room with a little note.”
The historic Burnham, recently chosen as one of the best places to stay in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, is adjacent to Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, and offers romantic amenities such as a complimentary evening wine hour, evening turndown service, and a well-regarded restaurant. Rooms have velvet headboards, sateen bedspreads, city views, and spa toiletries.
Rates start at $162, double occupancy, under the hotel’s “Hot Dates Great Rates” program; the Burnham also offers romance packages with sparkling wine, chocolates, and breakfast from $299. And while it’s close to many of Chicago’s attractions, “you could have a great time without leaving the hotel,” says Raymer.
Hotel Rouge, Washington, D.C.
Red is the focus at Washington’s Hotel Rouge, with guest rooms and a cozy lounge all celebrating the color. The nightclub-style decor focuses on the sensual, and the hotel offers “Soiree Rouge” packages featuring stone massages, cocktails, truffles, and feather boas. Additionally, guests can take part in the Rouge’s complimentary evening “red wine and red beer” hour on weekdays, or complimentary Bloody Mary bar on weekends.
Rates start at $169 double occupancy; “Soiree Rouge” romance packages are available from $369.
Savory Inn and Cooking School, Vail, Colorado
Recently ranked one of American Historic Inns’ “Most Romantic” properties for 2006, Vail’s Savory Inn is well-regarded for its ambience, decor, quiet setting on the banks of Gore Creek, and cooking school. The inn has 12 guestrooms, an outdoor hot tub, a common area with a fireplace, and an extensive wine and beer list.
Rates start at $190, double occupancy, and include a full breakfast (year-round) and afternoon snacks (winter only). Cooking classes are either $55 or $85 a person, depending on lunch or dinner, and include the course and following meal. Additionally, the Savory Inn has romance packages including champagne, strawberries, and flowers starting at $95; you can also request a la carte romance amenities from $10 an item.
The Jackson House Inn & Restaurant, Woodstock, Vermont
The Jackson House in Woodstock, Vermont, “has all the comforts of home and then some,” says Krista Pappas, 43, of Concord, Massachusetts. Pappas recently stayed there for a Valentine’s Day trip, and lauds the inn’s “quaint but luxurious setting, magnificent flowers, and exquisite menu. It’s a special place even for the [local] residents to go to.”
The inn, an 1890 Victorian mansion, is on the National Register of Historic Places and has 15 guestrooms. It has antique furnishings; complimentary wine, beer, or champagne and hors d’oeuvres each evening; a full gourmet breakfast each day; and an award-winning restaurant.
Rooms range from $195 to $260 a night, double occupancy; romance packages start at $580 a couple and include a gourmet four-course dinner with wine pairings.
Manka’s Inverness Lodge, Inverness, California
Manka’s Inverness Lodge, a small lodging “compound” in the Inverness Hills, is ideal for cozy getaways just outside the Bay Area. The Lodge is dedicated to four components: great beds, a “blazing fire wherever possible,” decadent baths, and views of the water or woods. Additionally, the on-site restaurant was recently named one of America’s 50 best hotel restaurants by Food & Wine magazine. Accommodations range from $215 to $615 a night based on double occupancy.
Castle Hill Inn & Resort, Newport, Rhode Island
Dennis Sirjuesingh, 40, from West Orange, New Jersey, recently stayed at the waterfront Castle Hill Inn & Resort to celebrate his engagement. “It was out of the way and quiet, and not like a Marriott where every room is the same. The rooms were fantastic,” he notes.
The inn sits on a private 40-acre peninsula on Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. For a romantic retreat, guests can walk the inn’s private beach, visit the Castle Hill lighthouse, or have a formal dinner at the inn’s award-winning restaurant.
Additionally, the resort has twice received the “Romantic Hideaways Award” from The Discerning Traveler and was recently chosen one of the top 500 best hotels in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. Rooms start at $229 a night double occupancy. “When I got there, they made me feel like I was the only guest,” Sirjuesingh says. “It was brilliant.”
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Greenbrier, one of the country’s oldest resorts, “is absolutely timeless,” says Shea Davis, 28, of Washington, D.C. Davis visited the Greenbrier twice in 2005 and plans to go back in March. “It is very secluded and the decor is so vibrant and reminiscent of Revolutionary times that you feel truly as if you have gone to another time and place.” As for romance, “there are many places to go for a quiet walk or a carriage ride on the grounds,” says Davis, “and so many corners of the hotel itself to steal a quiet moment that you feel you are the only two people there.”
The resort is situated on 6,500 acres, and features landscaped gardens, a spa, horseback riding, and indoor and outdoor pools. The Greenbrier also has an art gallery, shops, and a fine dining restaurant. Rooms start at $274 for double occupancy.
Hotel Giraffe, New York City
Amrit Hoffer, 26, of Long Island, chose the Hotel Giraffe for her wedding night last November. “When we first walked in, the lights were dimmed and there were rose petals on the bed. There was also a bottle of wine. The room just looked so romantic,” she says.
Located on posh Park Avenue South and 26th Street in Manhattan, the Hotel Giraffe has 73 guest rooms with 10-foot ceilings, velveteen-upholstered furniture, and fine linens and bathrobes. Some rooms have French doors that open to private balconies with fresh flowers. All guests receive continental breakfast, snacks, and coffee each day, and weekday guests can attend an evening champagne, wine, and cheese reception accompanied by live piano music.
The hotel also has several popular romance packages featuring wine, museum tickets, rose petals, and more. Standard accommodations rates start at $279 a night double occupancy.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
Reminiscent of a bygone era, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island opened in 1887 and has 385 guestrooms, with no two alike. All guests receive a full breakfast and a five-course dinner daily; the hotel also offers afternoon tea. Formal evening attire, contributing to the elegant atmosphere, is required. Additionally, the hotel was used as the setting for the romantic film Somewhere in Time, and features a grand staircase, the largest front porch in the world, and views of Mackinac Bridge. Rates start at $210 a person based on double occupancy.